Skil sent over their new DL529002 PWRCore 12 brushless drill/driver kit for review. After talking with them about the new PWRCore cordless power tool lines that will be aimed at DIYers, I started the review with an eager and optimistic attitude.
While optimistic about what the new Skil PWRCore 12 brushless drill can do, I was still very surprised.
If I had to sum up my experiences in one sentence, it would be this: The Skil PWRCore 12 cordless drill delivers more power and faster speeds than I expected, and can hold its own against other brands’ entry 18V drill/driver offerings.
$80 $60 via Amazon (12/30/20 Update)
Update: This post was first published on 12/18/2018, and republished on 12/30/2020. Rather than write up a deal post around the current sale price of $60.14, I figured it would be better to republish the original review and mention the lower pricing.
Physically, the Skil PWRCore 12 brushless drill is a little large – about the size of the latest Milwaukee M18 Fuel brushless drill, not including the battery, although it is quite a bit lighter.
It feels comfortable in-hand, with a good grip and solid feeling all around.
- 350 in-lbs max torque
- 0-450/0-1700 RPM
- 1/2″ chuck
- 18 clutch settings (17 plus drill mode)
- 7-1/4″ length (measured)
- Weighs 2.90 lbs with battery, belt hook, and included bit (measured)
- LED light
- Bundled with (1) 2.0Ah battery with USB charging port
- Bundled with PWRJump charger
Everything is standard on the drill – well, almost. More on that soon.
The chuck is easy to tighten and loosen – and it didn’t slip in any of my tests, the clutch dial is easy to adjust, the speed selection switch toggles easily, and the trigger and direction selection switch are just as good.
There is one peculiarity. In my notes, I wrote that there was an ever so slight trigger lag, where pressing the trigger switch didn’t immediately turn on the drill. This happened sometimes, and I wrote that the delay could probably be measured in milliseconds. It was ever so short, but still observable.
However, I did not observe anything of the same sort when handling it since then. In my hand right now, it’s instant-on.
I did push it really hard during testing, so maybe that had something to do with it.
As much as I really like the compactness and performance of Bosch and Milwaukee 12V-class drills and drivers, drills with slide-style batteries are a little more comfortable, due to the slimmer pistol grip handles.
On the other hand, having the battery at the bottom does increase the tool’s size. But, you can also stand it upright on a compact battery.
Neither style is really “best,” there are tradeoffs for both.
But what I can say is that the Skil PWRCore 12 drill has been really comfortable to use.
The Hybrid Chuck
Here, a standard 2″ power screwdriver bit is being held in the 3-jaw chuck. However, there is also a 1/4″ hex recess all the way at the bottom, and it does 2 things.
First, it allows the bit to sit a little deeper in the chuck. Second, it’s quicker to insert the bit into the recess than it is to tighten the jaws. It’s basically a quick-change bit holder.
Here’s a look inside the chuck, as best as I could photograph it.
I should mention that there’s a little wobble than when the bit is held by the chuck’s jaws – about the same as with a 1/4″ impact driver.
Lastly, the 3-jaw chuck has a 1/2″ capacity. Most 12V-class drills, except for M12 Fuel (are there others?), have 3/8″ chucks. This means that you can use it with a wider range of accessories, such as hole saws that have 1/2″ shafts.
Power and Performance
As with other recent drill/driver tests, I used the Skil to drill holes and drive screws in 2×4 stud material.
- 1/8″ twist drill
- 1/4″ twist drill
- 1/2″ self-feeding spade bit
- 3/4″ self-feeding spade bit
- 1″ self-feeding spade bit
- 1-1/2″ self-feeding spade bit
The Skil PWRCore 12 brushless drill actually fared better than the new Craftsamn V20 cordless drill which I recently reviewed.
It drilled a 1″ wide hole with ease, taking it to a full 3.5″ depth.
I managed to jam or stall the drill with a 1-1/2″ self-drilling spade bit at a depth of 1.25″, nearly through the face of a 2×4. A second attempt pushed it through. Drilling a fresh hole, it cleared through the full 1.5″ depth.
Smaller diameter holes were no problem at all. In comparison, the Craftsman V20 drill stalled when pushed hard to drill deeper 1/2″ and 3/4″ holes.
The Skil performed speedier (subjectively, as I didn’t measure the actual application speeds), and with less effort.
- #6 x 5/8″ self-drilling wood screw (Philips #2)
- #8 x 1-1/4″ self-drilling wood screw (Philips #2)
- #10 x 2″ self-drilling wood screw (Philips #2)
- #10 x 3-1/8″ self-drilling wood screw (Torx T25)
- 1/4″ x 3″ self-drilling lag screw (3/8″ nutdriver)
The #6 x 5/8″ screws were driven in perfectly flush (clutch setting 7), and regardless of slow or fast approach. Unlike some other drills I’ve tested in recent months, the Skil PWRCore had no problem driving the smaller screws flush consistently and repeatedly.
Driving the larger and longer screws was uneventful, with perfect finishes. I did accidentally over-drive the #10 x 3-1/8″ screws, but that was because I set the drill to full power. Dialing back the clutch I was able to get flush and even sub-flush heights.
The lag screws were fully driven in without trouble. For one screw, it finished just 1/16″ away from the surface, but a second trigger pull seated it flush. I’m considering that to be a fluke occurrence because subsequent lag screws were fully seated in one go.
Overall, I felt that the PWRCore 12 brushless drill had more power and speed than its 12V Max battery and motor size would typically suggest. The fact that it can compare with and even best the Craftsman V20 entry-level drill/driver did surprise me.
Skil PWRCore 12 Charger
I didn’t use the PWRJump feature, which brings a depleted battery to 25% in 5 minutes, but it’s good to have available. There’s also a USB charging port on the front.
On the rear, you have two keyhole slots, for mounting the charger to a wall or other vertical surface. The power cord guide is a nice touch.
Skil PWRCore 12 Battery
The kit comes with the fully-featured PWRCore 12 2.0Ah battery.
It has a built-in battery charge capacity fuel gauge, with (4) green LED indicators.
And then there’s the built-in USB charging port, with rubber door.
- Power: 5/5
- Speed: 5/5
- User Experience: 5/5
- Value: 5/5
For a 12V-class cordless drill/driver, the Skil PWRCore 12 drill is simply superb. There’s nothing lacking so far, at least not that I can tell.
I have no shortage of good things to say about the new Skil PWRCore 12 brushless drill/driver.
It delivered more than what I expected in benchtop testing, and it has been perfect in the few real-world applications I’ve used it on since then. It doesn’t just offer ample power, for a 12V-class drill, it has an abundance of power.
If Skil’s other PWRCore 12 tools are this good, and their PWRCore 20 tools even better, they will absolutely make waves in the DIY cordless power tool industry.
If I had to complain about something, it would be that… sorry, I can’t think of anything negative. There was the slight trigger delay that I experienced a few times during testing, but I’m having trouble replicating it.
Ah – the LED… no, it’s useful.
Aha – the belt hook! You can only mount it on the left side of the tool, which lefties might not be perfectly thrilled about. But there’s a minor bonus in how the belt hook has a keyhole-like cutout, which should make it easier to mount on a screw on the wall.
I like a lot of things about a lot of cordless drills, and am happy to once again have a sub-$100 12V-class drill I could heartily recommend.
I know that Skil is marketing this towards DIYers, but it *might* serve other types of users as well. I’ll do my best to test its durability and longevity with more testing and use.
Chervon is a seasoned cordless power tool manufacturer, and so I perhaps shouldn’t have been so surprised at the drill being as powerful and capable as it is. Overall, I am impressed, and think this is a good buy.
$80 $60 for the kit (as of 12/30/2020)
The battery charge was very long-lasting. I will sometimes advocate for 2-battery cordless tool kits over 1-battery kits, but not in this case. Here, the battery lasted longer than I expected, and can be recharged to 25% in 5 minutes. A full charge takes 45 minutes.
With the Craftsman V20 drill kit, it’s $69 for the 1-battery kit, but that battery is a 1.3Ah pack that didn’t last as long as I would have liked. With this kit, you only get one battery, but it’s a 2.0Ah battery. That and the charger’s speed and PWRJump feature help to balance things out.
Thank you to Skil for providing the review sample.