If you’re facing a tough drilling challenge, a hammer drill could be the tool you need. Able to bash away at stone or concrete, it’s a fantastic bit of kit. But how do you decide which of the multiple models out there is right for you?
Read on for our run-down of seven of the best hammer drills available today. Then take a look at our buying guide before you make your final choice.
At a glance: Our Top 5 Picks for Hammer Drill
The Best Hammer Drill on the Market of 2019
1. TACKLIFE 1/2-Inch Electric Hammer Drill and Impact Drill (Budget Pick)
TACKLIFE’s drill combines hammer action with a standard drill. An orange button on top allows each function to be selected easily. Use the standard drill for wood or plate metal, then switch to the hammer for concrete and masonry. This one won’t, though, cope with reinforced concrete.
You can choose from twelve different speeds up to 2,800 revolutions per minute. There’s a simple dial to select the speed that’s right for your job.
A lock-on button means you won’t have to keep pressing for the drill to turn. That means less fatigue in your hands and wrists. At five and a half pounds it isn’t too heavy , although there are lighter options out there.
There’s an auxiliary handle that rotates through 360 degrees. That makes it much easier to get the right angle to work in – particularly in tight spaces. It’s nice and compact too.
There’s a sturdy metal chuck that makes changing drill bits easy. The chuck goes up to a maximum diameter of half an inch. A forward and reverse action also allows you to use it as a handy electric screwdriver. And there’s a depth gauge to simplify your DIY tasks.
This is very competitively priced, and it comes with a twelve piece drill bit set into the bargain.
There are, though, a couple of downsides. The first is that the cord is on the short side. Be prepared to use an extension cable unless your project is conveniently located next to a power point.
The second is that the chuck isn’t the most secure. We’ve heard some reports of it needing to be refastened after a short period of use in hammer mode.
All in all, though, these seem like minor niggles for a versatile and cost-effective drill.
- Offers both hammer and standard drilling functions
- Choice of 12 different speeds
- Auxiliary handle rotates through 360 degrees, helping you get the right angle to drill
- The chuck is liable to falling out when the hammer drill function is engaged
- The cord could be longer.
2. Bosch 11255VSR Bulldog Xtreme Corded Variable Speed Rotary Hammer Drill (Our Top Recommended)
This is more of a jack-hammer than a standard hand-held drill, and it’s priced accordingly. If you need something to pull up thick concrete, attach a chisel drill bit and get to work. It’s great at removing mortar from concrete too.
It offers three different settings: hammer, rotary hammer and standard drilling. The trigger allows you to vary the speed according to how hard you press.
The D-shaped handle makes it easy to hold. There’s a secondary handle too, to help you control the drill as you’re working. You’ll welcome being able to hold it with two hands, as it’s fairly heavy – just under seven pounds.
At 17 inches, it’s also much longer than other drills on this list. If you need to work in a really tight space, it won’t be the best choice.
Having said that, it’s cleverly designed to be easy to maneuver. It has a Vario-Lock feature, which enables the chisel to be rotated and locked into any one of 36 positions. That’s great for working overhead or at tricky angles.
The cord turret has a 35 degree pivot too. That will help reduce wear and tear on the cable. There’s also an SDS-plus bit system. That allows you to change the drill bits without tools and automatically locks the bit in place.
The real selling point here, though, is power. It’s 7.5 Amp motor delivers up to two foot-pounds of torque and up to 1,300 revolutions per minute. And it will give you the same amount of power whether you’re drilling forward or in reverse.
The price of the power is that this is a corded model. So you’ll need to manage the cable as you work.
All in all, this is a great drill for tougher applications. Just bear in mind that it’s bigger and heavier than others on this list.
- Great for pulling up concrete or stone slabs
- Vario-lock feature allows you to rotate the drill bit into any of 36 positions
- Choice of hammer, rotary hammer or standard drilling functions
- 17 inches long, so you’ll need some space to use it
- You’ll need to keep an eye on that power cord as you work.
3. DEWALT DCD996B Bare Tool 3-Speed Hammer Drill
This is one of the 20V Max range of tools. If you already have any of the others, you’ll be able to use the same battery and charger.
It’s driven by a high-tech brushless motor. This uses an electronic circuit board rather than carbon brushes to constantly relay information from the motor to the drill. It means the motor speed can be adjusted in real time, depending on how much resistance the drill is meeting.
The result is very efficient operation, extending battery life. You’ll get 57 per cent more runtime than with conventional motors. Dewalt say it’s more than 80 per cent more powerful too.
There are only three speeds here, with a maximum of 2,250 revolutions per minute. But while you won’t get the power of corded drills, you won’t need to worry about that pesky cable either. And at just 8.4 inches long and weighing 4.7 pounds, it’s easy to maneuver.
A particularly nice touch is the integrated LED, with a choice of three levels of lighting. If you’re trying to drill in a dark corner, it will make the task much easier. And if you forget about it when you’ve finished, it will switch off automatically after 20 minutes, saving the battery.
There’s a heavy-duty, half-inch ratcheting chuck, and a comfortable grip. And the drill comes with a couple of drill bits too.
So far, so good. But are there any issues to be aware of?
Well, the button to switch between forward and reverse action is a little on the wobbly side. It won’t slip out of position, but it’s an irritant. And that brings us to the second disadvantage: price.
This is a good, solid drill, but it’s expensive. And if you don’t already have another tool in the range, you’ll have to buy the battery and charger separately.
- No cord to get in the way as you’re working
- Brushless motor gives powerful and efficient operation
- Integrated LED helps you see what you’re doing as you drill
- The switch to select forward and reverse action isn’t as secure as we’d like
- You’ll need deep pockets to afford it.
4. Makita XPH12Z Cordless Hammer Drill
It’s another drill that uses brushless technology. That means it’s able to match the motor speed to the degree of drilling challenge. It won’t overheat, and the fast-charging battery will last longer. And you’ll get maximum power too.
The 18 volt battery will power a choice of two speeds. On the low setting you’ll get up to 500 revolutions per minute. Turn it up to high, and that will increase to up to 2,000 revolutions per minute. That translates to up to 530 inch-pounds of torque.
If you’re worried that all that power will mean a heavy drill, don’t be. Including the battery, this weighs only 4.2 pounds. You won’t be left with aching arms when you’ve finished drilling.
If you need to work in tight spaces, you’ll appreciate its compact dimensions. This is one of the shortest drills on our list, at just over seven inches long. And it comes with two LED lights to help you see what you’re doing.
Perhaps the thing that separates this drill from the crowd, though, is its ability to cope with difficult working environments. Makita have designed it with what they call XPT – Extreme Protection Technology. It means the drill will cope with large quantities of dust, as well as being water resistant.
If you’re going to be using it frequently, and particularly if you’ll be outdoors, it’s a good option.
Other than price, there’s really only one downside here and that’s the switch to select the drill mode. This is another drill with standard and hammer drill options, but the switch can be temperamental. We’ve heard complaints of it getting stuck in hammer mode.
Let’s hope Makita listen to the feedback and sort this out, because in all other respects it’s a great drill.
- Cordless operation with fast-charging batter
- Water and dust-resistant
- Lightweight and compact
- The switch to select drilling mode has a tendency to get stuck in the hammer position
- Fairly pricey.
5. SKIL 6445-04 Hammer Drill
There’s a 7 Amp motor which drives the drill at up to 3,000 revolutions per minute. The half-inch chuck will accept larger diameter drill bits for woodworking and cutting. You will need a key to adjust it, though, which makes it more of a faff than keyless models.
There’s a responsive trigger to allow you to vary the speed easily as you drill. And you can lock it in place if you want a consistent speed. It weighs five and a half pounds, and is just over 13 inches long.
This is very inexpensive, so it’s perhaps not surprising that it doesn’t come with any drill bits. Make sure you order some separately, or you’ll be in for a frustrating delay when you want to start work!
There’s an auxiliary handle to help control the drill and make it easier on your arms. You can rotate it too, so it’s comfortable to hold at whatever angle you’re working.
One downside, though, is that turning the auxiliary handle also means turning the depth gauge. That can make it difficult to read in some positions.
You can turn off the hammer mode if you want to, and just use this as a conventional drill. And you can operate it in reverse if you want to use it remove screws.
This is a corded drill, so it’s ready to go whenever you are, with no battery to charge. The cord, though, is very short. On the plus side, it’s easy to manage; but you’ll almost certainly need an extension cable.
There are some minor negatives with this one, but it offers plenty of power at a keen price. Definitely worth a look.
- Plenty of power
- Choice of conventional or hammer drill modes
- Excellent value
- The position of the depth gauge can mean it’s difficult to read
- The chuck is adjusted by key, rather than by hand
6. KIMO Cordless Hammer Drill Set
If you’re looking for a cordless drill but don’t want to have to replace batteries, consider this one from KIMO. They pride themselves in manufacturing some of the longest lasting batteries out there. Each one is guaranteed to last for a thousand charging cycles.
There are also three LEDs to indicate the level of charge remaining. Anyone who’s experienced the frustration of a battery dying just as they’ve started work will appreciate just how useful this is.
The chuck here is three-eighths of an inch in diameter, and it’s keyless. Just twist it one way to release the drill bit, then the other to tighten it.
As well as being a hammer drill, you can use this as a conventional drill or screwdriver. It has a choice of two speeds. Low will take you up to 350 revolutions per minute, while high will reach 1,350 revolutions per minute.
The handle has a comfortable rubber grip. And there’s an LED light to help when working in dark corners.
It’s not as powerful as some other drills on our list. The maximum torque here is 330 inch-pounds. If you need to drill a large hole in thick concrete, there are better options out there. But for lighter tasks – say, drilling screw holes in masonry – it will work well.
It’s ultra lightweight, weighing only 2.2 pounds. And it’s very compact – just seven inches long. The charger is rather bulky, but it will recharge the battery in just 60 minutes. And if you can’t wait even that long, you can buy spare batteries separately.
Included in the – very affordable – price is a battery, charger, 45 drill bits and a carrying bag. It offers excellent value. If you’re looking for a hammer drill for occasional, light use, it’s hard to beat.
- Fast charging battery, guaranteed to last 1,000 charging cycles
- Very lightweight – just over two pounds
- Loads of accessories included in the affordable price
- Not powerful enough for anything other than light duties
- The charger is quite bulky.
7. Milwaukee 2704-20 M18 Hammer Drill/Driver
This powerful hammer drill manages to create an impressive 1,200 inch pound of torque. And if you need faster drilling, it will rotate at up to 2,000 revolutions per minute. For a cordless drill, that’s exceptional.
It’s powered by a red lithium battery, and it’s very long lasting. Milwaukee use what they call “Redlink Intelligence” to prevent damage to the battery from overheating or overloading.
You can choose from hammer or conventional drilling, or use it as a screwdriver. And unlike some multi-function drills, the hammer option here isn’t a weak point.
The half-inch chuck is keyless, and it’s made of carbide so holds onto the bit very securely. For best results, use bits designed specifically for cordless drills.
It isn’t the smallest drill on our list at 13 inches long. Its weight of 4.7 pounds is pretty standard for this kind of tool. It’s got a comfortable grip, though, and it’s very well balanced.
If you’re left-handed, though, this won’t be the best drill for you. The shift switch is positioned near the trigger in such a way that lefties will repeatedly hit it whilst drilling. If you don’t want to find yourself unexpectedly in reverse gear every five minutes, choose another model.
This drill doesn’t come with any accessories – at all. You’ll need to buy the battery, charger and drill bits separately. And if you want a case to protect it, you’ll need to buy one of those separately too.
What it does come with, is a five year limited manufacturers’ warranty. It’s reassuring knowing there’s someone to call if anything goes wrong. Just be aware that if you don’t buy from an authorised dealer, the warranty starts from the date of manufacture.
- Exceptional torque for a cordless drill
- Effective hammer function, with conventional drilling and screwdriving functions too
- Long-lasting battery
- You’ll need to buy all your accessories separately
- Not the best design for left-handers.
Still wondering which is the right hammer drill for you? Our buying guide will help you find the tool to fit your needs.
Corded or cordless?
One quick way to narrow down your search is to decide whether you want a cordless drill.
A cord will almost invariably give you more power. You won’t need to worry about remembering to charge a battery either. But you will need to be in reach of a power outlet to drill. And you’ll have to keep an eye on the position of the cord as you work.
Cordless models are generally lighter and your movement won’t be restricted by a power cable. And you can use them in locations where there’s no power supply.
How powerful do you need your drill to be?
The next thing to consider is how much power you’ll need. Do you want to drill the occasional hole to fix things to stone or brick walls? Or are you looking for something to tear up thick concrete slabs?
Higher drilling speeds aren’t necessarily the best for drilling into tough surfaces. A lower number of revolutions per minute will do the job more slowly but will make more impact.
The key measurement to look out for is torque. This is measured in inch-pounds or foot-pounds. The higher the number, the more powerful the drill.
Bear in mind, though, that more power usually means more weight. So if you don’t need a really powerful drill, look for a lighter weight option. It will be less tiring on your arms and hands.
Where will you be working?
We’ve already considered the question of power supply, but other aspects of your working location will also influence your choice of drill.
If you’ll be drilling in dark corners, look for a tool that comes with LED lights. They’ll make it far easier to see what you’re doing.
If you’ll be working outside, look for a drill that’s water-resistant. If it starts to rain, you don’t want moisture to damage the mechanism.
Will you have room to maneuver, or do you need something compact enough to fit into tight spaces? Some drills also give you the option of changing the angle of the drill bit or rotating the auxiliary handle. Both of these can be very helpful when working in a confined space.
Time to go shopping!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our round-up of some of the best hammer drills on the market today. With such a range of options out there, we hope you’ve found one to fit your needs.
Our top pick is the Bulldog Extreme from Bosch. It’s a real workhorse of a hammer drill, able to get through thick concrete with ease. Just remember you’ll need somewhere to plug it in.
Whatever model you choose, a hammer drill is a great addition to your toolbox. Enjoy the satisfaction of drilling through masonry as if it were butter. Those DIY jobs will take half the time they used to!