Last Updated on
Drills are a must have in every tool belt, whether you are a professional or hobbyist. However, they are also fairly large for what they do, and oftentimes, you need to drill a hole or drive a screw in a much smaller area.
That is where right angle drills come into play. With a head sits at a 90 degree angle, this type of drill can reach spaces other drills can only dream about. However, this type of drill also comes with a few more caveats than most.
Since its use is more specialized, there are fewer drills of this type that are simply good at everything. Instead, they often gravitate to one niche or another. That is why we have put together a list of the 9 best right angle drills 2017-2018 and provided a comprehensive buyer’s guide to assist you with your selection.
Best right angle drill 2017 reviewed
The following are the best right angle drill on the market:
- DEWALT DCD740C1 20-Volt MAX, Power: 20 volts, Profile: 4”
- Bosch 1132VSR, Power: 3.8 amps, Profile: 4”
- DEWALT DWD460K, 11.5 amps, Profile: 7.4”
- Bosch PS11-102 12-Volt, Power: 12 volts, Profile: 4.2”
- Ryobi P241 ONE Plus 18V, Power: 18 volts, Profile: 5.1”
- Makita AD02W, Power: 12 volts, Profile: 3 ½”
- Makita XAD01Z 18-Volt, Power: 18 volts, Profile: 2 ½”
- Milwaukee 2708-22 M18, Power: 18 volts, Profile: 3 ⅔”
- DEWALT DW120K, Power: 7 amp, Profile: 4 ½”
DEWALT DCD740C1 20-Volt MAX – Best 20 Volt Right Angle Drill
However, this is a bit deceptive, as both 18 and 20 volt power tools provide the same amount of power when in use.
The 20 volt designation is the resting voltage. Still, the DeWalt does provide plenty of power, regardless the measuring trickery.
Still, the sizes of this drill are less than ideal. First, the profile is only 4” which is not bad, but it is not good either. Furthermore, the ⅜” chuck is not suitable for all professional bits. Finally, its weight of 8.25 pounds with a battery is pretty heavy in the cordless right angle drill market.
Bosch 1132VSR – Best Corded Consumer Grade Right Angle Drill
In fairness, they put out the best consumer grade right angle drill in both categories, but it is still shocking to see their absence in the professional grade category.
Still, the ⅜” chuck is not at all impressive, nor is it worthy of a professional grade drill. Thankfully, the profile is decent, but it is not even in the top 3 on our list, so that is more of a wash.
Also, the ergonomics could be better. While 5 pounds is fairly good for a corded model, the trigger can be difficult to engage, even if its oversized panel makes it easier to hold down once you do.
DEWALT DWD460K – Best Framing Right Angle Drill
If you are a professional framer who needs a massive amount of power to drill and drive into studs and joists, the DeWalt is the best game in town. With 11 ½ amps, this is easily the most powerful motor on our list.
Moreover, the DeWalt features a decent 1300 maximum rpm with 2 speed settings depending on whether you need to drill or drive.
There is no other drill on our list that comes even close to that. Moreover, that is not the only size limitation of the DeWalt. This drill also features the largest profile on our list at over 7”.
Essentially, electricians, plumbers, and HVAC specialists need not apply. However, it does at least feature a professional grade ½” chuck. Of course, that professional quality will cost you as this is one of the more expensive drills on our list.
Bosch PS11-102 12-Volt -Best 12 Volt Right Angle Drill
This time, Bosch slightly misses the mark in the cordless right angle drill market. Specifically, the Bosch drill uses only a 12 volt motor rather than an 18 volt.
Unfortunately, this drill further removes itself from truly professional consideration with a smaller than preferred ⅜” chuck, limiting the drill bit options. Finally, at 6 pounds, this is a bit heavier than you would want from a cordless drill–though not egregiously so.
Ryobi P241 ONE Plus 18V – Best Budget Right Angle Drill for Plumbing
While the Ryobi may be the budget drill on our list, it provides a surprising amount of value for that price. In fact, if you do not find yourself often needing the full range of options for all types of professional jobs, this may be the best value on our list.
That being said, professionals should likely look elsewhere. For one, this drill features a profile over 5”. That is simply too large for many jobs. Moreover, the ⅜” chuck will limit the number of usable drill bits, while the maximum rpm of 1100 will make it less than ideal for drilling purposes.
Makita AD02W – Most Ergonomic Right Angle Drill
There is no easy way to say this: our first Makita has some serious limitations when it comes to utility. In fact, this drill offers numerous substandard features that are vital to the effectiveness of a right angle drill. However, for a specific niche of consumers, there will not be a better option on the market.
The demographics that will find this Makita the best are those who require a greater degree of ergonomics. Generally, this rests primarily in the consumer grade market. However, due to the extreme focus Makita placed on ergonomics, this could find a spot for people who regularly need not only a small profile, but easier leverage.
The motor is only 12 volts, while the maximum rpm of 800 is squarely for torque only. Couple that with a ⅜” chuck, and the professional jobs this is suited for are extremely limited in comparison to other options on this list.
Makita XAD01Z 18-Volt – Best Right Angle Drill for Tight Spaces
While the previous Makita may have been made purposefully for ergonomics, this Makita was designed to fit into the tightest places any right angle drill and conceive of reaching. In fact, with a profile of 2 ½”, no other drill on our list can come close to the tight squeezes this Makita can fit into.
When you couple that with a weight of only 3.2 pounds, this is likely the better Makita for more people. Plumbers and electricians should generally look this direction based on those two qualities. However, this Makita scores highest on another all-important factor as well.
With 1800 maximum rpms and 121 maximum pounds of torque, the Makita can accomplish almost any standard task outside of framing that you might ask of it.
The only problem is that the variable speed control is determined exclusively by trigger pressure without a setting to force either drill or drive operation.
Milwaukee 2708-22 M18 – Best 18 Volt Right Angle Drill
While this drill will not necessarily be the best suited for all situations, in the professional cordless right angle drill market, this is the best of the bunch. With an 18 volt motor and a maximum rpm of 1200, this drill has the power to accomplish all of your tasks. However, it is the head which makes it the best 18 volt.
The profile of the drill may not be the absolute smallest on our list, but it is pretty close. At 3 ⅔” inches, only the Makitas offer a smaller profile. However, at this profile range, only the Milwaukee provides a ½” chuck allowing you to use the full suite of professional bits.
Finally, the Milwaukee is without question the most expensive product on our list–regardless the category. However, if you want a professional right angle drill in a cordless model, this is still worth the investment.
DEWALT DW120K 7 Amp 1/2-Inch Joist and Stud Drill – The Best Corded Right Angle Drill for Electricians
If you need a professional right angle drill with the power only found in a corded model, DeWalt has you covered. Still, this drill does have its limitations, especially if you need to drill holes. But if you are looking to drive screws and the previous DeWalt is too big, this is exactly what you are looking for.
First, the DW120K features the most powerful corded motor with an adequate profile at 7 amps and 4 ½” respectively. This will provide the power you need while still being able to fit into those hard to reach spaces the other DeWalt is simply too large to get at.
Moreover, the drill setting for this product is supposed to be 600 rpms, something that will often not suffice. Ultimately, this means that this drill is designed for torque more than anything else.
Still, it does feature a ½” chuck to fit any professional bit you throw at it. Though, it does weigh 15 pounds which makes the side handle more of a necessity than an additional feature.
Best right angle drill – Buyer’s Guide
This is arguably one of the most important factors when choosing a drill – whether right angle or otherwise. In fact, this is generally one of, if not, the most important factor for all power tools. However, since a drill in general, and a right angle drill in particular, must deal with resistance while in use, this factor is even more important for this type of tool.
However, the power of a drill is not always the easiest to determine and will depend heavily on the power source. Right angle drills are powered by one of two sources: a cord or a battery pack. Corded drills plug directly into an outlet, whether from an electrical grid or a generator, while cordless drills use replaceable battery packs.
Cordless drill power is gauged by the voltage the motor uses, while cordless drill power is determined by the amps used. Corded drills generally provide more power, but cordless drills are easier to maneuver and can be used on a wider variety of jobsites. Considering right angle drills are for use in confined spaces, this is one of the few instances when a cordless model may be better than a corded model in most cases – despite giving up some power.
Speed and Torque
These two qualities have an inverse relationship with one another. The more rpms, or speed, the lower the torque. Of course, most drills of any type have variable speed settings. This allows you to determine whether you require more torque or more rpms as the situation calls.
Torque will be most important when you are using the drill and expect resistance. Hard grades of wood and other dense materials will often call for more torque than speed. If you are using the drill for materials like concrete or other stonework, high torque is a must.
Higher rpms are generally better suited for driving screw or drilling into softer material that is not quite as dense or rocky. A softwood like pine would call for less rpms than, while a hardwood like Balsa would be better suited for more rpms.
Many drills will have some sort of switch, lever, or knob which allows you to divert the power more towards torque or rpms. However, even with these types of adjustments, the drill itself will also likely have a pressure sensitive trigger that applies more rpms depending on how hard you hold it down. If you hold the trigger down less, the drill will produce more torque.
The size of the chuck, the part which holds the bit in place, generally comes in ⅜”. This is the standard for about 80 percent of all drills. Keep in mind, a ⅜” chuck will generally fasten a much larger bit depending on the size of its shank. In fact, a ⅜” chuck can often hold up to a ¾” bit.
However, the larger the bit, the more torque your drill will need. This additional torque will actually be required at higher rpms than is generally required.
For more professional jobs, a chuck of up to ½” may be required. Again, like the ⅜” chuck, the ½” chuck can generally fasten a bit much larger than its gauged size, though it too will require more torque to drive a larger classed bit.
This is arguably the most important factor that will have literally no impact on how well the tool itself functions. However, the profile of the right angle drill will heavily impact how versatile it is and where you can use it.
Keep in mind though, as you begin to miniaturize the components of any power tool, you have to juggle a loss of power and durability. As such, getting the absolute smallest right angle drill may not always be the best option.
Moreover, some right angle drills are not actually designed to fit into extremely small areas. For instance, stud and joist right angle drills are used for framing where the obstructions are far fewer and the drill simply provides more leverage and power.
This component is an adjustable dial. It sits at the end of your drill, just before the chuck, and will have a ring of numbers. These settings determine how much resistance the drill will accept before disengaging. This will help keep the motor in good working order as well as prevent you from stripping the screw if properly adjusted.
The clutch is a component designed to assist you in drilling to the point that you need and no further. However, if you are a skilled enough user – especially if you are a professional – chances are you already know how to gauge the proper pressure and depth of the drill on your own.
Honestly, even if you are a weekend warrior, after enough uses, you will begin to familiarize yourself with the feel of the drill – through trial and error if nothing else. As such, the clutch can easily be seen as a convenient, though rarely necessary, secondary consideration.
For most power tools, this is a secondary or even tertiary consideration. However, due to the nature of a right angle drill, this is a top tier secondary or even a primary consideration. The reason is fairly straight-forward.
You use a right angle drill to get to hard-to-reach spaces. Quite often, if a space is hard to reach, it is because there is something larger that cannot be moved obstructed the location. While whatever obstruction that cannot be moved makes it difficult to fit a full-sized drill, it will also often block out natural or even artificial lights – depending on how cramped the quarters.
In this instance, an onboard light provides you with illumination to see what you are doing when you cannot otherwise get light to reach your workspace. This is especially relevant if you work in electrical or HVAC where many of the jobs require you to work in an attic or basement with little room and less natural lighting.
Chucks coms in 4 general types: hex, SDS, keyed, and keyless. However, keyless is by far the most common type of chuck for modern drills of most types.
SDS chucks are designed more for hammer drills and will rarely be found in more traditional drill types – including right angle drills.
Hex drills are also far less common, because they can only hold screwdriver bits. This means a hex chuck cannot drill holes with a drill bit.
Keyed and keyless chucks both allow you to drive screws or drill holes. However, the keyed chuck requires you to tighten the chuck with a key. Changing the bits with a keyed chuck may take a bit longer, but they are fastened tighter and generally more durable.
Keyless chucks are far more convenient and allow a rapid change of different bits sizes and types. Moreover, you simply hold the housing of the chuck – the part that does not move – and can use the trigger to tighten or loosen the chuck and change the bit. However, this type of chuck does not get as firm a grip and will wear out quicker over time.
The ergonomics of a right angle drill will generally be determined by 3 factors: the grip, the weight, and the handle design–with the handle being the most important. The grip relates to how hard the handle is. Many drills provide some type of soft grip to make using the drill for longer periods of time easier.
Sidewinders are a bit like a hybrid of a D-handle, with the trigger at the base of the tool, and a barrel grip, a handle type more common in other types of drills. Sidewinders also feature a handle near the head for additional stability, though this reduces the number of tight spaces they can fit into–especially if the space is closed off on 5 sides.
Barrel grips are the most common type of handle for right angle drills, but they are also the least comfortable to use over long periods of time. Still, for general purposes, they allow you to generate more leverage and can fit into tighter spaces.
Bit holders, levels, depth gauge, belt clips, and cases are the most common extra features you will find on a right angle drill. However, few of these features even rise above the tertiary level of consideration.
Bit holders and belt clips are never a factor that should sway your decision unless the difference between 2 drills is razor thin. Cases are a necessity, but they are cheap enough when purchased separately that they too should not sway your decision all that much.
Depth gauges can be useful when you are a novice. However, after using a drill of any kind for long enough, you begin to intuitively know how deep you have drilled or driven. In fairness, the only extra feature on this list that is useful no matter what is the level.
The level will be a small, fluid-filled cavity located somewhere on the drill with a bubble in it. When the drill is level, the bubble will fall between two marked lines on a transparent lens. While you will develop the skill to naturally level for most types of drills over time, due to the nature of a right angle drill’s use and positioning, this feature can still be plenty useful even to grizzled old veteran professionals.
The best right angle drill is the one that suits your specific needs. Oddly, this one of the few power tool categories that sees the cordless models outperforming the corded ones. Of course, unless you are framing.
In that case, there is nowhere else to turn except the DEWALT DWD460K. With the most power, it puts framing jobs to bed with ease. However, if you still need a powerful professional performance with a smaller profile than a framing drill, DeWalt’s DW120K also takes that top spot.
Still, the show belongs to the cordless drills where Makita makes a strong showing for both the best all-around cordless and the most ergonomic right angle drill. If you are a weekend warrior, Bosch offers a decent consumer grade corded right angle drill, while the Ryobi is our pick for the best budget option.