- Best Cordless Drill
- Best Budget Cordless Drill
- Best Corded Drill
- Best Budget Corded Drill
- Best Cordless Right Angle Drill
- Best Hammer Drill
- Best Cordless Hammer Drill
Of all the handheld power tools in existence, the electric drill is the oldest. The first practical electric drill was actually created by request of Henry Ford for use in his Model T plant. He needed something his workers could use which was both portable and fast. After speaking with one of his primary tool suppliers, he proposed the idea and they came up with a workable design.
While the handheld power drill has evolved and improved through the last century, the basic design is still almost identical to the original. Today we have cordless drills powered by high efficiency Lithium-Ion batteries, hammer drills, and high power drills which can be used to bore through much heavier materials; however, the basic concept hasn’t changed much as a drill is still a drill.
Of all the power tools one can buy, this is probably the first one for most people. It’s also the power tool that gets used the most with a wide variety of bits and attachments that can be connected to them. To some extent, the humble drill can be used for many of the functions of other more specialized power tools, giving the owner a lot of flexibility.
For more information about selecting an electric drill, check out our buyer's guide listed below.
Best Cordless Drill:
Of all the portable power tools you can buy, the one youll use the most is a cordless drill/driver. In fact, it seems like every time I turn around, Im finding something else I need to use my cordless drill for. The latest generation of cordless drills are all powered by Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries; this makes cordless drills and other power tools more efficient than ever before.
The great advantage of Li-Ion batteries is the greater charge capacity and faster recharge time of Lithium Ion batteries over other rechargeable batteries. Compared to Nickel-Cadmium, the old rechargeable battery standard, Li-Ion batteries provide double the current capacity. That means you can drill twice as many holes or drive twice as many screws than you ever could before. They also charge faster than Ni-Cad, needing only 30 minutes to charge (some manufacturers claim less time) to an 80% level. Finally, Li-Ion batteries dont have the maintenance problems of Ni-Cad. You dont have to worry about the battery forming a memory from a partial charge, either.
The one drawback to Li-Ion batteries is their high cost. Even though the technology of the battery should make them cheaper to produce than Ni-Cad, theyre still too new. While Li-Ion batteries are becoming more and more popular, they havent been around long enough to bring the price down to the NI-Cad pricing level.
To prevent the batteries from overheating, both the charger and the tool have special circuitry installed. In the charger, this circuitry prevents overcharging of Li-Ion batteries, a sure killer for them. Because of this problem, you want to be sure to only charge your Li-Ion batteries in chargers that clearly state that they are made for Li-Ion batteries.
Compared to other cordless drills, Li-Ion units are smaller and lighter weight, reducing operator fatigue and allowing the drill to get into a smaller space. Thats a real advantage when youre trying to get a lot of work done. They've also incorporated more features to make the drill comfortable and easier to use than previous cordless drills have had.
Whatever cordless drill you decide to buy, make sure you check out the rest of that manufacturers line of cordless tools as well. Many professionals buy all their cordless power tools from the same manufacturer, knowing that the batteries are interchangeable. Since you can buy most cordless power tools with or without batteries, buying the same line allows using the batteries you have in whatever tool you need.
So, besides battery power, what makes one cordless drill better than another?
- Weight The lighter the drill, the less fatigue, especially on those big projects.
- Power Theres nothing to beat raw power, especially when you've got some heavy-duty drilling to do.
- Comfort This works together with weight. Some drills just feel right in your hand, making them easier to work with.
- Versatility What kinds of batteries can it use? How big a chuck does it have? How compact is it?
- Battery System How much power does it provide? How quickly can you recharge it?
All of these units come with the drill/driver, 2 batteries, a charger, and some sort of a carry case. The drills themselves are reversible, having a 1/2 chuck, 2 speed ranges (one for power and the other for speed) with variable speed triggers, and keyless chucks. An adjustable clutch is also included for driving screws.
This drill from Makita has the highest torque of any cordless drill/driver on the market, providing 750 inch-pounds of torque. It has dual LED headlights to help eliminate shadows in the work area. Read Full Review
Bosch has taken cordless drills to the next level, with the first 36 volt cordless drill/driver on the market. This unit puts out an impressive 600 in/lbs of torque, with two speed ranges offering speeds up to 1,400 RPM. Read Full Review
See it at:
Like all Milwaukees tools, this ones a workhorse. Milwaukee has put their years of power tool design into creating a drill thats truly a pleasure to work with. A little heavier than the others, which is normal for Milwaukee, you can be sure itll stand up to the rough treatment of a job site. Read Full Review
See it at:
The 4.0Ah batteries for this tool mean that you can drill 1/3 more holes than the competition, before having to recharge. The drill has a three-speed transmission, instead of the two-speed that most of its competitors have. Read Full Review
See it at:
If youre looking for a bargain in a cordless Li-Ion drill, take a good look at this Hitachi. This lightweight drill produces plenty of power, and is easy to work with. Backed by Hitachis 10 year warranty, how can you go wrong? Read Full Review
See it at:
Best Budget Cordless Drill:
Ever since tool manufacturers started making cordless drills, they've been taking the market by storm, replacing corded drills for all but the most demanding of applications. The convenience of a cordless drill makes it a much more flexible tool than its corded cousin. As the years have progressed, these drills have gotten better and better, combining higher voltages for more torque power with better battery technology for more stamina.
The latest generation of cordless drills are all made to use 18 volt (or higher) Lithium-ion batteries. While these are great systems, they may not be within the budget of most do-it-yourselfers. So, were going to look for some cordless drills which are more cost effective for those who dont need the latest and best.
Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) has become the gold standard for cordless tools for its high capacity and quick recharge time. Some manufacturers boast 30 minute recharge cycles. This is mostly dependent upon the design of the charger, as a major concern is overheating the battery during the recharge. With two batteries you can pretty much keep working all day long with a li-ion powered drill/driver.
Some people dont like lithium-ion batteries as much as the older Ni-Cad. The reason for this is that they are used to their Ni-Cad drill slowing down as the battery discharges. Drills that use Li-Ion batteries dont do this, they maintain their speed until the battery has discharged to too low a level to power the drill, then they stop working. That can be a bit disconcerting until you get used to it. On the other hand, you have full power up until the battery reaches that point.
These drills are a combination of Li-Ion and Ni-Cad. Even though Li-Ion batteries are coming down in price, the long history of Ni-Cad has made it so that they are still cheaper.
Most of the time, cordless drills are actually drill/drivers. What that means is that they are designed to be used as both a cordless drill, and a screw gun. There is a built-in adjustable clutch, which disengages the drive when at a preset point. That provides the user with control over how deep screws will be driven, eliminating the risk of driving the screw head right through the material, when adjusted properly.
Probably the most important factors when selecting these tools are battery life and voltage. Everything else takes second fiddle to those two items. If the drill doesn't have enough power to get through the material, or the battery goes dead after only a few minutes, the drill isn't worth much. Since this is a list of budget priced tools, I've tried to find the best tools I could for under $100.00. All of these models are available for this price, although not from all sellers. In some cases, you might see the same drill priced both below and above the $100 limit.
This drill comes with a side assist handle, something that you rarely see on a cordless drill. The 400 inch-pounds of torque is pretty impressive for a drill in this price range. Read Full Review
See it at:
While I gave Skil the top spot, this one is my personal favorite. I have used one of these for the last couple of years, and it's been a great unit. The fast charger is well worth having, as it gets me going quickly again. Read Full Review
See it at:
DeWalt's low end drill uses a 9.6 volt Ni-Cad battery. While I personally prefer Li-Ion, there are a lot of people around who still prefer Ni-Cad. This one comes with two batteries, which is surprising for a drill in this price range. Read Full Review
See it at:
Craftsman breaks with tradition to provide a 19.2 volt battery, instead of the typical 18 volt. This gives this drill a bit more power, coupled with an electric brake to conserve battery power. Read Full Review
See it at:
Like usual, Harbor Freight provides a great tool at a great price. If you need a cordless drill that you're not going to be using every day, take a look at this one. A lot of features for a very low price. Read Full Review
See it at:
Best Corded Drill:
Cordless power tools seem to be taking over the world, especially cordless drills. The newer high powered Lithium-Ion drills are what everyones looking for; something thats easy to use, while still having lots of power. It would almost seem like the day of the corded drill is almost over.
But wait, there are still some places where that corded drill are very useful. Some jobs are just too much for a cordless drill. The battery wont last long enough to get the job done or the drill just doesn't have quite enough power to get the job done. While todays cordless tools are much more powerful than the ones of yesteryear, they still cant match a corded one for brute strength.
If you have a lot of drilling to do, you need a corded drill. It doesn't matter if youre trying to use the drill for mixing drywall mud, drilling through a lot of dimensional lumber, using a hole saw, large spade bit or forstner bit, or youre drilling through 1/4 steel, a cordless drill just isn't going to cut it. Those are the times to dig out an extension cord, so that you can use a heavy-duty corded drill.
Even if you have a good cordless drill, its a good idea to have a good corded one as well. Two drills can make many jobs easier, preventing you from having to change out bits all the time. But theres another reason to have two drills as well; so that you dont kill your batteries, trying to do work thats beyond the capacity of your cordless drill.
Heavy duty corded drills arent fancy tools. Theyre built for one thing and one thing only; power. These aren't drill/drivers. If you tried to use them to drive screws, youd probably put the head of the screw right through the wood. These are pure drills, simple, but powerful. They all have 1/2 chucks, so they can take straight shank drill bits up to 1/2 in size. for larger size holes, youre going to have to use stepped shank, but that shouldn't be a problem, as they are regularly available.
These aren't high speed drills either. When youre cutting large holes or trying to mix mud, you dont need high speed. In fact, if you use a high speed drill to make larger diameter holes in steel, youll probably just burn up your drill bit, without getting the hole drilled.
I look a lot at operator comfort, when Im looking at a powerful tool like this. All of these drills come with a second handle for support. When youre doing some high torque cutting, thats an essential. Otherwise, youll end up with a sprained wrist. I also look for rubber overmolded handles, tool balance, overall tool weight and how easy the trigger is to use. All of those factors affect how quickly youll get tired using the tool.
I've given Ridgid's drill the number one place, even though it's missing a few things that others have. For overall toughness, I think this one's got it. Read Full Review
See it at:
Here's another 9 amp corded drill, this time from Hitachi. It's a pistol grip design, rather than a mid-handle, which some people prefer: personally, I like the mid handle. Read Full Review
See it at:
Makita's long-lasting drill has all ball bearings in the motor to eliminate problems. This one has a mid-mount handle and comes with a rear D handle which can be rotated 360 degrees. Read Full Review
See it at:
Milwaukee's contender is clearly made for long life. The ball & roller bearings and quick change brushes make it easy to maintain. It also comes with rubber overmolded handles and a 360 degree rotating second handle for operator comfort. Read Full Review
See it at:
This drill has a nice combination of features, including plenty of torque. The overmolded handles, with the secondary handle rotating 360 degrees make it comfortable to work with. This is the only drill on this list that comes with a depth gauge. Read Full Review
See it at:
Best Budget Corded Drill:
Cordless power tools are all the craze, especially the newer lithium-ion powered tools. It seems that both manufacturers and retail outlets are pushing to sell cordless tools, largely ignoring their more traditionally powered cousins. But cordless tools aren't actually the best choice for everyone.
For cordless tools to be useful, they have to have a charged battery. But batteries really cant be left on a charger 24/7, just waiting until they are needed. If the only drill a person has is a cordless one, and they dont use it very often, theyll probably find it sitting in the closet, with a dead battery. Before using it, theyll have to wait for the battery to charge. Thats a hassle that nobody needs.
For people who only use a drill infrequently, good old-fashioned corded drills are the way to go. They may not be as sexy, but theyre a whole lot more practical. Instead of having to wait for the battery to charge, you just plug it in and get to punching holes.
The drills I've reviewed here aren't heavy duty models, these are simple ones. They dont have a lot of options, dont pack loads of power, but theyre good enough for hanging bookshelves, assembling furniture and making the occasional repair. All of them come with 3/8 keyless chucks, so you dont have to worry about losing the chuck key. Theyre also reversible and all have variable speed triggers. So, theyll do the job, even though they aren't fancy.
Let me add a quick note about safety here. Small chips can be knocked off by the drill bit, hitting you in the face and eyes. Unless you wear safety glasses, goggles are a necessary precaution. The biggest mistake that most people make with power tools is to try and connect them to power cords which are too small. The smallest extension cord you can sue with these tools is 18 gauge. For runs of 50 feet or more, they should be at least 16 gauge. If you use too small a wire gauge, the extension can overheat, melting the insulation.
Overall, this drill has a nice set of features. What makes it stand out is the 8 amp motor which runs at up to 2500 RPM. On top of that, it's built to last. Read Full Review
See it at:
Milwaukee Tools are usually the most powerful in their class. This drill boasts a 8.0 amp motor, which probably puts out more torque than any other corded drill around. Like all Milwaukee tools, it's heavy duty and built to last. Read Full Review
See it at:
Although not the strongest drill on our list, this one has a nice balance of features. I especially like the soft grip and the built in level. Read Full Review
See it at:
Anyone who will back up a power tool with a five year warranty obviously has a lot of faith in their tools, but that's just what Hitachi has done, even for their lower end tools. Although not a heavyweight, the ergonomic handle on this drill makes it great to work with. Read Full Review
See it at:
Black & Decker gives you a lot for your money in this drill. It comes with a built-in bubble level and on-board bit storage, features that none of the other drills in this category have. Read Full Review
See it at:
Best Cordless Right Angle Drill:
While electric drills have been a standard part of many tool kits for decades; right-angle drills, except in the case of heavy-duty units used by plumbers and electricians are much rarer. The idea of the average do-it-yourselfer having one of those expensive units was a little too far-fetched. But now, with the creation of cordless right-angle drills, hobbyists and handymen everywhere are finding uses for a tool they never knew they needed.
The right angle drills used by plumbers are electricians are much heavier-duty units than these, which require being plugged into electrical power. They are used for boring holes through structural lumber to run wiring and pipes in new construction. Due to the high torque requirement as well as the large amount of holes that they are used for, a cordless drill is more appropriate.
None of these units would be appropriate for that type of work. Not only are they lower torque; but being cordless, they’d probably run out of battery power way too soon. These haven’t been created to be the cordless version of those tools, but rather to provide a drill which can be used in places where they couldn’t be used before. The right-angle head allows much more flexibility than a standard head.
They’re also better than the right angle head adapters that you can buy to go on a drill. While those units will work, they are awkward to work with. You have to hold onto the adapter, as well as the drill, in order to force the rotation of the drill to turn the chuck and not the adapter.
What makes a right-angle cordless drill great is the tight places one can get the drill into. Before, one was limited to places where there was ample room for the drill, especially the 11 or more inches of “vertical space” perpendicular to the drilling surface. Before, when one didn’t have that, they were sunk.
As with all cordless tools, the biggest factors in choosing a cordless right-angle drill are power and battery life. For the sake of this list, I have limited myself to drills that were 18 volt or higher. Generally speaking, the higher the voltage, the greater torque the motor can produce. All of these drills either come with, or have available Lithium-Ion batteries; which give the greatest capacity and most rapid recharge time.
By using Li-Ion batteries in these drills, not only do you get about 50% more holes per battery charge, but the power doesn’t taper off, like it does with Ni-Cad batteries. Li-Ion batteries provide full voltage, up until they get to their maximum discharge point. Since they don’t have a “memory” like Ni-Cads, they can be partially recharged without a problem.
For sheer power, this Milwaukee unit has everyone beat. Of course, that’s what I’d expect from Milwaukee. If there was ever a power tool company which makes tools for power, it’s Milwaukee. Read Full Review
See it at:
This Makita unit provides 121 in-lbs of torque, on an 18 Volt battery. I’ve always liked Makita tools, and this one is a winner. Read Full Review
See it at:
Designed with the professional electrician or plumber in mind, this Hitachi unit is easy to work with. It's high speed and power helps drill lots of holes fast. Definitely a worthwhile addition to your tool box. Read Full Review
See it at:
DeWalt has a different way of rating their drill power, so we can’t get an exact comparison between this one and the others on the list. However, users have used it with up to 3-1/2 hole saws. For a cordless tool, that’s real power. Read Full Review
See it at:
For those that need to find a lower cost unit, Ryobi comes in at a much better price. Like all their power tools, they’re challenging the big boys, by creating tools that the average consumer can afford. Maybe it doesn’t have all the whistles and bells, but it’s got enough of them. Read Full Review
See it at:
Best Hammer Drill:
If youve ever tried to drill in concrete, youll appreciate the value of a hammer drill. Hammer drills are electric drills, but with an extra twist thrown in. As the motor drives the bit around, it also spins two gears that have teeth on their sides. As the teeth of one, ride over the other, it causes a hammering action. There is a switch to turn off this hammering action when not needed.
Without this hammering action, it is virtually impossible to drill holes in concrete, brick or stone. Normal drills wont touch them and in fact will be made dull by trying to drill into these materials. Drill bits for use with hammer drills are different, with a chisel end on them. The hammering action of the hammer drill uses this to chip a hole into the concrete or stone.
The reason that hammer drills are so effective is that concrete, stone and steel are really quite brittle. So, the hammering action chips at the bottom of the hole, giving the bit something new to grab onto and break off. Drilling holes into concrete with a hammer drill takes only about one-fifth the time of doing it with a drill alone. These drills are also heavier duty than a standard drill, with larger motors that produce more torque. A major factor when looking at hammer drills is the motor amperage, which directly correlates to motor torque.
I want to clarify that there is a difference between a hammer drill and a rotary hammer, although many people use the terms interchangeably. Both of them provide rotary cutting action, combined with a hammer blow. However, the rotary hammer has a much harder blow, designed more to chip away at something than to drill a hole in it.
Hammer drills generally come with a depth control rod, that you can preset for your required hole depth. They also have a side handle, allowing you to provide more downward pressure on the drill bit, than what you can with a standard drill. Although excessive downward pressure is not wanted when drilling into steel, it is essential when drilling into concrete and stone.
For sheer power, the most important specification for a hammer drill, DeWalt has everyone beat. The 10 amp motor provides the highest penetrating power of any hammer drill we've found. Coupled with the mid-mounted soft grip handle, this makes a great tool for those times when you've really got to get through the tough stuff. Read Full Review
See it at:
Bosch has developed a patented rotating brush plate that actually works in both directions. This allows you the same power for backing out of a hole, as you have for getting into it. Coupled with a 9.2 amp motor, and many other features, it makes for a great unit. Read Full Review
See it at:
While the Milwaukee hammer drill only sports a 9 amp motor, I'd put it up against anything. They seem to be able to get more torque out of a motor than anything. This is attested to by their specs on this unit, which says it can make 1-3/4" holes in concrete, just about double what others say of their comparable hammer drills. Read Full Review
See it at:
I really like tools with headlights. Maybe that's because I don't like hauling lights around and setting them up. It seems like I'm always working where there isn't enough light. Well, this unit from Makita is the only hammer drill I've seen with a built in work light. Coupled with it's other features, this drill is what I've always expected from Makita; quality. Read Full Review
See it at:
Best Cordless Hammer Drill:
Hammer drills are specialty power tools, designed specifically for drilling into masonry. If you look at the special masonry bits used with hammer drills, the ends are shaped more like a chisel, than a conventional drill bit. When drilling, the hammer mechanism causes the drill bit to move forward and back, in a hammer like motion. This chips away at the masonry, creating dust that is carried out of the hole by the twist of the threads.
Hammer drills can also be used in a non-hammer or rotary mode. Compared to other drills, they have an advantage in this mode in that they run at a higher speed. This high speed makes them great drills for use in non-drilling operations, such as with sanding drums, wire brushes and polishing pads. They are also excellent for use with large diameter hole saws, as their high speed makes for a smoother cut.
Until the invention of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, cordless hammer drills really werent very practical. The amount of time it takes to drill holes in masonry can be considerable, even for small holes. Earlier rechargeable batteries would die out too quickly, making the tool useless. However, the higher charge capacity of lithium-ion batteries has made cordless hammer drills a great option for contractors and do-it-yourselfers alike.
All of these tools come with high capacity batteries and the charger. It is germane to note that you must use lithium-ion battery chargers with li-ion batteries. Attempting to charge them with any other type of charger will probably destroy the battery.
As hammer drills, these are all heavy-duty units with 1/2 chucks. So, they also make great general purpose heavy-duty drills as well. Like any other heavy-duty drill, they come equipped for using a side handle.
To be effective as hammer drills, they not only need plenty of battery power, but motor power as well. Torque is an important specification in a hammer drill. The other thing which I feel is very important is the comfort of using the tool. Using a hammer drill in masonry can rattle your hands to the point where you might feel that youll never stop shaking. A tool that leaves you that way isnt something that you want to be using all that often.
Makita tops this list with a hammer drill that provides 750 in/lbs of torque, as well as 30,000 beats per minute of hammer action. Dual LED work lights reduce shadowing. Read Full Review
See it at:
Milwaukee's hammer drill is as powerful as the Makita, but doesn't quite have the same number of beats per minute. The on-board battery fuel gauge is nice, allowing you to know beforehand when your battery is running low. Read Full Review
See it at:
Hitachi's cordless hammer drill is packed full of features, like most of their power tools are. This one comes with a brushless motor, reducing the risk of breakdowns when you need it the most. Read Full Review
See it at:
Bosch has come out with the first 36 volt hammer drill on the market. This one comes with both slim and fat pack batteries, allowing you to pick the battery which is most appropriate for the job. Read Full Review
See it at:
DeWalt has put a three speed transmission in this drill, providing up to 34,000 beats per minute in hammer mode. The carbide chuck is unique as well, providing a more positive grip to the drill bit and preventing drill spinning. Read Full Review
See it at:
Drill Buyer's Guide
The drill goes all the way back to Paleolithic times when cave men used a flint point attached to a stick and rubbed between the palms to make holes through bone, ivory, shells, and antlers. The electric drill is much more modern than that, but is still the oldest hand-held electric power tool there is.
Early models were housed in heavy cast-iron casings, making them difficult to use. During World War II, Henry Ford made a request of one of his tool suppliers, A.H. Peterson, that they develop a lightweight electric drill for use on the assembly line. The Peterson Company came up with the first practical handheld electric drill which Henry Ford made good use of.
Unfortunately, the Peterson Company didn't survive, but their drill did. When they went under, the assets were bought out by one of the partners who formed the Milwaukee Electric Tool Company. Incidentally Milwaukee Tools still makes some of the best electric drills on the market.
The electric drill has grown in use, not only by popularity, but by the development of additional ways to use the drill. Today, electric drills are used for cutting holes, polishing, and sanding in addition to the more traditional use of drilling holes. Even within the realm of drilling holes there are a variety of drill bits available for drilling different types of holes or drilling into different materials.
Today, the trend is more and more towards cordless drills. With their high capacity and fast recharge Li-Ion battery technology, a cordless drill can be used almost constantly simply by swapping batteries and recharging them. Although Li-Ion battery powered tools are still a bit expensive, they’re well worth it to those who need to use their drill a lot. For others, there are cheaper options they can consider, including lower voltage cordless drills and corded drills.
Hand-held Drill Types
There are more types of electric drills on the market today than ever before, along with many ways of categorizing them. But the simplest ways of categorizing them are by price, size, power and whether or not they have hammer action.
Originally, all handheld electric drills were run off of AC house current. These are still available today but are rapidly losing market share to cordless drills. However, for the homeowner who doesn't use a drill very often, a corded drill is still better than waiting for the battery to charge in their cordless drill. Corded drills are also very useful in operations where the drill must be on for prolonged periods of time, which would run down the battery, such as using a wire brush.
Cordless drills are taking over the market from corded drills, due to their convenience of use. With modern battery technology, Lithium Ion batteries hold a higher charge and have a shorter recharge time, allowing the drill to be used much more, with less time lost to recharging. Cordless drills have also become more powerful, rivaling their corded cousins.
Cordless drills are almost always drill/drivers, meaning they have a built-in clutch to disengage the drill chuck from the motor. If you’re using it to drive screws rather than drill holes, the clutch can help prevent overdriving the screws to too great a depth.
These are a special new category of cordless drills, designed for use in tight places. The right-angle gearhead allows the overall drill length to be as little as about three inches, plus the length of the drill bit. This allows for drilling in otherwise inaccessible areas.
Hammer drills are predominantly used for drilling through stone, concrete, and masonry. They’re also the best drill for cutting through ceramic tile. The drill has a built-in hammer which provides a blow every revolution, much as if you were hitting the back of the drill with a hammer. This allows the special masonry bits to chip through the substrate you’re trying to drill through. Hammer drills always have a switch to turn the hammer action off when not needed, so the drill can be used for normal drilling operations.
How Does Price Affect the Drill?
When you look at a selection of drills, you'll see a wide variety of pricing, sizing and options. This can be a bit confusing, especially when buying your first drill. Cutting through all the fog, what you're really paying for in the more expensive drills is power and quality. Of course, things like a hammer action and a right-angle head will add to the cost as well, but when comparing standard drills, trying to make an apples-to-oranges comparison, higher price equals more power and better quality.
Contractors and construction workers who use their power tools all the time need implements that will take a beating for years and still keep working. You may not need that rugged a drill for your home workshop but you also have to consider the difference in power between different drills. This can be difficult to compare as not all manufacturers give the same types of specifications for their products' power.
Cordless drills are also more expensive than corded ones due to the cost of the batteries and charger. However, with most of the major power tool manufacturers you can buy bare tools without batteries and chargers. This allows you to use the same batteries across several power tools, assuming you have a number of power tools that use the same voltage batteries and were made by the same tool manufacturer. Bare tools are often about as cheap as their corded cousins.
Other Options to Consider
Most people who do a considerable amount of do-it-yourself projects ultimately end up with more than one electric drill. While they might have one primary drill (usually a cordless drill/driver), they end up collecting others along the way. This is actually an advantage on many projects, as you might have to drill holes, countersink them and then put the screws in. If you only have one drill, that's a lot of bit changing to do.
Today's drills are almost all manufactured with keyless chucks. These are much easier to use, but may have problems staying tight, especially in cases where there’s a lot of vibration. Ratcheting chucks are better at avoiding the problem of loosening than standard ones are as well as keyed chucks. But keyed chucks are only going to be found on very large drills.
Chucks can vary in size from 1/4" to 1/2", with 3/8" in between. This dimension refers to the largest diameter drill bit shaft they are designed to accept. In the case of smaller drills, they probably don't have sufficient power to use the larger sized drills, which explains why they don't have those larger chucks.
Integral Work Lights
Cordless drills also typically have work lights mounted on them, which are a very useful option. The location and number of LEDs used for the work lights is important as it affects where shadows form. Some manufacturers also give you the option of turning on the work light before drilling which is very handy.
Hammer drills and other larger drills will also have a secondary handle, to help stabilize the tool and prevent the torque from hurting your wrists. Some of these tools can put out a lot of torque, enough that in the case the bit jams you could become injured.