Earning the top score out of any cordless drill that we have tested to date, the Kobalt 24-volt Max 1/2-in Brushless Drill KDD 1424A-03 is our top recommendation for anyone who wants the top tool when it comes to these products. This drill is exceptionally heavy-duty and powerful, handling even our most difficult drilling and driving tests with ease. This drill has an unmatched battery life and tons of integrated lighting so you can see what you are drilling or driving even in darker conditions. This drill is a bit on the pricey side --especially when you consider that it only includes a single battery — but we think it is the clear choice for the professional or serious DIYer who wants the absolute best.Editor's Note: This drill review received an update on February 14th, 2022, to include more details to help you find the best drill for your neds and budget.
Kobalt 24-volt Max 1/2-in Brushless Drill KDD 1424A-03 Review
Pros: Powerful, great battery life, fantastic integrated worklight
Cons: Expensive, only includes a single battery
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|Pros||Powerful, great battery life, fantastic integrated worklight||Great for driving fasteners, heavy-duty, efficient use of battery life||Impressive drilling power, strong steel drilling performance, good control, great price||Small, great value for 12V, convenient to use||Inexpensive, lightweight|
|Cons||Expensive, only includes a single battery||Heavy, takes some force to swap batteries||Only includes a single batter, so-so battery life in our tests||So-so driving power, average battery life||Weak, minimal features|
|Bottom Line||The highest scorer in our group, this is a heavy-duty drill that can keep up with all your toughest projects||If you are looking for a top-tier drill to go with your existing Milwaukee batteries, this is your best bet||A decent drill for DIY projects that won't deplete your savings||If you want a 12-volt drill that can handle all your weekend warrior DIY projects without blowing your budget, this is your best choice||An okay drill for basic household tasks and assembly projects at a great price|
|Rating Categories||Kobalt 24-volt Max...||Milwaukee M18 Fuel...||Craftsman V20 1/2-I...||Bosch 12V Max Drill...||Black+Decker 20V Ma...|
|Battery Life (20%)|
|Specs||Kobalt 24-volt Max...||Milwaukee M18 Fuel...||Craftsman V20 1/2-I...||Bosch 12V Max Drill...||Black+Decker 20V Ma...|
|Battery Capacity (Included)||2 Ah||Tested w/ 2 Ah||1.3 Ah||2 Ah||1.5 Ah|
|Drill Model Tested||KDD 524B-03||2803-20||CMCD700||PS31||LDX120C|
|Box Model (Kit) Tested||672823||Tested tool-only, no kit||CMCD700C1||PS31-2A||LDX120C|
|RPM||Low: 0 - 550
High: 0 - 2000
|Low: 0 - 550
High: 0 - 2000
|Low: 0 - 450
High: 0 - 1500
|Low: 0 - 350
High: 0 -1300
|0 - 650|
|Peak Torque (manu)||650 in-lbs||1,200 in-lbs||280 UWO||256 in-lbs||N/A|
|Measured Weight||3 pounds
|4 pounds 1 ounce||3 pounds 7 ounces||2 pounds
|Measured Charge Time||75 minutes||25 minutes||58 minutes||85 minutes||210 minutes|
|Battery Indicator Location||Battery||Battery||Battery||Drill||N/A|
|LED Location||Above the battery||Above the battery||Above the trigger||Above the trigger||Above the trigger|
|Included Belt Clip||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Kobalt finished at the group's top, narrowly outperforming the DeWalt DCD777C2. The Kobalt had a higher list price than the DCD777C2, but we have often found it on sale for less. Both drills perform almost identically in our drilling and driving tests and are about the same in terms of convenience features. Still, the Kobalt nabbed the top spot by having a significantly better performance in our battery tests.
Drilling performance is a critical aspect of the overall performance of a cordless drill, accounting for 35% of its total score. For this test, we based the scores on how easily each drill did with a 5" hole saw, a 1" paddle bit, and standard twist drills. The Kobalt did phenomenally well.
Almost all of the drills we tested do a decent job at drilling through wood with twist drills, so we upped the difficulty a bit and tasked each drill with drilling through a 16 ga. steel sheet with both a ¼" and ½" twist drill, noting the difficulty and time it took for each drill to make it through. The Kobalt didn't show the hint of a struggle with the ¼" drill, punching through the steel plate in about 1.5 seconds. It locked up for a brief moment with the ½" drill but still made it through in 3-4 seconds.
Next, we moved on to the 1" spade bit. We drilled dozens and dozens of holes in standard dimensional 2x12's for this assessment. The Kobalt delivered a beastly performance, never once catching or stalling. All of the holes were drilled exceptionally quickly, even leaving the drill in its higher speed, lower torque gear for the entire test — many drills needed to be downshifted to their lower gear once they caught or stalled to finish drilling the hole.
We truly pushed these tools to their limits for our last drilling test, tasking them with drilling a 5" hole saw through a solid core door.
The Kobalt again thoroughly impressed us, ripping through the door like it was butter and finishing the hole in around 17 seconds.
Matching our drilling metric in terms of overall significance, our driving metric encompasses the other most common task that most people will use these tools for driving fasteners. To assess the driving force of each of these tools, we drove in hundreds of typical wood screws, as well as some massive lag bolts, awarding points based on how quickly and easily they dealt with these fasteners. The Kobalt again delivered an exceptional performance.
The Kobalt did very well when driving in wood screws, but it couldn't quite maintain the top position. It drives in screws quickly and powerfully, setting the countersunk head flush with ease — most of the time. While it did only happen a few times out of the enormous number of screws we drove in, the Kobalt did falter when it came to fully setting the head.
However, the Kobalt did redeem itself a bit when driving in the monster 5" long, ½" lag bolt. We used a standard 2x4 and 4x4 for this test, drilled a pilot hole, then set the Kobalt to work on the lag screw. It had no trouble at all, driving it into its full depth.
Moving beyond the drilling and driving performance of this cordless drill, we moved on to rating and scoring the thing that makes the Kobalt cordless: its included batteries. For this metric, responsible for 20% of the final score, we tested the battery life on a full charge and the time to recharge the battery. The Kobalt again did very well. We tested this tool with a 2 Ah battery.
To test battery life, we used the Kobalt to drive in 16 normal screws and drill three holes with the 1" spade bit, repeating this cycle until the drill died. This tool died in the middle of the 11th cycle, solidly outpacing the next closest drill, which only made it through 7 before quitting.
However, this exceptional performance in the battery life test was tempered slightly by the Kobalt being a little slow to recharge and only including a single battery. The lack of an extra battery is a bit of a bummer, as that means your project is put on hold when the battery dies, compared to other models where you can swap to your reserve and keep going. You could always buy an extra battery separately, but they can be a bit pricey. The Kobalt isn't the slowest to recharge, but it still took over an hour — 75 minutes — to completely recharge a fully depleted battery.
Our last round of tests focused on the little things that make these tools easier and more enjoyable to use. Responsible for the last 10% of the total, this metric looked at the quality of the integrated work light, the weight, max chuck size, and different operating modes available, as well as the ease of swapping batteries, if there is a battery level indicator, and if the drill has a belt clip. The Kobalt KDD1424A-03 finished with a decent performance, earning a 6 out of 10.
The Kobalt has a solid integrated light, providing plenty of illumination for your work surface. The light stays on for about 10 seconds.
This drill has a belt clip, but it is a bit heavy, weighing in at close to four pounds. It has high and low gears, with a chuck with a maximum opening of ½".
It is fairly easy to swap the batteries, and we found the built-in battery meter to be a very handy feature.
Should You Buy the Kobalt?
Finishing at the top of the group overall and delivering an unchallenged performance in many of our tests, it is easy to see why the Kobalt 24-volt Max 1/2-in Brushless Drill KDD 1424A-03 earned our favor. This drill packs a punch, handling our toughest drilling and driving tasks with ease, all while having an unparalleled performance in our battery life test. It might be a bit more tool than a casual DIYer or weekend warrior needs, but it is our top recommendation if you want the absolute best of the best when it comes to these products. While the Kobalt is a fantastic drill, you are paying for all that power, and it isn't the best value option out there if you are shopping on a budget and don't need professional-grade power tools.
What Other Drill Should You Consider?
If you can't find the Kobalt on sale and need a budget choice, we like the Craftsman V20 1/2-In. Drill/Driver Kit CMCD700C1. While the Craftsman doesn't offer the same level of performance as the Kobalt, it is about half the price (again, look for sales!). For the price, it is just about the best thing going and provides the same level of convenience with good drilling performance. Depending on your budget, sales, and goals, the Craftsman might be an option for you. Alternatively, if you have Dewalt products already, the DeWalt 20V Max Compact Brushless Drill/Driver DCD777C2 has the same performance with less battery and is compatible with some Dewalt batteries.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
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