Over the past few months we have done a lot of drill testing between test tracks, speed challenges, power challenges and more. We mentioned we're building something bigger…and now we're ready to reveal the top 10 cordless drills of the year.
Editor's note: You think you know it all? Our how to drill article might still be able to show you a thing or two.
When we say they're top 10, we really mean one in a million. These are cordless drills from premium brands, and they are the best performers of each brand. We'll rank them based on their performance, but keep in mind that each of these drills has our endorsement. That means not everyone gets the trophy. To make a final cut, every drill must score at least a 9 out of 10 on our scoring scale, and not every drill we tested did.
Let's start by looking at our starting roster.
First up is the Bosch GSB18V-755C. In addition to its solid construction and great ergonomics, this 18V hammer drill features kickback control and is hookup ready. If you want to enable smart features by pairing your hammer drill with Bosch's app, just buy the connectivity module for about $19 at your favorite retailer and install it in the handle.
Next, DeWalt entered with their DCD998. Of the three hammer drills at the top of the 20V Max range, the Power Detect model gave us the best results. Perfectly capable of using any DeWalt 20V Max battery, this 3-speed model gives it a massive performance boost if you're using an 8Ah battery pack or higher. As a bonus, you can switch the LED light to a 20-minute torch mode—uncommon on a drill.
The 24V Max Flex FX1271T-2B is a relative newcomer to the premium cordless drill scene, with deceptively compact dimensions—only 7.1 inches long. It's capable of 2500 RPM in high gear and 1400 in-lbs of torque in low gear when you enter Turbo mode with a button on your foot. This is another model with an anti-kickback feature.
The Hilti SF 10W-A22 is the only wire-drawing drill in the competition, but don't let that fool you – this is one drill that can challenge for the top spot. The lowest of the 4 speeds gives you what we consider a "mixed" mode of 310 RPM. In top gear, it revs up to 2100 RPM. Available torque is 1062 in-lbs, and one of the few downsides is that it lacks a hammer drill option.
Kobalt has moved to advanced impact drills with the launch of its XTR line of products. Highlighting high performance and value, the KXHD 1424A-03 is more compact than Kobalt's previous models. It also boasts an impressive 1200 in-lbs of torque, a 2000 RPM top end, and includes kickback control.
Makita brought their 40V max XGT hammer drill to the competition. The GPH01 is compact at only 7.1 inches long, but has 1250 inch-pounds of torque and a top speed of 2600 RPM. Additionally, it has recoil control for added safety measures as well as an electronic clutch for torque control. The 40V max battery is only slightly larger than the 5.0Ah 18V LXT battery pack, making the transition to the XGT's higher performance levels easier.
Metabo's SB 18 LTX-3 BL QI isn't the most compact, but it's surprisingly fast, hitting 3800 RPM in the top of its three gears. When you need precision, Metabo uses an electronic clutch and pulse mode to help repair damaged fasteners. It is part of the Metabo Quick system and features simple chuck changes and accessories such as torque multipliers. It's also one of the few cordless tools with batteries that work across multiple brands. Check out the Cordless Alliance System for details.
Metabo HPT's 36V MultiVolt Hammer Drill has the advantage of using a 36V battery that also works with its 18V tools. Also, you can add an AC adapter if you want wired power as an option. Add in solid ergonomics, safe kickback control, and a lifetime warranty, and you've got an impact drill to take a close look at with our performance tests.
Milwaukee's 2804 is the third-generation hammer drill in the M18 Fuel series, and it's the most compact model we tested at just 6.9 inches. Hidden inside that little frame is a brushless motor that produces up to 1200 inch-pounds of torque at 2000 RPM. There is also a one-click option if you want to explore Milwaukee's customizable controls, tool tracking and inventory management. Look for model 2806 if it suits you.
Ridgid has taken a step back from the size of its Octane line by introducing an updated 18V brushless hammer drill. It's more compact and lighter, paired with a max output battery that produces 2100 RPM on top and up to 800 in-lbs of torque.
Before we get into our performance results, let me take a moment to say thank you for clicking our video – we hope you enjoy it! While you're here, please consider subscribing to our channel and turning on notifications so you know when we post new videos. When you're done watching this, check out…
In our first test, we started with ¼ inch Bosch multi-purpose drill bits to see how quickly each bit could make a 3 inch deep hole in a solid concrete block at 4000 PSI. We intentionally skipped the Hilti in this test because it lacks a hammer-drill mode.
Metabo came out on top of the competition, taking first place with an average time of 2.35 seconds. DeWalt and Flex also performed well, but were more than a second behind.
Next we moved a ½ inch multipurpose bit in the same piece. This time, Metabo took an average of 3.49 seconds, and it had some competition with Flex, which was only 32 percent behind.
Flipping over to the rough stuff, the next test brings us to 2×4 studs—which, by the way, are pretty expensive. Using a 1 ½ inch Milwaukee Switchblade Self Feed Drill, we run each drill at high speed.
The No. 1 Flex showed its resolve with an average of 1.18 seconds. Makita's XGT was close behind with a 1.38-second average, with DeWalt a close third.
Moving up to the 2-9/16” size, we had to experiment a bit to find out which cog each bit was most successful with, and there are definitely advantages to having three or more cogs.
This time around, Metabo HPT topped the list with an impressive 1.63-second average. It was joined by Makita's 40V max XGT as only two to complete the task in under two seconds.
Finally, there is the PTR test track, where we put each bit through a series of tests, starting with 20 drywall screw test controls, 10 holes each with a ½” twist bit, ¾” spade bit, and ¾” Auger the bit to see how it can handle lighter loads, and wrap around with 1" and 2-1/8" hole saws. The clock doesn't stop between tests, so accessory changes and human error come into play.
The first-place Flex finished just two seconds ahead of Makita's XGT with a time of 1:56. DeWalt finished third with just over 2 minutes left.
After all, this is our final ranking of the best cordless drills of the year and their overall ratings.
No. 10: Bosch GSB18V-755C – 9.0
No. 9: Hilti SF 10W-A22 – 9.3
Size 8: Ridgid R86115 – 9.3
No. 7: Kobalt KXHD-124B-03 – 9.4
No. 6: Metabo SB 18 LTX-3 BL QI – 9.4
No. 5: Milwaukee 2804-20 – 9.5
No. 4: Metabo HPT DV36DA – 9.6
3rd place: DeWalt DCD998 – 9.7
No. 2: Makita GPH01 – 9.7
No. 1: Flex FX1271T-2B – 9.8
While it's heavier, and its list of compatible tools isn't quite as extensive as the DeWalt, Makita, and Milwaukee, its performance and design set it apart from the stiff cordless drill competition.
We know everyone has slightly different priorities, and the best cordless drill for you might not even be the ones we've tested in this impressive group. Let us know what your top picks are in the comments below, and as always, thanks for watching!
about the author
With wild creativity and a fervent love for baseball, Austin is primarily responsible for all the fast and furious action via the Pro Tool Reviews Youtube channel. He loves being behind the camera, and the PTR team loves how good he makes them look in front of the camera!