Drills for ~$100

We are looking to buy two good quality drills, one cordless and one corded (probably hammerdrill) for around or under $100 each. The last drill we bought looked good on paper and the reviews were good, but we soon had trouble using it to get through metal on a full charge. We have had issues with Black and Deckers in the past (that we only spent about $40 on), but are their ~$100 models more trustworthy?

Also, does anyone have recommendations for what I should be looking for to ensure a drill is up the the task. With corded drills, should I go for a 10 Amp over a 6 Amp, or is there little benefit? Is there appreciable difference between the “20V MAX” and the regular 18V cordless drills? Is a Lithuim Ion battery something to prioritize or just a nice bonus? etc.

A couple people on our team are of the opinions that DeWalts are great, but that you can get the same quality from a Rigid or Makita for less money. Is this accurate or are Dewalt’s worth the extra cost?

Amazon links to reliable drills would be appreciated, but any advice or suggestions are welcome too. Thanks.

spend good money on a MAKITA for your cordless and never look back.
You can easily get a good corded drill for under $100.

It’s a $200 for this kit, but you get two drivers, does that count? I have an earlier version of this kit from HD.


Lifetime parts/battery warranty, super-fast battery recharge (kept up with my hanging drywall), enough torque to push a stepper bit through 1/4in aluminum several times over (have also done 1/4 bronze and sheet steel), the impact driver has around 70ft-lb of torque, both drivers are quite light and easy to handle. Highly recommended after owning my kit for over two years of home improvement projects, use in my garage (cars, wood work, metal work), and FRC duty.

My prior cordless drill was a DeWalt XRP, which also served me well over several years of FRC and home use. I do prefer the Rigid kit though, especially the impact driver.

I am a fan of Milwaukee power tools. Here’s what I have and love.

I own this drill personally and I love it. It’s plenty powerful.

I found this kit for about $250 last year. I bought it for my team. It was a great deal. You’ll need to keep an eye out for sales.

I found this set for $100 on black friday. It came with 3 batteries. I bought it for myself.

Finally, I bought this circular saw over the summer to help build a deck.

With Milwaukee tools, I’m confident I won’t need to purchase new tools for a LONG time.

I have nothing but good reviews for this Dewalt drill.

It runs every year from between $99 to $169… and right now it is at a low of $99.

It has plenty of power to handle the toughest jobs… recently used it to punch a 2.5" hole with a holesaw into a 1.5" thick wood butcher block countertop. I’ve used it for mudmixers in sheetrock work… as well as driving an 18" long 1/2" ship bit through two railroad ties.

The battery life isn’t superb… maybe 100 3" screws in a row? But it will quick charge back up in 30 minutes… and it comes with two batteries.

I bought one for myself 4 years ago I still use, and I got two for my team last year. I can’t say the other brands aren’t great… they might be, but for a nice LIGHT drill that has more power than any FRC team would need, you can’t go wrong with this one.


I honestly love both Dewalt and Makita tools.
For a corded drill you defently don’t need a hammer drill for metal. I would recommend something like this. http://www.amazon.com/DEWALT-DWD110K-8-Inch-Pistol-Keyless/dp/B0012KN1I0/ref=sr_1_9?s=power-hand-tools&ie=UTF8&qid=1418409657&sr=1-9&keywords=corded+drill
For a cordless drill I personly own this one and I love it. http://www.amazon.com/Makita-XFD01WSP-Lithium-Ion-Cordless-Driver-Drill/dp/B00KM2GG0E/ref=sr_1_1?s=power-hand-tools&ie=UTF8&qid=1418409804&sr=1-1&keywords=drill

+1 for Milwaukee tools. We have this onewe got from Fastenal. Our local store gave us a sizeable discount as well to make it more affordable.

I have Dewalts at home and I love them, but I think I would trade them for the Milwaukee set we have in the shop if I could. Plenty of power, fast battery charge and batteries seem to last forever. Plus they have a gauge that tells you approximate charge levels too.

Yeah, the majority of the time we can just go through metal with a regular drill but there are rare occasions where having a team with a hammer drill nearby saved us. We had a shaft snap off and get bound in a special coupler at an off season competition, and the only way we were able to get it out was to drill out the shaft piece stuck in there. As far as I can tell, the hammer drill made the process only take 15 minutes instead of much more.

Also, I updated the OP with a couple more questions. I am thinking that there are so many different drills out there that maybe asking for general guidelines for what to look for in a drill might be more helpful.

I only have an older 18V battery Dewalt at the school and the 20V MAX.

At one point, DeWalt released a 36V MAX version that was based around the A123 system’s advanced LiIon battery. I actually used 10 of these as part of a Formula SAE Hybrid car ~5 years ago. At the time, the big thing was they had an extremely high discharge and recharge capacity versus their amp-hour ratings (~10C as I recall).

I haven’t researched it fully, but I think the 20V MAX is essentially the same battery technology. I know A123 went bankrupt a couple years back… but I get the impression that the nice thing about the 20V MAX is it is very powerful for the size or alternatively very light for the power… and that it might be a similar battery technology.

It all depends on how you use it whether it is worth the money. For all the home projects where I was screwing drywall into a ceiling, or any project where I’m working overhead with a drill… every pound I cut down was very much appreciated. For general robot or shop work, the little extra weight from an 18V might be fine. If you are using the drill how it is supposed to be used and not abusing it… the 18V might be fine.

As I said, I can’t say that Dewalt is better than Milwaukee/Makita/Ridgid etc… just that for $99… I sure love mine :slight_smile:

Nowdays, any major manufacturer (there are about 5) is going to make good powerful drills that hold a charge for a reasonable amount of time. To differentiate, you need to look at the failure modes which are most likely to effect you.

For me, in my personal shop, I take very good care of my tools. Over the years, I have ended up with several cordless drills which were physically perfectly fine except the batteries no longer would hold a charge. What good is a wonderful high quality drill with a dead battery which costs 75% of the cost of a new drill to replace? I did research and found that the only major manufacturer with a lifetime guarantee on batteries is Rigid. What that means is that if a battery dies for any reason, you get a free replacement.

Now, for our robotics team, the most common failure mode of our cordless drills is for a drill to be sitting on a workbench and someone to bump it off onto the floor. The drill flips in the air and lands on the chuck, bending the shaft that the chuck threads onto. At this point, I think we have four cordless drills (all dewalt) and at least three of them have wobbly chucks from bent arbor shafts. For students who are struggling to develop their hand drilling skills anyway, a wobbly drill is just worthless. To date, I haven’t identified a suitable solution to this problem. There are three approaches I’m thinking of taking:

  1. Buy a drill with a larger, stronger arbor shaft. (Probably would also mean the drill is bigger and heavier. Not a good thing.)
  2. Buy a lighter drill with less of a probability of bending the shaft when it falls off a table.
  3. Buy one of the newer “pistol style” drills which, since they have no wide battery base, don’t sit upright on the table. and are less likely to land on the chuck if knocked off. These also tend to be smaller, lighter and cheaper, all plusses for students with smaller than adult man hands.

And now that I’ve thought it through, I think we’ll be buying a couple of the Rigid pistol style drills in the near future.

If you jump through all of the hoops with Rigid you have a chance of getting a replacement battery. You have to submit your registration and include the original receipt and then MAKE SURE that they received everything. I know of 2 individuals who thought they were ok and did everything only to find out that later when they requested service that the company told them they had received the registration but not the receipt so the warranty was void.
Apparently it is your responsibility as a Rigid owner to make sure that they have received all of the paperwork and not theirs to email or write you back if you haven’t. In both cases, the individuals HAD sent in their receipts…but somehow they had been lost on the other end.

Buyer beware… just follow through will all of the requests and then you can get service… Home Depot will handle it many times in the store if the paperwork has been taken care of.

I had no trouble registering my Rigid tools. Sent in the form, receipt, and UPC; I then got a confirmation email a week or so later. No fuss whatsoever. Rigid does note that you should get such a confirmation email when everything is in, so ignoring the lack of such a confirmation is a bad plan!

That is good to hear. That was not the case for these individuals. The confirmation was not available when they bought their units.

Glad to hear it works for you.

good luck!

Dewalt has been good to me over the years.

I have their 12V Kit with Impact, Drill, Impact Drill and Light. This is a good kit for a team. Small, enough kick for all but the biggest jobs and light weight so everyone can use it. The 12V Impact has some serious power. I just wish there were a Pop Rivet Gun that worked with the battery.

Great reasoning in your post, you have some good ideas.

Could you explain how to identify the “good powerful drills that hold a charge for a reasonable amount of time” from a given manufacturers lesser options? I don’t imagine voltage alone will give me a perfect pictures, and output torque is only available on select drills. Should I look at construction, or construction materials?

We picked up two of these Dewalt’s on Black Friday.

We used both to build some shelving and they worked great!

They come with a charger, two batteries, and a carrying bag. They have a built in light which can come in handy.


You might want to cross shop on http://www.cpooutlets.com/drills/drills,default,sc.html (refurbished and new) to see which has the lower cost.

The top brands (Milwaukee, Makita, Dewalt) are pretty much comparable in quality. One construction pro has said the Rigid line should be avoided.

I can’t see any need for a hammerdrill in FRC unless you are doing masonry work. While they are good for light duty work (drilling into mortar for instance), they really don’t work well at all for any “real” projects and should be replaced with a rotary hammer.

Lion batteries are better than NiCd. There are a few top tier suppliers for each of the batteries and the major brands will source from the same companies.

We use these 18V dewalt drills:

I don’t know how they compare to the others people have mentioned but they work great for us. We have 3 drills so with a total of 6 batteries we can run them nonstop. They have good power(probably not as much as the 20V li-ion) but seems to be sufficient for FRC related tasks.

They will put a few 1.125" holes using a uni-bit into quarter inch aluminum on a full charge but after that you’ll need to put in a new battery. we’re very happy with them so far.

The Li-ion drills marked “20V MAX” are a bit of a scam. Li-ion cells of the type used in drills have a nominal voltage of 3.6V. 5 cells in series gives 18V. So 20V isn’t really possible. More investigation was needed.

I took a long hard look at one of the DeWalt 20V Max drills at Home Depot. In tiny letters on one face of the box read something like:


So Engineering says it’s an 18V drill. Marketing says it’s 20V MAX.

We also have the Dewalt DC970K and are considering buying two more on Amazon. $89 for me today.

For corded drills, the Black and Decker DR560 has been fine for us.

Large drilling projects on our team are done using drill presses in the shop.