For those seeking the ideal power tool to easily tackle a range of drilling tasks, the search for the best hammer drills ends here. Welcome to our guide, where we’ve researched and tested the top contenders in the hammer drill market.
From masonry projects such as drilling cement to home renovations and everything in between, these versatile tools are essential for achieving professional results.
The buying guide below includes our shortlist picks after running each drill through standardized testing in the DIY Gear Reviews lab. We include results from those tests here and within our hammer drill reviews, which includes additional commentary, test results, and videos to simplify comparing hammer drills. Also check out our global drill rankings to compare key results across the entire test fleet.
Best hammer drill
- Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill
- Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD805 Hammer Drill
- Makita 18V LXT XPH14Z Hammer Drill
- Milwaukee M12 Fuel 3404-20 Hammer Drill
- Milwaukee M18 2607-20 Hammer Drill
- Dewalt 20V Atomic DCD799 Hammer Drill
Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20
4.67 / 5 ⭐️’s
Includes (2) M18 Red Lithium XC 5Ah battery
The Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill is one of the best cordless hammer drills tested. It combines all the performance, build quality, and advanced features you’d expect in Milwaukee’s flagship Fuel lineup.
Critically, the 2904-20 aced our drilling speed tests, designed to test each drill’s performance near the top of their range. The 2904-20 has enough muscle to sustain high RPMs under load and blasts chips out of holes to avoid bogging down. Throughout testing, we didn’t encounter a scenario where we needed to drop to the low setting for added torque to finish a drilling job.
The exceptionally high hammering rate, combined with the torque and RPM profile, improves speed significantly when drilling concrete and thick lumber. Setting the 2904-20 to hammer mode improved drilling speed by 25.9%, beating the 20.0% bar we aim for in testing.
The 2904-20 also includes several features that should be standard at this performance tier. There is an auxiliary arm in the box, and it includes Milwaukee’s Autostop technology, both helping to reduce the risk of injury with inevitable bind-ups. Autostop is a kickback control technology that automatically stops the motor when the drill binds.
The primary downside is that the 2904-20 is reasonably heavy, common at the high end of the best cordless drills.
We don’t recommend the 2904-20 for most homeowners since it is overpowered for common uses around the home. A more balanced, user-friendly hammer drill is ideal for weekend warriors. The 2904-20 is most suitable for professionals and prosumers.
Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD805
4.25 / 5 ⭐️’s
Includes (2) Max XR 20V 2Ah battery
Consider the Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD805 Hammer Drill alongside the Milwaukee 2904-20 highlighted above. The DCD805 is the Dewalt hammer drill to buy if you want flagship performance and are committed to the Dewalt 20V Max battery platform.
Let’s get this out of the way before team yellow and team red fans trade barbs in the comments section. The decision to buy the DCD805 or Milwaukee 2904-20 shouldn’t come down to speed under load or size. Both hammer drills offer equivalent podium-topping torque and speed demanded for heavy-duty applications. The footprints are also the same. Both are best-in-class in these regards.
There are two reasons to purchase the DCD805 instead. The DCD805 is noticeably lighter, and it has a better worklight. The worklight can be turned off or set to Spotlight mode, which brightens the light to 70 lumens and keeps it on for 20 minutes. The DCD805’s light also has three adjustable positions, helping to focus the light where needed.
Such a powerful drill should include an auxiliary arm and kickback control technology, which the DCD805 lacks. It also has a shorter tool warranty than Milwaukee.
Makita 18V LXT XPH14Z
4.38 / 5 ⭐️’s
Includes (2) 18V 5Ah battery
Buyers open to brands should consider the Dewalt DCD805 and Milwaukee 2904-20 over a Makita hammer drill. The best Dewalt drills and best Milwaukee drills offer equivalent performance in a more compact footprint and lighter weight. But team blue fans should opt for the Makita 18V LXT XPH14Z Hammer Drill.
The XPH14Z is Makita’s entrant in the flagship performance tier. It doesn’t disappoint in the most demanding tasks. The drilling speed under load matches its brute-force competition, and the high blows per minute (BPM) improves speed significantly when drilling cement and thick lumber. It also rapidly drives big structural screws and lags, though an impact driver is a more user-friendly alternative for these tasks.
The primary downsides of the XPH14Z are the bulky footprint and weight, which is the case with most hammer drills in Makita’s beefy 18V LXT lineup. The XPH14Z is one of the heaviest 18V drills in our test fleet. The weight is balanced in front of the handle, leading to frequent hand fatigue. The head design is also bulkier than competing hammer drills.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel 3404-20
4.45 / 5 ⭐️’s
Includes (1) M12 Red Lithium XC 4Ah, (1) M12 Red Lithium CP 2Ah battery
The Milwaukee M12 Fuel 3404-20 is the best small hammer drill, a perfectly powered size for home use or as a dedicated light-duty drill for carpenters.
It’s hard to overstate how impressive the 3404-20 is compared to its 12V competitors, which commonly sacrifice power for a smaller footprint. The 3404-20 is one of the only 12V models in our test fleet to complete the drilling and driving speed tests without dropping to the low setting for more torque.
This performance is all the more impressive considering that the 3404-20 is just as light and more compact than most competing 12V hammer drills. We’re fans of the design language used in this drill, which is the same as several Milwaukee impact drivers. The slim handles and seamlessly integrated batteries are more compact and agile-feeling than any small hammer drill tested.
As a result, the 3404-20 is one of the few drills that can easily hang off your jeans pocket one second and has the compact size to then drill under shelves and inside cramped corners the next.
The 3404-20 includes a hammer mode to more efficiently drill cement. It is helpful and adds versatility when you need it. However, the low BPM combined with the limited muscle compared to higher voltage models won’t rapidly finish any masonry drilling application.
Milwaukee M18 2607-20
4.21 / 5 ⭐️’s
Includes (2) M18 Red Lithium XC 3Ah battery
Put the Milwaukee M18 2607-20 Hammer Drill on your shortlist if you’re a weekend warrior who doesn’t need jobsite-level performance but wants more speed and torque than a 12V hammer drill offers. It is a competitively priced hammer drill to get into the Milwaukee platform, which is worthy of the admiration it commands, with some of the best build quality among the major brands.
The 2607-20 finishes many demanding drilling and driving tasks. We can’t think of many applications around the home that the 2607-20 can’t complete. It starts to bog down when boring wide holes in wood with spade and forstner bits. But dropping a gear handily finished these tasks in our testing.
The 2607-20 also has better build quality and a longer warranty than many similarly-priced hammer drills. Notably, it includes a frustration-free all-metal chuck that locks onto drill bits without loosening unintentionally.
You’d expect that the combined performance profile and features would result in a high price tag. But the 2607-20 is among the best budget drills available, which isn’t a category that Milwaukee frequents with its premium bent.
So, why shouldn’t all price-conscious shoppers buy the 2607-20 when considering the quality? The 2607-20 is reasonably heavy, and the tip-to-tail length is incredibly long, which limits the tight areas it fits into easily. The low BPM also results in slow speeds when drilling cement.
Dewalt 20V Atomic DCD799
4.02 / 5 ⭐️’s
Includes (2) Max 12V 3Ah battery
The Dewalt 20V Atomic DCD799 Hammer Drill is one of the most compact 18V/20V drills that doesn’t drastically sacrifice speed and torque to squeeze into a small footprint. That balance defines Dewalt’s Atomic lineup, designed for size and weight over muscle.
Importantly in its voltage class, the DCD799 completes many heavy-duty jobs without dropping a gear for torque. It is sufficiently powerful for demanding tasks, including driving long lag bolts and boring wide holes in wood with forstner and spade bits.
Performance aside, we can now focus on the DCD799’s footprint. The short tip-to-tail length beats the dimensions of nearly all flagship hammer drills, helping it fit more easily in cramped areas. Otherwise, the head width and height cast a similar shadow as other hammer drills.
Portability is also exceptional with the compact footprint, helping it stow away easily in a toolbox or hanging off your tool belt. The DCD799 is light for a drill in its bare form and when kitted with a range of battery Ah capacities, which reduces hand fatigue.
We just wish Dewalt improved the chuck sleeve. The chuck is frustration-free. But a plastic chuck sleeve doesn’t feel as premium as all-metal, critical for a part of a drill you’re frequently fiddling with.
The Ryobi 18V One+ PBLHM101 Hammer Drill is a good budget option that underperforms our pick, the Milwaukee 2607-20, which is competitively priced with far better build quality.
The Ryobi 18V One+ PSBHM01 Hammer Drill is a highly compact and balanced option that is ideal for homeowners already in the Ryobi 18V One+ ecosystem.
The Dewalt 20V Atomic DCD709 Hammer Drill is an older generation of our pick, the Dewalt DCD799, which is slightly more compact tip to tail and offers improved performance. The DCD709 is negligibly cheaper, so we recommend purchasing the newer model.
The Dewalt 12V Xtreme DCD706 Hammer Drill is a solid pick for homeowners needing a basic drill with a hammer mode. Our 12V pick, the Milwaukee 3404-20, offers better performance and is more compact, all for a similar price.
Hammer drill comparison
We love a good power tools comparison. Comparing power tools is one reason why we launched power tool reviews. Few online resources rigorously test drills in a standardized manner, simplifying comparing power tools across brands when putting everyone on the same playing field. We designed our drill testing methodologies with this goal in mind.
But not all features and performance factors carry the same weight. Speed, weight, and durability are critical to picking the best hammer drill.
Below, we compare our shortlisted hammer drill picks in these essential categories.
Speed is an essential performance factor when buying a new hammer drill. However, not all speed metrics are the same, including relying upon advertised RPM and torque metrics provided by manufacturers.
Speed under load in practical drilling applications matters most, and limited online review resources provide these performance figures across brands. We do.
Below, we include results from our drilling speed tests designed to test speed near the upper range for most drills. These practical results show how each hammer drill performs in real-life drilling applications where specs sheets offer limited value.
|Drill||Drilling Speed Total Time (sec.)||Drilling Speed Avg. Time (sec.)||Hammer Speed Improvement||Global Rank*|
*18 models tested
When discussing hammer drills, the Hammer Speed Improvement data point provides helpful insights when drilling cement.
This test demonstrates the speed improvement of the hammer drill compared to the standard drill setting. The best hammer drills improve speed by at least 20.0%, the bar we aim for to determine if a hammer drill effectively improves speed.
We include additional commentary, speed data points, and a video of the drilling speed test in our dedicated hammer drill reviews for each drill. Also, check out our drilling speed results page to compare drilling performance across models in our test fleet.
Most people purchase a handheld drill to tackle more than just drilling tasks. We test driving speed to understand a drill’s performance profile further when driving fasteners, such as structural screws, decking screws, and lag bolts.
Our driving speed tests consist of driving five GRK RSS fasteners in stacked 2x6s in the forward and reverse settings. We record the actual driving time, not down time between each fastener. The results and ranks among our drill test fleet are included below.
|Drill||Driving Speed Total Time (sec.)||Driving Speed Avg. Time (sec.)||Global Rank*|
*18 models tested
Unsurprisingly, the performance rank in the driving speed tests closely mirrors the drilling speed results. All the best hammer drills completed this test in the high setting, vastly improving their speed over lesser drills that required dropping a gear to the low setting.
Our hammer drill reviews include additional data points and a video that helps compare speed across drills tested. Or check out the drill driving speed results page to compare performance for all models.
All hammer drills are reasonably heavy compared to their most frequent driving companion, impact drivers. Since drills are already in a heavyweight class, it’s important to do whatever possible to shave weight. We recommend purchasing the lightest weight option that gets the most frequent jobs done.
For professionals demanding performance, there are no lightweight and compact hammer drills. We can dream of a lightweight hammer drill in the future, and technology may eventually get there with a continuing trend of lighter and more powerful generational improvements. But that pipe dream isn’t a reality today.
|Drill||Bare Weight (lbs)||Global Rank*|
*18 models tested
Moving down the performance spectrum gives you more options to improve portability and reduce hand fatigue. The Milwaukee 3404-20 and Dewalt DCD799 are standout compact and lightweight drills, each with unique targeted use cases.
Our drill weight test results page helps to compare drill weight across models tested and includes several additional data points, such as weights with common Ah-capacity batteries.
We determine the expected durability for each drill based on the tool and battery warranties offered. Milwaukee leads the pack with a five-year warranty on its drills. Dewalt and Makita are close behind with three-year warranties.
However, Dewalt is the only manufacturer with a year of free servicing and replacement parts.
|Drill||Tool Warranty (years)||Battery Warranty (years)|
|Milwaukee 2904-20||5||2-3 (depends on model)|
|Milwaukee 3404-20||5||2-3 (depends on model)|
|Milwaukee 2607-20||5||2-3 (depends on model)|
Do you need a hammer drill?
A hammer drill is needed to efficiently drill holes in masonry, such as when drilling into brick or cement. While a drill without a hammering mechanism can drill masonry in a pinch, the process is incredibly slow and quickly wears down drill bits.
Most handheld cordless drills come in either a standard drill or a hammer drill version. A hammer drill does everything a standard drill does but offers one-drill versatility with the added hammering functionality.
Best yet, hammer drills typically cost $10 to $20 more than their non-hammering counterparts. So, there’s little reason to pass up buying a hammer drill instead of a less versatile drill.
However, there are some instances where a non-hammering drill may be better. Some drills are more compact and weigh meaningfully less than their hammer counterparts since a hammering mechanism isn’t stuffed into the head. If the footprint and weight are critical, and you don’t plan to drill cement or thick lumber frequently, opt for a standard drill.
Our guide to the best hammer drills focuses on handheld power drills with hammering functionalities. These hammer drills are ideal for versatility around the home and on the job site, such as drilling into cement for base plates and then using the same drill for rough-ins later.
A dedicated SDS rotary hammer drill is needed as a dedicated power tool if used mostly for drilling cement. No handheld cordless hammer drill can compete with the efficiency of specialized SDS rotary drills. We don’t currently review SDS rotary drills.
Most powerful hammer drill
The most powerful hammer drills are the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2904-20 Hammer Drill and the Dewalt 20V Max XR DCD805 Hammer Drill.
Both blazed through our drilling and driving speed tests with best-in-class results, partly due to their high BPMs that vastly improved drilling speeds. Setting each drill to its hammer mode improved drilling speeds by 25.9% and 28.7% in our tests for the Milwaukee 2904-20 and Dewalt DCD805, respectively.
|Drill||Drilling Speed Total Time (sec.)||Hammer Speed Improvement||BPM|