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A Deep Dive Into The Porter-Cable 20V MAX Cordless Drill

A Deep Dive Into The Porter-Cable 20V MAX Cordless Drill


Porter-Cable is a trusted tool brand offering quality products at a reasonable price. Their 20V MAX cordless drill is no exception. It has reached “Amazon’s Choice” status, helped largely by the 712 ratings and a 4.5-star average. This workhorse has the power to keep amateurs and pros alike satisfied thanks to how it’ll boost their productivity.

Cordless drills are one of the most-used tools in the average shop or toolbox. Not only can you drill holes with them, but you can change out the drillbit for a huge selection of other tools, from bit drivers to paint stirrers. Factor in their lack of long, awkward cords and you’ve got a tool that can do just about anything just about anywhere. 

The Porter-Cable 20V MAX cordless drill offers increased performance and value over quite a few similar offerings on the market. In this Porter Cable Drill review, we will drill through all the layers of fluff until we reach the truth about the benefits this product offers.

Who’s It For? 

This cordless drill is perfect for anybody wanting a drill that will last through many projects. It’s ideal for anyone needing twenty volts of power at their fingertips in a small, easy-to-use package. If you’re looking to buy a new cordless drill, or are upgrading from a weaker or inferior model, this is the drill for you. 

The ideal customer for this cordless drill is:

  • Someone who needs something powerful yet lightweight
  • A person looking for a middle-ground between power and price
  • Someone needing better than a basic drill, but not an expensive specialist’s tool 

If upgrading from a weaker model, you will immediately notice an increase in power and balance when using the Porter-Cable 20V MAX cordless drill. If you are looking for improved performance and are particular about the tools you employ, this could be just the tool you need to attain the next level of professional results.

This cordless drill probably isn’t suited for:

  • The person that is on a tiny budget
  • Someone who doesn’t care if their tools last a long time
  • Some who isn’t concerned about loads of power and torque

This cordless drill isn’t any more complicated to operate compared to its cheaper counterparts. What makes it different is the powerful 20 Volt motor, which makes short work drilling through hardwoods or driving fasteners through various tough materials. If you’re just looking for a tool to screw/unscrew a few things and maybe drill a small hole or two, you probably don’t need something of this level. 

What We Like About the Porter-Cable 20V MAX Cordless Drill

There are thousands of cordless drills currently on the market. Even amongst all the competition, the Porter-Cable 20V MAX is a great option. We love that it drills faster and is more powerful than cheaper alternatives. If you need to mix cement or mortar, drill lots of large holes, or work with lots of screws, you’ll appreciate how this drill can save you loads of time.

We also like that it comes with a 1/2” driver. This means it can be used with a vast variety of existing sockets and related tools, so you won’t have to buy and keep track of adapters that can break. Eliminating this need is very handy when you’re perched on top of a ladder, as nobody likes digging through a loaded tool bag to find that one single adapter.

Professionals and hobbyists alike will appreciate a cordless drill with the following features, all of which are included with the 20V MAX:

  • Long-lasting battery for all-day use
  • Multiple settings for drilling and tightening/untightening fasteners
  • Lightweight construction helps avoid fatigue caused by all-day use
  • Powerful motor to help you work quickly

Obviously, power and performance are going to appeal to the pros the most. But if you’re not a pro, there’s still plenty of reasons why this cordless drill will be well worth your money!

So, when considering normal home use, this is what we appreciated:

  • More than enough power for small jobs
  • Enough power to handle those occasional larger jobs
  • Beefy battery eliminates constant recharges slowing you down

The torque settings cover a nice range of power, allowing you to delicately drill one moment, then seriously screw/unscrew the next. And because this unit can multi-task between a drill and a driver, you’ll need fewer tools to successfully complete your projects. Fewer tools and better performance? We consider that a big win in our book!

What We Don’t Like About the Porter-Cable 20V MAX Cordless Drill

Let’s explore a few things we found about this cordless drill that might make you think twice before buying it. 

For one thing, this model doesn’t include a belt clip, which would have made it a snap to have clipped to your side during a long day of work. Instead, you have to find some other way to keep it close at hand. This can really be a pain if you’re working on ladders or other places where you can’t easily pick up and put down the drill when needed.

Another thing to keep in mind is that this drill is meant to be powerful. A 20-Volt motor is more than enough for light jobs and could be too much for delicate jobs. Even at its lowest torque setting, this drill still packs a lot of punch. If you’re working on delicate jobs, you’ll want to keep this power in mind, and possibly consider a weaker tool for delicate situations. 

Though moderately priced, the Porter-Cable 20V MAX is not the cheapest offering on the market. This is to be expected from a trusted tool brand–they use quality parts and offer service that knock-off brands can’t touch, so their price is justifiably higher. If you’re worried about this model’s price, just remember you’re investing in quality that should last through the years.

While perfect for the average homeowner and hobbyist, we’re a bit up-in-the-air regarding this model’s suitability for professional-level work. On the one hand, it has plenty of power and durability, so it can handle large jobs and moderate abuse equally well. On the other hand, it might not pack quite enough punch to get pros through those long, hard days.

If you plan to use this drill in a professional capacity, or expect to be doing lots of large jobs like mixing thick cement, bear in mind that this drill might not be sufficient for such use on a daily basis. That said, it should handle all but the largest jobs, making it suitable for the vast majority of prospective users.

PROS

  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Nice range of torque and speed control
  • Powerful and efficient design helps you get it done faster
  • An efficient battery means not waiting on recharges to finish a job

CONS

  • Perhaps not enough fine control over low-end of torque setting
  • Lacks a belt clip to keep it close-at-hand
  • Not as ergonomic as more expensive alternatives 

What’s Included?

When your waiting finally pays off and your package arrives, here’s what you’ll find inside the box:

  • The base cordless drill
  • A battery and charger
  • A double-ended bit tip

The items you will NOT find inside are extra accessories like a storage case, a spare battery, a belt clip, a drill and driver set, etc. These products you’ll have to purchase separately. However, you’ll need things like a driver set and a bag/box for additional tools and accessories regardless of which cordless drill you choose, so don’t let that keep you from buying this great drill.

Also, keep in mind that Porter-Cable sells add-ons like spare batteries and driver sets, so you can easily add any accessories needed to your tool collection without worrying if they’re compatible or of sufficient quality. Best of all, Porter-Cable accessories are sold by a wide variety of physical and online retailers, so you’ll never have to go far to find the parts you need.

One other factor you should always keep in mind is safety. While cordless drills of this type don’t generate enough noise to hurt your hearing, if you’re working in an otherwise noisy environment, you’ll want to consider using ear protection to keep your tender eardrums intact. Gloves and eye protection are more relevant to drills specifically, and you’ll want to use both to keep your fingers and eyeballs in peak condition.

See Related Topic: A Deep Dive Into Kobalt Power Tools

Overview Of Features 

The base features of this cordless drill are as follows:

  • High-performance motor for plenty of power
  • 2-Speed gearbox for all the speed and power you need
  • Ratcheting chuck minimizes bit slippage, making work easier
  • Battery gauge displays remaining charge, letting you plan ahead
  • Compact and lightweight, great for long jobs in cramped areas

Let’s talk power

You’ll hear cordless drill manufacturers talk about volts, and typically 20 volts is the high end of consumer-grade drills. But what does that mean, and how does it apply to a drill’s power?

Put simply, the higher the voltage, the more powerful the drill, and the faster you’ll be able to use it. While lower-voltage models have a place in your toolbox, professionals and amateurs alike prefer having a 20-Volt drill around for tough jobs like all-day work and heavy mixing. 

So, what’s the big positive about more voltage? Other than getting to brag about how hard your drill can actually drill, it also means you can get more done faster than you could with a weaker drill. This, in turn, reduces the fatigue operating the drill puts on your body and frees you up to focus on other important goals.

Battery Endurance

The biggest limiting factor in a cordless drill is the batteries. The more you use the drill, the faster it will deplete the batteries. If you only have one battery, you’ll have to wait for it to recharge before you can complete any more work. This means you’ll want a drill with a battery big enough to drive it, and here the Porter-Cable 20V MAX shines.

The 20V MAX comes with a rechargeable 1-5 amp-hour lithium-ion battery, as well as a gauge on the drill that tells you how much power remains in the battery. This allows you to know when you’re getting close to needing a recharge, a better way to do things than the traditional way of working until you’re in the middle of an important section, only to discover the drill is dead.

Getting the longest life out of a lithium-ion battery is important given how expensive replacements are. The more you let such a battery discharge, the shorter its lifetime overall. This means a battery gauge can help your batteries last longer. With just a glance, you’ll know when you should give it a rest to recharge. By keeping this in mind, you could save hundreds of dollars on replacement batteries over your drill’s lifetime.

Size

The Porter-Cable 20V MAX cordless drill is built with more in mind than simply packing plenty of power. It’s also designed to fit into tight spots easily so you can work in even the most cramped conditions.

It is less than 8″ long and weighs only 3.5 pounds, so it’s easy to operate on foot, on ladders, and in any hard-to-reach spot you can imagine, even if you don’t have lots of arm and shoulder strength. Somehow, the designers have also managed to make the tool nicely balanced, reducing the chances of accidentally dropping it. 

Once again, we have to mention the fact that smaller, lighter drills exist. If you plan on having more than one drill, investing in a smaller unit for times when that would be handy makes sense. However, if you’re only looking to invest in one cordless drill right now, Porter-Cable’s offering provides loads of power in a compact format that’ll make it perfect for the majority of jobs.

You May Also Like: The Bauer 20 V Drill – A Deep Dive

Convenient Features

There’s more to a drill than how powerful its motor is, or how long the battery lasts. Convenience is also important to consider. Two drills might be equally-capable of driving a screw, but the one that offers more will always be the better option, assuming the price difference is acceptable. With the included LED work light, the Porter-Cable 20V MAX leaves those drills without a light in the dark.

You might think an integrated light will rarely be needed. However, there will be times when you’ll be very grateful for a light. You might need just a few more lumens to get the job done or have to rely on alternative lighting to work. Regardless, there will be times when a built-in light will be handy, so having a drill with this feature makes sense even if you don’t plan to rely on it. 

Review Summary

Overall, the Porter-Cable 20V MAX cordless drill is a great choice for everyone, from home-users all the way up to professional contractors, thanks to its power, performance, durability, and quality to spare. 

If you’re upgrading from a budget-brand disappointment, you’ll love the boost in performance this drill provides. With a long-lasting battery, a powerful motor, a compact design, and handy features that’ll make your life easier, this drill is a great addition to any toolbox.

We hope this Porter Cable cordless drill review has helped you understand what it is, the benefits it provides, and the reasons why it could help you be more productive. Regardless of which cordless drill you decide to buy, good luck on your purchase journey! Now get out there and get your drill ordered – it’s time to get to work!

FAQ: 

Does this model come with an extra battery?

No, this drill doesn’t come with an extra battery. If you’ll be doing lots of large jobs and need the extra power, consider investing in at least one additional battery. This way, should you run out of juice halfway through a time-sensitive job, you can simply snap in the replacement and get back to work while your first battery recharges. 

Does the included battery charge handle more than one battery?

No, it does not. But if you’re just using two batteries, you can have one charging the whole time you use the other one. If you want the ability to charge more than one battery at a time, consider upgrading the charger. This will give you more flexibility in batteries, and allow more than one person to use compatible tools at the same time, something really handy if you employ helpers.

Is Porter-Cable a trusted brand?

Yes! Porter-Cable is known for designing quality, durable tools that don’t break the bank. In fact, they’ve been doing it for over 100 years. They describe themselves as “a leading manufacturer and marketer of professional-grade cordless and corded power tools, equipment, and accessories.” They’re known for innovations like the world’s first portable band saw and portable belt sander.

Not only have they been making quality tools for a long time, but they also stand by their products with a 90-day manufacturer’s warranty. If you decide to purchase one of their products, you’ll be backed by decades of experience and fantastic customer service. 

How long does the battery last?

The included lithium-ion battery is rated for 1.5 amp/hour usage. How long this will last depends on the kind of work you’ll be doing. If you’re just zipping out a few screws here and there, you’ll have plenty of battery power to keep you going all day strong. 

If, on the other hand, you’re mixing multiple 5-gallon buckets of cement or performing other draining tasks throughout the day, you’ll go through the battery much faster. However, modern battery technology means that even with such strenuous use, you’ll still have enough charge to do plenty of work. Just be prepared to consider investing in another battery if you’re running out halfway through large jobs.

I’m a professional. Should I buy this drill?

Hoo boy, here we go. The reality is, the only thing two professionals can ever agree on is that the third professional doesn’t know what they’re talking about. In other words, if you should buy this drill for professional use or not will depend on who you ask. That said, knowing what you need it to do is the most important factor to consider before making a purchase.

If you take the time to learn what a drill is capable of, you should be able to determine if it’ll work for your needs. Obviously, consider if it has enough power to do the kind of work you need it to, like mixing heavy cement or drilling through steel. 

Next, consider if the battery will hold up to the abuse you plan to put it through. You can drive a lot of screws with a fully-charged battery and drill a fair few holes as well. Cheaper batteries are prone to burning out or simply quitting, so investing in batteries from a quality brand like Porter-Cable will probably save you money in the end, something a professional should always consider.

Last, the level of physical abuse your tools are likely to encounter should be a factor in your next purchase decision. If you’re prone to dropping, throwing, or otherwise treating your drill harshly, know it will impact how long the drill lasts and how well it functions. Homeowners don’t tend to torture their tools, but professionals are completely different beasts who may need very tough tools to survive. 

If you fall into the “hard on tools” category of a power user, you might compare reviews of models from DeWalt and Makita to Porter-Cable’s 20V MAX, and see if the majority of buyers are satisfied with a particular unit’s durability. However, with 80% of reviewers giving the Porter-Cable a 5-star rating, you can be reasonably confident that their drill is tough enough for all but the harshest treatment. 

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Author

Timberland Enthusiast Jan 1977 – Present Columbia, South Carolina Since graduating from law school I have worked in various capacities within the real estate, timber management, lumber production and pine straw harvesting markets in South Carolina. Newmark Grubb Wilson Kibler May 2016 – Dec 2020 Columbia, South Carolina Det Bowers joined Newmark Grubb Wilson Kibler in May of 2016. Prior to joining Wilson Kibler, Mr. Bowers served as a licensed attorney practicing in Federal, State and Municipal Courts. Other business involvements have included real estate development, retail development and operations, agribusiness, forestry products, outdoor advertising and insurance.

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