We’ve assembled all of the current top of the line models into a 2017 Heavy Duty 18V Hammer Drills Buying Guide that we keep updated with the latest features and specs from all of the manufacturers. What you’ll want to do when you look through this list is note whether your priority is battery power (run-time), ergonomics (low weight), speed, torque & power, or value. Depending on what you’re looking for, this updated list of the latest heavy-duty models will answer the question of which model is right for you. Plus, we’ve included some of the best places to buy the tools when you’re ready. We’ve also given you links at the bottom to preview articles or tool reviews we may have written on those models.
Current 2017 Hammer Drills Lineup
These are the current line-up of heavy duty 18V hammer drills on the market—the tools you’ll reach for when you want to sink a lag bolt, use a hole saw, or otherwise tackle a high-torque application. Some of these tools will do better than others, but there are also some good compromises if you want to save some money and don’t plan on using the tool for ultra high torque applications. If your priority is light weight, however, check out our Best Compact 18V Hammer Drill Buying Guide for additional recommendations. We also did a hands-on 18V hammer drill shootout that should give you a good idea of real-world performance. If you intend on tapping a lot of concrete, you may want to understand how using hammer drills vs rotary hammers will affect drilling speed. Also, be sure to check out our 18V SDS-Plus rotary hammer round-up article.
2017 Heavy Duty 18V Hammer Drills Buying Guide
What We Look for in Heavy Duty 18V Hammer Drills
The hammer drill is one of the staples of any construction worker or tradesman. It handles such a wide variety of jobs that it serves as an indispensable tool. Just look at what you can do with these tools:
- Drill into wood
- Fasten down backer board
- Bore holes into concrete block or brick
- Use small diameter hole saws, wood boring bits, and spade bits
- Drive screws
- Sink construction screws
- Lay down wood or composite decking
When hammer drills it the market in force they presented a way to handle a myriad of drilling tasks. They also bridged a gap for those needing to do a small number of drilling applications in concrete or other masonry materials. The hammer drill is not meant for drilling holes into block or brick that are over 3/8-inch in diameter—at least not when you have options. For that, you want to use a rotary hammer. Still, heavy duty 18V hammer drills bring a much-needed jack-of-all-trades approach to the job site.
We test all of our hammer drills to their capacity and speed for wood drilling. That includes testing them using traditional wood boring bits and timing the results. Also, it involves stepping up to larger spade bits that create larger holes. Electricians, plumbers, and other tradesmen need a tool that can quickly, powerfully, and efficiently perform these duties. Finally, we test our heavy duty 18V hammer drills to see if they can handle three-inch hole saws through layers of plywood. This is a great test that separates those tools that have sufficient torque to get the job done from tools that might be optimized for smaller tasks.
A hammer drill is a hammer drill because it can bore through masonry materials. We test our hammer drills by using chimney block and other materials with consistently hard densities. Then we time the tools (using identical masonry bits) to see which heavy duty 18V hammer drills perform the best.
Overall Features to Note
Torque and Speed
Torque and speed work hand-in-hand, so it’s no wonder some of the best tools in our 18V hammer drills buying guide are also the quickest. When your hammer drill’s top speed is higher, it has the potential—given a sufficiently well-designed motor—for more power. Of our compared tools, DeWalt, Makita, Hilti, and Milwaukee are the consistent leaders in speed.
Impacts per Minute
Rotary hammers are the best tool for drilling concrete. If you want to tackle concrete with a hammer drill, however, the impacts per minute are key. IPM, or impacts per minute, represents the number of times the impact mechanism pushes the bit against the material every minute. That number is quite often in the tens of thousands. If you plan on removing a lot of material in brick or block, this may be an important number for you.
Clutch Settings & Chuck
Having the right clutch makes for an easy-to-use hammer drill. The heavy duty tools we tested have a range of chucks. The best chucks use metal with hardened steel jaws. Some even have ridges built into the jaws to provide more grip on bits. We still love the Rohm chucks used on DeWalt hammer drills and others. It’s one of our favorites. The number of drill clutch settings will enable you to develop finer control over the drill when fastening into more delicate materials or with fasteners that tend to break easily.
Some of the best chucks will truly grip a drill bit with enough force as to leave marks in the steel. When you’re drilling through tough material, this may be the only way you can ensure that 100% of the power of the drill is being transferred to the bit.
More and more cordless hammer drills come with brushless motors. This technology, while not fully across-the-board, provides better efficiencies for these tools. It also results in less maintenance and better longevity for the tool over time.That’s because there are no brushes to replace. In the case of our heavy duty hammer drills buying guide, you want to look at brushless models for the top performers. Brushless represents only part of the picture—but an important one. Combined with great battery technology and good build quality, these tools can perform for a long time.
Ergonomics and Other Features
Rounding out our evaluations and comparisons, you can’t ignore the obvious. Ergonomics play a huge role in what tool you should choose. Handle shapes and sizes differ, and we’ve found that Pros hands vary just as much. When you use a tool all day long, finding one that fits well in your hand is key. For usability overhead, weight and size also play a role. There’s nothing worse than having an unnecessarily heavy tool up in the air when you could be using something lighter to do the job. That also goes for speed—so pay attention to how fast it drills if this describes your line of work.
Of course, if you really want to keep off the weight, scrap the hammer function and go for a regular cordless drill. As a bonus, you’ll likely shave a half inch off the length of the tool in the process.
Great features like well-placed LED lights and battery level indicators are also important.
Check out the rest of our Tool Buying Guides for even more recommendations.