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We’re always writing about the latest and greatest drill/drivers here. But what about the guy who needs to get a job done around the house but only has, say, $50 to spend? Here’s an option: The Sears Outlet stocks the old-as-hell Craftsman C3 drill/driver for right around $30. Another $45 (conservatively) scores you a charger and a pair of the old DieHard 19.2V NiCd batteries.

“But dammit,” you say, “that old thing sucks compared to a new DeWalt, Milwaukee, Bosch, or Ridgid model.” True. “And NiCd blows! You have to remember to take care of the battery. And charge it.” Also true.

But if you’re not a use-it-every-day-to-make-your-living pro, what you really need is something that’ll get the job done, and the C3 will. Believe it or not, it’s the last cordless drill I bought before starting Toolmonger, and it’s still kicking around the shop. It makes a surprising 420 in/lb of torque. Sure, that rating’s inflated a bit because the C3 tops out at just 1,400 RPM (that’s about what you get from modern drills on their low-speed setting), but I bored many a hole in 1/8″ steel with it before moving on to bigger (and more expensive) drills.

It’s nothing fancy, but it’s a lot of drill for $75. Just sayin’.

[Sears Outlet]
[Sears Outlet]


13 Responses to Dealmonger: A Decent $75 Cordless Drill/Driver

  1. K!P says:

    i like having a cheap second one on hand, either to do dirty work, or to avoid switching bits.

  2. Mr. Patrick says:

    Mine’s about five years old, still kicking around when I need it.

  3. Ben Granucci says:

    Myself and several others here in the shop purchased these several years ago for our workboxes. We were all tired of spending almost the equivalent of a new drill on a pair of replacement batteries every few years. The drills have been pretty much rock solid. The weak link is the triggers but Sears sells replacements for $20-25. Replacement batteries are much cheaper than the DeWalts that we all had. And, at least back then, we could get a drill, 2 batteries, a charger, and either an impact driver or right-angle drill for about $100 on sale. Overall, after 4 or 5 years of owning one of these, my only real complaint is that the chuck won’t hold a 1/16″ bit.

  4. browndog77 says:

    While not the best 1/2″ rechargeable out there, it is functional. The upside is the rest of the C3 line, which includes some pretty good tools (along w/ a couple of clunkers). I got my drill as part of a kit which included a 5″ circ. saw & the rt. angle drill 4 yrs. ago. I started using the drill about 2 yrs ago when my 3rd Milwaukee 14.4 died, & other than being heavy, I get by with it!
    ps: the rt angle drill was a piece of crap, but the saw is still going strong.

  5. Toolaremia says:

    I bought a C3 Hammerdrill when these first came out. Still going strong. Bought the reciprocating saw, sabre saw, and inflator too.

    The beauty of the C3 line is, as Ben says, the batteries. They are cheap because they are Nickel-Cadmium. Because the are Ni-Cd, they will last for years and years and can take indiscriminate abuse. Unlike Li-Io batteries, they don’t have a (short!) shelf life even when NOT being used. Unlike Ni-MH, they tolerate deep discharges, high temperatures, and high-power charges and discharges. And the Ni-Cd’s can be “zapped” back to life when they start to go dead from internal crystal growth shorting cells.

    Ni-Cd’s aren’t good for applications where you are a long way from a charger, but for the way most cordless tools are used I think they are the best choice. For the price of 1 Li-Io drill, I can have a C3 drill, four batteries, two chargers, and never be worried about a battery going flat.

    My Goodyear cordless impact gun also has Nicads, and is still going strong after four years. It was featured right here on Toolmonger in 2007. When it dies, I want to replace it with the C3 impact gun. Anybody used it?

  6. MattC says:

    I will echo most of the other poster’s comments. This is a solid choice for the average homeowner. I am still using a B&D 18V NiCad system. I have had one battery re-celled and use a smart charger system since buying almost 10 years ago

  7. Toolfreak says:

    If you must go out of your way to get a deal on a cordless drill, I would have to say the Black Friday deals or the few-times-a-year sales on brand name kits at the big box stores are where it’s at.

    Lowe’s has been running the $179 Bosch 18V Li-Ion kit for $99 a few times, which includes the charger and 2 batteries. Pick up a 10% off coupon (post office movers change of address kit) and its a sweet $90.

    They do seem to offer the 1/2″ Skil 18V Ni-Cd kit with 2 batteries, flashlight, and case for $90 every day, so $~81 gets you what is probably a better deal than the Craftsman. Just like the Craftsman too, the newer Li-ion 18V batteries work with it.

    But sure, yeah, the Craftsman stuff is okay and the batteries are inexpensive (even more so when you can grab em’ on clearance or at a sale price and stack a coupon/friends and family discount). I just haven’t had to resort to Craftsman anything since the big box stores usually have crazy good deals every now and then, especially on something as basic as a cordless drill.

  8. Brau says:

    This is a very capable drill, rock solid, and can’t be beat at the price point. My original batteries are still going strong (Yes, I take care of them)so now I have three and never run out of juice.

    As Ben noted the switch can be the weak point and that’s also what eventually failed on mine when I opted just to buy a newer more compact version of the same drill (sale)as it came with a compact L-ion battery & charger too.

    FWIW: The 1/2″ drill is essentially free with the purchase of two batteries … if you keep an eye on Sears prices.

  9. Toolfreak says:

    Just noticed the drill is on sale for $49.99 at regular Sears stores, and that includes a charger and battery.

  10. SCWetherbee says:

    Best quality cordless drill I ever had was a 9.6 Panasonic with one battery and 15 min. charger. It cost a lot (for me) almost 20 years ago, but was worth it. After about 8 1/2 years the battery wouldn’t keep a charge but was too expensive for me to replace at the time. I got a Craftsman 18 volt drill, and circ saw kit to replace it. The drill was not very torquey, I could stop it with my hand, I couldn’t do that to the Panasonic, when I did it the Craftsman started to smoke out the motor vents. Even when I did stall the other one, it never smoked the motor. The saw never could rip the whole length of a 3/4″ sheet of ply even with a full charge battery. I’ll never buy another Craftsman power tool ever, corded or cordless. (I’ve had bushings/bearings in two corded drills go bad also)

  11. Geoff says:

    I have had the 18 volt C3 tool set that included a 5 1/4″ circ saw, a ricp saw, the 1/2″ drill, a light and two batteries for about 5 years now. Last summer I ripped two interior doors down the length of one side each and the bottom of one, and the saw didn’t even blink. I took down a wall that the former owner of my home had put up to make part of the garage into an office and I did that with one battery and the ricp saw. I also built a small set of steps using the drill to drive 2 1/2″ deck screws and made it on on battery. There is no way I can hold the chuck of that drill and stall the motor (on drill setting) even with a partial charge. I tried and it ripped the skin on my hand. Not sure what was wrong with SCWetherbee’s tools, but mine have been rock solid. I have not pulled out my corded Skilsaw since I got this tool set.

  12. Geoff says:

    Oops, sorry, I meant 19.2 volt!

  13. Jim Crockett says:

    I have had this drill for over 10 years and have had zero problems with it. Granted, it isn’t the most powerful drill on the market and doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of the newer drills but I have to give it an “A” for reliability. As a d-i-yer and woodworker, my drill doesn’t get the heavy usage of one owned by a tradesman but it has driven a lot of screws and drilled a lot of holes without a hiccup. I definitely feel that I have got my money’s worth from this drill!

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