DeWalt Heavy-Duty XRP 1/2″ 18V Hammerdrill Kit Review DW988KA

The do-it-all portable drill that helped to define a market segment! For those big holes saws and auger bits… no problem! For drilling 3/4″ holes in concrete block… no problem! For driving in 1/4″ lag bolts… no problem! For taking the lug nuts off your 18-wheeler… OK, well it can’t do everything. The DeWalt DW988KA Heavy-Duty XRP 1/2″ 18V Hammerdrill / Drill / Driver is the tool for nearly any job. This drill comes with a high-torque motor, three-speed manual transmission, hammer drill setting, and a nifty removable side handle that can be added to the front and rotated 360 degrees to ensure you always have a comfortable grip and maintain control.

DeWalt Heavy-Duty XRP hammerdrill

We love testing drills. One of our favorite articles is the 18V cordless hammer drill roundup which pitted 7 hammer drills against each other in a  head-to-head comparison. Constructed in the typical Dewalt Color scheme, our DeWalt Heavy-Duty XRP 1/2″ 18V Hammerdrill came in a black molded plastic case, along with two 18V XRP batteries and a 1 hour charger. The drill body features a metal gear box and a sturdy yellow plastic body with black over-molded rubber for the grip surface of the handle and the back of the drill. The ergonomics and balance of this drill are fantastic. As you hold it in your hand it doesn’t feel front heavy or top heavy. The chuck on our test drill is a Jacobs 700 series that features an all metal keyless locking chuck and carbide jaws that will prevent bits from ever slipping. The drill comes with a high-torque, variable speed motor that develops up to 500 in-lbs of torque, though DeWalt prefers to use Max Watts Out (MWO) numbers in its torque specs.

DeWalt Heavy-Duty XRP 1/2″ 18V Hammerdrill Ergonomics and Use

To test the DeWalt Heavy-Duty XRP 1/2″ 18V Hammerdrill out in the field we first loaded it up with a freshly charged battery and put a 1/2″ masonry bit in the chuck. The challenge was to drill a dozen 1/2″ by 2 inch deep holes in a concrete slab. The purpose of the holes was so that we could install wood dowels in them and use the plugs as a means to fasten down custom made wood threshold strips on top with nails. We installed the side handle and rotated it to a comfortable position then tightened it down and and started drilling. The hammer function of the drill worked flawlessly and it was comfortable to handle when drilling. We were able to drill all the holes on a single battery charge and we still had enough battery power in reserve for another project. These lithium-ion batteries deliver decent run-time.

DeWalt DW988KA Heavy-Duty XRP 1/2" 18V Hammerdrill / Drill / Driver Kit Review
DeWalt Heavy-Duty XRP 1/2″ 18V Hammerdrill / Drill / Driver Kit DW988KA

The XRP batteries that are include in the kit are DeWalt’s extend run-time Ni-Cd batteries. There are other models of this drill that are coming out that will include the new Nano Lithium-Ion batteries. We suggest anyone not in a hurry hold out for the new battery technology as it will greatly improve the overall performance of this tool.

One of our other torture tests for the DeWalt DW988KA was to do a task normally left for a corded drill such as mixing mortar for a 500 sq ft tile job. We put a paddle mixer in the chuck, and went to town mixing 5 gallon buckets of mud. In the course of this project, we had to set the drill to the highest torque setting on the collar and we went though two batteries. In the end, the drill was not any worse for wear and we got the job done just fine.

In our standard outdoor noise level test the drill measured 87 dB SPL on the meter (about as loud as a lawnmower up close). This a relatively low reading in the power tool world and means that user ear fatigue is kept to a minimum because of the quieter operation though ear protection is still recommended.


If top notch quality, functionality and balance are your specs for a 18-volt cordless drill that you expect to push to the limits, the DW988KA – Heavy-Duty XRP 1/2″ 18V Hammerdrill/Drill/Driver Kit is a must have tool. This might be a little over the top for the average homeowner but any construction professional that has used it can attest that this is a fantastic drill for the money and what it can do. The street prices have come down quite about on these, if you are a careful shopper you should be able to fine one of these for considerably less than the MSRP.

Similar DeWalt Products:

  • Heavy-Duty Compact 1/2” 18V Hammerdrill Kit – DC725KA
  • Heavy-Duty XRP 1/2″ (13mm) 18V Cordless Hammerdrill/Drill/Driver Kit – DC925KA
  • Heavy-Duty 1/2″ 18V Hammerdrill/Drill/Driver with NANO Technology – DC927KL

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