I just read the WORST “Best Cordless Drills of 2020” post that Google thought fit to insert into my news feed.
Seriously, it was just terrible.
They wrote up a “best cordless drills” post, but deliberately avoided 18V and 20V Max and any brushless models due to the cost.
What?! Seriously? This time of year, you can find PLENTY of very good 18V/20V Max brushless drill kits, and for less money than what that author was recommending in many years-old 12V-class brushed motor models.
Below are top-of-mind recommendations, given my vast experience with different brands’ 12V-class cordless drill offerings. If anyone wants to add to the list, or argue with my choices, let’s talk it over in comments.
Better Than Their “Best Overall” Cordless Drill Choice
They recommend the Bosch PS31 as one of the options. That’s a good drill, a bit long in the tooth, but a decent model. They recommended it at $129.
But if you’re going to spend $129, get the newer brushless model for the same money!!
They complain about a first-generation brushed motor Dewalt 12V Max cordless drill being the most expensive at $133.
Our Best Overall Cordless Drill Pick
*facepalm* Why would anyone review Dewalt’s DECADE-OLD brushed motor model at $133, when they can get a brand new Dewalt Xtreme compact 12V Max brushless drill kit at $99.
This one would be my editor’s choice – I really like Dewalt’s newest drills and drivers in this platform.
Even if you have to pay shipping (free shipping on $199+, $6.49 under that), $107 for a brushless drill kit is better than $129 for the “best overall” Bosch pick, which is also more than 10 years old.
Give it time, this kit will likely be $99 at other retailers too.
Buy Now via Acme Tools
Check Availability via Amazon
Our Best Budget Cordless Drill Pick
I reviewed the Skil PWRCore 12 brushless drill kit and was extremely surprised as to how well it performed.
This is absolutely my “best budget pick,” with Amazon pricing the kit at $63.15 at the time of this posting, but it could probably go nearly toe to toe with the above Dewalt.
My wife is asking why I’m slamming the space bar on my keyboard right now. It’s because here’s a cordless drill that’ll outperform any model featured in the professional tech website’s “best cordless drills” article. Yep, it’s got a brushless motor. And it’s HALF the price of their “best overall model.”
Also Consider this Milwaukee M12 FUEL Hammer Drill
Here’s the Milwaukee M12 Fuel brushless hammer drill kit, at the special seasonal price of $99.
This heavy duty compact drill greatly surpasses the performance of other 12V-class cordless drills, and it also has a 1/2″ keyless chuck for use with larger drill bits. This comes in handy when using accessories such as hole saws that come with a 7/16″ arbor that’s too large for other 12V-class drills’ 3/8″ chucks
I am angry now – how could anyone writing up a November “best cordless drills for 2020” buying guide ignore this model?! I could understand it if you’re focusing in 12V, 18V, 20V Max systems, where it could be lost in a sea of options. But when talking about 12V cordless drills specifically? That’s just frustrating.
Plus, this hammer drill gives you masonry drilling capabilities, should you ever need or want it. You’ll be limited to smaller holes, but that’s still better than not being able to drill into brick or other such materials at all.
Best Compact Cordless Drill and Bang for the Buck
For the only brushed motor recommendation in this post, I would draw your attention to the Makita CT232 combo kit, which comes with a 12V Max cordless drill and 1/4″ hex impact driver combo kit, priced at $99.
Yep, for less than the price of that tech site’s “best overall” Bosch PS31 pick, you get a more compact feeling Makita 12V Max CXT cordless drill, plus an impact driver that’ll you’ll be thankful for when working with longer or larger fasteners.
Amazon has this excellent kit on sale for $99, a seasonal regular.
The tech article author did mention this Makita drill, but comment about the drill-only kit being priced at $99 and higher than their straight-to-Amazon brand pick, and for performing a little lower than the Bosch.
It’s not clear what performance metric they were using – that tech author was comparing performance with respect to the number of 1″ holes per amp hour of battery charge each drill could bore into pine. What kind of spade bit? Did they change spade bits for each tool?
If you ask me, I’d look at the average time per hole drilled, and make sure to comment on the perception of how the tool felt completing such tasks.
While the PS31 might be more powerful – I haven’t compared the two directly yet – this Makita is more comfortable to me. Plus, you get the 2-tool combo kit which is a better value. And, the impact driver here will absolutely out-perform the Bosch PS31 that they recommended.
Their Best Overall Pick
This is the tech magazine writer’s best overall pick, the venerable Bosch PS31. It’s priced at $129 right now, which is a terrible price, seeing as how 1) you can get the brushless kit for this price, and 2) Bosch usually has a drill and impact driver combo kit – like the Makita – at $99 for the holiday season.
This is a decent drill, but it’s such a bad buy at $129 compared to any of the drill kits mentioned here.
Buy Now via Amazon – but don’t, pick one of the other drills discussed here
I have been planning on a “best cordless drill kit deals for Black Friday” post, and that’s still in the works. This post was hastily thrown together because I’m so angry at the terrible advice so many magazines are spewing these days.
What service does it do for readers to tell them brushless drills are too expensive, and then they go and recommend a decade-old brushed motor drill kit for $129?
Above, the Bosch PS32 cordless drill is the most expensive, at $129 like the other author’s PS31 recommendation, with Dewalt and Milwaukee better options at $99. The Makita combo kit, above, is $99. The Skil is $63.
I don’t blame the tech writer for his infuriating recommendations, I blame their editors for not providing sufficient guidance. But I guess that’s what happens when so many non-tool websites start reviewing (“reviewing”) tools for the sake of affiliate clicks and commissions.
Oh, You Really Want an 18V Drill?
18V cordless drills are too expensive? Brushless drills are too expensive?
Here’s a Metabo HPT (formerly Hitachi) 18V blacked-out brushless drill kit for $79. Step up to $99 and there are so very many more options.
But if someone says 18V and 20V Max cordless drills are too expensive for DIYers or homeowners, and brushless motors too cost-prohibitive, they obviously haven’t been following cordless power tool tech for the past few years. This kit right here dismantles the “18V and brushless drills are too expensive” argument.
I can see you feel very strongly about this Stuart. Breathe in. Hold. Breathe out.
Thanks for all of your efforts in finding these deals and may other tool posters feel the shame of their inadequacy.
“when they can get a brand new Dewalt Xtreme compact 12V Max brushed drill kit at $99.”
I think you mean brushless.
Sorry, yes, thank you! *fixed*
Many of these “best of” are just rehashes of the top five/ten lists at amazon – published for the referral links.
Stuart takes the time to look around and at least verify the things are reasonably priced – and since brushless 18V kits abound for $99 there’s no need to even think about looking above that unless you’re going specialized.
That’s the thing that gets me – this latest one wasn’t just an Amazon bestsellers rehash by “shopping experts”, but somehow they ended up so off-base with advice I found utterly disagreeable.
It’s as if they’ve never used a cordless drill before and had 5 minutes and limited bandwidth to determine everything to buy to review and recommend.
This may be exactly what happened – you can hire out posts for very small dollar amounts.
Or a cynical bastard would say it’s someone trying to get rid of old stock.
Maybe it’s aimed at non-tool users buying a requested gift (think wives for husbands) – maybe a “how to buy a tool gift when you don’t know tools” post could be useful. Things like “Do they have tools? Are they cordless? Try to match the battery. If you don’t know what they have look for a kit.”
This feels like often the case when I try to find actual reviews of a product in comparison to others. Essentially clickbait and very annoying. A list highlighting features and prices from someone who has never used the product and may or may not even have that much experience in that field.
A lot of times that’s just affiliate link spam. Google used to do a better job at sending them to the bottom of search results, but I guess they gave up on updating their algorithms.
Those kind of articles are really irritating. Part of the problem I think is that its really hard for consumers to navigate this space without devoting some research time.
E.g. how many drills does Dewalt make? I don’t know exactly, but between 12v, 20v, brushed, brushless, XR, hammer modes, compact models, power detect, atomic etc. I wouldn’t be THAT surprised to find it is 15 or more – and the same probably goes for Milwaukee, Makita, Bosch… That’s a lot of nomenclature to learn across several brands. That situation seems to lend itself to trusting in some “review” you read online.
I’m just glad I wasn’t the only poor schlep who had that article pop in up their feed. I knew something was going to be off when they had a picture of the Rigid 12V drill that’s been out for years in their recommendations.
Yes, I see your point.
I don’t even remember posting that one.
haha I also had it in my feed, but the photo made it clear that it was one to skip. I actually loved the little ridgid 12v drill, but their decision to not flesh out the ecosystem led to me handing all my ridgid 12v stuff off to a coworker and moving to M12. At least nobody recommends nicad anymore. That was always a weird debacle.
Thanks for the boost to M12. Too bad ridgid didn’t expand – perfect size power ratio
Cnet, good for somethings, tools is not one of them.
Was it bosch, b&d and popoman?
Sadly the internet is now literally littered with ” best ” this that and another guides that are nothing but CEO optimized doorway pages with referral links to Amazon. Copy paste some info, maybe a custom paragraph and AMZ link after AMZ link.
And, it is a perpetual feedback loop, because Google puts these up front, people click on them, which of course registers it as a result that people clicked through on …
The quality of the search results absolutely sucks in that regard.
Somebody mentions CNET – stay away – nothing but referral crap, 6x a day the same stimulus check articles, promo deals crap, …
If you want tech, skip CNET, and go to ZDNET instead, for a mainstream site.
General “Best of” internet articles annoy me just like the Energy Star certification. Both need to carry a “ born on date”. Some of the “best of” articles can just be rehashes, cut and paste, or “Extreme How To” advertising based. Energy star appliances may have met the standards when initially issued but I like to remind people that I once had a CRT monitor that was Energy Star compliant. Who would even want that today?
I’m glad I discovered this blog a few years ago, and saved myself from those lists. Now, if I’m looking at a tool, I come here first, most likely there’s a write up, comparison, and even a list.
Yeah those best of lists are 99% + useless.
I am in the Bosch corner and the only other ones I would consider is from team red.
I played with the dewalt and for me I really like the small from factor of Bosch/Milwaukee.
I do a lot of cabinets and wood working and the Bosch fits my hands perfectly and has the power I need.