The best cordless drill may not have the relentless power and maximum torque of an AC-powered, wired electric drill but for most DIY purposes they are far more convenient, and easily powerful enough. No pro workman under the age of 60 willingly uses anything but the best cordless drill these days. During lockdown, they've been selling extremely well, so if nothing else, the USA will have more shelves now that the worst of this is hopefully over.
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 the old 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. On top of this, more powerful electric motors mean the latest cordless drills can really hold their own in terms of torque delivery.
If you're only looking to drive and not drill, we also have a guide to the best electric screwdrivers. But they're just not the same, are they?
What are the best cordless drills?
Our pick of the cordless drills around today is the Dewalt XR 20-Volt Max Brushless Compact Lithium-Ion compact drill/driver kit. If you want something more reasonably priced, go for its little brother in the Xtreme 12V Max model. It's just as good, if lacking slightly on the power front.
Those on a budget have numerous good options but our favorite is the Black+Decker 20V MAX Cordless Drill.
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. If you live in a flat with plasterboard walls, chances are you don't need that additional power.
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 more power to your elbow.
If you're looking for the best cordless drill to get your DIY on with, then look no further.
The best cordless drills, in order
There’s a reason you see so many Dewalt tools on pro jobs: they’re rock-solid, reliable and cleverly designed, and this 20V 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 aluminum transmission is built to last.
There’s just one battery pack in this drill/driver kit, a 2Ah XR Li-ion battery, but what you lose in batteries compared to other DeWalt deals, you gain in functionality. The XR Brushless Compact has 15 clutch settings and a powerful hammer function for tougher jobs.
This model also comes with Bluetooth connectivity, which allows drill diagnostics to be beamed to a smartphone. It also allows site managers to set geo-location tags to ensure tools don't go missing.
If simple DIY tasks are all that's required from your drill, things don't get much better value than the 20-Volt Cordless 1/2-inch Drill/Driver Kit from Hart. The 24 clutch settings allow the versatile unit to tackle all manner of jobs and help drill through a wide array of materials.
Like many drills on this list, Hart's 20V Lithium-ion batteries can be purchased individually and fit in numerous other power products, making it easy to rapidly swap power sources between tools.
The 1.5Ah battery pack isn't the largest out there, which will likely lead to more charging between jobs, but the included fast charger set-up means batteries can be topped up relatively quickly.
Overall, it's a well-made tool that packs many of the features that pro models flaunt, such as a powerful LED work light, easy chuck removal and a handy storage space for tool bits.
Some might say that an impact driver is too hardcore for many day-to-day DIY jobs but we say, pah! Have a go at the Ryobi 18V One+ Cordless Impact Driver and you'll be amazed at the amount of control it offers without the fiddly torque settings or numerous gearing options that are found on rivals.
This thing isn't really designed for drilling holes but instead makes mincemeat out of tough screwing jobs (to both wood and metal surfaces), as well as being very handy at loosening tough bolts.
Although not completely novel, there's still something quite nice about the fact that just one battery pack fits the entire One+ range of DIY tools, although make sure before you buy that the package actually includes a battery, if you don't already own a One+ device.
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 18V LXT is arguably the most approachable, user-friendly and best geared towards the home DIY enthusiast. Although it is certainly tough enough to handle professional jobs for years.
Compact and powerful, with 440 in lbs of torque, the drill features Makita's excellent Star Protection communication technology that allows the Star Protection-equipped tool and battery to exchange data in real-time and monitor conditions during use to protect against overloading, over-discharging and overheating. That means a longer life for the drill, motor and battery.
Extreme Protection Technology (XPT) is also engineered for improved dust and water resistance for operation in harsh job site conditions.
A crazily good deal at the price, this twin pack includes the DCD771 drill/driver and powerful DCF885 1/4 inches impact driver to tackle all manner of drilling, driving and fixing jobs.
There's no hammer action on said impact driver (that's not what it's for), and the LED light is a bit feeble, but the drilling performance is still highly impressive, and the simple, keyless chuck is cool too.
Also included is the DCD771 drill/driver that features a high-speed transmission that delivers two2 speeds (0-450 & 1,500 rpm) for a range of fastening and drilling applications
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. They also form part of the Dewalt 20-Volt MAX system and are compatible with all 20-Volt MAX batteries, chargers and accessories.
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 US-made 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 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 just over 2lbs without batteries) 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 500 in lbs 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.
Small and compact, the robust Porter-Cable model belies its diminutive footprint with some serious performance credentials and an overall build quality that outshines its relatively low sticker price.
The powerful motor delivers a meaty 370 MWO of power for heavy-duty applications with minimal stall, along with a multi-setting clutch transmission that has 1,800 max rpm for a variety of drilling and fastening applications.
Handy and clear battery indicators at the foot of the unit make it easy to see when reserves are running low, but this great value package features a fast charger and spare battery unit, so you're never without juice.
Designed with very tight spaces or overhead work in mind, the ultra-compact, two-speed transmission pocket drill has been designed to handle most driving and drilling applications without the excess bulk.
Although conceived with electricians, HVAC professionals and those operating in tight spaces in mind, the Bosch PS22-02 is also great for home DIY jobs, seeing as it's 40 percent lighter than the competition, therefore easier to wield.
With an updated EC Brushless motor, an all-metal gearbox and improved electronics, this cordless drill can perform many installation or framing applications. It has a two-speed transmission – with a 0-400 RPM high-torque setting and a 0-1,300 RPM high-speed drill setting.
This kit comes with two 12 V batteries and a high-speed charger, meaning even the lengthiest jobs can be tackled without fear of running out of steam.
There's not much this potent Hitachi can't handle thanks to its ability to spin up to 1,800rpm and deliver an impressive 620 in lbs 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.
Opt for a decent package and 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.
If it's pure value for money you are looking for, things don't get much cheaper than this basic Black + Decker model, which takes elements of the more expensive rivals and shrinks it down into a slightly less robust but much easier-on-the-wallet package.
The 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion battery holds charges longer between use and has a longer life-cycle, while the 11 position clutch provides precise control for drilling into wood, metal, plastic, and all screwdriving tasks.
It's certainly not going to compete with the likes of Dewalt and Milwaukee in terms of general hardiness, but if it's only basic DIY tasks you are looking to complete, it will serve you well.