What is the best cordless drill?

posted in: Power Tools | 13

You absolutely MUST have a good cordless drill.

No man would be caught dead without one, and if you could only afford one cordless tool, this is it. There are lots out there, some good and some not so good. So I’m doing you a favor in cutting through all the noise and giving you two great affordable choices.

What is the best cordless drill? Answering that depends on several factors such as:

  • Battery type – Lithium Ion or NiCad. See my post on batteries.
  • Whether you already have other battery powered tools and want to stay compatible with those battery packs.

To make it simple, I’m looking at two great brands, Makita and DeWalt. One uses Lithium Ion batteries and the other is NiCad. Both are priced nearly the same.

Makita 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/2-Inch Hammer Driver-Drill

The Makita 18-Volt LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Hammer Driver/Drill Kit delivers versatility and performance to the jobsite. You can run it as a driver/drill or a hammer driver/drill, allowing you to carry just one tool on the job instead of 2. It’s powered by an 18-Volt lithium-ion slide-style battery with a fast charge time to spend more time working and less time sitting on the charger.


  • ½ inch hammer drill/driver.
  • 2 speed design (0-400 and 0-1500 RPM) for a wide range of drilling, driving, and hammer drilling applications.
  • 4 pole motor with 480 inch pounds of maximum torque.
  • Built-in LED light for work area illumination.
  • Lightweight at just over 4 pounds with the battery.
  • Uses 18 Volt lithium-ion 3Ah battery that can be recharged in 30 minutes.
  • Comes with one battery and charger.
  • Extra batteries are about $60 each.
  • Nice hard case.

DEWALT DC725K-2 18-Volt Compact Hammer Drill

DEWALT’s 18-Volt Cordless 1/2 in. Compact Hammer Drill (DC725K-2) is compatible with the entire DEWALT 18-Volt system and works with all 18-Volt DEWALT batteries (XRP, NANO and compact). Its lightweight, compact size allows you to easily work in tight spaces, weighing only 4.9 lbs. to minimize fatigue. Featuring a 1/2 in. single sleeve ratcheting chuck to reduce bit slippage, the drill also includes an LED work light that provides increased visibility in dark or confined areas.


  • ½ inch hammer drill/driver.
  • 2 speed design (0-450 and 0-1500 RPM) for a wide range of drilling, driving, and hammer drilling applications.
  • 17 clutch settings for maximum versatility and control.
  • Weighs just 5.2 pounds, just one pound more than the Makita above.
  • Uses 18 Volt NiCad batteries and works with several different models of DeWalt battery packs and chargers.
  • Batteries charge in one hour.
  • Comes with two batteries and a charger.
  • Not so nice soft case.

You can’t go wrong with either of these. Go buy one today!

13 Responses

  1. Makita drills run so smoothly in your hand that it is startling to someone used to other brands. Less vibration equals less fatigue.

    • Thanks for the comment Gordon. I’m a big fan of Makita, though I started out with DeWalt.

  2. Why insistent on cordless though? I took a drill from my grandfather’s house that has to be 40 years old and it still works fine. I doubt any cordless will endure half of that.

    • I have cordless drills too, but it’s a convenience factor. Plus some of them like certain Makita models have belt clips. Corded drills are certainly an option for limited budgets. I’m going to do a post soon for budget tools.

    • I just picked up a well-used Black and Decker U-20 drill at a garage sale. It’s 40 years old at least, and works beautifully. It’s also heavy and needs an extension cord.

      A good cordless like the two here is light, has as much power as that U-20, and I can use it anywhere without needing an outlet. Corded drills are important. But cordless ones. . .well, would you take a pass on tape measures just because you have an old folding rule in your box?

  3. Easttexasfatboy

    Amongst the tradesmen I work around, there are several choices. Dewalt 20 volt is the big dog. My friend uses Makita. The leap in performance from 18 volt was amazing. I’m a Plumber, and Milwaukee has really come on strong. If I had it to do over again, I would go Milwaukee. Better motors and batteries…..up to a point. Dewalt is the standard. I work on a rough-in all day long, and never use two batteries. Top outs are a little more battery intensive, but my charger works great. I have the 1/2 heavy duty hammer drill, the impact driver, the sawzall, and the 6 1/2″ saw. They work great!

    Here’s the thing…..if you pay attention, you can get some good deals. I’m just using two batteries…..4 amp, and they work great. No need to buy the more expensive 5 amp. Lest you think my hammer drill isn’t used much……well, I set tile as a trade as well, and that’s how I mix up my thinset. Seriously, there’s no difference at all with a comparable corded drill.

    • Good info man, I’ve never used Milwaukee myself, but might give them a try when I’m buying again. Running a big mixer paddle in your bucket of thinset sounds like a good workout for a cordless drill.

      • Easttexasfatboy

        I’m with Dewalt because I happened upon it first. Please be aware that there are several versions of Dewalt and Milwaukee cordless drills. I actually got rid of my hole hawg when I saw the hammer drill would do the same job. No cords strung out all over everywhere. As we sit right now, I believe Milwaukee has the edge. Both companies make different tools.

        One thing I will say…..my hammer drill will break your wrist just like a hole hawg. It’s wise to attach the handle and brace your self. It WILL throw you off a ladder.

        • Oh, some valuable advice there! I’ve seen an oil drilling rig lock down and twist. That’s one reason I got out of that work. But most folks might not realize a battery powered drill can hurt you.

          • My son is a mechanic and he has a battery powered half inch impact from either Snap-On or Cornwell, and it has a LOT of torque. At least as much as a typical air powered impact. It’s not for the limp wristed.

          • Easttexasfatboy

            I remember the FIRST Porter Cable 12 volt. Essentially, it’s all about the motors and battery life. It wasn’t until the 20 volt Dewalt that I considered myself cord free. The 18 volt Dewalt system didn’t have good battery life. The 20 volt runs full speed until it just quits. It doesn’t slowly wind down. Yeah, I replaced my 18 volt tools with 20 volt. Then I just bought tools only at Home Depot.

          • Easttexasfatboy

            It’s all in the torque and speed. When I’m drilling out a stud for a 2 inch vent, a nail can bind you up. I use the Milwaukee 3 tooth bits nowadays, but still…..you had best hold on to that drill, expecting anything….seems like my Dewalt goes over 500 inch pounds in low speed. That will seriously whack you. I’m a big ole boy, heftier than most….but still.

      • Easttexasfatboy

        I forgot to add this….I buy the top of the line drill. Because I eventually end up killing them. So I buy the best. Why spend that kind of money if you don’t use it much?

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