10 best hammer drills that make light work of heavy materials
Need a power tool that can withstand some heavy-duty DIY? We put these through their paces
If you’re looking for a drill that’s designed to do heavier-duty work than the average power tool, you’ve come to the right place.
Hammer drill (sometimes called an impact drills or percussion drills) strike material with a back-and-forth motion, usually at the same time as drilling into it. This pulverises hard materials like brick and concrete, which can make them easier to drill into. There are several types of hammer drill, specialised to perform different types.
The average DIYer who needs to do a mix of heavy and precise work will benefit most from a combi drill. This type of drill has screwdriver, drill driver and hammer drill settings to suit a variety of tasks. When used in hammer drill mode, they are capable of drilling holes in masonry and concrete.
Standard hammer drills usually have a more forceful hammer action than the average combi drill. They’re great for repetitively drilling into solid masonry and other hard materials – tasks likely to come up time-after-time when renovating a building.
SDS drills are the heaviest-duty type of hammer drill featured in this article. They can perform chiselling tasks as well as drilling into tough materials with relative ease. You might use an SDS drill to remove tiles and slabs, or break up hard materials like concrete. SDS refers to the type of sheath used to secure the bit in the chuck in this category of drill.
We reviewed a range of all three types of hammer drill, by using them to bore into, and in some cases demolish, a variety of tough materials including brick, stone and concrete.
Before we start, please note that these are powerful tools requiring careful handling. Always wear protective glasses, gloves and ear defenders when using a hammer drill, and read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Some of these drills require additional purchases, such as compatible drill bits, batteries and battery chargers. Check the seller’s specifications for these details before you buy.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
VonHaus SDS plus drill 1500w: £64.99, Amazon
Type: SDS drill
Anyone for a spot of demolition? The VonHaus SDS plus drill is well up for it. This absolute powerhouse of a drill made extremely light work of demolishing our test materials – concrete and masonry – using its hex point, one of several accessories bundled in with the drill. It is easily the most powerful reasonably priced drill we’ve tested, and one of the most effective of all. The only arguable downside to this drill is its build quality.
Its components don’t feel quite so robust or pleasant-to-the-touch as some of the more expensive drills featured in our roundup. If this drill was sold on its own, it would be a great bargain. Considering that it comes with a carry case and comprehensive set of accessories, we’d say it is in fact an excellent deal.
Ryobi R18SDS ONE+ SDS plus cordless rotary hammer drill (body only): £94.99, Amazon
Type: SDS drill
The R18SDS is a superbly designed drill. Its handle is the comfiest we’ve come across, with soft plastic all over the area you’ll be gripping. Thanks to its streamlined, cordless design, this is also the nimblest SDS drill we’ve tested. This does not prevent it from drilling powerfully into tough masonry and concrete. One slight foible with the R18SDS – we won’t call it a flaw – is that it will not stand on its base unsupported, like other Ryobi tools often do. Be mindful to lay it on its side when not in use. This drill requires a Ryobi ONE+ lithium-ion battery and charger (sold here and here respectively).
Sealey SD1000 13mm 1050W/230v hammer drill: Amazon, £84.91
Type: Hammer drill
This robust hammer drill from British brand Sealey combines the power to drill through tough masonry and concrete with the fine control required to drive and remove fiddly screws. The variable speed trigger is a useful feature which may help users work more delicately when taking out stubborn screws – especially ones with damaged threads. There’s also a dial on the trigger to set the maximum revs. Despite not being the most powerful of the drills featured here, the SD1000 will suit the needs of most DIYers. It offers a little extra quality and functionality over the likes of the VonHaus 850 impact hammer drill, for those willing to invest a bit more.
Clarke Contractor CON1500RDV 1500W SDS+ rotary hammer drill: £107.98, Machine Mart
Type: SDS drill
Forgive us for sounding schoolmasterly, but this tool is not a toy. Designed for contractors, the CON1500RDV is a seriously powerful drill that’s designed for heavy renovation jobs such as taking up tiles, breaking up concrete and so on. It is one of the most powerful drills we’ve tested for this roundup.
Despite its brute strength, this is a comfortable, enjoyable drill to use. Switching between hammer and hammer drill modes is easy, and we found it simple to get the hang of this drill’s action for doing demolition work with a chisel bit. We used it to break up an old concrete foundation where a greenhouse once stood. This drill comes with a comprehensive selection of bits and accessories in a robust carry case. At this price, it’s very good value for money.
DeWALT 54V XR flexvolt brushless 3-mode dedicated cordless hammer drill DCH333X2: £620, FFX
Type: SDS drill
Wow, so this is how the other half drills! The DeWALT DCH333X2 is nothing short of a technological marvel, packing considerable power into a nimble, streamlined package. It runs off a lithium-ion battery, meaning it does not require you to trail a power cable around with you wherever you’re working. The variable speed trigger seems to have more degrees of variability than the average competitor, so you really can finetune your drill speed to the task at hand.
Its drilling performance is outstanding. In our testing, it punched perfect holes through thick concrete with minimal effort and vibration. Everything about this drill works beautifully: the precision, the control, the power. It’s the best drill our reviewer has ever used; the only catch is it costs a considerable amount more than the rest. The price given here includes a fast-charger, two lithium-ion batteries (to be used one at a time) and a heavy-duty kit box.
Erbauer EXT cordless 18V lithium-ion brushless hammer drill ERH18-Li (body only): £100, DIY
Type: SDS drill
Here’s a superb SDS drill from the ever-excellent mid-market toolmaker Erbauer. Thanks to its cordless power supply and wide range of settings (rotary drill, hammer drill, chisel and chisel rotation), the ERH18-Li is both convenient and versatile. There’s great attention to detail in its design – especially in little touches like the easy-release mechanism used to secure or free up the depth stop.
Erbauer has packed considerable power and usability into the ERH18-Li’s compact frame. It's one of our favourite drills available at this price. This tool is part of Erbauer’s EXT one cordless system. You’ll need to buy a battery and charger to go with it (sold here and here respectively).
Ryobi R18PD5-0 ONE+ cordless brushless combi drill, 18v (body only): £84.98, Amazon
Type: combi drill
Ryobi’s brilliantly versatile R18PD5 is an ideal choice for those with occasional DIY tasks in mind. One of this drill’s most admirable attributes is its power efficiency. We used it for hours at a time, drilling lots of holes into a very solid wall, and never once had to change the battery. It’s also very easy to switch between the R18PD5’s screwdriver, drill driver and hammer modes, as required.
Naturally, this drill’s hammer mode is not as powerful as most of the dedicated hammer drills and SDS drills featured here. As such, we wouldn’t recommend it to those of you who have lots of heavy work to do. This drill requires a Ryobi ONE+ lithium-ion battery and charger (sold here and here respectively).
Bosch 550W 240v corded brushed impact drill easyimpact 550: £40, DIY
Type: combi drill
VonHaus 850w impact hammer drill: £29.99, Amazon
Type: hammer drill
This neat, beginner-friendly hammer drill is exceptional value for money. The VonHaus 850w impact hammer drill made very light work of drilling into concrete, using one of masonry bits bundled in with the tool. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, making this a great choice for newbies. There’s enough power to drill into most materials typically found in a domestic setting – except reinforced concrete walls, according to the manufacturer. This drill comes bundled with a handy selection of bits: 3 masonry, 3 wood and 3 HSS bits for drilling into metal and hardwood. Together with the drill’s carry case, this gives you everything you need to start hammer-drilling at home.
Mac Allister 600w corded hammer drill MSHD600: £30, DIY
Type: hammer drill
Are you looking to polish off a few simple DIY jobs, without spending the Earth on a new drill? If so, this tool could serve you well. The MSHD600 is pretty weak as hammer drills go, but it packs just enough punch to drill into hard materials like brick and stone. The tool is light and accessible, with an auxiliary handle that moves easily to find your preferred grip, and a switch on the top to choose between hammer and drill driver modes. It’s not reinventing the wheel – but it could be a good buy at £30.
The verdict: Hammer drills
Based on its tremendous power, excellent price and useful accessories, we’ve named the VonHaus SDS plus drill 1500w our best buy. This comes with the caveat that this drill is designed especially for heavier work. For less arduous tasks such as drilling holes for shelving, consider something like the Ryobi R18SDS instead.
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