What Is A Hammer Drill (2022 Guide)

Want to know what exactly is meant by a hammer drill?

Superb. You have landed in the right place!

In this ToolsGaloreHQ.com guide, you will learn:

  • Differences between hammer drill and regular drill
  • What makes the hammer drill unique
  • How the hammer drill compares with the impact driver
  • And So Much More!
what is a hammer drill

Before we delve into more detail, please read the table below.

Hammer Drill vs Your Regular Drill

Understanding Your Hammer Drill

In order to really appreciate this tool, it’s important that we go through what your regular drill basically does when drilling through stock material.

A regular drill is a motor that rotates a drill bit. That is practically it. Now these drill bits can vary in size, however the fundamental mechanism remains the same.

All regular drills use a drill bit that has a sharp point to penetrate through wood, metal or even plastics. With the flutes extracting debris from the drill hole.

This is all good and well, and every serious DIYer, professional or even your occasional weekend warrior will tell you that a regular drill is a must have in everyone's tool box. I definitely agree with this.

However there is a specific case where your regular drill is useless, and where you hammer drill comes into play.

This case occurs when you need to drill into masonry. To be frank with you this is the case for all masonry - be it concrete, stone or even clay brick.

Regular drills just do not have the overall capability both in torque and stability to overcome such hard and tough material.

The Hammer Drill practically functions similar to a regular drill but the huge difference is that instead of just the rotational torque generated from the motor, this tool also has a back and forth motion.

Read More:>>> Find out which drill bit is better between Titanium and Cobalt

hammer drill vs regular drill

This back and forth motion practically crushes the material within the vicinity of the drill bit which allows for the rotational torque and the flutes to perform their role more efficiently. Let’s look further at what really makes this tool unique. 

What Makes Hammer Drill Stand Out

This power tool stands out from regular drills because of their primary back and forth motion coupled with the usual rotational torque.

Hammer drills are specifically designed to ensure that drilling into masonry is a lot more manageable and seamless.

These types of drills are designed to be more robust and are able to handle a lot more force than your regular drill bit. They also have a higher heat tolerance and do not overheat as much as their regular drill counterparts.

One thing worth noting however, and trust me when I say this - not all hammer drills function and work the same way.

I will give you an example – simply by using your typical 18V to 20V cordless drill with a hammer setting does not imply that it will be able to handle heavy duty masonry.

Do not get me wrong, having this functionality is definitely helpful if you only ever need to drill into masonry 3 or 5 times a year.

But, if you are regularly needing to use these types of power tools to perform masonry work – you will often be left frustrated by their lack of power and efficiency.

There is a solution to this problem, this comes in the form of a rotary hammer drill.

Read More:>>> Find Quality Drill Guides for you Regular Drilling Needs

Rotary Hammer Drill (The Real Deal)

Why You Should Consider The Rotary Hammer Drill

The Rotary Hammer Drill is fundamentally designed to drill through tough masonry. This drill even has it’s own custom chuck that uses ball bearing to provide a tighter grip on the drill bit.

The specific drill bits that are used for this type of drill are called sds bits

SDS Drill Bit


As you can see above the shank of the sds has slots that allow for easy interlocking within the chuck via the internal ball bearings. This mechanism creates an overall more efficient and effective connection.

Key qualities of the Rotary Hammer Drill

When looking at this tool there are a couple of key qualities that are worth noting.

Firstly, these type of tools are built to vibrate less, handle better and drill through masonry much easier. The trade off however is that they come across as being slightly bulkier. However these ergonomic features go head over heels above the smaller more compact drills with a hammer function.

Secondly. Rotary Hammer Drills are a lot more powerful overall, than any other type of hand held drill. They typically have amperage ratings from about 7 to 10 A and provide torque from anything within the range of 1.5 to 3 ft-lbs to over 10 ft–lbs for the higher end options.

This power ensures smooth and efficient operation, making them built for heavy duty drilling jobs, like drilling into masonry.

Thirdly. What you will generally find especially in modern rotary hammer drills is the ability to switch between a variety of operating modes. What you will see are typical 2 or 3 modes.

Two mode rotary hammer drills are designed to perform the function of:

  • Hammer Drilling; and
  • Rotary Drilling

Whereby Three mode machines have the capability for:

  • Hammer drilling;
  • Rotary Drilling; and
  • Chisel Drilling

The Three mode type are generally heavier and more heavy duty.

Lastly, Speed is a big consideration for your hammer drill. As I stated previously these machines utilize back and forth hammering in the form of a piston mechanism. This is particularly important when selecting the correct drill bit.

The rate of the back and forth blows in measured in units called blows-per-minute (bpm). Whereby the rotational speed is measured in the typical revs-per-minute (RPM).

Rotary hammer drills have a wide range of rotational speed going anything from around the low 200’s in RPM all the way up to about 2000-2500 RPM. Whereby the bpms range anything between 2000 to about 5800 bpms.

Read More:>>> Find Our Pick Of The Best Corded Hammer Drills On The Market

Key Differences between Hammer Drill and Impact Driver

Now as a bonus piece of content, people often misunderstand the differences between a hammer drill and an impact driver. Keep reading below. I will explain the differences clearly to remove any confusion.

Summary of the Impact Driver and Hammer Drill Mechanisms

Impact drivers practically perform the same hammering mechanism as the hammer drill. The difference comes in the way in which this “hammering” is done.

Impact drivers have a rotational impact mechanism. What this means is that they hammer into the material at an angle as the drill bit rotates. So think about it this way – for every rotation there is a hammer action.

Whereby the hammer drill’s impact mechanism is in the form of a back and forth motion – making it better for chipping away at material.

This is all good and well, but ultimately which one should you use and for what application?

Well as you know – drills are used for one of two things, namely:

  • Drilling holes; and
  • Fastening screws

Let’s analyze which is better and for what application.

Which works better at fastening (Impact or Hammer Drill)

Interestingly enough when it comes to speed. Hammer drills are about 30% faster in general than your typical impact driver.

The only issue here is that the hammer drill’s impact mechanism can cause damage in softer materials such as wood, were fastening with screws is typical.

Impact drivers although being slightly slower, possess a bit more dexterity and that is why I would say impact drivers are built and design to be better at fastening screws that your hammer drill.

Which works better at drilling into masonry (Impact of Hammer Drill)

When drilling into masonry. Hammer drills are a lot more powerful, stable and quicker than the impact driver. In this case it’s an absolute no brainer. In fact multiple tests have been done at it has been shown that the hammer drill does Infact drill about 25% to 30% quicker than the impact driver.

Final Thoughts on What is A Hammer Drill

As you can see, this tool is fundamentally built for heavy duty DIY jobs. There are many hand held drills that also have the additional flexibility to include a drill option. These are especially handy for your weekend warriors and occasional DIYers.

I had a lot of fun creating this piece of content. I hope this has provided you with more clarity on the hammer drills functionality and it’s pros & cons. Happy Drilling.

Mogale Modisane

Mogale Modisane

Mogale is a qualified B(Eng): Electrical Engineer. With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

4 thoughts on “What Is A Hammer Drill (2022 Guide)”

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Mogale Modisane

Mogale Modisane

Mogale is a qualified B(Eng): Electrical Engineer. With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

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