Are you looking for a good general purpose drill? Something for projects around the house, or light duty at the jobsite? It’s hard to choose between competing brands when they all claim their tool is the best. Let’s look at these three drills from top manufacturers to see which one will be the right one for you.
DEWALT DC720KA Cordless 18-Volt Compact Drill/Driver
DeWalt is a trusted name in power tools. Their drills typically have overwhelmingly positive reviews on retail websites because they are powerful and durable. This DC720KA ½” drill is no exception to the rule. It runs off a frameless motor, which doesn’t sound special unless you know what that is.
A frameless motor has no mechanical parts (like a belt or chain) between the motor and rotating shaft, so there’s no loss of power, and there’s no maintenance needed on moving parts. It lasts longer, is more compact and lightweight, and is more efficient. This drill’s frameless motor is capable of a maximum of 410 unit-watts-out of power.
The DC720KA drill has a variable-speed trigger with a two-speed transmission and seventeen clutch settings. The low speed ranges between 0-500rpm, and high speed is 0-1700rpm. It’s reversible, and the switch for that locks off the drill when it’s in the center position.
The included 18-volt battery is nickel-cadmium. This is the only drill out of these three that uses Ni-Cad. This type of battery usually lasts for 500 charges or more. It’s a good idea to run the battery all the way down once a month so that you can avoid “memory effect.” This is a problem where Ni-Cad batteries don’t fully recharge because they only remember being partially discharged. On the other hand, you can store an empty Ni-Cad without damaging it.
More features of the DeWalt DC720KA drill
- DeWalt offers a 3-year limited warranty, 1-year free service contract, and 90-day money-back guarantee
- Drill weighs 4.8 pounds and has a built-in LED work-light
- Drill comes with one battery, a one-hour charger, and a carrying box
Milwaukee Electric Tool 2403-22 M12 Drill/Driver, 1/2″
Out of these three drills, this 2403-22 from Milwaukee is the only one that runs on a 12-volt battery. The other two are 18-volt models.As a result, this is the lightest-weight tool. It weighs just 2.2 pounds.
Milwaukee says the 2403-22 has a maximum of 350 inch-pounds of torque. There are two gears with a top speed of 1700rpm. That’s impressive for a 12V drill. But it’s not surprising when you consider that it has a brushless motor. Brushless motors are more powerful for their size, and more efficient. They don’t need maintenance and generally last longer than brushed motors.
The 2403-22 comes with both 2.0Ah and 4.0Ah capacity lithium-ion batteries for long runtime between charges. The battery, charger, and the drill communicate through Milwaukee’s Red Link Intelligence system to make the drillrun at its best and so it doesn’t overload or overcharge. There is a built-in fuel gauge that shows the battery’s status.
One last remarkable feature of this drill is the all-metal ½” ratcheting chuck. It makes for quick bit changes, and it’s strong enough to grip bits even on tough jobs.
More features of the Milwaukee 2403-22 drill
- Milwaukee offers a 2-year warranty on the battery and 5-year warranty on the drill
- Drills is 7.75-inches long and has a built-in LED work-light
- Comes with both 2.0Ah and 4.0Ah batteries, charger, belt clip, and carrying case
Hitachi DS18DFLM 18-Volt 1/2-Inch Lithium-Ion Cordless Drill/Driver (Includes 2 Batteries + Bit Set)
Hitachi pays attention to details even on its budget tools, and the DS18DFLM ½” drill is a good example of that practice. It’s bigger than either of the other two drills, but the weight is centered over the handle to keep it balanced. The handle itself has a nice over-molded grip. There is a space at the base to hold bits, and the kit includes screw-driving tips.
Although the DS18DFLM has a top speed of just 1200rpm, it’s rated for 400 inch-pounds of torque. The power comes from its two-piece magnet motor. It has 22 clutch settings for precision driving and drilling. Hitachi says it’s made to drill and fasten in wood, plastic, aluminum, and mild steel.
It runs off a lithium-ion battery that’s compatible with other cordless Hitachi products labeled DVF3, DL, and DFL that use a post-style battery. It does not have a built-in work-light like the other two drills have.
In case you’ve not had a lot of experience with lithium-ion batteries, they have some advantages over Ni-Cads. For one, they weigh less. This drill comes with a 1.5Ah battery which is lighter and smaller than a similar capacity Ni-Cad. It can handle working in freezing temperatures, but do avoid leaving it in direct summer sunlight or in a hot vehicle. It doesn’t have memory effect like a Ni-Cad, so it doesn’t have to be discharged completely before it is refilled. It is better to store it long-term just 30 to 50 percent full.
More features of the Hitachi DS18DFLM drill
- Hitachi offers a 2-year warranty on the battery and a lifetime warranty on the drill (where “lifetime” means the “serviceable life of the product”)
- Weighs 3.7 pounds and measures 8-21/32-inches long
- Comes with belt hook, 1.5Ah capacity lithium-ion battery, 30-minute charger, screw-driving bits, and carrying case
These three drills have similar power and speed, and if you already have cordless power tools from one of these companies, you may want to stick to the same system so you can share batteries. But if you want to try something new, here is what we recommend.
The Milwaukee drill is the lightest, weighing just 2.2 pounds. It comes with two lithium-ion batteries so you’ll have the longest runtime between charges. If you want a lightweight, long-running drill for ordinary drilling and driving tasks, this is the one you want. It has a brushless motor for maximum durability, plus, it has a 5-year warranty.
If you prefer Ni-Cad batteries, the DeWalt drill uses them. It’s the most powerful and fastest tool out of these three, and it has the backing of DeWalt’s satisfaction guaranteed warranty.
The Hitachi drill has the most clutch settings, which may be helpful if you have precision work to do. It’s backed by the longest warranty. It comes with a couple of extras, but it’s the heaviest and largest of the three drills, and it has the smallest capacity battery. We recommend this drill if you have other compatible Hitachi tools, if you don’t use drills often, or if it fits best in your budget.