A power drill, also called a drill/driver, is a must-have tool for any DIYer, or even for anybody who occasionally handles small repairs around the house. But while there are many drill brands, the leaders in the field produce tools that are especially popular due to power, versatility, longevity, or value. To help you sort through the many brands of power drills out there, both cordless and corded, we spoke with Aaron Barnett, a landscaper, carpenter, and owner of DIY website Banging Toolbox.
He says, "By far, I like and recommend Makita cordless drills as the best. They have a range of models suitable for homeowners, builders, and DIYers. Makita offers lighter and more ergonomic drills that are good for joinery, DIY work, and carpentry, as well as bigger cordless drills for heavier construction work. DEWALT and Milwaukee also do well here, with Milwaukee being the most popular with our electricians, as the motors have the longest lifespan when pushed to their limit. No one uses a cordless drill more than an electrician. Not too many people really need a corded drill anymore, but if you do, Makita or Bosch do well in this category."
Along with those brands, there are several others that we particularly like, including BLACK+DECKER, Skil, Craftsman, and FLEX. We chose the top brands based not only on their reputation but also on their performance, their runtime and charging time if battery-powered, their design, and their price point. Based on our research, as well as our expert input, here are the best drill brands available today.
Wide range of power drills, both corded and cordless
Powerful and reliable tools
Can be expensive
Japanese company Makita was founded by Mosaburo Makita back in 1915. Originally a manufacturer of electric motors, the company started making power tools in the 1950s and came out with its first corded electric drill in 1962, followed by its first battery drill in 1978. Today, Makita offers a wide range of both corded and cordless power tools, which are generally considered to be professional-level, high-quality products favored not just by those who work in construction or the trades but also by serious DIYers. Makita backs their power tools with a 3-year warranty.
Along with corded and cordless drills/drivers—we especially like their LXT XFD14T 18-volt, 1/2-inch cordless drill, which has loads of power yet is still easy to use—Makita offers several other types of drills, including hammer drills, impact drivers, and angle drills, all of which are favored by professional users. For home use, we recommend their excellent electric screwdriver kit. The one downside to Makita drills is that they are one of the more expensive brands, as it befits their quality and extensive range of offerings.
Wide range of corded and cordless drills of various types
Easy to use
Not quite at the level of professional brands like DEWALT or Makita
Here's a German brand with a history stretching back more than a century; Robert Bosch founded the company in 1886. Originally, Bosch made parts for car ignitions and, in fact, still is a major player in the automotive industry to this day. However, Bosch expanded into home appliances in the mid-1900s and is considered one of the top brands for such products. They started offering power tools in the 1930s and came out with their first cordless drill in 1969. Since then, their offerings of both corded and cordless power tools have grown steadily, and while not at the level of DEWALT or Makita, Bosch tools are well-regarded as high quality and especially good in terms of ergonomics and ease of use.
We particularly like their 18-volt cordless drill, which has lots of power and an ergonomic, comfortable design. Bosch also offers a variety of cordless hammer drills, impact drills, electric screwdrivers, and angle drills. While they still do offer corded drills/drivers, they take a backseat to the far more popular battery models. Most Bosch power tools are covered by a 1-year warranty. While Bosch tools are excellent quality for the most part, they are geared more towards the DIYer rather than the professional tradesperson and are generally in the middle of the pack price-wise.
Excellent battery performance and longevity
Founded in 1924 by A.H. Petersen as the Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation, the company originally focused on repairing tools, not manufacturing them. But over the decades, Milwaukee has become a major maker of power tools, including the iconic Sawzall reciprocating saw, which was introduced in 1951. While Milwaukee does still make corded tools, their focus is on battery power; in fact, Milwaukee was the first company to offer lithium-ion-battery tools, and their batteries are markedly powerful, have long runtimes, and recharge quickly. They also offer a five-year warranty, which is longer than most other companies.
Unlike many of the other brands on our list, Milwaukee is geared towards the professional user in the trades or for industrial use, not towards the homeowner or DIYer, although of course many such people choose Milwaukee tools thanks to their power, reliability, durable design, and innovative technology. We like the Fuel 3403-22, which is a 12-volt, 1/2-inch beast of a drill. But Milwaukee also makes excellent electric screwdrivers, as well as hammer drills, angle drills, and impact drivers. You'll pay more for a Milwaukee drill than from many other brands, but you'll gain professional quality and reliability.
Very wide range of corded and cordless drills of various types
Powerful and reliable
Can be expensive
Drill torque isn't specified
Raymond DeWalt founded the company that bears his name back in 1924. Originally just a manufacturer of saws and other woodworking tools, DEWALT soon branched out to other types of power tools. Another brand that's favored by both professionals and serious DIYers, DEWALT has been making cordless tools since the 1990s, although they still, of course, offer many corded tools as well. Today, DEWALT is one of the many brands owned by the Stanley Black & Decker group. They have a 3-year warranty on their power tools, including drills.
DEWALT has a wide range of both corded and cordless drills, all of which are excellent, but we especially like their Atomic MAX DCD708C2, which is a 20-volt, 1/2-inch drill/driver that is compact in size but still very powerful. Along with drill/drivers, the brand also makes professional-quality impact drivers, angle drills, hammer drills, and our favorite electric screwdriver, the DEWALT DCF680N2 Gyroscopic 8-Volt Screwdriver Kit.
One of the few downsides to DEWALT drills is that the company does not specify their drills' torque—turning power—as other brands do. Instead, they state unit watts out (UWO) which is a calculation of speed and torque combined. This makes it tough to compare DEWALT drills to those of other brands directly.
Good quality for around-the-house use
Great for DIY projects
Not as extensive a line of drill and related tools as some other brands
Not professional-level quality
Although now owned by Stanley Black & Decker, Craftsman was established in 1927 as the name for the Sears Corporation's branded line of tools. As such, Craftsman soon became known as a reasonably priced maker of quality tools for use around the home and garden; Craftsman has never aspired to be a professional-level toolmaker. And while back in the Sears' days, Craftsman offered a lifetime warranty on their tools, today, their drills are covered by a 3-year warranty only. Still, if you need a drill for use around your home or on DIY projects and you don't want to spend a lot, Craftsman is a fine brand.
Craftsman mostly focuses on cordless drills these days (as do most other brands), and they have a solid line of 20-volt drills, including the CMCD700C1 1/2-Inch Drill/Driver. The company also makes hammer drills and electric screwdrivers.
Great for homeowners
Not a lot of power
S. Duncan Black and Alonzo G. Decker founded their self-named company back in 1910 as a machine shop but soon expanded into power tools. In fact, BLACK+DECKER patented the very first electric handheld drill in 1917. They were also one of the very first companies to make cordless tools for everyday users; they came out with a cordless drill in 1961. While a highly innovative company that has expanded into small household appliances as well as tools, BLACK+DECKER doesn't really target professionals. Instead, this is an excellent brand for homeowners and DIYers looking for a good tool at a very reasonable price.
While BLACK+DECKER still produce a few corded drills, the majority of their offerings are powered by batteries. They have a wide range of drills/drivers and also make hammer drills and impact drivers. They also make quite a few electric screwdrivers, including the budget-priced AS6NG Cordless Screwdriver. The warranty on a BLACK+DECKER drill is only one year, which is shorter than many other brands.
Generally lightweight and compact
Not professional quality
Not the most durable brand
Founded in 1944 as the Ryobi Seisakusho Company, Ryobi was at first a manufacturer of die-cast products for airplanes before expanding into automobile parts after World War II ended. But it wasn't until the late 1960s that the company began manufacturing power tools. In the late 1990s, Ryobi's tool line was purchased by Techtronic Industries Company (TTI), the same company that now owns Milwaukee and many other tool brands. Today, Ryobi has a wide range of power drills, both corded and cordless, although it's their One+ 18V series of battery tools that are the most popular. They also make hammer drills and impact drivers.
Ryobi does not target professional users in the trades. Rather, they are another brand that focuses mostly on DIYers, homeowners who like to do their own maintenance, and other users who want a reliable, good-quality tool that doesn't break the budget. While you'll find Ryobi drills sold on Amazon and through some other outlets, they are mostly sold at Home Depot stores and on the Home Depot website, where the Ryobi One+ 18V 3/8-Inch Drill/Driver Kit is a top seller. Ryobi drills are covered by a 3-year warranty.
Great for homeowners
Not professional quality
Founded by Edmond Michel in 1926 as Skilsaw, the American company's first product was the circular saw which is often referred to as a skilsaw even to this day. In the years since, the company's name was shortened to Skil, and it branched out into a wide range of power tools. Eventually, the company began selling professional-quality tools under the Skilsaw name and tools geared towards homeowners and DIYers under the Skil name. Chervon, a Chinese company that owns many other tools brands, including EGO and Flex, purchased Skil in 2016.
While Skil might still be best known for saws, the company makes many fine drills that may not be professional level but are still excellent tools for use around the house or garage, and come at a reasonable price. We especially like the Skil PWR CORE 12-volt drill, which is ideal for those little tasks that need a power drill, but not necessarily the highest power. The company also offers higher-powered drills, also at moderate prices. Skil also makes hammer drills and electric screwdrivers. They have both corded and cordless models, although almost all of their offerings now are battery powered. The warranty on a Skil drill is for five years, which is better than many other brands.
Superior battery technology
No corded drills
Although FLEX has been owned by Chervon—the same Chinese company that owns Skil and EGO tool brands—since 2013, the company was founded in Germany in 1922. FLEX invented the first angle grinder in the 1950s and has been an innovative tool company throughout the decades. They manufacture professional-quality tools which are mostly sold through Lowe's stores and the Lowe's website, although you can find them at a few other outlets as well. Despite their high quality, FLEX tools are quite reasonably priced.
When it comes to drills, where FLEX really shines is with their cordless tools that run off a 24-volt battery—giving you more power and longer runtime—and are heat-protected to keep the battery running even longer. All FLEX drills have brushless motors, which means longer life and better performance. The FLEX 24V 1/2-Inch Cordless Drill provides superior performance at a remarkably low price. If you register your FLEX drill within 30 days of purchase, it will have a limited lifetime warranty.
What to Look For In a Drill Brand
A drill that doesn’t have enough power to drive a screw or drill a hole isn’t very useful. A good drill brand produces tools that have the power required to carry out common tasks around the house or garage. A top drill brand manufactures drills that can drive screws even into very hard materials like concrete, mix paint or cement, handle large bits for creating equally large holes, and other tasks that require a lot of power. All of the professional-level brands on our list, including Makita, DEWALT, FLEX, and Milwaukee manufacture drills that can handle even the toughest projects.
Because a power drill is a handheld tool, you don’t want too much weight that might tire out your hand and arm before your job is completed. Note that as a general rule, cordless drills are heavier than corded models due to the weight of the battery, which can be a couple of pounds or more. And generally, the higher the battery voltage, the heavier it is. That means a 20-volt drill might weigh more than six pounds, which is a lot of weight to hold in one hand for extended periods. If weight is a major concern for you, then consider a corded drill or a low-voltage cordless model. While you'll find lighter and heavier drills from all of the top manufacturers, BLACK+DECKER has quite a few offerings that are low in weight.
While corded drills are still available, the vast majority of drills sold today are cordless. While older cordless drills usually had a battery with just 9.6 volts, today, 18-volt cordless drills are the average, as well as the best choice for most DIYers or homeowners. If cost is a major concern, and you don’t expect to need your drill for anything but lightweight tasks, then a 12-volt drill will be sufficient. But if you need more power, consider a drill with a 40-volt battery. Be aware that you will pay considerably more for these drills, however. DEWALT makes drills with a whopping 60-volt battery, but few DIYers require that level of power.
Comfort and Design
A good drill is comfortable in your hand and designed for powerful performance and ease of use. In cordless drills, look for a handle that positions the battery at the bottom, which helps balance the tool’s weight and allows you to fit the drill into tighter spaces.
A good drill also has easily adjusted settings for speed and clutch and lets you swap out bits without a struggle. And the trigger should comfortably fit your finger without requiring excessive pressure to squeeze or release. While all of the top brands have drills that are comfortable to hold and easy to use, Bosch is especially good for ergonomic design in their tools.
Where to Buy The Best Drill Brands
Luckily, it’s not difficult to find any of the top drill brands on our list. Most can be purchased at big home improvement centers like Lowe’s or Home Depot, as well as at smaller tool centers such as Ace Hardware. You can also find these drills on the home improvement centers’ websites, as well as on Amazon, Walmart, and other large outlets.
Is a brushless drill better than a brushed drill?
While the differences between a brushless and brushed motor are rather technical, they boil down to whether or not the motor requires tiny brushes to keep the drill bit spinning. Brushless motors are more expensive, but have definite advantages. These tools are more energy-efficient, meaning that the battery runtime can be as much as 50 percent longer than an equivalent drill with a brushed motor. And brushless drills have more power and higher torque, which is the amount of spinning force the tool can produce.
Additionally, brushless motors last longer with less maintenance and weigh less than brushed motors. So overall, if you use your drill on a regular basis, it’s definitely worth it to pay a little more for a brushless motor.
How do you know if a drill is powerful?
The battery voltage of a cordless drill determines its power. So the higher the voltage, the more powerful the tool. As a rough guideline, a drill with a 12-volt battery is fine for lightweight tasks such as tightening or loosening screws or drilling holes into soft wood. But for most DIYers, a drill with an 18-volt battery is the sweet spot, as these drills have enough oomph to handle much tougher tasks. For professionals or others who need a drill with the highest level of power, a battery with 36-volts or more is the best choice.
What size of drill is best for home use?
The front clamp of the drill that holds the bit is called the chuck. Drill chucks come in three basic sizes: 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, and 1/2-inch. A drill can only use bits that correspond to its chuck size. Drills with 1/4-inch chucks are best only for very lightweight tasks, while drills with 1/2-inch chucks can handle heavy-duty jobs with ease. For the average DIYer or homeowner looking to carry out basic projects around the house, a drill with a ⅜-inch chuck is ideal.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Michelle Ullman is the home improvement/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 around the house and yard.
For this roundup, she considered dozens of drill brands, evaluating each for the range of drills offered, power, durability, battery runtime, innovation, reliability, warranty length, company reputation, and overall value. She also considered feedback from customers, both positive and negative, as well as reviews and information on various home improvement websites. Aaron Barnett, landscaper, carpenter, and owner of DIY website Banging Toolbox, provided further helpful input.