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6 Best Rotary Hammer Drill: 2017 Review & Comparison Guide

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6 Best Rotary Hammer Drill Review and Comparisons

In a world that has become increasingly dominated by DIY television shows and Youtube videos with step by step maintenance guides, the home-based handy man and woman is beginning to provide strong competition for the professionals. So with all this DIY-ing going on, do you have all the necessary tools to make all of your DIY dreams a reality?

Let's say that you have your electrically powered drill and a cordless power screwdriver for your light to medium duty maintenance tasks, but you have a few heavy-duty projects like a home renovation or maybe you need to build a new retaining wall. So if this is you, then there is one tool that has the power to tackle any tough DIY project – the rotary hammer drill.

Our pick

THE BEST ROTARY HAMMER DRILL

Makita XRH05Z 18V X2 LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 1-Inch Rotary Hammer

This high quality industrial-style strength rotary hammer drill is designed to handle the most toughest of DIY projects: it can drill, chisel, and hammer through brick, stone, or concrete walls. It has a lot of handy operator features, an ergonomic handle with vibration control, LED warning light for the battery, and a LED light for working in low light conditions. 

What Is Rotary Hammer Drill?

The rotary hammer drill gets its name from the rotary mechanism that moves the hammer in a circular motion, and combined with the powerful forward hammering action, it can drill and bore holes into masonry, ceramic tiles, brick and thick concrete.

Rotary hammers are used by many construction professionals because of the extra drilling and pulverizing action the drill supplies and also shock-absorbing qualities.

The are two main types of rotary hammers available on the market: the ordinary rotary hammer and the SDS rotary hammer.

You can buy an ordinary rotary hammer that operates like a regular drill, or invest in a SDS hammer drill that has an extra powerful hammering motion.

Although basic rotary hammer drills are great for medium-duty tasks and can perform more than one function, SDS hammer drill is a very versatile tool. As well as giving you extra drilling power, it gives you three options - you can use it as a regular power drill just by switching on the hammering function on the machine. Or you can switch over to the rotary hammer model or use it for rotation purposes. It is like having a power screwdriver, hammer drill and impact driver all in one.

If you have any demolition work, framing applications, or basement renovations that desperately need doing, then the SDS rotary hammer drill will give you that extra drilling and chiselling power you need. But be warned, a rotary drill can take some getting used to, so before you start to use it, it is a good idea to learn some safety tips so that you can use the drill properly and safely.

Electric (corded) or Battery-Powered (cordless) Rotary Hammer

Electric (corded)

Most power tools are available in two power sources: electric (corded) or battery-powered (cordless). Their operating functions are similar, but your choice will depend on where you will be using the drill, for how long, and how much power you will need.

Corded drills are the most powerful and give you access to a continuous power supply. They are especially ideal for those tougher jobs like drilling through thick concrete. But there are limitations to an electric rotary hammer, you have to stay relatively close to a power outlet or you have to use a heavy-duty extension cord. You also have to be mindful of where the cord is positioned, which can take your mind off your task.

Cordless (Battery-powered)

Cordless hammer drills are beginning to provide strong competition for electricity powered drills. Many people are favoring the battery power source as the drill is portable, you can take it off-site, and it can be used anywhere in and around your home. Battery-powered drills are especially ideal for working in cramped conditions.

As most batteries are lithium-ion, they are quite strong, and they provide you with a stable power source, and many of these batteries can be recharged quickly. The downside of using a battery-powered drill is that your usage is limited to a particular number of hours, so you will need to recharge the battery.

Also, you may not get the power you need for those heavy-duty DIY tasks that may take a while to complete in one stretch. So your choice will depend on what kind of jobs you will be doing around your homestead.

8 Specifications to Look for When Buying a Rotary Hammer Drill

1. Powerful motor

Most rotary hammer drills have strong motors that start from 7 amps for medium-duty maintenance work and up to 10 amps for heavy-duty DIY projects.

2. Impact Energy

Also keep your eye out for the amount of impact energy the drill can produce while drilling into material. Any hammer drill that has an impact energy rating from 2 to 4 ft/lbs or Joules depending on the unit is ideal for medium to heavy- duty tasks.

3. Voltage – Battery Power

For cordless drills, the higher the voltage, the more power you will get from the drill, but a stronger battery could mean that the drill will be heavier to use.

The best battery power to choose is 18 or 20 volts as this type of power will be ideal for medium to heavy-duty work applications. Although there are two types of batteries available, Ni-Cad and Lithium-Ion, Ni-Cad is quickly being replaced by Lithium-ion batteries as they provide you with a stable power source, they recharge quickly and they are environmentally friendly.

4. Torque

Torque means the ‘twisting power’ of the drill. The higher the torque rating, the higher the twisting action the drill can produce.

5. Drilling speed (BPM and RPM)

The drilling speed relates to the amount of revolutions or rotation (RPM) that the drill can perform per minute, basically it indicates how fast the drill is.

For medium to heavy-duty jobs, look for a drill with a faster RPM from 1200 to 1500, and anything over 2000 RPM is ideal for heavy-duty work. BPM indicates the amount of blows the drill makes in a minute, the higher the BPM, the stronger the hammering action of the drill will be.

6. Chuck size

The chuck is the part of the drill that holds the drill or screw bit. Most chucks are designed to be keyless, which means you do not need a tool to attach them and they are quite easy to attach and remove manually.

7. Handy Operator Features

Besides the power and performance of the rotary hammer, the other important feature you need to look for when buying a drill is how comfortable is it to operate. Although a rotary hammer will be heavier than other power tools like the power screwdriver, it can have lot of kickback and cause vibrations.

Handle grip. Look for a handle grip that is comfortable to hold, preferably something with a soft grip. A good tip is to visit your local power tool dealer or hardware store and try handing the drills. Try before you buy is a good way to see if you and the drill will be a great fit. Also, many manufacturers design their drills with anti-vibration technology so that most of the vibrations are absorbed by the handle.

Trigger. Being able to have the best control over the trigger is important, so try out the drill and see if your index finger fits around the trigger comfortably. This is especially important if you are drilling into extra tough surfaces like concrete.

8. Drill accessories and drill packs

A lot of manufacturers offer you more than just the “bare tool”. “Bare tool” means that the drill is sold by itself. But some drills come in a kit with a handy carrying case, a depth gauge or extra batteries and chargers. LED lights are a great feature when you need to illuminate low light working areas.

6 Best Rotary Hammer Drill — Product Review and Comparison Guide

Corded (Electric)

1. Bosch RH328VC 1-1/8-Inch SDS Rotary Hammer

Bosch specializes in manufacturing high quality power tools that can be relied upon to deliver a top notch working performance. So if you are looking for an affordable electric rotary hammer drill that has the power for medium-duty tasks like installing sliding doors to renovating your bathroom, then the Bosch SDS RH328VC is a very good choice.

This lightweight, but very strong hammer is ideal for drilling into or chipping away concrete, stone or ceramic tiles. It is powered by an 8 amp motor, which can produce 2.6 ft. lbs impact energy and 4000 BPM and 900 RPM. The integral clutch helps to minimize torque reaction if the drill gets stuck, and the multi-function selector means that you can use the drill as a rotary hammer, a hammer, or for rotation purposes only.

Bosch’s professional grade compact drill is an DIY operator's dream as it is fast and it can operate with minimal vibrations. This is made possible by the innovative Active Vibration Control™ technology, which means the vibration is absorbed into the handle. It is comfortable to hold and the 360 degree handle gives you extra control, and the variable speed 3 finger trigger and side grip is easy to adjust. A handy depth gauge can help you to maintain drilling accuracy. The drill also comes with an 8 foot power cord and a good quality carrying case.

What we like:

  • Ideal for medium DIY tasks
  • Easy to use
  • High quality drilling performance
  • Fast
  • Multi-functional

What we don't like:

  • Not designed for drilling into wood

2. Hitachi DH24PF3 VSR 15/16 Inch SDS-Plus 3-Mode Rotary Hammer

If you are new to the world of DIY renovations or maintenance and have not used a rotary drill before, then the Hitachi DH24PF3 is the ideal choice. It is one of the lightest and most compact rotary hammers weighing in at 5.3 lbs, which makes it a great power drill to use for those hard to reach places.

Although it is one of the smaller sized drills, it has loads of power with a 7 amp motor with 800 watts and 2.5 feet-per-pounds of impact energy for forcible drilling into hard surfaces even concrete. The electronic variable speed control from 0-1,150 rpm, can be adjusted to fit the the type of material you will be working with. If the drill gets wedged in a hole, the push button reversing switch will easily detach any wayward screw or drill bit, and the Quick-set bit system makes it so quick and easy to replace the 15/16 inch drill bits.

The drill has 3 modes of operation to choose from; drilling only, hammering only or hammer drilling, so it is a versatile tool that gives you that much needed flexibility for a wide range of tasks in and around your property. The “Lock-on” speed button gives continuous drilling action: you can just set it to your desired speed and press the lock button for a smooth power flow until you have finished the job.

There is a removable 360 degree side handle that gives you that extra bit of control over the drill’s contact with any type of surface. The Elastomer coated D-handle helps to absorb the amount of vibration that a hammer drill can create and it gives you a solid grip on the tool. The rotary hammer also comes with a handy carrying case.

What we like:

  • Affordable
  • Ideal for small to medium-duty tasks
  • Good value
  • Good trigger control
  • Powerful
  • Multi-functional
  • Low vibration

What we don't like:

  • Not ideal for heavy-duty tasks

3. Bosch 11255VSR BULLDOG Xtreme 1-Inch SDS-plus Rotary Hammer Drill

I had to include this beast from Bosch, not only because of its powerful performance, but also due to the smart mechanical and operator features that makes it one of those”'can't do without” DIY power tools. This rotary hammer drill from Bosch is a sure sign of their dedication to manufacturing superior technological and powerful home and garden power tools.

So if it is powerful drilling action you are after, then that is what you will get if you buy the Bosch Bulldog SDS-Plus Hammer Drill. Xtreme by name and nature, the Bulldog is designed to perform drilling, hammering and chiseling actions. The strong motor has 7.5 amps and can deliver 2.0 ft. lbs of impact energy and can produce up to 1,300 RPM and 0 -5,800 BPM, which makes this drill the ideal choice for drilling into almost any type of building material.

You can use the tool as a rotary hammer, for rotation only, or just as a hammer, and the variable-speed trigger gives you control of the speed you will need depending on the type of material you will be working with such as ceramic tiles, brick and concrete.

The drill’s reversible function helps you move the drill bit when it gets stuck, which can happen a lot especially when you are drilling into tough building material. Remember, this beast is very powerful and can bite, so take care if you have not used a power drill of its calibre before.

Although it is a drilling monster, it is designed with some handy operator features like the “Vario-lock positioning system” that rotates and locks the drill in 36 different positions, so that you can find the optimal working angle. The drill has a keyless SDS-Plus chuck, which is easy to attach and remove, and the D-handle gives you extra control when you are working in hard to reach work areas.

One the highlights of this rotary hammer drill is the 8 feet power cord with a cord turret that pivots 35 degrees, which gives you flexibility and that all important long cord life. The rotary hammer comes with an auxiliary handle, a depth gauge and a carrying case.

What we like:

  • Ideal for medium to heavy-duty work
  • Very powerful
  • Great torque
  • Fast
  • Good power cord length

What we don't like:

  • 1 year limited warranty
  • Drill can give a lot of kickback

4. Dewalt D25263K D-Handle SDS 1-1/8 Inch Rotary Hammer Drill

If you are looking for a lightweight rotary hammer drill that can easily power through concrete, then the Dewalt D25263K rotary hammer drill is a great choice. The 8.5 amp motor delivers loads of power for a superior drilling performance and the 3 joules of impact energy provides a fast chipping speed for working with tough building material.

Dewalt has specifically designed this hammer with some extra special features that can make your medium DIY tasks a more comfortable experience. Using a hammer drill can cause a lot of kickback and vibrations, especially if you are working with tough material like rock, concrete or brick, but this drill has built in shocks for active vibration control that reduce the amount of vibration that can be felt during the drilling process.

There is an integral clutch that can reduce any high torque reaction if the drill jams while you are working, and the drill produces a lot of torque and a fast drilling speed in both reverse and forward drilling motions. The drill comes with a 360 degree handle that gives you extra control while you are dilling, a depth rod to maintain drilling accuracy, and a kit box to store the drill.

What we like:

  • Ideal for medium-duty tasks
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Fast
  • Anti-vibration shock absorption
  • 3 year limited warranty

What we don't like:

  • Noisy
  • Not enough power for heavy-duty tasks

Cordless/Battery-powered

5. Ryobi P221 18-Volt ONE+ SDS-Plus ½ Inch Rotary Hammer Drill

The Ryobi P221 ONE+ is a great cordless option that is ideal for medium-duty drilling applications. It is compact and lightweight, but this drill can still maintain its position as a powerful contender in the DIY rotary hammer drill range. It can accept both ni-cad and lithium-ion powered 4.0 ah batteries, and the 18 volt motor can deliver up to 1250 RPM. There is a variable speed option, and the 2 mode selector means that you can use the drill for rotational purposes or as a rotary hammer with 5000 BPM for breaking through light concrete.

The ½ inch chuck is keyless, so it is easy to attach and remove screws or bits, and the depth rod helps you to maintain accuracy when you are boring holes. The drill is comfortable to hold with a overmold grip and the 360 auxiliary handle provides you with extra flexibility and manoeuvrability. Ryobi offers a 3-year limited warranty, but you have to purchase the battery and charger separately.

What we like:

  • Good value
  • Ideal for plywood, brick and light concrete
  • Lightweight
  • Great drilling action
  • 3 year limited warranty

What we don't like:

  • Bare Tool
  • Not ideal for drilling in thick concrete

6. Makita XRH05Z LXT 18V X2 1 Inch Rotary Hammer

If you are looking for a cordless hammer drill that can deliver an overall powerful drilling and hammering performance similar to a corded drill, then look no further than the Makita XRH05Z LXT Rotary Hammer. As a manufacturer of some of the best home and garden power tools, Makita has excelled once again with this strong workhorse that can be used for working with tough material like rock and concrete.

The drill is powered by an 18 volt 2. 6 Ah LXT lithium-ion battery and the strong custom-built motor delivers up to 1250 RPM, 5000 BPM and 3.0 Joules of impact energy for the most demanding of DIY applications like renovations or boring holes into concrete foundations.

You can use the tool for rotation purposes, hammering with rotation, or for hammering only. The torque limiting clutch is specifically engineered to prevent any gear damage by automatically disengaging the gears if the bit seizes up during the drilling process

The drill is comfortable to use as it has an ergonomic vibration-absorbing, soft-grip handle and a large 2-finger trigger, and the 1-touch sliding chuck is easy to change.

Extra operator features include a LED battery indicator that alerts you when the battery needs to be recharged, and an LED light is especially useful if you are working in low light conditions.

As well as being an ideal choice for outdoor use due to its cordless portability, Makita has also engineered the drill with Extreme Protection Technology (XPT), so that the drill will maintain its high level performance even in the toughest of working conditions. The only downside of this tool is that you have to purchase the battery and charger separately, but it is a solid well made drill that will prove to an indispensable power tool for all of your DIY projects.

What we like:

  • Ideal for medium to heavy-duty DIY
  • Very powerful
  • High quality drill
  • Great drilling and chiselling performance
  • Multifunctional
  • Good battery life
  • LED light

What we don't like:

  • Expensive
  • Bare tool

Our Top Pick

Our top pick for the best rotary hammer drill is the Makita XRH05Z LXT 18 volt 1 inch Rotary Hammer

Our pick

THE BEST ROTARY HAMMER DRILL

Makita XRH05Z 18V X2 LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 1-Inch Rotary Hammer

This high quality industrial-style strength rotary hammer drill is designed to handle the most toughest of DIY projects: it can drill, chisel, and hammer through brick, stone, or concrete walls. It has a lot of handy operator features, an ergonomic handle with vibration control, LED warning light for the battery, and a LED light for working in low light conditions. 

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