Reviews

Best Hammer Drills: Easily Work Through Concrete 

These powerful tools make drilling through concrete a breeze.

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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON October 13, 2021

If you’ve ever tried to drill through exceptionally tough materials, like brick or stone, you’ve likely found that your basic impact drill just isn’t up for the job. A regular old drill will burn out or break in the face of these materials, leaving you with a pretty big problem. No average drill can successfully drill holes or fasteners into these hardy surfaces—you need something more powerful and more capable. That’s why a hammer drill is an essential tool for anyone who works with masonry or concrete.

 

With a hammer drill in hand, you can tackle materials like concrete and brick without breaking a sweat. This power tool is specifically designed to drill through hard and brittle surfaces, using a combination of rotary drilling and hammer thrusts. And we have all of the information you need to find the best hammer drill for any and every kind of job.

Best Overall
DeWalt 20V MAX XR Lithium Ion Brushless 3-Speed Hammer Drill Kit
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Summary
Summary

This drill features a high-efficiency, brushless motor and 250 blows per minute (BPM) for fast drilling. It has two 20-volt MAX XR high capacity lithium-ion batteries and a three-mode LED light.

Pros
Pros
  • This drill is heavy-duty, compact, reliable, and powerful
  • Eats through concrete
  • Has good torque
  • Very versatile
  • Battery seems to run forever
Cons
Cons
  • Drill is heavy (more than 11 pounds)
  • Battery may feel loose when it connects to the drill
  • Gear selector may be difficult to stick at the second setting
Best Overall
DeWalt 20V MAX XR Lithium Ion Brushless 3-Speed Hammer Drill Kit
Best Value
Bosch Bulldog Xtreme Concrete/Masonry Rotary Hammer Power Drill
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Summary
Summary

The drill is 7.5 amps and has three modes as well as a variable speed control trigger. It has an ergonomic handle and vibration control for more comfort and better handling.

Pros
Pros
  • Has a comfortable grip and the controls are easy to use
  • Drill is packed with power for a variety of jobs, including cutting through cement and masonry
Cons
Cons
  • Some parts on the drill may fail prematurely over time, including the cord
  • Case may break during shipping
Best Value
Bosch Bulldog Xtreme Concrete/Masonry Rotary Hammer Power Drill
Honorable Mention
Makita Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 1/2" Hammer Driver-Drill
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Summary
Summary

This drill's brushless motor delivers 1,090 inch-pounds of maximum torque. It weighs 5.9 pounds and has a two-speed variable transmission and a three-stage LED gauge to indicate battery charge.

Pros
Pros
  • Drill is well-built, heavy-duty, and has great torque
  • Quickly chews through holes and operates very smoothly
  • Horizontal and downward drilling is a breeze
Cons
Cons
  • May be heavy for overhead drilling or if you need to make numerous holes
  • Drill may stop working after a few months
  • Chuck assembly may fail
Honorable Mention
Makita Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 1/2" Hammer Driver-Drill

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Benefits of Hammer Drills

  • Extra tough for hard materials. A hammer drill is tougher and more capable than your average drill. Designed to burrow through brick, stone, and concrete, you can penetrate materials that your typical drill couldn’t handle. The extra-tough nature of a hammer drill is similar to a small and powerful hammer—you’ll be able to pound drill bits through almost anything.
  • Quick and powerful. Forget about burning out or failing to complete a task because you don’t have a drill that’s powerful enough. With a hammer drill, you’ll have a whole lot of power, plus great working speed and efficiency. These drills are able to drill into anything in just seconds, ensuring you can work smoothly and on schedule even when you’re faced with some unexpectedly tough materials.
  • Ideal for masonry. If you’re working on a home renovation (or a few home renovations), frequently encounter masonry, or work with concrete often, a hammer drill will make your tasks so much easier. You won’t have to deal with common issues like overheating or failed drills. A hammer drill is a tool made for masonry, so it’s a must-have if you want to make easy work of any masonry-involved task. 

Types of Hammer Drills

Corded Hammer Drills

A corded hammer drill is a pretty straightforward kind of tool. In order to operate your drill, you’ll need to plug it into an electrical outlet, and the attached power cord will keep you working for as long as necessary. Corded hammer drills offer consistent, constant power, and with 6-foot or longer power cords, you can work pretty easily across sizable areas to tackle different drilling projects. 

Corded models also tend to have high power because they have fewer limits. The constant power supply allows them to deliver more power for the toughest materials you’re working on. But they do have a significant downside: You can only travel as far as the power cord stretches. And you can only use your hammer drill if you’re near an electrical outlet. This restricts your mobility a bit.

Cordless Hammer Drills

Cordless hammer drills have an advantage that corded models don’t—they aren’t going to restrict your mobility at all. With no power cord and no electrical outlet required to turn it on, a cordless hammer drill can get to work anywhere, any time. These tools run on rechargeable batteries (typically, a 20-volt lithium battery), and some of these batteries can even be swapped between different power tools. When you’re out of power, all you have to do is recharge.

But there are two drawbacks to cordless hammer drills. While you get better mobility and portability, these drills are usually a little less powerful than corded models because of their battery size limits. And, while they can work for hours on a single charge, you do need to make sure you can recharge. If you’re working all day long, you’ll likely need to recharge.

Top Brands

Black+Decker

This company started with young entrepreneurs S. Duncan Black and Alonzo G. Decker, who launched a machine shop in Baltimore, Md., in 1910. Products include power tools, lawn and garden items, and home appliances. One top product is the Black+Decker Hammer Drill.

Bosch

Robert Bosch founded the “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering” in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1886. The Bosch Group established a North American presence in 1906, and its headquarters are in Farmington Hills, Mich. One recommended product is the Bosch SDS Rotary Hammer

DeWalt

DeWalt Products Company was formed in Leola, Penn., in 1924 with the launch of the electric universal woodworking machine, mortiser, and jointer. In 2018, the company celebrated its 100th anniversary of the Product Service Division of Stanley Black & Decker. Two popular products are the DEWALT 20V MAX XR Lithium Ion Brushless 3-Speed Hammer Drill Kit and DEWALT Hammer Drill Kit.

Makita Corporation

Makita Corporation was founded in 1915 as an electric motor sales and repair company. Today, the company manufactures products at 10 plants in eight countries. The Makita U.S.A., Inc. head office is located in La Mirada, Calif. Some recommended products are the Makita 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Compact Brushless Cordless 1/2" Hammer Driver-Drill Kit and the Makita Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 1/2" Hammer Driver-Drill.

Porter-Cable

Located in Towson, Md., Porter-Cable was established in 1906 as a jobbing machine and tool shop. In addition to polishers, it produces drills, saws, grinders, air compressors, and other tools. One top product is the Porter-Cable 20V MAX Hammer Drill.

Hammer Drill Pricing

  • Under $100: It's difficult to find a good-quality hammer drill under this price point. However, you may find one on sale that can do the job effectively.
  • $100 and $200: Some of the best hammer drills fall in this price range. They perform well and are heavy-duty enough to easily and efficiently complete the task.
  • $200 and up: Hammer drills can cost several hundred dollars, particularly if they come with added features and a hard carrying case.

Key Features

Power

The more power you have, the quicker you can complete your task. A typical hammer drill motor has about seven amps, while larger motors have about 10 amps. The bigger the motor, the more power it will deliver. However, hammer drill brands with bigger motors will be larger and heavier.

Two Handles

The best hammer drill for concrete and other materials should include safety features for your protection. As a result, most feature two handles. An auxiliary handle provides stability while you operate the drill and also makes the action more comfortable. The side handle should be ergonomic with a comfortable grip. They should also be shock absorbent.

Multiple Working Modes

One hallmark of the best hammer drills is multiple working modes, or a selection switch that allows you to choose which mode you’d like to use. Typically, a hammer drill that comes with multiple working modes allows you to choose between rotary drilling and rotary-plus-hammer drilling. This is beneficial because it allows you to use the rotary mode for all of your typical drilling and driving needs. But at the same time, you can always switch over to the hammer functionality if you’re working on masonry. You’ll get more versatility and great on-the-job flexibility, all in one handy drill.

Brushless Motor

You want to make sure your hammer drill is powered by a brushless motor if you opt for a cordless model. A brushless motor is the best kind of power source; it’s efficient, gives you increased power, and works flawlessly with a rechargeable battery. These high-speed motors can increase your hammer drill’s run time by as much as 50 percent per battery charge when you compare them to a typical brushed motor. And that’s an improvement you want to make sure to take advantage of.

Other Considerations

  • Variable Speed. If you want more control and precision, choose a hammer drill with a variable speed trigger. The more speed settings you have access to, the more tasks you can perform, making the drill multifunctional. A top-rated hammer drill can be used with a variety of drill bits, allowing you to work on softer woods and metals. Simply select the correct bit and RPM.
  • Keyed Chuck. A lot of drills have keyless chucks for convenience; it's easier and quicker to change bits. However, keyed chucks are preferable on a hammer drill. It forces you to manually tighten the chuck, which will ensure that the bit is solidly in place. This is important because a bit will bounce around a lot during operation.
  • Purpose. Decide what type of job you're going to use the hammer drill for before buying one. Even the best small hammer drill may not be powerful enough for a big project. Larger tasks may require a hammer drill that has more performance. It's better to go bigger than to be disappointed with a smaller drill that can't finish the job.
  • Weight. Some hammer drills are heavier than others. The best compact hammer drill may be easier to maneuver than one that is larger and bulkier. Over the years, hammer drills have gotten a bit lighter, which makes jobs easier. If you're working in a space in which it's hard to move around, you may want a smaller hammer drill.
  • Heavy vs. Light Duty. You’ll find a wide selection of hammer drills that advertise themselves as ideal for heavy-duty drilling and light-duty drilling. However, to find the best drills for heavy and light duty, you’ll want to make sure to take a look at a drill’s motor, power, BPMs, and ability to run for hours (especially if you’re considering a cordless model). These metrics will help you assess which drills are best for either heavy- or light-duty drilling, and which one you need in your line of work.
  • Accessories. A depth gauge will help you drill a hole to a specific depth. An LED battery gauge is helpful on a cordless tool. A hard case helps you store the drill. All of these extras make it easier to use and maintain your drill. If you're making an investment, you should get one that has options that improve the overall experience.

Best Hammer Drills Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
DeWalt 20V MAX XR Lithium Ion Brushless 3-Speed Hammer Drill Kit

This drill features a high-efficiency, brushless motor and a high-performance transmission for fast application speeds and better run time. It has 250 BPM (blows per minute) for a fast drilling speed on masonry materials. It comes with two 20-volts MAX XR high capacity lithium-ion batteries (5.0Ah) and a three-mode LED light.


This well-designed drill is heavy duty, compact, reliable, and powerful. It eats through concrete, has high torque, is very versatile, and the transmission with the extra speed range makes it easy to control. The battery seems to run forever, which is good if you're using the drill for an extended period of time.  


Downsides include the fact that the drill is heavy (it weighs more than 11 pounds) and may be difficult to use all day. In addition, the battery may wobble or get loose when it connects to the drill. In addition, the gear selector may be difficult to stick at the second setting. There have also been some complaints that the drill has too much power for some jobs.

Best Value
Bosch Bulldog Xtreme Concrete/Masonry Rotary Hammer Power Drill

This 7.5-amp hammer drill has three modes: rotation only, rotary hammer, and hammer only. It comes with a variable speed trigger, including reverse, for ease of use and accuracy. It includes vibration control and an ergonomic handle for more comfort and optimum control while drilling overhead or downward.


This 300-RPM drill delivers 2 feet-pounds of impact energy. The grip is comfortable, and the weight helps keep the action smooth. The control settings are easy to read and simple. It's versatile and has plenty of power to remove tiles and makes quick work out of otherwise strenuous tasks, such as demo work. It cuts through cement and masonry like it's butter.


However, the cord on this drill is not the best quality and may need to be replaced over a short period of time. Also, the carrying case may get damaged during shipping, and parts on it may start to fail within a couple of years of use.

Honorable Mention
Makita Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 1/2

This drill's brushless motor delivers 1,090 inch-pounds of maximum torque. It features an ergonomic design, is 8 inches long, and weighs 5.9 pounds. It has a two-speed, variable transmission (0-550 and 0-2,100 RPM) and a three-stage LED gauge that indicates the level of the battery charge.


This drill is well built, heavy duty, and has great torque. It quickly chews through holes and operates very smoothly. It is also powerful enough to do tasks you would normally need a corded drill to do because of its 16-inch handle. The lower speed allows for better control and power, while the higher speed pulses up to 2,100 RPM. Horizontal and downward drilling is a breeze, and hammering through concrete and wood is no problem.


One issue is it can be very heavy for over-head drilling and if you need to make numerous holes. There have been some complaints that the drill stops working after a few months of use. Also, the chuck assembly may come off in reverse, or the chuck screw can break.

Honorable Mention
Milwaukee Electric Tools Hammer Drill

Milwaukee is another excellent manufacturer of power tools, and though its hammer drill may look small it is a powerful little tool. It’s built with a hex impact driver that increases its speed and torque so you use less muscle. Plus its 12V motor may be on the smaller size. But don’t let it fool you; the device is quite capable of drilling into most materials.


The body is constructed out of a combination of metal and plastic. This makes the tool much more capable of withstanding impacts and drops, but be careful not to drop it at all. It’s also quite light, and its small size means it will fit right at home inside a tool chest or box.


However, this is a corded drill, so the cable may get in the way when you maneuver around the garage. Another downside is the tool does not seem to come with any written instructions. This may make it more difficult to operate properly. The grip, although comfortable, can also be a bit too large for some hands.

Honorable Mention
SKIL Hammer Drill

The first thing you may notice about the Skil hammer drill is the way it looks. It’s designed to be more streamlined and user friendly, allowing the user to grip it with two hands instead of one. This increases its stability, comfort, and grip so you can tackle more difficult jobs a little bit easier and more accurately.


This hammer drill comes with a reliable 7.0-amp motor for the toughest jobs around the house or shop. Doubled with its ½-inch keyed chuck, the device is capable of accepting large diameter bits built for woodworking and cutting. It also has a variable speed trigger to control drilling speed, giving you more control over the tool. It also allows you to rotate the drill 360 degrees. The tool is lightweight too.


As far as issues go, you may find the drill bits can shake loose after drilling into concrete. It’s also designed more as a DIY tool for the house and isn’t really built to handle larger construction site jobs.

Honorable Mention
Porter-Cable 20V MAX Hammer Drill

Another high-powered hammer drill is the 20V MAX model from Porter-Cable. The tool can deliver up to 27,200 BPMs and features a two-speed gear box with 400 to 1,600 RPMs, depending on the setting you choose. It also includes a ½-inch metal ratcheting chuck and 23 different clutch settings, so you can fit different sized bits designed for whatever job you have in mind.


One of the best features of this device is its built-in battery charge monitor. You won’t have to guess how much battery you have left, as the hammer drill includes a screen that keeps you up to date on the battery level. It also includes an LED work light to brighten areas so you can see more clearly.


The one major downside with this hammer drill is that the lithium-ion battery is not included. You can order it separately, but it will cost a few extra bucks. Also, it works best as a DIY tool and is not designed for more demanding jobs.

Honorable Mention
Black+Decker Hammer Drill

Black + Decker is a tool manufacturing company that is known around the globe. Its hammer drill is certainly one to be reckoned with. If you need to accomplish a tough job around the house, this hammer drill is designed to help you out. The tool features a large 6.5A motor and two drill settings that range in power and torque. The first setting ranges from 0 to 2,800 RPM, while the second will deliver up to 48,000 RPM, which is one of the strongest on our list.


You will also find the tool has a keyless ½-inch single sleeve chuck that can hold several sized bits. Plus, its three-position side handle is comfortable and grippy, making it much more simple to hold and operate with two hands. Another benefit is the device is reasonably priced, so you won’t be spending a large amount of cash on it.


However, the price does make it a bit less reliable than higher-priced tools. That being said, you may not want to use it for more aggressive jobs like drilling into thicker slabs of concrete. The chuck also tends to loosen with time.

Honorable Mention
Bauer Variable Speed Reversible Hammer Drill

The Bauer Variable Speed Reversible Hammer Drill offers two of the most important features you can find in a power tool: increased power and a long lifespan. This drill is impressive when it comes to tough materials and hard jobs, and it’ll deliver the extra power and capability you need time and time again throughout its life. 


With 60 percent more power than your average hammer drill and high durability, this ½-inch and 7.5-amp drill will deliver powerful performance when you’re working with concrete, steel, and wood. It can handle all kinds of different materials. You’ll get 45,000 BPM in hammer drill mode—and thanks to its reversible nature, you can choose between regular drilling and hammer drilling modes. A heavy-duty ½-keyed chuck is suitable for rugged citations, and the drill can maximize impact energy no matter what you’re working on.


You’ll also get handy features like an adjustable 360-degree side handle, increased comfort and control with the depth stop rod, and a variable speed trigger with a lock-on so you can work continuously.

Honorable Mention
Ironton Heavy-Duty SDS Max Rotary Hammer Drill

If you’re looking for a lot of power for heavy-duty drilling tasks, then you have to consider the Ironton Heavy-Duty SDS Max Rotary Hammer Drill. This drill is powered by one impressive motor and offers two modes of use: rotary drilling and rotary-plus-hammer drilling. With its strong 1,200-watt, 10.5-amp, 110-volt motor, this hammer drill is one that’ll drill right through concrete, brick, and so much more.


In addition to its power and speed, this hammer drill provides you with 6.6 foot-pounds of impact energy to work with. It offers 0 to 500 RPM and 0 to 3,750 BPM and has a 1.5-inch maximum concrete drilling capacity. One particularly handy feature that comes with all of this power is Ironton’s anti-vibration technology, which keeps power flowing while reducing handle vibrations and helping you limit fatigue. An ergonomic handle also helps you prevent strain and fatigue while you work.


Backed by a one-year warranty, you’ll find that this powerful hammer drill has everything you need with a little extra comfort, too.

Honorable Mention
Hercules 20v Lithium-Ion Cordless Compact Hammer Drill

The Hercules 20v Lithium-Ion Cordless Compact Hammer Drill is a little slimmer and smaller than your typical full-size hammer drill. But that doesn’t mean you should skip over this compact tool. It’s as powerful as it needs to be to tackle masonry drilling, and it’ll surprise you with its great versatility.


This 1/2-inch hammer drill is powered by a four-pole motor, which delivers maximum power in a compact package. A two-speed transmission can handle all of your drilling and driving work, and you’ll get up to 34,000 BPM plus 576 pounds of torque. You can switch between drill-only and hammer drill modes with a literal flip of a switch, which means you can use one tool for all of your drilling needs. As an added bonus, a bright built-in LED light illuminates your workspace so you can clearly see what you’re drilling.


As part of the Hercules 20-volt battery system, there’s another handy perk of this power tool. You do have to purchase the 20-volt battery and charger separately, but that battery can actually power a number of different Hercules cordless tools. This allows your hammer drill’s battery to become quite a versatile power source.

Tips

  • If you use a hammer drill for softer materials and metal, be careful. Since they are designed to drill through solid and stronger materials, you’ll want to avoid damaging the drill bit or the material you’re drilling through.
  • When hammer drilling, you also need the best hammer drill bits. The more durable ones will have carbide-tipped bit heads. Another option is using a kit with chisels instead of bits. 
  • Wear eye protection such as goggles or shop glasses when using a hammer drill. This prevents debris from getting into your eyes. Also, wear a mask to avoid breathing in masonry dust and ear protection to safeguard your hearing. 
  • You need to apply the correct pressure when using a hammer drill to avoid damaging the motor or tip of the drill bit. Don't press too firmly on a hard surface, and use quality bits.
  • Before drilling, make sure there are no wires, cables, or pipes in the way that you may accidentally puncture. Concrete hammer drills are very powerful and can easily destroy these types of things.
  • Use a high-quality extension cord. Cheaper cords can wear out easily, break, or catch fire. This can be dangerous for both you and the power tool. Try to use a 12-gauge power cord, which is compatible with most power tools.
  • Hammer drills produce a lot of vibration and noise. Take breaks when using them so you don't get too tired. You can also wear cushioned gloves to absorb some of the vibrations.
  • Inspect the hammer drill before using it. Make sure it doesn't have any cracks or debris that can affect its performance or cause any safety issues.
  • Use both hands when using a hammer drill. If you use only one hand, you won't have a lot of stability or accuracy. Worse, it can compromise safety.
  • Do not use a hammer drill for driving screws. You need to use an impact driver for driving screws, lags, and nuts, but an impact driver can't be used for drilling holes.

FAQs

Q: What’s the difference between a hammer drill and a rotary hammer drill?

A rotary hammer is extremely powerful and features a piston. This type of power tool is usually larger, heavier, and more costly than a hammer drill. If you need to drill larger holes a hammer drill can't handle, then you will need a rotary hammer.

Q: What’s the difference between a hammer drill and an impact drill?

An impact drill doesn't hammer the material in the same way as a hammer drill does. It uses a rotational motion instead of a hammering motion.

Q: Can a hammer drill be used as a regular drill?

It depends on the brand. If it only has a hammer mode, you can't use it as a regular drill. However, some have both hammer and drill settings; just make sure to use the proper bit.

Q: Can I use a regular drill on concrete?

Yes, but it won't be easy. A corded hammer drill for concrete is faster and more efficient. The job will take longer if you use a regular drill.

Looking for the best cordless drills? Read our roundup.

Final Thoughts

Our top pick for the best hammer drill is the DeWalt 20V MAX XR Lithium Ion Brushless 3-Speed Hammer Drill Kit. It works quickly and efficiently on masonry materials and holds its charge for a very long time. It's compact yet powerful and is very versatile, with several ranges of speed.

If you’re on a budget, consider the Bosch Bulldog Xtreme Concrete/Masonry Rotary Hammer Power Drill.