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.
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.
- This drill is heavy-duty, compact, reliable, and powerful
- Eats through concrete
- Has good torque
- Very versatile
- Battery seems to run forever
- 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
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.
- 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
- Some parts on the drill may fail prematurely over time, including the cord
- Case may break during shipping
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.
- 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
- 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
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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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.