The Best Hammer Drills for DIYers and Pros
Find the multipurpose hammer drill—a versatile tool combining the functions of an impact driver, a drill, and a small jackhammer—that’s just right for your masonry and metal projects.
Most avid DIYers and industry pros know their way around a power drill. A hammer drill, however, is a less familiar specialty tool that—in addition to boring holes and driving screws in wood—can drill into stone, brick, metal, and other hard surfaces.
You can easily tell by its hefty size, optional auxiliary handle, and multiple control settings that the hammer drill is one tough tool. Offering the combined capabilities of a regular drill, impact driver, and small jackhammer, it can be a smart, if not downright essential, addition to your tool collection.
Choosing the right one depends a lot on how you plan to use the tool, so read on for our detailed selection criteria and to learn why the following five are our favorites among the best hammer drill options out there today.
- BEST FOR LIGHT DUTY: DeWalt 20V Max Hammer Drill
- BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: Eneacro 12.5 Amp Heavy Duty Rotary Hammer Drill
- BEST VALUE: Tacklife 1/2-Inch Electric Hammer Drill
- BEST COMPACT: Milwaukee M18 FUEL 1/2-Inch Hammer Drill
- BEST VERSATILITY: Meterk 7.0 Amp Corded Hammer Drill
Key Shopping Considerations
Corded vs. Cordless
Hammer drills come with one of two power source options: either a heavy-duty cord or a rechargeable battery. Corded hammer drills provide a constant source of power and also tend to be somewhat more powerful than battery-operated models—two aspects that make them more effective and dependable for long days on a busy job site. They can be plugged into an extension cord if needed for a longer reach, but corded hammer drills are ultimately tethered to a nearby source of electricity.
Conversely, a cordless hammer drill is bound to run out of juice after several hours of use, but these models do have their strong points. They’re generally lighter, smaller, and easier to maneuver than their corded counterparts (plus there’s no chance of tripping over that pesky power cord). Cordless models tend to be more popular with DIYers, who appreciate their portability and versatility for projects around the house.
Different jobs often require a drill to run at faster or slower speeds to improve accuracy and penetration, while avoiding any damage to the drill itself. A good hammer drill will feature either a variable speed setting dial or a trigger control that lets you adjust the operating speed. To determine if a drill has a variable speed setting, look for a dial that shows the numbers from 1 to 2, or sometimes 1 to 3, with 1 being the lowest setting.
A trigger control, which responds to the amount of pressure you apply, offers a greater degree of speed control. Some prefer this personalized control, while others want a drill to operate at the same speed, all the time. A trigger control tends to be most beneficial when the user doesn’t have a free hand to adjust the speed—one reason trigger controls are preferred by professionals.
Hammer mode is a setting on all hammer drills commonly marked by a symbol depicting a hammer. This mode introduces a pulsating action that helps drive masonry bits through hard surfaces, such as concrete, brick, and stone. In addition to the increased hammering force, the drill maintains its rotational capabilities to drill and punch through hard material, similar to combining an auger and a jackhammer, though to a lesser degree.
Hammer drills commonly have a button that allows you to switch between hammer mode and normal operation. This is generally referred to as “drill mode” and may be marked only by a variable speed setting ranging from 1 to 3. Alternatively, it may be marked by a symbol that resembles a drill bit, depending on the model. This mode has a more controlled torque and is intended for drilling holes through softer surfaces, such as wood or plastic.
Some hammer drills (as well as regular drills) feature a setting called a drive mode, which is used for driving and removing screws. Drive mode eliminates the pulsating force of the hammer setting and instead engages the torque-adjustment setting for precision work like driving screws into a deck. This low-power setting helps ensure that the torque of the drill won’t strip the screws. A hammer drill with drive mode will often show a symbol that resembles a screw on the mode control switch.
Higher-end hammer drills may offer extra features that can help you complete a project faster or add a touch of comfort or functionality. These options include a 360-degree auxiliary handle for the best grip possible in complex or enclosed spaces or a built-in flashlight to help you see what you’re doing without needing to hold a separate light source.
Our Top Picks
Based on functionality, cost, and design, these are the best hammer drill options for DIYers and pros.
1. BEST FOR LIGHT DUTY: DeWalt 20V Max Hammer Drill
For its killer combination of portability and power, the DeWalt 20V Max Hammer Drill relies on a beefy 20V battery and a brushless motor that delivers superior performance while reducing friction and the risk of overheating. This model comes with two speed settings and three modes of operation, as well as a built-in LED so you can get the job done in low-light conditions.
2. BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: Eneacro 12.5 Amp Heavy Duty Rotary Hammer Drill
When smaller drills just can’t get the job done, the Eneacro 12.5 Amp Heavy Duty Rotary Hammer Drill is up for the task. Designed and built for brawn and durability, this heavy-duty corded hammer drill boasts exceptional penetration power to punch through concrete, brick, mortar, and stone. Equipped with a drill mode, hammer drill mode, and hammer mode, you can rely on this hammer drill to act as both a lightweight jackhammer and a powerful drill to help you complete your project.
3. BEST VALUE: Tacklife 1/2-Inch Electric Hammer Drill
The powerful and versatile Tacklife 1/2-Inch Electric Hammer Drill features a variable speed dial and for maximum user control, a trigger. (Note that there’s also a lock-on button enabling the drill to maintain a set speed without your having to hold the trigger in place the whole time.) The Tacklife also includes a 12-piece accessory set, a 360-degree auxiliary handle for superior control, and a metal chuck to hold bits in place without slipping or stripping.
4. BEST COMPACT: Milwaukee M18 FUEL 1/2-Inch Hammer Drill
Hammer drills tend to be larger and heavier than standard drills, and require more space to operate and store. At just 6.9-inches in length, this cordless Milwaukee model is the exception. Compact, lightweight, and designed for use in tight spaces, it gives you the freedom to operate effectively in crawlspaces, furnace rooms, complex mechanical rooms and countless other types of close quarters. For added stability when drilling through hard surfaces, the M18 boasts an auxiliary handle that you can attach and detach when you need it and when you don’t.
5. BEST VERSATILITY: Meterk 7.0 Amp Corded Hammer Drill
The Meterk 7.0 Amp Corded Hammer Drill provides impressive versatility, from its variable speed settings and 360-degree removable auxiliary handle to its built-in depth gauge and and multiple modes. For durability and effectiveness over time, the tool features an all-metal gearbox that helps prevent the internal gears from wearing out or slipping during use. But the real selling point of this high-quality hammer drill is that it’s ideal for a wide variety of applications. With it, you can drive screws, or you can drill through concrete, stone, or metal—and you can do so to a set depth, if you choose.