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Top 10 Hammer Drills 2017

Perfect for pulverizing brittle material and providing quicker drilling with much less effort, those hammer drills will power through your next project. We've bored holes and pounded the pavement to find some of the best options. Our selection consists of models suitable for home DIYers and those that can stand to the most demanding contractor's needs.

Bosch HD19-2B 1/2-Inch 2-Speed Hammer DrillPORTER-CABLE PC70THD VSR 2-Speed Hammer Drill, 1/2-InchDEWALT Bare-Tool DCD950B 1/2-Inch 18-Volt XRPHammerdrill/Drill/DriverMakita XPH102 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/2Milwaukee 5380-21 1/2-Inch 9-AMP Heavy Duty Hammer DrillDeWalt DW511 1/2Bosch 1191VSRK 120-Volt 1/2-Inch Single-Speed Hammer DrillRyobi 18-volt One+ Lithium-ion Cordless Hammer Drill/driver Combo Kit P1812Rockwell ShopSeries RC3136 7 Amp 1/2-Inch Hammer DrillBlack & Decker DR670 6.0-Amp 1/2-Inch Hammer Drill

Hammer Drills and Rotary Hammers: Is There Really a Difference?

It is not uncommon to see the terms rotary hammer and hammer drill used interchangeably when referring to power tools that are capable of both pounding and drilling, even by experienced construction workers. You would certainly be forgiven for thinking that these two tools are one and the same, but this is actually a misconception. Not only are hammer drills and rotary hammers different tools, but they are each best suited for certain kinds of tasks. Before we discuss which you should be using and when let's start by breaking down how the two differ.

Inside of a hammer drill, there is a pair of rigid discs that rotate as the trigger is depressed. As one slides past the other, the ridges cause it to rise and fall. As it falls, it slams against the other causing the impacts that a hammer drill is known for. These ridges are very small, which in turn means the disc doesn't move very far as it rises and falls. Because of this, a hammer drill doesn't create a high impact force. It makes up for this in speed, though, as it is not uncommon for them to move at over 3,000rpm while under load and produce 40,000 or 50,000 blows per minute.

When the user pauses to take a break and removes the pressure on the chuck, the discs are separated by a clutch, which stops the pounding action and reduces motor wear. The majority of hammer drills can also be used in a drill only mode.

Rotary hammers have two pistons inside of them. One is driven by an electronic crankshaft. As it moves forward, it creates a pressure build-up inside of the cylinder where both pistons are situated. This air pressure is what drives the other piston, often termed the flying piston, forward to impact against the bit and create a hammering motion. Since these two internal components never actually touch, rotary hammers tend to be more durable and often last longer than hammer drills, even with heavy consistent use. Unlike hammer drills, rotary hammers also have a hammer-only mode, essentially turning them into mini jackhammers when needed.

Hammer drills are best suited to light masonry work, such as drilling holes in bricks and concrete blocks, but should rarely be used on poured concrete for long periods as the motors tend to overheat, causing heavy wear and shortening their lifespan. They are also better for drilling through wood and metal, where faster speeds are needed. Since they don't have a hammer-only mode, though, they cannot be used for demo work. On the flip side of the coin, they can be used for drilling into more sensitive materials where pounding could cause damage and can do double-duty as a power screwdriver.

The slow speed and high impact force of a rotary hammer make it a poor choice when trying to produce holes in either of the aforementioned materials, but they excel at drilling through hardened concrete or stones. They can also be used for demolition work when set to hammer the only mode.

If The Drill Fits, Wear It


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Hammer drills are a lot like shoes; once you know your budget, you can make your decision based on comfort. Unless, of course, you make your decision based on style first, and then readjust your budget, in which case we have some nice glue for you to play with while the adults talk about hammer drills.

If money is no object, just grab our number one pick, it is pricey but worth every penny. I'd also like to talk to you about a private investment opportunity. Whenever you have a minute; no rush.

For the rest of us, all of the drills that made our best of the list are still tenable, powerful options for our toolkits. All can get the job done, but some are better suited to daily, heavy-duty use, while our other choices are best for the home DIYer who only needs to tackle an occasional home repair or renovation. We've made sure to specify which model is suited to who, taking out some of the guesswork on your part.

This is where you can ask yourself another question: What's the nature of the job that's prompted this purchase? If it requires tighter, tougher angles, you might be better off sacrificing some power (and saving some money) by buying one of the more compact models. They may not work as well for masonry work but will be better suited to tackling under-sink and low-space jobs where every inch counts. The same goes for those who don't want to deal with lugging around a heavy five or six-pound drill. We have picked some nice four pound options just for you.

There is always the possibility that you just need to mindlessly drill holes in rocks like some demented steel-beaked woodpecker, in which case you would be better suited taking a look at our top rotary hammer picks.

Drilling Through Time


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A lot of consumer products initially hit the market as the strongest, best-made version of themselves, only to be mimicked and cheapened over the years. Some others hit a peak of quality and innovation later in their development, only to be reduced to a shadow of their former selves over time (see: Apple post Steve Jobs).

Such gradual product degradation is, of course, the byproduct of free-market capitalism and unchecked corporate greed, but, hey, that's what makes America great.

The hammer drill, on the other hand, started out as a powerful, cam-action unit in Germany. Between the two companies Bosch and Fein there is a long-standing feud over who invented the thing first, but one of them got it out and about in the early part of the 20th century and the other followed suit.

It was in America, of all places, that the hammer drill jumped up from its cam-action roots to become the electro-pneumatic powerhouse that it is today. That was back in the late 60s, and the impact energy has gone up as unit weight and overall vibration shock has gone down.


#10.Black & Decker DR670 6.0-Amp 1/2-Inch Hammer Drill


The powerful and compact Black & Decker Hammer Drill is constructed to conveniently handle tough tasks in tight and confined spaces. Features a 0-2800 RPM, 48,000 BPM, 1/2 all metal keyless chuck providing easy bit changes and maximum grip, pistol grip design offers better balance and control, variable speed trigger allows for controlled drilling applications. The drill includes side handle and depth rod. Designed to provide optimal power and speed and ideal for drilling brick or concrete. Measures 1/2.


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#9.Rockwell ShopSeries RC3136 7 Amp 1/2-Inch Hammer Drill


The ShopSeries RC3136 7 Amp Hammer Drill has an all-metal gear housing for strength and prolonged life. Experience great control with the added variable speed function for drilling into various materials and needing the right amount of control and speed. A 1/2-inch all-metal chuck will withstand the beatings from the tough jobs. Need to drill into concrete? The hammer function gives that ability to drill in concrete and brick at a much quicker pace. Soft-grip handles and added auxiliary handle provides complete control along with comfort so you can keep at the job without experiencing fatigue in your hands.


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#8.Ryobi 18-volt One+ Lithium-ion Cordless Hammer Drill/driver Combo Kit P1812


Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ introduces the latest in lithium-ion performance at Ni-Cd prices. The drill includes a 1/2 in. heavy-duty single sleeve, keyless chuck with 24-position clutch to match your drilling and driving needs. The impact driver has a variable-speed trigger and 1600 in. lbs. of torque to provide control and power when driving long and large screws or bolts. They both feature the exclusive MagTray and onboard bit storage, which allow convenient placement of bits and screws. Two lithium-ion batteries and a charger are included that will power over 70 ONE+ tools. This is all covered under a 3-year manufacturer's warranty.


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#7.Bosch 1191VSRK 120-Volt 1/2-Inch Single-Speed Hammer Drill


The New Bosch 1191VSRK 1/2-inch VSR hammer drill has a powerful 7 amp reversing motor and an ergonomic design engineered to provide the highest performance to weight ratio in its class. Use the selector lever to choose the hammer drill or drill only for steel, wood, or aluminum. Kit includes a 360-degree handle, depth gauge, and carrying case.


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#6.DeWalt DW511 1/2" (13mm) 7.8 Amp VSR Hammerdrill


Lightweight for extended use with variable speed, dual mode hammer drill/drill for wood, steel or masonry applications, 360-degree side handle with depth rod, two-finger, rubber trigger. Specs: max watts out 650W, no load speed 0-2,700RPM, blows/Min 0-46,000BPM, capacity in: steel 1/2", wood 1-1/4", concrete optimum 5/32-3/8", 11-1/2" long, weighs 4.3lbs. Includes side handle, depth rod, chuck key with holder.


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#5.Milwaukee 5380-21 1/2-Inch 9-AMP Heavy Duty Hammer Drill


Nice drill, like the dual speed transmission (best word I can come up with for the mechanism that transfers the motor's power to the chuck) and variable speed trigger. The handheld at the chuck takes a little getting used. I love the hammer and normal drill options, you can go from concrete to work to metal without having to do anything but change the bit. The chuck seems very heavy duty and able to withstand the beating from the hammer. The contour at just above the pistol grip allows for you to get some extra force behind this drill. There is a lock on for the trigger switch, though it locks it only at full speed, the one drawback you'll destroy your bits quickly.


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#4.Makita XPH102 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/2" Hammer Driver-Drill Kit (3.0Ah)


The Makita 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/2-inch Hammer Driver-Drill combines speed and torque in a compact size, with an efficient lithium-ion battery that reaches a full charge in only 30 minutes. For increased versatility, it can be run as a driver-drill or a hammer driver-drill and is engineered for applications in wood, metal, masonry, and concrete.

The Makita-built four-pole motor delivers 480 in.lbs. of Max Torque and up to 1,900 RPM and 28,500 BPM in the high-speed setting. With Extreme Protection Technology (XPT), the drill is engineered for increased dust and water resistance and is ideal for use in harsh job site conditions.

It’s part of Makita’s expanding 18V Lithium-Ion series, the world’s largest cordless tool line-up powered by an 18V Lithium-Ion slide-style battery. Makita 18V Lithium-Ion batteries have the fastest charge times in their categories, so they spend more time working and less time sitting on the charger.


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#3.DEWALT Bare-Tool DCD950B 1/2-Inch 18-Volt XRPHammerdrill/Drill/Driver


XRP extended run-time batteries provide long run-time & battery life. Patented 3-speed all-metal transmission matches the tool to task for fastest application speed and improved run time. LED Worklight provides increased visibility in confined spaces. Best in class length for improved balance and better control. LED Worklight provides increased visibility in confined spaces. XRP extended run-time batteries provide long run-time & battery life.


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#2.PORTER-CABLE PC70THD VSR 2-Speed Hammer Drill, 1/2-Inch


The PORTER-CABLE PC70THD 1/2-Inch VSR 2-Speed Hammer drill features a 7.0 Amp motor that delivers the power and durability to complete the toughest drilling applications. The ability to switch between a hammer drill and drill modes provides versatility for drilling into metal, wood, concrete, brick, block and many other materials. The cast metal gear housing helps dissipate heat from internal components for additional durability and a dual speed transmission (0-1,100 & 0-3,100) provides maximum torque in setting one and maximum speed in setting two. A streamlined over mold body and handle allow for increase comfort and reduced user fatigue. Two finger locking trigger provides ease of use during extended use. It also features a side handle that provides more control in heavy applications and binds up situations. A 1/2-Inch metal chuck and key provide holding pressure for increased bit retention. Applications: Optimum performance in hammer drill mode for a block, brick, tile and other soft materials Drilling and fastening in metal, wood, plastic and other materials. Includes: PC70THD, chuck key and holder, side handle and depth rod.


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#1.Bosch HD19-2B 1/2-Inch 2-Speed Hammer Drill


I bought this drill to replace a brand new, newly failed $80 Makita. The Makita was used for 13 1/2" holes in concrete - it didn't survive the 14th.

My learning with the Bosch - it has a 2-speed gearbox (absolutely necessary for larger diameter concrete work). It hides no problem with 1/2" holes into concrete - 2 more amps than the Makita and low-speed grunt made all the difference. And, it isn't as heavy as I had feared - it won't be the most convenient to drill 1/8" holes in concrete, but it will do very well as a great all around drill. And the price, as a reconditioned unit, was irresistible. So much so I added the $7 for 2 more years of warranty. The number of reconditioned hammer drills out there tells me they have a rough life, no matter who builds them.


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