If you are thinking about buying a hammer drill, there is one important decision to make at the very beginning. That is whether to buy a corded hammer drill or a cordless hammer drill. We would highly recommend giving this considerable thought before you spend any money.
You should also be certain that a hammer drill is the right type of drill for your purpose. There are a few choices available depending on exactly what you want the drill to do.
The main difference is simply the guaranteed power that a corded one will give you. A drill that is plugged into a main electrical socket will always have more power, than one run on a battery. There is also no chance of running out of that power unless you don't pay your utility bill.
So if you are someone who needs to drill through a lot of masonry type materials like brick, concrete or stone, then a corded hammer drill is the way to go.
Why do you need a hammer drill?
A hammer drill is used to drill, hammer drill or jack hammer drill using a chisel. It is used to drill masonry or to chisel masonry and other hard materials like stone and granite. A hammer drill should not be used on wood or steel as that is not its purpose.
That said, you can still use the drill only option on a hammer drill to drill wood or steel, but a cheaper drill or drill/driver will do this. Buying a hammer drill to drill wood or steel would be wasting your money
Hammer Drill vs Hammer Feature
Lots of cordless drills and cordless drill/drivers have what is called a hammer feature. Their main purpose is to drill holes and also to drive screws. Manufacturers may then add a hammer feature as an option. When you engage that feature on the torque wheel, it can be used for most drilling of masonry.
That does not make them a hammer drill though as that is not what they are designed for. It is just convenient for many home owners to have that added feature.
Corded vs Cordless hammer drills
We mentioned at the beginning that the first choice should be whether you want to own a corded or cordless hammer drill. Just below we explain the advantages and disadvantages of both.
Corded Hammer Drill Benefits
- They are much cheaper - you don't need to buy a battery and charger
- They are more powerful and a great deal faster than a cordless hammer drill
- They don't run out of power
- They work great with a chisel
- They are a work horse
Cordless Hammer Drill Benefits
- No trailing leads
- Worth considering if you own a compatible battery
- Can handle most jobs
Corded Hammer Drill Disadvantages
- They have an electric lead which can get caught up easily
- Of no use if there is no plug in power supply
Cordless Hammer Drill Disadvantages
- Not as powerful and power drops as battery declines
- They are hard on batteries and can run out quickly
- Not that good with chisels
If you have to do heavy drilling into concrete, then we have no hesitation in recommending a corded hammer drill. As long as you have somewhere to plug the drill into, they are by far the best option.
Now it is worth mentioning that these drills can of course be used for normal drilling as well as for the hammering function. That is normally done by flicking a switch on the top of the drill to select if you want normal drilling. hammer drilling or chisel drilling.
You shouldn't use a hammer drill for driving in screws either. They will:
- Ruin your driver bits
- Most likely split wood if trying to power screws through like this
- And may have an accident through slippage
Which brands make corded hammer drills?
All the major tool brands make corded hammer drills. These include Porter Cable, Bosch, Skil, Dewalt, Makita and Black & Decker to name but a few. They make various models in a range of different shapes and sizes. The one that you decide to go for will depend on what brand you like, the features you want and the price.
Our recommended hammer drill - Makita HR2475
If you want our advice, this hammer drill from the Makita brand is the best on the market and is classed as a rotary hammer drill.
The power in this hammer drill is simply amazing and it is built to last for years
The average price for this is around $200 and will vary depending on the seller so we know it isn't a cheap option, but it is exceptionally good.
It can be used as "Rotation Only", "Hammering with Rotation" or "Hammering Only" for multiple applications
Perfect choice for masons, remodelers, electricians, general contractors and really serious DIY people
96% buyer satisfaction based on 800+ online buyer reviews
This is a 1-inch rotary hammer drill with a D-shaped handle, lock on button, 40 chisel angle settings, synchronized RPM and BPM settings and a one touch sliding chuck. It also accepts SDS-PLUS.
Corded hammer drill buying guide
We like to put together a full useful buying guide as it better explains those really important features to be on the lookout for. It also helps explain some of the strange terms used by tool manufacturers.
These type of drills are essentially split into two types which are at opposite ends of the price range. Most people who do a bit of DIY, repairs and projects around the home, will really only ever need a drill that will cost around $50-80.
Contractors, professionals and anyone else who can afford it will need a tough working drill that has extra power, more durability and will be a bit of a work horse. Those are in the price range of $150-200.
Below we walk you through the features of corded hammer drills.
Power is the most important feature
The motor size is what delivers the real power to your drill. The simple rule to follow here is the larger the motor, the more power you will have in your hands. Standard motors will be around 7 Amps, and the larger motors will be around 10 Amps. The quality and engineering of the motor is also very important.
Well made metal motors used by the better brands will last a great deal longer than cheaper motors that have some plastic parts. Typically plastic parts are used in the cheaper type of hammer drills.
It is also the power of the motor, along with the gears that create the rotational speed (RPM) and the hammerings speed (BPM) The combination and synchronization of those two defining speeds are what makes drilling easy or hard.
Variable speed on a hammer drill
The main purpose of variable speed on a hammer drill is to give you complete control. This is vitally important especially when drilling through masonry. Ideally you want a slow start to avoid slipping off the point where you want to drill.
Masonry materials such as brick, cement, mortar etc have different degrees of hardness. You wants a slower speed for basic concrete, whereas you will need a faster speed to get through something like brick.
With any masonry material you want to be able to start slow and gradually increase the speed of drilling.
Keyed chuck vs Keyless chuck
Some of these type of power hammer drills will use a key to tighten the chuck. More often than not these days drills come with a keyless chuck, and for the most part these work just fine. A key chuck however is better when it comes to a hammer drill.
There is a lot more bouncing and bumping of the drill bit and as such the chuck really needs to hold the bit in place. By using a key, you can fully tighten the chuck to prevent slippage. It is not as convenient but it does work.
By using Hex and SDS bits the need for a keyless chuck is not so important as these types of drill bits stay tight in the chuck when compared to round shafted drill bits.
This is a really useful feature if you are drilling a lot of holes to a similar depth. This is really useful if you are doing something like fixings or Tapcon concrete screws. This sounds like a small feature but we think it is an essential feature to have for any type of fixings that you may be drilling holes for.
Pistol grips vs D-Handles
The pistol grip is the one that we are all familiar with. The drill looks similar to a gun and hence the name pistol grip. The bigger hammer drills use a D grip as that allows you to get and apply more pressure to the drill. These would be used for fairly heavy duty drilling. The D-grip is also more comfortable to use.
Many good quality hammer drills will also come with a side handle for better support and helps spread the weight on your arms.
Shock Absorption & Vibration
Many of the professional drills will have some type of shock protection built in. When you are doing heavy duty drilling this is a great idea as it takes most of the vibration out and away from your arms. That helps stop your arms suffering from fatigue and getting pins and needles,
Many of the better corded hammer drills will have what is called an over-moulding on the case of the drill. This is in essence like a second layer of the body of the drill and that helps reduce the impact on your hands and arms, due to the vibration of the hammer action. It isn't a vital requirement but is most certainly helps a lot.