While cordless drills win in the “most portable” category, they can’t compete with corded drills when it comes to power, speed, and the ability to keep on working as long as you want to without stopping for a battery recharge.
Thomas Hawkins, master electrician and owner of Electrician Apprentice HQ, comments, "The corded versus cordless debate depends upon the project. If working in a tight area where you don't need a lot of power but need versatility, go cordless. But if you're not restricted in your movements and especially need extra power, go corded. It all boils down to what you're trying to accomplish.”
We spent hours researching corded drills from the most popular tool brands, evaluating power, reliability, and versatility. Our favorite corded drill is the BLACK+DECKER DR260C 3/8-Inch Corded Drill, thanks to its compact size, variable speeds, and powerful performance.
Here are the best corded drills for all of your DIY needs.
BLACK+DECKER DR260C 3/8-Inch Corded Drill
Great power for size
Onboard stored bits can poke hand
Don't let its compact size fool you. The BLACK+DECKER corded drill packs a powerful punch with its variable speeds. The 5.2-amp motor provides a lot of juice with 1,500 RPMs for quickly powering through almost any job around the home. This handy tool weighs just 3.5 pounds, making it easier to use for more extended work sessions. Plus, there's a lock-on button to keep the power flowing without having to squeeze the trigger the entire time you are using the drill. It even has a bit storage chamber in the handle.
For accurate drilling, the 3/8-inch drill with keyless chuck has a one-handed forward/reverse slider and variable speed switch. Set it on a slower speed for precise drilling through hard metals, or pump it up to bite through masonry and wood in minutes. This little workhorse can switch from drilling wood, drywall, and metal to taking on sanding and buffing jobs with a change of attachments.
This pick is great for the DIYer who wants a drill that weighs less and can last a long time. It scores high marks for the power and versatility it provides, and with a very reasonable price, as well.
Price at time of publish: $26
Power: 5.2 amps | Max Speed: 1,500 rpm | Chuck Size: 3/8-inch | Keyless Chuck: Yes | Drill Weight: 3.5 pounds
Best Hammer Drill
Bosch RH328VC 1-1/8-Inch Rotary Hammer Drill
Three modes to choose from
Overkill if you just need a basic drill
A good hammer drill is heavy duty, as well as heavier than a regular corded drill. These tools not only have the rotating movement common to all drills but also add in a slight "hammering" burst of energy to increase the drill's power. The rapid hammering motion is powerful enough to fasten a railing to concrete or take down an old steel fixture tied to a house’s foundation.
The Bosch 8-amp hammer drill can drive quickly into concrete and is tough enough to remove stubborn tile, drywall, and more. And thanks to its vibration-control design, even demolition jobs or remodels won't put too much strain on your hands. The power-to-weight ratio is impressive at 8 amps and 2.6 foot-pounds impact energy, yet the tool is a reasonably lightweight 7.7 pounds. Its 1 1/8-inch chuck holds the largest bits for the utmost in drilling power.
If all that isn’t impressive enough, the three modes of operation on the multifunction selector make this drill powerful and versatile: Choose from rotation only, hammer only, or rotation plus hammer. The Bosch Vario-Lock feature puts the drill in neutral, so you can choose from 12 different positions to get the job done right.
Price at time of publish: $300
Power: 8 amps | Max Speed: 900 rpm | Chuck Size: 1 1/8-inch | Keyless Chuck: Yes | Drill Weight: 7.7 pounds
Metabo HPT D10VH2M ⅜-Inch Corded Drill
Compact and lightweight
Torque isn't exceptionally high
The Metabo HPT D10VH2M 3/8-Inch Corded Drill has a lot going for it. It might not be the most powerful corded drill on the market, but with a 7-amp motor, it certainly has enough oomph for most typical tasks around the home or property. At 3.3 pounds, it's much lighter than many other corded drills. It has a comfortable, ergonomic, rubberized handle that's easy on your hands. The variable speed control lets you choose speeds from 0 to 2,700 rpm, and this drill has plenty of torque, as well.
This compact drill fits into small spaces and is especially good for those times when you are working overhead. It has an all-metal 3/8-inch keyless chuck for easy bit changes, a handy hook for attaching the drill to your belt or nearby work area, and a reverse function. It's a good choice for DIY projects that involve light drilling into metal or wood.
Price at time of publish: $46
Power: 8 amps | Max Speed: 2,700 rpm | Chuck Size: 3/8-inch | Keyless Chuck: Yes | Drill Weight: 3.3 pounds
Best Spade Handle
Makita DS4012 ½-Inch Spade-Handle Corded Drill
Rotating back handle
Poor design of trigger lock
Spade-handled corded drills are sometimes called "mud mixers," as they are often used with mixing bits to stir thick materials such as concrete, drywall, or plaster. Of course, you can also use the Makita DS4012 1/2-Inch Spade-Handle Corded Drill for drilling into wood, driving screws, and other basic tasks. With an 8.5-amp motor, this is a drill with plenty of power, whatever the job. It has variable speed control for 0-600 rpm, as well as a forward/reverse lever. Its metal 1/2-inch chuck keeps the bits secure while the double-insulated motor reduces noise and vibration.
The D-handle can rotate 360 degrees for positioning right where you need it, and the grip is rubberized for comfort and stability. On the downside, it does require a key to change the bits, but it's a nicely balanced drill that minimizes user fatigue even on lengthy projects.
Price at time of publish: $214
Power: 8.5 amps | Max Speed: 600 rpm | Chuck Size: 1/2-inch | Keyless Chuck: No | Drill Weight: 6.2 pounds
Best Pistol Grip
PORTER-CABLE PC600D 3/8-Inch Corded Drill
Lock-on button for extended use at full speed
No lock-on at lower speeds
This popular Porter-Cable drill is designed for high performance as well as comfort. If you have a job that is going to be a long, repetitive one that requires bit changes as you head to the finish line, this pistol grip drill gives as good as it feels. The keyless 3/8-inch chuck allows for quick and easy bit changes. The 6.5-amp motor offers power with a 0-2,500 rpm variable speed trigger. And with powerful torque, the drill easily powers through tough materials, including metal and hardwoods.
A lock-on button gives solid control for this comfortable and ergonomically designed pistol grip drill that is ideal for prolonged use on big or little jobs. The versatile and powerful drill can get through steel and wood jobs with the Porter-Cable hand-position options offering better control and comfort than many of this drill’s counterparts on the market.
Price at time of publish: $53
Power: 6.5 amps | Max Speed: 2,500 rpm | Chuck Size: 3/8-inch | Keyless Chuck: Yes | Drill Weight: 4.3 pounds
Best for Steel
DEWALT DWD115K 3/8-Inch Corded Drill
Sensitive to speed changes
Few complaints of wobbly chuck
Powerful and tough, this drill will show up for any big job and not give up until complete. The DEWALT 8-amp motor is primed for heavy-duty jobs and grinds away at steel all day long without missing a beat. The soft grip paired with the 3/8-inch, all-metal, ratcheting keyless chuck allows for better bit retention and control on slippery sheets of steel. Powerful and rugged, the speed-reversing drill can move through sheets of steel with ease. The reversing trigger has a variable speed to get in and out of tough spaces quickly when drilling and fastening.
As a bonus, the all-ball-bearing construction gives the drill a long life to get through project after tough project. If your projects regularly call for plenty of power, this is an excellent choice for your tool collection.
Price at time of publish: $71
Power: 8 amps | Max Speed: 2,500 rpm | Chuck Size: 3/8-inch | Keyless Chuck: Yes | Drill Weight: 4.1 pounds
Milwaukee 0299-20 1/2-Inch Corded Magnum Drill
Clutch prevents over-tightening
Side handle for extra control
Even though it has a powerful motor, this baby hums due to the quiet rotation of its helical-cut steel gears. With an 8-amp motor and 1/2-inch keyed chuck that can handle pretty much any bit that you may have, the Milwaukee will get through long, hard jobs without complaint. The clutch is designed to limit the max amount of torque the drill can apply to a fastener so that you have a consistent depth throughout the project.
The side handle designed for control on the Milwaukee is needed once the drill is on the job due to the serious torque, and the 2-finger trigger reduces hand fatigue and strain. Not ever DIYer needs a drill with this much power, but if you do, this is the one to add to your tool box. Milwaukee is known for creating easy-to-use and hard-wearing products that last year after year, job after job.
Price at time of publish: $158
Power: 8 amps | Max Speed: 850 rpm | Chuck Size: 1/2-inch | Keyless Chuck: No | Drill Weight: 5.4 pounds
Best for Driving Screws
DEWALT DW130V 1/2-inch Corded Drill
Side and rear handle for extra control
Great for mixing concrete or mortar
One of the more powerful drills in this category, the DEWALT has a 9-amp motor with a variable speed range of 0 to 550 rpm. It gives great torque for many big jobs, from mud mixing to drilling and driving screws. It’s reasonably lightweight at 7.5 pounds and delivers a lot of power thanks to the 120-volt, 600-watt motor. This heavy-duty tool can handle just about anything you throw at it, including spade-bit drilling, self-feed bit drilling, hole-saw and auger-bit drilling in wood, twist-bit drilling, and hole-saw drilling in steel.
For more control, the drill has a rear spade handle with two positions and a three-position side handle. Both are ergonomically designed with a soft grip for extra comfort, as well as reduced fatigue and strain to your hands and wrists.
Price at time of publish: $199
Power: 9 amps | Max Speed: 550 rpm | Chuck Size: 1/2-inch | Keyless Chuck: No | Drill Weight: 7.5 pounds
The BLACK+DECKER DR260C Corded Drill wins our top spot by virtue of its versatility, power, and light weight. It’s very reasonably priced, as well. If, however, you need a tool with enough power to easily drill right through steel, you’ll find that the DEWALT Variable Speed Drill is up to the task and then some.
What to Look for in a Corded Drill
The big advantage to choosing a corded drill over a cordless model is power. Corded drills, which run from your home or worksite’s 110-volt electrical supply rather than a battery like cordless drills, have plenty of nonstop muscle to get the job done.
Amps measure the power of a corded drill’s motor. Most of today’s corded drills have motors that fall between 5 amps and 10 amps, with the higher number being more powerful. That’s important because the stronger the motor, the more torque—that’s the force with which the drill bit rotates—the tool possesses. Still, don’t automatically assume that you need the most powerful drill; for general around-the-house tasks, a 5-to-7-amp motor is usually sufficient. But if you routinely drill through hard materials, such as masonry or metals, you’ll find a higher-power drill is better suited to your needs.
The chuck is the clamp at the front of the drill that holds the bit in place. When purchasing drill bits, you need to select bits the same size or smaller than your drill’s chuck.
The three most common chuck sizes are:
- 1/4-inch, which is a light-duty drill
- 3/8-inch, which is a general-purpose drill
- 1/2-inch, which is a heavy-duty drill
You’ll also want to consider the ease of switching out drill bits.
- Keyed chucks require a “key” tool to switch bits.
- Keyless chucks, which are by far the most common today, let you switch the bit without a tool. Often, you just twist and tighten the bit with your hand.
Rotation speed refers to how many full revolutions the bit makes per minute (rpm). As a general rule, corded drills have maximum rotation speeds of 200 rpm to 2,000 rpm. For typical DIY tasks around the house, 500 to 1,000 rpm is sufficient. Don't assume that the faster the drill, the more powerful it is—that's not necessarily true, as it's the amount of torque, not speed, that determines how well a drill penetrates hard materials.
Many lower-end drills have just one maximum speed, but higher-end drills often have variable-speed settings, letting you choose from two or more speeds. Usually, lower speeds are best for drilling into harder materials, while faster speeds are suited to softer materials.
Can cordless drill bits be used with a corded drill?
Yes, you can swap drill bits between your corded and cordless drills as long as the two drills have the same chuck size; the chuck is the clamp at the front of your drill that holds the bit in place. To fit, a drill bit needs a shank that’s the same size or smaller than the drill’s chuck. As a general rule, a 3/8-inch chuck is a general-purpose drill, a 1/4-inch chuck is a light-duty drill, and a 1/2-inch chuck is a heavy-duty tool.
Can you use a corded drill as a screwdriver?
You certainly can use your corded drill as an electric screwdriver, just as long as you choose a screw-driving bit that matches the size and style of the screws you are turning; for example, you’ll need a Phillips-head bit for Phillips-head screws. When using your drill as a screwdriver, keep the speed and torque on the lowest settings to avoid stripping the screw.
How long do corded drills last?
The answer depends on how you treat the drill, as well as its quality. But as a general rule, a good-quality corded drill that’s treated right—not used for tasks beyond its capabilities, left out in wet or extreme weather conditions, or otherwise abused—can last for years or even decades.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article is edited and updated by Michelle Ullman, the tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs.
For this roundup, she considered dozens of corded drills, evaluating each for basic features, extras, and customer feedback. She also received input from Thomas Hawkins, master electrician and owner of Electrician Apprentice HQ.