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Top 4 Best Hammer Drills of 2018

Best hammer drill reviews 2018

Best-in-class
DEWALT DCD950KX

DEWALT DCD950KX 18-Volt XRP Drill/Driver/Hammerdrill Kit

Powerful three-speed transmission

Heavy-duty cordless hammer drill handles industrial-grade applications and comes with extended runtime.

DEWALT DCD950KX Review

The DEWALT DCD950KX is perhaps the best hammer drill on the market. It comes with all benefits of a cordless tool and is powered by a reliable 18V battery capable of providing an extended runtime and faster recharge. It can be used anywhere, from the home workshop to the job site, it is perfectly balanced and easy to handle. The feature that sets this tool apart from the mass is the patented three-speed transmission made of all metal that provides higher speeds compared to other hammer drills in its class. The device also boasts a sturdy 0.5-inch self-tightening chuck compatible with a wide range of drill bits and accessories.

Ideal to use on all materials, including masonry, steel, and hardwood, and in all conditions thanks to the built-in LED flashlight, the DEWALT DCD950KX truly deserves the title of the best in its class.

Best value
DEWALT DCD996B

DEWALT DCD996B 20V MAX XR 3-Speed Hammer Drill

Ideal for job site drilling

High-performance transmission and high-efficiency brushless motor designed for fast drilling in masonry materials.

DEWALT DCD996B Review

If you’re looking for industrial performance that won’t break the bank, the DEWALT DCD996B brings the best value for money. Designed for fast drilling in masonry materials, this hammer drill comes with a robust transmission and a high-efficiency motor that deliver a higher working speed and improved runtime. Like our best-in-class pick, the DEWALT DCD996B is cordless and powered by a reliable 20V MAX XR battery sold separately.

Developed for easy handling and drilling, this tool produces up to 820 UWO and works at speeds up to 38,250 BPM. Resistant and well balanced, it boasts an ergonomic grip and a three-mode spotlight, while the chuck made of nitro-carburized metal is compatible with a broad range of bits. Powerful, reliable, and available at an accessible price, the DEWALT DCD996B is no doubt the best hammer drill for the money.

Also great
DEWALT DWD525K

DEWALT DWD525K VSR Mid-Handle Grip Hammerdrill Kit

Metal gear housing

Two-speed transmission and reliable motor provide powerful drilling to the enthusiast hobbyist or professional.

DEWALT DWD525K Review

The DEWALT DWD525K is another highly performing hammer drill that can withstand professional and domestic use alike. More powerful than our best-value pick but also more expensive, the DEWALT DWD525K comes with a reliable 10-Amp motor and plugs into a wall outlet. Mobility is, therefore, conditioned by the length of the cord, a detail that makes it less suitable for job sites where electricity is limited or unavailable.

The transmission is also less versatile, offering only two speeds. Nevertheless, the high speed of 3,500 RPM and the high torque make the tool ideal for heavy-duty drilling in masonry, hardwood, or hard metals like steel. A reliable design and extra power, the DEWALT DWD525K makes an excellent runner-up pick.

Best budget
DEWALT DW511

DEWALT DW511 VSR Corded Hammer Drill

Ideal for home use

Constructed to protect the drill bits and ideal for light-duty masonry applications.

DEWALT DW511 Review

Homeowners looking for a reliable hammer drill may find all they need in the DEWALT DW511. Constructed for light-duty applications, inexpensive, and easy to handle, this hammer drill comes with an array of interesting features that put it ahead of the other convenient options out there. Perhaps the most attractive feature is the variable speed control that, combined with the dual mode, allows for a precise hole placement in most masonry materials, steel, and wood.

Powered by electricity, this hammer drill comes with a 7.8-Amp motor equipped with overload protection, is lightweight and easy to handle. Powerful enough to address all home drilling needs, the DEWALT DW511 is ideal for the hobbyist shopping on a budget.

2. Hammer drill vs. regular drill

A hammer drill is the pro’s tool of choice for drilling holes in masonry materials including brick, mortar, and concrete. But if you’re after the right tool for home use, why choose a hammer drill instead of a regular one?

The difference between the two tools is subtle. A regular drill spins to drill holes. The hammer drill spins and hammers at the same time. The fast hammering action combined with the spinning movement of the drill bit creates a significant increase in force that can potentially pulverize the material, allowing you to make holes in hard surfaces.

3. Do you need a hammer drill?

There is an important gap between the price tags of a regular drill and a hammer drill, so before investing in one, perhaps you want to know if you really need it. The answer is often driven by your necessities.

What do you want to drill?

  • For the DIY projects involving drilling wood, plastic, and metal, use a regular drill, or a hammer drill with the hammering action switched off.
  • A hammer drill allows you to drill faster and easier in hard masonry materials.

Using a hammer drill as a regular one

Hammer drills also come with a peculiarity; they don’t automatically hammer. You will have to engage or switch on the hammering action. When this function is off, the chuck spins only, doubling as a regular tool.

In other words, the hammer drill adapts to all drilling needs. Although costlier, it serves many more purposes and is a more versatile addition to your arsenal.

4. Corded vs. cordless hammer drill

The first thing to decide when buying a hammer drill is the power source. With the advent of the cordless technology, most hobbyists and pros tend to go for the battery-operated option. But just because you can take the tool anywhere, it doesn’t mean it’s better.

  • Corded hammer drills: Come with a significant advantage – the power source is indefinite. Plug the tool into a wall socket and use it for as long as you like. This option is ideal if you’re looking for a tool to keep in the workshop and don’t really care about mobility.
  • Cordless hammer drills: Are portable. They are perfect to use in renovation projects that keep you outdoors and away from a wall outlet. Thanks to the advancement of technologies, cordless hammer drills are comparable with the corded ones in terms of performance, but the runtime is limited by the characteristics of the battery.

The best cordless hammer drills come with interchangeable Li-Ion batteries that are easy to replace with charged ones when drained.

5. Hammer drill power

The power factor is decisive in the choice of the best hammer drill because it determines how suitable the tool is for your needs. Hammer drill’s power is typically expressed in watts, and its value ranges from a few hundred on the weaker tools to over 2,000 on the industrial-grade units.

There is no absolute formula to help determine the best wattage, but in broad lines, you’ll need:

  • Up to 500 watts: For most DIY and household applications such as drilling plaster walls or other soft masonry materials. Although it is possible to use a 500-watts tool to drill harder materials, expect a reduced performance and poorer drilling efficiency.
  • From 500 to 850 watts: For medium-duty applications such as drilling bricks, cinder blocks or stone.
  • 900 watts or over: For heavy-duty applications including drilling hard masonry materials like concrete. These tools are also suitable to use with hole saw bits to achieve deeper and larger holes.

6. Hammer drill speed

The speed of the motor influences the quality of the work in terms of power and precision. A fast drill is also able to deliver great results on a wider variety of materials.

There are two variables to consider, the revolutions per minute (RPM), which represent the spinning speed of the chuck, and the beats per minute (BPM) that refer to the hammering movement.

  • Hammer drills vary widely in terms of speed capabilities. The lower end models rarely exceed 1,000 RPM while the best professional hammer drills easily reach over 3,000 RPM. A higher speed guarantees a better performance on hard materials, but if you want to drill soft materials too, look for a tool with variable speed.
  • The beats per minute feature matters when you want to use the hammer function of the tool, guaranteeing faster and more precise drilling in masonry materials. For home use purposes, a tool with around 25,000 BPM ensures drilling accuracy on soft masonry materials like bricks, mortar, and plaster. For professional use or drilling in hard masonry materials, choose a tool with over 35,000 BPM.

7. Best hammer drill bits

Hammer drills are intended to use with masonry drill bits, although most models are compatible with a wide range of bits and accessories designed for professional or DIY use.

The best masonry bits are made of either tungsten carbide or metal with diamond core.

  • Tungsten carbide drill bits: Come in various sizes ranging from under 0.25 inches to 1.5 inches and are used to drill holes in solid concrete, stone, brick, and aerated concrete blocks. Most of them have a round section shank and are compatible with most standard drill chuck systems.
  • Diamond core bits: look like miniature hole saws and are used for drilling large holes up to 3 inches or more in concrete and other masonry materials.

Besides the masonry drill bits above, you can choose between multiple drill bits for wood, plastic, glass, and metal which are compatible with the SDS chucks of the hammer drills. These increase the versatility of the tool, allowing to use it in multiple projects with or without the hammering action engaged.

8. What other features to look for?

Apart from all the above, the best hammer drills come with an array of other features developed to improve the user experience.

  • Spin direction variation: Gives you the possibility to change the direction of the rotation of the chuck and, consequently, of the drill bit. This allows an easy extraction of the drill bit from the hole and, with the right accessories, it gives the possibility to screw and unscrew bolts and screws.
  • Chuck size: Most hammer drills come with chuck sizes from 3/8-inch to 1/2-inch. The chuck size determines the maximum size of the shank of the bits it can accommodate, and you should aim for the higher value for more versatility.
  • Accessories: Hammer drills come with SDS chucks that are only compatible with specific drill bits. If you want to use the tool for more than drilling into masonry, check the number of accessories the tool is compatible with.
  • Construction: The size and shape of the handle define how ergonomic the tool is, and ultimately its ease of use. Besides ergonomic, the best hammer drill must also be lightweight and well balanced.
  • Add-ons: Some hammer drills come with built-in LED lights that allow you to work in low light conditions.
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