If I could own just one cordless drill/driver, it would be a full-size 18-volt lithium-ion model. Priced at about $260 and up, these muscular tools ship with 3-amp-hour or larger batteries for extended runtime and weigh 4.2 to 5.5 pounds. (Their compact 18-volt cousins, by comparison, weigh 3.3 to 4 pounds and cost about $150 and up.) Armed with one of these 1/2-inch models, I can power my hole saws, midrange auger bits, or the biggest spade bits all day if necessary without pushing the limit. I can also sink long deck and structural screws when an impact driver isn't readily available.

Ideally, I'd pair this tool with a 12-volt subcompact, a category I tested for JLC several months ago ("12-Volt Drill/Drivers," 6/11). Subcompacts weigh just 2.6 pounds or less and can ride in a toolbelt or a pocket, yet can repetitively drill holes up to about 3/4 inch in diameter. Together, the two tools can comfortably handle almost...

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