When it comes to buying a cordless drill, the first thing you want to ask yourself is, “What am I trying to accomplish?” says Matt Hobbs, owner of Sons of Sawdust, a woodworking and reclaimed-wood shop. Whether you’re an apartment dweller looking to hang a few curtains or are in need of something powerful that will work for just about any project you set your sights on, start by familiarizing yourself with the drill landscape. There are a few types to consider: a drill, driver, or hammer drill.
Drills have an adjustable “chuck” that can be tightened or loosened to grab drill bits and hexagonal driver bits. They’re versatile and often have a clutch to allow you to adjust the amount of torque so you don’t break screws or drive through your material. Drivers, or impact drivers, look like drills but are often shorter and more compact. Rather than an adjustable chuck, they often have quick-change fitting for hexagonal bits. These often have more torque and are great for driving stuck or resistant screws, though they won’t work well with drill bits. A hammer drill is like a drill with the addition of hammer action that can help drill through concrete or masonry, though this power often makes them heavier. Sometimes drills and drivers will be sold in a set, which Daniel Kanter from the renovation blog Manhattan Nest says is convenient. “I can have a drill bit in one and screwdriving bit in the other so I can go back and forth without changing bits.”
It’s also important to keep in mind that less can be more. “If the drill is heavy, fatigue will set in quicker,” says Hobbs. Consider how you’ll use your drill to be sure you get the capability you need without overdoing it, he adds. To help you find the right cordless drill, we spoke with Hobbs, Kanter, and five other experts who rely on drills for their livelihoods including homesteaders, interior designers, builders, and contractors.
Best cordless drill for apartment dwellers
For most beginners and those with limited space, Kanter recommends this combo set from Porter-Cable. “I use power tools every day, and still, I don’t need the top-of-the-line everything. They’re quite expensive and overkill for most people.” While Porter-Cable is more of an introductory brand, Kanter says it performs well and is the right size for most apartment jobs, “You want something that is pretty compact so you can fit in tight spaces.” This combo kit comes with a drill and a driver as well as two batteries. The drill features LED lights and a clutch for precision drilling.
Best professional-caliber cordless driver
If you’re looking for something capable of driving fasteners through tough materials all day long, Kyle Stumpenhorst, founder of Rural Renovators, recommends Metabo as a premium choice. This drill features three impacting anvils to turn the bit, as opposed to the more common two, giving it impressive numbers like 1,832 inch-pounds of torque and up to 4,000 impacts per minute. If you’ll be a heavy user, focusing on driving more than drilling, “it’s a perfect mix of power, speed, and ergonomics,” says Stumpenhorst.
Best cordless hammer drill
For a versatile drill with a hammer function, Nate Petroski, a homesteading TikToker, recommends this style from Makita. “I really like the size of the drill; it’s less than eight inches from back to front, which makes it very easy to squeeze into small places,” says Petroski. It also has a hammer function you can turn on and off to help drill through tough material like masonry and concrete. The drill weighs just over four pounds with a battery, and it has built-in LED lights, 2,000 rpm, and 530 inch-pounds of max torque. “This is a drill that should last a homeowner for a long time,” says Petrowski. “As a contractor, I have not burned one up yet.” Steph and Vicki Kubiak of Mother Daughter Projects DIY are also fans of Makita. “They make fantastic tools that will last for years to come. Also the 18V battery that powers this drill can work on the 275-plus products that Makita makes.” They also like the brand’s smaller 18V LXT Sub-Compact Brushless Cordless Driver-Drill for its more compact size.
Best lightweight cordless drill and impact driver
For those looking for performance in a lightweight package, Sean Collinsgru, owner of Premier Outdoors, recommends this drill from Milwaukee. While he says it might not be the best for those tackling bigger projects, like driving structural screws, it will be enough for most homeowners. “The size and weight make it very portable while still being able to pack a punch when needed,” says Collinsgru. Milwaukee was mentioned by a few of our experts for their quality and performance. Both the drill and driver in this set are impressively light with the drill coming in at 2.5 pounds and the driver at 2.3 pounds with batteries. You’ll also get built-in LED lighting, a comfortable grip, and a variable-speed trigger.
Best cordless-drill-and-driver kit for enthusiast homeowners
If you’re looking to tackle just about any project around the house, Brad Leavitt, president of A Finer Touch Construction, says this DeWalt 20V MAX drill is versatile and dependable. “We look for long battery life, torque, comfort in your hand, and a reliable brand that will back their product,” he says. “DeWalt has always given us great results.” A few of our other experts remarked on DeWalt’s quality. Leavitt says one of his favorite features is the in-hand comfort and he also appreciates the fact that, like many of the other brands featured in this list, DeWalt’s batteries work across its platform of tools, meaning if you are just starting to build your toolbox, these 20V batteries will work with DeWalt’s cordless saws and other tools too.
This set comes with a drill, two batteries, and a carrying case. This drill has variable LED lights, battery indicators, and a compact size. And for those wanting similar performance that fits better in a smaller hand, Sam Raimondi of DIY Huntress recommends DeWalt’s more compact Atomic Compact Drill/Driver set. “As a female maker and woodworker, I often reach for compact drills because they fit more comfortably in my hands while still packing a lot of power,” she says. This set comes with both a drill and a driver. DeWalt even lets you buy additional batteries at variable sizes to lean toward either weight reduction or battery life.
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