What is The Best Cordless Drill?
More Detailed Cordless Drill Reviews
Our number one recommendation is the Bosch PSB1800. Bosch is one of the top brands used by professionals so you already know that the build quality will not let you down! This is backed up by Bosch’s 3 year guarantee.
This is an 18 Volt (rather than 12 Volt) hammer drill driver and its performance and power will be more than adequate for most household projects.
From a technical perspective there are 2 drilling speeds of 400 and 1,350 rpm, for driving there is a very reasonable 38 Nm (340 inch/lbs) of torque with 20 torque settings (plus 1 for reverse and 1 for impact) and for drilling into masonry or concrete the hammer function provides 20,250 beats per minute. The PSB1800 can drill 30mm into wood and 10mm into steel and masonry.
The unit feels comfortable to hold and despite its 18 Volt capability weighs an incredibly light 1.3 kgs and that includes the 1.3 Ah Lithium—Ion battery!
If battery power does runs low a second battery is provided for backup and this kit also contains a plastic case and charger.
Comparing the PSB1800 kit to the competition this package is available at a really amazing price and it’s hard to see where you can go wrong!
Number two on our list and what we consider to be one of the best cordless hammer drills out there is the Makita DHP482Z. Like the Bosch and Dewalt brands Makita is highly respected in the industry and their products are used widely by professionals. This drill also comes with a 3 year guarantee.
The 18 Volt DHP482Z is a high quality cordless hammer drill. It is also the most powerful of all our selections. It is built with an all metal gearbox, an electric brake (to automatically disengage the drive if the bit encounters resistance) and supports a 13mm chuck (rather than 10mm) so allowing a greater range of hole sizes to drill and drive.
The technical specification is very impressive for a cordless hammer drill. The 2 drill speeds deliver up to 600 and 1,900 rpm respectively, the max torque that can be applied for driving is 62 Nm (550 inch/lbs) and max impacts / beats per minute when applying the hammer function for drilling into masonry or concrete is 28,500 bpm. The DHP482Z can drill 38mm into wood and 13mm into steel and masonry.
And yet the DHP482Z remains compact in design and even with a standard 1.3 Ah Li-Ion battery included weighs just 1.8 kg.
You should be aware that this particular Makita model is sold as a ‘bare’ product (ie without battery or charger) so don’t forget to add in the cost of battery and charger when considering a purchase.
However when you have purchased the battery and charger you should take comfort in the fact that Makita’s proprietary LXT battery system (Lithium Ion Extreme Technology) not only promotes rapid charging but a built in memory chip in the battery communicates with the charger and regulates the charging activity preventing overcharging or over-discharging. There is also an LED gauge indicating the charge level.
All in all when factoring in the cost of the bare tool, one (or even two) batteries, a charger, and the fact that the batteries can be shared across many other Makita power tools, this is an impressive piece of kit available for a very reasonable price.
The Ryobi One+ LLCDI18022 sits at number 3 on our list. Considering all this kit’s components this is a very keenly priced cordless hammer drill with a surprising high technical specification.
This is an 18 Volt model, can hit 1,550 rpm with the higher of its 2 speeds and delivers up to 50 Nm (440 inch/lbs) of torque for driving screws (controlled by 24 settings for precision). Not only that but it’s hammer mode can deliver a very acceptable 23,250 bpm for negotiating masonry and concrete! It also has a 13mm (½”) keyless chuck, that can accommodate larger bits than the more standard 10 mm equivalent. The LLCDI18022 can drill 38mm into wood and 13mm into steel and masonry, and as far as weight is concerned this 18 Volt model is not that much heavier than many 12 Volt models (1.9 kg) and that includes a standard 1.3 AH Li-Ion battery and the extra mechanical components a hammer drill requires. It also has an electric brake for added safety.
The LLCDI18022 belongs to Ryobi’s One+ group of cordless products, meaning that its Lithium-Ion battery can be interchanged with the large range of Ryobi’s other cordless power tools.
Next up at number 4 is another cordless hammer drill, this time from the well-respected Dewalt brand, the DCD776C2. Build quality is a given for this brand, evidenced by the 3 year guarantee.
This model, like the Bosch and Ryobi above, is sold as a complete kit that includes the drill itself, not 1 but 2 batteries, a fast charger (charge time around an hour) and a heavy duty carry case.
These 18 Volt Lithium Ion batteries belong to Dewalt’s ‘XR’ range, renowned for their light weight and ability to hold their charge, so 2 fully charged batteries give you the capacity for 3 to 4 hours continuous work, more than enough for most day to day applications.
The DCD776C2’s specification ensures that power and performance are more than adequate to accomplish these tasks and its light weight (just over 1.3 kgs including 1.3 AH battery) and ergonomic design assures comfort and control.
From a technical perspective there is an all metal transmission, the motor is fan-cooled and there is an electric brake. The 13mm (½”) keyless chuck (larger than the standard 10mm) allows drilling into wood to a depth of 30mm and steel and concrete to a depth of 13mm. There are 2 drilling speeds of 450 and 1500 rpm, and for driving there is a max torque of 42 Nm (370 inch/lbs), along with 15 torque settings (plus 1 for reverse). When you are drilling masonry or concrete in hammer mode the higher of the 2 gears deliver can deliver up to 25,500 beats per minute.
So all in all it’s hard to go wrong with the DCD776C2 and it could well be your go to power tool for many years.
Number five on our list is the Black and Decker BDCHD18K. This cordless hammer drill comes as a kit but with just the 1 battery (unlike numbers 1, 3 and 4 on our list that all come with 2). However that apparent shortfall is accounted for in its very attractive price, and of course there is nothing to stop you going for a second battery anyway!
The specification is actually very similar to our number 1 choice too. The 2 gears can produce max drill speeds of 360 and 1,400 rpm respectively, the higher gear a maximum torque for driving of 40 Nm (350 inch/lbs) (there are 10 torque / clutch settings and 1 for reverse), and the drill can deliver up to 21,000 beats per minute when in hammer mode and drilling into masonry or concrete.
The drill can negotiate 25mm into wood and 10mm into masonry and concrete.
The main difference between this and our number 2,3 and 4 choices is the chuck size – they support 13mm whilst the BDCHD18K comes with a 10mm chuck, so you could be restricted when considering larger tasks. But again that is reflected in the price point.
So if you are looking for your first drill, want to be able to drill into most common materials with power to spare but definitely don’t want to break the bank you could do far worse than the BDCHD18K.
The Black+Decker BDCDC18 is the first drill on our list that does not feature a hammer function. This is an important consideration. For example if you intend to use your drill above head or shoulder height for extended periods of time you will want a drill where a small size, light weight, reduced profile / footprint and degree of compactness are all optimum, and losing the hammer function can help you achieve that.
It is true that the technical specification is lower for this model than the other models described above. But like the previously mentioned Black+Decker this one ticks all the boxes when it comes to price, with a drill, battery and charger all included for under £50!
So what else gives? The main sacrifice is the gearbox – now just single speed with this model. However it does deliver a perfectly respectable drill speed of up to 650 rpm and there are still 10 torque /clutch settings (plus 1 reverse) to control a max torque of 30 Nm (265 inch/lbs) for driving screws down to depths of 25mm in wood and 10mm in metal. Certainly no reason not to get most household jobs nailed!
And don’t forget unlike other popular lower price drills this one is still 18 Volt and comes with the most popular battery type – the lithium-Ion battery (not the heavier NiCad or NiMh one). Plus the battery is interchangeable with a large range of other Black+Decker cordless power tools.
If you are on a budget this is certainly a drill to consider!
Last on our list is another drill driver (i.e. no hammer function) – the Apollo Pro 18 Volt drill. Compared to the models described above this drill is probably more a general ‘DIYer’s drill than the ‘Pro’ in its name, but there is no doubt it is a popular choice when you consider the kit you get for just £40!
The single speed drill delivers up to 550 rpm, there are 16 (+1 reverse) clutch settings to control the torque of 18 Nm (160 inch/lbs), letting you drive into wood to a depth of 22mm and 9mm into steel. So the drill spec is not that much less than the Black+Decker BDCDC18 at Number 6.
And of course the kit includes a battery and charger. The battery in this case is Nickel-metal hydride rather than Lithium-Ion, meaning it is a little heavier and less efficient in terms of charging time and discharge rate. But to make up for that the package includes a very handy 30 piece selection of drill and driver bits in a nice storage box.
Finally if you were wondering about the quality of this drill it comes with not a 1 but a 2 year warranty, so that is certainly something to think about!
Cordless Drill Buying Guide
They say a ‘good workman never blames his tools’, but we’ve all been there…
15 minutes taking the utmost care in your preparation, and when you finally pull the trigger, it all goes pear-shaped.
The truth is, with literally hundreds of cordless drills on the market, some are better than others.
In fact, there are an elite few that I highly recommend – and that’s whether you’re a seasoned pro or an amateur DIYer.
I personally own the Bosch PSB 1800 18V Cordless Hammer Drill and it’s fantastic. Great precision. Extremely powerful. And relatively cheap.
But there’s a few more I think are worth your consideration too. Read on to find the best cordless drill for your needs.
What does the “best cordless drill” actually mean? We all have different requirements. Are you looking to be a self-styled handyman who puts up pictures or curtain rails at weekends or fixes the odd cupboard door? Perhaps you have to manoeuvre into small spaces like an electrician or drill fittings into ceilings? Maybe you have to spend more time outdoors drilling fixings into concrete or driving long screws into timber? Or you are developing a new hobby or craft where you need to drill perfectly sized holes and precision is more important?
And what you are drilling into is also important. It could be relatively soft material like wood or plastic, harder material such as metal, brick, masonry or ceramics, or into very hard surfaces such as concrete, stone or rock.
The right cordless drill solves all these problems! Our comprehensive buying guide will help you choose the right drill and it follows our recommendations below.
By far and away drill drivers and hammer drill drivers are the most popular types of cordless drill out there. For a general purpose drill it is probably better to go with the more versatile hammer drill driver because you have the option of drilling into masonry and concrete. On the other hand if this is not so important, a drill driver would most certainly fit the bill.
What Type of Cordless Drill Do I Need?
Whilst there are thousands of cordless drills on the market the vast majority fall into just 4 types or categories…
- Drill Drivers
- Hammer Drill Drivers (aka Combi Drills)
- Impact Drivers
- Rotary Hammers (aka SDS) Drills
The drill driver and hammer drill driver are by far and away the two most common categories and are for most general usage.
The drill driver is used for drilling into wood, metal and ceramics and driving into softer wood, metal (mainly smaller screws). The hammer drill driver can do everything the drill driver can but also drill into brick, masonry and stone.
Impact drivers and rotary hammer drills are for more specialist use, and more likely to be used by professionals. The impact driver is used for driving into harder wood (with larger screws) and the rotary hammer drill is used for drilling into concrete, hard stone and rock.
For general (DIY) usage
- If you know you are only going to be working with wood and metal, choose a drill driver.
- If you know you are going to be working with brick and masonry (with or without wood or metal) choose a hammer drill driver.
For more specialist / professional usage
- If you know you are only going to be driving into harder wood (larger screws), choose an impact driver.
- If you know you are going to be drilling into concrete, stone & rock, choose a rotary hammer drill.
It’s All Down to Power and Weight
Now you know what type of drill you want how do you decide what specification it should have? Have a think about how you actually want to use it. You could be using your cordless drill on the odd occasion or every few days (in which case you are probably a novice or ‘DIYer’), or pretty much every day (in which case you are probably a professional).
And each of those tasks could take you anything from a few minutes to a few hours. This is where you need to think about the drill’s power and weight.
The most important feature of a cordless drill is power. You need more power for drilling or driving into more resilient materials or drilling deeper holes. Power comes from the battery and battery power is denominated in Volts. The most common battery voltages for power tools are 12 and 18 Volts.
Power consists of a combination of speed and torque. Speed can be considered rotational force in a vertical plane whilst torque can be described as twisting motion in a horizontal plane. Speed and torque are inversely proportional. Higher speeds are better for drilling and greater torque is better for driving.
Battery capacity is also important. The capacity describes how long the battery will last before it needs recharging. Battery capacity is measured in amperes per hour (Ah). You will need greater battery capacity the longer you are going to be drilling or driving, and for the more holes or screws you are going to be drilling or driving.
Greater power and capacity generally mean a larger and heavier battery. However manufacturers design their tools in the most ergonomically friendly way to compensate for battery size and weight. They slot into the handle or slide into the base of the drill.
Battery chemistry is also important. These days Lithium-Ion batteries are the most popular. Whilst more expensive than their NiCad and NiMH predecessors they are significantly smaller and lighter and hold their charge for longer.
Of course there are many different battery choices out there but the most popular cordless drill category / battery combinations are…
Drill Drivers 12 Volt Li-Ion 1.5 Ah and 18 Volt Li-Ion 1.5 Ah – 2.5 Ah
Hammer Drill Drivers 18 Volt Li-Ion 2.5 Ah
Impact Drivers 18 Volt Li-Ion 3.0 Ah
Rotary Hammer Drivers 18 Volt Li-Ion 3.0 Ah
In general a cordless drill driver will be the least powerful but it will also weigh the least. The cordless hammer drill driver weighs more than the basic cordless drill driver (assuming a similar battery) because it includes a hammer mechanism.
The more powerful impact drivers and rotary hammer drills weigh more due to the weight of their mechanical components, and the weight of a more powerful battery, but the extra weight is a much-needed sacrifice for these highly efficient specialist tools designed more for the professional user.
Of course there are other more general things you’ll want to to take into account before purchasing a cordless drill. These are…
- Build quality – internal – mechanical and electrical – construction of motor, transmission and chuck
- Build quality – external – e.g. dust and water protection
- Nice to have features e.g. LED light, belt hook
- General ergonomics – comfort and balance
- Grip – position and size of handle and trigger
…and of course price.
Price is no doubt one of the most important considerations when making a purchase such as this. As with most things these days you should expect to pay more for models with higher specifications, (essentially greater power), better build quality and and more features. Remember the maxim ‘buy cheap, buy twice!’ The trick is picking the tool that accomplishes the things you want to do with comfort and ease without necessarily going for the most expensive brand and model. And clearly you won’t want to fork out huge amounts if you are only going to use the drill on the odd weekend.
It may sound obvious but when reviewing the price for cordless tools be clear what you are getting for your money. Some drills come as kits. These normally include the drill itself, 1 or 2 batteries, a charger and a case or carry bag. Other kits may include some accessories.
Other drills come ‘stand-alone’ or ‘bare’, meaning that NO battery is included. The idea behind this is that manufacturers want you to buy a range of their own cordless products, not just drills, so the battery can be swapped amongst them. The advantage with this is you only need to buy one (and maybe a spare) battery for your complete range of power tools and that further tools can now be bought ‘bare’, and therefore that much cheaper. The disadvantage is you are tied to that manufacturer. An 18 Volt battery with 1.5-2 Ah capacity will cost around £40, a charger slightly less.
The other thing you might want to think about is buying 2 power tools packaged together (sometimes known as a ‘combo’), and often significantly discounted because of that. Be comfortable you have a use for both tools though. The most popular combo for drills is a drill driver and an impact driver. When you are on a project you save a ton of time swapping bits if you have 2 drills ready to go with the correct bits set up.
Also consider the manufacturer’s warranty period – the 3 years offered by Bosch, Makita and Dewalt amongst others is very acceptable, and 2 years is also ok. Note that cordless tools can have separate guarantees for the bare drill and battery.