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 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.
2. KIMO Cordless Drill Driver Kit
Kimo’s cordless drill is amazing because it delivers great functionality for an affordable price. It’s designed to work as a regular drill, but it can also be used as a hammer drill. The clutch has a rotating dial that allows you to easily switch between modes. There’s also a built-in LED to illuminate dark workspaces, and the drill is powered by a 20V battery. They also include a bunch of bits, so you can be ready to drill as soon as the unit is charged.
Pros: Versatile option that can switch between different modes, including hammer, impact, and screwdriver.
Cons: Hammer function may not be as powerful as traditional hammer drills.
3. SKIL 7.0 Amp 1/2 In. Hammer Drill
SKIL’s power tools are affordable and reliable, and this option is great for amateurs and DIYers who regularly work with masonry. It has a solid 7-amp motor, and the variable speed trigger allows you to change the speed of the drill based on how much you depress the trigger. Like most powerful hammer drills, this option has an additional handle on the side for two-handed gripping. This side grip is adjustable, allowing for a comfortable and personalized grip.
Pros: Solid 7-amp motor for light to medium duty applications. The trigger allows you to vary the speed without having to adjust a clutch. Side-grip handle is adjustable.
Cons: Adjusting speed using the trigger is less precise, and it can be difficult and tiring to not fully hold down the trigger.
4. Neiko 6.0 Amp Corded Hammer Drill,
If you’re looking for an affordable option for lighter-duty applications, consider this hammer drill from Neiko. You can switch between hammer drill mode and drill mode, and the 6-amp motor rotates at 2,800 RPM. The side-grip can be removed and rotated 360 degrees for ergonomic handling at a variety of angles. As an added bonus, the corded drill comes with three bonus masonry drill bits — 1/4, 5/16, and 3/8-inch.
Pros: Affordable, comes with extra drill bits. Well-suited for lighter applications. Works as a drill and as a hammer drill.
Cons: Not as strong as some of the other options.
5. 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 — at 6 pounds, it’s heavier than most of the other options but is still lightweight.
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.
6. 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: While 10 pounds is not unreasonable, this hammer drill is heavier than other options.