8 Best Hammer Drills
Hammer drills allow you to work with tough materials more efficiently. Here are some of the best hammer drills on the market.
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Buying a Hammer Drill
Hammer drills are great time savers when you’re drilling holes in dense materials like masonry or concrete, as well as wood. Hammer drills add a forward action, repeatedly driving the drill bit in and out of the work material. It works really fast, often 20,000 to 60,000 beats per minute (bpm). This additional force pushes the bit through tough materials more quickly than a traditional drill.
Hammer drills are often confused with rotary hammers, but these are actually different tools. Broadly speaking, a hammer drill adds a jackhammer action. A rotary hammer is a jackhammer with some rotation.
Here are several factors to consider when selecting a hammer drill:
Variable speed. Most offer this option, by trigger pressure or separate control setting. Variable speed is helpful in hammer mode, and pretty much essential if you use your hammer drill as a drill/driver.
Corded or cordless. A hammer drill is a serious tool, and drilling through masonry or concrete drains batteries quickly. However, modern cordless tools offer more power and lifespan than ever before. Plus, going cordless helps if you plan to use it as a drill/driver.
Chuck style and size. The chuck holds the drill bit in place. Hammer drills tend to have larger chuck sizes to accommodate larger bits. Almost all are at least 1/2-in., while some hold up to 5/8-in. bits. Keyless chucks tighten or loosen by hand, while traditional keyed chucks require a special tool called a chuck key. Hammer drills often have keyed chucks to resist loosening during high-impact hammering.
Handle position. A pistol grip handle allows the user to place more weight directly behind the drill bit. This leads to faster drill times but often requires a side handle for stability. If you’ll use the drill as a standard drill/driver most of the time, look for a mid-body grip.
Trigger lock. Because drilling through dense material can be time-consuming, some hammer drills offer a trigger lock so you can operate it without holding down the trigger. This reduces hand fatigue and can make a noticeable difference on large projects. If you’ll only be drilling the occasional hole, however, it isn’t a make-or-break option.
Motor build quality. A brushless motor means the tool will last longer and generate less heat. Metal gears can take more wear and tear, while a metal enclosure will dissipate heat faster than a plastic one.
Best Overall Value Corded Hammer Drill
There are lots hammer drills on the market, with a wide range of features and prices. The perfect balance between price and performance depends on how often you’ll use the drill and what kind of work you’re planning to do. But for most DIYers, the Ridgid R50111 Hammer Drill is a strong choice.
The steel gears and all-metal gear case stand up to abuse and reduce heat build-up. It features a a 1/2-in. keyed chuck, variable speed trigger and two-speed selector. The optional side handle has a 360 degree range, letting you find the perfect spot to provide support without interfering with your line of sight.
It comes with an eight-foot power cord and a three-year warranty, along with Ridgid’s lifetime service plan.
Best Overall Value Cordless Hammer Drill
The Bosch GSB18V-490B12 brings serious cordless power on a DIYer’s budget. It can switch between hammer drill, drill or driver modes, making it an extremely versatile tool.
It comes with a 1/2-in. keyless chuck, a mid-body grip and a brushless motor that can deliver up to 22,000 bpm. It also features variable speed, with a two-speed gearbox and 20 torque settings for the driver function. And it’s surprisingly light. That, combined with the included belt clip, lets you work easily overhead or on a ladder.
It ships with a charger and battery.
Best Budget Corded Hammer Drill
The Ryobi D620H hits the budget sweet spot of performance and affordability. It’s a great choice if you want the expanded capability of a hammer drill without making a major investment.
We especially like the 5/8-in. keyed chuck on this model because it accommodates larger bits. However, a few features reflect its budget nature. A dial, rather than trigger pressure, controls the variable speed. And the six-foot power cord is slightly shorter than some others on this list.
Backed by Ryobi’s three-year warranty, it ships with an auxiliary side handle and a depth rod.
Best Budget Cordless Hammer Drill
If you’re looking for an affordable entry point to hammer drills, check out the 20V Hercules Hammer Drill from Harbor Freight. It covers the basics at a wallet-friendly price. Note that it’s sold as a bare tool. Unless you already own another Hercules cordless product, you’ll need to purchase a charger and battery as well.
This drill features a two-speed motor with metal gears, a keyless chuck, a multi-step clutch and a mid-body grip. It’s a good choice for DIYers who want the hammer function on their drill/driver.
Best Mid-Range Corded Hammer Drill
So many DeWalt products make our drill roundups, and for good reason — tools like the DeWalt DW511 Hammer Drill provide quality performance at a DIY-friendly price. The DW511 comes with a 1/2-in. keyed chuck, variable speed, a 360-degree side handle, depth rod and eight-foot power cord. It’s covered by a three-year warranty.
It’s not our Best Value pick; the Ridgid R50111’s higher amperage rating, trigger lock and higher bpms edged it out. But if saving a little cash outweighs those performance gains, then add the DeWalt DW511 to your list of contenders.
Best Hammer Drill for Anti-Kickback
Anti-kickback is a terrific safety feature in a hammer drill. If the bit begins to bind, the chuck cuts off rotation. It’s not immediate, so there is still some spin, but it happens fast enough that you will most likely avoid injury.
The Kobalt 24-Volt Max XTR Hammer Drill is the only anti-kickback product we’ve seen that delivers a rich set of features at an affordable price.
The 24V Max XTR features a brushless motor, variable-speed trigger, built-in LED work light and three modes to allow easy transitions between hammer drill, drill and driver. It ships with a charger and single battery. Warranties run five years for the drill and three years for the battery.
Best Short-Life Span Hammer Drill
Hammer drills are sometimes used in harsh conditions, and the heavy strain can result in a relatively short life spans. One way to make more bearable: Choose an inexpensive model.
At only $20, the Warrior Corded Hammer Drill from Harbor Freight is probably the cheapest you’ll find, short of a garage/yard sale bargain. It offers a trigger lock, pistol grip and a 1/2-in. keyed chuck. We’re not going to claim this is a great hammer drill, but it’s certainly worth the sticker price.
Best Cordless Hammer Drill Combo Kit
Shopping for a hammer drill and impact driver? Why not bundle them with the Ridgid R9208 Combo Kit?
This kit packs value into its price with a pair of 18V cordless drills. The model R86115 1/2-in. hammer drill offers a brushless motor, two-speed metal gearbox, keyless chuck and a mid-handle grip. The impact driver, model R862311, and also features a brushless motor.
This kit comes with a charger, two batteries, side handle for the hammer drill and a tool bag to keep it all tidy and dry. It’s all backed by Ridgid’s lifetime service agreement.