How we test cordless drills

Boring holes is never a boring job for our lab experts.

Knowing the drill

Most home handypersons – and even the less handy – would agree that that a cordless drill is the most useful power tool to own, as so many household DIY jobs involve drilling holes or driving screws in or out. We put cordless drills to the test, driving screws and drilling holes by the hundred in soft and hard timber, to find the ones that have the best drilling performance, torque and battery life.

Our expert testers

CHOICE maintains a highly professional NATA-accredited laboratory and the vast majority of our product testing is done in-house. Our cordless drill tests are no exception. Our testers have drilled thousands of holes in the course of drill testing over the years, as well as driving thousands of screws in and out of timber. Many of our product test methods are based on Australian technical standards, but for products like drills, where there aren't any particular official performance standards, we devise a test method based on practical tests to cover how the product is typically used.

How we choose what we test

With so many to choose from, what makes us choose one drill to test over another? As with most of our product testing, our aim is to test the most popular brands and types on the market and what you're most likely to see in the retailers.

We survey manufacturers to find out about their range of products, we check market sales information and we also check for any member requests to test specific brands or models. From this information we put together a final list that goes to our buyers. They then head out to the retailers and purchase each product, just as a normal consumer would. We do this so we can be sure they're the same as any consumer would find them and not 'tweaked' in any way.

We test cordless drill/drivers as these are the most popular type of drill for home users.

How we test

Battery life score

Based on how many 10–12 x 25mm TEK screws can be screwed in and out of 32mm thick MDF on one battery charge – the more screws, the higher the score. For drills that come with two batteries, we test with the largest capacity as we think this is what most people will use first.  Before testing, the batteries are conditioned by being charged and discharged three times.

Torque score

Based on screwing TEK screws of two different sizes (14G 50mm and 14G 75mm, 25 of each) into and out of MDF (96mm deep). The more screws screwed in (fully flush with the wood), the higher the score. A drill that manages to drive all the screws fully in and out scores 100%.

Drilling score

Based on the time taken to drill 10 holes with a 13mm spade bit through 45mm hardwood (spotted gum). The faster the time, the better the score.

Ease of use

The drills are assessed for weight and balance, and grip comfort, by a right-handed man (our lab tester), a left-handed man and a right-handed woman.

Test criteria explained

The overall score is made up of:

  • Performance (70%). This is the average of the battery life, torque test and drilling test scores.
  • Ease of use (30%)

We recommend drills that score 70% or more overall and at least 80% for performance, and exclude any models that score poorly for ease of use (45% or less).

Our test lab

We maintain our labs with calibrated equipment and our lab testers are trained and experienced, to ensure our test results are of the highest quality.

Ready to buy?

Check out our cordless drill reviews.