When it’s time to buy a new drill, you want something that’s fast and reliable. This isn’t a purchase you want to be making every year.
So, to help you out, we’ve compiled some of the best cordless drills on the market.
And you should know that there are pros and cons to each. The drill you choose will depend largely on your needs and how you plan to use it. This will help you determine which features are most important to you.
But don’t worry. We’re going to cover all that and more in this post to help you make an easy decision on which drill suits your needs and budget.
To start, let’s look at the ones that will help you to get the job done.
Top 10 Cordless Drills
You don’t have to buy all the drills and test them out yourself because we’ve already done the legwork for you. In this section, we lay out the good, bad and ugly of the top 10 cordless drills on the market.
1. DEWALT DCD795D2
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If you’re looking for a drill that’s both reliable and versatile, the Dewalt cordless hammer drill might be your be-all-end-all. First of all, it’s backed by one of the most reliable names in the industry, so you know the DCD795D2 is of high quality.
This lightweight cordless drill shines when you need to work in tight spaces. As such, it’s great for home improvement projects like building and repairing decks. But it also has the power you’ll need to build shelving or handle any other project you have around the house.
- Comes with a 3-year warranty
- Lightweight, so you can easily drill one-handed
- The high-speed transmission allows variation in speed
- Not an entry-level pricepoint
- Chuck has a tendency to slip from time to time
- Could have better control at max RPM
2. Makita XPH12R 18V LXT
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The Makita Lithion-Ion Cordless Hammer Driver Drill is an ideal choice for any mason or weekend warrior. By far, this is the best hammer driver drill for anyone who works with stone or concrete. With a four-pole motor that can deliver up to 520 pounds of torque, this drill is quite a beast. The Makita XPH12R can also get up to 2,000 Rpm and 30,000 BPM in its highest speed setting.
One of the few drawbacks is that you may have to recharge it during longer projects, but for that, you get a great and powerful cordless drill. And when you do have to recharge, you can do so in just 30 minutes. So, if you’re working all day, you can easily recharge on a lunch or snack break.
Masonry work can be tough on all tools, especially drills. But the Makita XPH12R rises to the challenge. For intense projects and masonry work, this can easily become your go-to drill.
- Built to last
- Heavy-duty drill Hammer with incredible power
- Works well on heavier materials like stone and concrete
- 530 pounds of torque
- Up to 2,000 RPM and 30,000 BPM
- Only takes 25 to 30 minutes to recharge
- Best used for hammer drilling only
- Speedshift can be difficult to operate
3. Milwaukee 2604-22 M18
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If you’ve been shopping for power tools, you’ve probably heard of the Milwaukee Fuel System. This innovative fuel system uses a PowerState brushless motor that gives you more power, greater runtime, and lower maintenance.
All-in-all, this drill is incredibly balanced and easy to hold. This may seem like a trivial thing, but it can keep you working longer and give you more control over what you’re doing.
The Milwaukee 2604-22 weighs 5 lbs with the battery installed.
- Easy to use
- Long battery life
- A bit heavier than other drills
Read also: Milwaukee vs Ryobi
4. Bosch DDB181-02
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This lightweight compact drill driver weighs in at a mere 3 pounds, comes with everything you need to start your home improvement projects, including:
- Two lithium-ion batteries
- A charger
- A screwdriver bit
- A handy contractor bag
The Bosch DDB181-02 is ideal for overhead drilling and getting into tight spaces because of its lightweight design. Work for hours without feeling the strain you might get with a heavier drill.
And unlike with other drills, you don’ thave to sacrifice power for all this lightweight mobility. Even though the DDB181-02 is small, it packs 350 in.-lbs of torque and has two variable settings: 400 and 1,300 RPM.
This is the ideal drill for electricians and anyone looking to perform regular household repairs. There’s even a built-in LED light to illuminate dimly lit workspaces.
- Lightweight and powerful
- Compact for tight spaces
- LED light for dim lighting
- Electronic cell protection for the battery
- Lithium-ion batteries hold a charge well
- The case is a bit flimsy
- Chuck may need tightening
- Not suitable for heavy-duty projects
5. Ryobi P1811 One+
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The Ryobi P1811 One+ has a compact and light design that makes it easy to work in tight spaces. And there’s a strong LED light to illuminate dimly-lit spaces (as tight spots tend to be).
The keyless chuck on the Ryobi P1811 makes swapping out bits a breeze. All you have to do is to twist and replace, which means you don’t have to keep track of a chuck. And it gets better: there’s also magnetic onboard storage for your spare bits.
And if you’re already invested in Ryobi’s line of tools, this is an easy transition. You already have the power supply you’ll need for the P1811 drill. The lithium-ion batteries that power the entire Ryobi line are compatible with this drill. Battery life is also impressive at about a 45-minute run time and 60-minute charge time.
- Great for tight spaces
- Good working lights
- Not a ton of torque (could be more powerful)
6. BLACK+DECKER LDX120C
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Black+Decker has a great reputation in power tools, and the LDX120C stands up to the name. Actually, it’s their bestselling cordless drill. As such, it has garnered great ratings and incredible sales throughout the world.
The 11-position clutch offers another level of control that helps you avoid the dreaded drill stripping or damage. And a speed setting of 650 RPM isn’t exactly meager. It’s powerful enough for most small jobs around the house, and 115 in-lbs of torque will help you power through those weekend projects.
Charge the LDX120C battery and leave it in storage for up to 18 months. It’ll hold. And when you have to recharge, you can expect it to take about 3 hours. It’s not the fastest recharge, but it works for this type of drill. This is the drill you’ll buy for light drilling projects and can easily take time to recharge between projects.
This drill’s soft rubber handle helps you get a good grip and reasonable 6.5 lb. weight combine to make this drill a pleasure to use for extended periods or overhead projects.
- Great balance of power, affordability and light weight
- Battery holds long charge
- Built-in LED light
- Bits sometimes slip
- Not fast enough for heavy-duty drilling
7. PORTER-CABLE PCC608LB
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The Porter-Cable PCC608LB compact brushless drill is a remarkable find at an entry-level price point. You’ll find that it has plenty of torque for a brushless motor, and its lightweight makes it ideal for extended use or overhead projects.
And possibly the best part about this compact drill is that it’s backed by a 3-year warranty.
This drill comes with variable speed triggers and an LED light for dimly-lit spaces. But it’s the placement of the light that makes this drill stand out from the rest. You’ll find the LED light beneath the chuck towards the base of the handle, so you don’t have to worry about shadows as you’re drilling. It’s a simple thing, but its implementation is pure genius.
At low speed settings, the PCC608LB delivers great results, driving augers into heavy material without a hitch. But you should know that this would be a two-hand operation.
The ratcheting chuck can accommodate bits up to a half-inch.
- Compact, convenient size for smaller spaces
- Brushless motor with lots of torque
- Lightweight and sturdy
- Comfortable grip
- 3-year limited warranty
- No battery gauge, so you must keep a spare on hand
8. Hitachi DS18DBFL2 18V
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The Hitachi DS18DBFL2 highlights the very reason why you need to upgrade your drill every few years. Sure, your old drill may work most of the time, but this Brushless Drill Driver delivers all your favorite things about the brushless drill in a compact package, so you get the best of both worlds. But still, you shouldn’t expect this drill to manage heavy-duty jobs.
An all-metal chuck gives this drill/driver the edge on durability over entry-level models. And that metal chuck creates a snug fit, so you aren’t likely to have issues with slippage.
And the optical design gives you more control while feathering the variable speed trigger, so you can always get the speed and power you need in the moment.
- Brushless AND compact
- 620 inch-pounds of torque in 6.9-inch length
- Responsive clutch and motor
- Durable all-metal chuck that doesn’t slip as much as some competitors
- Not suitable for heavy-duty jobs
- Work light isn’t super helpful
- Battery indicator doesn’t show on the battery pack
9. CRAFTSMAN CMCD700C1 V20
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If you’re looking for an ideal balance between value and affordability, the Craftsman CMCD700C1 may be your perfect match.
This drill excels at home DIY projects and can hold its weight in a professional setting.
When you don’t have a big budget for a high-performance drill, the Craftsman V20 might just be the next best thing. Still, you should understand that you’re going to have some trade-offs at this price point.
This drill charges fast and features a ½” chuck with a decent balance between speed and power. It also has surprisingly good ergonomics and compact size for a drill in this class.
With all that said, if you have a little more money in your budget, you may want to look at some of the other drills on this list. You can get higher speed, better battery capacity and a second battery pack, which will help save you time and frustration on many jobs.
- Affordable drill with a high-performance motor
- Features ½” keyless chuck for quick and easy bit changes
- LED light improves visibility and performance in dark spaces
- 20V max lithium battery and charger
- On the slow side compared to more expensive drills
10. SKIL DL527502 PWRCore 20
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Skil has built an amazing reputation since the relaunch, and we’ve seen massive progress in both quality and performance.
This brushless motor features a high-low speed gearbox with a switch up top. And the all-metal, keyless chuck is extremely durable and easy-to-use as it accepts up to ½” bits to help with quick bit changes. Its LED light helps you work in dark spaces, and the PWRJump charger can take the 2.0Ah battery from zero to 25 percent in a mere five minutes. Forgot to charge your drill? No problem. All you need is a 5-minute charging break before you can get back to work. Oh, and to up the coolness factor of this drill, it also features USB charging. So if you’ve got more than enough battery life, you can use your drill battery to charge your phone (or any other device).
The Skil PWRCore 20 delivers decent torque and speed for its class, but you can find other models that are faster and more powerful.
Skil markets this drill for the DIY sector, and for that, it excels. Its performance is steady and reliable, but you might expect it to go a bit slower than some other drills.
And while you’re making your decision, you should also consider that the compact Skil 20V drill weighs a mere 3.01 lbs, so it’s one of the lightest drills in its class. This makes it easy for extended and overhead projects.
And it also has a very compact size at 7.4” tall and 7.1” long, so it’s a great fit for anyone with small hands or with very limited storage space.
The Skil 20V brushless drill is reliable, compact and affordable. And the fact that you can charge it in five minutes is amazing. This drill offers a great bang for your buck and is ideal for DIY projects.
- Auto spindle lock feature
- LED lights at the base
- Long life and runtime
- Dual-speed motor
- Incredibly quick charging time
- Low speed at just 1450 RPM
- Only one battery
What Are Cordless Drills Used For?
Are you wondering whether you really need a cordless drill?
In truth, it’s a common question because there are a lot of misconceptions about cordless drills. For one, their purpose is first and foremost to drill holes (hence the name), but they’re commonly also used to drive screws — because it’s a whole lot easier and more efficient than using a screwdriver.
This is what makes the cordless drill one of the most useful power tools for DIY enthusiasts and professionals. It’s literally the best gift for anyone who takes on projects around the house, making it the ultimate father’s day or birthday gift.
So, when would you need a cordless drill?
The simple answer is virtually any time you need to put holes into wood, walls or other hard surfaces. OR whenever you want to fix screws and fasteners into the same types of surfaces.
So, you can use a drill to fix a screw into drywall to hang a picture or to drill a hole into a door when you’re installing a doorknob.
You can also use them to assemble furniture, install or repair a deck and virtually any type of woodworking project.
How Do I Choose A Cordless Drill? What Features To Look For?
We’ve already covered a list of the best drills on the market with our recommendations based on the most important features.
So, you may have noticed some common threads. In those reviews, we talk about things like power, torque, speed, size and weight. And the reason we talk about these things is that they’re important to overall performance.
If you were scratching your head while looking through those reviews, this section will clear things up for you. Here, we’re going to cover the most important features of a cordless drill, what they mean and how to choose the best option for you.
Because the best drill for you isn’t always the top-of-the-line model. Sure, it may have all the high-end features, but if you don’t need them all, you’re paying extra for nothing.
So, by the end of this guide, you should have a good feel for what you need in a cordless drill.
1. Battery and Power
Before you start shopping for cordless drills, you might think the battery is no big deal. Does it have one? Check. Cool…
But when you start looking into it, you soon realize that there are many factors that go into choosing a drill based on battery and power.
In this section, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about battery and power before you buy your next cordless drill.
Ampere hours, voltage, NiCD… oh my. What does it mean and are people throwing around techie terms to make your head spin on purpose?
Actually, these things have a lot to do with a drill’s battery and ultimately power, but you don’t need to become an electrician to learn what you need to know to buy a cordless drill.
And as a bonus, by the time you’re done with this section, you’ll have all the info you’ll need to make decisions on any cordless power tools.
Understanding Battery Specs
You’ve probably noticed that there are a few battery options in cordless drills. Here are some common battery specs you’ll find on drill packaging:
- voltage (V)
- amp-hours (Ah)
- Battery type (Li-Ion, NiCd, NiMH)
And if you know nothing about these specs, you might be tempted to opt for the higher numbers every time, but that’s not always a good idea.
Ah is a spec that seems a lot more complicated than it is. This is because you probably don’t deal with Ampere Hours unless you’re an electrician. But the takeaway is quite simple.
Ah relates to the total charge your battery can deliver in one hour.
It’s not completely cut-and-dry, but to understand Ah, let’s look at an example:
A cordless tool that draws 2.0 amperes will drain the total charge of a 2.0Ah battery in one hour.
Under ideal conditions, the 2.0Ah battery equates to two amps of power draw. It’s a one-to-one ratio.
But you should also understand that power tools draw different amps based on power and voltage. So, in order to know exactly how long you’d have on a charge, you must also know the voltage.
There are a lot of factors that go into the power draw, so it’s never going to be a completely clean calculation, but you can certainly estimate.
What Determines the Power of a Drill
The voltage rating is what determines the power of a drill.
And it’s a simple calculation. The higher the number, the more available power.
But as we’ve learned about Ampere Hours, the higher voltage drill will also draw more amps, and so it will use more Ah.
And now is a good time for a simple reminder: More isn’t always better.
How Many Volts Do I Need In A Drill?
If you’re mostly drilling into drywall, you can get away with a lower voltage drill and battery, which will usually be more affordable and last longer on a charge.
But if you’re going to be drilling through tough timber, you might not be able to get the job done with a lower voltage drill.
Is 18V Better Than 20V?
There are a few reasons why you might be tempted to think that a 20V battery/drill is better than an 18V battery.
First, all other things being equal, it’s probably going to be more expensive than the 18V option. This could vary based on brand and other features, but it’s a good rule of thumb.
Second, the 20V battery/drill is more powerful than the 18V, so it’ll appear to have “better” specs. But don’t be fooled. If you don’t need that much power, there’s no reason to get a 20V drill.
Not only will it need to charge more often, but it will also be heavier and more expensive than the 18V.
If you’re tethered to the speed limit, there’s no reason to buy a Ferrari. And if you live in a small apartment and work in an office, you probably don’t need a gas-guzzling Ford F-150.
The best choice for you will be what you need. Nothing less and not a lot more.
2. Torque and Speed
There’s a common misconception about torque and speed that we must address before we go any further. Higher torque doesn’t always equate to faster speeds.
What Does Torque Mean On A Cordless Drill?
Torque is a measurement of the force the drill produces to turn something. And it gets confused with speed because people mistakenly think that means the object will inevitably turn faster.
Actually, as you increase speed, you must decrease torque. When you’re drilling at high-speed settings, your drill is always going to be using less torque.
This is why it’s important to look at torque and speed together, which equates to a measurement we call power.
Why Do Drills Have Different Speeds?
When you’re shopping around for a new drill, you might wonder why you’re reading “available torque” everywhere. And this is because the drill’s torque changes as the speed changes. As we’ve addressed above, high-speeds always use less torque.
When you manually change the drill’s speed, you’re essentially switching gears.
And things get a bit tricky when you’re looking at brushless drills too, but we’ll cover that in the next section.
When you’re shopping for a cordless drill, again, you might be tempted to opt for higher numbers in torque, but smaller numbers can sometimes be better.
Ultimately, you’re not going to find a magic-bullet solution when it comes to torque and speed for your cordless drill, but we do have a few tips to help you make this decision.
Torque ratings are standardized to measure how much torque the drill pulls when it’s locked down. This gives you a good starting point, but it doesn’t always match what the drill pulls in use — because that definitely varies.
So, it’s best to look at a drill’s RPMs to find a balance between speed and torque.
What does 1 and 2 (or other numbers) mean on a drill?
The number 1 and 2 (that is usually found at the top of a drill) represents the gear selection settings. Number 1 will be high torque/slow speed and number 2 will be low torque/fast speed.
The other numbers on your drill (often they are numbered from 1 and 20+) refer to the amount of torque the drill applies to a screw or other fastener. Once the drill reaches the torque setting, it will stop turning.
Many people think of it as a depth setting, and while that’s not completely accurate, it doesn’t hurt to see it this way. The set amount of torque usually does translate well into the depth of drive.
Fortunately, the numbers work the same way for all drills, so there’s no confusion.
But 1 is always the lowest setting, which means it pulls the least amount of torque. You might use this setting in a very soft material and/or with short fasteners.
The higher number (2+) refers to the most amount of torque your drill will pull. This number can vary greatly from drill to drill.
And you may even find an icon on your drill that looks like a drill. This bypasses the clutch setting and drives the screw or fastener with full power. Most people use this setting more than any others.
You can read more about the numbers and symbols on a drill here.
3. Brushless vs Brushed Motors
Brushless motors are all the rage these days for DIY’ers and home handymen (and women). But they aren’t exactly a new phenomenon.
In this section, we’re going to explore the difference between brushed and brushless motors, so you can decide which is best for your needs.
If you’re scratching your head on this one, you’re not alone. Most DIY’ers and weekend warriors didn’t know any drills come equipped with brushes, so it’s difficult to find a reason to care that it’s brushless. Is brushless even a good thing?
Here’s the skinny…
The drill’s motor converts electrical power into mechanical motion. And there are many types of motors that can handle different jobs and use varying amounts of power.
But brushed and brushless are the most common types used in cordless drills.
The two are based on the same guiding principles, but their performance can vary quite a bit.
What is a Brushless Drill?
Brushless motors have origins in the early 1960s, and they came about when the power dimmer was introduced. The power dimmer has the capacity to convert alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC). Drills started relying on technology that leverages magnetism. And the major difference between brushless and brushed drills is that the brushless drills don’t have a physical switch to transmit the energetic current.
But even though the technology has been available since the 60s, it wasn’t until the 80s that the brushless motor really started to take off. And in that time, the technology has only sharpened and gotten better.
In terms of functionality, the brushless drills are better adapted, produce less heat, don’t generate as much friction, and provide better performance than brushed drills.
Brushless drills also require less maintenance because there’s no need to replace worn brushes.
Brushless motors are all designed in a relatively similar way. There’s a fixed stator that holds the coils and a mobile rotor where the permanent magnets are glued. There are minor differences in the windings, but most brushless drills have an internal rotor that turns faster than brushed drills at 100k RPM.
Brushless motors not only improve your cordless drill’s power, but the technology also extends the working life of your drill. There’s virtually no maintenance necessary with these drills.
Brushless technology comes with many advantages, and this is why it has become such a popular option for drills today.
Because there aren’t any brushes, you won’t have problems with overheating or having your drill break down. Basically, the drill will function until its bearings give out.
Another advantage to a brushless drill is that the motor is more compact, so the drill itself can be smaller and lighter, making it easier to use for longer periods and in tight spaces.
The brushless technology is also more efficient because it reduces friction between the rotor and the stator, and this saves on battery life.
What are Brushed Drills?
Naturally, brushed drills have brushes. So what are brushes in drills?
Well, they’re an essential part of the standard brushed motor tools like drills, grinders and jackhammers. The brushes go onto the fixed part of a motor, and this helps transmit power to the rotor. The brushes allow for switching without a spark.
So, why would you want a brushed motor over a brushless one?
Well, most of it all comes down to cost, reliability and torque. Brushed motors are inexpensive, more reliable than most brushless motors and come with a high torque ratio, which provides a good balance of speed and power.
But there are some major disadvantages too.
Brushed motors contain parts that will inevitably wear out over time. This means that they’ll need regular maintenance for cleaning and repair.
Brushless motors are generally considered more efficient, but the brushed motor works better under tight or restrictive conditions.
Which Is Better Brushed Or Brushless Drill?
When most people are deciding between a brushed or brushless drill today, the answer usually comes down to cost. Although there are a few advantages to the brushed drill, the efficiency and longevity of the brushless drill usually wins out. But that’s when cost comes into play.
Someone may opt for a drill with a brushed motor if they can’t afford the upfront cost of a brushless version.
Are Brushless Drills Worth It?
For most people, the answer is a resounding yes. Brushless drills are worth the extra expense. There is an additional expense upfront, but when you add to that the fact that these drills last longer and require virtually no maintenance, the difference becomes much less.
Additionally, these drills are more compact, lightweight and efficient. If that’s what you’re looking for, then the brushless drill is definitely worth it.
4. Chuck Size
Chuck size is another spec you’ll find on the drill package, but how do you know which is best? And is bigger better in this case?
This section covers everything you need to know about choosing the right chuck size.
What Is Chuck Size?
The drill’s chuck is the slot where you insert the drill bit. And so the chuck size will determine the size of the bit you can use. Chucks come in ¼”, ⅜” and ½”.
You should also know that chucks can be keyed or keyless. A keyed chuck actually requires a key for you to change the bit. You can change keyless chucks with your hands, which is a lot easier when you’re wearing gloves.
What Chuck Size Do I Need?
Smaller and less powerful drills typically have a smaller chuck size. So, if a drill has a ¼” or ⅜” chuck, it’s probably not professional grade. Still, a ⅜” drill bit does pack enough power for most home projects, so it may be just perfect for you.
But there’s one more thing you must know before you run out and buy a drill with a ⅜” chuck.
It literally cannot hold bits larger than that ⅜” size.
And to most people, that’s not a big deal, but you should know that most hole saws need a ½” chuck. And with a hole saw, you can make holes as large as 4” or more. So if you think you’ll need this, you may want to go with a ½” chuck. Just keep in mind that most DIY’ers don’t need that much power, so you can probably get away with a ⅜” chuck.
What Is The Difference Between A ¼, ⅜ And ½ Chuck Size?
The difference between a ¼”, ⅜” and ½” chuck size is the bit they’ll hold. Each measurement correlates with the size bit it’ll hold, and the larger chuck sizes also indicate more powerful drills.
5. Weight, Grip, And Ergonomics
We’ve already covered how various factors impact the drill’s weight and overall size. But, generally speaking, there are averages.
The average 9.6V drill weighs 3.5 lbs. And an 18V cordless drill can weigh up to 10lbs.
But you’ll find a lot of variation in the drills on the market. If you want a drill that’s lightweight, look for a brushless model and pay attention to the size and voltage. You may need a drill with higher voltage, but you’ll want to look for the most compact you can find. We’ve got some great options here on this top 10 list of the best cordless drills.
Grip and ergonomics also play a role if you’re planning to use the drill for extended periods of time or in overhead applications. It doesn’t matter much if you’re drilling one hole, but if you’re working with the drill all day, it needs to be comfortable.
When choosing a drill, warranty is important, but there’s more to the quality of a warranty than its length. For example, you may find a 10-year+ or lifetime warranty, but all the important stuff expires within the first year.
Pay attention to what the warranty covers, and look closely at all aspects of repair or replacement.
A good cordless drill warranty will include labor, shipping or pickup, and delivery and/or cover your out-of-pocket costs for all associated fees.
Most manufacturers offer a manufacturer’s warranty that covers faulty workmanship or materials. But, unfortunately, after the manufacturer’s warranty expires, they won’t cover repairs on faulty parts.
Look for a long warranty that covers all reasonable repairs and associated costs.
There are many variables that go into choosing the right drill for your needs, and a lot of it has to do with how you plan to use said cordless drill.
Things like battery life, weight, power and torque, and voltage will play a major role in your decision.
And if you don’t want to do the legwork, you can simply skip back to the top 10 cordless drills we’ve reviewed here. Each section covers the drill’s strengths and weaknesses, so you can determine whether or not it would be a good fit.
No drill is going to be ideal for every use, but the drills on this list cover a broad range of needs and uses — and they do it well.
Cheers, tools owners!