In the past, jackhammers were noisy, heavy tools operated mostly by professional road crews or demolition workers. Much has changed, and many of today’s jackhammers fall within the scope of general contractor or even DIY use. They are still the optimal tool when it comes to carving up concrete, but some also have the versatility for smaller demolition jobs. While commercial jackhammers still carry high price tags, others fall well within the budget of a DIYer, and in some cases can cost less than renting a tool or hiring a demo out.
With a wide variety of jackhammers available, it can be hard to know which is the right one for the job. This information and list of top jackhammers can help solve that problem. It covers the important technical and performance issues to consider and also offers our picks for the best jackhammers available for a range of different purposes.
- BEST OVERALL: Bosch Jack 35-Pound 1⅛-Inch Hex Breaker Hammer
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Vevor Demolition Jackhammer
- BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Makita 70-Pound AVT Breaker Hammer
- BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: XtremepowerUS 3,000bpm 1½-Inch Demolition Hammer
- BEST CORDLESS: Milwaukee MX FUEL Breaker Kit
- BEST MANEUVERABILITY: TR Industrial TR-300 Demolition Jackhammer
- BEST GAS-POWERED: Yescom 52cc 2-Stroke Gas-Powered Jackhammer
How We Chose the Best Jackhammers
Although I’ve never worked construction or demolition as a professional, I have done some heavy-duty remodeling that involved using electric jackhammers and smaller demolition hammers. To add to my own experiences, Bob Vila researchers looked into the latest tool developments and assessed feedback from real-world users.
When putting together this collated selection, we wanted to offer jackhammers to suit as wide a variety of purposes as possible. In addition to outright performance, we also considered ease of use, weight, and versatility. Reliability and durability were also key issues with a demolition tool that almost invariably is used in harsh environments, and will regularly get covered in all manner of dust and debris.
Price is always important, and here again we wanted to offer a broad spectrum. Pro-grade jackhammers can be expensive, but we also found a number of well-regarded models that are surprisingly affordable.
Our Top Picks
Each of the following tools is, in our opinion, the best jackhammer in its category. Titles help reflect performance and have been provided so you can quickly focus on the right solution for your needs.
Given the enormous choice available, it isn’t easy to choose a single best jackhammer. Still, the Bosch is the one most likely to satisfy most users, most of the time. It comes from a brand with an outstanding reputation for high-quality, durable tools.
A key factor in choosing this jackhammer was its power-to-weight ratio. The Bosch jackhammer weighs just 38 pounds, yet delivers an impact force of 22 foot-pounds at 1,300 blows per minute (bpm). The manufacturer claims this gives it a best-in-class material-removal rate (though doesn’t offer direct comparisons).
Among user-friendly features is the shock-absorbing top handle that offers plenty of space for gloved hands. There’s also an auxiliary handle that will rotate through 360 degrees for increased control. This Bosch has an air-cushioned vibration-control system, and the keyless chuck will accept both standard 1⅛-inch chisels and the collet type from a pneumatic jackhammer. The Bosch does come with a premium price tag, and additional chisels are extra, but it is a dependable all-around jackhammer for contractor or home use.
- Power: 15-amp (A); 960 watts
- Impact energy: 22 foot-pounds
- BPM: 1,300
- Tough, reliable, high-performance tool claims best-in-class material-removal rate
- Great power-to-weight ratio plus air-cushioned vibration control and shock-reducing handle
- Durable all-metal housing with 360-degree auxiliary handle, plus wheeled carry case
- Faults are rare, but it carries a premium price tag and includes only 1 chisel
Get the Bosch jackhammer at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Home Depot.
With rental rates for similar tools at around $100 per day, buying a low-cost jackhammer like this one from Vevor can make sound financial sense even if it’s needed for only one or two jobs and then sold on. That’s not to suggest that this isn’t a robust tool. It is very popular with high levels of customer satisfaction.
The powerful 2,200-watt motor delivers up to 1,400 bpm. Impact energy is not quoted, but similar tools provide around 45 foot-pounds, which is a reasonable assumption. The Vevor is heavier than some competitors at 48.5 pounds, but it’s still manageable. Another thing that makes it attractive to DIYers and contractors is the inclusion of four different chisels; among them is a spade tool that can be used for digging trenches. Breakdowns are rare, though there are reports of hammer action failures.
- Power: 2,200 watts
- Impact energy: 45 foot-pounds
- BPM: 1,400
- A powerful tool from a company known for providing great value
- Accepts 1⅛-inch bits with rotating lock plus D-grip handle for optimal work angles
- Offers a set of 4 chisels, including a broad spade bit for trenching
- Needs a 20A outlet, there’s no case, and occasional hammer action failures have been reported
Get the Vevor jackhammer at Amazon, Walmart, or Vevor.
Two things are required to maximize destructive force: impact energy and tool weight. It means lighter models, despite having similar performance figures, can’t deliver the outright power that the Makita does. The combination of 46.5 foot-pounds and 71.3 pounds of mass results in faster, more efficient breaking of concrete and asphalt surfaces.
But as we often hear, power is nothing without control. The Makita jackhammer uses proprietary anti-vibration technology with an exclusive counterbalance system so most of the energy goes through the chisel and not the user. Wide side handles also allow for better balance and maneuverability.
On some jackhammers, the cord can be a mere 6 feet, which makes an extension a necessity. The Makita has a very useful 16.4-foot-long cord. It also comes with a useful wheeled cart for easier transportation and a selection of four chisels.
- Power: 15A; watts not provided
- Impact energy: 46.5 foot-pounds (63 joules)
- BPM: 1,100
- Heavyweight model delivers high impact but remains manageable thanks to anti-vibration technology
- Side handles and chunky trigger offer positive grip with 16.4-foot cord for added reach
- Includes robust wheeled cart with rubber tires and a set of 4 chisels
- Problems are almost nonexistent, but the price will put it beyond many DIY buyers
Get the Makita jackhammer at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
The XtremepowerUS jackhammer weighs just 19.75 pounds, ranking it among the lightest tools in its class. Despite its compact dimensions, it has plenty of performance to offer. The 1,000-watt motor delivers 8 foot-pounds of impact energy and an extremely rapid impact rate of 3,000bpm.
This is a useful tool for concrete breaking, tile removal, and general demolition of brick and block work. The ergonomic D-grip main handle and 360-degree side handle (which can be removed completely if desired) help you control the breaker easily. Two ⅝-inch chisels are included, and it comes in a tough blow-molded case. The price will make it very attractive to DIYers and to tradespeople who need a jackhammer only occasionally.
- Power: 9.1A; 1,000 watts
- Impact energy: 8 foot-pounds
- BPM: 3,000
- At under 20 pounds, this tool is manageable and still delivers useful performance
- Offers high impact rate ideal for tile removal and brick or block wall demolition
- Impact-resistant, blow-molded case holds chisels, wrench, and spare motor brushes
- Some buyers have been critical of the instruction manual
Get the XtremepowerUS jackhammer at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Walmart.
There are several lightweight cordless demolition drills around but few high-performance cordless jackhammers exist. The Milwaukee MX Fuel cordless breaker is an exception. With impact energy of 50 foot-pounds, it is actually the most powerful jackhammer on this list. Its 1,300bpm is competitive, too.
Cordless tools are rated by voltage rather than by amps or watts. Demolition drills are typically 24 volts (V), and occasionally 36V. The Milwaukee cordless demolition hammer is a 72V model, which goes some way to explaining the impressive impact statistics. As you would expect from the brand, it is also well made and reliable.
Milwaukee claims the jackhammer can move 2 tons of material per charge, though they don’t state what material or conditions. They also say you could dig a 40-foot trench that is 1 foot wide and 6 inches deep. Real-world performance may differ, but it still impresses. A recharge time of 90 minutes makes a spare battery something of a necessity for professional use.
- Power: 72V
- Impact energy: 50 ft.lbs.
- BPM: 1,300
- A high-power tool with the freedom of movement provided by cordless operation
- Redlink Plus maximizes battery performance and protects against overload, overheating, or overdischarge
- One-Key compatibility allows tracking, management, and remote lockout via smartphone or laptop
- It is considerably more expensive than corded rivals, especially if adding spare batteries
Get the Milwaukee jackhammer at The Home Depot, Northern Tool + Equipment, or Acme Tools.
High-performance jackhammers tend to come with something of a weight penalty, which restricts maneuverability. Wrestling a heavy tool around soon becomes tiring. The TR Industrial jackhammer offers an excellent compromise. The 1,700-watt motor delivers an impressive 44.2 foot-pounds of energy at 1,800bpm. Yet even with metal housings that help give it jobsite durability, it weighs only 35 pounds.
A rubberized grip and rotating side handle provide further assistance in reducing the effort required to handle the TR Industrial jackhammer. It comes with two chisels; an extra-long power cord of 20 feet; and a wheeled, blow-molded case with metal latches. The tool meets independent Underwriters Laboratories and Electrical Testing Laboratories safety standards and is competitively priced.
- Power: 13A; 1,700 watts
- Impact energy: 44.2 foot-pounds
- BPM: 1,800
- Combines competitive performance with modest weight for easy maneuverability and reduced fatigue
- Metal housings and barrel are designed for heavy-duty applications and provide jobsite durability
- Comes with useful 20-foot power cord, 2 chisels, and a wheeled carry case
- Not suitable for digging soil, as the hammer action won’t operate on softer surfaces
Get the TR Industrial jackhammer at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Home Depot.
Electric jackhammers are popular and easy to use but have one major drawback: the cord. The maximum safe recommended cord length for extensions is 100 feet, and they should never be daisy-chained together because they can overheat and start a fire. Beyond that range, there are two choices: either cordless (which are very expensive) or gas.
This Yescom 2-stroke gas model costs just a fraction of a battery-powered alternative. The 51.7-cubic-centimeter (cc) motor delivers up to 40.5 foot-pounds of impact energy at 1,500bpm. Performance is similar to the best electric jackhammers. A rugged steel casing helps protect the motor and mechanism, and the comprehensive kit includes two chisels, gloves, and goggles.
Environmental impact is the main negative with gas-powered machines. The Yescom meets Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission requirements but not the more strict California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards.
- Power: 51.7cc; 1,300 watts
- Impact Energy: 40.5 foot-pounds (55 joules)
- BPM: 1,500
- Powerful and relatively portable model that isn’t restricted by the need for a cord
- Metal casing protects motor and hammer mechanism while allowing good heat dissipation
- Has easy pull starting and includes 2 chisels, gloves, and goggles
- Meets EPA requirements for emissions but not the more stringent CARB emission standards
Get the Yescom jackhammer at Amazon or Walmart.
What to Consider When Choosing a Jackhammer
Jackhammers are very different tools than the claw or framing hammers that many DIYers are used to working with. It can be difficult to understand the technical jargon and the impact of various performance figures. The following section helps clarify the details provided by manufacturers to make it easier to assess how suitable each model will be for the work you need to do.
Jackhammers can be divided into four main types: hydraulic, pneumatic, gas, and electric.
- Hydraulic jackhammers are the most powerful type. They are usually attached to an excavator and use the vehicle’s hydraulic system for power.
- Pneumatic jackhammers run on large compressors and are used for industrial applications like road building and commercial demolition. Both are heavy-duty professional tools costing thousands of dollars and fall beyond the scope of this article.
- Gas-powered jackhammers are lighter but still offer good performance for the type of contractor and DIY tasks on which this list focuses. Almost all have 2-stroke engines. While many meet EPA standards for emissions, only few meet the more stringent CARB requirements.
- Electric models can be just as powerful as gas rivals, come in greater variety, and are more environmentally friendly. Their drawback is the need for a cord. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that extension cords should not exceed 100 feet and that it is unsafe to “daisy-chain” them together.
The weight of a jackhammer can be a confusing figure because it can mean two different things. The first is obvious—the actual physical weight of the tool. This can vary considerably. The heavy-duty Makita jackhammer profiled above weighs more than 70 pounds, whereas the XtremepowerUS is under 20 pounds. That can make a big difference in how tiring it is to use each jackhammer.
The other way weight is expressed by manufacturers is in terms of the force, or impact energy, the tools deliver. Looking at the Makita again, it is rated as a 70-pound tool. Although often called a weight, strictly speaking, this relates to the force applied. However, not all companies use this force specification, and while it might be useful when comparing jackhammers, it isn’t as accurate as the impact ratings.
As with weight, there are two impact figures that potential buyers will want to consider. The first, impact energy, is most important in terms of the raw power delivered through the chisel. It could also be seen as the breaking force. It is given as foot-pounds, usually written as ft.lbs. or ft/lbs. This can be confusing when some tools (like the Makita) give a pound rating only. For clarification, the Makita’s actual impact energy is 46.5 foot-pounds, and this is the figure that ought to be looked at when making comparisons.
Second is the impact rate, or how fast the hammer action works. This is given in blows per minute. Light-duty jackhammers often have higher revving motors than large devices, and therefore a faster impact rate. It doesn’t equate to more breaking power unless the two machines being compared are otherwise the same.
Additional Specifications and Features
A jackhammer, by its nature, is usually a brute-force tool, and as such, requires few extra features. However, there are a few performance issues and accessories worth considering.
- Electric jackhammers rarely run at more than 15A because that’s the maximum a standard household outlet can handle. Some use 20A. Most houses have at least a couple of these, though it is worth checking. Watts can vary considerably. Higher wattage basically means a more powerful motor, and so theoretically the tool is capable of working harder for longer.
- Jackhammers are noisy, and ear protection is recommended. It can still be worth checking the decibel rating (when provided). This might be a deciding factor between two otherwise similar tools.
- Vibration is another key issue. Jackhammers vibrate—a lot. Those vibrations run through the operator’s entire body and quickly cause fatigue. Anything that reduces the effect is a bonus. Features can range from soft-grip handles to complex internal mechanisms that prevent much of the impact force from being transmitted to the user.
- Maneuverability can be a concern, and it’s not all about weight. Balance, grip, main and auxiliary handles, and controls are all worth considering.
- Speed control can be useful for those who work with a lot of different materials, although many jackhammers spend their entire life running flat out.
- It’s nice to have a range of chisels for different tasks. Some jackhammers include only one. Others offer three or four chisels. Check size if buying extras. A 1.125-inch chisel is common, but it’s not the only size available.
Safety Tips for Using Jackhammers
A jackhammer is not a dangerous tool as such, but the weight and power of the breakers can lead to injury if not handled with some care. The most important thing to do upon purchasing one is to read the owner’s manual, even if you have used similar tools before.
Pay particular attention to how to turn the tool off quickly in an emergency. Also follow maintenance guidelines. A jackhammer that malfunctions because it hasn’t been looked after properly can cause serious safety issues.
- Always wear appropriate clothing: strong gloves, eye protection, ear defenders, and a dust mask. Protective footwear is also a good idea. A hard hat might be necessary where heavy-duty construction work is taking place.
- When using an electric jackhammer, it should be plugged into a ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet to prevent risk from shocks. If using an extension cord, make sure it is of the appropriate gauge. If it gets hot, the cord is too thin and there’s a risk of fire.
- Keep children and pets away from the work area.
- Take frequent breaks. Even low-vibration jackhammers are tiring to use for long periods. If you feel tired, stop. Fatigue is often responsible for accidents. Remember proper posture to prevent back strain.
- Disconnect the power before changing chisels.
We’ve covered the subject of jackhammers and the various performance options in considerable depth. Although we’ve reviewed the technical aspects of these powerful tools in great detail, research on jackhammer purchases revealed a few questions of a more general nature. The answers to those have been provided below.
Q. What type of hammer is used for demolition?
The type of hammer used for demolition can have several different names. The term “jackhammer” applies to all of them, though it is most often used for large upright tools. They are also called breaker hammers. Lighter, more manageable models might be called demolition hammers or rotary hammers. There are other hammers used for light demolition called sledge hammers and club hammers.
Q. How big of a jackhammer do I need?
The size jackhammer you need will depend on the type of work you’re undertaking. The 70-pound Makita featured above is designed for heavy-duty applications like breaking up large areas of concrete or asphalt. The Bosch is a great general-purpose tool, and the XtremepowerUS is easy to handle.
Q. What is the difference between a jackhammer and a demolition hammer?
The term “jackhammer” can be applied to a number of different tools. Traditionalists might argue that a jackhammer is used upright, and a demolition hammer is used horizontally. However, as can be seen by the article above, there are a number of crossovers. We feel that focusing on the tool’s capabilities is more important than the name it has been given.
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