Portable, with Power to Spare
No Strings Attached: Best Cordless Power Tool Combo Kits
When word gets out that you’re looking to test a collection of the best cordless power tool combo kits on the market, you start hearing from old friends and family members faster that a Powerball winner in a West Virginia trailer park. So instead of bugging out and testing our kits by building a cabin in the woods, we answered numerous cries for help and headed out, tool bags in tow. We know how quickly brand experiments and voltage-creep can cost you real-estate on that workbench (trust us), so we only tested kits that package the essentials: a drill/driver of some sort, a circular saw and a reciprocating saw, among other bits. We tackled a variety of chores, from the simplest deck demolition to re-framing the interior of a house, to help you choose the right path for your cordless cash. Here are our picks for the cordless power tool kits that do it best, along with notes on each individual tool.
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DeWalt 20V Max Lithium Ion 5-Tool Kit (DCK590L2)
Best Cordless Kit for the Journeyman: DeWalt’s 20V Max Lithium-Ion kit is great for any DIYer looking to turn his home into an actual castle. The inclusion of an impact driver provides better bang for your buck than other kits on this list — especially so, thanks to a three-year warranty. A laundry list of future tool add-ons includes oscillating tools, angle grinders and even vacuums, so make sure to pick up a few extra batteries. Oh, and the job site radio/charger too.
Impact Driver: Triple LED lights illuminate any work surface and evaporate shadows. Incredible torque at full throttle means you’ll have to tame your trigger finger. It’s well balanced, light weight and easy to wield. Bit changes are a breeze with the new single-handed collet system, and the belt hook will keep things at the ready and secure, even during ladder climbs.
Hammer Drill: Easily one of the best. Three speed settings and a 22-position clutch get through pretty much anything without drama. A self-tightening chuck keeps things locked and loaded. The hammer drill feature makes mounting deck ledger boards an absolute breeze. Our only gripe is with the poor LED light positioning — compared to the impact driver, this one is a shadow machine.
Circular Saw: Tackles 2x4s with ease, even on an angled cut, but green or wet wood will drain power fast. A stamped steel shoe rather than the magnesium one found on the standalone model adds unnecessary weight to the equation. Depth and angle adjustments are quick and easy. The hand positioning and trigger lock are as ambidextrous as any circular saw can get, so Flanders should be happy.
Reciprocating Saw: It’s got all the power anyone would need but lacks the precision offered by other brands. Unlike DeWalt’s standalone version, a single position head means blade-depth adjustments are up to you, so tread lightly in uncharted walls — nobody wants to find wiring via blades. As for those blades, go out and buy some, because none are included in the kit.
Light: Normally these are a throw-in item, but the DeWalt version is the exception to that rule. Super bright and ergonomically constructed, its 110 lumens of output can be positioned just about anywhere to keep target areas bright or to sizzle coworkers’ retinas.
Bosch 18V Lithium Ion 4-Tool Combo Kit (CLPK401-181)
Best Cordless Kit for the Moonlighting Tradesman: Bosch’s lithium-ion lineup is confidence in a well-appointed bag. Every tool included in this kit is built without compromise to deliver true contractor-grade goods — except the work light. This kit includes the 4.0Ah battery pack option, which delivers runtimes long enough to justify overtime. All in all, it’s an excellent foundation for any budding builders, and Bosch offers an ever-increasing selection of 18V power tools that will have you contemplating General Contractor business cards before long.
Drill/Driver: At just under 5 pounds, the Bosch Brute Tough drill/driver is weighty but not unwieldy. 700 inch-pounds of torque are delivered through an all-metal 25-position chuck. Two speed settings, including one for torque, made mincemeat out of mixing a batch of thinset. The Durashield housing will save your bacon when your arm goes all rubbery waiting for the battery to give.
Circular Saw: The higher angle of attack afforded by the grip and trigger layout is a huge plus, giving a better view for ripping straight cuts. A wide aluminum shoe keeps things stable at all angles and reduces weight. The benefits of the 4.0Ah battery are on full display here: even hardwood won’t slow it down.
Reciprocating Saw: One-handed blade changes are a big plus when you’re on the go, but they aren’t completely intuitive the first time around. A two-speed gear box means you can temper itchy trigger fingers to help avoid disasters. The included Bi-Metal blade meant we could start work right away, and both the blade and the saw outlasted us.
Light: Where the DeWalt and Milwaukee lights excel, the Bosch falls flat, literally. A lack of ergonomics and dim illumination will resign this one to paperweight duty. Something’s gotta hold those plans down.
Kobalt’s kit is another option we didn’t get to test (it also doesn’t include a circular saw, which disqualifies it from our official list) but that should hold appeal for the price-conscious shopper. It’s got a 4.0Ah battery, just like Bosch’s kit, for impressive run times, and a drill/driver with a two-speed gearbox and 455 in-lbs of torque, which nearly keeps up with the big dogs on this list; there’s also an impact driver, reciprocating saw, LED work light and an extra 2.0Ah lithium ion battery. For under $300, that’s a tempting deal from the new kid on the block with a reputable backer (Lowe’s).
Milwaukee M18 Cordless Lithium-Ion 4-Tool Combo Kit (2694-24)
Best for the Pro Contractor: Milwaukee’s slogan of “Nothing but Heavy Duty” is on full display in this four-tool kit: every one of the included implements of construction is backed by a five-year warranty. The M18 Fuel lithium-ion power pack delivers impressive power and run time, no matter which tool is in hand. And speaking of tools, Milwaukee spoils you for choice: a grease gun, an expansion tool and even a long-throw press are but a few unique examples of their enormous lineup. Just remember to take it slow — a shade of red on the balance sheet to match your tools is no fun for anyone.
Drill/Driver: 525 in-lbs of torque is less than the Bosch on paper, but we weren’t left lacking at any point. The variable-speed trigger is easier to get used to than most, and the compact design means you don’t need to switch to a smaller, lesser tool in tight spots. Ergonomics are comfortable and metal construction abounds. For light concrete use, we found the Bosch slightly faster, but not noticeably so.
Circular Saw: Milwaukee says this saw can slice through LVL beams, though we didn’t get the chance to try it. After the amount of 2×8 and 2×10 boards we cut and ripped, we wouldn’t be surprised. A magnesium guard and aluminum shoe keep things balanced; an overhead handle kept things comfortable and easily on the dotted line. The lower guard is even elongated and beveled to avoid hang-ups on thin plywood rips.
Reciprocating Saw: Milwaukee coined the term Sawzall, so you might expect this to one to be the best in class. You’d be right. While the others are no slouches, if demolition is your thing, Milwaukee is king. Their patented gear-protecting clutch even absorbs a huge chunk of vibrations to protect you and the saw’s own internals, so there’s never any reason to stop.
Light: Much like DeWalt’s, Milwaukee’s work light might actually earn itself a spot in your tool bag. It can be used as a handheld, hung from the rafters or positioned below and adjusted to suit the task at hand. The Xenon bulb is bright enough to see everything you need and would probably ignite a Gremlin.
Porter Cable 20V Max Linked System
The Cordless Kit for the Up-and-Comer: While we couldn’t put Porter Cable’s new four-tool kit through its paces, we were able to play with the impact driver that features prominently in its new pro-sumer line. Michael-Bay-inspired design notwithstanding, this 20V driver is well constructed and buried everything we could throw at it. With a growing arsenal of add-ons including jig, circular and reciprocating saws as well as a grinder and oscillating tool, Porter Cable tools should find a home in quite a few tool bags — especially with their budget-friendly pricing.