DeWalt 20V Max Atomic 5/8-Inch SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer DCH172

DeWalt 20V Max Atomic Rotary Hammer DCH172

DeWalt DCH172 Rotary Hammer Delivers a Compact, Lightweight Design

We recently tested DeWalt’s compact 12V Xtreme cordless rotary hammer here in our shop and it’s a great option for hammer drilling smaller holes when weight or size is a concern. For those of you thinking, “that’s great, but I’m not using DeWalt 12V tools,” we got our hands on the compact DeWalt 20V Max Atomic rotary hammer to see if it’s as convenient.


  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Faster drilling than the DeWalt 12V Max Xtreme DCH072
  • Low vibration


  • Depth rod adjustment is a pain point
  • Mode switch is stiff

DeWalt Atomic 20V Max Rotary Hammer Performance

On paper, the Atomic rotary hammer’s brushless motor delivers up to 1060 RPM with 4980 BPM and 1.4 Joules of impact energy (1.03 ft-lbs). It hits its peak performance with bits between 5/32 and 1/2 inches, making it a great option for light-duty work. It’s rated to a maximum of 5/8-inch bits if you need to go a bit bigger.

If you find yourself needing a little more muscle to get the job done, consider the DeWalt 20V Max DCH273 which offers a bump in both capacity and power.

We started to get an initial feel for this compact rotary hammer while drilling a series of holes in our 4000 PSI concrete test block.

One of the nice things about using a smaller rotary hammer for smaller holes is the lower overall vibration. As an official measurement, the DeWalt DCH172 delivers 8.8 M/S². Practically, it’s nice to use a tool that does the job well without leaving you with jelly arms.

With a design very close to DeWalt’s 12V Max Xtreme rotary hammer, we wanted to see if there was much difference in drilling speed. It was obvious that the Atomic was drilling faster. With a 3/8-inch bit drilling 3 inches deep, the Atomic finished 2.8 seconds faster.

Pro Tip: Why not just use a hammer drill? Rotary hammers have higher impact power and stronger builds. Check out more on the differences in this article.

DeWalt 20V Rotary Hammer Design Notes

Size and Weight

One of the biggest deals surrounding this cordless rotary hammer is how incredibly compact it is. It’s small in stature, standing 6.75 inches tall and measuring a mear 10.25 inches long. On top of that, it weighs just 4.31 pounds with a 2.0Ah battery.

Even compared to other cordless rotary hammers in this weight class, this is by far as compact and lightweight as it gets. With these specs, tight spaces and overhead work become much easier. It’s a great fit for electricians, HVAC Professionals, and other trades that primarily use smaller concrete fasteners.

Mode Selection

A 2-position slide switch on the side lets you alternate between hammer drill mode and rotary drilling mode. Unlike some other high-powered rotary hammers, DeWalt’s 20V Atomic rotary hammer doesn’t have a dedicated chipping mode for use with SDS Plus chisel bits. That’s not a slight against this tool, it’s simply not designed for chipping.


DeWalt’s handle designs are usually pretty favorable, and this one is no different. With rotary hammers in general, a comfortable grip is important especially considering the amount of pressure you’ll apply during use. Like many other heavier-duty rotary hammers, the DCH172 has a vibration damper built into the rear handle for an added cushion on your hands.

The side handle can rotate between 12 positions around the chuck and locks securely in place on a series of molded stops, similar to the teeth on a cog. This design virtually eliminates the potential for the grip to shift while you’re working.

The main handle has the foundation of DeWalt’s drill and driver designs with comfortable contours and a generous serving of comfortable overmold.

Depth Rod

To adjust the depth rod, you need to loosen the handle which releases the rod at the same time. It’s a bit of a pain compared to rods that have a separate lock.

Additional Features

  • Variable Speed Trigger
  • Integrated LED Light

At A Glance: DeWalt 20V Max Atomic VS. 12V Xtreme Rotary Hammer

DeWalt 20V Atomic
DeWalt 12V Xtreme
Impact Rate4,980 BPM4,280 BPM
Max Speed1,060 RPM910 RPM
Impact Energy1.4J (1.03 ft-lbs)1.1J (0.81 ft-lbs)
Vibration8.8 M/S²9.7 M/S²
Optimal Bit Size5/32-1/2 in.5/32-3/8 in.
Chuck TypeSDS+SDS+
Bare Weight3.56 lbs3.44 lbs
Weight with Battery4.31 lbs (2.0Ah)3.94 (3.0Ah)

DeWalt 20V Atomic Rotary Hammer Price

The DeWalt 20V rotary hammer retails as a kit for $329 with two 2.0Ah batteries, a charger, and a hard plastic carrying case. It’s also available as a bare tool for $199. DeWalt backs it with its standard 3-year limited warranty, a 2-year free service agreement, and 90-day money-back guarantee.

The Bottom Line

The DeWalt Atomic 20V Max rotary hammer is a great solution for overhead or tight space work when you’re setting smaller concrete fasteners. If you’ve been debating between the Atomic DCH172 and the 12V Max DCH072, go with this one. The weight penalty for going with the 20V Max is small enough that the faster drilling performance is worth it.

Check out the full DeWalt rotary hammer lineup here.


  • Model: DeWalt DCH172
  • Power Source: DeWalt 20V Max battery
  • Weight: 3.56 lbs (bare), 4.31 lbs (with 20V 2.0Ah battery)
  • Impact Power: 1.4 Joules
  • No Load Speed: 0-1060 RPM
  • Blows Per Minute: 0-4980 BPM
  • Chuck Type: SDS Plus
  • Chuck Capacity: 5/8 in.
  • Length: 10.25 in.
  • Warranty: 3-Year Limited
  • Price: $199 (bare), $329 (kit)

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