Best Hammer Drills of 2020

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Categories Drills
Hammer drills pack a punch and make drilling concrete, rock and brick easy.

Have you ever started drilling and hit a hard spot?

The bit still turns, but you aren’t making any progress.

You are going to need something with a little more muscle to get the job done. Say hello to a hammer drill.

We look at the best hammer drills from manufacturers like DeWALT and Bosch to give you the information you need to choose the right hammer drill.


What is a Hammer Drill Used For?

A hammer drill, also known as a percussion drill, is used for drilling into hard materials like concrete, rocks, brick, and other hard surfaces. Standard drills work by utilizing a rotary motion that turns the bit in the chuck. Hammer drills have a percussive force that acts like a hammer hitting a nail.

As the drill bit turns, the hammer drill applies forward motion to drive the bit into the hole.

Should I Buy a Corded or Cordless Hammer Drill?

The answer lies in mobility and power. A cordless power drill allows you to roam, free of the need to plug in to get power.

Cordless hammer drills are effective on a construction site because it gives you the freedom to work anywhere. And having that freedom speeds up every task. However, cordless hammer drills have less torque compared to the corded varieties, so they tend to get used when the work is less challenging.

Also, cordless hammer drills lose power because the battery pack has a finite charge that dwindles faster when more is demanded of it. That’s not something you need to worry about with a corded hammer drill.

Corded hammer drills limit mobility. If you want to work far from the plug socket, you’ll need a long extension cable. These extension cables create trip hazards, especially if you are working in an area with other tradespeople on-site.

Plus, it slows you down, unraveling a cord and making sure it reaches the socket. However, if you are prepared to reconcile the fact that you have a limited reach with the increased torque, then a corded drill is the go-to tool when you need that extra punch.

There is no loss of power with a corded hammer drill, which means you spend more time getting the task done.

How To Choose the Best Hammer Drill

Many factors make up the ideal hammer drill, and those factors vary in importance for each individual.

Power Source

There are advantages and disadvantages to both the corded and cordless hammer drills. And while power is a crucial consideration, how you get that power is equally as important.

Cordless drills are so convenient, especially if you are taking on lighter projects around the home and need to access hard to reach places. Nothing quite matches their usability. On the other hand, nothing quite matches the never-ending power of a corded drill.

Corded drills are more powerful, so they lend themselves to heavy-duty work like drilling through brick or concrete. They don’t lose power and have a higher level of torque. The only downside is you have to trail a cord behind you everywhere you go.

Power

Hammer drills have between 7 and 10 amp motors. The bigger the motor, the more power it creates. If you are working on a project that requires a heavy-duty hammer drill, look for a 9 or 10 amp motor that generates a lot of torque.

Just Remember

The heavier the motor, the heavier the drill is. This could lead to hand and wrist fatigue with continued and long term use.

Comfort

Operating a hammer drill can be difficult, especially if you are in discomfort. Look for a drill with an additional handle to help you increase its stability and make the drilling experience more user-friendly.

If the drill doesn’t have an auxiliary handle, get one with comfortable padding with an ergonomic design. These types of handles decrease the strain on your hands and give you a better grip.

Variable Speed

Variable speed puts you in complete control. It gives you the option to start drilling slowly to increase accuracy while the bit gains purchase in the material. Then you can gradually increase the speed as the bit works deeper into the hole.

It also improves the safety aspect of the drill because starting cautiously reduces the bit from walking across the surface of the material.

Depth Gauges

Knowing how deep to drill the hole takes away the guesswork, and increases your accuracy. If you don’t have a depth gauge, wrap a strip of tape around the drill bit to mark when you’ve reached the right depth.

Keyed Chuck

A keyed chuck locks the bit in place manually. You know it will stay in position. With a keyless chuck, you get a more convenient way of changing drill bits, but you lose that certainty that the bit is fixed in place. With the exertions of a hammer drill, you need to know the bit will stay in the chuck, come what may.


The Best Hammer Drills of 2020

1. Makita HR2475 Rotary Hammer Drill

Best Hammer Drill for Rock

Makita HR2475 1' Rotary Hammer, Accepts Sds-Plus Bits (D-Handle)
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Makita is one of the most respected names in power tools, and this rotary hammer drill is no exception. It features a torque-limiting clutch that automatically disengages the gears if the bit binds. This prevents gear damage.

It has three modes of operation, hammer, hammer with rotation and rotation only. It also has an ergonomically designed “D” shaped handle for added comfort and control. The only downside is it only accepts SDS attachments, so not all drill bits will fit.

Why We Love It

Faster Drilling

Thanks to synchronized BPM and RPM, this Makita drill runs two times faster than all comparable drills. It means you get more RPM for your money.

Torque-Limiting Clutch

If the drill bit binds in the hole, the impact on the gears can be devastating. However, this drill is equipped with a torque limiter to prevent the gears from overloading when something goes wrong.

Eats Through Rock for Breakfast

This Makita is for heavy-duty use, so it is the perfect tool to drill through rock. The BPM and synchronized RPM mean faster drilling with more torque.

Keep In Mind

Limited Drill Attachments

The SDS chuck is not universal in that it won’t fit any other type of attachment. It limits the bits available, and they are also more expensive.

Limited Use

These rotary hammer drills are specialist tools. You wouldn’t use one around the house for general DIY. It would be a bit like trying to slice onions with a sword.

Additional Specs

Weight10.7 pounds
BPM4,500
RPM1,100
Amps7 amps
Cost$$
Warranty1-year

2. Bosch SDS Rotary Hammer RH328VC

Best Hammer Drill for Tile

Bosch 1-1/8-Inch SDS Rotary Hammer RH328VC with Vibration Control
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Heavy-duty drills tend to be SDS rotary hammer drills because they have the percussive impact to deal with the hardest materials. This Bosch is smaller than the Makita, which makes it the ideal tool for getting close to the surface to remove tiles.

The 8-amp motor produces 900 RPM and 4,000 BPM, so while the amperage is higher than the Makita, it produces less power. It also has a three-speed variable trigger, putting you in complete control. This helps when drilling out tiles because sometimes you need to be delicate.

Why We Love It

It’s a Bosch

We love it for no other reason than it’s a Bosch. It means this drill is well-made and well-designed. We know you can rely on this drill, come what may.

Two-Step Vibration Control

It reduces vibration via a two-step process that starts with the impact mechanism and progresses to the rubberized handle with shock-absorption elements at the top and bottom.

Three-Speed Trigger

It gives you the ability to start slowly and build up speed as the drill bit bites. It all adds up to better control and accuracy.

Keep In Mind

Price

Choosing to buy a Bosch drill is never the budget option. Bosch drills are famed for their quality and reliability, so if you want the best, be prepared to pay for it.

Limited Uses

This tool is designed with professionals in mind. So, you would unlikely need the torque and power this drill produces around the home for general tasks.

Additional Specs

Weight7.7 pounds
BPM4,000
RPM900
Amps8 amps
Cost$$$
Warranty1-year

3. DeWALT 20V XR Hammer Drill

Best Cordless Hammer Drill

DEWALT 20V MAX XR Hammer Drill, Brushless, 3-Speed, Tool Only (DCD996B)
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Like Bosch, DeWALT has a loyal following of tool enthusiasts across the globe.

This cordless hammer drill produces a maximum of 38,250 BPM and an RPM of 2,250. It has a brushless motor for less maintenance, and the three-speed transmission gives you the control you need.

You also get an LED light for nighttime working, and a carburized metal chuck with carbide inserts for better grip.

Why We Love It

Cordless

No matter where you are working, this drill will perform. It makes using the drill super-convenient, especially if you are using it in multiple locations.

Long Runtime

You get 57 percent more runtime on this cordless model thanks to the efficient brushless motor.

Made in the USA

If buying American-made products is important to you, this ticks that box. While the materials come from worldwide suppliers, the drill is assembled in the USA.

Keep In Mind

Batteries and Charger Separate

This drill comes with no battery or charger, so factor in the costs when you buy this drill. It seems a little odd, as it is a cordless drill and can’t operate without them.

Limited Battery Life

You cannot escape the fact that when you go cordless, you rely on the runtime of the battery pack. It is something people with corded drills never worry about.

Additional Specs

Weight4 pounds (excluding battery pack)
BPM38,250
RPM2,250
Volts20
Cost$$
Warranty3-year limited

4. Bosch 11255VSR Bulldog Xtreme

Best Hammer Drill for Concrete

Bosch 11255VSR Bulldog Xtreme - 8 Amp 1 Inch Corded Variable Speed Sds-Plus Concrete/Masonry Rotary Hammer Power Drill with Carrying Case, Blue
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This SDS rotary hammer drill is powerful. It has the usual three modes ranging from hammer, rotation and chisel. This drill produces two pounds of impact with every strike, and the SDS chuck automatically locks the drill bits in place for speed and convenience.

If you are looking for a drill to tackle the hardest materials like concrete, this option will serve you well. The 8-amp motor delivers 1,300 RPM and 5,800 BPM, and the variable speed trigger allows the user to build the speed slowly, as the bit gains purchase in the concrete.

Why We Love It

D-Shaped Handle

The ergonomically designed handle gives you a better grip, while also increasing the downward pressure on the bit. It also makes overhead drilling easier.

Price

For such a heavy-duty rotary drill, this model is very reasonably priced. It looks and feels like it costs a lot more.

Tool-Free Bit Change

If you are working on-site, often time is money. So, you need a drill that won’t slow you down. The keyless chuck on this drill allows you to change bits with ease.

Keep In Mind

Weight

Even though this tool has an ergonomic handle, it is still heavy at 10.4 pounds. Bear this in mind, especially if you are using it all day.

Specialist Tool

It is unlikely that you will use this tool in any other setting other than to drill through concrete or masonry. This drill is ideal for construction work and professional use.

Additional Specs

Weight10.4 pounds
BPM5,800
RPM1,300
Amps8
Cost$$
Warranty1-year

5. DeWALT 7.8-Amp DW511 Hammer Drill

Best Lightweight Hammer Drill

DEWALT Hammer Drill, 1/2-Inch, 7.8-Amp (DW511)
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This DeWALT hammer drill is versatile. You can switch between a hammer or standard drill, so drilling through masonry, wood, and even metal is possible. It is the ultimate DIY buddy, lending itself to several uses around the home.

It is corded, which possibly restricts it to DIY enthusiasts, as most construction site workers prefer the freedom of cordless tools. This drill produces 46,000 BPM and 2,700 RPM, so it is no slouch.

Also, it is lightweight, weighing in at just 4.3 pounds. It all adds up to a reliable drill that is comfortable to use for longer periods.

Why We Love It

Multi-Position Handle

The auxiliary handle rotates around the neck of the drill, making it versatile no matter what position you need. It also makes this drill adaptable to fit into tight spaces.

Price

DeWALT has kept the cost of this drill low to appeal to homeowners and trades alike, especially when you compare the price to some cordless models.

Brand

DeWALT is a famous name in power tools and holds a revered position. Simply put, they have a great reputation because they make great tools.

Keep In Mind

Cord

The cord will restrict where you can go with this drill. Unless you have an extension cable, accept this fact and move on.

Limited Power

While this drill is no pushover, it wouldn’t be the best choice of tool when you are attempting to drill through the densest of materials like thick concrete or rock. While it has a superior BPM, each strike contains far less power than the rotary power drills.

Additional Specs

Weight4.3 pounds
BPM46,000
RPM2,700
Amps7.8
Cost$
Warranty3-year limited

6. Tacklife Electric 2,800 RPM Hammer Drill

Best Budget Hammer Drill

Hammer Drill, TACKLIFE 1.2/In. 2800rpm Dual Drill Mode, Variable Speed Trigger, 360° Reversible Handle, Speed Setting Knob for Wood, Steel, Masonry-PID01A
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Tacklife may not share the same household popularity of brands like Bosch and DeWALT, but this corded hammer drill is widely loved by those who buy it. It has a variable speed trigger with a lock function so you can relieve the stress on your finger. It is also fantastic value for money!

It switches between a hammer and a standard drill for versatility, and it has a depth gauge to increase the accuracy of your work. It even comes with a 12-piece drill bit set that includes hole saws.

Why We Love It

Price

This drill is exceptional value for money. It makes it the ideal drill to own when you are starting out with power tools. You can learn on this drill and upgrade as you improve your skills.

Accessory Pack

Sticking with the beginner theme, this drill also comes with all the starter drill bits you would need, including hole saws.

Keyed Chuck

I know we extolled the virtues of having a keyless chuck earlier, but there are some positives to having a keyed chuck. For one, the bit won’t work loose during operation, and second, you know it is securely clamped before you start the job.

Keep In Mind

Feels Cheaply Made

All these savings come at a cost. There are a lot of plastic elements that feel cheaply made and less robust.

Won’t Drill Reinforced Concrete

This highlights the limitations of budget power drills. They are intended for general use around the home, not for heavy-duty tasks like drilling through reinforced concrete.

Additional Specs

Weight5.5 pounds
BPMNot stated
RPM2,800
Amps6
Cost$
Warranty2-year

7. Skil 6448-04 7.0 Amp Hammer Drill

Best Corded Hammer Drill

SKIL 6445-04 7.0 Amp 1/2 In. Hammer Drill
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Skil has a prestigious past, as they are credited with the invention of the circular saw. So, it stands to reason that such a company should feature on the list with the best corded hammer drill award.

What Skil does well is to create everyday tools for general-purpose use, making them a favorite with DIY enthusiasts. Also, they make affordable tools. Like the Tacklife model, if you are starting out with your first hammer drill, you could do a lot worse than this drill.

Why We Love It

Price

This drill almost won the best budget award but was pipped by a few dollars by the Tacklife. That said, this drill is still exceptional value for money.

Versatility

It drills through concrete, metal, hard and softwood, composites and plastics. It is one of the most versatile power tools you can own. It even converts into a drill driver.

Keep In Mind

RPM and BPM

Skil doesn’t widely advertise the BPM or the RPM because speed and power are less important to their core audience. It tells you that this drill is intended for the casual user, and will spend most of its life sitting in the box, occasionally pulled out to hang a picture on a wall.

Build Quality

Just like the Tacklife, when a drill costs so little, you know some corners have been cut. Why use expensive materials when cheaper ones will do.

Additional Specs

Weight5.5 pounds
BPM51,000
RPM3,000
Amps7
Cost$
Warranty1-year

8. Makita XPH12Z 18V Brushless Cordless Drill

Best Brushless Motor Hammer Drill

Makita XPH12Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 1/2' Hammer Driver-Drill, Tool Only
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This brushless motor hammer drill by Makita is cordless.

Brushless motors are more efficient, so they are the ideal choice for battery-operated power drills. They enable the battery to run for 50 percent longer.

This hammer drill produces 530 in.lbs of maximum torque and with the variable speed control, 2,000 RPM and 30,000 BPM.

Why We Love It

Brushless Motor

Brushless motors require less maintenance, less repair and run more efficiently. This increases the average battery runtime by up to 50 percent.

Variable Speed Control

The speed is controlled via a dial on the back of the drill. You can select the pace that’s right for the task. For example, if you are driving screws, you want a low speed to stop the screw wandering. If you are drilling masonry, you need to start slowly but you can increase as you go.

Cordless

Batteries free you from plug sockets and give you the ability to work from anywhere.

Keep In Mind

Batteries Sold Separately

This drill is cordless, so without the batteries, it is useless. Selling the batteries separately is a cynical ploy to make the drill look better value for money and to charge you more.

Limited Battery Life

Battery life is limited and so they need charging frequently. Keep this in mind when you are planning on working away from a power source.

Lithium-Ion Limitations

Extreme cold or heat reduces the runtime of the battery and decreases its efficiency. If you work outdoors in the winter, this is something to keep in mind.

Additional Specs

Weight4.2 pounds
BPM30,000
RPM2,000
Volts18
Cost$$$
Warranty3-year limited

9. Black and Decker Hammer Drill 6.5 Amps BEHD201

Best Hammer Drill for Brick

BLACK+DECKER Hammer Drill, 6.5-Amp, 1/2-Inch (BEHD201)
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This Black and Decker hammer drill is the ideal home-environment drill.

It is versatile, cheap to buy and easy to operate. These are all attributes that homeowners are looking for in a power tool.

It drills through wood, metal and brick. The motor is less powerful than some, at 6.5 amps, but it still delivers 2,800 RPM and 48,000 BPM, so it is no slouch.

Why We Love It

Price

This drill is affordable and a great entry-level model. It also has the Black and Decker branding to give you peace of mind.

Keyless Chuck

Changing the drill bits is easy with the single sleeve, keyless chuck. Just press a button, and the bit is secure.

Keep In Mind

Not Suitable For Larger Holes

The ½-inch diameter of the chuck restricts you to smaller size masonry drill bits.

One Speed

This restricts the control of the drill and increases the chances of the bit wandering in the hole.

Additional Specs

Weight4.0 pounds
BPM48,000
RPM2,800
Amps6.5
Cost$
Warranty1-year

10. Milwaukee 5380-21 9-Amp Heavy-Duty Hammer Drill

Best Heavy-Duty Hammer Drill

Milwaukee 5380-21 1/2-Inch 9-AMP Heavy Duty Hammer Drill
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We get that there are rotary hammer drills that are more robust and suited to heavy-duty work, but we wanted to look at the best hammer drill for the task.

This Milwaukee bills itself as a heavy-duty drill, and judging by the 9-amp motor, it seems fit for the role.

It has an anti-vibration feature to make using the drill more comfortable when cutting through hard materials, and the 56,000 BPM should make it easier.

Why We Love It

9-Amp Motor

This drill is equipped for rigor, especially as the 9-amp motor produces 56,000 BPM and 3,500 RPM.

Integral Clutch

The integral clutch minimizes torque wear on the gears, increasing their longevity and the life of the machine.

Warranty

With this drill, you get an industry-leading 5-year warranty. It gives you peace of mind when spending all that extra money on this drill.

Keep In Mind

Weight

This is not a lightweight option, so be prepared to get a workout when using it for longer periods. Hand and arm fatigue may be a problem.

Price

This is not a cheap drill. It is better suited to a professional or tradesperson rather than someone undertaking casual home improvements. It is versatile, but maybe the weight and power it holds are less appealing outside of a professional setting.

Additional Specs

Weight12.02 pounds
BPM56,000
RPM3,500
Amps9
Cost$$$
Warranty5-year

Hammer Drill Comparison Chart

ProductBestWeightBPMRPMAmpsWarranty
Makita HR2475 Rotary DrillRock10.7 lbs4,5001,10071-year
Bosch SDS Rotary Hammer RH328VCTile7.7 lbs4,00090081-year
DeWALT 20V XR Hammer DrillCordless Drill4 lbs38,2502,250203-year limited
Bosch 11255VSR Bulldog XtremeConcrete10.4 lbs5,8001,30081-year
DeWALT 7.8-Amp DW511 DrillLightweight4.3 lbs46,0002,70083-year limited
Tacklife Electric Hammer DrillBudget Drill5.5 lbsN/A2,80062-year
Skil 6448-04 7.0 Amp Hammer DrillCorded Drill5.5 lbs51,0003,00071-year
Makita XPH12Z 18V Cordless DrillBrushless Motor4.2 lbs30,0002,000183-year limited
Black & Decker BEHD201Brick4.0 lbs48,0002,8006.51-year
Milwaukee 5380-21 9-AmpHeavy-Duty12.02 lbs56,0003,50095-years
Jump to the Full Hammer Drill Reviews

How Does a Hammer Drill Work?

Hammer drills have something called percussive motion. Imagine the percussion section of an orchestra hitting their instruments. That is why it’s called percussive force because the hammer drill rotates the drill bit while hammering down like a hammer hitting a nail.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use a Hammer Drill as a Regular Drill?

Check that your drill has both a standard drill and a hammer setting. If it does, you will be able to use the hammer drill as a regular drill. If you only have the hammer setting, it won’t be possible.

Hammer Drill Vs. Rotary Hammer

A hammer drill is more versatile. It covers most types of DIY tasks. You can switch between hammer action, drill driver and standard drill. It means you can work almost every kind of material, including metal.

Hammer drills are also more responsive because they have variable speeds and proper clutch control.

A rotary hammer drill is for heavy-duty tasks like drilling through dense rock and reinforced concrete. They typically have one speed as well as a standalone chisel action, where you disengage the drill, so it hammers down without rotation. This is great for splitting stubborn material.

Then there are the blows per minute (BPM) to consider. A hammer drill creates far more BPM, but each strike creates significantly less force than a rotary hammer drill. This is because of the way the power is produced.

A hammer drill has small anvils driving downward at a faster rate, but the rotary hammer drill has a BPM rate about six times less than the hammer drill. However, the power comes from a piston inside the drill rather than anvils and springs located in the chuck, meaning a rotary hammer drill creates much more force per blow.

Also, the chuck on a rotary hammer drill is different. Rotary hammer drills use a slotted drive shaft (SDS) chuck. This chuck holds specialist drill bits with an iron grip. Unlike standard chucks that are universal, there is no way the bit will work loose after several impacts.

What is the Hammer Drill Setting Used For?

The hammer drill setting is there for when you need that extra bit of force. A standard drill will punch holes in most materials, but it will struggle when you try to drill through stone, reinforced concrete and other masonry.

By having a hammer setting, you can use the same drill for all your drilling requirements without the need to go and buy a specialist hammer drill.


Hammer the Point Home

Hammer drills are among the best power tools you can own. If you are serious about versatility, get a hammer drill that switches between a hammer action and a standard drill to cater to almost every material in the home.

If you work in heavy construction, consider spending more and getting a rotary hammer drill for that extra power.

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About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.
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