DeWalt DCD780C2
DeWalt DCD780C2

Best cordless drill

The 20-volt DeWalt DCD780C2 cordless drill packs enough power to tackle just about any task around the house. Reviews say its compact, lightweight body and comfortable handle are perfect for all-day use. The LED task light is bright enough to keep a workspace well-lit, and it has a 20-second delay so users aren't left in the dark. Best of all, the battery charger needs just 30 minutes to power up.
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Hitachi DS18DSAL
Hitachi DS18DSAL

Best value cordless drill

Among 18-volt drills, the Hitachi DS18DSAL is a great performer and an even better value. It earns Best Buy status in one independent review, and good expert reviews overall. It's not quite as fast as heavier-duty drills, and the battery takes longer than 30 minutes to charge, but owners don't seem to mind as it draws excellent feedback at sites like Lowes.com.

Porter-Cable PCL120DDC-2
Porter-Cable PCL120DDC-2

Cheap cordless drill

Rated at 12-volts, the Porter-Cable PCL120DDC-2 doesn't have the torque needed for a job site, but it's a great, lightweight option for homeowners. "A respectable mix of battery life, torque, and fast recharge time," says This Old House magazine, and other experts largely agree. Bonuses include an LED work light and a magnetic bit holder.

Bosch PS41-2A
Bosch PS41-2A

Best cordless impact driver

Compact, lightweight, and powerful for its class, the 12-volt Bosch PS41-2A looks like a great choice for the home or work site. The small size makes this impact drill a great choice for working in tight places. Notable features include a built-in LED work light and a battery gauge.
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Hitachi WH18DSAL
Hitachi WH18DSAL

18-volt cordless impact driver

If a 12-volt impact driver is too lightweight for your needs, the 18-volt Hitachi WH18DSAL should be on your short list of tools to consider. It's a Best Buy in one independent expert review, and user reviews are highly positive. This Hitachi impact driver is a little more expensive than the Bosch PS41-2A, and is a little bigger and heftier, but is a better match for heavy-duty fastening jobs. There's a built-in work light, but no battery gauge. Hitachi warrants the tool for life, the battery for two years.

Craftsman 17428
Craftsman 17428

Cheap cordless impact driver

Contractors and other professionals might want to steer clear, but homeowners who want an impact driver for occasional use should consider the Craftsman 17428. In absolute terms, performance does not stack up well to pricier tools, and that's reflected in a poor review from one independent expert. However, the experts at Popular Mechanics find performance to be acceptable considering the price and name it a Best Buy. Users -- especially those with realistic expectations -- are plenty pleased as well. A single battery, charger and carrying case are included, and it uses the same power system as other Craftsman Nextec tools.

DeWalt DCK280C2
DeWalt DCK280C2

Best cordless tool combo kit

Considering that it includes two well-rated tools -- the DeWalt DCD780C2 drill driver and the DeWalt DCF885C2 impact driver -- its little surprise that the DeWalt DCK280C2 tool combo kit garners great feedback. It's a pretty good deal, too, for anyone that's in the market for both tools. The kit also includes two batteries, a fast charger, a pair of belt hooks and a contractor bag.
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Porter-Cable PCL212IDC-2
Porter-Cable PCL212IDC-2

Cheap cordless tool combo kit

If pricier cordless combo kits are overkill for your needs or your budget, the Porter-Cable PCL212IDC-2 kit looks to be a terrific buy. It includes a 12-volt impact driver, a 12-volt drill, two batteries, a charger and more. Reviewers say the tools in this combo kit can handle all but the toughest household tasks. But contractors and others with more heavy-duty workloads will want to consider a more powerful combo instead.

Milwaukee 2401-22
Milwaukee 2401-22

Best cordless screwdriver

At 12-volts, the Milwaukee 2401-22 is one of the most powerful 12-volt cordless screwdrivers on the market, capable of medium-duty driving and drilling. Compact and lightweight, the 2401-22's features set it apart, owners say. They especially love the bright LED light, one-handed bit changes and long-running batteries.
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The best cordless drills and drivers make your job easier

Cordless drills can replace conventional drills and manual screwdrivers, because they're equally adept at boring holes and driving screws. However, with the large number of models available, it's important to assess your needs before choosing the cordless drill or driver that's right for you.

The most important factor, reviewers say, is choosing a cordless drill with adequate power. That's easier said than done, because cordless drill models can range in power from 7.2 volts to 20 volts or more. According to J.D. Power and Associates, most owners prefer 18-volt drills to 12-volt drills because they have more power and can run longer between charges. But not all 18-volt drills are the same. Expert tests show that performance varies widely (battery run time can differ by more than 100 screws), with higher prices not necessarily leading to a better tool. For some homeowners and tradespeople (like electricians and finish carpenters), top-rated 12-volt drills can be a good option to consider because they are smaller and less expensive, experts say.

Battery type can affect performance, too. The best cordless drills and drivers use lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, which are lighter and more compact than nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) or nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. Li-ion batteries also keep their charge longer between uses, making them a better choice for homeowners who don't use these tools every day.

Cordless drill alternatives

Using both bit rotation and impact to drive screws, cordless impact drivers have much more torque than cordless drills, notes Popular Mechanics. They can drive screws and lag bolts without a pilot hole and with minimal strain on the hand and wrist. However, they are less versatile than cordless drills as their primary function is to drive screws. That said, makers are offering impact driver accessories that have begun to blur the difference between the two tools. For example, DeWalt offers a line of "Impact Ready" products that includes drill bits and hole saws.

While a cordless impact driver makes sense for large projects (such as building a deck), if your screw driving needs amount to furniture assembly and hanging items on walls, you might be just fine with a cordless screwdriver. Cordless screwdrivers are relatively inexpensive and light weight, but you give up some versatility compared to a cordless drill as cordless screwdrivers are relatively limited when it comes to drilling holes.

Cordless drill reviews

There's lots of feedback available regarding cordless drills, cordless screwdrivers and cordless impact drivers. ConsumerReports.org offers extensive coverage, including tests of all three types of tools. Cordless drills are assessed based on their expected usage and are rated against their heavy-duty, light-duty and general-use peers. Testing-based comparisons from Popular Mechanics, Tools of the Trade, Pro Tool Reviews, Fine Homebuilding, and TheFamilyHandyman.com also reveal top performers. Both homeowners and contractors comment on drills at retail sites like HomeDepot.com Lowes.com and Amazon.com.

Elsewhere in this Report:

Cordless Drills
Pros and cons of cordless are discussed, and best-rated choices are listed.

Cordless Impact Drivers
Is an impact driver a better fit for your needs than a cordless drill? Editors look at the considerations and name the best models.

Cordless Screwdrivers
If a cordless drill or impact driver is overkill for your budget and your needs, consider a cordless screwdriver instead. We look into the details and make our recommendations.

Buying Guide
Not sure what you need to consider before buying a cordless drill, impact driver or screwdriver? This guide will help make finding the right tool and model easier.

Our Sources
There are lots of expert and user reviews of cordless drills and similar tools. Editors used these to help identify the best choices. Reviewers are ranked by their helpfulness.

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