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.
rotary hammer

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.

Best Rotary Hammer:

RECOMMENDED - One of the most popular models is the Bosch RH328VC 1-1/8-Inch SDS Rotary Hammer and it's priced under $350. The Bosch RH328VC is not as powerful as the Makita (HR3000C) but it's much cheaper in price and still does a great job. The variable speed motor runs from 0-900 RPM and bit changes can be done tool free - eliminating plenty of hassle. The 3 modes of operation include rotary hammer, hammer only, and rotation only. What comes in the box? The hammer, handle, depth gauge and case. Owners say they like the fact you can lock the chisel into 36 different position - practically no work angle you can't get at. If you need to do some light chipping - go with the hammer mode. When drilling wood, building materials, or steel, use the rotation only mode. For toughers jobs like drilling in concrete, masonry, brick, or stone go with the hammer/rotation mode. The 360-degree auxiliary handle enables you to get good balance when using the Bosch. Consumers also note that the integral clutch minimizes the torque reaction when hammering. We suggest that you check out all the most popular Bosch rotary hammers online here.

Demolition Hammer:

When a tougher job presents itself you will need the added power of a demolition hammer. We found the Bosch 11316EVS SDS-Max Demolition Hammer to be the top pick amongst several power tool websites including the products listed on Amazon.com. Out of 13 reviews, 12 give the Bosch 11316EVS 5 out of 5 stars for performance. It features the SDS-max bit system and the tool free bit changes we have become used to with Bosch rotary hammers. The variable speed dial gives you the ultimate in control no matter the job requirements. You can rotate and lock a chisel into 12 different positions - great way to optimize any working angle. Owners say that for almost $700 you still "get a great deal" and "nothing compares to this Bosch". In independent reviews listed on websites like Taunton.com the Bosch demolition hammer beats out the competition for reliability, durability, and overall performance. If you work with foundations, concrete slabs, and heavy rock or stone work, then the 11316EVS is the product to own.

Cordless Rotary Hammer:

Not every jobsite has electricity to power up your rotary hammer. In many cases buying a cordless rotary hammer is the only way to go. In reviews posted online in power tool forums and websites the Bosch 11536VSR Litheon 36-Volt Lithium-Ion 1-Inch SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer gets the top nod from experts and owners alike. The battery powered 36 volt rotary hammer is lightweight enough to work with all day and not suffer from arm fatigue. The Litheon batteries give you the freedom to work without a cord getting caught on things or just being in the way. Some studies have shown that the Bosch cordless rotary hammer is up to 50% faster than other comparable models. Owners say the variable speed trigger supplies the utmost in control and the integral clutch provides consistent performance. Features 1 inch maximum capacity in concrete, 1 1/4 inch in wood, and 1/2 inch in metal. The unit comes with 2 batteries so you can always have one charged and ready to go. Charging time is roughly 1 hour - or 80% capacity in just 25 minutes time. One owner describes the cordless Bosch 11536VSR as "smooth, quick, and rugged". You can view all the top rated cordless rotary hammers online here.