The Best Drills: Bore Holes and Snug Fasteners Down With Ease

Lets get your power tool collection off to the right start.

Best Overall

DeWalt Cordless Drill

DeWalt 20V MAX Brushless 1/2-Inch Cordless Compact Drill Driver

Best Value

Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/2-Inch Drill/Driver

Honorable Mention

Makita XFD131 18V LXT® Cordless 1/2-Inch Driver-Drill

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You need a drill. That’s just a fact. Whether you’re a DIYer on your way to becoming a full-on trades professional, or a homeowner just looking to manage basic tasks, a drill is an essential part of your kit. That’s because the materials we use to put things together need holes in them. There’s also the need to drive fasteners to secure those materials in place. And though there are alternative solutions to those problems, a drill is just so much better that you’ll disown yourself for not buying one when you attempt to do things the hard way.

Which one do you need, though? Well, that depends on a few factors. I’m here to help walk you through the buying process so you can hone in on the perfect drill for your kit. 

Summary List

Our Methodology

Anyone who spends any amount of time working with their hands is going to learn their way around a drill. They’re an essential tool for every trade, and you’re going to start using them early on in your wrenching career. Our team is more than familiar with the mighty drill, and we’ve used countless variants over the years. Still, we’ve taken the time to research the market and what consumers have to say to ensure anything on our list of recommendations is truly worth the money. 

The Best Drills: Reviews & Recommendations 

Best Overall: DeWalt 20V MAX Brushless 1/2-Inch Cordless Compact Drill Driver

This cordless unit from DeWalt is the perfect option for most DIYers. It’s capable of delivering 350 inch-pounds of torque and speeds of 1,650 RPM, which is essentially the sweet spot for basic tasks. It’s also a compact design that’s easy to carry around and will reach into tight spaces larger models might struggle with. This kit does include the charger and battery, adding even more value. That said, the DeWalt 20V Max line is packed with excellent tools for auto-centric DIYers, making this the perfect choice for our readers. 

The potential drawbacks start with the performance ratings. It’s great for most jobs but will definitely need to be substituted when working with tougher materials or larger bits. That’s as much of an issue for some cheaper options that can deliver more torque from a similar package. 

Best Value: Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/2-Inch Drill/Driver

Of course, it’s a Ryobi drill in our slot for Best Value. Ryobi tools are among the best in terms of performance. Still, they retain a price tag that appeals to budget-minded consumers. This drill is no exception. Operating speeds of up to 1,750 RPM and the ability to lay down 500 inch-pounds of torque put it ahead of some pricier options. Its value is also bolstered by the inclusion of a battery and charger. 

This drill potentially takes a hit in durability in exchange for lower cost. While plenty of reviewers praise it for delivering years of service, there are many who say it won’t stand up to the abuse others do. That said, longevity issues may be linked to quality control issues that seem to plague this particular power tool.

Honorable Mention: Makita XFD131 18V LXT® Cordless 1/2-Inch Driver-Drill

Makita doesn’t get nearly enough love around these parts, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make great tools. This drill is a perfect example of what the mighty turquoise tool manufacturer can deliver. It’s a compact drill that’s aptly sized for all DIY jobs. Despite that small footprint, it turns out an impressive 440 inch-pounds and operational speeds of 1,900 RPM. The price is also rather low considering that kind of performance and the inclusion of the battery and charger. 

The included battery seems to be a trouble area for this particular listing, with complaints of it not holding a charge as long as some of the competition’s. Complaints of quality control issues are also pretty common in the reviews section, and the two may be linked.

Best Kit: Milwaukee M18 Drill Driver/Impact Driver Combo Kit

You really thought there’d be a power tool buying guide without so much as mentioning Milwaukee? This combo kit is an excellent starting point for folks who want to start a power-tool collection at the top of the food chain. It includes both an impact driver and drill, along with the batteries and charger,  which will prove to be an invaluable combination for the majority of DIY and pro-level projects you’ll embark on. The drill included is also a compact model that lays down 500 inch-pounds of torque and operational speeds of 1,800 RPM, which is more than enough to make it your go-to drill. 

The included batteries are enough to get working but drain a charge rather quickly, which can be a problem for bigger projects. It’s also worth noting that issues with the batteries failing prematurely are also somewhat common. 

Best Hammer Drill: DeWalt 20V MAX Brushless 1/2-Inch Hammer Drill Driver

The last stop on this list takes us back to DeWalt. This time, we’re looking at a hammer drill that’s a bit different than the rest. It’s not a full-size model, though, which makes it such a versatile listing. It’s a compact hammer drill that’s not much larger than the other models we’ve highlighted and can be used as a regular drill when needed. Then, you can switch to the hammer function when you’re up against tougher materials, which the others cannot do. As if that’s not enough, it sits at an affordable price point and includes a battery and charger that can be shared with a long list of performance tools you’ll use in the garage and home. 

Seeing as this model covers so much territory, it doesn’t deliver the performance of a dedicated drill or larger hammer drill. More serious jobs will call for the performance qualities of either, but this will do good enough to get you out of a pinch in smaller jobs. Also, the included 2Ah battery drains quickly when using the hammer drill function. 

Our Verdict on the Best Drills

It’s hard to deny the DeWalt 20V MAX Brushless 1/2-Inch Cordless Compact Drill Driver placement at the top of our list. It checks all the boxes for the average DIYer and serves as an excellent starting point for an ecosystem suited for home and auto projects. However, the Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/2-Inch Drill/Driver is an excellent alternative for folks on a tighter budget. 

What to Consider When Shopping for Drills 

Buying a drill is among the easiest tool shopping experiences you’ll run through. Still, it helps to have a little bit of insight before you get rolling, as there are some variations that will determine what’s best for you. That’s why we’ve put this buying guide together to help you get started. 

Key Features 

Power Source 

The typical drill will rely on corded or cordless power. Most users will do just fine with a cordless drill, as they offer more than enough performance in a convenient package. There’s also the added benefit of sharing batteries with a long list of other power tools you’ll need in your DIY endeavors. Corded drills are still available, but are quickly being outpaced by cordless tools. That said, they are generally more affordable than cordless drills, and are an excellent choice on a tight budget because of it. 

Chuck Size and Style 

The chuck is the part of the drill that holds onto the bit you’re using. You need to pick one that will accept the maximum bit size you’ll be using it for. A 1/2-inch chuck is the best choice for most DIYers, as it will work with drill bits typically used for home and garage projects. 

The style of chuck you pick determines how the drill clamps down onto the fastener. Most drills feature what’s called a keyless chuck and only require you to hold the chuck while you operate the drill so it can clamp down on or release the bit. This is very convenient, but a keyed chuck can ensure a tighter grip and can be more desirable for drills routinely used for tougher jobs. 

Torque and Speed 

Torque and speed are two of the most important specs to consider when shopping for a drill. Torque refers to the amount of rotational force a drill can apply. More torque means it’s easier to drill into harder materials or drive larger fasteners. The rate at which a drill can spin gives you a good idea as to how fast the drill can work. It’s important to keep in mind that speed ratings are based on how fast the drill free spins and don’t reflect operational speeds under load.

Picking the right drill is a balancing act, and you want to consider what you intend to use the drill for and base your selection of these two specs accordingly. However, a drill that can deliver at least 350 inch-pounds of torque and operate at speeds of 1,500 RPM is going to work just fine for the typical DIYer. 


How much you spend on a drill depends on a few factors. Most cordless drills that include the battery and charger sell for around $100-$200. There are some complete kits below $100, but most in this range are bare tools that don’t include everything you need to get up and running. Corded drills generally list for less than $100, with higher powered specialty models being the exception.


You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers. 

Q. When should you not use a drill? 

A. Drills should not be used in the place of a screwdriver when fastening small bits of hardware. They can easily strip out small screws, leaving you with big problems. 

Q. Is a hammer drill better than a regular drill? 

A. Hammer drills have the advantage of being able to function as a hammer drill and a regular drill, depending on the mode that’s selected. However, the added function does increase the size of the tool, making a regular drill far more convenient to use in instances where the hammering function isn’t necessary. 

Q. Are corded drills obsolete? 

A. Cordless drills just keep getting better and better. Performance, packaging, and battery life have improved to the point that they’re superior to corded drills in most ways. However, corded drills are still available and are a solid choice if you need something with respectable performance on a budget, so they aren’t totally obsolete just yet. 

Q. How long do corded drills last? 

A. On average, the batteries last around five to ten years before they need to be replaced. The drill itself should last much longer if it’s properly cared for. 


Hank O'Hop Avatar

Hank O'Hop

Associate Editor, Commerce

Hank is an Associate Editor at The Drive. He may be here to recommend tools and parts, but he’s always happy to dive deep into tech discussions, especially when it gives him the opportunity to display his old Dodge.