How to Choose the Best Power Drill for You

Pick the best power drill for your project for quick and professional results

Makita and Ryobi drills on a workbench

When matched with the correct drill bits and accessories, a power drill can be the most useful tool you own. 

This guide will help you understand the different features available in power drills so you can choose one that best fits your needs. 

Safety: Always exercise caution when using power tools. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper use, and use tools only for their intended purpose. Wear safety equipment including eye and respiratory protection.

Power Drill Types

Power Drill

There are many types of drills to choose from, but the best power drill for you depends entirely upon the project you’re doing. Choose from drill-drivers, hammer drills, right angle drills and impact drivers. Each has a variety of features so that you can pick the one with all the best options suited for your job.

Tip: Consider your comfort. The drill’s grip should be comfortable to hold, and it shouldn’t be so heavy that your hand will fatigue quickly.

Drill Types:

  • Drill-driver: An all-purpose tool for drilling holes and driving screws. 
  • Hammer drill: Similar to standard drills but with a hammering function to drill into masonry.
  • Right-angle drill: The perfect option when drilling and driving in tight spaces. 
  • Impact driver: A driving tool that uses quick change bits and more torque than a standard drill.
  • Rotary hammer drill: Engineered specifically to drill holes in concrete and other masonry

Power Drill Features

When shopping for power drills, consider the chuck capacity. The chuck on a drill is the cylindrical clamp that holds the rotating piece (usually the drill bit) in place. Loosen the chuck to remove and replace the drill bit with another size, and tighten to secure it back in place.

  • Corded vs. cordless: Corded tools usually cost less and deliver more torque while cordless drills provide freedom and convenience, and power up with a simple recharge. 
  • Drill size/chuck capacity: The size of the chuck determines the maximum drill bit diameter allowance for that drill. The most popular is 3/8-inch diameter; lightweight-use capacity is ¼-inch, while heavy-duty capacity uses a 1/2-inch diameter. 
  • Speed and power: Revolutions per minute (RPM) determines the speed of the drill. The higher the RPM, the lower the torque delivered. Amperage equals power. A lower amperage power drill may be suitable for household use or occasional shop use. A higher amperage model will deliver more power and is better suited for heavy-duty or professional use. 
  • Variable speed: A variable speed motor has multiple speed settings that can be changed using a single switch. 
  • Reverse mode: Convenient when removing screws or backing out when boring holes. 
  • Keyless chucks offer the convenience of quick bit change operation while keyed chucks offer a better bit grip for larger drills. 1/4-inch hex or collect chucks require a 1/4-inch hex drill and allow for quick change drill and drive bits.
  • Platforms: For those loyal to a particular tool brand, or if you already own several other power tools of the same brand, consider the charging platforms available within that brand. These remove the need for multiple batteries since one charging platform is shared among multiple tools of the same brand.

Tip: Cordless drills with brushless motors offer more torque than traditional motors. Choose this type for extended run times and longer lifespans.

Power Drill Bits

Different jobs require different bits, and knowing which to use will ensure greater consistency and quality.

  • Drills clean holes smaller than ½-inch wide 
  • Ideal for metal and wood surfaces
  • Carbide-tipped 
  • Cuts smaller holes 
  • Drills through tough surfaces including brick, concrete, stone and plaster
  • Drills holes larger than 1 ¼-inch wide in tough materials 
  • Ideal for wood, plastic and metal 
  • Makes precise circular cuts 
  • Helpful for cables, piping and tubing
  • Drills holes between ¼- to 1 ½-inch wide 
  • Cuts quickly and accurately 
  • Ideal for wood or plastic surfaces 
  • Reverses out, reducing likelihood of splinters
  • Solid-center or expandable
  • Cuts both metal and wood 
  • Clears debris from hole Use with hand brace
  • Makes clean holes smaller than ½-wide in wood surfaces
  • Drills holes with flat bottoms 
  • Ideal for holes that can’t go all the way through thin surface
  • Drills shallow holes in wood surfaces 
  • Makes pilot holes 
  • Sets screws flush with surface 
  • May feature adjustable stop collars