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The medium-class 18 to 24 volt cordless drill seems to be a consumer favorite right now, especially if the drill in question is lithium-ion-powered. Craftsman’s professional 20V lands squarely in this popular price/performance zone, though we’ve found Craftsman drills to be hit-and-miss when it comes to power and quality. So we put this one to the test. Read on past the jump to find out how it fared.



Not surprisingly, Craftsman stuck with their good ‘ole red color scheme with this drill and it’s assorted gear, and it looks good — though the bulky battery brick doesn’t seem to match the rest of the kit’s flash. Of course, testing isn’t about how the drill looks, so we thought no more about it.

Pulling the tools out of the box we discovered that the charger is prominently marked with the SmartCharge trademark — meaning that the charger will shut off after 50 minutes of charging. We gave a little chuckle when we spied the DieHard logo emblazoned on the side of the brick — oh yeah, you know you’ve been to Sears.

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The set also includes a huge, soft-sided bag that holds the drill, batteries, the charger and still has room for tons of extra gear. You might think this is just a case of a the bag being too big for the drill, but we prefer to think of it as room to stow a crapload of other tools along with your drill/driver system.


The charger features a built-in cord wrap — a nice change from the shop norm of stuffing the cord behind charger in the hopes you don’t have to look at it. An actual button on the batteries lights up the charge indicator — no need to try to mess with a divot in the plastic that makes you feel button-impaired. Four red LEDs tell you how much juice is left.


We were pleased to see a 1/2″ keyless metal chuck that feels super solid. It’s not an advertised feature, but it should be. It’s also easy to grip, and you can put force on it even with a gloved hand. The clutch ring is located right behind the chuck and sports 22 positions as well as the familiar direct-lock drill position.

Read on to page two for our in-use experiences.

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24 Responses to Hands-On: Craftsman’s Professional 20V Li-Ion Drill/Driver Kit

  1. PutnamEco says:

    My choice would be to find the Milwaukee 0824-24P kit with the impact driver
    I see it advertised in multiple places for $279 .


  2. fred says:

    Re PutnamEco Says:

    We had picked up a couple of Bosch 12524-03 24Volt NiCd hammer drill kits at what I thought to be a bargain price of $99 at an odd-lot/ closeout store.
    We were disappointed that the tool was heavy but had no drilling or staying power compared to our corded SDS-Plus drills – and I’m not comparing to our bigger SDS-Max or Spline-Drive roto-hammers.

    I’m guessing that the move to Lithium ion will help with the weight – but how about how many anchors can you set with a fully charged battery?

  3. PutnamEco says:

    fred Says:
    We had picked up a couple of Bosch 12524-03 24Volt NiCd hammer drill kits…

    It is my opinion that Bosch dropped the ball on the 24 volt stuff, I know i didn’t go out of my way to get any of them. I think Bosch like all manufacturers has some good tools and some tools that just plain miss the mark.
    Even with the move to lithium ion some of Boschs tools just don’t cut it for me. Out of their 36 volt line, I only like their circ saw and their 1 inch sds-plus roto hammer.
    Even with the litheon your not going to get a whole heck of a lot of holes per charge. I haven’t counted but I’m guessing I’m getting about 8-10 1″ holes and maybe 12-15 3/4″ holes (for anchors, approx 4″ deep) per charge.
    If I’m putting in more than a few I usually look for a plug.
    I passed on the 24 volt stuff, so I can’t really comment on the weight, I’m thinking that they are probably pretty close. They are heavier than the corded models.
    For smaller stuff 1/4″ – 3/8″ stuff I like the Makita LXT roto-hammer
    I have friends that are fans of both Hilti and Panasonic, I can’t justify buying into to many differing brands, as I live and work in the sticks.
    The Hilti stuff looks real durable. I don’t think you’ll wear it out any time soon, and according to my buddy, the batteries outlast the Bosch when drilling holes, but it doesn’t drill as fast.
    About the only time I use hammerdrills for hammerdrilling is for tapcons. Just a few and I’ll grab the Makita LXT, if I’m putting in massive quantities, I grab the V28 Milwaukee.
    One of my acquaintances says the Panasonic 12 volt NiMH roto-hammer is great for tapcons.

  4. TL says:

    Not needing the extra torque, I’ve been looking at the Ryobi Combo kits to replace my almost-dead Ryobi 14.4v drill and I’ve noticed something interesting about the pricing.

    The big orange box store has the One+ 18v starter kit priced at $160, and the 18v Lithium kit for $300. They also have an 18v Lithium Upgrade kit (One 18v Li battery and a charger) for $120. Since the 18v batteries are interchangable, it looks like you can save $20 by buying the NiCd version and the Li upgrade kit instead of the Li kit. As an added bonus you get an extra NiCd battery and don’t have to deal with that horrible color they used on the Li tools.

  5. Chuck Cage says:

    @TL: Something to consider is that Ryobi performed a major redesign of the drill/driver itself this time ’round — which we found to be a huge improvement. Though there’s nothing wrong with your logic, I’m not sure I’d trade the new tool and one of the two li-ion batteries for $20.

    But I’m totally with you on the color.

  6. fred says:

    Re: PutnamEco Says:
    “…I like the Makita LXT roto-hammer…”

    Thanks for the advice. I May look at the Makita as a cordless alternative to some of our smaller Dewalt SDS corded drills

  7. Bob The Drywall Guy says:

    I’m a big fan of the makita tools these days… my compound mixing drill went missing last week and I’ve been using an 18v Compact Li-on 1/2″ cordless drill (BDF452HW) until I can pick up a new one. I got brave today and used it to mix a half pail of quickset powder (CGC sheetrock 45)… it took about half of a full 1 amp battery charge, but she still runs just fine. I want to know what it’s going to take to kill this thing, so I can upgrade to the drill/impact driver combo 🙂 The little guy doesn’t like drilling for tapcons very much, but that’s asking quite a bit, especially on a 1 amp battery.

    @Putnam Eco

    The Hilti stuff is quite durable… I’ve done my absolute best to wreck my cordless screwgun but she works like a charm. Just gotta keep the magazine feed well lubricated. But hey, you’ve gotta be paying for something beyond a name.

  8. Manny says:

    Craftsman’s corldess power tool line has never lived up to their mechanics tools and hand tool line. I can’t see this drill being a big improvement for the money you’re paying.
    In response to the above posts about the milwaukee drill / impact driver kit:

    Around late December of 2007, I saw a promotion at my Local Home Depot for this kit selling for $269.00!! I couldn’t believe my eyes. I jumped on it immediately. I bought the four piece NiCD pack about 5 years before that. I found out that the batteries are interchangeable between the original nicd tools and the new Li-ion kit I just got. Its a no brainer at that price and I felt like I stole it. As for performance, I am totally attached to the impact driver. Man does that thing have balls! I’ve used the hammer/drill driver a lot less but its a big improvement to its nicd predecessor thats for sure. The battery charger charges twice as fast as the old one and it also charges the old nicds as well. I am very happy with this kit and highly reccommend it to anyone. Its up there dead even with Makita and Dewalt. I just happened to be a Milwaukee man..thats all.

  9. KZ says:

    FYI, the “20V” Craftsman is as 18V as all the other 18V li-ion tools out there. In fact, if you crack open the craftsman 20V Li-ion battery and the Metabo 18V Li-ion battery, the insides are IDENTICAL (clearly the same manufacturer). They are a 5S2P cell config, which is the same as the 18V makita and many others.

  10. Koba says:

    For what you get, the tool is overpriced. I bought it for $180 and thought that. First, it’s not a hammer drill, second, the batteries are only 2.2 AH, third, the cordless saw that works with the batteries is too big, and lastly the quality of construction (in my opinion) was sub par. These are all nitpicky things I know, and almost all were obvious when I bought the drill. I can only urge others to think ownership of the tool through more thoroughly than I did. After a month went by I just returned it, for the extra fifty bucks, the V18 Milwaukee will leave almost anyone COMPLETELY satisfied.

  11. Bren R. says:

    KZ kind of beat me to it… but what combination of 3.6V Li-Ion cells gives 20V? None. So this must be either a 5-cell 18V or a 21.6V 6-cell pack.

    Hmm… gotta love that Marketing Math.

  12. Alex says:

    Personally, I’d get a Dewalt or Milwaukee (http://pro-power-tools.com/Cordless-Tools/Cordless-Drills). Sure, they cost more, but they work a lot better and last a lot longer. My father-in-law is in construction and he only buys Milwaukee now. And shoot, this one costs almost as much as the premium ones.

  13. Alex says:

    Personally, I’d get a Dewalt or Milwaukee. Sure, they cost more, but they work a lot better and last a lot longer. My father-in-law is in construction and he only buys Milwaukee now. And shoot, this one costs almost as much as the premium ones.

  14. Alex says:

    Whoops, sorry about the double post. I thought I hit stop before that first one posted.

  15. NotTheSharpestSpoon says:

    /Since the 18v batteries are interchangable, it looks like you can save $20 by buying the NiCd version and the Li upgrade kit instead of the Li kit/ TL

    So the different batteries are interchangable? I wasn’t sure that they were the same. I tried to fit a Li battery on the old 18v in the store and it seemed to get stuck.

  16. trav says:


    if you read Manny’s enire comment I think what he was referring to about interchangeable batteries was in regards to the Milwaukee 18v nicds and the new 18v milwaukee li-ions. NOT craftsman batteries…just FYI.

  17. Chuck Cage says:

    @All: My guess is that just like the Milwaukee V18 — which actually sports a 20V battery — the Craftsman is filled with 4V lithium-manganese cells.

  18. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  19. Charles says:

    I think Craftsman has gone down hill. I bought the 16v Lithium-Ion drill less then a year ago and the charger already stopped working. Drill seemed great – but not a quality built product. So reviews will be misleading b/c I was happy in the beginning too!

  20. browndog77 says:

    I actually have a contract w/ Sears, and have been installing their merchandise for two decades. For most of that time, the only Craftsman articles I bought were toolboxes and the occasional bit set. I was always a porter-cable guy (since the demise of millers falls) but their cordless drills went south about 10 years ago. Since then I have gone through 3 milwalkees, and now need another. However, a couple of years ago I had a need for a small (trim) circular saw and opted for the 19.2v c3. I was pleasantly surprised by the power and accuracy of the tool, and have since added to my c3 arsenal the following: 3/8” right angle drill(crappy chuck); 1/2″ drill(good but bulky); mini vac(ok); blower vac(good); inflator(great!); laminate trimmer(awesome); saber saw(good); caulking gun(good but bulky); and two different lights. Also a car charger & a couple more batteries. For the price(I only buy on sale), this is a good system. There are l-ion bats available now, but they are steep. I am still in the market for a good driver/drill, but the c3 is a fine back-up.

  21. APEX831 says:

    you know folks, great info.. love the feedback on tools, i own a plumbing heating and electrical comapny and the tools that we have found great to be is Milwaukee 18V and the new M12 line, rock solid. We used Dewalt in the past, went through 3 sawzall, had the techs switch over to Milwaukee and 2yrs later still using the same unit, led me to switch completley. i do have 2 techs using the ryobi hammer drills, Impact, for sheetmetal stuf mostly, works and for the price, disposable….

  22. walter says:

    be prepared to buy a $90.00 replacement battery for those lithium ion drills.they have a real problem with with longevity..it is all over the internet.

  23. Duane says:

    This Craftsman 20V Lithium is fantastic…
    I install security window gates and I recently installed 9 gates on a single charge and the battery was still going strong when I finished. Last year I didn’t fully engage the 24 oz battery, it dropped about 10 inches and it was then non-functional…Sometimes the trigger hesitates a second when I pull it…
    Overall I’m happy with this drill…I just won a second one on ebay and the new battery on this one (first charge…) seemed to die prematurely…
    I’ll see what happens with these new batteries…
    I wont do any heavy hammer drilling or drill large holes in steel with this, I’ll leave that to the corded drill….

  24. gjbrozik says:

    I originally bought the set with drill, circular saw, flashlight, charger, 2 batteries, and a big bag. It was on sale for $269. I added an additional charger and battery and also bought the jigsaw and recip saw. Both reasonably priced at around $60-$70. I have since bought another set each Xmas season for $199! The only item to fail was the additional charger. My total investment is about $880 and I have 3 drills, 3 circular saws, 3 flashlights, 3 chargers, 7 batteries and 3 bags.
    Unfortunately it appears Sears is no longer selling this line, at least in the stores. I picked up a circ saw in the clearance section for $12 and noticed no 20V Lithium items on sale.
    Probably built too well, G.

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