1/2 inch vs 3/8 inch Drill Review

Generally, people buy a drill based on the maximum power of the chuck. This part grips and rotates the bit and is directly (via gears) connected to the device. There are different drills out there with different sizes.

But which one should I buy? Our 1/2 inch vs 3/8 inch drill comparison will clearly explain which one you have to go with.

Though the main difference between the 1/2″ vs 3/8″ drill is their size, most people recommend a 1/2 inch drill for all-around performance. That’s because a drill with a 1/2″ bit can handle heavier duties than the 3/8″ bit. Therefore, a 1/2″ drill bit is more extended and has a larger inner diameter.

What is a 1/2 inch Drill?

Drills are found in different sizes, and half-inch drill bits are prevalent in the industry. The ½-inch size refers to the chuck size that holds the drill bits in their place. 

You can carry out any heavy construction job with these drills. Also, you can set a ⅜-inch drill bit on a half-inch drill. It will give you the autonomy to drill various dimensions.

Advantages: 1/2 inch drills are perfect for long projects and professional tasks. These drills have higher torque than the 3/8 inch drills. They are more durable and long-lasting. Also, they have a higher working time backup than the 3/8 inch drills.

Drawbacks: As they are made for the heavy-duty task, it drills a bit slower than the ⅜-inch drills. Also, this drill is slightly expensive.

What is a 3/8 inch Drill?

The ⅜-inch size refers to the chuck size that holds the drill bits in their place. It drills faster than the ½-inch drills. 

That’s because you can not use them for heavy work, so less maintenance is required when using them. If you choose a drill bit based solely on speed, you should select a ⅜-inch drill.

Advantages: 3/8 inch drills are perfect for small projects and DIY works. Also, they are on the cheaper side. They work faster, as you have to perform small tasks with them. Generally, you don’t have any risk associated with overheating while using the drill.

Drawbacks: You can’t perform a heavy duty task with this drill. Also, these drills have lower torque than the ½-inch drills

Key Features: 1/2 vs 3/8 Drill

Let’s look at all the standard features of 3/8 inch vs 1/2 inch drills.


Performance: The main uses of these two drill sizes are very different, as these different-sized chucks can handle different bits sizes. Therefore, they are great for various tasks. These two tools are primarily designed for woodworking or construction and carpentry work, no matter what drill size you have.

Portability: Another similarity between the two tools is that they are relatively small, portable, and lightweight. Yes, a 1/2 “drill may have a slightly larger chuck than the 3/8” drill, but both have a similar overall size.

Anyway, the 1/2″ drill may have a larger motor, and hence it will be slightly larger and heavier. Yet, most people can easily handle both hand tools.

Corded and Cordless: While this is a fundamental similarity between the two devices, the reality is that the 3/8 “and 1/2” drills may both be battery-powered and plugged directly into an outlet.


Now, it’s time to explore the differences. Finally, these differences will make your decision to have the right drill.

Durability and Strength: 1/2″ drills are slightly larger and more potent than 3/8″ drills. Since 1/2″ drills are usually for tough jobs, their construction materials are pretty tough. Typically, 1/2″ drills are much stronger and more long-lasting than the 3/8″ drills.

Torque Power: It is also important to note that 1/2 “drills are made for larger and heavier than 3/8” drills—Furthermore, the bigger the size of the bit, the more energy you will need to move.

So, 1/2 “drills are much more potent and torque than the 3/8″ drills. Of course, 3/8” drills are more modest and designed for more accessible work and, therefore, not as powerful. 

But 1/2″ drills are so powerful. And they can even be dangerous if misused.

Control of Speed: As for the difference, the main feature of the two drills is that 3/8 “drills are usually much faster for rotation than the half-inch drills. This happens not for the smaller size just because using a 1/2” drill requires more control.

Working with more significant bits like 1/2 “drills requires more speed control, which is usually slower than the 3/8” drills.

Cost: The larger drills with more features and power cost more than the smaller drill that is only suitable for a minimal bit size. A 1/2″ drill will be significantly more pricey than the 3/8″ drill.

Drill Size: Another difference between the two is the drill bit size they can fit in. A 1/2″ drill fits a 1/2″ drill bit. On the other hand, a 3/8″ drill fits a 3/8″ drill. The 1/2″ drills can do what the 3/8″ drills can do, but the 3/8″drills cannot do the 1/2″ drills.

Handyman’s pick: 3/8 inch vs 1/2 inch Drill

Best 3/8 inch Drill

3/8 inch Cordless Drill

BLACK & DECKER: 3/8 inch Cordless Drill

  • This drill features Lithium-ion 20V MAX technology and is lighter, more compact, and durable.
  • The 11 position coupling enables precise drilling control in metal, wood, plastic, and all screwing jobs.
  • It has a built-in chuck for a double-sided drill handle.
  • Changeable speed allows reverse immersion without damaging the material.
  • You can use it for drilling in metal, plastic, wood, and any carving work.
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Black & Decker is the world’s most renowned and advanced drill manufacturer and continues to innovate and improve. If you need a DIY drill, the combination of performance and cost of Black+ Decker is nearly tough to beat.

This drilling machine with a max 20V driver is equipped with a powerful motor that can reach operating speeds from 0 to 650 rpm in seconds. It is not a very powerful drill available, but at 0-650 RPM, it still affords more than sufficient speed for typical home applications. 

Moreover, the drill has 115-inches/lb torque. And this feature is perfect for screw driving and lighter drilling.

3/8″ keyless chuck allows quick and easy bit changes. Another striking feature is that the cordless drill offers many different drilling techniques like plywood, plastic, metal, wood, and more.

In addition, this device includes 66 accessories and hand tools designed to make your job easier. This tool has all you want to drill more efficiently. Also, this kit includes a carrying case for easy transport and storage.

With a noise level of 100dB, the Black & Decker is one of the quietest devices we’ve adopted recently. Many other products have produced 5 dB more than this one, and your ears can tell the difference.

  • This device has a powerful 20V MAX motor with 0-650 rpm torquing speed. Also, it contains a superior lithium-ion battery that lasts for days or weeks. The lightweight and compact design provide easy maneuvering. It comes with a carrying bag for secure storage and carrying. The construction materials are robust and durable. Also, it is simple to change and tighten. Overall, this tool is perfect for DIY construction.

  • As the drill performs heavy work, the battery takes some time to charge fully. Also, some lady users report that the drill size is a bit bigger, but it’s okay for the guys.

Best 1/2 inch Drill

1/2 inch Cordless Drill

Milwaukee M18: 1/2 inch Cordless Drill

  • The POWERSTATE brushless engine is specially designed to provide 60% more energy than others.
  • REDLINK Plus delivers optimal function and overload protection to avoid damage to batteries and tools during severe operating conditions.
  • This drill provides a better entrance to confined spaces and lessens fatigue.
  • REDLITHIUM battery provides more power/charge and more power over battery life than others.
  • LED at the base of the instrument for better illumination in dark places.
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Milwaukee M18, 1/2 inch drill, is the most powerful drill in the industry. It delivers 60% more energy, 1.5 inches shorter, and up to two times faster under heavy loads. 

Although this drill is 6.9 inches long, it has tremendous torque for any auto maintenance job. This engine delivers 1200 in-lbs of torque. 

In addition, the engine provides a speed of 2000 rpm, and the speed makes for a quick hit. Therefore, you can go quickly and comfortably.

Moreover, this Milwaukee M18 is a compact wireless modeling tool. Its design facilitates access to the smallest corners and nooks. The unique design features a fully chargeable battery that allows you to work for a long time. 

REDLINK Plus assures that the tool and battery do not overheat for overuse. Besides, the rubber shell provides all-day comfort. The rubber upper offers maximum comfort and makes it easier to accomplish these significant tasks.

You may get a bare instrument with this drill driver to perform various types of tasks. It will make you enjoy your work. Since this drill is lightweight, you can easily carry it with you wherever you go.

Like Black & Decker, this drill is also equipped with LED lighting at the drill base. LED lights are essential in your work, as it illuminates the workplace. Therefore, you can work with comfort.

  • You can easily use them for one-handed manipulation. The driver has a rubber coating for added comfort. Also, it has LED backlighting on the base. REDLINK plus avoids overheating. You can shift between drilling, driving, and hammer modes. This device is durable and easy to carry. Also, you can work in confined spaces.

  • This drill diver is corded, so you may not find an extra battery in the pack. As it produces higher torque, you may face a bit more vibration while using it.

Which one should I Buy?

Both the Black & Decker and Milwaukee M18 are best from their point of view. Both have higher functionality, are durable, corrosive resistant, and have a LED light on the back.

But if you want to fit a drill bit of 3/8-inch with the chuck, you can use Black & Decker. This drill also meets your DIY’s needs. 

When you want the best cordless drill, and your project is big, you can use this drill without any hassle. Also, its price is more reasonable than the others.

On the other hand, if you want to fit a drill bit of 1/2-inch with the chuck, Milwaukee M18 is made for you. You can perform professional tasks with it. Also, it is more versatile than the 3/8-inch Black & Decker.

If your project is big, and you have to work for a long time throughout the day with your drill, you can go with this one. But its price is a bit higher compared to the 3/8-inch Black & Decker. Now the choice is yours!

FAQs on 1/2 inch vs 3/8 inch Drill

What is the difference between a 1/2 inch and 3/8 inch drill?

The 3/8″ drill fits a wide variety of parts, making it flexible for your daily work at home. On the other hand, a 1/2″ drill can perform heavier tasks. A 1/2 “drill fits a 1/2” bit, and a 3/8 “drill fits a 3/8” bit. A 1/2 “drill can perform what a 3/8” drill will do, but the 3/8 “drill won’t do what a 1/2″ drill can. However, a 3/8″ drill is cheaper than a 1/2” drill.

What does 3/8 mean for a drill?

3/8 in the drill indicates the size of the bit. In fact, it can be the maximum diameter of the shaft that can fit into the chuck. It does not imply that you cannot pierce larger holes. Still, the chuck holding section must be this dimension or smaller. Most of the DIY workers use these drills for a relatively lower cost. 

What does 1/2 mean on a drill?

Drill bits are available in 3/8″, 1/4 “, and 1/2 “sizes. These numbers indicate the size of the bits where they fit. Also, these measurements show the chuck size that grasps the drill bits. 1/2 on a drill means it can fit a half-inch chuck, and you have to use a half-inch drill bit for them. 1/2 inch drill can carry out heavier tasks.

What can I use if I don’t have a 3/8 drill bit?

Your drill bit must be a similar size as the propeller shaft, regardless of the thread. If you don’t have a 3/8 drill, you can choose a drill of other dimensions. Just convert 3/8 to 6/16. Then find out the nearby bit size that may do the task. The previous size is 5/16, which is not standard. If we go one step behind, we may find 4/16 or 1/4. And this is the one you can use for a 3/8.

How do you use a 3/8 drill bit?

To use a 3/8 drill bit, you have to select the perfect drill. Both 1/2″ and 3/8″ drills can adjust the 3/8 drill bit. Then adjust the drill bit with the drill. Then check the power supply and battery life. After that, set up the materials you want to drill. Touch the drill bit tip along with the material at a perfect angle before drilling. Then pull the trigger and start drilling slowly, and speed up with time.

Final Verdict

Finally, which size should you use? It just depends on the specific applications for which you need the drills. In fact, we have mentioned above in this “1/2 vs 3/8 drill” guide.

So when you start a more significant project that will be long, you will require a very long-lasting drill. And when you are doing a professional task that needs an effective tool or hard work, you can go with a 1/2″ drill. 

Keep in mind that the 1/2-inch drill may not be the best option for you if you have a tight budget, as the 3/8″ drills are slightly cheaper. However, if you only do light, day-to-day jobs, a 3/8″ drill is the best way to proceed.

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Sam Morgan is a general contractor based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He does home renovations, extensions, landscaping maintenance, and general handyman jobs for homeowners. He is also the part-time content writer at Machine Handyman and a lifelong tools enthusiast. Sam loves hand tools, power tools, machinery, and DIY gadgets of all shapes and sizes! He is always researching the different types of home improvement tools that will get the best results. This site will cover products like power drills, air compressors, saws, nail guns, screw guns, grinders, cutting tools, and many more.

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