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Best Cordless Screwdrivers

By: Amy Livingston on July 03, 2017

Cordless screwdrivers are perfect for lightweight work

Cordless drills and cordless impact drivers can handle most driving jobs with aplomb, but some tasks, such as cabinet making or repair, call for a lighter touch. That's where a cordless screwdriver can come in handy. These small tools, usually weighing a pound or so, are suitable for driving screws and light drilling. They can fit into tight spaces more easily than a hefty drill, and you can hold them up in different positions without tiring out your arm. On the down side, even a good cordless screwdriver is much slower and less powerful than an inexpensive cordless drill, and a quality model can cost almost as much.

If you're on the fence about whether you need the capabilities of a drill or just a cordless screwdriver, the 12-volt Milwaukee 2401-22 (Est. $100) could be a good compromise. In size, power, and cost, it falls in between a typical cordless screwdriver and a full-size drill/driver. It weighs about two pounds, and it can generate 175 inch-pounds of torque. It also includes many of the amenities you'd expect to find on a cordless drill. A quick-change hex chuck makes it easy to swap out bits with one hand, and a reversible belt loop keeps the tool handy for both right-handed and left-handed users. The variable-speed trigger gives you better control, and the adjustable clutch with 15 settings helps you avoid over-tightening screws. There's also a built-in LED work light, a battery-life gauge, and a five-year warranty, with two years of coverage for the lithium-ion batteries.

The Milwaukee 2401-22 is the only cordless screwdriver we've found that earns any recommendations from professional sources. In one professional test, it actually beats out many full-sized drills for speed and handling. It's neither as powerful nor as long-running as a cordless drill, but it's as good as any other cordless screwdriver in the test. It also gets top marks for its smart charger, which restores the battery to full power in 30 minutes.

Consumers agree this is one tough driver. At HomeDepot.com, about 140 users there rate it at 4.7 stars. Overall, comments indicate that this Milwaukee cordless screwdriver is very lightweight and easy to handle, and it runs a long time on a charge. They also describe it as surprisingly powerful for its size, capable of handling the majority of drilling and driving jobs more easily than a full-sized drill. Most users also describe it as reliable, but we ran into a few complaints about battery or charger failures.

For extra-light jobs, such as installing window blinds, a 12-volt tool like the Milwaukee 2401-22 could be overkill. A less powerful cordless screwdriver, rated at between 3 and 8 volts, can get the job done without setting you back more than $50. These inexpensive cordless screwdrivers usually have built-in batteries rather than a removable battery pack, which means that when the battery wears out, you have to replace the whole tool. Many use Li-ion batteries, but a few cut costs by using less expensive nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries, which weigh more and have a shorter run time.

Among these low-powered, low-priced cordless screwdrivers, we found good feedback for the Worx WX255L (Est. $30). This tool isn't covered in any professional reviews, but it gets mostly positive reviews from over 400 owners at Amazon.com and HomeDepot.com. What they like best about the Worx is its unique built-in screw holder that lets you work with only one hand, and that can catch screws when they are removed. There's also a reloadable cartridge that can hold up to six ¼-inch bits right inside the body of the tool. When you want to change bits, you can use the slide-action bit changer to withdraw the bit you're using, then rotate the cartridge to select the one you want and advance it into place.

Users admit that this 4-volt, one-speed screwdriver is really only suitable for light jobs, but it makes up for that by being extremely lightweight (just 1.1 pounds) and easy to maneuver. Its built-in lithium-ion battery can go a good while on a charge, but then it takes about 5 hours to recharge. Also, Worx estimates the battery's useful life at only 18 months, and once it dies, you'll have to replace the whole tool. Still, at only $30, that's no more than what you would you'd pay for a just new M12 REDLITHIUM battery (Est. $30) for our Best Reviewed Milwaukee driver.

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