Choosing the Best Drill or Driver - A Toolstop Buying Guide

what's the best cordless drill

It can be confusing and frustrating choosing the best power tool to meet your jobsite needs. The power tool manufacturers love to bamboozle us with various brand new features and benefits, higher speed and torque ratings, bigger capacities and new cordless batteries.

You also need to factor in the typeof power tool you'll need.

Will you be drilling into concrete or just wood? Will you need to drive small screws into soft woods, or large construction screws into hard woods? What's the best type of drill or driver for the job?

We've put together this guide to help you. First off, watch our video on Toolstop TV explaining each type of drill we'll be covering.


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What's the Best Cordless Drill or Driver on the Market?

Our aim is always to make the process of choosing a power tool as easy as possible, so here is our guide to choosing the correct drill or driverfrom the following manufacturers:

The drills are split into typically 3 categories:

Take a walk through our guide where we outline some of the tools available in each category, the basic spec you'll need to consider, and some of their best features. We selected four from each category to give you a quick, helpful overview of what's available to match your budget.

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how to choose a combi drill

What's the Best Cordless Combi-Drill?

Combi drills have 3 functions:

  1. the ability to drill holes into wood and metal
  2. the ability to drive screws
  3. the ability to drill holes into concrete and masonry via hammer funtion

Normally a combi drill will offer at least two, but sometimes three, speeds:

  • Low speeds for hi-torque applications such as screw driving
  • Higher speeds are for applications such as drilling metal or wood

Hammer functionality on a combi drill adds "blows" to your drilling which allows you to drill into masonary.

Keep eye on the construction of the combi drill. As you'll be using it for more robust applications, you'll want to choose a combi drill that's very well made, with a metal chuck or metal gear box.

To help guide you in your choice of combi drill, we've chosen 4 for you.

Makita DHP481RTJ 18V Cordless li-ion Brushless Combi Drill (2 x 5Ah Batteries) Bosch GSB18VEC5 2-Speed Brushless Combi Drill 3 Dewalt DCD996P2 18V Cordless XR 3 Speed Brushless Combi Drill
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Makita DHP481RTJ 18V Cordless li-ion Brushless Combi Drill (2 x 5Ah Batteries)
Bosch GSB18VEC5 2-Speed Brushless Combi Drill
Metabo SB18LTX Cordless Power Extreme Impuls Combi Drill Dewalt DCD996P2 18V Cordless XR 3 Speed Brushless Combi Drill




  • Supplied with 2x 4Ah batteries (fastest charging 4Ah on the market)
  • 2 mechanical gears
  • Brushless motor
  • Torque settings:
  • 21+drill
  • Max. torque
  • (soft/hard): 60Nm/115Nm
  • Impact rate: 0 - 31,500bpm

  • Supplied with two 5.0Ah li-ion batteries
  • 2 speeds
  • 184mm headlength, shortest in its class
  • Brushless motor
  • Professional quality 10 mm Auto-Lock drill chuck
  • Max. torque
  • (1st/2nd gear): 61Nm/60Nm
  • Supplied with 2x 5.2Ah batteries
  • 4-pole carbon brush motor
  • 2 speed gearbox
  • Torque (soft/hard):
  • 55/110Nm
  • Impact rate: 32,300bpm
  • Supplied with 2x 5Ah batteries
  • 3 speeds
  • 22 position adjustable torque
  • Beats per Minute: 0-8600/25500/38250 bpm
  • Max. torque: 95Nm
  • Brushless motor with 34% power increase




Max. in steel: 13mm
Max. in wood: 76mm
Max in masonry: 16mm
Max. in steel: 13mm
Max. in wood: 38mm
Max. in masonry: 13mm
Max in steel: 13mm
Max in wood: 65mm
Max in masonry: 16mm
Max. in steel: 15mm
Max. in wood: 55mm
Max. in masonry: 13mm




Click the link to read our review of the DHP481.


Benefits from kick-back control, Electronic Motor and Cell Protection.
Thermal Motor cut-off
Overload protection
Futuro Plus quick-action keyless chuck with metal sleeve
Impuls function (see video)
Tough 3 speed all metal transmission
3 stage LED with up to 60 lumens of brightness
All metal nitro-carburized chuck
Supplied in a heavy duty TStak carry case





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You can see all of the cordless combi-drills we have in stock right here, all of which are typically available for free next day delivery in the UK.


how to choose a drill driver

What's the Best Cordless Drill Driver?

Drill drivers typically offer you two functions;

  • the ability to drill holes into wood and metal
  • the ability to drive screws

Often they'll be equipped with two speeds and multiple torque settings, although the torque won't be as high as that found on either a combi drill or an impact driver.

When choosing a drill driver, take note of the capacity of holes it will allow you to drill and also the top torque setting as this will affect the sort of materials you can effectively drill screws into.

Pay attention, too, to the battery supplied with the machine; the higher rated the Ah of the battery the longer the drill driver will run between charges. And the less charges you subject your battery to, the longer it'll last.

Again, we've selected 4 drill drivers to help you make your choice.

Makita DF031DWAE Drill Driver Milwaukee M18l BLDD Triton T20DD Drill Driver Dewalt DCD991P2 18V Cordless XR 3 Speed Brushless Drill Driver
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Makita DF031DWAE Drill Driver with two 2Ah CXT Batteries
Milwaukee M18l BLDD Brushless Drill Driver Bosch GSR18FC2KIT FlexiClick Drill Driver with 4 Chucks
Dewalt DCD991P2 18V Cordless XR 3 Speed Brushless Drill Driver




Max in Steel: 10mm
Max in Wood: 21mm
Torque Settings S/H Nm: 18+ Drill
Max. in wood: 38mm
Max. in steel: 13mm
Max. screw diameter: 6mm
Max. torque: 60Nm
Max in steel: 13mm
Max. in wood: 38mm
Max. torque: 31Nm

Max in steel: 15mm
Max. in wood: 55mm
Max. torque: 95Nm
No Load Speed: 0-450/1300/2000 rpm





  • Part of the new 10.8v CXT platform
  • Very compact
  • Mechanical 2 speed transmission
  • Hex chuck
  • Weighs just 0.88kg
  • Battery fuel gauge (4-stage LEDs)





  • Brushless motor
  • REDLINK overload protection
  • All-metal gear casing
  • 174mm head-length, most compact in it's class
  • Comes with 4 chucks to allow a huge variety of screwdriving and drilling applications
  • Can be used as a rotary hammer drill
  • Powerful 4-pole motor
  • ECP battery protection

  • Brushless 3 speed motor with a 34% power increase
  • 18V XR Li-Ion compact drill driver featuring NEW XR Li-Ion battery technology
  • Compact, lightweight design allows use in confined spaces
  • 3 stage LED with up to 60 lumens of brightness







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You can see all of the cordless drill drivers we have in stock right here, all of which are typically available for free next day delivery in the UK.

how to choose an impact driver
An impact driver will be fitted with a hex chuck (or similar). This is a quick-release style mechanism that differs from the chucks found on combi and drill drivers. A hex chuck take hex screwdriver bits as an impact driver is essentially designed to drive screws into tough work pieces. However, with the correct bit fitted, you can also undertake some drilling applications.

Impact drivers are all about hi-torque, coupled with high levels of impact. A typical impact driver will output higher levels of torque than even the top-of-the-range combi drill.

Again, when choosing your impact driver, take note of the battery fitted and over all construction of the power tool.

Makita DTD129RFE 18V Li-on Cordless Brushless Impact Driver Milwaukee M18FID-0 Metabo SSD18LTX200 Dewalt DCF886D2 18V li-ion Cordless Brushless Impact Driver
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Makita TD110DWAE Impact Driver 10.8v CXT
Milwaukee M18FID-O 18v Brushless Impact Driver (body only)
Metabo SSD18LTX200 18v Impact Driver (body only)
Dewalt DCF885N 18 Volt XR Lithium Ion Impact Driver - Body Only




Max torque: 110 Nm
Standard Bolt: M5-M12
Impacts per minute:
0-3500 ipm
Max torque: 203 Nm
3000rpm
Brushless POWERSTATE motor
Max torque: 150Nm
Impact rate: 0-3,300bpm
Hex bit holder size: 1/4"
Max torque: 155 Nm
6.35mm 'drop in' keyless hex driver
Impacts per Minute:
3200 ipm




  • Features the new 10.8v slide-on 2Ah (or 4Ah) CXT batteries
  • Battery protection circuit ensures battery health
  • 2600rpm and 3500ipm for high performance



  • DRIVE CONTROL - full control over 4 speeds
  • REDLINK PLUS - intellgent overload protection
  • Works with all of Milwaukee's 18v batteries

Learn more about "body only" power tools

  • Three speeds and torque levels for full control across a variety of applications
  • Die cast aluminium gear housing for better durability and heat dissipation

Learn more about "body only" power tools

Part of the intelligent
XR Lithium-ion Series
Compatible with DeWALT's 18v, 14.4v and 10.8v XR slide pack batteries
Aluminium front housing provides greater heat dispersion

Learn more about "body only" power tools




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You can see all of the cordless impact drivers we have in stock right here, all of which are typically available for free next day delivery in the UK.


We love to know what tools you're using or if you've got any questions about any of the tools in this buying guide, let us know in the comments.

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Comments

TheBloke on Mon, 15 Aug 2016 10:30:32 +0100 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

Thanks for the article!

One thing I can't work out is how corded drills compare, in terms of power and torque, to cordless. For some reason the drill manufacturers never seem to list torque for corded drills, like they always do for cordless.

Based on pure power, corded seems more powerful - eg you can easily and cheaply get a 700 or 800W corded drill, where the best 18V cordless are around 650W. And the corded drills always have higher RPM, eg a max of 3000 versus 2000.
I would therefore have assumed that corded would be more powerful, but then I look at the "max drilling depth" stats, and I often see corded drills being lower.

For example, the Milwaukee 18V Fuel 2 FPD has 135nM of torque, about 650W of power output, and lists a max drilling depth of 45mm in wood. Compare this to a corded and you might get 700 or 800W of power, but only 20 or 30mm depth in wood (random example: the Bosch GSB 16 RE 750W, listing 30mm in wood.)

So I can't work out if cordless drills really are more powerful and capable than corded - at least for wood? Corded drills clearly do win for masonry, especially SDS (that same Bosch 750W non-SDS drill lists 16mm in masonry, where cordless are never more than 13mm; SDS are way more of course.)

I find this all quite confusing: it just doesn't make sense to me that corded drills with higher power output and higher RPM always have lower maximum wood depth. And I do wish the manufacturers would list torque figures for corded drills to make it a bit easier to compare corded vs cordless.


bestcordlessdrillpro on Tue, 14 Jun 2016 18:52:19 +0100 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

BEST CORDLESS DRILL PRO

Well, I believe owning a cordless drill is actually better than owning a corded drill. The reasons are numerous. Ranging from Portability to Accessibility to Storage to Operations. Cordless drills are one of the most used tools in the construction industry.

Using a cordless drill, in my opinion, is not quite a hard task. You only need to know the basic functionalities of your drill brand and your are safe. Just know what each button or knob does, that's all. The accident tendency for cordless drill are very minimal.

But Corded Drills, though they are also largely used tools in the construction industry, without the proper safety training they can quickly become very DANGEROUS.

According to a study released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 2,500 people a year receive hospital treatment for Corded Drill injuries.

The electrical energy that runs a Corded drill is accessed from a wall socket. When a Corded drill is handled roughly, dropped, hit against things or comes into contact with moisture, the insulation becomes weak.

This weakened insulation can cause a Corded drill to become “live”. A live drill if exposed to the slightest moisture can cause a severe electric shock.

Cordless drills transmit an amount of shock too, but this shock is too light, it can't kill a person. An electrocution from a Corded drill will send a man straight to his grave in 3 seconds.

In my humble opinion, the Cordless drill is the best choice anybody can make, especially if you need it for a home kids are part of.

Thanks,


Pie_t on Sat, 19 Mar 2016 17:20:18 +0000 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

Without wanting to enter into an argument over a drill, I can only say that you get what you pay for. Ryobi will work well for a while. Makita will work well for a very long time.


Go Open Box on Thu, 03 Mar 2016 09:27:00 +0000 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

Ryobi cordless tools are also good..


abby travers on Mon, 28 Sep 2015 20:01:54 +0100 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

We need to do some concrete drilling for a basketball hoop we want to install in our cement driveway. It would be nice to know how to best drill a hole for the hoop. The last thing my husband wants to do is start jack-hammering away at the cement. What is the best type of drill to cut holes in the cement?


Matthew Barnett on Fri, 27 Mar 2015 13:05:07 +0000 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

I have been using Cordless drill tool and The cordless drill is by far the most popular portable power tool of all time, and it's not going to lose that title anytime soon.


Dominic on Wed, 18 Feb 2015 05:36:48 +0000 (Likes: 1 / Dislikes: 0

Black spark: Dewalt also shows Hard torque. If dewalt says 60 nm they also mean a max of 60 nm just like EVERY manufacturer out there.

The difference on an impact is a hard or soft joint.


Paul Hand on Sat, 25 Oct 2014 19:07:27 +0100 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

Its because Milwaukee is in a class of there own!!!


William Jobs on Thu, 29 May 2014 05:02:04 +0100 (Likes: 2 / Dislikes: 0

I have been working on the construction site and I was using a Bosch drill and Combi drill machine last two years from now I bought the Dewalt drill and Combi drill machine, but I am a little bit confused that Dewalt machine would be best for me or not. Please can anyone help me?


postable_mark on Tue, 11 Mar 2014 06:46:45 +0000 (Likes: 2 / Dislikes: 0

The guide was written based around the drills currently stocked by Toolstop.


millphitchell on Mon, 10 Mar 2014 16:38:45 +0000 (Likes: 4 / Dislikes: 0

What about the Milwaukee drills?


blakspark on Sun, 28 Jul 2013 14:36:18 +0100 (Likes: 4 / Dislikes: 0

Hi gasmangaz,

This is a common problem when looking at the 'power' output on drills. There is no industry standard for showing this.

You are correct in thinking the higher the Nm the better but the key lies in where
are talking about hard/soft torque etc.

Makita will always publish hard torque, the best way to imagine this is if you were to drill into a piece of timber with a large auger bit as soon as it 'bites' you will get a peak or hard torque reading which doesn't really mean anything.
Sustained torque is once the drill has settled down and is the constant drilling force of the machine and this is what Dewalt publish in there catalogues etc.
Not 100% on other manufactures just highlighting these as the 2 market leaders but most will print 'hard torque'.

For example a Makita drill may say 90Nm torque, now this is correct at peak but Dewalt may say 60Nm which is sustained torque. If you were to measure the Dewalt at hard torque it would be well over 100Nm, whereas the Makita sustained wold be under the 60Nm.

Hope this makes sense.


blakspark on Sun, 28 Jul 2013 14:25:56 +0100 (Likes: 9 / Dislikes: 0

Hi gasmangaz,

This is a common problem when looking at the 'power' output on drills. There is no industry standard for showing this.

You are correct in thinking the higher the Nm the better but the key lies in where
are talking about hard/soft torque etc.

Makita will always publish hard torque, the best way to imagine this is if you were to drill into a piece of timber with a large auger bit as soon as it 'bites' you will get a peak or hard torque reading which doesn't really mean anything.
Sustained torque is once the drill has settled down and is the constant drilling force of the machine and this is what Dewalt publish in there catalogues etc.
Not 100% on other manufactures just highlighting these as the 2 market leaders but most will print 'hard torque'.

For example a Makita drill may say 90Nm torque, now this is correct at peak but Dewalt may say 60Nm which is sustained torque. If you were to measure the Dewalt at hard torque it would be well over 100Nm, whereas the Makita sustained wold be under the 60Nm.

Hope this makes sense.


gasmangaz on Fri, 17 May 2013 17:49:03 +0100 (Likes: 22 / Dislikes: 0

hi guys.

i just wondered if you could maybe help with something. i used to have through work the dewalt DCD945 type 10 12v 2.6ah which had a max torque of 44Nm, i recently purchased the Makita DK1486W 10.8V Li-Ion double Pack Combi Drill & Impact Driver for my father-in-law. the cobi has Max torque 30Nm hard / 14Nm soft, the impact Driver has Max. torque 90Nm hard; what i found was the new makita products have nowhere near the power of my old dewalt cobi drill. The new impact driver has more Nm torque than the old combi so i carn't understand why it struggles to put long screws, i.e 6" 10's in to 4x4 timber, where the old combi just motors them in like butter. if i understand the videos right, the higher the Nm the better the driving power i.e 150Nm is better than 44Nm. is this the case or have i got it wrong.
hope you can help,thanks.


gasmangaz on Fri, 17 May 2013 17:43:33 +0100 (Likes: 3 / Dislikes: 0

hi guys.

id just like to say how helpfull i have found your website and the related videos. i am a gas engineer and have been using powertools for a long time but have always struggled to understand what was better, a higher Nm torque or a lower one. Thanks for the helpfull advise.


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