Written by Terry Smith

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UK’s best cordless drills tested: Makita, Bosch, Dewalt, Festool, Ryobi

These days the best cordless drills have the power to drill through concrete blocks or mix plaster like a paddle mixer and yet still have the finesse and light weight handling for smaller tasks like second fixing (light tasks like kitchen fitting, framing, flat pack furniture, and so on). And I’m not joking, I even used this drill to drill 12mm anchor bolts when I added a fence on top of a wall! You’re thinking – proof or it didn’t happen…ok well here you go 🙂 Here’s is the harshest test I ever put a little cordless drill through:

I actually used my cordless drill to bore out a 40mm hole for a waste pipe – I decided against showing this because it was a clear abuse of the warranty 😀 and I didn’t think it would go down with the manufacturer well. However, amazingly it did it, though did heat up. I certainly pushed that cordless drill test a bit far! The most powerful cordless drills have most of the torque of an impact driver too (especially on the lower setting for screwing). However, you’ll notice I often defer screwing to my Makita impact driver (how I love this tool) but it doesn’t have the same versatility as a cordless drill – so if you’re only looking for one drill to tick most the boxes then you’re in the right place! I’ve tested standard and brushless cordless drill models and there’s a couple of clear winners by miles and they won’t break the bank either!

Me testing the Makita DHP482RTWJ 18V Li-ion LXT Combi Drill Complete with 2 x 5.0 Ah Batteries

PROTIP: BE VERY CAREFUL when buying a cordless drill. Not all drills come with batteries and chargers. My reviews are always clear and the links provided are always clear too or I wouldn’t include them. Also, not all cordless drills have hammer function for masonry drilling. Again, check my tests and reviews to understand the difference. There is plenty you should know before buying a cordless drill.

The advance has been rapid with cordless drills – ten years ago I wouldn’t be making the statement above but after literally using and testing a dozen or mores cordless drills in that time it is almost bog standard for the better models – be it Makita, Dewalt, or Festool (though I wouldn’t be using my Festool for paddle mixing 😀 – what a waste of a quality and expensive bit of kit!). Read on below to see the power drills we have picked as the best available in the UK right now:

My best cordless drill picks from twenty years experience and testing:

Best cordless drill overall: Makita DHP482RTWJ 18V Li-ion LXT Combi Drill Complete with 2 x 5.0 Ah Batteries [personally tested and proven]

Best cordless drill with SDS hammer drill function: Makita DHP485Z 18V Li-Ion LXT Brushless Combi Drill – without actually buying a cordless SDS drill from Makita this is a cracking as my video tests will show you.

Best alternative: Makita DHP485Z 18V Li-Ion LXT Brushless Combi Drill – I’d pick this over my top pick if you’re going to use your drill a lot! [personally tested and proven]

Best 18v with battery/charger at bargain money: DEWALT 18V CORDLESS LITHIUM LXT COMBI DRILL – be warned it doesn’t have the same power as the top pick. If you want a cheaper alternative to Makita then the Bosch PSB 1800 LI-2 Cordless Combi Drill fits the bill lovely too.

Commercial pick for kitchen and shop fitters: Festool Cordless Drill T 18+3 HPC 4,0 I-Set – easily the best of the best but serious money 

Decent budget pick for the home: Terratek 13Pc Cordless Drill Driver – Don’t expect magic but for the money just astonishing value! Can easily swing a door or drill wood – generally super for a DIYer. [personally tested and proven]

Worth a look: Ryobi R18PD3-215GZ 18 V ONE+ Cordless Combi Drill

What you should know before buying a cordless drill

I have to say though, it’s not quite as simple as picking up a cordless, one size fits all, in every situation. For example, if I had kitchens to fit on a daily basis I’d layout the big money on Festool, mainly for the angle drill to fit slim units. For most though, I reckon we can get a decent cordless drill that’ll handle masonry, comfortably drill looks, fit hinges, and cover all the general DIY requirements without breaking the bank! Here’s a look at some of the pitfalls though:

Some cordless drills are supplied as a bare unit

The Makita DHP482RTWJ comes with a couple of batteries. The Makita DHP485Z doesn’t – it’s a bare unit sent in a plastic bag and it would seem to the unsuspecting user that thinks hes got a top notch drill for a steal, to only realise hes paid a fair price and still needs batteries. Makita will always make this super clear though. It will say BARE tool. And they are literally sent in a plastic bag with a bubble wrap envelope to keep things as cheap as possible:

What I noticed from testing is the Makita DHP485Z 18V Li-Ion LXT Brushless Combi Drill is sent in a plastic bag to reduce costs as much as possible and does not have a battery

Don’t take this as a slur – it’s very common in the cordless world to be supplied this way – there is the expectation that many of us will already have enough batteries as they universally fit all tools. In fact, Makita have 300 compatible tools ranging from cordless nail guns to cordless strimmers that use the same batteries in an attempt to make things as cheap as possible. Once you have the batteries then cordless tools really do get cheap!

Not all cordless drills have hammer function for masonry drilling

Needless to say not all cordless drills are equal. It’s pretty unreasonable to pit the Festool against the Terratek in this way though isn’t it? One is less than fish and chips for two, the other is half of the UK’s spare monthly budget. That said, a hundred quid or less Dewalt 18v cordless and the Ryobi will get you a decent bit of hammer action. Not as much as the Makitas in this review but certainly enough for your standard 7mm masonry drill bits with your standard brown 7mm wall plugs. For simple jobs you’ll find the two tested recommends more than capable without breaking the bank!

Me testing the Makita DHP482RTWJ 18V Li-ion LXT Combi Drill in concrete and masonry

Personally if your intention is to be drilling a fair bit of concrete, I’ definitely go with one of the Makita options. And on top of that, if you are going to be at masonry specifically, then you really want to look at an SDS drill in particular. But to recap if you want to drill in masonry or concrete you will need hammer action. Without you’ll simply burn the SDS bit and definitely will not get through tougher concrete.

If you want to drill masonry or concrete you need a hammer action

Higher quality drills have two main torque settings

As I mention in my video when I am testing – I show you there are two settings. One used for screwing and the other used for drilling. The screw setting which is the lowest setting on all drills has far more power, but much slower. It’s essentially a gearing mechanism. You’ll watch me struggle with the drill using a large 28mm drill bit for a lock in this video on the second setting so I change down to the lowest setting for more grunt:

Here’s a look at those two settings so you know what you’re doing off the bat – I apologise if this is pretty trivial for some but if you’re new to cordless drills this is vital info:

Makita DHP485Z 18V Li-Ion LXT Brushless Combi Drill – being a higher quality cordless drill it has two power settings

There’s another benefit of using the right gear – much like a car, the lower gear has far more power and so under heavy loads you do much less damage to the motor in lower gears.

Best value ever. I’ve given this thing the kitchen sink, and some. I’ve drilled concrete blocks with 12mm SDS bits for M12 anchors to add a fence to a wall, I’ve used this in testing on 150mm Spectre fixings as you can see in my video. The first thing you’ll notice is just how nice the rubber grip feels in your hand. This is the same as the other Makita in this review but the Dewalt has a harder plastic feel – when compared directly you can tell the Makita feels nicer. I always recommend this set because a couple of Makita 5 amp batteries sets you back £150 or £140 on special anyway. The battery chargers are £25 so it makes the drill just £40 quid – super deal this combo set 🙂

It handles 100mm wood screws with ease. And drilling metal plate with HSS drill bits is no problem either! I even used this as a core drill 😀 Ok that was taking the mickey when I went that far. And it did heat up so that was one step too far on testing – I probably didn’t do the motor any favours 😀 However, at the extremes of what this drill is actually designed for, which is using large flat bits or wood core bits for locks, it handles with no problem at all:

When testing I found the Makita DHP482 could handle large flat bits for locks

And, outside of what it should do (know you’re probably voiding warranty) amazingly it could knock up plaster, tile adhesive, and levelling compound in a floppy builders bucket with ease. I have been doing that since I started renovating this house and the drill has taken it all day long! And as a bare cordless drill without batteries this is a fifty quid drill – absolutely insane pricing. If I didn’t show you with a video you’d think I was on some kind of ridiculous sales pitch! There’s only one model I prefer more in this review and that’s the Makita brushless version, only because as direct competitors that lasts longer when compared directly together. But day to day use. This is unbeatable value….

Does it have any faults? No. I literally have nothing to complain about – it is an absolute blinder of a deal. You’ve got SDS, Drill, and screw mode with two speed settings – I always set the drill onto 1 when I am knocking up tile adhesive as it wears on the motor – but if I am shooting in wood screws, even up to 100mm, I just bully them in quick speed on setting 2. When I am drilling concrete you’ve seen above. A decent SDS rips through wood….

The only thing you might say is there is no angle head like the Festool if you’re trying to get into really tight cabinets. That’s about the only place this drill is beaten. Don’t understand what I mean? Take a look when I am fixing in tight areas at the superb Festool cordless drill:

The only place the Makita was beaten on testing – it couldn’t fit into awkward and small kitchen cupboards

You see how the drill has an additional attachment above? This is the Festool – a vastly superior cordless drill but this is what kitchen fitters and commercial professionals are using. This is totally overkill for hanging a door or drilling garden walls.

Even if you needed tight angles you wouldn’t want to drop £600 on a drill and battery set – so moving onto reality you’ll have to find a workaround or go for an impact driver – mine fits in that gap – still not as comfortably but it’ll get the job done. Remember this drill is completely compatible with the Makita cordless nail guns, and the orbital sander – in fact you can use this drill with hundreds of Makita cordless tools.

2. Festool Cordless Percussion Drill PDC 18/4 5,2/4,0 I-Set-SCA QUADRIVE

Don’t you just hate how smug the owners of Festool kit are? They rock up on site with their fancy click together boxes (that Makita have now copied in essense), that in some cases with the right stack cost over 5 grand, and yet, with all the tools, half of them still can’t do the job 😀 The Festool Cordless Percussion Drill PDC 18/4 just doesn’t have any competitors when you compare even to my overall best pick – it is simply the best cordless drill money can buy. The model before this one has lasted well in excess of 8 years and is still going strong. So if you factor the original £600 price tag back then for a cordless with all the angles and connections it turns out to be superb value for money. I’ve never had a Makita last this long.

However, with that said, it’s always an opportunity to wind my mate Mark up. He’s using a drill that cost a fortune to pilot 3mm holes in MDF carcasses 😀 In all seriousness though. Using an 80mm hole saw with a Makita works, but the Festool blitzes through it. If you’re wondering why this is even relevant you don’t need this drill and can safely skip to the next review – shop fitters and the likes drill 80mm holes with hole saws for service access..

The Quadrive is total overkill – a couple of gears is plenty. When I raise the discussion with fellow professionals though ‘it’s always must have’ 😀 I will say though, the angle drill is just a beautiful addition in tight spaces. After testing it I would say it’s hard to go back to a small impact driver or fork out for a custom angle drill but then you go full circle and the price makes it difficult to commit…Festool has the edge here:

It doesn’t matter if it’s the plunge saw, circular saw, or the jigsaw that I tested. If we are honest, with Festool it’s a simple case of anything you can do, I can do better. However, what this drill has in quality, the price tag is eye watering for your average DIY enthusiast, and if you’re not kitchen fitting or perhaps shop fitting, or involved in intricate joinery then I’d probably pass – but for professionals it’s worth a think…

When you pickup the Makita DHP485Z, the first thing you’ll notice is it’s almost identical in power and weight to my top pick the Makita DHP482 – with this being so marginally heavier – at least that’s how it felt but I am splitting hairs! And to be honest there’s very minimal difference between the units entirely. I always recommend the older cheaper model if you’re not using it daily. However, if you’re planning to do loads of work then this Brushless motor will last much longer. Here’s a little video – I am mucking about with the trigger but it gives you an idea of just how tight and strong this drill was when I tested it on 50mm screws without pilot through hardwood ply!

The interesting thing is this drill has the same drill specs as the Makita DHP482RTWJ – you can drill 38mm hole saw cuts in wood, and 13mm masonry. However, I have to say, it seemed like this heated up slightly less on testing with prolonged use. Now that could have just been ambient temperatures but all the same worth mentioning. I really am going into the fine details here though because the performance as a decent cordless drill for wood and concrete at sensible money is outstanding!

In terms of testing I blasted drainage holes in the bottom of my wooden planters – 13mm which is the max the chuck can take:

I tested the Makita DHP485Z with 13mm wood drill bit and it was no problem at all

I mean the drill was so powerful and aggressive I had to pull back a bit as I came through the timber, it was trying to pull me through the 18mm plywood at the base of these wooden planters. Talk about effortless! Here’s a look at that:

Blasted some 13mm holes in my wooden planters with the Makita DHP485Z

I’ve had a couple of these over the years with the earlier models that had brushes – and I have to say that in daily use you’ll get about about 2-3 years and that was before they made brushless motors – this is using cordless drills in a professional capacity, and giving them hard work. So far I’ve had this model in the back of one of the work vans for a year in daily use and it’s as good as new engine wise – looks a bit crusty but that’s us looking after it – I’ve noticed this new one I bought for testing is a little bit less sloppy so the motor has loosened from heavy work in that time. Once you have the batteries these are so cheap I bought another one just to keep in the workshop rather than pulling out the van!

Absolute top tool with all the functionality and probably worth the extra few quid when compared to the Makita 482 cordless drill.

The Dewalt 18V cordless combi drill is a little larger than some of our other reviews, but it also feels more substantial and heavy duty too.
 The 18V lithium ion battery provides plenty of power and torque, so much in fact that you need to be careful to hold on to it tightly, or use both hands if you’re using large wood drill bits like I have when testing the Makita’s which are the direct competition to Dewalt! The battery will fully charge in an hour and will last a surprisingly long time before you have to charge it again. 
The hammer drill has a very powerful action and this tool will make quick work of most tasks, whether it be drilling holes or pulling out screws.
An LED light illuminates when you pull the trigger, allowing you to work in places with poor lighting conditions.

Like the Ryobi power drill, the 13mm keyless chuck is made of all metal and provides a lot of grip to go along with the excellent power of this tool. There is also a switch for forward and reverse and a rubberised comfortable grip.
This is an excellent tool that has been getting positive reviews from nearly all its customers.

  • 18V battery charges quickly and lasts a long time
  • Excellent build quality. Feels very heavy duty and durable.
  • This a very powerful cordless power drill with a lot of torque
  • Powerful hammer action
  • Very versatile tool, good for a wide range of jobs
  • Keyless all metal chuck for better grip of your drill and driver bits and easy changes
  • LED worklight
  • Forward and reverse functions
  • Comfortable to hold and lightweight

Currently available to buy on Amazon it is easily the cheapest of the cordless drills I don’t mind recommending after testing, this 13 piece cordless drill/driver set offers excellent value for money and is a best-selling product. 
It is powered by an 18V 800 mAh lithium ion battery that fully charges quickly and lasts for about 3-5 hours of working time with no self-discharge.

If you’re putting up flat packs, drilling small pilot holes, and in general doing light work you can get away with this drill. I wouldn’t want to recommend this for any of the harder work I have been doing with the tests on the Festools and Makitas. You do get what you pay for and so slur on this cordless drill!

The power delivered by the battery is substantial, and with the right drill/driver bits fitted in, this tool can be used for almost any DIY jobs, whether it be on wood, metal or masonry. 
The pressure trigger controls the speed up to a maximum no load speed of 650rpm, and there 16 torque settings to choose from to help you get the right one for the material you are working on. You can also switch between forward and reverse modes for removing screws.
 The Terratek tool is very light, weighing only 2.3 kilograms, and the soft grip feels nice in the hand when compared to The Dewalt in particular.
 There are 13 attachments that come as part of this set including various screwdriver bits and 6 drill bits. This tool comes with a 2 year guarantee.

  • Fast charging 18V Li-ion battery
  • Variable speed through the pressure trigger
  • Maximum no load speed of 650rpm
  • Lightweight at only 2.3 kilograms
  • Comes with 13 attachments
  • LED work light
  • Forward and reverse functions
  • Good price and a 2 year warranty

The Bosch PSB 1800 is a bestselling power drill for DIY’ers that has received praise from the vast majority of its customers. No cordless drill review is complete without a Bosch! It comes with two 18V li-ion batteries that will charge within an hour and produce a top speed of 1350rpm. 
The most innovative thing about this drill though is Bosch’s own ‘Syneon’ chip. This built in chip controls how the battery, gears and motor work together to give you the perfect mix of power and battery life. It also ensures that you are getting optimum power for the task at hand, such as when you’re using the tools hammer drill feature or working on different materials.
You can select from two different gears and 20 pre-selectable torque settings, so it’s incredibly easy to get the drill performing exactly how you want it. 
Changing drill bits is also a synch thanks to the keyless chuck and Bosch auto lock system, and working in dark corners isn’t a problem with the integrated LED light.
Getting the drill into those said corners isn’t a problem either. The Bosch PSB 1800 is compact and weighs in at only 1.3 kilograms. The lack of weight plus the nicely angled handle and decent grip make this drill comfortable to hold and use.

  • 18V li-ion battery charges quickly
  • Top speed of 1350rpm
  • 2 speed gear selection and 20 torque settings
  • ‘Syneon’ chip manages the battery, motor and gears in coordination
  • Integrated LED light
  • Hammer drill setting
  • Compact and lightweight, weighs only 1.3 kg
  • Keyless chuck and auto-lock makes changing drill bits a piece of cake

Coming in a nice storage/carry bag with two batteries and a charger, the Ryobi R18PD31-213S is a good deal for 112 pounds. It sports good, all round build quality and feels strong and sturdy when you hold it.
 Powered by an 18V li-Ion battery that can produce 50N.m of torque you can be sure you have enough power for any home DIY jobs you need to tackle. 
With 24 clutch settings and a 2 speed gearbox (0-500rpm and 0-1800rpm) you have a great deal of control with this power drill.
All your drill and driver bits are held steady in the 13mm all metal chuck’s grip, and being solid metal means that it will last longer than plastic types.
 Like our other products, this drill has a built in LED light so you can work in dark or poorly lit areas. It weighs 2.6 kilograms and measures 40 x 10.2 x 20.5 cm.

  • 18V battery produces 50N.m of torque
  • Very well built and will last a long time if treated right
  • 2 speed gearbox 0-500rpm and 0-1500rpm
  • 24 torque settings with clutch
  • All metal 13mm chuck for better grip of drill and driver bits
  • Comes with 2 batteries and a charger
  • Comes with soft carry bag
  • LED worklight for working in dark areas
  • Compact size and weight

Despite its low price, compact dimensions of 30.2 x 22.9 x 9.1 cm, and only weighing less than 2 kilograms, this NoCry power drill/driver is a serious bit of kit.
 The battery is a fast charging 20V li-ion block that can produce up to 30N.m of torque, more than enough for most DIY projects. It can fully charge in the supplied charger in around 45 minutes and there are LED lights to show you your remaining charge level. 
The NoCry 20v drill has two speed settings, 0-400 rpm and 0-1400rpm and also a 21+1 position torque ring, and this gives you a lot of options and control over the power, helping to prevent you damaging what you are working with. There is also a forward and reverse switch on the side.
When working with wood, the maximum drilling capacity is 20mm, and you can make 6mm pilot holes in metal and concrete.
Working in dark areas has been made easier thanks to this drill’s built in LED light, and thanks to its lightweight and insulated grip handle, using this tool for prolonged periods isn’t going to give you any muscle problems.
The makers NoCry offer a 30 day money back guarantee and a limited 4 year warranty.

  • Fast charging 20V battery and charger included
  • Powerful and can produce 30N.m of torque
  • 21+1 position torque ring with clutch
  • LED worklight
  • 2 speed settings 0-400rpm and 0-1400rpm
  • Forward and reverse switch in a handy position on the side
  • Small and lightweight and perfect for DIY projects
  • LED charge display


Power drills have been around for a long time. The first patented one was in Australia in 1889 by men named Arthur James Arnot and William Blanch Blain. 
Since then these tools have evolved and most now are dual usage as a drill and driver.
These days the 2 most popular variations are the corded and cordless power drills. Corded drills were more popular in the past, despite the obvious drawback of not having complete freedom of movement, as they offered the user better performance and could be used for a much longer duration.

However with advances in technology this trend is changing. Since the invention of lithium ion batteries, cordless drills now have far more power than before and last much longer, as well as being completely mobile and less hassle to store away. All of these factors have led to an increase of good quality cordless power drills on the market. Some people still prefer a corded power drill for the extra power it lends, and if mobility isn’t an issue, or you have some pretty heavy duty material to drill through, a corded model may be the best option.

So, that brings us to the end of our best cordless power drill reviews. We hope we have been helpful to you in some way, and invite you to look at our other pages on this site.

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from gardentoolbox.co.uk, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message: info@gardentoolbox.co.uk

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