It might not be the common form of the adage, but time sure does fly when you’re building stuff. Of course, not every step of the process or every job is fun, but it’s certainly satisfying to create something the customer loves. What never fails to be fun, however, is using a rotary hammer to chip, drill, remove, break up, and make way for the new work. The most common rotary hammer size is the SDS-Plus shank for medium-duty work, which I use most often, but you wouldn’t know it if you’ve read my reviews. The Hilti TE 50-AVR SDS-Max rotary hammer will be my fourth SDS-Max review for PTR.
The SDS-Max shank size is the biggest and baddest, meant for the toughest of jobs and capable of busting up or drilling into just about anything. I’ve been able to work with several of the top rotary hammers over the last year, so I’ll be able to tell quickly if the Hilti is among the cream of the crop.
Hilti is widely known for great tools, especially rotary hammers but impressions like that can be a double-edged sword.
You don’t want to oversell it to yourself or anyone else, only to be slightly disappointed or have the shine come off. Nonetheless, it’s hard not to be eager to give this tool a try. Let’s look it over.
Hilti TE 50-AVR Rotary Hammer Design
The Hilti TE 50-AVR Rotary Hammer has the unmistakable form of its category, with a D-handle housing, a large three-finger trigger, and an auxiliary handle behind the chuck.
AVR Anti-Vibration Technology
The “AVR” in the name is Hilti’s Active Vibration Reduction, designed to mitigate the violent action of the bit which travels through the tool body and into the user’s body.
With a max capacity of 2-1/8 inches (1-1/4-inch optimal), it’s capable of the largest bit diameter in this class of light to medium-duty SDS-Max hammers. Weighing in at 13.4 pounds, it delivers 4.4 foot pounds of blow energy at 3510 impacts per minute. That puts it a bit lighter in the power category in pure blow energy, but the performance will tell the whole tale.
Detachable Power Cord
You’ve seen just about every tool make its way to the cordless world, including another Milwuakee SDS-Max rotary hammer. Batteries have liberated a lot of work from being tethered to a power outlet and allow us to get the job done when power isn’t available. However, for tools that require lots of muscle for big jobs like the SDS-Max rotary hammer, it’s likely that the cord will stay attached to this category for a while.
But that doesn’t mean companies can’t innovate around it, and that’s exactly what Hilti has done. The power cord is detachable, plugging in at the base of the handle. As a common point of failure, you can quickly change plugs and avoid significant downtime.
Using the Hilti TE 50-AVR Rotary Hammer
As soon as I had the Hilti TE 50-AVR in hand, I found the perfect job for it – a warehouse dock that had been damaged by a truck. Oops. It’s the perfect job because the warehouse wall isn’t just made of cinderblock – the block was poured solid with 4,000 PSI concrete, effectively making it a beam that was virtually unbreakable – unless, of course, you had a semi-truck or possibly a Hilti rotary hammer! The video speaks for itself, but I must say I loved the Hilti almost from the first impact. It cut right through the masonry.
Power and Weight
I admit that when I first saw it, I thought it would be too heavy. That’s really the first thing a tradesman with even a little experience thinks about when he looks at a tool. It’s not simply what it’s like to use the tool, but what’s it like to use it for 20 minutes? 30 minutes? Half the day?
That’s the real test. But this tool is light as well as powerful. You can certainly muscle a big SDS-Max rotary hammer around for a few minutes, holding it against your thigh or hip with your arms fully extended, but you probably won’t maneuver for very long like we did with the Hilti. You’ll see Sutton working at shoulder level and above as he breaks up the dock wall’s concrete. Impressive stuff.
I’ve noticed the stroke lengths differ among rotary hammers. Shorter strokes don’t work as well as longer strokes. The Hilti TE 50-AVR SDS-Max Rotary Hammer has a longer stroke which contributes to its excellent performance. You’d think that longer strokes would also make the vibration more noticeable. But this rotary hammer’s vibration reduction is much better than most – hardly even perceptible when comparing it to other hammers in this class.
Pro Tip: Keep the rotary hammer greased. It’s doing too much work and getting too warm to be neglected!
If rotary hammers are notorious for anything, it’s for getting warm/hot during use and for spitting grease on you. There’s nothing wrong with that – hey, it’s doing some heavy duty work, so you have to expect it. The Hilti TE 50-AVR SDS-Max Rotary Hammer does get slightly warm but stays cool enough to use. It does fling out a little grease, but that’s to be expected.
The detachable cord is an excellent idea. If a rotary hammer lasts a while, it’ll be the cord that needs replacement. Most guys ditch the tool cases shortly after buying the tool. But even when you keep it, sometimes you have to wrap the cord so tightly in the case that it eventually weakens the connection at the tool body. Typically you’ll need to send it out for repair since the connections are inside.
And you don’t use tools in a vacuum – when you have a lot of corded tools in the truck, you can quickly get a bird’s nest of a mess with the cords getting tangled. But not with this Hilti – you can avoid all that wear and tear by removing the cord and storing it safely. If and when it needs replacement, just pick up another cord. Simple.
Couple that with the optional dust removal system that brings the system into compliance with OSHA’s new respirable crystalline silica dust regulations, and you’ve got a homerun of a tool.
In short, because of the performance, weight, and features, this is my favorite SDS-Max rotary hammer so far.
The Bottom Line
The Hilti TE 50-AVR Rotary Hammer is a fantastic SDS-Max machine that will break up and drill into just about anything that stands in its way. It’s got a decent amount of power for its class, especially given its relatively light weight of 13.4 pounds.
The power is only part of the equation in a violent tool like this, but Hilti’s Active Vibration Reduction does a phenomenal job of making the job easier on your body.
With solid build quality and features like a cord that switches in seconds and you’ve got a heavy-duty hammer that’s unlikely to spend much time in the repair shop.
It is by far the best SDS-Max rotary hammer I’ve used in my career – the combination of ergonomics and performance is simply a class ahead of the rest.
Hilti TE 50-AVR SDS-Max Rotary Hammer Features
- Weight: 13.4 lb.
- Single impact energy: 4.4 ft-lbs
- Hammer drilling diameter: 15/32 to 1-9/16 in.
- Optimum Hammer drilling range: 5/8 to 1-1/4 in.
- Hammer drilling speed: 360 RPM
- Full hammering frequency: 3510 impacts/minute
- Active Vibration Reduction (AVR)
- Triaxial vibration value (ah,HD): 9 m/s²
- Compatible dust removal systems: TE DRS-Y, TE DRS-D, TE DRS-BK