In 2019, which are the best cordless drills you can buy?
I have been avoiding this question for a while, having last updated this guide nearly three years ago. Every year, there are new models. Sometimes there are big updates, other times, minor changes.
For many users, a cordless drill will be their first and even most-used cordless power tool, or power tool in general. Because of this, there is an overwhelming variety of options out there.
The same question comes in regularly – I’m looking to buy a cordless drill/driver, which should I buy?
Generally, there are few cordless drills that you shouldn’t buy. But, if you’re looking for something in particular, there are specific models that might suit your needs and preferences a little better.
The following roundup reflects my opinions, based on the very many cordless drills I have used or tested. It’s not an exhaustive list, but a summary of my current recommendations, for the cordless drills I’d buy or recommend right now to satisfy different criteria.
Do you agree with the following cordless drill recommendation? Disagree? Please let us know in a comment!
Best Cordless Drill Overall: Dewalt DCD991 3-Speed Brushless Drill (20V Max)
Is Dewalt’s DCD991 cordless drill/driver the most powerful? The most technologically advanced? The absolute best of the best? The most compact heavy duty drill? No. But it’s my favorite heavy duty drill.
The Dewalt DCD991 cordless drill is powerful, with enough oomph to handle any holes I’ve asked it to drill. It is highly capable, and without being unwieldy.
This model was released 3 years ago, and was at the time described as being faster, stronger, better.
While heavier than compact cordless drills, the brushless DCD991 is still comfortable to use. The grip has a good feel, the drill is easily controlled, and it’s simply a pleasure to operate.
Quite frankly, you can’t go wrong with this drill. If you need more than the Dewalt DCD991 cordless drill/driver can provide, let us know and we’ll try to steer you in the right directions.
If you need a hammer drill, for occasional drilling into masonry materials, look for the Dewalt DCD996.
- 820 UWO max power
- 3-speed gearbox
- 0-450/0-1300/0-2000 RPM
- 7.9″ length
- Weighs 4.6 lbs
What’s special about the DCD991 is its 3 speed settings, with the middle range allowing for intermediate speeds that fall between max power and max speed ranges.
2nd Best 18V Cordless Drill: Milwaukee M18 Fuel Hammer Drill 2804
Here’s our review of the latest Milwaukee M18 Fuel brushless hammer drill. I really like this drill, and how compact it is for a tool of its power and capabilities. But, while this Milwaukee is called the most powerful drill in the industry, I still find myself preferring the Dewalt.
If you find yourself needing the absolute maximum amount of torque in an 18V-sized tool, the latest Milwaukee Fuel brushless model should definitely hold your attention.
In truth, you cannot go wrong with either model, as they are both heavy hitters and top performers.
The Milwaukee M18 Fuel hammer drill bests Dewalt’s top cordless drills on paper, and is a fantastic choice. It’s not my favorite at the moment, not because it lacks in any department, but because I like the Dewalt’s unique 3 speed ranges. Milwaukee also does offer a One-Key model that allows for user customizations.
Overall, it’s fair to say that this is a very, very close choice for title of best 18V/20V Max cordless drill/driver. In all frankness, it is likely the best cordless drill you can buy today, but my slightly higher personal affinity for the Dewalt influences how I’d rank the two against each other.
If Dewalt’s top cordless drill’s 3 speed ranges doesn’t do anything for you, and you’re not impressed by Milwaukee’s advantages when it comes to power or size, then deciding between the two could come down to whether there are any current money-saving promotions that will appeal to you.
- 1200 in-lbs max torque
- 0-550/0-2000 RPM
- 6.9″ length
- Weighs 3.2 lbs (tool only)
There have been some reports of excessive heating, but we couldn’t replicate it during initial or follow-up testing. It’s not something to be alarmed over, in my opinion, but something to be aware of.
Buy Now(M18 Fuel hammer drill and impact driver Packout bundle via Acme Tools)
The best “kit” option to get this drill is currently as part of an M18 Fuel + Packout bundle.
Best Compact 18V Cordless Drill: Milwaukee M18 2801 Compact Brushless Drill
Milwaukee’s M18 cordless drill/driver offerings changed again last year, including their compact brushless drill/driver, 2801.
The Milwaukee 2801 cordless drill features a brushless motor, good mid-range specs, and best of all, it’s affordably priced. Last holiday season, the 1-battery kit was on sale for $99. We might not see the same promo for Father’s Day, but maybe we’ll see something similar. I’d be willing to bet that we’ll see a similar deal next holiday season.
A few years ago, buying a brushless cordless drill meant spending a lot of money for the latest and greatest tech. Now, you can get brushless motor efficiency benefits in a more compact tool like this one.
This is another case where Milwaukee and Dewalt are nearly tied for first place, but I’d give the title to Milwaukee based on their better affordability. While Dewalt does also have seasonal promo brushless drill kits for $99, they’re not quite evenly matched against the Milwaukee.
- 500 in-lbs max torque
- 0-500/0-1800 RPM
- 6.5″ length
- Weighs 2.5 lbs (tool only)
Buy Now(via Acme Tools)
The Dewalt Atomic compact series cordless drill might be a contender for the next update of this roundup guide. It was not available for testing as of the time of this roundup.
2nd Best Compact 18V Cordless Drill: Dewalt DCD791 Compact Brushless Drill (20V Max)
The only downside about the Dewalt DCD791 cordless drill is that it costs more than Milwaukee’s compact brushless model.
It’s a little longer than the Milwaukee, but also has a bump-up in max speed specs.
- 460 UWO max power
- 0-550/0-2000 RPM
- 6.9″ length
- Weighs 3.4 lbs
I really like the DCD791, giving it title as “best compact cordless drill” the last time I did a drill/driver recommendations post like this one. The ergonomics on this drill are perfect, and it is highly capable, especially for its size.
Buy Now(via Amazon)
Best 12V-Class Cordless Drill: Bosch PS32 Brushless Drill
There are many decent 12V-class cordless drills, but the Bosch PS32 continues to be my favorite. It’s compact, as powerful as one needs in a tool this size, and I especially like how well-tuned the adjustable clutch is for when working with smaller fasteners.
I can’t quite describe what makes this such a good 12V-class drill/driver. It’s not just a smaller and less powerful cordless drill compared to 18V models, it seems to be optimized for its size, if that makes sense. It’s wonderful to use on projects, such as cabinetry installations, where you need control rather than brute power.
- 180 in-lbs max torque
- 0-400/0-1300 RPM
- 6.5″ length
- Weighs 2 lbs
Buy Now(via Amazon)
Best Budget 18V Cordless Drill: Ridgid R861162SB Brushless Drill
The Ridgid 18V R86116 brushless hammer drill is one of the best cordless drill/driver kits you can find at the $99 price point.
It is powerful, but not bulky, although I personally disagree with how Ridgid describes it as a compact brushless drill. Compact cordless drills aren’t typically bundled with auxiliary handles.
I bought a copy of this cordless drill last holiday season, to compare against other brands’ $99 cordless drill kit options, and the Ridgid’s performance blew me away.
If you want to buy a highly capable cordless drill, but don’t quite care about the cordless platform behind it, this looks to be the best budget choice out there. You get a brushless drill with what looks to be class-leading specs, and it’s kitted with 2 batteries.
The Ridgid R861162SB kit is still available for $99 at the time of this posting. Among all of the cordless drills I’ve tested, and even among those I’m merely familiar with, this Ridgid kit offers the greatest bang for the buck.
If you need a more capable cordless drill kit than this one, be prepared to double your budget.
Read the Review: Ridgid Brushless Compact Hammer Drill Kit
- 750 in-lbs max torque
- 0-500/0-2000 RPM
- 7.5″ length
- Weighs 5.72 lbs with battery
Buy Now(via Home Depot)
2nd Best Budget Cordless Drill: Craftsman V20 CMCD700C1 Drill
The Craftsman CMCD700C1 cordless drill kit is a cheap drill that delivers a proportional level of performance. It’s regularly $79 with a charger and battery, but can go on sale for $69 during holiday season promos.
It’s slower and less powerful than all of the other 18V or 20V Max cordless drills discussed here, and is not as compact. This Craftsman V20 cordless drill can’t handle heavy duty applications, and stalls on 3/4″ holes if you’re too aggressive with feed pressure.
But, that’s all to be expected, as this is an entry-level cordless drill. Compared to the other DIY brands’ entry-priced options out there, the CMCD700 is a respectably average performer. I like the potential that the Craftsman V20 cordless power tool platform holds, and I also like the slide-style battery form factor over the stem-style batteries of Ryobi, Craftsman’s top competitor.
- 280 UWO
- 0-350/0-1500 RPM
- 8-1/4″ length
- Weighs 2.7 lbs without battery
If you’re looking for a cordless drill at minimal investment, this is a fair performer from a trustworthy brand.
Do you agree with these cordless drill recommendations? Disagree? Is there a different model you’d recommend for any of these categories?
Are there any particular drills you want to nominate for the next update of this guide?