Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila
Whether you’re a professional tradesperson or a DIY enthusiast, you’ve likely encountered situations where a standard drill just can’t reach—navigating between studs, working inside cabinets, or tackling tight corners. Right-angle drills—the new kids on the block—offer a handy solution, but since these are relatively new tools, we decided to test them in our workshops and on our jobsites.
But who truly needs a right-angle drill? Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and pretty much anyone involved in construction and renovation projects will appreciate one occasionally. Even hobbyists and homeowners may need a right-angle drill to tackle tasks in confined areas. However, not every job warrants a right-angle drill; those who primarily engage in standard drilling or use drills for high-torque applications might find more value in a traditional drill driver.
Ahead, find out the results of our hands-on tests and how the following models earned their spot in this lineup of the best right-angle drills.
- BEST OVERALL: Makita XAD05T 18V LXT Cordless Right-Angle Drill Kit
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Ridgid R87701K 18V SubCompact Right-Angle Drill
- BEST LIGHT-DUTY: Milwaukee M12 Cordless ⅜-Inch Right-Angle Drill
- BEST CORDLESS: Bosch GSR12V-300FCB22 12V Flexiclick Drill Driver
- BEST CORDED: Makita DA4031 ½-Inch Reversible 2-Speed Angle Drill
- BEST ATTACHMENT: DeWalt DWARA120 Impact Ready Right-Angle Attachment
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila
How We Tested the Best Right-Angle Drills
Before testing the tools in this lineup, we researched more than 20 of the most popular right-angle drills and right-angle drill attachments. While these specialty tools are relatively new to the construction and DIY world, they’re quickly gaining fans. We found out why.
Our testing involved a range of tasks commonly encountered by professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike. We tested the drills’ capabilities in drilling holes through various materials, including studs and joists, to simulate the challenges faced during electrical and plumbing work. We also assessed their effectiveness for driving screws in tight spaces, such as cabinet bases and other confined areas.
Throughout our testing, we paid close attention to the drills’ power, precision, and ease of use. We tested the drills with different types of bits—including standard, auger, hole-saw, and driver bits—to assess their versatility across various applications. We evaluated their power and performance to gauge their ability to handle different tasks efficiently. We also looked for ergonomic design and user-friendliness, considering factors like grip comfort and the convenience of features like LED lights and soft start-ups.
Finally, we awarded points based on a rubric: The better a tool performed a task, the more points it received. After testing, we averaged the points to help determine the best uses for the different tools.
Our Top Picks
Any of the following right-angle drills will make it easier to drill holes and drive screws in tight areas, but each one comes with some pros and cons. We’ve detailed both the benefits and the downsides noted during our tests. Some models are best suited to light-duty use, while others are powerhouses designed with construction pros in mind. There’s certain to be one that will suit your project needs.
The Makita XAD05T 18V right-angle drill offers exceptional versatility and precision, making it a standout choice for specialized drilling tasks. With its unique right-angle design, this drill excels in navigating tight spaces where conventional drills struggle. In our hands-on tests, the XAD05T allowed us to drill holes and insert and remove fasteners in spots where a standard drill would not fit.
This specialty drill is ideal for professionals like plumbers and electricians who frequently work in tight spaces since it streamlines tasks that involve drilling through studs or joists to run wiring or lines. Like other right-angle drills, the body of this drill is narrow and elongated. However, because its main grip is lower on the tool, a second hand is needed to stabilize the drill and control pressure on the head while drilling. That took some getting used to, but it was simple once we mastered the technique. We used the same approach for all the right-angle drills we tested.
Those wanting a general-purpose drill for a wide range of applications might find the specialized nature of the Makita XAD05T less suitable. If high torque and broad functionality are a priority, a standard drill might be a better fit. The Makita XAD05T drill is a top-tier tool designed for specialized tasks that demand precision and maneuverability. For those requiring its unique capabilities, this drill can be a valuable addition to the tool kit, offering efficiency and accuracy in tight spaces.
Read our full review: Makita XAD05T 18V LXT Cordless Right-Angle Drill Kit
- Type: 18V right-angle drill
- Power source: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
- Maximum revolutions per minute (rpm): Up to 1,400
- Weight: 7.6 pounds
- Right-angle configuration is indispensable for tasks like cabinet installation and drilling through studs for wiring
- Brushless motor is capable of 1,400 RPM, making it powerful and efficient
- Crafted from premium materials for durability and features water and dust resistance
- Very bright LED light efficiently brightens dim workspaces
- Built-in clutch protects against stripping out screw heads in low-speed mode
- Right-angle design won’t replace a standard drill as it is not suitable for all types of drilling tasks
- The design requires a second hand to operate, which could be slightly inconvenient
Get the Makita XAD05T right-angle drill at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Ace Tool.
Looking for an even tighter drilling solution at an affordable price? Enter the Ridgid subcompact right-angle drill, a budget-friendly option that doesn’t compromise performance. A flagship brand of The Home Depot, Ridgid tools hold their own among their big-name counterparts, and the R87701K does not disappoint.
Weighing a mere 2.03 pounds, it’s perfect for single-handed use—provided your grip is secure. Pros and DIY enthusiasts accustomed to one-handed power tool operation will find it comfortable.
We managed to slip this drill into a narrow 5-inch-wide space, making it especially well suited for HVAC professionals wanting to reach cramped spots without the hassle of a manual ratchet or driver. There’s one catch: This little right-angle drill lacks a clutch, which means it doesn’t have the protection other drills do against stripping screw heads. But don’t worry; we found a work-around. By setting it to the lowest speed and gently squeezing the variable-speed trigger, we avoided any screw head mishaps or wrenched wrists.
The LED light is a neat feature, although we would have welcomed more brightness. Considering the price, we think it’s a great deal—a trusty right-angle drill that grants easy access to those areas previously unreachable by standard drills.
- Type: 18V subcompact right-angle drill
- Power source: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
- Maximum rpm: Up to 1,900
- Weight: 2.03 pounds
- Budget-friendly drill offers solid capabilities and performance without breaking the bank
- Compact and lightweight; those with a firm grip will be able to use with 1 hand
- Narrow design makes it well suited for the smallest spaces
- 2 speeds and a variable trigger ensure the ability to drill or drive fasteners safely
- LED light is helpful but not as bright as other brands
- No clutch feature on this model, which is OK for drilling but requires care for driving
Get the Ridgid right-angle drill at The Home Depot or Amazon (tool only).
Looking for a 12-volt (V) right-angle drill that delivers impressive power? The Milwaukee cordless drill caught our attention for all the right reasons. We tested the kit version, complete with a battery and charger. However, users who are already equipped with 12V Milwaukee tools can order the drill as a “tool only” and utilize existing batteries.
This drill falls on the smaller side of the spectrum—it tips the scales at a mere 2.03 pounds. It slipped effortlessly into tight spots during tests, and its lightweight design meant we could comfortably operate it with just one hand. Since this drill packs less power than some other models we tested, it’s not designed for heavy construction work. Instead, its forte lies in light-duty tasks like furniture assembly and drilling small holes in confined spaces. The integrated LED light was handy, though we did use an additional work light in darker areas.
The real surprise here is the inclusion of a clutch—an essential feature for inserting screws to prevent any potential screw head stripping. What’s more, the elongated trigger design allowed us to adjust our grip up or down on the tool handle (based on comfort level) and still easily pull the trigger. While this drill is not intended for heavy-duty tasks, it’s a good choice for electricians, HVAC technicians, and plumbers who require precise screw insertion or minor hole drilling in tight spaces.
- Type: 12V right-angle drill
- Power source: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
- Maximum rpm: Up to 800
- Weight: 2.03 pounds
- Delivers impressive power for its size and voltage
- Portable and comfortable to use with just 1 hand
- Ideal for light-duty tasks, such as drilling small holes and furniture assembly
- Inclusion of a clutch offers precise control over screw insertion to prevent slipping
- LED light is not as bright as it could be—you may need a supplemental light source
Get the Milwaukee right-angle drill at Amazon (tool only), Ace Hardware (tool only), or The Home Depot.
Look no further than the Bosch 12V Flexiclick drill. This handy tool boasts high and low speeds alongside a variable-speed trigger, and it performed admirably in our hands-on tests.
Unlike other 12V models, the Bosch Flexiclick isn’t confined solely to right-angle drilling. The array of attachments sets this drill apart, transforming it into a standard, offset, or right-angle drill by simply connecting the corresponding attachment.
One of our favorite features was the head’s ability to rotate in any direction, which allowed us to insert fasteners at any angle—although two hands are required when using the rotating head. Weighing only 1.2 pounds, this drill is comfortable for extended use, yet it offers an impressive 1,750 rpm—a remarkable feat for a 12-volt model. A magnetic bit holder adds convenience and also prevents the frustration of dropped screws.
For DIY enthusiasts and shoppers seeking versatility without the need for heavy torque, the Bosch Flexiclick is a game changer. We found it effortless to change attachments thanks to the one-click interface, and it offers the ability to use the drill in multiple ways. A convenient storage case keeps everything organized.
- Type: 12V right-angle drill
- Power source: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
- Maximum rpm: Up to 1,750
- Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Multiple attachments for versatile drilling needs, including standard, offset, or right angle
- Lightweight and compact for around-the-house use
- Integrated magnetic bit holder ensures easy bit changes without dropping bits
- 20-position clutch and variable-speed trigger makes it easy to control torque
- Not built for heavy-duty drilling needs
Get the Bosch right-angle drill at Amazon or Acme Tools.
Introducing the powerhouse of right-angle drills: The Makita DA4031 electric drill stands out as a true performer. While it’s the sole corded model among the drills we tested, a host of impressive features make this drill an outstanding choice for construction pros.
This heavy-duty drill comes with a potent 10-amp motor that provided unwavering power in our tests, drilling effortlessly through wall studs and joists. We found the second-hand handle indispensable for robust drilling tasks, as we could grip it firmly while drilling for additional support. Perhaps best of all, both our right- and left-handed testers were able to use the drill comfortably, thanks to the ability to attach the handle to either side of the tool.
The corded Makita made quick work of drilling large holes through ply materials and dimensional lumber. Its built-in clutch exhibited impeccable performance, effectively halting torque at low speeds when the tool met substantial resistance. With a drill this powerful, a good clutch is a must—not just for not stripping screw heads but also to keep from breaking a wrist.
While the corded design offers a consistent power supply sans battery charging, it has limitations. Since we’re so used to cordless tools, we really noticed the Makita’s cord limitations, such as the need to drag a cord around and being limited to working near an electrical outlet.
For those pursuing the ultimate right-angle drilling companion on the jobsite, we think it will be tough to beat the Makita DA4031 with its heavy-duty construction, durability, and reliable performance.
- Type: Electric right-angle drill
- Power source: Electrical cord
- Maximum rpm: Up to 1,200
- Weight: 12.3 pounds
- Features a powerful 10-amp motor that is well suited for heavy-duty drilling applications
- Versatile second-hand handle can be attached to either the right or the left side of the tool
- The built-in clutch and 2-speed control offer a high level of protection against stripped screw heads or wrenched wrists
- Use and versatility are limited by the length of an extension cord
- May become cumbersome over extended periods of use due to the heavier weight
Get the Makita DA4031 right-angle drill at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
DeWalt’s handy right-angle attachment is a creative solution for those seeking occasional access to confined spaces without buying a dedicated right-angle drill.
This ingenious accessory is not a stand-alone tool but a versatile addition that easily connects to the chuck of a ¼-inch standard DeWalt drill/driver or impact driver. It is well suited to even the tightest of spots and offers a convenient means of right-angle drilling and driving. As staunch admirers of DeWalt’s innovation and craftsmanship, we think this compact attachment lives up to the manufacturer’s stellar reputation.
With the attachment connected to a standard drill, we drilled in spaces with ease where our hands could barely fit. Although designed for light-duty applications, its practicality is undeniable. Since the attachment is made from durable materials and fully magnetized, we could insert screws in tight spots without needing to wedge in a second hand to hold the screw steady.
This small attachment weighs just 4.8 ounces and can be stored alongside a standard drill, so it’s always ready to take the place of a hand ratchet for quick fastener attachment or drilling within confined areas. The DeWalt attachment also works well when connected to a standard impact driver.
- Type: Right-angle drill attachment
- Power source: Not powered (attachment only)
- Maximum rpm: Not applicable—based on drill
- Weight: 4.8 ounces
- Compact design allows users to access tight and constrained spaces
- A durable and well-made accessory crafted from sturdy materials
- Magnetization keeps fasteners securely attached to the bit, eliminating the need to juggle screws
- Excels in small-scale applications but may not be suitable for heavy-duty drilling or driving tasks
Get the DeWalt right-angle drill attachment at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Acme Tools.
What to Consider When Choosing a Right-Angle Drill
While the width of the head is perhaps the most crucial feature of a right-angle drill—since it determines the space into which it can fit—several other factors are also vital to consider, including motor speed, power source, and weight. Ahead, learn more about these and other important attributes to think about when choosing the best right-angle drill.
Corded vs. Cordless
Right-angle drills are available in corded and cordless varieties, each of which has its pros and cons. Cordless drills operate via a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and offer the convenience and flexibility of not requiring an electrical outlet or a cord. This allows them to be used virtually anywhere.
Corded models, in comparison, require a standard electrical outlet. While these drills aren’t as convenient, a 120V electricity supply makes them more powerful while providing a reliable and constant power supply. Corded drills are also generally less expensive than cordless models. As with many power tools, spending more on a cordless model makes sense if it will see regular use. A less expensive corded model should suffice for DIYers who may only use a right-angle drill on occasion.
Size and Weight
Size and weight determine the functionality and ease of use for a right-angle drill. Since the purpose of a right-angle drill is to fit into tight places, size is crucial. Most right-angle drills have a head between 3 and 4 inches wide, so they’re capable of fitting into places that standard corded and cordless power drills can’t reach.
Right-angle drills can also benefit from being short and lightweight enough to easily manage with one hand—although heavy-duty models typically come with a secondary handle.
Chuck size is also important to consider. Most right-angle drills have a ⅜-inch chuck, which helps keep the head compact. Some larger models feature a ½-inch chuck for drilling larger holes or driving in bigger screws. These models typically have a wider head.
Comfort and Grip
Right-angle drills have ergonomically shaped handles with rubberized grips that enable you to grip them securely with one hand while drilling. Many also have detachable side handles to apply more leverage on the drill with the other hand. Some manufacturers equip right-angle drills with paddle-style triggers that run the length of the handle. This feature allows you to better regulate pressure on the trigger to control the speed of the drill.
A drill’s speed determines how quickly the tool can drill holes or drive screws. It also provides some indication as to how much torque the drill produces if the manufacturer does not provide that information. Speed is measured in rpm and, in most cases, is directly related to the power source. Most cordless 18V right-angle drills have a maximum speed of around 1,500 rpm, while some 20V drills can produce about 2,000 rpm.
Corded right-angle drills have access to more power, which means they can produce more rpm. A corded 4-amp right-angle drill boasts around 2,400 rpm. While speed is not the same as torque, motors that can produce greater rpm are more powerful and thus capable of producing more torque.
When assessing the battery life of a cordless tool, it’s important to consider not only how long each individual charge lasts but also how long the battery itself will hold a charge before it needs to be replaced. Most batteries for right-angle cordless drills will last about 3 hours on a single charge with intermittent use and will take about 3 hours to recharge.
Lithium-ion batteries typically last about 3 years, or about 300 to 500 charging cycles, before they begin to lose their ability to hold a charge. This doesn’t mean the battery will stop working altogether. As a battery nears the end of its life, it will simply last for a shorter period of time and require more frequent charging.
Attachments and Additional Features
As with standard drills, right-angle drills are capable of using various types of bits and attachments. These drills are adept at drilling holes with standard drill bits or driving in screws with Phillips-head, flat, star, and other styles of screw-driving bits. These drills can also use socket attachments to drive bolts.
Right-angle drills, like other power tools, use a variety of accessories, including drill bits, screwdriver bits, chuck keys, and other accessories that can be misplaced. For this reason, many right-angle drills include a storage bag that holds the tool, accessories, batteries, and chargers all in one place for easy storage and transport.
Right-angle drills also often offer convenient features like LED lights that illuminate the work area and switches that make it easier to control the drill speed, permitting the user to increase or decrease the speed range to maximize control and improve torque.
For more information on how and where to best use a right-angle drill, read on for answers to some common questions about these power tools.
Q. How does a right-angle drill work?
A right-angle drill features a geared head that rotates the chuck at a 90-degree angle to the axis of the body, allowing it to access tight spaces and drill or drive at angles that a conventional drill cannot reach.
Q. What do I use a right-angle drill for?
This versatile tool is helpful for a broad range of projects. It can be invaluable for fitting into tight spaces when working on a vehicle. A right-angle drill is also ideal for drilling between floor joists or wall studs, which are spaces that are typically too narrow for a standard drill.
Q. What is the difference between a ⅜- and ½-inch drill?
A ⅜-inch drill features a chuck that can accommodate drill bits with a maximum diameter of ⅜ inch. Similarly, a ½-inch drill has a larger chuck that can handle drill bits with a maximum diameter of ½ inch. A ½-inch drill generally offers more power and torque, making it suitable for drilling larger holes and tackling tougher materials. It’s commonly used in construction and heavy-duty applications.
Q. What is a right-angle drill attachment?
A right-angle drill attachment is an accessory that can be added to a standard drill or driver to enable drilling and driving in tight or confined spaces that are difficult to access with a regular tool.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series, including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.
Meet the Tester
Glenda Taylor is a product tester and writer specializing in the construction, remodeling, and real estate industries. She and her husband own a general contracting company, and Taylor is experienced in both residential and commercial building applications. She tests a wide range of power tools, as well as other home improvement, household, and lawn-and-garden products.
Additional research provided by Tony Carrick.