A drill with a ½-inch chuck is meant to drill big holes or tough holes, in thick steel, for example. But not everybody who needs outsize hole-drilling capability has an outsize budget. So we gathered a group of corded ½-inch drills, all of which cost less than $60 (some quite a bit less). We knew these weren’t high-end tools, but we were still surprised by how unimpressive some of them were when we put them to work with spade bits, twist drills, and drill taps. A few drills passed the various tests, but only one was excellent, especially for the money.
WEIGHT: 4.4 lb
LIKES: It’s more than twice the tool of any other in this test—and the only drill that could reliably punch holes in a 4 x 4 with a one-inch spade bit. It didn’t struggle at all.
WEIGHT: 4.6 lb
LIKES: A decent drill for mid-range drilling in steel and lumber. Feels reasonably solid, with noticeable but not terrible amounts of vibration.
DISLIKES: Poor trigger sensitivity at low speed.
WEIGHT: 3.6 lb
LIKES: Handled small-diameter holes in light materials and ranked only below the Ryobi in lack of vibration.
DISLIKES: Finicky. Requires a light touch and careful attention at the trigger.
WEIGHT: 3.8 lb
LIKES: It smoked less than the Genesis?
DISLIKES: Everything else.
WEIGHT: 3.6 lb
LIKES: A light-duty hole maker that works well in wood and steel, within its limitations.
DISLIKES: A lot of limitations. Larger-diameter drill bits stop the drill dead in its tracks.
WEIGHT: 4.2 lb
DISLIKES: Could barely handle light-duty work. Smoked. Literally. The stink was so bad that the tool was disqualified—a first in our decades of testing.