OBJECTIVE Cordless Drill-Driver Kit Comparison

Posted on April 22, 2018

Every household needs a power drill, it is one of the most versatile tools you can have. You can use it for multiple jobs around the house such as hanging pictures and shelves, drilling accurate holes very fast, and even building simple pieces of furniture using a dowel jig or a pocket hole jig.

And, yet, why is it so hard to buy one? Manufacturers creating misinformation, marketers pushing positive aspects and hiding the rest, and us consumers are simply expected to part ways with our hard earned cash.

I was interested in buying myself a drill/driver kit with battery. I am a rational guy and I like to compare numbers. Statistics can still be manipulated; numbers cannot. I think of myself as Mr. Spock from Star Trek, trying to make sense of everything around me.

Comparing kits is more complicated. Comparing tools is a feat in itself, plus all brands assemble kits including batteries with different capacities, plus some will include one or two batteries. This is why I decided to create the...

OBJECTIVE Cordless Drill/Driver Comparison Table

Drill-Drive KitTorqueMotor & Speed (RPM)Included BatteriesAmp-Hour RatingLengthDrill + Battery WeightToday's Amazon DealsCan You Know Current Battery Levels?Charge TimeCase or Bag?Other Details
BOSCH DDS181A-01600 in-lbs (67.79 Nm)Brushed (500 & 1700 RPM)2x 18 V4 Ah7 in (177 mm)4 lbs (1.81 kg)See today's priceYES (battery level indicator)125 minCanvas Bag18 clutch settings, it has a belt hook.
BOSCH DDS181A-02600 in-lbs (67.79 Nm)Brushed (500 & 1700 RPM)2x 18 V2 Ah7 in (177 mm)3.4 lbs (1.54 kg)See today's priceYES (battery level indicator)65 minCanvas Bag18 clutch settings, it has a belt hook.
BOSCH DDS183-02531 in-lbs (60 Nm)Brushless (600 & 1900 RPM)2x 18 V2 Ah6.8 in (172 mm)3.3 lbs (1.49 kg)See today's priceYES (battery level indicator)61 minCanvas Bag20 clutch settings, it has a belt hook.
CRAFTSMAN C3 35704465 in-lbs (52.54 Nm)Brushless (470 & 1600 RPM)1x 19.2 V2 Ah8 in (202 mm)4.3 lbs (1.95 kg)See today's priceKIND OF (charged-or-dead status)36 minCanvas Bag23 clutch settings, it has a belt hook.
DEWALT DCD771C2373* in-lbs (42.14 Nm or 300 MWO)Brushed (450 & 1500 RPM)2x 20 V1.5 Ah9.9 in (250 mm)3.6 lbs (1.63 kg)See today's priceNO45 minCanvas Bag15 clutch settings, it doesn't have a belt hook.
DEWALT DCD777C2500 in-lbs (56.49 Nm)Brushless (500 & 1750 RPM)2x 20 V1.5 Ah7.5 in (190 mm)3.3 lbs (1.49 kg)See today's priceNO45 minCanvas Bag15 clutch settings, it doesn't have a belt hook.
DEWALT DCD780C2326* in-lbs (36.83 Nm or 350 MWO)Brushed (600 & 2000 RPM)1x 20 V1.5 Ah7.5 in (190 mm)3.4 lbs (1.54 kg)See today's priceNO45 minCanvas Bag15 clutch settings, it doesn't have a belt hook.
DEWALT DCD791D2619 in-lbs (70 Nm)Brushless (550 & 2000 RPM)2x 20 V2 Ah6.9 in (175 mm)3.4 lbs (1.54 kg)See today's priceYES (battery level indicator)53 minPlastic Case15 clutch settings, it has a belt hook.
HITACHI DS18DGL400 in-lbs (45.19 Nm)Brushed (450 & 1250 RPM)1x 18 V1.3 AhN/A3.4 lbs (1.54 kg)See today's priceNO60 minPlastic Case22 clutch settings, it doesn't have a belt hook.
MAKITA XFD061530 in-lbs (59.88 Nm)Brushless (400 & 1550 RPM)1x 18 V3 Ah7.2 in (182 mm)3.8 lbs (1.72 kg)See today's priceYES (battery level indicator)30 minCanvas Bag16 clutch settings, it has a belt hook.
MAKITA XFD10R480 in-lbs (54.23 Nm)Brushed (600 & 1900 RPM)2x 18 V2 Ah7.2 in (182 mm)3.4 lbs (1.54 kg)See today's priceYES (battery level indicator)25 minPlastic Case20 clutch settings, it has a belt hook.
MAKITA XFD11RB350 in-lbs (39.54 Nm)Brushless (500 & 1700 RPM)2x 18 V2 Ah6.4 in (162 mm)2.8 lbs (1.27 kg)See today's priceYES (battery level indicator)25 minPlastic Case20 clutch settings, it has a belt hook.
MILWAUKEE 2606-22CT500 in-lbs (56.49 Nm)Brushed (400 & 1800 RPM)2x 18 V1.5 Ah7.2 in (182 mm)3.8 lbs (1.72 kg)See today's priceYES (battery level indicator)32 minPlastic Case17 clutch settings, it doesn't have a belt hook.
MILWAUKEE 2701-22CT500 in-lbs (56.49 Nm)Brushless (450 & 1800 RPM)2x 18 V2 Ah6.9 in (175 mm)3.7 lbs (1.68 kg)See today's priceYES (battery level indicator)41 minPlastic Case18 clutch settings, it doesn't have a belt hook.
PORTER-CABLE PCCK600LB462* in-lbs (52.20 Nm or 330 MWO)Brushed (400 & 1600 RPM)2x 20 V1.5 Ah7.7 in (195 mm)3.6 lbs (1.63 kg)See today's priceKIND OF (charged-or-dead status)37 minCanvas Bag23 clutch settings, it has a belt hook.
RIDGID R86009K650 in-lbs (73.44 Nm)Brushless (500 & 1850 RPM)1x 18 V2 Ah7.5 in (190 mm)3.9 lbs (1.77 kg)See today's priceYES (battery level indicator)54 minCanvas Bag100 clutch settings, it has a belt hook.
RIDGID R860052K500 in-lbs (56.49 Nm)Brushless (400 & 1500 RPM)2x 18 V1.5 Ah7.4 in (187 mm)4.3 lbs (1.95 kg)See today's priceYES (battery level indicator)25 minCanvas Bag24 clutch settings, it has a belt hook.
RIDGID R860053SB500 in-lbs (56.49 Nm)Brushless (400 & 1500 RPM)1x 18 V1.5 Ah7.5 in (190 mm)4.3 lbs (1.95 kg)See today's priceYES (battery level indicator)25 minCanvas Bag24 clutch settings, it has a belt hook.
ROCKWELL RK2852K2531 in-lbs (60 Nm)Brushless (600 & 2000 RPM)1x 18 V2 AhN/A3.4 lbs (1.54 kg)See today's priceYES (battery level indicator)62 minCanvas Bag19 clutch settings, it has a belt hook.
RYOBI P1811340 in-lbs (38.41 Nm)Brushed (440 & 1660 RPM)1x 18 V1.5 Ah7.1 in (180 mm)3.6 lbs (1.63 kg)See today's priceNO54 minCanvas Bag23 clutch settings, it doesn't have a belt hook.

The Best Kits

How To Read This Table

These are the most important OBJECTIVE features you can use to compare drill drivers. I only chose the hard, undeniable numbers, so you can make an informed purchase.

Torque

In simple words, it is the turning force used to drill holes and insert/remove screws and it is measured at the chuck - where it actually counts. Larger holes and screws or harder materials demand higher torque.

If you have any comments regarding my torque conversions, please read my specific article about it: The Simple Tool Torque Unit Guide: MWO, UWO, in.lbs, and Nm.

Speed

You should look for a drill/driver that can deliver high RPMs and high torque if you know you will work with harder materials and larger screws.

Number of Batteries

A kit that includes more than one battery offers you the ability to keep on working with one battery while you recharge the other. Less downtime and higher productivity.

Battery Capacity

This is simply the amount of electric charge a battery can hold. and it is measured in Ampère hours (Ah). The higher the Ah rating, the more battery juice you have between charges. A battery rated for 3.0 Ah can deliver:

  • 3 Amps during 1 hours,
  • 6 Amps during 30 minutes, or
  • 4.5 Amps during 45 minutes.

How much power you will need is directly related to the type of project and materials you will be dealing with.

Tougher materials or larger screws demand more battery power. Laying decking demands more usage time and battery power, or more spare batteries to switch between the one you use and the other you leave charging.

On the other hand, smaller DIY tasks such as hanging a picture frame or fitting hinges to cupboards don't demand much power, so you can save money here and buy lower Amp hour rated batteries.

Battery Gauge

Would you buy a car without a fuel gauge? Then why should you risk ruining your expensive Li-Ion batteries by completely using them until there is no charge left?

Some tool manufacturers offer you a level gauge, others only include a charged/empty indicator, and others do not offer any sort of battery gauge.

Another important benefit is finding out how much charge you have left before climbing up a ladder or going into a tight crawlspace to start working.

Length

Important measurement for working in tight spaces - the shorter it is, the more convenient and versatile the unit is.

Drill & Battery Total Weight

Usually torque and bulk are directly correlated because a bigger motor and battery will deliver more power. That translates in wrist and arm strain.

If you plan on using your drill/driver for long periods, make sure to look at brushless drill drivers. They tend to be lighter and deliver higher torque and speeds, all while needing less Amp hours to perform the same tasks as brushed units.

I chose to compare total drill and battery weight in my table because this is what you will actually hold in your hand when working.

Soft Bag or Hard Case?

I find no difference because I do most of my work in my workbench.

However, folks who are constantly on the move may have their preferences and should watch out for this as well.

Adjustable Clutch

Some also call it torque control or torque clutch, and it is required if you are driving screws.

Before starting the job, you set a maximum torque on the clutch and the drill will not over-drive the screw into your work piece. This is especially recommended if you are driving lots of screws, such as when building a deck.

Cordless Drill Driver Basics

Cordless drill drivers are designed to drill holes, insert screws, and remove them.

You can control the drill/drive speed by pressing the speed control. It works very intuitively: by pulling further you increase the drilling speed, while releasing the trigger you slow it down or completely stop.

The chuck is the part that holds the drill bits - as a standard, chucks come with 3 jaws. Most power drills today come with a keyless chuck, so there is a forward/reverse button which serves both to drive or remove screws and to change drill bits.

Should I Get A Drill, An Impact Driver, Or A Cordless Screwdriver?

Drills work best for quick drilling and almost all screw-driving.

An impact driver can loosen a complicated screw avoiding to strip its head. Driving a screw with an impact driver also will not damage its head. The “hammering” action, as it is called, is noisier than a drill.

Cordless screwdrivers are lighter, but usually under-powered. A professional model costs around the same as a cordless drill, which is more powerful and versatile.

Drill Driver Advantages

Higher Torque. More power, higher speeds, and greater torque due to higher-voltage batteries and better gear systems. The average cordless drill-driver delivers 400-500 in-lbs (50-60 Nm) of torque, while cordless screwdrivers only deliver 20% of that. In other words, it is easier to drive larger screws in tougher materials -- plastics, hardwoods, and so on.

Torque Control. Set it up accurately and your screws will consistently be at the right depth. You will also avoid damaging the work surface and the screw head. Cordless impact drivers do not have this feature, so you can only control torque by the trigger squeeze and risk sinking the screw below the material's surface.

3-Jawed Chucks. They are compatible with both straight-shank drill bits and hexagonal screwdriver bits. Neither impact drivers nor screwdrivers have 3-jawed chucks. In other words, if you want to use either of them for drilling holes, it is very likely you will need to find and purchase hexagonal-shank drill bits.

Drill Driver Disadvantages

Cumbersome. The higher-capacity battery and the more versatile chuck come at a price: heavier weight and bigger length. Occasional use is not an issue, but long use periods will bring arm and wrist strain, especially if you hold your tool above your head for long periods of time - rafters of a roof, for instance.

Kick Back. When the motor is not able to drill a large hole or drive a long screw in a hard material, all its power goes to the tool body - which can potentially strain your wrist and arm as you hold the drill.

Drill Driver vs Screwdriver

Cordless screwdrivers are smaller, lighter, and less expensive. They allow you to insert and remove smaller screws and even drill smaller pilot holes in softer materials.

A cordless drill driver is more powerful and can drill all types of holes in all types of materials, as well as to insert and remove bigger screws even in harder materials.

Drill Driver vs Impact Driver

Cordless impact drivers (also known as combi drills) are designed to be used in masonry, concrete, and brickwork - and they do it easily thanks to their hammer function. They are more powerful, heavier, and more expensive. This extra power also means they can easily damage softwoods.

A cordless drill driver allows you to work with softer and harder materials alike, as well as inserting and removing screws.

Corded Or Cordless?

The obvious advantage of corded drills is never running out of power, as well as never having to wait for batteries to charge.

The obvious advantage of cordless drills is the convenience of taking them anywhere without depending on extension cords (and the tripping risk), finding power outlets, and so on.

In a cordless drill, power and torque is determined by the voltage. Higher voltage also commands higher weight. So, if you need more juice in your cordless drill, such as 18V or 20V and upwards, then your tool will weigh just as much as a corded tool. Smaller batteries such as 12V or 14.4V are lighter.

18V tools are great for home use and DIYers because they are the most versatile, strong, and offer a good balance of weight and power output.

Picking A Chuck

Chuck is the part that holds the bits in the drill. You should pay attention to both the size and the type of chuck.

You will most frequently see chuck sizes in 1/4", 3/8", and 1/2" in diameter. 1/2" chucks allow you to use large drill bits.

As for chuck types, you can have them either keyed or keyless:

  • A keyed chuck simply means you will use a mechanical key to loosen or tighten drill bits. The main advantage here is that drill bits are held tighter.
  • A keyless chuck tightens the drill bit when you power the drill while hold the chuck with your hand. The advantage here is that changing bits is faster, plus there is no chuck key to lose in the middle of a job.

Other Desirable Features

  1. Reverse mode, so you can remove stuck drill bits. Keyless chucks always have reverse mode (because this is how you get the drill bit out), so you have to look for this feature only if you are buying a keyed chuck drill.
  2. Variable speed, so you can use your drill to drive screws. This is also useful for drilling cleaner holes in different materials, which requires different bit speeds. Softer materials require higher speeds. Harder materials need lower speeds.
  3. Two speed ranges are especially important for driving screws. The lower speed range simplifies the task of driving screws without stripping them.
  4. LED work light. This is a small detail that you will thank when you are working in a dark place.

Battery And Tool Storage

Even when your tool is off, it still draws a tiny amount of energy from the battery, which adds up over days and weeks without use. The best course of action is to remove the battery from the tool when putting them away.

Also, avoid storing or charging the batteries in a place with extremely high or low temperatures:

  • High heat ruins your batteries permanently.
  • Cold weather decreases the amount of power available for your tool.

Also, avoid using the batteries to full discharge. Sometimes you will not be able to recharge your battery and you will permanently lose it. Most batteries today also offer a charge indicator, so you can avoid running your batteries down fully and damaging them.

Li-Ion, NiMH, NiCd, ABC, What?

Most batteries today are Lithium Ion (Li-Ion), which offer more power, less weight, no battery memory problems, are lighter, and contain less metal elements harmful for the environment.

Avoid the cheaper Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) and the Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) batteries – Cadmium is a toxic metal that can pollute ground water if it is not disposed correctly.

Caring for Li-Ion batteries is simple. Keep them cool. The hotter they become, the higher your chances are of facing battery failure.

One note on battery chargers: many brands also offer smart chargers, which can recharge a battery in 15 minutes to one hour, versus three to five hours of the conventional chargers.

Use The Same Batteries In Other Cordless Tools

And a final note on choosing a brand: if you decide on a battery size and a brand, then you will be able to share the same batteries and charger among all your cordless tools.

This way you can save money on buying (and garage/shop space on storing) extra batteries and chargers.

And Finally

Let me know in the comments below if I did something wrong, if you want me to add another kit that I didn't feature in the table above, or anything really that you want to talk about. I read and reply to all comments. Thanks for reading!

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2 Responses to “OBJECTIVE Cordless Drill-Driver Kit Comparison”

  1. Nick Thomas says:

    I came across your website comparing Kobalt to Dewalt. Kobalt lists 650-in-lbs of torque. Did you consider them?

    • Diogo says:

      Hi Nick, thanks for the question.

      I didn't consider them when I was writing the post because I compared only 18V tools. 19.2 and 20V are included here because the difference in these cases is just a marketing thing. On torque alone, the Kobalt looks like a valid choice as well.

      Here's my suggestion to you: if you are considering to buy a new tool and it's your first cordless tool, make sure to look at the rest of the tool lineup and see what other tools you might be interested in buying in the future. This way, you can use the same batteries and save space + money on buying bare tools.

      Best, D.

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