Makita is a company known for the quality of their cordless power tools. This is purely professional, although a do-it-yourselfer can appreciate the quality of this tool as well. This Makita model is part of their newest system, the LTX series. It accepts two different Li-Ion batteries; the 1.5 amp hour or the larger 3.0 amp hour. This amazing drill will produce an amazing 750 inch-pounds of torque, highest of any cordless drill/driver on the market. Makita has created a great control circuitry, which they call their “Active 3 Control.” This chip actively controls the current, voltage and temperature for the fastest possible recharge time. Dual LED headlight provides illumination to the work area without shadows.
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. Bosch has a flexible battery system, with both fatpack and slimline batteries that will fit this unit. The motor’s brushes are externally accessible for ease of maintenance. The carbide tooth 1/2 inch chuck is ratcheting, to help ensure that it doesn’t loosen during use. This is a tough professional gun, built "Brute Tough." It has a unibody power train and metal reinforced cola rot help it withstand falls from ladders and scaffolding. It comes with a support handle for those times when you have trouble hanging onto the drill.
If there’s any power tool company known for rugged professional tools, it’s Milwaukee. Their Li-Ion entry is a 4 pound unit with 400 inch pounds of torque. Like all their tools, this one is designed to be a real workhorse. It has won various head-to-head competitions with competitors. The V18 series is their newest series, applying their years of experience to making a comfortable, easy to work with tool. The controls on this one are easily arranged for ease of access and high visibility. Like the other drills we’ve looked at, Milwaukee has both standard and high-capacity Li-Ion batteries available.
Hitachi has really challenged many of the old-timers in the power tool market. They do it once again with this cordless drill/driver. At only 3.5 pounds, this drill produces 460 inch pounds of torque, putting it in the same league as the Makita that I’ve picked for #1. If you’re looking for a bargain, this Hitachi drill should be a winner for you. With its touted 10 year warranty, you shouldn’t have to worry about quality problems, or about the tool breaking.
Skil has a nice 18 volt Li-Ion powered drill here. This drill has two speed ranges with a variable speed trigger. This is a fairly lightweight unit at 3.0 pounds. It supplies 400 inch-pounds of torque to its 1/2-inch keyless clutch. There are 20 positions on the clutch, plus one for drilling. This drill comes complete with a side-assist handle, a rarity on cordless drills. Although it comes with li-ion batteries, it is also compatible with Skil’s Ni-Cad battery system.
I have to confess, I’m a little bit prejudiced in favor of this drill, as I have one. The 20 volt Lithium-Ion battery system provides plenty of power, and this one comes with a 30 minute fast charger, allowing you to get back to work quickly. It has 310 inch-pounds of torque, which doesn't make it the most powerful one on this list. Two speed ranges as well as 11 clutch settings make it easy to set the tool for exactly what you want. The two speed ranges allow you to set the drill for high torque or high speed, depending upon the need of the moment. An on board LED work light and tool holder make it convenient to work with.
I must confess that I was a little bit surprised to find a DeWalt in this price range. They are more known as contractor tools and don’t really try and fit into the home user market. However, this drill gives a nice combination of features at an excellent street price. The drill is powered by a 9.6 volt Ni-Cad battery and comes with two batteries for more continuous use. It produces 200 inch-pounds of torque, which isn’t as much as some of the others on this list, but enough for a lot of tasks. Two speed ranges and a variable speed trigger allow you to operate at 0 to 1100 RPM.
Craftsman has been providing hand and power tools to the homeowner and do-it-yourselfer for many a year. This drill is another example of their commitment to quality at a reasonable price. The 19.2 volt Ni-Cad battery provides more than adequate power, to this 3/8-inch keyless chuck drill. The clutch has 24 positions. This one comes with an electric brake, something not seen on the other ones we’ve looked at. Craftsman claims a 1 hour recharge on the battery, although there is only one battery in the kit.
If you’re looking for a real bargain, our friends at Harbor Freight have just what you need. This 18 volt Ni-Cad drill packs a lot into a low price tag. The drill has an electric brake and 23 torque settings on the clutch. There is onboard bit storage as well as a work light; options you wouldn’t expect to find on a low dollar unit like this. The drill is variable speed, with two speed ranges and a range from 0 to 1200 RPM. It’s not real high torque, offering 225 in/lbs, so don’t try to remove lug nuts with it. I’ve owned several drills made by Chicago Electric over the years and they’ve held up very well. My problem has been in finding replacement batteries for them; but other than that, I haven’t had a problem.
This is the powerhouse of the group, coming in with an 8 amp motor. For those times when you need a little more power, this one is the drill to go for. DeWalt makes these drills with all ball-bearing construction for long life. That's something you'd expect to find on a professional tool, but not one built for homeowners. They've also included an overload protection, again to ensure long tool life. Between the mid-handle design and the soft grip, this is a comfortable drill to use. It will deliver 2500 RPM when you need it too; that's fast. The built in belt hook is a handy addition.
As usual, Milwaukee puts out a quality tool. This drill has an 8.0 amp motor, like the DeWalt. Knowing Milwaukee, it probably puts out more torque than the DeWalt does, even though the motors are rated the same. Milwaukee always seems to do that. However, I gave the DeWalt the top slot for its mid-mount handle, which gives the drill a little bit better balance. This drill runs up to 2,800 RPM with a variable speed trigger. The gears and case are all metal for long life. The trigger on this drill is designed to be large enough that you can get two fingers on it, cutting down on operator fatigue, especially for long jobs.
Skil is best known for their circular saws, being the company that invented them. However, they build much more than just circular saws. This corded drill isn't their lightest one, but a bit better than that. It comes with a 6.5 amp motor, which will run up to 2000 RPM. It's the only one on this list that comes with a built in level, so that you can make sure that you're drilling horizontal holes straight. That's well worth having. It has a soft grip handle for comfort.
Hitachi has really done wonders since they entered the power tool market. More than anything, they're known for low cost power tools. That's not to say that these are cheap tools, in fact, they regularly surprise me with the features they put into their low-cost tools. In case you have any doubts about the quality, they back it up with a five year warranty, the longest of any we've reviewed. The handle is nicely curved to fit the palm of your hand, making it a very ergonomic tool to work with.
Black & Decker’s corded drill is eh best deal in this category. It comes with a bubble level installed to make it easier to get your holes straight. There’s also an on-board bit storage, so that you can keep a screwdriver bit with you at all times. The motor is 5.2 amps and produces up to 1,500 RPM. Even so, it will drill up to a one inch hole in wood and a 3/8 inch hole in steel.
The R7121 from Ridgid is the very definition of what this category is about. It uses a hardened steel triple gear set for long life. Its 9 amp motor provides lots of torque, but only 500 rpm of speed; Ridgid decided to trade speed for torque on this one, a good choice. The additional handle goes into the side or the top and there is a spade or “D” handle in the rear; the only drill on this list that has that D handle. In the front, the power passes through a 5/8 chuck to a keyed chuck, making the drill extra-tough. The drill features quick service brushes, a forward reverse rocker switch and a lock on button for drilling or mixing. At 7.3 pounds it's a little heavy and it doesn't have a soft handle, but the other features overshadow that. It comes standard with a 12 foot cord, the longest of any of these drills. The cord even comes with a built-in led indicator so you know when the tool has power. It comes with Ridgid’s 3 year warranty.
Hitachi also provides a corded drill with a 9 amp motor. This one doesn't come with the back D handle, and the main handle is in the back, “pistol grip” style. I personally prefer the center mounted handle that the Ridgid has, hence the higher rating. However, Hitachi offers 416.6 in/lbs of torque from that 9 amp motor; enough to do a lot of work. The trigger is designed for two-fingered use to reduce fatigue and there is an oversized reverse switch. There’s even a belt hook with this model, something that you don’t usually find with corded drills. Hitachi also makes an optional right-angle attachment for this drill.
Makita’s drill is slightly less powerful than the Rigid and Hitachi, with an 8.5 amp motor. However, they’ve given it the mid-mounted handle and rear D handle that I like. That D handle rotates 360 degrees as well, with 24 positive stops. The motor is constructed with all ball bearings for long life. I really like the trigger on this one, which is a rocker, making it easy to change directions quickly and smoothly when needed. On-board chuck key storage helps keep you from losing your key.
Several things about this Milwaukee 0302-20 drill show that it was designed with the construction industry in mind. To start with, it's made with ball and roller bearings, which will help guarantee long life. At 8 amps of power, it may not seem as strong as the Ridgid, but in my experience, Milwaukee somehow manages to always milk more power out of a motor than anyone else. At a max speed of 850 rpm, it's the fastes drill on this list.
This is the only drill on this list that is advertised as having a keyless chuck. The quik-lok cord is made to be changed quickly so you can keep working. Motor brushes can be changed without disassembly. It comes with a two finger trigger to reduce operator fatigue. The extra handle is the clamp on 360 degree type. It is positioned right behind the chuck for maximum leverage and control. Both the grip and the extra handle are overmolded, providing soft grips. It weighs 5.7 in at pounds.
This Bosch 1034 VSR comes with an 8 amp all ball bearing motor. The front housing is magnesium for rigidity and strength. This machine exerts 767 inch pounds torque, making it quite possibly the strongest drill on this list (not all the other manufacturers list their drill's torque). Its motor runs from 0-550 rpm controlled by a two finger trigger with a locking button; a nice option when mixing or drilling through steel. It weighs only 5.3 pounds, putting it right in the middle in the weight department. The 360 degree handle and grip are soft to absorb vibration and there is an optional depth gauge available to fit the handle. The drill comes fit with an 8 foot cord.
There are several excellent tools in this category, but my vote goes to the Makita LXPH03. For a cordless drill, this one has a lot of power, putting out 750 in/lbs of torque, from a four pole motor. It also has a really high hammer rate, topping out at 30,000 beats per minute, when the drill is operating at max speed. There is a mechanical two-speed transmission, using all metal gears and gear housing. The tool is designed to be easy to work with, having rubberized grips, and a side handle for extra stability. It also has dual LED work lights to reduce shadowing. Of course Makita’s fast charging system comes with it as well..
Like the Makita, this hammer drill from Milwaukee provides 750 in/lbs of torque from a four pole frameless motor. Max speed and max blows per minute of hammer action are slightly lower, but not by much. The single sleeve ratcheting chuck has carbide jaws for maximum grip. An onboard electronic control system protects the batteries and ensures maximum tool performance. There is also an on-board battery fuel gage to provide you with an idea of remaining battery life before recharge. It also has a LED headlight to illuminate the work area.
Hitachi’s cordless hammer drill is packed full of features, like most of their tools are. This one is a little less powerful than the Makita or Milwaukee, which kept it out of the top spot on this list. Nevertheless, with 654 in/lbs of torque and up to 27,000 blows per minute, it’s not all that far behind the Makita unit. This hammer drill has a four-way electronic speed toggle and two-way speed selector, allowing for a total of eight speed/power settings for more precise control. The motor is brushless, reducing maintenance. This tool comes with 3.0Ah batteries, giving it a bit more work time than the Milwaukee. There is a LED work light, which is mounted on the foot of the handle, providing shadow-free illumination of the work area. All this, and it’s got the Hitachi lifetime warranty, which they provide with all their Li-Ion tools.
Bosch is breaking the 18 volt barrier, coming out with a 36 volt hammer drill. This tool has a unibody power train, which keeps the gears in alignment; making it the most durable drive train on the market. All the gears are metal for longer tool life. It comes with two different sized batteries, a 1-L and a 1-XL, giving you more options for your work. The drill produces only 600 in/lbs of torque, which is surprising considering that is has a 36 volt battery. The brushes are externally accessible for hassle-free maintenance. A ratcheting carbide tooth single sleeve chuck grips the bits tightly so that they won’t loosen up.
This DeWalt is the only cordless hammer drill around with a three speed transmission instead of the two speed transmissions that their competitors use. That provides you with an extra degree of control. At a max speed of 2000 RPM, it almost catches up with the Bosch, but makes up for it by providing up to 34,000 beats per minute in hammer mode.
One thing that DeWalt did really well on this series of tools is to make the batteries backwards compatible with their older tools. So, if you have other DeWalt 18 volt cordless tools, you can use the lithium-ion batteries in them. The kit comes with two batteries and the charger.
This is also the only drill I've seen which has carbide chuck inserts, for a tighter grip on the drill bit. That helps ensure that your bit doesn't start spinning in the drill, instead of cutting. It also comes with a LED work light.
I selected this drill as my number one because it's a real powerhouse. While most users won't need all the power this unit can provide, for those that have to bore large holes in dimensional lumber, this one can't be beat. The 28 Volt motor produces 1081 in-lbs of torque, in two variable speed ranges, 0-400 RPM and 0-1000 RPM. With all this power, you can drill 1/2" holes in steel, or 2-9/16" holes in wood. It comes complete with the battery, charger, case and a side handle.
I have a soft place in my heart for Makita cordless drills. Maybe that’s because my first cordless drill was a Makita. Even though it only used a 7.2 volt battery, that drill lasted me for over 20 years.
This cordless right-angle drill can drill up to a 3/8” hole in steel, and 1” in wood; with its 121 in-lbs of torque. Of all the units I’ve listed, it has the fastest motor, developing 0-1800 RPM. The drill comes complete with two batteries, charger and case. IT also has an LED work light, with afterglow for lighting your work area. The large paddle switch is especially convenient. Makita boasts the fastest recharge time of anyone for their Li-Ion batteries.
This unit by Hitachi is another rugged, powerful one. The motor putts out 106.2 in-lbs, allowing it to drill up to 7/8” diameter holes in wood and 3/8”diameter in steel. Hitachi designed this one with the professional electrician and plumber in mind. The chuck is keyed, something rare these days, but more secure when working with larger sized drill bits. The no-load speed on this one will go up to 2300 RPM. A 3-1/4” low profile head, small grip circumference and 3.3 lb. total weight make it easy to work with for long periods of time.
DeWalt has a very nice contender with this drill. Like the Makita, it comes with two Lithium-Ion batteries and the charger. With the rapid recharge time of Li-ion batteries, two batteries means that you’ll probably never run into any downtime. DeWalt doesn’t rate their units by in-lbs of torque, but by “UWO,” so there’s no real way of doing a direct power comparison with other cordless right-angle drills. However, I found one user who changed the supplied 3/8” chuck with a 1/2” chuck to use it with hole saws up to 3-1/2 inches. According to that user, the drill had no problem handling that size hole saw, and didn’t even heat up. For a cordless tool, that’s real power!
For those who whose pockets aren’t deep enough to buy one of the other right-angle cordless drills I’ve mentioned, Ryobi has come out with a very sleek model and lightweight model that is great for getting into those tight places. Ryobi has done something to help with this problem, which I haven’t seen on any other right-angle drill; they’ve put the battery on a swiveling foot, allowing the user to position it in the most convenient location for their work. Please note: battery and charger are sold separately for this unit.
When it comes to raw power, DeWalt has got everyone beat. This hammer drill has a 10 amp motor, the highest rating we've found in any hammer drill. The soft grip handle is mounted in the middle of the drill, instead of the back, like many others, giving it a great feel and better balance. That produces less operator fatigue for repeated drilling. DeWalt claims that this drill will produce 50 percent more power, which is something I wouldn't want to challenge them on. The motor is also overload protected. There is a 2-speed selector switch for high speed or high torque settings. The side handle rotates 360 degree for greater operator comfort. All in all, a great tool.
Bosch’s contestant comes in as the second most powerful, at 9.2 amps and packs some really nice features. This unit has a patented rotating brush plate (the part that provides the hammering action) which works in both directions, allowing you the same hammering action when trying to back out a stuck bit. There is also an integral slip clutch to minimize torque reaction to your hands and arms. This is also a two-speed, reversible drill, allowing for high-torque or high-speed operations, and reversing for removing fasteners. I've given the number one place to the DeWalt unit because of power, but this drill has a lot going for it. I’d be hard pressed to decide between the two.
I always like Milwaukee power tools for their overall toughness. Every one I’ve ever used has been built like a tank. This is true of their heavy duty hammer drill as well. All bearings are ball and needle to insure long life, without problems. This drill runs a close third for power at 9 amps, but knowing Milwaukee, if we were to run an actual torque comparison, we’d probably see more power out of that 9 amp motor than other drills with supposedly more powerful motors. Milwaukee claims that this drill can make 1-3/4” holes in concrete, that’s almost double the claims of the others we’ve looked at. There is a built-in anti-vibration system to reduce operator fatigue and self-stopping brushes to bring the motor to a quick stop when the trigger is released. Like the other units we’ve looked at, this one has a two speed switch and 360-degree rotating handle.
Of all the hammer drills I’ve looked at, this is the only one that comes with a built-in LED light to illuminate the work area. While it's not always necessary, this is a great option to have when you need it. The 8.2 amp motor on this baby is built with all ball-bearing construction for long life. There is a lock-on button on the trigger to save your trigger finger from cramping while holding the drill. Makita has designed in a torque limiting clutch to prevent gear damage (and probably arm damage) in the case of bit jamb. Like the other units we’ve looked at, this one is reversible and has a 360-degree rotating handle.
Hitachi’s big hammer drill sports a 3/4” model, sporting a 1/2” chuck. It comes with an 8.3 Amp or 940 watt motor. It’s also one of the quietest ones around at only 79dB (no load). It weighs 4.9 pounds, making it one of the lighter ones around. The variable speed impact runs as high as 39,000 BPM, corresponding to a drill speed of 3,000 RPM. An oversized trigger switch and push-button reverse couple with a rubber overmolded handle for operator comfort. The side handle swivels 360 degrees and is removable.