The Best Rotary Hammer Drills: How To Find The Right For The Job

The Best Rotary Hammer Drills: How To Find The Right For The Job

Rotary hammer drills are power-packed tools with the ability to drill through nearly any type of barrier and chisel out even the toughest materials. Purchasing a rotary hammer can be daunting, especially when most tools have professional-grade ratings and equipment.

Whether you are an around-the-house DIYer or a professional shop owner, we have the rotary hammer drill for your needs. Here we’ll look at the different types of rotary hammer drills and the features to look for, plus give our recommendations for the seven best options on the market.

Bottom Line Up Front

Our top pick for the best rotary hammer drill is the Bosch SDS Rotary Hammer RH328VC, which combines a mid-range drilling diameter max (1 1/8 inches) in a compact package. Its weight is on the heavier side, but for the features it packs, it’s a tradeoff we can live with.

Bosch’s RH328VC accepts SDS bits, and the availability of adapters may mean you can use existing hardware with your new rotary hammer. Ample vibration control and comfortable ergonomics are also highlights, making the RH328VC our top choice. If this isn’t the tool for you, read on for more about different types of drills and our top seven recommendations.

Different Types of Rotary Hammer Drills

Rotary hammer drills, which are often known as rotary hammers, combine hammering and drilling forces to power through masonry and other tough surfaces. Most drills use the same functions, but you’ll find a handful of varying features on these drills.

Bosch Rotary Hammer Vibration Control

Drill Modes

Many rotary hammer drills on the market today offer multiple operation modes. Our picks below have various modes such as chiseling, hammer drilling, and rotation only, making them a more versatile tool.

The reverse is another desirable and helpful feature for starting projects and one you’ll find on most of our recommended drills. Especially for hammering modes, kickback prevention helps make drilling more comfortable, another way the multiple modes feature helps make using the tool easier overall.

Corded vs. Cordless

Because of the amount of power they offer, you might expect a rotary hammer drill to always rely on corded power. Battery power is becoming more common in every type of power tool, though, so we’ve included two cordless rotary hammer drills on our best-of list.
Portable power tools aren’t for everyone, but there are certain situations where they’re invaluable.

To ensure we cover every need, we made sure to look at the more reliable battery-powered rotary hammer drills on the market, which include both an 18V and a 20V option.

Apart from a few cordless options, most rotary hammer drills are corded and thus have consistent power and reliability. For projects where a cord is limiting your range, consider a battery-powered tool for backup.

How to Find the Best Rotary Hammer Drills

Hammering and drilling functions are some of the more obvious features, but rotary hammer drills offer a handful of different features for a variety of drilling scenarios. Here we’ll cover what to look for when shopping for this type of drill and what to consider.

Core Bit Sizes and Max Diameters

Rotary hammer drills are for drilling big holes in tough materials, so it makes sense that bit sizes are a priority. Most bits come with a maximum diameter between one and one and a half inches. Despite the potential limitations, no other tool can reasonably be expected to drill holes into concrete and steel, but it’s essential to be realistic about what a rotary hammer drill can tackle.

Bit Types

Bit types for rotary hammer drills are typically either SDS or SDS-Plus, but there are a few other variations as well. If you have never owned a rotary hammer before, expect to purchase all-new bits for the drill (if it doesn’t come with them). It’s unlikely you’ll find an adapter to fit, even if the drill offers multiple modes, such as rotational only.

Some adapter options can help make your existing bits more universal, but cross-checking compatibility is important before you buy.

Depending on the type of project you have in mind, you might also need different bits to drill into various materials and surfaces. Ruining your bits—or worse, your drill—is a potential side effect of not researching the appropriate drill bit for your project.

How To Find Best Rotary Hammer Drill

Drilling Applications

When it comes to shopping for a rotary hammer drill, you should first consider your overall needs. If drilling holes is the only item on your checklist, you can likely choose any of the drills on our list and have a go at your project.

If you want to chisel tile, break up chunks of concrete, drill through rebar, or any other variation of heavy-duty tasks, it’s important to look at the other features in each rotary hammer drill. Even the highest-power drill can stall if you use it beyond the scope of its abilities, so knowing what you need from the start can help you narrow down the options.

Ergonomics

All rotary hammer drills are somewhat bulky and heavy, averaging over six pounds. Despite the weight and bulk, you can reasonably expect the drill to have an ergonomic grip which makes it easy to handle. An ergonomic grip is important when holding the hammer drill over your head or in other positions.

Padded handles are a welcome addition, and D-shaped handles help with gripping over long periods. Kickback control, while not a specific ergonomic feature, helps reduce fatigue while you’re drilling and makes using the tool more enjoyable. If going easy on your body is a priority, look for a model with kickback control to ease the vibration and feedback.

Electronic Controls

While technology continues to improve, that doesn’t mean the electronic features on your rotary hammer will be perfect. For many users, torque limiting clutch features, for example, can be frustrating as the tool limits its operation regardless of what the operator wants.

The idea behind the torque limiting clutch feature is to minimize the risk of damaging the motor, even if it’s a bit frustrating for the user. If you’re new to rotary hammer drills, built-in protection is probably a good idea since you won’t know the limits of the tool until you’ve burnt it out.

1. Bosch GBH2-28L SDS-Plus Bulldog Xtreme Max Rotary Hammer

Bosch GBH2-28L
Bosch’s GBH2-28L Bulldog earns its name with rugged construction, do-it-all features, and user-friendly operation modes.

  • 8.5 Amp motor
  • Kickback control
  • Counter-balanced vibration control
  • Vario-Lock to rotate and lock the chisel
  • Variable-speed trigger with reversing
  • Weighs 6.9 pounds
  • 120V
  • 1,300 RPM
  • D-handle
  • 2.4 Ft.-Lbs. of impact energy
  • 1 1/8-inch diameter drilling capacity
  • Storage Hook
  • SDS-plus bits and chisels

Achieve accurate starts with Bosch’s variable-speed trigger (with reversing) with the GBH2-28L and use the Vario-Lock positioning feature to get into the optimal working angle mid-task. Select from multiple function modes (drilling only, hammer drilling, and chiseling) to tackle any task you encounter.

Vibration Control is another welcome feature, eliminating kickback and helping you maintain control. Speaking of control; a D-handle design helps you hang onto the tool while you’re working overhead or in any other scenario, and a storage hook helps keep the tool accessible even if you need to use both hands to get to the next task.

Pros

  • Kickback protection
  • Rotating and locking the chisel
  • 1 1/8-inch max diameter

Cons

  • Finding bits and chisels can be a challenge
Bosch GBH2-28L Rotary Hammer
$239.00
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2. Makita HR2475 SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer

Makita HR2475 SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer

Makita’s HR2475 is a complete beast when it comes to drilling—it tops out at one-inch diameter holes in concrete, making it efficient and powerful for every need a homeowner might have.

  • 7.0 Amp motor
  • Torque limiting clutch
  • Sequential impact timing
  • Makita Motor Advantage engineered
  • Extended life brushes
  • 40-bit angle settings
  • 3/16- to ½-inch optimum drilling range
  • 1-inch maximum concrete drilling
  • Rotation only, hammering with rotation, and hammering only modes
  • D-handle
  • One-touch sliding chuck
  • Weighs 6.6 pounds

For drilling massive holes in concrete, as well as a range of other tasks, Makita’s HR2475 is the workhorse you need. Its top-out diameter is one inch, which is the best measure of quality available. A torque limiting clutch helps protect the motor, and it’s also Makita Motor Advantage engineered for longevity.

Multiple modes ensure you can tackle other less demanding tasks if you so choose, but you’ll need an adapter for the SDS-plus chuck if you want to use standard bits. Driving in reverse is slow going, but that’s to be expected, albeit worth mentioning.

Pros

  • Makita Motor Advantage specs
  • Extended life brushes reduce maintenance needs

Cons

  • Reverse is slow
Makita HR2475 1" Rotary Hammer
$179.00
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3. DeWalt D25324K SDS Rotary Hammer Kit

DeWalt D25324K SDS Rotary Hammer Kit

Heavy duty yet compact for tight spaces, DeWalt’s D25324K rotary hammer kit can satisfy most DIYers’ needs and then some.

  • Quick change chuck
  • 8 Amp motor
  • Variable speed trigger
  • Active Vibration Control
  • Mode selector for rotary hammer, rotary only, and chiseling
  • Reverse feature
  • Weighs 7.8 pounds
  • Comes with storage box
  • SDS tool holder
  • Three-jawed keyless ½-inch chuck
  • 360-degree side handle
  • Compatible with dust extraction system by DeWalt

Variable speeds, vibration control, and a three-mode selector make tackling home improvement projects easier than ever with DeWalt’s D25324K rotary hammer. It has a Quick-Change Chuck system for simple swaps and uses SDS tools.

A moveable side handle, and the compact profile means you can take the rotary hammer nearly anywhere; the only drawback is it’s almost eight pounds, so heavier than many comparable options. Despite the positives of having the onboard torque-limiting clutch is there is no manual override, locking you in at low torque despite your preference.

Pros

  • Quick Change Chuck system makes swapping bits easy
  • Compact size

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Torque-limiting clutch overrides manual use
DEWALT D25324K Rotary Hammer Kit
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4. DeWalt DCH273B Brushless SDS Rotary Hammer

DeWalt DCH273B Brushless SDS Rotary Hammer

For those of us who like to go cordless, DeWalt has imitated their corded rotary hammers with the DCH273B and taken it portable.

  • Bare Tool
  • Cordless 20V MAX power
  • Brushless motor
  • Ergonomic handle design
  • SDS chuck type
  • Active Vibration Control
  • Retractable utility hook
  • 1-inch diameter max
  • Dust extraction system compatible
  • 360-degree side handle
  • Weighs 6.4 pounds

DeWalt’s DCH273B borrows many of the desirable features of its corded peers, including the ergonomic handle, vibration control, and dust extraction system compatibility. The moveable side handles functionality and the compact design helps you get into tight spaces, but overall, it’s a bit bulky in-hand.

Ergonomics are great when it comes to the design of the handle. The utility hook and rotating handle are also useful ergonomic features to have when you need to climb on a ladder or crawl into tight spaces. Above all, the option to go cordless is ideal for remote project areas or conditions in which cords just won’t reach.

Pros

  • Cordless and portable
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Bulky
DEWALT 20V MAX SDS Rotary Hammer Drill
$278.90
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5. Bosch SDS Rotary Hammer RH328VC

Bosch SDS Rotary Hammer RH328VC

Bosch’s RH328VC delivers powerful drilling with one of the highest max diameter offerings we’ve found—and it includes all the ergonomic features you need for comfortable work.

  • 8.0 Amp motor
  • Weighs 7.7 pounds
  • Active Vibration Control
  • Three modes; rotation only, rotary hammer, and hammer only
  • Vario-Lock places tool in neutral to choose from 12 positions
  • 360-degree auxiliary handle
  • Integral clutch
  • Three-speed finger trigger

A short-bodied and ergonomically sound rotary hammer, Bosch’s RH328VC feels good in-hand and can drill up to 1 1/8-inch diameter holes. The only complaint we can come up with is the relatively small bit size of the SDS options, but that comes from familiarity with the SDS-plus type. At nearly eight pounds, the RH328VC is on the heavier end of the rotary hammer spectrum.

Active vibration control helps minimize output to the operator, something you’ll appreciate when you’re a few inches deep into concrete or other similarly resistant material.

Pros

  • Ideal ergonomics
  • 1 1/8-inch diameter max
  • Minimal vibration

Cons

  • Heavy
Bosch RH328VC RH328VC Rotary Hammer
$286.09
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6. MPT SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer Drill

MPT SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer Drill

Workhorse features and styling may turn some users off of the MPT rotary hammer drill, but we acknowledge it’s a powerful option for heavy-duty drilling operations.

  • Three functions (drill, chisel, hammer drill)
  • 12 Amp high-performance motor
  • Maximum 1 ½-inch drilling diameter
  • 360-degree adjustable handle
  • Vibration control
  • Double-layer dustproof air inlet
  • Includes case
  • The entire kit weighs over 16 pounds

MPT’s SDS-Plus rotary hammer delivers high-performance per its specs, drilling holes of up to 1 ½-inch diameter in concrete and ½-inch in steel. With stats like those, we don’t need to say much more, except to caution users against expecting an easy time handling the tool.

It’s a bit heavier than other comparable models, which is understandable given its raw power, but you’ll probably feel it afterward if you use the tool for prolonged periods. For a truly budget-friendly option with enough power to knock out any hammer drilling task, the MPT drill might be the best option.

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Max 1 ½-inch diameter

Cons

  • Heavy
MPT 1 Rotary Hammer Drill
$89.99
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7. Makita XRH01Z 18V LXT Rotary Hammer

Makita XRH01Z 18V LXT Rotary Hammer

If you want SDS-Plus bit compatibility in a portable rotary hammer drill, Makita’s XRH01Z is your best bet.

  • Brushless motor
  • Weighs 7.2 pounds
  • Bare Tool
  • Compact
  • 1-inch max diameter
  • SDS-Plus bits
  • 18V LXT cordless power
  • Variable speed trigger
  • Compatible with dust extraction equipment
  • Three-mode operation (rotation only, hammering with rotation, hammering only)
  • Torque limiting clutch
  • Large trigger
  • Reverse mode

Cordless rotary hammers aren’t always as good as they seem, but Makita’s XRH01Z is. 18V battery power provides you with portability, and its compact size is easy to wield. Variable speeds (including the reverse) and three operation modes equip you for any task necessary, although the torque limiting clutch can be a frustration for experienced operators.

For household tasks ranging from light to moderate, you can expect Makita’s 18V option to hold up, and with a few backup batteries, you can work all day in even the most demanding conditions. Makita’s dust extraction equipment is also compatible with the XRH01Z, a favorable feature for working in sensitive areas.

Pros

  • Cordless
  • Compact size
  • SDS-Plus bits

Cons

  • Torque limiting clutch overrides user preference
Makita XRH01Z Rotary Hammer
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Comparing the Options

Product Drill Capacity Bit/Chisel type Power
Bosch GBH2-28L 1 1/8-inch diameter SDS-plus Corded
Makita HR2475 1-inch diameter SDS-plus Corded
DeWalt D25324K 1-inch diameter SDS Corded
DeWalt DCH273B 1-inch diameter SDS Cordless 20V MAX
Bosch RH328VC 1 1/8-inch diameter SDS Corded
MPT SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer Drill 1 ½-inch diameter SDS-Plus Corded
Makita XRH01Z 1-inch diameter SDS-Plus Cordless 18V

Final Thoughts

Do you need to drill a one-and-a-half-inch diameter hole through concrete or steel? If the answer is yes, then you need a rotary hammer drill. Chipping concrete, removing tile, and plenty of other tasks fall under the rotary hammer’s area of expertise, too, and the do-it-all tool might just surprise you.

It might seem unbelievable to find a power tool with the strength and torque to drill huge holes through extremely resistant material. As we’ve proven with our recommendations, though, the only struggle is narrowing down your options from these seven contenders.

Once you determine what you want to achieve with your rotary hammer, you can pick the product which best suits your needs and start drilling efficiently and comfortably.

Head Builder

With a passion for home renovation projects of all kinds, we provide real user reviews, guides, how to articles to help any homeowner achieve their dream home. Whether you want to use electric or hand tools, our advice will help you build. From bathrooms to attics, to kitchens, we cover them all with skilled insights and real-life advice you'll love.

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