Cordless drill reviews

These cordless drills are for the serious DIY enthusiast.
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  • Updated:17 Aug 2009


Cordless drill with battery pack

Test results for 10 cordless drills priced between $89 and $510.

A cordless drill is a must-have tool for the dedicated do-it-yourselfer or tradesperson. You’ll want one with lots of power and torque for drilling and screwdriving into a range of materials, a battery with plenty of juice, and useful features such as multiple gear and speed settings.

CHOICE put 10 cordless drills through a tough set of tests to find which ones are up to the job. We chose models in the high-end home user or low-end trade category, priced up to around $500 with 18 volt batteries and 13mm chuck size; these models should deliver enough power but still be within budget for a serious DIYer.

When we last tested cordless drills we looked at cheap models up to $50 and found none were very good; they simply didn’t have enough grunt for serious DIY jobs. However, as you’d expect it’s a different story with these more expensive drills. The recommended models can tackle heavy duty jobs, and even the cheapest and lowest-scoring model can manage some heavy duty work.

Please note: this information was current as of August 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market.

Tips for using a drill

  • Safety Always check for wiring and pipes before drilling into a wall. Wear safety glasses and hearing protection, particularly when hammer drilling or in confined spaces.
  • Screwdriving If you’re not sure what clutch setting to use, start with a low torque setting and gradually increase it until you get the desired result (the clutch should slip just when the screw is fully sunk).
  • Drilling through timber Timber can usually be drilled at high speed (high gear) unless you’re using a particularly wide bit, say 13mm or more, or if the timber is especially hard. To avoid splintering the other side of the timber as the drill bit breaks through, clamp stiff cardboard to the back of the timber. Don’t force the drill; apply moderate pressure to let the drill work at its own rate, and ease off the pressure as the bit is about to break through.
  • Drilling through steel Use a bit rated for steel and set the drill to a slow speed (low gear). A little oil on the spot to be drilled helps lubricate and cool the drill bit. Clamping a piece of timber under the steel helps you achieve a clean exit hole and also protects your workbench.

Brand tested

  • AEG BSB 18
  • Black & Decker FS188F4-XE Firestorm
  • Bosch Blue GSR 18V
  • Bosch Green PSR 18VE
  • Dewalt DC725KA-XE
  • Hitachi DS18DFL
  • Makita BHP452SHE
  • Ozito OZCD18V2A
  • Ryobi CLK18/2-001
  • Worx WX165

Brands not tested

We also looked for drills from Hilti, Metabo, and Panasonic but were unable to buy these brands, as they were either outside our target price range, not easily available or undergoing changes to their product line.



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