Hammer Drill vs Drill: What’s the Distinction?

So you are in the hardware store and looking for a new cordless drill. You will see a few options that look almost the same. The only difference you can see is that it’s called a hammer drill, or more precisely, a hammer drill. A closer look at the comparison of the hammer and drill reveals that these two tools remain very similar. In fact, many look identical except for the internal hammer mechanism.

It is this hammer drilling mechanism that sets this tool apart from a drill. It might justify why you’d want to spend a little extra to get it.

10 second summary

A hammer drill adds a mechanism that gives the drill a chipping motion as it drills, and adds very little weight and length. For an additional $ 10-20, get 25% faster drilling in concrete based on our testing.

For more information, see our articles on Rotary Hammer vs. Impact Wrench and Rotary Hammer vs. Rotary Hammer.

Hammer drill versus drill: physical differences

To make a hammer drill, most manufacturers start with a drill driver and add a hammer mechanism behind the chuck. In most cases, the total length will increase slightly and the total weight will increase by a few ounces. Looking at the two side by side you may not even be able to tell the difference.

Modern drills and hammer drills have clutch and drill settings. If you’re looking at a hammer drill, it has an additional hammer mode that you can switch to.

On some models, the mode changes are separate from the clutch collar, while on others they all stay on one collar. Regardless, the hammer mode is almost always right next to the drill mode. Even with rotary hammers with electronic settings, the clutch, modes, and gears are still mechanical switches and cuffs on the head.

The hammer mechanism introduces a back and forth chopping motion similar to the action of a rotating hammer. With the best hammer drills, this action can be performed more than 30,000 times per minute!

Hammer Drill vs Drill: Performance Consequences

The time for the hammer mechanism to click into place is when you are drilling a hole in concrete or masonry. It is possible without drilling and still making good progress. In our tests, rotary hammers run around 25% faster on average.

We recently ran a test with a 1/4 in. Multipurpose drill bit in our Milwaukee M18 hammer drill. In the standard drilling mode, drilling to the desired depth took about 8.5 seconds. If you put it in hammer drill mode, it only takes about 6.5 seconds.

Rotary hammer against drill |  Skil PWRCore20 high-performance brush drill for brushless concrete drill

2 seconds doesn’t seem like a big deal. However, if you are using larger bits or need to drill lots of holes, it will make a huge difference.

You will also notice a huge difference in sound when drilling in hammer mode. In addition to the sound of the chisel, there is a quick hum of the hammer mechanism.

You should never use hammer mode when drilling in wood, metal, plastic, or any other material. The chopping motion will not help drill into these materials any faster. In some cases, it will slow you down and add a lot of vibration to the experience.

Final thoughts

Most rotary hammers only charge a $ 10 to $ 20 premium over the drill driver model. Even if you may not be drilling a lot of concrete, this is a handy feature for when you come across it. Since there’s hardly any weight or size loss left, we suggest you spend a little extra to get it.

Like the look of the hammer drill that we used in the photos? It’s the Skil PWRCore 20 brushless drill bit. Get the kit on Amazon for ~ $ 150.

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