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9 best hammer drills that make light work of heavy materials

Tackle concrete and brick or chisel holes in wood with one of these multi-purpose tools

Pete Wise
Friday 07 August 2020 17:00 BST
We’ve included both beginner friendly options and models for the more seasoned DIY enthusiasts
We’ve included both beginner friendly options and models for the more seasoned DIY enthusiasts (The Independent)

A hammer drill is a tool that has a back-and-forth hammering action as well as a clockwise or anti-clockwise drilling action.

They can do jobs regular drills are not suitable for, such as drilling into very hard materials like masonry and concrete. Some hammer drills can even perform demolition tasks such as breaking up breezeblocks, flagstones and other tough objects.

Any tool that features a hammer drill mode may be referred to as a hammer drill (or percussion drill, or impact drill). The options available range from beginner-friendly models that are well-suited to moderate DIY use to contractor-standard models that would be right at home on a building site.

Combi drills are the most accessible type of tool with hammer drill functionality. Combining hammer drill with regular drill and drill-driver modes, this type of tool should give you all the capability you need to do routine DIY work like making holes for wall plugs and screwing things together.

Standard hammer drills give you similar capabilities to a combi drill but usually with much higher power. These drills often have two handles: one that houses the trigger that turns the drill on or off and an auxiliary handle designed to help you keep the drill steady. We would recommend this type of tool to DIYers who will often need to drill into hard materials.

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SDS or SDS+ drills are a third type of drill with a hammer action. These are built for heavier-duty drilling, as well as chiselling tasks such as chipping up tiles. If you’re undertaking a major renovation project, or if you’re working as a contractor, you might consider purchasing one of these powerful drills.

Before you go ahead and buy one that suits the jobs you need to get done, you might want to order some drill bits to go with it, as hammer drills are often sold without them. The bits you buy should suit the type of hammer drill you are purchasing, as well as the tasks and materials you will be working on.

The best hammer drills for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – DeWalt DCH253M2-GB 18V 4.0AH li-ion XR cordless SDS+ drill: £349.99,
  • Best heavy duty drill – Clarke contractor CON1500RDV 1500W SDS+ rotary hammer drill: £107.98,
  • Best for comfort – Ryobi RSDS680-G 680W corded SDS+ rotary hammer drill: £91.67,
  • Best user-friendly corded option – DeWalt D25033-GB electric SDS+ drill: £109.98,
  • Best ergonomic design – Bosch advancedImpact 18 cordless combi drill: £259,
  • Best for speed and efficiency – Clarke 1200W hammer drill CON1200: £53.99,
  • Best mid-range impact drill – VonHaus 3500153 1200W 2-speed impact drill: £54.99,
  • Best for intermediate DIYers – Erbauer EHD650 650W 240V corded hammer drill: £35,
  • Best cordless drill – VonHaus 3500148 20V max li-ion cordless SDS+ drill: £112.99,

DeWalt DCH253M2-GB 18V 4.0AH li-ion XR cordless SDS+ drill


Best: Overall

This product is the best cordless hammer drill we’ve ever used. Running off a pair of interchangeable 18V lithium-ion batteries, DeWalt’s drill performed exceptionally in a variety of tests, including drilling holes in breezeblocks, and chipping up concrete flooring with a chisel bit (sold separately). It offers drilling power that matches the average corded hammer drill, which is a breakthrough achievement for the brand.

Our one minor quibble with this drill is that you have to press the bit quite hard into the material you’re drilling into in order to activate the hammer action. Apart from that, we were impressed with just about every detail. The handle is especially comfortable; the LED light is bright; and the hardcase is the smartest-looking we’ve come across. And at 3.1kg, the drill is light enough to use for hours on end.

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Clarke contractor CON1500RDV 1500W SDS+ rotary hammer drill


Best: Heavy duty drill

This drill saw us through thick and thin during home renovation work, from mixing buckets of thick cement and tile adhesive with a plasterer’s paddle fitted into the chuck, to drilling up rock-solid pieces of tree stump using the drill’s hammer mode. In our view, very few users could ever want a hammer drill more powerful than this. It makes extremely light work of drilling into just about anything. There’s no job too great for this drill…but there probably are quite a few jobs too small. The drill is simply too big and heavy to do very precise work or to drill in confined spaces. It’s also a little on the noisy side. With that said, this product is a superb option for keen DIYers who need a very-heavy-duty hammer drill to use alongside a more nimble combi drill or drill driver. It has shown no signs of slowing down after a year of heavy use.

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Ryobi RSDS680-G 680W corded SDS+ rotary hammer drill


Best: For comfort

This excellent, easy-to-master SDS+ drill from Ryobi gives you the power to do pretty heavy jobs in an accessible package. The tool has four settings: hammer, rotary hammer, hammer drill and drill. It’s extremely easy to switch between these settings, which enable a huge range of uses from boring holes in wood to breaking up breezeblocks. As is typical of Ryobi power tools, this is very comfortable to hold over long periods of use, with a soft, textured finish. The drill comes in a hard carry case.

  1. £91 from
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DeWalt D25033-GB electric SDS+ drill


Best: User-friendly corded option

If you need the power of a corded hammer drill, but you would also appreciate the user-friendliness more typically found in cordless models, this corded option could be ideal for you. In our testing, this tool proved robust and sufficiently powerful to drill, hammer drill or chisel hard materials. The controls are especially clear, and both trigger and handle are very comfy to hold. Weighing just 2.5kg, this is one of the lightest hammer drills we’ve come across. This drill is excellent down to the last detail, from its lengthy, resilient power cable to the chuck, which we found especially easy to fit with SDS + drill bits.

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Bosch advancedImpact 18 cordless combi drill


Best: Ergonomic design

With a distinctive ergonomic design, an outstanding selection of attachments and rotation direction change at the click of a button, this feels like a new chapter in the story of cordless drill design. While this drill doesn’t offer the same sort of power as the heftier corded hammer drills we’ve tested, it should be more than adequate for most users. We found it was equally at home boring holes in wood and drilling into hard old bricks. The drill comes with two interchangeable lithium-ion batteries, which can be a godsend if one of them runs out of charge mid-job.

  1. £259 from
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Clarke 1200W hammer drill CON1200


Best: For speed and efficiency

This is a contractor-standard hammer drill that gives you impressive drilling power at a remarkably affordable price. The tool breezed through every task we threw at it during testing. When hammer mode is active, it bores through tough materials like cement and masonry with minimal fuss. And when it's switched to drill mode, it makes even lighter work of tasks like drilling holes in wood. If you have a lot of work to do in a short space of time, no matter what materials you’re working with, this will see you through with no issues. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend this drill to DIY newcomers, as it truly is a powerful piece of kit, which means taking precautions like clamping down the materials you are drilling into becomes especially important. You should probably also wear ear defenders while using it. That said, if you need a powerful hammer drill that gets the job done, this is one of the best you could buy.

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VonHaus 3500153 1200W 2-speed impact drill


Best: Mid-range impact drill

This drill may appear similar to some of the other mid-range impact drills on the market, but we reckon it’s actually a superior option in its category. The design is especially good, with well-thought-out details such as uncluttered controls around the trigger and a clear area for the auxiliary handle to grip onto just behind the chuck. We found that this performs very well in a variety of situations, from drilling into wood to making holes in concrete and brick using the hammer drill setting. It’s a superbly effective drill at a very reasonable price, and it even comes with a selection of masonry bits bundled in.

  1. £54 from
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Erbauer EHD650 650W 240V corded hammer drill


Best: For intermediate DIYers

This would make a great choice for intermediate DIYers who want a fairly powerful hammer drill that’s simple to use and handle. It's extremely comfy to hold, with a soft-grip handle and lightweight build. It has a keyless chuck, which some users may find easier or more familiar to use (albeit with a slightly weaker grip on the drill bit than a keyed chuck can offer). We found that this drill performed pretty well in a variety of tests. It’s not as speedy as some of the more powerful options we’ve tested, but nevertheless, it succeeded in drilling through very hard materials.

  1. £35 from
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VonHaus 3500148 20V max li-ion cordless SDS+ drill


Best: Cordless drill

This drilll gives you some of the cutting-edge capabilities of market leading cordless hammer drills like the DeWalt DCH253M2-GB above, but at a far more manageable price. It’s lightweight, comfy to hold, and crucially, it’s powerful enough to comfortably drill into really tough material like concrete and brick. In our testing, it made light work of making holes in breezeblocks and other hard materials using the hammer drill mode. The one major limitation relative to other SDS+ drills was that there’s no isolated hammer mode, meaning the drill is not well suited to tasks like chipping up tiles. Nonetheless, this tool is an outstanding value-for-money option that will enable you to drill into just about anything, cable-free. Although this one is currently out of stock, you can sign up to be notified when it becomes available again.

  1. £112 from
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Hammer drills FAQs

Which drill should I buy: Regular, combi or hammer?

A hammer drill refers to any tool that features a hammer mode – this can include both regular drills and combi drill options. A combi drill – which combines a hammer drill with regular drill and drill-driver modes – drills into wood, metal and masonry. If you’re looking to carry out everyday DIY tasks such as drilling holes in walls and driving screws, a combi drill is your best bet.

On the other hand, regular hammer drills allow you to do everything you would with a combi, but with a bit more oomph. These drills have two handles – one to turn them on and off and the other to keep them steady while in use. This makes them better suited for tougher jobs where you need power and stability.

What should you look for in a hammer drill?

Power – When working with masonry – stone, brick, cinder blocks and tiles – go for a higher wattage, while a lower wattage works well for other, less heavy duty materials, such as plasterboard. A 550W drill will be powerful enough for most routine DIY jobs.

Corded or cordless? – Connected directly to the mains, corded drills tend to be more powerful than their cordless cousins and are therefore better suited to heavy duty work. You will, however, need access to a power source to use them, while a cordless model can be charged up and used wherever you need it.

Variable speed settings – Hammer drills will generally have two or three speed settings, which makes them great for multitasking. If you’re planning heavy duty work, you’ll want the option of a higher speed setting, but for lighter work, such as driving screws, a lower speed setting will suffice.

Weight – For routine DIY tasks, it’s recommended that you go for a lightweight model, which will generally come in at around 2kg.

The verdict: Hammer drills

Based on our testing, the DeWalt DCH253M2-GB is the very best hammer drill out there, with excellent performance across a huge range of tasks using all three modes: drill, hammer drill, and hammer. The only potential drawback is the price.

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For more DIY inspiration, read our guide to the best cordless drill

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