Drill kit

If you missed the premiere of our new buying guide series of articles, here’s the scoop – we’re putting ourselves in your shoes. We know what it’s like to stare at a wall of options and have no idea what the best drill and impact driver kit is or how to decide what of those features and specifications are meaningful and what’s just hype. So take it from the Pros at Pro Tool Reviews – here are our picks for the best 2-tool combo kit in several major categories.

What’s the best cordless drill kit under $150?

Keep in mind that we’re focused on the 18V/20V Max class – 12V is a whole other category and it’s deep enough that we could go through each of the same recommendations you find here.

Best Drill and Impact Driver Kit

Best Drill and Impact Driver Kit

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2-Tool Combo Kit with One-Key

When you need the best available drill and impact driver, expect brushless motors, multiple speed options, and some upgrades to the electronic controls. If you’re looking for the best overall 2-tool combo kit and money isn’t a consideration, it’s hard to go wrong with the Milwaukee 2796-22 M18 Fuel One-Key Drill and Impact Driver Kit.

Drill Specs

  • Model: Milwaukee 2706-20
  • Max No Load Speed: 2,000 RPM
  • Impact Rate: 0 – 32,000 BPM
  • Max Torque: 1,200 in-lbs
  • Weight: 3.40 lbs

Impact Driver Specs

  • Model: Milwaukee 2757-20
  • Max No Load Speed: 3,000 RPM
  • Impact Rate: 0-3,700 IPM
  • Max Torque: 1,800 in-lbs
  • Weight: 2.10 lbs

Check out our review of the non-One-Key version of this kit

Key Features

  • Price: $596.00
  • Warranty: 5 years
  • POWERSTATE Brushless Motor
  • REDLINK PLUS Intelligence: prevents damage to the tool and battery due to overloading or overheating
  • REDLITHIUM Batteries: deliver more work per charge and more work over the life of the battery
  • ONE-KEY Compatible: Customize, Track and Manage tool’s performance and location
  • Easily toggle between up to four custom performance profiles that can be saved to the memory of the tool

We tested the One-Key System using this combo kit


  • Milwaukee One-Key customization
  • Hammer drill features Excellent speed and impact rate with Outstanding torque
  • Impact driver features Very Good speed, Excellent impact rate, and torque
  • Excellent ergonomics
  • 5.0 AH batteries included
  • Deep line of compatible M18 cordless tools



Best Drill and Impact Driver Kit Runner Up

Best Drill and Impact Driver Kit Runner Up

Makita 18V LXT Lithium‑Ion Brushless Cordless 2‑Pc. Combo Kit

A close second place is the Makita XT268T. You get most of the same benefits as Milwaukee’s kit, but without the level of customization. You get better ergonomics in the trade, though.

Drill Specs

  • Model: Makita XPH07Z
  • Max No Load Speed: 2,100 RPM
  • Impact Rate: 0 – 8,250 / 0 – 31,500 BPM
  • Max Torque: 1,090 in.lbs
  • Weight: 5.9 lbs

Check out our review of this drill

Impact Driver Specs

  • Model: Makita XDT14Z
  • Max No Load Speed: 3,600 RPM
  • Impact Rate: 0 – 1,100 / 0 – 2,600 / 0 – 3,800 IPM
  • Max Torque: 1,550 in.lbs
  • Weight: 3.3 lbs

The XDT12 is nearly identical but with Assist Mode

Key Features

  • Price: $265.91
  • Warranty: 3 years limited
  • BL Brushless Motor eliminates carbon brushes, enabling the BL Motor to run cooler and more efficiently for longer life
  • Extreme Protection Technology (XPT) which is engineered to provide increased dust and water resistance in harsh job site conditions
  • 18V LXT Lithium-Ion 5.0Ah battery BL1850B features an integrated L.E.D. battery charge level indicator
  • Rapid Optimum Charger has a built-in fan to cool the battery for faster, more efficient charging
  • Equipped with Star Protection Computer Controls to protect against overloading, over-discharging, and over-heating


  • Hammer drill features Outstanding speed, excellent impact rate, and torque
  • Impact driver features Outstanding speed, Excellent impact rate, and Very Good torque
  • Outstanding ergonomics
  • T-mode on impact driver for self-tapping screws
  • 5.0 AH batteries included
  • Deep line of compatible 18V LXT cordless tools


  • Including the XDT12 Impact Driver would add Assist Mode
  • Expensive kit at $429


If you want to consider getting into a more industrial line of cordless tools with really smooth performance and Excellent warranty program, check out Hilti’s SF10W + SID 4-A22 kit. Just be prepared to earn some credit card points – it’s $569!

Best Drill and Impact Driver Kit for Pros on a Budget

Best Drill and Impact Driver Kit For Pros on a Budget

GEN5X Brushless 18V Compact Hammer Drill/Driver and Impact Combo

Not everyone has the benefit of a major construction firm’s spending power and sometimes the money you save on tools means more money in your pocket. That doesn’t mean you want the cheapest tool you can get away with. After all, you’re a Pro and you need Pro performance. Go for the Ridgid R9205 Gen5X Brushless Compact Drill and Impact Driver Kit for $249 if that’s you. The fact that the majority of Ridgid’s additional tools you’ll want are also for the budget-minded tips the scales in its favor.

Drill Specs

  • Model: Ridgid R86116
  • Max No Load Speed: 2,100 RPM
  • Impact Rate: 27,300 BPM
  • Max Torque: 700 in. lbs
  • Weight: 3.0 lbs

Impact Driver Specs

  • Model: Ridgid R86037
  • Max No Load Speed: 2,750 RPM
  • Impact Rate: Not listed
  • Max Torque: 2,250 in-lbs.
  • Weight: 3.0 lbs

Key Features

  • Price: $259.99
  • Warranty: Lifetime service agreement
  • Hammer drill: compact size and lightweight design for a fully powered hammer drill in a compact size
  • Impact drill: 3 speed settings provide adjustable power and speed for the most demanding jobs as well as precision work
  • Tri-beam 3 LED lights around the front housing to eliminate shadows

Check out our review of this kit


  • Brushless motor on a budget
  • Hammer drill features Outstanding speed, Good impact rate, and Very Good torque
  • Impact driver features Good speed and Outstanding torque
  • Excellent balance of power and compact design
  • Lifetime service agreement with registration
  • Very Good ergonomics


  • Compact hammer drill doesn’t have the torque of the top heavy-duty models
  • Not as many tools available on the 18V platform as others

Also, consider the Kobalt 24V Brushless Drill and Impact Driver Kit. The line is pretty limited, but both tools are Very Good performers.

To get into one of the more premium lines, the Milwaukee 2799-22 M18 Compact Brushless Kit is an Excellent choice at $249.

Best Drill and Impact Driver Kit to Jump Onto a New Battery Platform

Best Drill and Impact Driver Kit For Jumping Into a New Battery System

DeWalt FlexVolt Hammerdrill and Impact Kit

Deciding what battery platform to buy into is a tough decision. It’s got to have all the cordless tools you’ll need down the road and still fit your budget. That’s why the best 2-tool combo kit is so attractive – you can often get the drill, batteries, and charger and once you add up the costs separately, the impact driver is almost a freebie. Get your hands on the DeWalt DCK299D1T1. You actually unlock two battery systems from DeWalt since you get a 20V Max battery and FlexVolt battery in the kit.

Drill Specs

  • Model: DeWalt DCD996
  • Max No Load Speed: 2,000 RPM
  • Impact Rate: 0-38,250 BPM
  • Max Torque: 840 in-lbs
  • Weight: 4.7 lbs

Impact Driver Specs

  • Model: DeWalt DCF887
  • Max No Load Speed: 3,250 RPM
  • Impact Rate: 0-3,600 IPM
  • Max Torque: 1,825 in-lbs
  • Weight: 3.4 lbs

Check out how this impact driver did in our shootout!

Key Features

  • Price: $387.59
  • Warranty: 3 years limited
  • Hammer drill: 3-speed, high performance (0-2,000 rpm), all-metal transmission optimizes tool-to-task for fast application speeds and improved run-time
  • Hammer drill: compact size (8.4″ front-to-back length) and lightweight (4.7 lb) design to fit tight areas
  • Hammer drill: includes 3-Mode LED providing lighting in dark or confined spaces up to 20X brighter
  • Impact driver: provides 1,825 in-lbs of max torque at fast 0-3,250 RPM speed and 0-3,600 impacts per minute
  • Impact driver: compact size (5.3″ front-to-back length) and lightweight (3.4 lbs) design


  • Gets into both 20V Max and FlexVolt lines
  • Hammer drill features Excellent speed, Outstanding impact rate, and Very Good torque
  • Highest impact rate in class makes this the best hammer drill for light masonry applications
  • Impact driver features Excellent speed, impact rate, and torque
  • Excellent ergonomics


  • Not much to complain about – you can find better performance specs, but neither tool is sub-par for Pros and it’s a solid all-around kit


Best Drill and Impact Driver Kit if Compact and Lightweight is Key

Makita 18V LXT Sub-Compact Combo Kit

Makita 18V LXT Lithium‑Ion Sub‑Compact Brushless Cordless 2‑Pc. Combo Kit

On the 18V side of things, nothing beats the Makita CX200RB 18V LXT Sub-Compact Kit for compact and lightweight. The size and performance of both the drill and impact driver are pretty much 12V, but being on the 18V battery system means you’ve unlocked their deep line of 18V tools. You only get compact batteries, though, so you’ll want to look for bigger ones down the road.

Check out our review of this kit

Drill Specs

  • Model: Makita XFD11ZB
  • Max No Load Speed: 1,700 RPM
  • Max Torque: 350 in-lbs
  • Weight: 2.8 lbs

Impact Driver Specs

  • Model: Makita XDT15ZB
  • Max No Load Speed: 3,000 RPM
  • Impact Rate: 0 – 1,600 / 0 – 3,900 IPM
  • Max Torque: 1,240 in-lbs
  • Weight: 2.6 lbs

Key Features

  • Price: $199.44
  • Warranty: 3 years limited
  • Efficient BL Brushless motor
  • Driver-Drill weighs only 2.8 lbs. with battery for reduced operator fatigue
  • Compact and ergonomic design
  • Mechanical variable 2-speed transmission for a wide range of drilling and driving applications
  • Impact Driver weighs only 2.6 lbs. with battery for reduced operator fatigue
    Compact and ergonomic design at only 5-5/16″ long
  • Assist Mode (A-mode) feature helps eliminate “screw cam-out” and “cross threading” by driving at low speed until impact begins
  • Extreme Protection Technology (XPT) is engineered for improved dust and water resistance for operation in harsh conditions
  • 18V Compact LXT Lithium-Ion 2.0Ah battery features an integrated L.E.D. battery charge level indicator


  • Ridiculously lightweight for 18V tools
  • Outstanding ergonomics
  • Deep line of compatible 18V LXT tools
  • Drill features Good speed
  • Impact driver features Excellent speed and Outstanding impact rate


  • Performance is closer to 12V tools than 18V
  • No hammer drill mode
  • Compact batteries are good for the kit but limit more power hungry 18V LXT tools


Best Drill and Impact Driver Kit for Prosumers

Best Drill and Impact Driver Kit For the Prosumer

Ryobi One+ 18V Lithium-Ion Hammer Drill and Impact Combo

Sure, you don’t work in the trades for your day job, but you’ve got a talent for building and fixing things and expect professional results. Jumping all the way up to Pro level pricing isn’t an option, but you want a tool that delivers and you’re willing to trade off some of the most recent features for solid performance. If that sounds like you, grab the Ryobi P898N for $169. If you can live without the hammer drill mode, you can get the same kit with a standard drill for $20 less.

Drill Specs

  • Model: Ryobi P214
  • Max No Load Speed: 1,500 RPM
  • Impact Rate: 19,500 BPM
  • Max Torque: 600 in-lbs
  • Weight: 3.9 lbs

Impact Driver Specs

  • Model: Ryobi P237
  • Max No Load Speed: 3200 RPM
  • Impact Rate: 3400 IPM
  • Max Torque: 1,800 in-lbs
  • Weight: 2.75 lbs

Key Features

  • Price: $163
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • 1/2″ single sleeve keyless chuck with spindle lock for quick, easy bit changes
  • Heavy-duty all-metal chuck for added strength and durability
  • Drill mode for drilling holes in wood, plastic, and metal
  • Drive mode for driving screws and bolts
  • Hammer mode for drilling holes in masonry and concrete
  • MagTray magnetic holder for convenient placement of bits and screws
  • Built-in bubble level to improve drilling/driving accuracy
  • 2-speed gearbox for high torque applications


  • Sub-$200 price tag is easier to handle than most
  • Hammer drill features Good torque
  • Impact driver features Excellent speed, Very Good impact rate, and Excellent torque
  • Solid lineup of compatible One+ 18V tools, including lifestyle categories other brands aren’t into


  • Hammer drill speed and impact rate are a little under true Pro level expectations
  • Not as fine a fit and finish as others
  • Compact batteries are good for this kit but limit more power hungry members of the line

Also, take a look at the Porter-Cable PCCK602L2 kit for $169.99.

Why a Drill and Impact Driver Kit?

The drill and impact driver 2-tool combo kit is the most popular kit sold and everyone has them. For Pros, you have your drill bit in the drill and driver bit in the impact driver to drill pilot holes and drive screws without having to change the bits. Even when that’s not the task at hand, the drill is your go-to tool for making holes and the impact driver is your screw driving specialist. Projects are always easier and faster when you have the right tool for the task at hand – and in many cases, that’s a combo kit of tools.

What Are the Criteria?

We looked at each of the brands that offer a 2-tool drill and impact driver combo kit to find the overall best performance, price, ergonomics, depth in the 18V/20V Max lineup, and warranties. Many brands offer more than one combo kit at multiple price points and we considered those as well. Advertising partners are included but do not receive unfair consideration in our picks. It’s all about what kit is the best in each category from an objective standpoint.

We didn’t include 12V tools for this group even though there are some great options available. Some even have performance that gets near this higher voltage group. In the end, however, they really need to be considered in a group of their own. So keep your eyes open for the 12V buying guide!

Rating Key

  • Outstanding – best in this class
  • Excellent – not the top, but close
  • Very Good – solid, nothing to be ashamed of here
  • Good – It’ll work, but we wouldn’t want to go any lower

Disagree With Our Choices?

That’s okay! We know personal preferences take a front seat in determining the best drill and impact driver kit, and every trade is different. Do Pro Tool Nation a favor and tell us what your top pick is and why you love it. Feel free to put it in the comments below or on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

Why Pro Tool Reviews is a Reliable Source

At Pro Tool Reviews, we have our finger on the pulse of the tool industry. We’re constantly keeping up with the latest press releases and researching the newest tools. The most relevant tools for our Pro audience make it into our editorial calendar for review. We do hands-on reviews of more than 200 tools each year as standalone evaluations. We run dozens more through our head to head tool shootouts. Additionally, we get our hands on hundreds of other tools at media events and trade shows throughout the country and internationally. With a team of Pro reviewers across every major trade involved in the construction process, you’re sure to get an expert opinion every time.


Sours: https://www.protoolreviews.com/best-drill-and-impact-driver-kit-2-tool-combo-kit-buying-guide/

The Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ system introduces Lithium-Ion performance at Ni-Cd prices. The Ryobi 18V ONE+ Lithium-ion Starter Drill Kit features a 3/8 in. keyless chuck with a 24 position clutch that adjusts the torque output to control the depth of the screw or fastener. The drill features the exclusive MagTray and on-board bit storage, which allows convenient placement of bits and screws. This 18-volt Drill Kit is powered by a new and improved lithium-ion battery, the best value in lithium-ion performance. It holds a charge up to 4X longer, offers up to 20% more runtime and is 45% lighter weight than Ni-Cd batteries. Best of all, like all 18-Volt ONE+ batteries, the included lithium battery works with every Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ tool ever made. This kit is an incredible value for those looking to become a Ryobi ONE+ user or add to their ONE+ collection of tools.

Ryobi three year warranty

This product is covered by a 3-year limited warranty.

Over 225 ONE+ Tools

The RYOBI 18V ONE+ System features over 225 unique products, giving you the ultimate in versatility and selection to get the job done.

Current RYOBI Promotions

View our current promotions for new product releases and the latest RYOBI savings!

Ryobi Help+

Your one stop destination for tips & techniques, manuals, troubleshooting, FAQs and more!

Sours: https://ryobitools.com/products/details/33287166039
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Cordless drills are more powerful than they’ve ever been, yet they’ve also gotten so compact and lightweight that you can probably handle one even if you’ve never picked up a drill in your life. Manufacturers like to market them to pros, but don’t be put off: Anyone going beyond the most rudimentary home improvement tasks—whether hanging a baby gate or mounting shelving—will find that a drill makes the work faster, easier, more enjoyable, and more likely to achieve solid, professional-looking results than hand tools alone. After drilling about 600 holes and sinking at least 50 pounds of screws in drill tests dating back to 2013, we’ve found the DeWalt DCD701F2 Xtreme 12V Max Brushless 3/8 in. Drill/Driver Kit to be the best one yet.

The DeWalt DCD701F2 12-volt drill combines power, comfort, and convenience in a way that none of the other tested drills do. In our tests, it bored 30 1-inch holes through a 2-by-10 on a single battery charge—results that show it can handle just about anything within the four walls of a home, and even the occasional foray into more aggressive work such as a small decking repair. The DeWalt 12-volt’s power is on a par with that of some of the other drills we looked at, but it particularly excels in ergonomics and convenience features. The molded handle seems to account for every curve and bulge of the hand, making this drill the most comfortable we’ve ever held. The battery is designed so that the drill can stand upright when not in use (other drills, like the runner-up Bosch, need to be placed on their side), and the LED is positioned such that it illuminates the drill front better than most. The DCD701F2 also comes with a nice belt hook, and the battery gauge is on each battery rather than on the tool, so you can check batteries without having to insert them into the drill.

If the DeWalt 12-volt is overpriced or unavailable, we also like the Bosch PS31-2A 12V Max 3/8 In. Drill/Driver Kit. This 12-volt Bosch couldn’t drill as many 1-inch holes on a single charge as the DeWalt in our tests, but it still has more than enough power for general home tasks. In our own measurements, we found it to be about 5 ounces lighter than the DeWalt 12-volt, but it feels heavier because the balance isn’t as good. The Bosch battery slides up into the handle, making the grip fatter and not as contoured as the DeWalt’s. The LED also doesn’t illuminate as well. This drill was our pick for years, and it has always been a solid performer. We were willing to overlook its minor inconveniences before, but the more recently released DeWalt solves almost all of them.

If you take on projects that require drilling lots of holes and sinking long screws, we recommend stepping up to the DeWalt DCD791D2 20V Max XR Li-Ion Brushless Compact Drill/Driver Kit. This is a larger, 20-volt drill, but it shares all of the most important characteristics of the smaller, 12-volt DeWalt: It’s very powerful and extremely comfortable to hold and use, and the little convenience features, such as the belt hook and the case, are spot-on. Compared with our 12-volt pick, this larger drill completes tougher jobs much faster, doing the same work in less than half the time, with a battery that lasts longer. The well-positioned LED can also be switched on independently of the drill, a unique feature that makes it a rudimentary flashlight, which could come in handy in nearly any crawl space. For around-the-house tasks, the added speed and power are often unnecessary. But for more production-oriented work, such as putting down decking or building a garden shed, they make a noticeable difference.

If the DeWalt 20-volt drill is not available, we also like the 18-volt Milwaukee 2801-22CT M18 1/2 in. Compact Brushless Drill/Driver Kit. It’s very similar to the DeWalt DCD791D2 in power, ergonomics, and overall design (18- and 20-volt tools are the same—the difference is just marketing). The negatives: It has only a single-setting light that turns on and off with the drill, and the case has hardly any room for drill or driver bits. Those are minor points at best, however, so if you’re already invested in Milwaukee’s cordless tools, or if you find this drill at a lower price than the DeWalt, go for it.

We think that most people will be happy with the power and size of the DeWalt 12-volt, but if you’re looking for a little more, yet you’re hesitant about the size and weight of the larger 20-volt DeWalt, we recommend the DeWalt DCD708C2 Atomic 20V Max Li-ion Brushless Compact Drill/Driver Kit, which splits the difference between the two. This is a relatively new category of tool, usually referred to as subcompacts (although DeWalt refers to theirs as simply “compact”), that is closer to the size of a 12-volt, yet it uses the 20-volt batteries. Combined, this gives it power and size right between the two classes: The tool has enough power for more substantial DIY projects such as light framing, but it’s not as streamlined and easy to use as the 12-volt. We see it as a good drill for someone starting out on the DIY road who may not want to deal with the weight and bulk of the larger drills. Along the same lines, the Atomic is part of DeWalt’s extremely large 20-volt line of tools, all with compatible batteries, so it’s a nice place to start if you expect to grow your collection of cordless tools in the future.

The Ridgid R8701K 18-volt Brushless SubCompact Cordless Drill Driver Kit is another subcompact that performed about the same as the DeWalt Atomic. Like the DeWalt, it’s not the best tool for heavy-duty jobs, but it offers a solid combination of power, size, and cost for basic DIY work. It’s also a good entry point into the large Ridgid line of 18-volt tools. Between the two, we prefer the DeWalt—the DeWalt has a more streamlined battery setup, and the Ridgid gear selector toggle is a little small and hard to see, but these are minor differences.

A bit set to go with the drill

Everything we recommend

Why you should trust us

Since 2001, I’ve used and evaluated tools on a daily basis. I spent 10 years in construction as a carpenter, foreman, and site supervisor, working on multimillion-dollar residential renovations in the Boston area. In that time, I’ve probably used at least 50 different drills, and I’ve been testing them for Wirecutter since 2015. I also live in a 1773 saltbox that requires a very hands-on, tool-heavy approach. In addition, I raise sheep, cows, pigs, bees, and chickens, so between all of the loose floorboards, framing repairs, shed adjustments, beehive building, coop fixes, stall creation, and fence alterations, I have a drill in my hand nearly every single day. Prior to owning the saltbox, I gutted and rebuilt a circa-1900s farmhouse.

To gain even more insight on drills, I spoke with Timothy Dahl, DIY editor at Popular Mechanics and founder and editor of the home-improvement site Charles & Hudson and the family DIY site Built by Kids. Dahl has written about tools since 2002 and has run Charles & Hudson since 2005. I also spoke with Harry Sawyers, a Wirecutter editor formerly with This Old House and Popular Mechanics. Harry has written about tools since 2005, including putting together a 12-volt drill test for Gizmodo.

Who should get this

Five different drills we tested.

A screwdriver can handle household tasks such as tightening cabinet hinges, putting up hooks, or swapping out the batteries in a toy, but once you get beyond that level, a drill can make life a lot easier. Putting up baby gates or assembling knockdown furniture, for example, is just way easier with a drill. Then, once you get to full-on DIY projects like replacing a rotted deck board or fixing a sagging gutter, a drill is essential.

For most household tasks, a 12-volt drill is more than adequate. It’s the smallest class of drill, and due to advances in battery and motor technology, such models have become formidable with regards to power. Good ones have no problem with tasks like swapping out light fixtures, building a bookshelf, and making minor drywall repairs, and they can even handle an occasional foray into more aggressive work such as fixing a saggy gutter or replacing a few rotted deck boards. The small size works well if you’re storing it in the house.

If you’re a rabid DIYer with plans to build a deck, a doghouse, and a tree house, we recommend a stronger, 18- or 20-volt drill. These models offer longer battery life and more power. They’re designed for constant heavy-duty use and might be seen hanging off a pro carpenter’s tool belt. They can handle all but the most aggressive jobs (like mixing mortar with a paddle or repetitive drilling into concrete). They’re a bit bigger and better suited for storage in a garage or shed, and as a result some folks might find their size and weight a little harder to manage than that of smaller, 12-volt tools. On average, 12-volt drills measure 6 to 6½ inches in length and weigh less than 2½ pounds; 18- and 20-volt drills average a length of 6½ to 7 inches and weigh around 3½ pounds (and have much bulkier batteries).

Recently, a new class of 18- and 20-volt drill has become available that splits the difference—both in size and power—between the 12-volts and the full-size 18 and 20s. They’re typically referred to as subcompacts, and we think of them as a great entry-level DIY tool, perfect for light framing and more heavy-duty work, but still manageable as an around the house tool for hanging curtain rods, adjusting doors, and hanging shelves. The downside is that they’re heavier than the 12-volts and not as powerful as the larger 18- and 20-volt models, so in a way, they’re a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. They’re also an affordable way to enter into a company's 18- or 20-volt line of tools, all of which have compatible batteries.

Sometimes, all you really need is a screwdriver

How we picked

For a general around-the-house drill, we recommend a 12-volt brushless drill kit that comes with a pair of lithium-ion batteries. These drills offer the best combination of power, maneuverability, run time, and cost. They aren’t designed for all-day aggressive use, but they are more than capable for basic home maintenance and repair, and if needed they can sink a 3-inch screw on occasion. They’re still compact enough to take up hardly any space in a hall closet or even a kitchen junk drawer.

Power: We’ve been testing drills since 2015, and we’ve come to the conclusion that the 12-volt drills from quality manufacturers all have more than enough power for standard household tasks. It’s not uncommon for one to be able to sink over 80 3-inch screws through solid wood on a single battery charge or to drill more than 20 1-inch holes through a 2-by-10. In our most recent, 2020 testing, most of the drills had similar performance numbers—similar enough that we wouldn’t choose one over another based on power. They were all within the margin of error.

To be clear, 18-volt tools are the same as 20-volt tools—it’s just marketing.

We also tested a number of 18-volt drills. These offer more power but tend to be more expensive, and we don’t feel that added power is worth the heavier weight for simple around-the-house tasks. But these drills do have their place, which is why we have recommendations for both the larger and smaller classes of 18-volt drills below.

We need to note that some companies list the nominal voltage of the battery (the voltage at which the tool operates), while others use the higher maximum voltage (the spike that occurs when you first pull the trigger). That said, 18-volt tools are the same as 20-volt tools—it’s just marketing. For the purposes of this article, we’re using the term “18-volt,” which has long been the standard term for the class.

Two drills, side-by-side.

Ergonomics: With the power question settled, we focused our attention on ergonomics. We wanted a drill that was small, comfortable to hold (for both large and small hands), relatively light, and nicely balanced. This is where the best drills really distinguished themselves. Some felt like boat anchors, while others seemed perfectly molded for our hands. Comfort makes a huge difference, especially when you’re reaching overhead with the tool for extended periods or doing a repetitive task like replacing deck boards or putting together a piece of knockdown furniture.

Brushless motor: Compared with a traditional brushed motor, brushless motors allow for a smaller tool with better battery life and more power. Once an expensive outlier in the industry, brushless tools are now coming down in price, and there is no question that companies are trending toward brushless. We anticipate that major manufacturers will be making moves to discontinue their brushed lines in the future. Even brands traditionally associated with homeowner-grade tools, such as Ryobi and Skil, now offer brushless drills.

Convenience features: Most drills come with additional features like a belt clip and an LED light, but they’re not all the same. We wanted a belt clip that was wide and easy to use, and an LED that effectively lit up the workspace.

Cost: Brushless 12-volt drills from reputable manufacturers typically cost between roughly $120 and $160 (but are occasionally available for less). Given the benefits of brushless—most notably the reduced size and weight—we think this is an appropriate cost. Quality brushed drills, such as our runner-up, the Bosch PS31-2A, linger around the $100 to $120 mark. So there’s often an upcharge for brushless, but it’s not a huge one, especially when you consider the long lifespan of the tool.

How we tested

We tested out the drills by, well, driving a lot of screws and drilling a lot of holes. We used structured tests to stress the drills and run their batteries dry. I also used the drills in less structured settings as I worked on various projects—I built a wall, fixed a hay feeder, repaired a chicken coop, built two bookshelves, put down a floor, and outfitted my workshop with shelving. I also adjusted a few doors, swapped out some license plate lights, put up some mudroom hooks, and hung a heavy mirror.

A selection of drills being tested.

For our structured tests, we sunk 3-inch screws into doubled-up 2-by-10 lumber (a total of 3 inches thick). We did this on a fully charged battery until the battery was empty. This test simulated the process of framing, as if someone were building a tree house or a partition wall. To prevent overheating, we rested the drills after every 14 screws.

We then outfitted each drill with a new Irwin 88816 1-inch Speedbor Spade Bit and drilled holes through 1½-inch-thick 2-by-10s until the battery wore out. Again, we rested the drills after every five holes. This was no doubt an aggressive task for the 12-volt drills, but we wanted a direct comparison against the 18-volt drills to truly see whether models’ capabilities matched against one another. Also, we wanted to test the upper end of the 12-volts to see which models could handle the occasional foray into more ambitious work.

For these tests, we set the drills to the faster of the two speeds and switched over to the slower speed (with higher torque) when the drill stopped being effective. In the lower gear, we were usually able to continue on for a bit until the battery was completely drained. For the drilling test, the 12-volts usually could handle only a few holes before we switched over to the lower gear with the higher torque needed for the difficult task.

A person using our top pick DeWalt drill to drill a hole.

Obviously, the number of holes drilled and screws driven was very important, but we also kept an eye on each drill’s performance and handling, asking questions like: How often does it stall out? How much does it struggle? How does it feel in the hand? We also looked at the overall design of the drill, seeing how the toggle switches worked and how easy it was to take the battery off and put it back on again.

Our pick: DeWalt DCD701F2 Xtreme 12V Max Brushless 3/8 in. Drill/Driver Kit

Our pick for the best drill the DeWalt DCD701F2 Xtreme 12V Max Brushless 3/8 in. Drill

The DeWalt DCD701F2 Xtreme 12V Max Brushless 3/8 in. Drill/Driver Kit offers the best combination of power, size, ergonomics, and convenience. Like all of the drills we looked at, it has more than enough strength for household tasks, but where it really shines is in ergonomics. It is, by far, the most comfortable drill we’ve held. In addition, it does well in offering all of the other, minor touches, providing a wide belt clip and a bright LED positioned to cast maximum light at the front of the drill. The overall body design is balanced, and because of the way the battery is positioned, the tool can stand up, unlike many of the others, which you can place only on their sides.

In our power tests, the DeWalt 12-volt was able to drill 30 1-inch holes into a 2-by-10 on a single battery charge and to sink more than 100 3-inch drywall screws into a doubled-up 2-by-10 (3 inches of wood). Obviously, that’s more than enough oomph to tighten up some cabinet hinges and hang a mirror, but it’s also plenty for those times you might need to deal with a larger project, such as a deck repair or a fix on a sagging gutter. If you need a drill for constant all-day aggressive use, we recommend our upgrade pick, but if you’ll be dipping a toe into larger DIY projects only from time to time, the DeWalt 12-volt will have no problems.

In general, 12-volt drills are little, but the DeWalt DCD701F2, with its brushless motor, is downright tiny. From tip to tail, the DeWalt 12-volt is less than 6 inches long; it was the shortest drill we looked at. On our scale it weighed just under 2½ pounds, landing in the midrange of weight, but the balance of the DeWalt 12-volt was so nice that, before we weighed the drills, we were convinced it was the lightest one we were testing. The truth is that the Bosch GSR12V-300B22 is almost a half pound lighter.

Three DeWalts drills side by side ordered from largest to smallest.

From left to right, the three DeWalts in descending order of size. Photo: Sarah Kobos

A side-by-side comparison of our two DeWalt drills.

DeWalt 12-volt (right) is much smaller than the DeWalt 20-volt (left). Both have excellent handles and are easy to use. Photo: Doug Mahoney

What’s most significant about the DeWalt 12-volt is the ergonomics. The handle appears to be designed with every contour of the hand in mind. Even the slightest details—such as the little depression where the forefinger knuckle rubs against the drill body—are accounted for. The handle tapers nicely, allowing the pinky finger to find purchase, and the trigger and forward/reverse control are well positioned for quick use.

DeWalt employs a “foot”-style battery that slides into the base of the handle from the front of the tool. Although the design makes for an overall larger tool, it also provides a small platform that the drill can stand on. In contrast, Milwaukee and Bosch opt to use a canister-style battery that slides up into the handle, so not only are the handle ergonomics bulky, but in addition, with no foot, the drills can only rest on their sides. Although both the Bosch and Milwaukee models we tested are appropriately padded, we prefer placing a drill upright, especially on delicate surfaces.

Close up of a hand holding the battery gauge of the DeWalt 12-volt.

This battery design offers another benefit: The battery gauge is on the battery rather than on the tool. This way, you can quickly check both batteries before you start on your project. Otherwise, as with the Bosch and Milwaukee, you need to put each battery into the drill and activate the drill in order to see how much charge remains. It’s a minor point, but it emphasizes the overall convenience of the DeWalt design.

The DeWalt and Bosch drills side by side facing a wall to show their differences in the handles, lights and battery.

With the battery designed to slide into the base of the handle, DeWalt also had room to place the LED down below the grip. The alternative location for the light, which many other 12-volt drills use, is just above the trigger. The lower position of the DeWalt’s LED means it casts much better light at the nose of the tool and reduces the drill’s shadow considerably. In our tests, the light from the Bosch and Milwaukee LEDs barely illuminated above the drill at all.

The DeWalt DCD701F2 kit comes with two batteries and a small duffel-style carrying case. You won’t find a ton of additional room in the bag, but it’s enough for you to keep some drill and driver bits or a couple of other small tools. Even with the drill inside, the bag is compact, and you can easily stuff it in a closet or on a basement shelf.

Close up of a person holding the DeWalt drill.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The one slight negative we found with the DeWalt DCD701F2 kit is that taking the battery off the tool is a little counterintuitive. As on most drills, a sliding tab releases the battery, but on the DeWalt 12-volt, you need to press the tab in toward the drill. Other models, such as the 20-volt DeWalt DCD791D2, have the tab sliding away from the tool, making it easier to just grab, unlatch, and pull off. This is truly a minor point, though, and once we got used to the tab on the 12-volt, we had no issues.

Last, this isn’t a flaw unique to this model, but it is something you should understand about the drill/driver category: This tool isn’t designed to drill masonry. For that, you need a hammer drill function. DeWalt makes a pricier version of our pick that includes this feature, the DeWalt DCD706F2. We haven’t tested that model, but we believe its performance should be in line with the impressive results we got from its close relatives, the 12-volt and 20-volt versions.

Runner-up: Bosch PS31-2A 12V Max 3/8 In. Drill/Driver Kit

Bosch PS31-2A 12V Max 3/8 In. Drill

If the DeWalt 12-volt isn’t available and you’re willing to make a few sacrifices, we also like the Bosch PS31-2A 12V Max 3/8 In. Drill/Driver Kit. This model is our previous top pick, and it offers a lot of power—similar to what the DeWalt offers—but it has a longer body and the ergonomics aren’t anywhere near as good. Also, the small convenience features that we like so much on the DeWalt, such as the useful light placement and the foot-style battery, are absent here. Still, we’ve been using this tool for years, and it has always performed well and remained a reliable option.

Close of of a person holding the Bosch drill in their hand.

In our tests, the Bosch PS31-2A drilled five fewer holes than the DeWalt DCD701F2, lasting for 25 holes, but it sunk more screws. It was the only brushed drill we tested that could hang with the brushless models. But compared with the DeWalt, it isn’t as good in its ergonomics. Bosch has gone with a canister-style battery that slides up into the handle, making the handle fatter and more difficult to hold than that of the DeWalt. This design also messes with the drill’s balance, making the Bosch feel heavier than the DeWalt (which, according to our measurements, is actually 5 ounces heavier).

The LED is positioned right above the trigger, so it illuminates a smaller area. The battery life indicator is on the tool rather than on the battery, and the drill has no belt hook.

Upgrade pick: DeWalt DCD791D2 20V Max XR Li-Ion Brushless Compact Drill/Driver Kit

The DeWalt DCD791D2 20V Max XR Li-Ion Brushless Compact Drill

By choosing the DeWalt 20-volt over the DeWalt 12-volt, you’re getting more speed, more power, and more run time. To determine this, we drilled five 1-inch holes with the 12-volt and five with the 20-volt. Both drills completed the task, but the 20-volt did so in 20 seconds, whereas the 12-volt took 1 minute. During the test, the 12-volt often got bound up and had a much harder time, while the 20-volt just blew right through the wood. So although the 12-volt is capable of tougher jobs, that’s really not what that smaller tool is designed for. The 20-volt drill, on the other hand, is built for these tasks. If that’s the kind of work you’re doing all day, you’ll appreciate the difference.

On a single battery charge, the DeWalt 20-volt drilled 52 1-inch holes through the 2-by-10. This result is on a par with what we saw from the other 18-volt drills we tested, and that’s plenty of power for more involved DIY tasks such as some kinds of framing or a deck project.

The larger DeWalt shares all of the successful characteristics of its 12-volt counterpart. It has the same excellent handle, the foot-style battery, and a great belt hook.

close up of a person holding the DeWalt 20-volt drill in their hand.

As on the 12-volt drill, the LED sits at the foot of the 20-volt tool, but here DeWalt has put an unusual spin on the idea. On this model DeWalt provides a three-setting toggle just above the light, giving it two brightness settings as well as a simple “on” setting that lets you keep the light illuminated and use it like a rudimentary flashlight. It can’t replace a real flashlight (we have some more thoughts on those), but in a crawlspace or a poorly lit basement, it has come in handy for us.

Last, the DeWalt DCD791D2 kit comes with a nice hard case that leaves plenty of room for drill and driver bits.

Also great: Milwaukee 2801-22CT M18 1/2 in. Compact Brushless Drill/Driver Kit

Milwaukee 2801-22CT M18 1/2 in. Compact Brushless Drill/Driver Kit

If the DeWalt 20-volt is not available, we also recommend the Milwaukee 2801-22CT M18 1/2 in. Compact Brushless Drill/Driver Kit. In both form and performance, it’s nearly identical to the DeWalt 20-volt, even down to the average price, right around $200. The Milwaukee is a little shorter from tip to tail but is an ounce heavier. We gave the DeWalt 20-volt the edge here only because the Milwaukee drill does not have additional light features and the case lacks extra room to store drill or driver bits. Neither of those shortcomings is a true dealbreaker, and we think you’d be able to make do just fine without those features. If you see this model for less than the DeWalt 20-volt, go for it. Or, if you already own tools on the Milwaukee M18 platform, you have a convenient way to expand your set with this drill.

Milwaukee 2801-22CT M18 1/2 in. Compact Brushless Drill/Driver Kit

Also great: DeWalt DCD708C2 Atomic 20V Max Li-Ion Brushless Compact Drill/Driver Kit

DeWalt DCD708C2 Atomic 20V Max Li-Ion Brushless Compact Drill

If the 12-volt size feels a little too underpowered, but you’re concerned the 20-volt will feel a little too big and unwieldy, we recommend the DeWalt DCD708C2 Atomic 20V Max Li-ion Brushless Compact Drill/Driver Kit. In all ways, this drill splits the difference between the 12 and 20-volt DeWalts. It can handle more aggressive tasks than the 12-volt, like light framing and larger diameter hole drilling, but it’s much smaller than the more powerful 20-volt drill. As long as you’re aware of these limitations, the Atomic presents a nice combination of size and power, and one we feel is well-suited to the entry-level DIYer. It is also a fairly inexpensive way to get started with Dewalt’s expansive 20-volt DeWalt platform.

Sours: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/the-best-drill-for-common-household-projects/


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