The Best Cordless Drills of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

We put the top cordless drills on the market through a battery of tests
the best cordless drills

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Some of my core childhood memories are focused around building stuff with my dad. There was the tree-fort, the backyard deck, and then, most importantly, my first treestand. So when it was time to review the best cordless drills on the market, I knew my dad would be the ideal tester. 

Armed with some 2x4s, a drill, a miter saw, and a cooler full of beer, and there’s not much that the old man can’t accomplish. He’s a welder by trade, an old school outdoorsman, and a builder by necessity (why pay someone to do work you could do yourself?). And best of all, he’s not a licensed general contractor, so you can trust him. These were his picks for the best drills.

The Best Cordless Drills at a Glance

the best cordless drills
Drills varied only slightly in terms of size and weight.

Photo by Alex Robinson

DrillSpeedPowerBattery LifePrice
Milwaukee M18 Fuel36 seconds3 inches23 minutes$215
Kobalt Next Gen39 seconds2.5 inches26 minutes$99
Dewalt 20V Max45 seconds2.75 inches25 minutes$132
Rigid41 seconds2.62 inches19 minutes$113
Ryobi41 seconds1.5 inches15 minutes$71
Test results.

How We Tested the Best Cordless Drills

the best cordless drills
We tested speed by drilling five holes through a 6×6.

Photo by Mike Robinson

My dad put five top cordless drills through a variety of objective tests to evaluate their performance. For all tests, all drills were turned to “1” drill speed setting. 

Drill Speed: He used a ½-inch drill bit that was 8-inches long, to drill five consecutive holes through a 6×6. He timed how long it took to complete the process.

Drill Power: My dad measured drill power by driving a 9/16 lag bolt that was 3-inches long into a 6×6. Each drill got one chance to drive the lag bolt, with no pilot hole. He then measured how deep each drill was able to drive the lag bolt before stopping. 

Battery Life and Charge Time: He put each drill in a vice, which held the trigger down. He ran drills at full speed until they ran out of battery (and timed the process). 

Light: To evaluate the quality of each drill’s light, my dad positioned them 6 inches from a wall, in a dark room, and then measured the diameter of the beam on the wall.

We also evaluated each cordless drill for perceived durability, quality of design, ergonomics, value and accessories.   

The Best Cordless Drills, Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-22

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Key Features

  • Drill Speed: 36 seconds (first)
  • Drill Power: 3 inches (first)
  • Battery: 23 minutes (third)
  • Torque: 1400 in-lbs  
  • Voltage: 18
  • Price: $215
  • Made in Vietnam

Pros

  • Fastest and most powerful drill in the test
  • Hard case
  • Two batteries

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Heavy (3.2 pounds)

If you’re a professional or someone who requires top-end performance from their tools, then this is the best cordless drill for you. As my dad says, “This is the drill you need when you’re going to be beating the crap out of stuff.”

The Milwaukee M18 Fuel has a durable, quality chuck that is all metal. It handily won our speed and power tests. This makes sense as it delivers substantially more advertised torque than other drills in the test. It comes with a quality hard case, which is nice when you’re transporting tools in trucks and trailers. Notably, it came with two batteries (all other drills tested came with one battery). It also has a hammer drill setting. 

The only downsides of this drill are that it’s a bit heavy (at 3.2 pounds it was one of the heavier drills in the test), and it’s expensive. It costs about twice as much as other cordless drills we reviewed. 

If you’re planning a big DIY project like a new deck, if you’re an ice fisherman who needs a drill to run their pistol bit auger, or if you’re a waterfowler who will be drilling in pilot holes for decoy stakes on a frozen field at 5 a.m., this is the drill you need. 

Read Next: Best Electric Chainsaws

Best Value: Kobalt Next Gen

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Key Features

  • Drill Speed: 39 seconds (second)
  • Drill Power: 2.5 inches (fourth)
  • Battery: 26 minutes (first)
  • Torque: 850 in-lb  
  • Voltage: 24
  • Price: $99
  • Made in China

Pros

  • Best value in the test
  • Great speed for the money
  • Battery life

Cons

  • Only one battery and cheaper soft case

Most folks who need a capable and affordable cordless drill should go with the Kobalt. At less than $100 it delivers plenty of speed and decent power. It has a better full-metal chuck than most (besides the Milwaukee all the drills had a plastic chuck). Also, the Kobalt had the longest battery life of any drill in the test. From a performance and ergonomics standpoint, it’s right at the top of the heap. 

The only downside of this drill is that it comes with only one battery. So If you’re going to be taking on bigger projects where you’ll be using the drill on-and-off for a few hours, you should plan on getting a second battery, which will cost you about $40. Kobalt is a Lowe’s brand but you can also find their products on Amazon.  

Dewalt 20V Max

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Key Features

  • Drill Speed: 45 seconds (fifth)
  • Drill Power: 2.75 inches (second)
  • Battery: 25 minutes (second)
  • 404 UWO
  • Voltage: 20
  • Price: $132
  • Made in Mexico

Pros

  • Small, compact, and light 
  • Good power

Cons

  • Slow drilling
  • Slow charging
  • Only one battery

We expected the Dewalt to compete with the Milwaukee but unfortunately its performance was a bit disappointing in our testing. It did have the second most power and second most battery life, but it was the slowest drill in the test. On the upside this is a very compact, light, and handy drill. If you need a cordless drill to get into small spaces, this would be a good choice. It’s the only drill in the test that had noticeably better ergonomics. Plus the light stayed on for a beat longer after drilling, which we found to be a nice feature.

Interestingly, during the battery test, we found that this drill would shut off at five-minute intervals. We figured this might be a function to prevent overheating. Realistically it’s not much of a factor since you’re unlikely to be drilling for five minutes straight. The other positive note about the Dewalt is that it’s part of a large series of Dewalt 20v Max cordless tools. If you already have Dewalt battery powered tools, it makes sense to stick with them as many of the batteries will be interchangeable. 

Rigid

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Key Features

  • Drill Speed: 41 seconds (fourth, tied)
  • Drill Power: 2.625 inches (third)
  • Battery: 19 minutes (fourth)
  • Torque: 525 in-lb
  • Voltage: 18
  • Price: $113
  • Made in China

Pros

  • Good power performance for the price

Cons

  • Overall performance was lacking
  • Chuck felt cheap
  • Only one battery


Rigid makes a nice looking drill that delivered average performance in our test. It came in third or fourth in all our objective tests. It’s a fine drill but not as capable as the Kobalt or as powerful as the Dewalt, which both can be found for lower prices. Like those other two drills it also comes with a soft case and one battery.

Ryobi

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Key Features

  • Drill Speed: 41 seconds (fourth, tied)
  • Drill Power: 1.5 inches (fifth)
  • Battery: 15 minutes (fifth)
  • Torque: 515 in-lb
  • Voltage: 18
  • Price: $71
  • Made in China

Pros

  • Good, bright light
  • Cheapest drill in the test

Cons

  • Poor performance

This was the cheapest drill in our test (coming in about $30 cheaper than the Kobalt). If you only needed to do light work around home and don’t want to spend the money on a top-end drill this would be a fine choice, but don’t plan on cutting holes while ice fishing with the Ryobi. It was light and hand, but felt like it might be prone to issues after hard use. It did have the brightest and most useful light in the test. 

Read Next: How to Build an Affordable and Portable Deer Blind

Cordless Drill FAQs

Do I need a hammer drill?

A hammer drill uses a linear hammering or chiseling motion and is useful for drilling through concrete, cinder block, and brick. Most DIY users don’t require a hammer setting in their cordless drill, however there are a variety of drill/drivers that offer this option (like the Milwaukee in this test).

What does voltage mean on a drill?

Voltage is a measure of battery power and often more voltage means more torque produced by the drill. However that doesn’t always result in real-world performance. The Kobalt runs on a 24-volt battery but delivered less drilling power than 18-volt drills in our test.

How long does a cordless drill battery last?

Running at full speed, non-stop, the drills in our test all lasted for at least an hour. So if you’re only going to be doing small projects and using your drill for a few minutes at a time, you can get away with one battery. If you’re going to be taking on bigger projects, then get two batteries and charge one while you’re using the other. 

Final Thoughts on the Best Cordless Drills

The best cordless drill in our review was hands down the Milwaukee M18 Fuel, but it comes at a premium price. If you need top performance, that’s the drill for you. The other drills in this test come with lower prices and deliver similar performance to each other. The Kobalt delivers the best overall value and should be the top choice for most DIYers.  

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Alex Robinson

Editor-in-Chief

Alex Robinson is Outdoor Life’s editor-in-chief. He oversees an ace team of writers, photographers, and editors who are scattered across the continent and cover everything from backcountry sheep hunting to trail running. He lives in Grant, Minnesota, with his supportive wife, well-mannered duck dog, and feral toddler.

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