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There’s a lot you can do with a basic corded or cordless drill, but some projects require a little more power. One of the toughest handheld tools you can have in your garage or cabinet is a hammer drill. Many household hammer drills can switch between various settings, making them usable as regular drills, too. But it’s worth exploring when you should — and shouldn’t — use a hammer drill. The best way to do that is by taking a look at how a hammer drill functions.
Hammer drills are often confused for impact drivers, but they serve wildly different functions. Impact drivers can be used for driving in screws and fasteners, much like regular household drills. When you use a regular drill, even a powerful one, you’ll often run into times when the motor starts to slow down as it meets resistance. Impact drivers, however, respond to resistance by automatically giving extra power to get the screw into place. Since they deliver an appropriate amount of power, they reduce the risk of stripping screws.
Hammer drills, at least when used in the hammer setting, are not suitable substitutes for drills. As the name suggests, hammer drills use a back and forth hammering motion to power through hard materials like concrete. They’re great for masonry, but you shouldn’t use the hammer setting on wood or for screwing in fasteners. However, many of our favorite hammer drills can switch modes, allowing them to be used as an all-purpose drill and driver. So, while they’re more expensive than the average drill, they can add a lot of value to your lineup of tools.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite hammer drills, including corded and cordless options.
1. DEWALT Hammer Drill Kit
If you’re looking for an option with more power, this hammer drill from DeWalt has a 10-amp motor. It can be used to hammer drill or drill, and there are two speed settings for drilling or torque applications. The side-grip handle can be adjusted 360 degrees for ergonomic use in a variety of positions. While it’s powerful, it’s not clunky, and it’s a lightweight tool to keep you working.
Pros: Powerful 10-amp motor, two speed settings, functions as a hammer drill or drill.
Cons: Chuck can get loose and will need regular tightening.
2. Bosch Bulldog Xtreme Rotary Hammer Drill
German manufacturing company Bosch was actually an early innovator in the hammer drill market, offering what it called the Bosch hammer as early as the 1930s. The technology has obviously improved since then, getting more powerful and more compact. This rotary hammer has 8 amps of power and various settings — it can switch between rotation only, rotary hammer, and hammer only. You can control the speed by adjusting pressure on the trigger, and it also runs in reverse. The auxiliary handle can be detached and adjusted as needed.
Pros: Solid 8-amp motor, three settings including rotation only, rotary hammer, and hammer only. Ergonomic and adjustable grip.
Cons: Some options are less heavy.
3. SKIL Hammer Drill
If you’re looking for an economical option for lighter-duty applications, consider this hammer drill from SKIL. You can switch between hammer drill mode and drill mode, and the 7.5 amp motor delivers substantial power for a variety of projects. The variable speed trigger gives you more precise control.
Pros: Works as a drill and as a hammer drill. Economical option
Cons: Not as strong as some of the other options.
4. DEWALT 20V MAX XR Hammer Drill Kit
This powerful drill is made by one of the most well-lauded brands in the power tools industry: DeWalt. This hammer drill is a great all-in-one pick, and can perform non-hammer functions, too. One of the best things about this drill is that it has a brushless motor. What that means is that less friction is generated within the motor, leading to cooler running and less overheating. It’s worth noting that this is the drill only — neither the Lithium battery nor the charger is included.
Pros: Versatile enough for hammer and non-hammer functions. Brushless motor for longer performance. Delivers a decent 38,250 BPM (blows per minute) for hammer drilling and 2,250 RPM for regular drilling.
Cons: Somewhat expensive, especially considering it doesn’t come with a battery or battery charger.