Whether you’re a professional or a handy amateur, a good power drill is essential to your tool kit. Capable of generating maximum torque to drill holes through wood, masonry, concrete, and even metal, a high-quality power drill allows you to do jobs that would simply be impossible without one, all while saving you serious amounts of time and effort.
Whether you’re replacing an older model or looking to build out your first tool kit, you’re sure to be confronted with a host of options when shopping for a power drill.
This article focuses on cordless hammer drills, which are a sound choice for professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike. We’ll look at models like Dewalt, Makita, and Bosch, which are cheaper and more widely available than they’ve ever been, making this a great time to be on the lookout for a new model.
Below are the best cordless hammer drills available on the market.
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|Name||Max RPM||Our Rating|
|Bosch HDH181XB||1850||9.6 / 10|
|Bosch PS130-2A||1300||9.4 / 10|
|Makita XPH12Z||2000||9.2 / 10|
|Craftsman C3||1600||9.2 / 10|
|DeWalt DCD985B||2000||9 / 10|
|Porter Cable PCC620B||1600||8.8 / 10|
|Milwaukee 2607-20 M18||1800||8.8 / 10|
1. Bosch HDH181XB
Bosch are a big name in power tools and DIY more broadly, and the HDH181XB is a serious and professional product. The durability and long-term quality of this cordless drill will likely make it one of the best hammer drill investments in the long run.
Capable of reaching 1,850 RPM, this particular Brute Tough drill can also generate a serious amount of torque; considerably more than most of its competition.
With all-metal gear housing, a cell protection system to preserve battery life, and KickBack Control to protect the drill user, this is a versatile and extremely effective power tool which will get the job done – whatever it is – and continue doing so over many years.
It’s also worth mentioning that this Bosch drill looks fantastic, with a clean metal head set against solid colors which only adds to the impression of quality you get from this product.
- Bosch’s proprietary KickBack Control shuts the drill down if an adverse torque reaction occurs, protecting the drill user and preventing potentially disastrous accidents caused by unexpected kickback.
- If any drill ever needed additional kickback protection, the Brute Tough Hammer Drill/Driver is it. This Bosch drill generates a serious amount of torque. More torque means more power, and the HDH181XB is undeniably a beast.
- The integrated LED sheds light in dark areas, coming in handy in low-light conditions or when working in awkward nooks and crannies.
- Bosch have built a cell protection system into the Brute Tough range of drills which works to preserve battery life over time, slowing the gradual degradation of battery life which comes with even high-quality lithium-ion batteries.
- The 18V power system means the battery from this drill can be switched with comparable 18V batteries, increasing your options and allowing you to accumulate a store of compatible batteries if you stick with 18V products in the future.
- The all-metal gear housing does a lot to preserve this drill’s lifespan, avoiding the unfortunate situation where a single plastic component drastically reduces a product’s longevity.
- Like most Bosch products, the HDH181XB looks great: nicely-finished Bosch colors and a clean metal head give this product a sleek, smart professional look.
- The auxiliary handle included with this drill comes in handy for heavy-duty work, giving you greater control and allowing you to better put your bodyweight behind the drill when working on particularly resistant materials.
- This is a combi drill: it can drive, as well as drill and hammer. Appropriately for such a high-end product with a high-end price tag, it does a great job at anything you choose to turn it to. The hammer action is strong and efficient, unlike that on many cheaper combi drills. Bosch have even taken the helpful step of including two compatible screwdriver bits, allowing you to use this device as a driver right out of the box.
2. Bosch PS130-2A
Bosch are a name synonymous with quality in the power tools marketplace, and the PS130-2A 12V MAX Hammer Drill Driver doesn’t throw up any surprises on that front.
Where it does differ from some Bosch products is its size: weighing in at a mere 2.3 lbs and with the shortest head length among drills on the market today, this is an impressively small and compact piece of machinery. For portability and working in tight spaces, the PS130-2A’s small size and low weight can make a huge difference; and with Bosch, you shouldn’t expect a reduction in quality to go with the size.
This cordless combi drill (it can drive as well as drill and hammer) has a 20-stage clutch and two different speeds to choose between, as well as integrated LED and fuel gauge to further improve ease of use.
Thanks to the 12V MAX power system – which allows batteries to be switched with other 12V MAX power tools – the battery life doesn’t even suffer in comparison with larger, bulkier models.
With the PS130-2A, Bosch have taken the flexibility and mobility that makes cordless drills attractive and ran with it, producing a small and super-lightweight cordless drill which is still capable of going through wood, masonry and metal. For the professional or the enthusiastic amateur, this is a convenient and versatile option which is well worth checking out.
- The PS130-2A is super-lightweight and portable: weighing only 2.3 lbs, less than half the weight of an average cordless hammer drill, this model also has one of the shortest head lengths among drills on the market today. It’s perfect for tight spaces and awkward corners, and still powerful enough for use on wood, masonry and metal.
- A 20-stage clutch and two distinct speed settings enhance the all-round flexibility of the PS130-2A by giving you fine control over depth and speed.
- This is a combi drill which you can switch between rotary, driver and hammer action, making it suitable for use on any conventional DIY task or project.
- An integrated LED provides illumination in low-light conditions, while the built-in battery gauge gives you an idea of how much more use you’ll get before needing to recharge or switch the battery.
- Thanks to the 12V MAX system (which allows you to switch the battery from the PS130-2A with that from any comparable 12V MAX system), this drill has impressive battery life considering its small size, being comparable to the battery life of considerably larger and heavier models.
3. Makita XPH12Z
Makita are an American power tool specialist, and their LXT range were the first widely-available 18V power system power tools. It’s a legacy they’re proud of, which is why their 18V range is one of the largest available on the market today.
What that means is that if you purchase the Makita XPH12Z, you’re getting something that can work on its own or be combined with other 18V power tools for increased battery life and flexibility.
This cordless drill is no slouch on its own, either: capable of reaching 2,000 RPM, this is a very competent combi drill, which is all the more impressive given that it’s available at a midrange price point.
With Makita’s own XPT (extreme protection technology) increasing the Cordless Hammer Driver-Drill’s resistance to dust and water, this is a drill which is both ready for the worksite and well within the price range of the home DIY enthusiast.
- This Makita drill uses a brushless motor, an uncommon design in power drills but one which serves to reduce the likelihood of sparking and helps preserve battery life for up to 50% longer than a comparable brushed motor.
- The Makita XPH12Z can be switched between two speeds with ease, allowing greater flexibility with how you approach a task. With a maximum rotary speed of 2,000 RPM, this drill is more than capable of getting the job done.
- This is a combi drill – it can drive as well as drill and hammer. For a product available at a mid-range price point, this is a quality cordless combi drill which will do good work as a hammer drill.
- The gear housing in this Makita drill is constructed entirely from metal. As power tools tend to only last as long as their weakest component, this makes a big difference with regards to longevity: a broken plastic gear housing is one of the most common reasons for ditching a budget drill and upgrading to a higher-end model.
- Weighing 4.2 lbs, this drill is lighter than the average cordless model, which will yield real benefits if you plan on using it for any length of time. It also means the Makita XPH12Z is easy to transport and carry. A rubberized soft grip further contributes to this drill’s ease of use.
- Dual LED lights built into the body of the drill provide additional illumination in dark conditions.
- The XPT, or extreme protection technology, built into the drill increases dust and water resistance.
4. Craftsman C3
Available at a midrange price point, this drill can reach a maximum of 1,600 RPM. Besides the integrated LED and an ergonomically-designed handle, there’s little in the way of features to talk about.
However, whilst this may not be a feature packed drill, it is a solid and efficient option which does what it sets out to do very well. This is a dedicated hammer drill, and the hammer action doesn’t disappoint, going through masonry and comparable materials with ease.
With a 24-setting clutch you don’t need to worry about going too far or causing collateral damage, making this an efficient and effective cordless hammer drill for anyone who’ll make use of the hammer action.
Craftsman have even taken the additional step of including a carry bag with the C3, helping you keep your drill safe and dry.
- A keyless metal chuck ensures you can attach and detach drill bits quickly and with ease, while still feeling confident that they won’t shift during use.
- The clutch on this drill has 24 distinct settings, allowing you precision control over how deep you’ll drill.
- An ergonomic handle means the C3 is comfortable to carry and use, improving its efficiency over long periods of use.
- An integrated LED provides illumination when working in low-light conditions, which also serves to improve the drill’s safety.
- Weighing 4.5 lbs, this might not be the lightest cordless hammer drill on the market, but it’s light enough to be used without causing too much fatigue and is easy to carry around & store when not in use.
- Despite featuring a fair amount of plastic in its construction, the C3 manages to appear heavy-duty and imposing, looking like a more expensive model than its middle-of-the-pack price tag suggests.
- By including 2 drill bits and a carry bag with the C3, Craftsman score additional value-for-money points, while making this option more attractive to DIY novices looking for their first power drill.
5. DeWalt DCD985B
DeWalt are one of the big names in power tools, and the DCD985B 20V MAX Lithium Ion Premium 3-Speed Hammerdrill is a heavy-duty offering from a brand which commands respect.
As the name suggests, this cordless hammer drill offers 3 speed variations, up to a maximum of 2,000 RPM (rotations per minute).
Combined with the flexibility and ease of use of a cordless drill, and with the side handle offering help on more heavy-duty tasks, the DCD985B is a hammer drill which can do the job on any material around the home.
What’s more, the battery in the increasingly popular 20V MAX power system this drill uses can be interchanged with batteries from any other 20V MAX system, making this a sound long-term investment you can build your tool kit around.
It will be an investment: the DeWalt DCD985B is one of the more expensive cordless hammer drills available, but you’re not just paying for the DeWalt name – this is a high-quality drill which will serve you well and remain useful going forwards.
- With 3 distinct speed variations going all the way up to 2,000 RPM, the DCD985B offers users flexibility without giving up anything in the way of power. 2,000 RPM is more than the typical cordless hammer drill is capable of producing, making a particular difference on softer materials where high speed and low torque yield the best results.
- The ½” metal ratcheting heavy-duty chuck in the DCD985B has built-in carbides for additional bit-gripping strength. This drill uses a keyless chuck, but the strength of grip it provides is closer to that of a key-operated model.
- Despite boasting a high-power motor, the 20V MAX system works to ensure a longer running time than comparable drills. The use of lithium-ion batteries makes a difference here, too.
- The battery in the DCD985B can be exchanged with that from any other 20V MAX system.
- The presence of an LED light on the drill itself can provide illumination when working in low-light conditions.
- The side handle on the DCD985B can be adjusted and used to provide additional stability when doing heavy-duty work, helping to compensate for the lower weight of the cordless drill. The fact that this hammer drill is cordless has its own benefits, in terms of flexibility and ease of use.
6. Porter Cable PCC620B
The PCC620LB 20V MAX Lithium Ion Hammerdrill is better described as a combi drill. Capable of producing a speed of 1,600 RPM, the PCC620LB has a switch function to move from rotary to driver to hammer action. This has the advantage of opening up an even wider range of tasks you can use your drill for.
Porter Cable’s drill does have the advantage of featuring the popular 20V MAX power system, allowing you to switch batteries and power packs with other 20V MAX models, and it can’t be faulted on price. This is a truly budget option, so if you’re looking for versatility at a low price Porter Cable’s offering is one you should consider.
- This isn’t strictly a hammer drill so much as a combi drill. The easy switch function means this model can drill, drive and hammer with ease.
- The ½” metal ratcheting chuck present in the PCC620LB prevents bit slippage, keeping your drill setup the way you want it throughout the work.
- Porter Cable offer larger power packs for the 20V MAX system, allowing you to fix your drill to have a longer battery life if the need arises.
- The fact that this drill uses the 20V MAX power system is a big plus, as it allows batteries to be switched between different 20V MAX drills, reducing the likelihood of you needing to stop work to recharge.
- Price: this is a budget drill, being available for less than half the price of a high-end cordless hammer drill. For a DIY novice who isn’t sure what jobs they’ll need the most help with, the PCC620LB is a reasonable choice with a small price tag.
7. Milwaukee 2607-20 M18
Milwaukee are a manufacturer of power tools aimed primarily at the home user. The 2607-20 M18 Hammer Drill is no exception: it’s a simple cordless hammer drill available at an entry-level price point, capable of reaching speeds of 1,800 RPM – more than enough for most tasks around the home, especially when making use of the hammer action.
Despite the low price, this doesn’t feel like a cheap drill: it’s sturdier and heavier than the average cordless hammer drill, and even comes fitted with Milwaukee’s proprietary REDLINK Intelligence system. This is a safety feature designed to overload and shut off the drill when it gets too hot, avoiding the damaging and potentially dangerous consequences of overheating your drill during use.
With an 18V power pack which can be switched with the battery from any other 18V model, Milwaukee’s M18 Hammer Drill is a no-nonsense offering that gives a surprising amount of bang for your buck.
- The REDLINK Intelligence safety overload system, which shuts the drill off if it gets too hot, can prevent damage to the drill (and potentially damage to the drill-user) caused by overheating.
- This is an affordable hammer drill; if you want a solid hammer drill and don’t want to break the bank, this should be one of the first places you look.
- Despite the low price, this is a remarkably sturdy drill. It feels solid and well-made, unlike many of the drills at this price point; something that you could still be getting use from many years into the future.
- The 18V power system allows the switching of batteries and power packs between different tools, providing additional value and convenience if you own any other 18V tools or plan on buying some.
A brief guide to drills
The humble power drill is one of the most important items in any toolbox, giving users the maximum torque needed to drill through most materials with a speed and efficiency that can’t be matched by human effort alone.
The range of drills available on the market can seem bewildering, especially for DIY novices, but a few simple decisions can narrow down your options and set you on the way to finding the perfect drill driver for you.
It’s important to look at the difference between corded or cordless, and the choice of action – what functions you want your drill to perform besides drilling.
Corded drills offer power and torque (twisting force) which can’t be matched by cordless models. For instance, almost all power tools that draw on electricity will always offer greater power than li-ion batteries, and drills are certainly no exception. Corded drills can be used for lengthy periods of time without having to worry about changing battery packs.
An added bonus is that many corded drills are able to sport additional features or functions, as designers don’t have the battery life constraint limiting their options when making the drill.
Despite the many good reasons to consider a corded drill over the cordless alternative, cordless drills are undeniably the most popular models today.
The main reason for this is simply convenience: cordless drills can be used almost anywhere and can often get into awkward positions that a corded drill can’t, making them a flexible and easy-to-use choice. They’re also notably lighter and come with an ergonomic design, making them easier to use when dealing with tight spaces.
One further hidden benefit is that a decrease in power and torque leads to an increase in safety. Despite still being able to get through most of the same materials as a corded drill, cordless drills are potentially less dangerous if mishandled or dropped during use.
Besides the choice between corded and cordless, the main decision to be made when starting to look at power drills is what kind of action you’ll find most useful.
A basic rotary hammer drill can drill, but aren’t able to do much else. This makes them a relatively inexpensive option for DIY novices, but of limited use to the more experienced user.
A drill driver can – as the name suggests – use the torque generated by the drill to drive in screws and perform similar tasks. Hammer drills, meanwhile, use a stronger motor to combine the rotary hammer action of a standard drill with a hammer-like striking action. This improves the drill’s speed and enables it to strike through harder materials than a basic rotary drill.
Cordless hammer drills offer the flexibility and convenience of a cordless drill with the striking power of a hammer drill. This is the type of drill that we will be discussing going forward.
Why buy a cordless hammer drill?
Power drills, whatever their type, are a DIY essential for a number of reasons:
- They allow you to drill through wood, concrete and metal with ease.
- Cordless tools offer the convenience of being used anywhere, especially tight spaces, so long as they have an adequate power supply and charger nearby.
- A high-quality power drill will likely have a variety of actions and functionality: a hammer drill can hammer, a drill driver can double up as an electric screwdriver, while combi and SDS drills offer users a range of possibilities.
- If you do your homework and buy wisely, a good power drill is a sound long-term investment. Over the many years a high-quality drill will serve you well. The money saved compared to buying and replacing cheaper options can really add up to make your power drill a sound financial choice.
Among the many different drills available on the market, there are some good reasons to consider a cordless hammer drill in particular:
- As with any cordless power drill, cordless hammer drills are lightweight. This can make a small difference when it comes to storing and transporting the drill, but it’s most noticeable when working on tasks that take a day or more to complete. Holding a heavy drill fatigues your arms, making it more difficult to use and requiring you to take more frequent breaks. Despite it seeming counter-intuitive, a lighter drill may help you to get the job done quicker.
- Cordless hammer drills are easy to use, simply requiring that their lithium ion battery is charged in order for them to get to work anywhere. They’re also safer than any corded alternative, presenting less of a danger if dropped or mishandled and not requiring you to work using an extension cord.
- Cordless hammer drills are both flexible and convenient. This is true of most cordless drills, but a cordless hammer drill is in a particularly sweet spot in that it offers the varied functionality of a hammer drill with the mobility and accessibility of cordless models.
- The striking action of a hammer drill increases the power and speed with which tasks can be completed, without giving up any of the control that is lost with an increase in torque or rotational speed.
- Cordless hammer drills are particularly good at jobs involving masonry, rock, or similar materials. If you know a lot of your work will involve drilling into walls and floors, this makes the cordless hammer drill is even better choice. But their marriage of flexibility and functionality makes them worth considering, whatever your DIY needs.
Things to consider
If you’ve decided a cordless hammer drill is the drill for you, there are a number of points to consider before getting stuck in and comparing individual products.
- Your DIY needs. As with any important purchase, you’ll be happier with the end result if you put the time in and think about your particular needs. Will you be mostly doing indoor home DIY, or working outdoors? Do you need something suitable for a big renovation project? Are you a professional, looking for something heavy-duty enough to last but versatile enough to be worth the investment? How many hours do you anticipate working for at any one time? What you want a drill for makes all the difference to deciding which drill is best for you.
- Size and weight. How big, bulky and heavy is the drill? Will it be comfortable to use over several hours? This is where trying drills out in person – even if only to feel their weight and how they sit in your hand – can make a big difference. Where the handle is placed on the drill can also affect how comfortable it is to use.
- Torque. How much twisting power can the drill generate? With a hammer drill the torque isn’t the only factor affecting the drill’s efficiency, as the striking action is also providing force, but a good drill needs to generate enough torque to get through wood and masonry at least.
- Battery type. Lithium-ion batteries are smaller and lighter, and hold their charge for longer. Nickel-cadmium batteries are bigger and heavier, and run out of charge quicker than the ion batteries; but they’re significantly cheaper.
- Battery life. This will largely be affected by the materials the battery is made from, but there will still be variation across different models. How long does the battery take to recharge? Can you switch out batteries, allowing you to keep working on long tasks without needing to stop to recharge? Are the batteries generic, allowing you to switch them with other generic batteries from different drills? Anything that improves battery life, or makes switching batteries easier, is a real benefit.
- Voltage rating. This is partly tied to the torque a drill will generate: a higher voltage means the drill will generate more power, but it also means the drill will be heavier and the battery’s charge won’t last as long. Higher voltage drills are also likely to be more expensive than their less powerful relatives.
- Gears. If you just want to drill, a single gear will be fine for your purposes. If you want to use your power drill for more than one type of task, a multi-gear drill will be the superior choice. For that reason, most cordless hammer drills will offer a choice of gears: a higher gear equates to higher speed and torque, but less control, much like shifting to a higher gear in an automobile.
- Variable speed. As with the number of gears, variable speed is important if you know you’ll be using your drill for a range of tasks. Again, be aware that an increase in speed will lead to a decrease in control, meaning more care needs to be taken when using your cordless hammer drill at higher speeds.
- Chuck type. There are three main types of chuck (the part of the drill where the bit is attached) in drills today. A keyless chuck tends to fit standard 13mm drill bits, allowing the user to switch bits in and out as the job demands. Key-operated chucks hold the bit in place more firmly, making them a good choice for heavy-duty work, but they’re slower and fiddlier to use than the keyless alternative. SDS drills have their own SDS chuck, being a high-specification quick-lock variant of the more common keyless system.
- Brushless vs brushed. Understanding the difference between a these two is important when deciding which drill is best for you. A brushless motor is 85% to 90% efficient whereas a brushed motor is about 75% efficient. This means that the total power used by the motor on a brushless hammer drill is being turned into rotational force and less is being lost by heat.
- Extras. Some manufacturers are kind enough to bundle in some useful extras with their cordless hammer drills. Look out for accessories including carry cases, LED light, and additional or specialist drill bits; including chisel bits, which allow your cordless hammer drill to take on seriously tough jobs. Particularly with the more expensive models, you may also want to look at what kind of warranty (if any) is available.
- Price. As is always the case when it comes to consumer decisions, price will be more of a factor for some people than others. It’s always helpful when approaching a purchase, however, to have a rough idea in your mind of how much you’d like to spend. Cordless hammer drills are more affordable than they’ve ever been, but you should still expect to pay upwards of $50 for an entry-level model, up to around $200 for something that’s professional quality.
Risks and warnings
Just like any other power tool in your kit, a cordless hammer drill is a powerful and potentially dangerous piece of equipment, and there are a few risks to be aware of before operating one.
- Not being plugged into a mains electricity supply, cordless drills are fundamentally less dangerous than the corded equivalent, but they can still cause serious damage if mishandled or dropped while in use. Take the time to read the operator’s manual and stay focused while using your cordless hammer drill. If there will be any children or animals around while you’re working, make sure they’re aware of the dangers and try to be aware of where they are at all times.
- Most cordless hammer drills will have an adjustable clutch, which can be used to set a limit to how far you can drive anything in. Make careful and consistent use of this to avoid causing any structural or electrical damage when drilling walls.
- A compact hammer drill is the specialist when working on concrete and stone, but these are strong materials which will damage your drill if not approached in the right way. For hammer work on masonry, you will benefit from using TCT (tungsten carbide-tipped) masonry drill bits, which have been specially strengthened for that purpose.
- Whether using the hammer action or not, it’s worth knowing the difference between drilling into hard and soft materials. When drilling into hard materials, lower speed and higher torque will typically achieve the best results; when drilling into soft materials, higher speed and lower torque is the way to go.