11 best cordless drills 2018: the convenient way to make holes in things

Lithium-ion-powered drills, drivers and hammer drills with enough torque for all your DIY tasks, from budget to semi-pro

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For relentless power and maximum torque, there's still nothing to beat an AC-powered electric drill. 

But if you're working beyond the length of an extension cable and don't want your work impeded by a fiddly power lead then there's only one way to go: cordless.

Today's cordless drills pack more punch than ever, due in no small part to the advent of the lithium ion battery. Li-ion batteries are not only lighter than nickel cadmium (Ni-Cd) packs – a great weight saving on the wrist and forearm – they also hold their charge when not in use and don't mind being topped up from half empty.

Our pick of the cordless drills around today is the Dewalt 18V XR Brushless Compact Lithium-Ion Combi Drill. If you want something rather more reasonably priced, go for the excellent DeWalt DCK211D2T. It's a twin-pack, so you get a Compact Drill Driver and an Impact Driver. 

How to buy the best cordless drill for you

A key consideration is voltage… Put simply, the higher the battery's voltage, the more power and torque you'll have to drill through tough materials like steel and especially concrete and brick. As an added bonus, all cordless drills serve two purposes: drilling and screwdriving. Combi Drills differ slightly in that they also include a hammer action for hard-going masonry work.

Most of the drill drivers in this roundup will tackle basic DIY tasks but it goes without saying that you get what you pay for. The more expensive models are invariably better built and add heaps more power to your elbow.

If you're looking for the best cordless drill to get your DIY on with this year, then look no further. From Black and Decker to JCB, these awesome drills will turn you into the next Handy Andy.

The best cordless drills, in order

1. Dewalt 18V XR Brushless Compact Lithium-Ion Combi Drill

Best cordless drill: a superb all-rounder that’s built for serious projects

Reasons to buy
+Lightweight and compact+Hammer action+Comparatively quiet

There’s a reason you see so many Dewalt tools on sites: they’re rock solid, reliable and cleverly designed, and this XR Brushless Compact is no exception. 

It’s been built specifically for working in tight spaces, with a quick and simple bit change, a bright white LED so you can see what you’re putting holes into, a steel belt hook and magnetic bit storage to keep everything to hand. It’s built to survive the lumps and bumps of proper work, and its two-stage aluminium transmission is built to last.

There’s just one battery pack in this version, a 4.0Ah XR Li-ion battery, but what you lose in batteries compared to other Dewalt deals, you gain in functionality. The XR Brushless Compact has 14 torque settings and a powerful hammer function for tougher jobs. 

Just beware: first gear is comparatively quick compared to many other drills so if you’re driving screws you’ll need to be that bit more careful.

2. Makita DHP484RTJ 18 V Li-ion LXT Brushless Combi Drill

A seriously powerful drill available in a range of options

Reasons to buy
+Huge torque and hard hammering+Excellent, 5.0Ah batteries+Clearly built to last

Makita practically invented cordless tools, and it’s a trusted brand in the trade for its reliability and power. They’re not remotely cheap, but if you’re pro, semi-pro, or just want the best tools, you’ll be glad you spent the money. 

The DHP484RTJ is available in a range of options from body-only to complete kits, and one of our preferred options is the drill, two 5.0Ah Li-ion batteries, charger and case that’s currently around £300. 

The LXT Brushless is compact and powerful, with 54nm of torque and the capability to drill 38mm into wood, 13mm into masonry and 13mm into steel. The hammer function has a range of 0 to 30,000ipm for fast hammering into masonry and a slower 0-7,500ipm mode: speed varies according to how much pressure you put on the trigger. 

The gears are all metal and housed in aluminium for endurance and there’s the obligatory belt clip for keeping it on your slacks. 

A serious tool for serious people, in short.

3. Hitachi DS18DSDL

Portable and powerful

Reasons to buy
+92Nm of torque+White LED spotlight+Low weight
Today's best Hitachi DS18DSDL deals

There's not much this potent Hitachi can't handle thanks to its ability to spin up to 1,800rpm and deliver an impressive 92Nm of torque. There's a two-speed gearbox that's suitable for most applications but ultimately this is a powerful drill for making man-sized holes.

It comes with two batteries, meaning it's easy to swap them out during long and arduous DIY tasks, while the unit is ergonomically designed and weighs less than some of the other beasts mentioned here, which is great for long-term usage.

One of the neatest features is the white LED spotlight that sits at the front of the drill and illuminates the work surface for a reduction in DIY slip-ups. This is a serious drill.

4. DeWalt DCK211D2T 10.8V Compact Drill Driver and Impact Driver

A great set of tools at a super price point

Reasons to buy
+Two tools in one package+15 torque settings+Keyless chuck
Today's best DeWalt DCK211D2T deals

A crazily good deal at the price, this twin pack includes the DCF815 Impact Driver, which develops a whopping 107Nm of torque, with 15 settings.

There's no hammer action, and the LED light is a but feeble, but the drilling performance is still highly impressive, and the simple, keyless chuck is cool too.

Also included is aDCK211D2T 10.8v drill/driver with 15 torque settings, for all your kitchen cabinet, screw-fixing needs.

Both of these tools are very good standalone products, but in a pack with two batteries, for this price, they're very hard to beat indeed.

5. Milwaukee M18 Compact Brushless Drill Driver

A heavy duty drill driver that will last for years

Reasons to buy
+Heavy duty+60Nm (Newton Meters) of torque+Two Li-ion batteries included
Today's best Milwaukee M18BLDD-402C deals

If you're in the market for a really heavy duty 18v drill driver (a drill and screwdriver in one) that'll last for years and perform any task you throw at it, then reach deeper into your wallet and nab yourself one of these American killer drillers. The Milwaukee brand may be relatively unknown in DIY-land but it's one of the first ports of call for the hard-hat brigade.

The newest model in the US-made M18 series is equipped with the latest in brushless motor tech which provides 50% more efficiency and twice the lifespan of your common or garden motor. It's also one of the smallest drill drivers on the market (it weighs in at around 2kgs) and that means greater ease of use in confined spaces.

The new M18 runs off a long-lasting 5Ah battery and is capable of producing a whopping 60Nm (Newton Meters) of unrelenting torque. To give you some idea of just how powerful that is, there's a video demonstration of the previous M18 model winching in an 11-ton digger without so much as a hiccup.

The M18 also features REDLINK overload protection (lest you hit a diamond seam), an on-board fuel gauge, an LED light to illuminate the working area and individual battery cell monitoring. The M18's full-fat package includes two Li-ion batteries, an 80-minute charger and an all-metal case to put the whole caboodle in.

At about half its launch RRP online, this is now something of a steal…

6. Bosch PSR 18 LI-2 Ergonomic

A smart drill loaded with next gen tech

Reasons to buy
+Dual grips+20 torque settings+Brushless e-motors
Today's best Bosch Wireless Drill-Screwdriver PSR 18 deals

This bundle of dual-grip friskiness is 20% smaller and 10% lighter (1.1kg) than the average cordless man drill. It's also ergonomically designed to give you optimum power transfer and less of an aching hand.

Certainly, the dual grip is a godsend for those tricky jobs that require a bit of body weight and an extra hand on the drill. Where in the past you'd be triggering the drill with one hand and pushing from behind with the other, with this one you simply grip the arched front handle, lean in and drill right through to the neighbours sitting room. Furthermore, if the drill's integrated sensor detects sudden jamming – for example you may hit a steel joist, an old Roman axe, or whatever else is tucked behind the wallpaper – it shuts the motor down preventing kick back of the drill and possibly further chaos.

The PSR 18 is no lightweight when it comes to tricky tasks. It loves a good screwing – it has no less than 20 torque settings – and will penetrate any willing material, be it masonry, brick, metal, wood or, if your name's Reno, skull.

It's also the first DIY drill to incorporate the latest in brushless e-motors that are not only smaller and lighter than current units, but are also more powerful and wear-free.

Bosch's accompanying 18-volt Lithium-Ion battery dishes out a very ample 2.5Ah and can be charged to 80% in just 40 minutes. You only get one for your money, but a single charge lasts long enough to see you through, ooh, at least 10 IKEA cupboard assemblies, several shelving units and possibly the building of a full-scale Spitfire replica.Oh, and because the battery is part of Bosch's 18volt 'Power4All' system it can be used on 15 other Bosch-based DIY and garden tools.

7. Worx WX372.2 20v Max

Compact and lightweight

Reasons to buy
+20v lithium-ion battery+50Nm of torque+Keyless chuck
Today's best WORX WX372.8 deals

This compact and lightweight hammer drill is not only one of the most powerful cordless devices offered by Worx, it also looks rather ace, with chunky rubber grips and a cool contrasting orange and black colour scheme. Not that we're easily swayed by aesthetics or anything.

A beefy 20v lithium-ion battery pack ensures the motor can develop 50Nm of torque, which is more than enough to take on most drilling tasks. The 13mm keyless chuck and - ho ho - shaft lock make it easy to swap drill bits on the fly and the latest battery tech promises no self-discharge, for optimum performance.

There's a standard 3-year warranty on all Worx tools but surprisingly they still manage to come in at the lower end of the budget spectrum. This package includes a spare battery and "over 150 accessories" in a case.

8. Bosch PSB 1800 LI-2

A great companion to annoying flatpack jobs

Reasons to buy
+Rapid 1-hour recharge+You get two batteries+Lightweight
Today's best Bosch PSB 1800 deals

The latest in Bosch's expert range is compact and handy, yet powerful enough to take on most jobs.

It delivers 38Nm of torque and can drill up to 30mm in wood and 100mm in steel and masonry, while the numerous torque settings make it a great companion to annoying flatpack jobs that require tons of screwing.

It's also lightweight and the latest 18-volt battery system means plenty of running time and a rapid 1-hour recharge - you get two batteries.

A keyless chuck with Bosch Auto-Lock system means drill bits can be changed by hand and there's no more worrying abut losing that darned key.

9. Guild 1.5AH Li-on Hammer Drill

Good performance and incredibly affordable

Reasons to buy
+Under £60+Fan cooling+Fast charging 1.5Ah battery
Today's best Guild 1.5AH Li-On Hammer Drill deals

Another one for penny pinchers and occasional drillers is the new range of Guild power tools at Argos. This may not feature the same outlandish torque outputs as some of the other drills mentioned but this sub-£60 number packs a credible 42Nm, with 23 torque settings. The top speed is 1,400rpm,with fan cooling to motor to prevent the drill from overheating,and there's a fast charging 1.5Ah lithium battery pack.

The drilling capacity for wood is 35mm, while it can handle 13mm when working on steel and masonry, but the lack of power means it's probably worth looking elsewhere for the toughest jobs. However, it's a great value addition to any toolbox, with a two-year guarantee.

10. Wickes 18v Li-Ion Cordless Combi Drill

Perfect for light to medium duty applications

Reasons to buy
+Only £50!+2-year warranty+Case included
Today's best Wickes 18v Li-Ion Cordless Combi Drill deals

The latest value range of tools from Wickes doesn't quite match up to the outright power of the offerings from big name brands, such as Bosch and Milwaukee, but they are great for those carrying out light- to medium-duty fastening applications.

A 240-volt motor develops around 35Nm of torque, which isn't enough for going through robust masonry like a knife through butter, but it'll have a go, and quite enough for plaster walls and wood. It's also great for making quick work of screwing things to other things.

A 2-year warranty and the fact there's a spare battery make it a decent deal for just half a ton.

11. Ryobi LLCDI18022 ONE+

A top do-it-all all-rounder

Reasons to buy
+Bundled with extra battery and tool bag+45 minute charge time+Hammer action
Today's best Ryobi LLCDI18022 deals

This keenly-priced, two-gear, variable-speed hammer drill-cum-screwdriver comes bundled with a spare battery and a handy tool bag. The Ryobi's 18 volt battery charges in a very reasonable 45 minutes and provides enough juice and torque for even the toughest of DIY tasks – its hammer action is especially handy for making lots of holes in a brick wall. Top tool.