By Rex Cauldwell

Publication Date: January/February 2003

15.6 Volts

Tool

Weight

Battery Type

Volts

Rpm (Low/High)

# of Batteries as Standard Equipment

Street Price

Hilti

SF 150-A

4.9 lbs.

NiMH

15.6

0-450 / 0-1,450

$299

Comments: Despite its long, vertical battery, this drill has nice balance. The ratcheting/locking chuck grabbed and released bits well, but the tool could use more power. The battery release was awkward. I felt like my fingers didn't have good contact with the contoured reverse switch. This tool also could use a better storage box. 800-879-8000. www.us.hilti.com

Tool

Weight

Battery Type

Volts

Rpm (Low/High)

# of Batteries as Standard Equipment

Street Price

Panasonic

EY6432GQKW

4.8 lbs.

NiMH

15.6

65-450 / 200-1,450

$220

Comments: This is the lightest and most compact tool in the bunch. It's good in tight spaces and fits well in smaller hands. The plastic ratcheting/locking chuck has a metal nose, and the chuck grabs and releases bits nicely. The battery exchange works well, too. This tool drilled a large number of holes considering its small size, but heated up during the spade-bit test. 800-338-0552. www.panasonic.com/cordlesstools

18 Volts

Tool

Weight

Battery Type

Volts

Rpm (Low/High)

# of Batteries as Standard Equipment

Street Price

Bosch

33618

5.7 lbs.

Nicad

18

0-400 / 0-1,300

$240

Comments: This tool is terrific. Its plastic-and-metal ratcheting/locking chuck works nicely. It has excellent balance, a non-slip handle, and good battery exchange. The compact tool drilled 79 1-inch holes on a single charge and has the best low-end torque. The reverse switch is hollow and the high-speed rpms are a little too slow. It comes with battery end caps and a good box. The battery stem sits high in the charger and looks breakable. 877-267-2499. www.boschtools.com

Tool

Weight

Battery Type

Volts

Rpm (Low/High)

# of Batteries as Standard Equipment

Street Price

Craftsman

27124

6.88 lbs.

Nicad

18

0-400 / 0-1,400

$200

Comments: The plastic and metal chuck on this tool worked really well and I thought the bubble level built into the tool body could come in handy. The tool is oversized, however, and the extra-long handle makes it uncomfortable to use. It drilled only an average number of holes. The easy-on front-slide battery is a good feature. 800-377-7414. www.sears.com/craftsman

Tool

Weight

Battery Type

Volts

Rpm (Low/High)

# of Batteries as Standard Equipment

Street Price

DeWalt

DW987K-2

5.9 lbs.

Nicad

18

0-450 / 0-1,450 / 0-2,000

$270

Comments: At 2,000 rpms this tool is a speed demon. Its ratcheting/locking chuck is plastic with a metal nose and works great. The tool is very compact with nice balance and a good power-to-weight ratio. It has an easy battery exchange and a comfortable anti-slip handle. The three speed settings allow you to adjust your combination of torque and speed based on application. Like a lot of these tools, this one could use a better storage box. 800-433-9258. www.dewalt.com

Tool

Weight

Battery Type

Volts

Rpm (Low/High)

# of Batteries as Standard Equipment

Street Price

Hitachi

DS18DVB

5.3 lbs.

Nicad

18

0-400 / 0-1,400

$210

Comments: This is a very comfortable tool. It has an older-style plastic chuck with a metal nose that jammed during the spade-bit test. The entire handle is non-slip and easy-to-hold. Its battery exchange is easy. The slight angle between the motor and battery helps the balance, but the large vertical battery out at the end of the handle makes it feel ungainly. The tool seemed plenty tough, but could use more power. 800-829-4752. www.hitachi.com/hpt

Tool

Weight

Battery Type

Volts

Rpm (Low/High)

# of Batteries as Standard Equipment

Street Price

Makita

6347DWDE

5.3 lbs.

NiMH

18

0-400 / 0-1,300

$239

Comments: This tool has good power and speed. It has an older chuck design that jammed a little during the spade-bit test. I liked the anti-slip handle and easy battery exchange. The battery is spread wide from the motor, giving it great balance. Its drill-only switch needs to be improved though; the button you press to engage it is way too small. The box was big enough to carry a tool with the bit on, which I like. 800-462-5482. www.makitatools.com

Tool

Weight

Battery Type

Volts

Rpm (Low/High)

# of Batteries as Standard Equipment

Street Price

Metabo

BST18 Plus

5.3 lbs.

Nicad

18

0-450 / 0-1,650

$309

Comments: This tool has the best battery release out there. It has a good chuck that ratchets and locks, but it's mostly plastic. The drill also has good low-end torque, but could use more high-speed power. I found the balance and handle a bit awkward and thought the reverse button was difficult to press. It's got a good, solid box that allows you to store the tool with a bit attached. 800-638-2264. www.metabousa.com

Tool

Weight

Battery Type

Volts

Rpm (Low/High)

# of Batteries as Standard Equipment

Street Price

Milwaukee

0622-24 Lok-Tor

5.8 lbs.

Nicad

18

0-500 / 0-1,700

$227 - $318

Comments: I loved everything about this drill. Its all-metal ratcheting/locking chuck is bulletproof. The narrow, non-slip handle is comfortable, the balance is great, and it has lots of power in a compact package. The slide-in battery exchange is easy. It drilled a massive number of high-speed holes (89) on a single charge. It has top-notch low-end torque, too. The box is solid and rugged with strong metal clasps and a good bit carry-all inside. 800-414-6527. www.heavydutytool.com

19.2 Volts

Tool

Weight

Battery Type

Volts

Rpm (Low/High)

# of Batteries as Standard Equipment

Street Price

Porter-Cable

9984

6.2 lbs.

Nicad

19.2

0-550 / 0-1,500

$245

Comments: TI loved this drill. The all-metal ratcheting/locking chuck is superb. This tool feels very balanced, and the larger battery didn't make the tool feel bigger or heavier. The rear-slide battery takes some getting used to, though. I like the anti-slip handle. This model drilled tons of holes on both high and low speeds and has excellent power. 800-487-8665. www.porter-cable.com

This article is reprinted courtesy of Tools of the Trade