Cordless drills hit their stride when manufacturers introduced the lithium-ion battery several years ago. These batteries combine huge energy density with light weight. (It’s no wonder they’re slowly replacing nickel-cadmium batteries.) Tool companies launched their lithium-ion revolution with big 28- and 36-volt models–tools that had great power but were also unwieldy. Now, virtually all manufacturers have added much nimbler 18-volt models. That kind of shift is PM’s signal to get to work, testing to see how well these drills meet a homeowner’s real-world needs. We gathered seven drills and spent two days hammering them for all they were worth. Here’s what we found.
We’ve learned the hard way that testing cordless drills by simply boring holes or driving screws can yield a distorted picture of performance. A better method is to combine the two activities in a way that reflects a day’s work. Contributing editor developed our test, which pushes a drill to its limits. First, we used a fresh 1-in. spade bit in each drill and bored 24 holes with it. Next, we drove 12 2-in. lag screws into pilot holes bored in a pressure-treated beam. Finally, we counted the number of 3-in. coarse-thread drywall screws each drill could drive before its battery quit.
Specs : Amp-Hour: 3.0 / Weight: 4.6 lb. / 3-in. drywall screws: 156
Comments: The Hitachi rapidly bores holes and drives screws, and it was loaded with useful features, such as a pivoting work light. To conserve its battery, the tool has a power-limiting switch for low-speed applications such as driving and removing screws in appliances.
Specs : Amp-Hour: 3.0 / Weight: 4.9 lb. / 3-in. drywall screws: 227
Comments: All three testers agreed the Makita was one of the best power tools they’d ever used. Some talented engineers designed its high-torque motor and driveÂtrain to squeeze every ounce of performance from the battery. It also exhibits excellent industrial design. For a large and heavy drill, it’s well-balanced and handles easily due to a nicely shaped handle with lots of rubber over mold. ***** BEST OVERALL
Specs : Amp-Hour: 1.4 / Weight: 4.1 lb. / 3-in. drywall screws: 68–but that’s on a fresh battery with no hole-boring. The first battery died on the fifth 1-in. hole in a 4×4, then another battery died on the second hole it tried to drill.
Comments: This drill is incredibly lightweight, easy to use and it drives fasteners with no problem. The battery charges almost suspiciously fast, and you can watch how quickly it dies on a digital push-button gas tank.
You can find all the parts for Makita BHP454 here