For most home-use drilling and driving, critics recommend the Porter-Cable PCL120DDC-2 as the best budget buy. In expert performance tests, it finishes just behind top 12-volt drills like the Milwaukee 2410-22 (*Est. $150) -- and consistently ahead of other drills costing under $100. Like pricier drills, the Porter-Cable uses lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, which hold their charge better and last longer than older-style nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) or nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. It also comes with an LED task light, quick 30-minute charger and magnetized bit/screw holder on the motor casing. Although reviews say it's the best budget drill, they do point out that it's not pro-grade like the Milwaukee drill -- the battery will run out faster, and you can't replace any of the Porter-Cable's internal parts.
ConsumerReports.org tests the Porter-Cable PCL120DDC-2 alongside 66 other cordless drills, making this test the most extensive comparison we found. However, tests at other publications -- Tools of the Trade, Fine Homebuilding, Journal of Light Construction, Popular Mechanics and This Old House magazine -- go into more detail about the mechanics of the test and the performance of the drills, although they don't test as many drills. Amazon.com has collected a handful of owner reviews for this drill.
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The Porter-Cable PCL120DDC-2 is one of 67 cordless drills tested here. Editors rate each drill's speed, power, run time, charge time, handling and noise before picking the best buys.
Review: Cordless Drill Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
2. Tools of the Trade
In this comparison test of 10 subcompact drill/drivers, the budget-priced Porter-Cable PCL120DDC-2 does an impressive job, finishing just behind the pricier top-rated drills. Michael Springer praises its comfortable handle, reversible belt clip and magnetic bit/screw holder.
Review: Tool Test: Subcompact Drill/Drivers and Impact Drivers, Michael Springer, Aug. 8, 2011
3. Fine Homebuilding
This test pits eight compact drills against each other on the job site and in the shop. Contractor Paul Johnson picks the Porter-Cable PCL120DCC-2 as the best value.
Review: Tool Test: 12v Li-Ion Compact Drills, Paul Johnson, March 10, 2011
4. Journal of Light Construction
Most of the seven 12-volt cordless drills in this test cost over $100, but the under-$100 Porter-Cable PCL120DDC-2 doesn't fare too badly by comparison. It's not pro-grade, but Bruce Greenlaw says he "liked the overall feel of the tool, and it handled my trials well."
Review: Tool Test: 12-volt Drill/Drivers, Bruce Greenlaw, June 2011
After Roy Berendsohn puts 13 subcompact cordless drills through driving, drilling and battery-draining tests, he picks the Porter-Cable PCL120DDC-2 as the best value.
Review: 12-Volt Cordless Drills: We Test 13 of the Best We, Roy Berendsohn
6. This Old House magazine
Once again, the Porter-Cable PCL120DDC-2 performs best among 12-volt drills costing less than $100. It drills nearly as many holes and recharges nearly as fast as pricier Milwaukee and DeWalt drills, but it doesn't pack the same torque, and it conks out before drilling as many screws.
Review: Tool Test: 12-Volt Drill/Drivers, Sal Vaglica, Not dated
About 10 owners review the Porter-Cable PCL120DDC-2 here, but the reviews are almost uniformly positive. Only one user rates it less than 4 or 5 stars, complaining that the chuck became too loose to hold the drill bits after six months.
Review: Porter-Cable PCL120DDC-2 12-Volt Max Compact Lithium-Ion 3/8-Inch Drill/Driver, Contributors to Amazon.com