18V Drill Buying Guide

Cordless Drill

An 18V drill is primarily for serious do-it-yourselfers and professionals. They generate very high levels of power, but are heavier and more costly than the lower voltage drills. If you're looking for durability, the 18-volt class is generally tough and rugged. The best of these drills can take a lot of jobsite punishment.

  • The average 18V cordless drill costs about $200, with prices ranging from $100 to $400.
  • Your goal is to choose an 18V drill with above average capabilities for an average or below-average price.


  • We all want more power, but don't forget to balance it against weight and cost.
  • The average 18V cordless drill can generate maximum torque levels of about 470 in-lbs.
  • Top-end 18V cordless drills can deliver up to 650 in-lbs.
  • Be aware that you won't find torque specs on DeWalt drills. Since power is technically a function of torque and RPM, they only provide Unit Watts Out (UWO).


  • Faster is better, but it usually comes at the expense of larger motors and heavier weights.
  • The average 18V cordless drill has a maximum drill speed of about 1,525 RPM.
  • The best 18V drills have top speeds around 2,000 RPM.


  • Lighter weight reduces fatigue, and is especially important for overhead drilling. A pound or two can make a big difference.
  • The average 18V cordless drill weighs about 5-lbs, a little more than a half-gallon of milk.
  • The lightest 18V drills only weigh about 3.5-lbs.


  • Battery run-time is never long enough. Some 18V cordless drills have 2-3 times the run-time of others, so this is a key area to watch for.
  • The majority of 18V drills have Lithium-Ion batteries. They help reduce the weight of the drill, but often drive up the price.
  • The most important measure is the battery amp-hour (Ah) rating. The average 18V cordless drill has a rating of 2.0 Ah, while the best drills run up to 3.5 Ah.


  • Chuck size: 1/2" is standard on most 18V power drills.
  • Spindle-lock: Auto locks the chuck so you can change bits with one hand. Standard on this class of drill.
  • Integrated LED work light: Optional.
  • Belt-hook: Optional.
  • Side-handle: Good option when you're trying to control high levels of torque.
  • Fuel gauge: Great feature that's only available on a few drills. It greatly reduces the frustration of running out of power at the worst of times.


  • Consider an all-metal gearbox. Gear teeth moving at high speeds wear-out over time, and metal is certainly preferable to nylon. The trade-off is higher weight, so if weight is critical to you, than a non-metal gearbox is acceptable.
  • Look for a an all-metal chuck. Plastic chuck sleeves are lighter weight, but they can crack over time.
  • Can you access the motor brushes externally? Internal brushes are sometimes difficult to replace.
  • Check the warranty. The average for an 18V cordless drill is about 3-years, with Panasonic having the shortest, and Milwaukee and Hitachi having the longest.

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