10 Best Rotary Hammers: Reviews and Buying Guide (2018)

There are walls through which you can drill a hole yourself with a standard cordless drill. For example, a plaster wall. But what if you have to make a breakthrough through a concrete or reinforced concrete wall? A hammer drill is a possible option, but sometimes this tool is not enough. A hammer must come!

With such a device even chiseling in concrete, tiles or stone is no problem. Of course, there are many different models on the market and they are all different. Which is the right one? In the hammer drill comparison on gametoaid.org, you will find the answer. We have consciously waived the cheap offers, even the high-end products are not considered here. All devices compared here are suitable for home use.

10 Best Rotary Hammers

The History of the Rotary Hammer – Everything started with mining

A hammer drill in the true sense, first of all, has little to do with what we treat in our comparison. There are a total of three different variants of a hammer drill. First of all, there is the pneumatic hammer drill. This is, as the name implies, operated with compressed air. A thereby driven piston strikes a hammer, which in turn strikes the boring bar. The drill bit is mounted on it.

The weight of such, used in mining hammer, is about 42 kilograms and is therefore not suitable for home use. These devices have been around since the 1860s and were then used in tunneling. Pneumatically operated tools are nowadays often found in the automotive sector. Thus, powerful impact wrenches for loosening and tightening machine screws are operated with pneumatics.

The hydraulic rotary hammers have a weight of 150 kilograms and more, so are just as little for you, the handyman, suitable. Hydraulically driven tools and machines can be found everywhere where heavy objects have to be moved with great force. They are used in excavators and agricultural equipment as well as in the automotive sector for lifting platforms or, in small parts, also in jacks.

The devices we are interested in are the electric rotary hammers. They are used wherever compressed air is missing. In contrast to the other variants, electric rotary hammers have a much smaller power spectrum, which, however, does not play a major role in home and crafts.

The rotary hammer, as we know it today, was invented by Bosch and first produced in 1932 in series. The term “Boschhammer” has become synonymous with these devices. When the company Hilti began producing rotary hammers in 1967, this company increasingly supplanted the Boschhammer. Since then, a “Hilti” has also become synonymous with such a device.

Impact drill or hammer drill?

In a private household, a hammer drill rather than a rotary hammer is more likely to be found. But where exactly is the difference? The percussion drill operates at a higher speed and uses less energy in the “impact”.

Always use the hammer when you need it quick and easy. In addition, most of the rotary hammers have a chisel function, which is achieved by switching off the turning function. This allows you to use the rotary hammer in many more areas than the impact drill.

  • A hammer drill usually has a chisel function
  • A boring hammer is bigger and heavier than a percussion drill
  • In a hammer drill, you do not have to apply your own physical strength when drilling
  • A hammer drill works at a higher speed but a lesser stroke

Applications of a hammer drill

A hammer drill usually does not necessarily belong to the basic equipment of a handyman. This is because a hammer drill, unlike a drill or a hammer drill, due to its size and weight is not suitable for all working, or for some areas of application, the use of a smaller device is more useful.

If, for example, you want to attach a simple shelf to the wall, you will hardly use a hammer drill, but rather a hammer drill. However, when it comes to extensive renovations, things look very different. For example, if you want to completely renovate the bathroom, any existing tiles must be removed from the wall. Since these are attached to the wall with a very strong adhesive, this is usually not done with bare hands.

Hammer and chisel are announced – or just a hammer drill with chisel function. This is much easier and, above all, faster. Even if you have to drill many holes in concrete or reinforced concrete in a short time, a hammer drill is an indispensable tool. If you build a new house or want to renovate an apartment, you will be bothered by the electrical system – for example, if new cable slots are necessary. Here a rotary hammer is also used.

Care should be taken when buying a hammer drill

The models we compare differences in many ways. This starts with the performance of the engine and stops with the weight of the tool. When planning the purchase of such a device, you should know what to look for when buying. Here are the main product features:

  • Performance: In a hammer drill, the power is usually given in impact strength, in the unit Joule. This tells you how much power the machine can apply when hammering. This is directly related to the power of the motor in watts. How much power you actually need for your project is difficult to estimate. The following rule of thumb should help: If you want to use the tool “only” for drilling in concrete and stone, an average performance is certainly sufficient. If you also want to use the rotary hammer as a chisel, then you should choose a larger version.
  • features: The rotary hammers that we have compared also differ in what functions you can do with them. There are certain models in which the drill cannot be turned off per se so that chiseling is not possible with such a device. This is especially important if you want to carry out this activity. A selector switch that can switch between simple drilling, hammering, and chiseling, however, is included in almost all devices. Somewhat rarer is the function of regulating the performance itself. This can be crucial for certain materials. Another important function is the locking of the on and off switch. Especially when chiseling this is crucial: Can you adjust the machine so that it works without you having to keep the button pressed?
  • Weight: Weight plays a role when it comes to overhead work. There are rotary hammers that weigh 2 kilograms, but there are also models beyond the 6-kilogram limit. If you’ve ever worked with such a device, you know that the harder the hammer, the harder it will be for you to work longer hours. So if you intend to do a ceiling renovation, then you should look for a lighter model.
  • Chuck: The chuck is usually available in two different versions: Either a quick chuck, with which you can clamp “normal” drills and bits, or the so-called SDS system. However, special drills are required for this. The advantage of SDS is that the drills can not slip in the chuck because they are not cylindrical.
  • Price/performance ratio: A topic that is always discussed a lot and extensively. The fact is, as with many other things, if you spend more, you usually get the better quality too. True to the motto “I can not afford cheap” you should find a healthy middle ground. In our comparison, we did not list any “no-name” product – and with good reason. Especially with electronic tools, this difference is easily recognizable – which immediately leads us to the next important criterion.
  • Safety and comfort: Safety is extremely important. Several factors play a role here. A so-called slip clutch is present in all devices compared by usA rotary hammer develops a lot of power during operation. This also transfers to you. Vibration is the magic word. The better models have taken precautions here and have installed separate mechanisms with important mechanisms to minimize this vibration to a minimum. Your joints will thank you. The handles of the machine are also important.

    so that there is already a basic protection.

The main manufacturer of rotary hammers

There are some manufacturers that are indispensable in the field of rotary hammers in the home improvement sector. The statistics show that it is these companies that dominate the sales area. But smaller manufacturers are to be found. We have listed the most important:

Bosch rotary hammer: Bosch has a pioneering role in the field of rotary hammers because it was the first company in the world to mass-produce these units.

The Professional Series, on the other hand, is available in blue. Since a hammer drill is primarily a tool that is used in the commercial sector, the selection in the professional field is much greater. Nevertheless, there are some that are suitable for the home improvement sector even with the low-priced, green devices.

Einhell Rotary Hammer: Einhell manufactures devices primarily intended for private use. This not only applies to rotary hammers, but also to many other electrical tools. This is initially reflected in the price, but also in the processing and in the longevity of the machines.

Makita Rotary Hammer: Makita is a Japanese company that has specialized more and more in recent years in the development and manufacture of cordless power tools. The loyal customers are particularly pleased that the batteries can be exchanged as desired within the product groups. In the meantime, Makita in Germany was able to prevail relatively well against the great competition of Bosch and increase its market share. Incidentally, the originally from Hamburg lawmaker Dolmar belongs to the company.

Metabo rotary hammer: At Metabo, the main business field is already in the name of the 1920 founded company in Baden-Württemberg. Because “Metabo” stands as an abbreviation for “metal drill turner”. Meanwhile, the company offers a wide range of power tools. The core target groups are the metal crafts and industry as well as building trade and renovation. Metabo is one of the most influential companies in the German construction industry.

What should a hammer drill cost?

This question is not easy to answer, because the price is based on a rotary hammer on the performance, equipment, and quality. It, therefore, depends on what requirements you have on the device. At any rate, the price range is enormous, even if we just look at a manufacturer’s product line. The cheapest hammer drill in the professional series from Bosch costs about 150 euros, the GBH 2-20D. The most expensive model, the GBH 12-52 DV is around 1,200 euros – a difference of over 1000 euros. A good cheap hammer drill is therefore always a matter of your own approach.

However, the values speak for themselves: while the favorable hammer has a power of 650 watts with a total energy of 1.7 joules, the top model shines with a power of 1700 watts with a total energy of 19 joules. A price recommendation therefore always depends on the area of application of the tool and of course on your requirements.

Rotary hammer with battery or cable?

More and more power tools are now available with battery power. The everyday life of the cordless screwdriver is an indispensable part of everyday life – most do-it-yourselfers will call such a tool their own. But many other, much more powerful devices are now getting on battery power: circular saws, jigsaws, planer, impact wrench, angle grinder or hedge trimmers – there is nothing that does not exist. And even on rotary hammers, this trend has not passed. As with everything, there are advantages and disadvantages.

An advantage is certainly that there is no annoying cable, which is not only much more convenient but also increases the range of the tool. As a result, you are no longer dependent on a power source in the immediate vicinity of the construction site. A major disadvantage, however, is that a battery operated hammer drill cannot perform the same performance as a corresponding wired model. In addition, the batteries are exposed to wear – at some point, the batteries are simply no longer usable and new must be purchased. And how long a manufacturer still has the right batteries in the offer is another matter. A battery powered tool is much more expensive than a comparable product with a cable.

Occupational safety and security: What should you watch out for when working with a rotary hammer?

One thing should be clear: a hammer drill is by no means a toy, but a powerful tool that can be very dangerous if it gets into the wrong hands.

If you are planning work that causes a lot of dust, you should wear a protective mask. The hearing protection is necessary because of the volume that emanates both from the device itself and from the material being processed. Protective goggles are needed to keep eyes from flying around, the gloves are designed to protect against bruising and heat that a hammer will inevitably develop.

The safety shoes ensure that your feet stay healthy – for example when chiseling on tiles or stone walls. For the same reason you should always wear a helmet, except that it is not about the protection of your feet, but the safety of your own head! Never leave the hammer unattended, especially when plugged into a power outlet.

Since a hammer drill is a very heavy tool, you must always pay attention to the correct position, especially when working overhead.

For beginners: Important tips for handling

Anyone who has previously worked only with a hammer drill knows the phenomenon: When drilling, you will try to use your own physical strength to drive the drill through the workpiece. This is not uncommon and sometimes even necessary with a percussion drill, because the machine will not apply that pressure on its own. The situation is different with the hammer drill: In this case, only the secure holding and guiding of the tool is necessary, because the contact pressure has no influence on the final result.

With a good hammer drill, you can turn off the rotary motion to use the chiseling function of the device. This is not possible with a percussion drill since the impact is a direct result of the rotary motion. No rotation without a turn – this is just the same with a rotary hammer, which allows you to do a lot more work than with a hammer drill.

Maintenance and care of a hammer drill

In the maintenance and care is not really much to pay attention. It is in the nature of things that a hammer drill becomes dirty during use. After use, wipe the case with a dry, slightly damp cloth. You can also clean the chuck, for example with a vacuum cleaner or a fine brush.

Since a device such as a rotary hammer has many small grooves to cool the interior, a lot of dust gets into it. From time to time – not after each use – you can, therefore, use compressed air to rid the interior of the hammer from dust. To store the tool, the tool cases, which should be included with good equipment, are suitable.

Rotary hammer with SDS – a must or a necessary evil?

Clear answer: If you buy a hammer drill with a quick-action chuck that does not have the ability to accept SDS drills, you will save at the wrong end. Because: Find a reasonable chisel to clamp in a hammer drill almost only in SDS format.

This offers several advantages: The force of the hammer can be transferred much better to an SDS drill, as it has more “play” in the chuck than a firmly clamped, cylindrical drill or chisel. In addition, the change of the drill is much faster: You save a lot of time and even more circumstance if you look from the outset to a hammer drill, which is equipped with the SDS system.

However, there is an even better alternative: The chuck can be changed, as in some of the models we compare. Then you have the option of using your “normal” bits and drills as well. The advantage is obvious: you can almost completely do without the percussion drill and also carry out wood and metal work with the hammer drill.


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