Updated: November 2017
Rotary Hammer Reviews:Looking to buy a new rotary hammer? Drilling into concrete or masonry can be difficult work, but if you own a rotary hammer drill then the work will go much easier. These handheld power tools make quick work of brick, stone, cement blocks, and concrete. You may find them under names like masonry drill, hammer drill, or roto hammer drill but we will refer to them as rotary hammers. These pistol grip tools create an impact force through the use of a weight. The Slotted Drive System (SDS) holds the carbine tipped bits and "thrusts" them into the material. The rotary hammer can be used to drill holes or to chisel and scrape when on hammer mode only. Some people want to know what the difference between a demolition hammer and a rotary hammer. Demolition hammers are more powerful (35% more) than rotary hammers and they really "pack a punch" as experts say. When looking to demolish masonry or concrete structures, the demolition hammer can provide the powerful blows that a rotary hammer just can't do. In terms of power from low to high you have the hammer drill, rotary hammer, and then the demolition hammer. Each job will vary so perhaps you might need all 3 tools to be efficient when working.
Buying Guide - The top brands are Bosch, Hitachi, Milwaukee, Makita, and DeWalt. The corded rotary hammers, often called chipper hammers, sell from $200 to $600 with the SDS Max models priced at $700 or more. There are also cordless rotary hammers which typically cost between $400 and $600 (the Bosch 11536VSR is the top seller in this category). Overall Bosch rotary hammers dominate the market and in all the reviews we read online only the Makita HR3000C was able to compete in terms of power, reliability, and durability. The cordless rotary hammers are available in 18-volt, 24-volt, and even 36-volt models. The real issue with cordless models is that they have added weight due to the battery pack and this can be detrimental over time. It's not easy working and holding a cordless rotary hammer all day - keep that in mind when purchasing one. In terms of power, the newer cordless models compete just fine with the corded ones. What type of trades require the use of a rotary hammer? Those involved with framing, plumbing, painting, finished carpentry, electricians, builders, and remodelers could all use a rotary hammer at some point. Rotary hammers are generally split into 2 categories - those that accept SDS or SDS - plus shanks (usually smaller hammers) and those that use the SDS-Max or spline drive. Drilling capacities range from 3/4 inch up to 2 inches. The handle design is slightly different with the D-Handle versus the L-Shape. Vibrations can be a huge factor, especially if you want to use the hammer all day. The less vibration the easier the work will be and your body will appreciate that the next day. You want a well balanced rotary hammer that does the jog while working straight-on or overhead. The grips are either pistol grip or in-line. The triggering action should be smooth and easy to start with just 2 fingers. Other features to consider are the depth stops and a clutch. We found two solid rotary hammer reviews that compared 6 hammers in each test. The first was done by David Crosby who is a demolition and excavation contractor. His tests were thorough and well designed to see just how well the top models would perform. He liked the Makita HR3000C but preferred the Hitachi DH30PC based on price. The other review was listed on Toolsofthetrade.net and written by Michael Springer who is a designer/builder. He tested 7 models from Metabo, Hilti, Bosch, etc. based on speed, chipping power, tool cases, manuals, and vibration. We also found dozens of owner reviews with excellent feedback and opinions on various models listed online at Amazon.com. You can browse their top selling rotary hammers online here.