I started out in the trades right before the cordless revolution, when many of us had at least two corded drills: a powerful 1/2-inch one with a side handle for the big stuff and a lightweight 3/8-inch model for the rest. Just because we've ditched the cords for most of our drilling and driving doesn't defeat the logic of having both sizes. I was reminded of that recently when I used my 1/2-inch 18-volt Milwaukee hammer-drill - which weighs 6.2 pounds - to bore lots of 1/8-inch pilot holes in composite decking and cedar; a lightweight 3/8-inch cordless drill/driver would have handled the job easily while giving my forearms a break.

Weighing just 2.1 to 2.6 pounds, the latest 12-volt 3/8-inch subcompacts are not only small and light enough to ride in a pocket or a toolbelt, but their surprising power and advanced features can make them an ideal complement for remodelers, electricians, plumbers, and hvac installers and a prime tool for finish carpenters and architectural...

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