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SDS hammer drills are high powered tools designed for heavy-duty jobs such as drilling holes into hard materials like concrete and brick. Jobs a standard drill just isn’t capable of.
Due to the importance of jobs they are used for, you must choose the right one. A sub-par rotary hammer could make or break a construction project or make the job much harder than it needs to be!
The purpose of this article is to sift through the hundreds of SDS drills out there and present a handful of the best so you make an informed decision. We have also put together a useful guide on the differences between SDS, SDS plus and SDS max drills for your benefit, enjoy!
Here's 3 products we picked out that thought you would be interested in depending on your budget...
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The Best SDS Hammers with reviews
Here is a list of the best SDS hammers we found:
1. DEWALT DCH293B 20V MAX XR Rotary Hammer Drill SDS Plus
- German engineered hammer mechanism for durability and quality
- High powered – without the cord
- Easy chisel rotation
Not so Good
- Battery and charger sold separately
- Plastic depth gauge
The 20V Dewalt DCH293B runs on a brushless motor that generates 3.5 joules of impact energy. This energy results in a maximum drill speed of up to 1,500 RPM and blows per minute of 4,480 BPM, more than enough for most applications.
An e-clutch provides maximum control in bind-up situations and the Active Vibration Control reduces the amount of vibration felt by the user at both handles for increased control.
Also featured is a retractable utility hook which is convenient for when you need to hang it up while not in use and a dust management system to limit a messy environment. This is a tool only item meaning the batteries and charger are sold separately.
Delivering all day power, the Dewalt DCH293B is for professionals needing an SDS hammer drill able to handle a heavy workload daily. Whether it is breaking up concrete or drilling ¾’’ holes, this powerhouse has you covered.
2. DEWALT DCH273B 20V MAX Cordless SDS Hammer Drill
- Ergonomic design
- Lightweight to limit user fatigue
- Excellent vibration dampening
Not so Good
- Tool only, charger and batteries sold separately
- Hammer setting may lack power for some
The Dewalt DCH273B benefits from running on a 20V brushless motor that enables extended runtimes and fewer voltage drops resulting in more power (2.1 joules). It has a maximum no-load speed of 1,100 RPM and blows per minute of 0 – 4,600 BPM.
The active vibration control significantly reduces vibration for improved user experiences. While not in use it can be conveniently stored using the retractable utility hook. Also comes with a 360-degree side handle and depth rod. Some may find the power lacking on the hammer setting.
The Dewalt DCH273B continues to meet DeWalt’s renowned built quality. Not only that but it is excellent at dampening vibration generated during use. This is beneficial for first time and less experienced users in particular. This drill works to its best ability when drilling in 5/32 – ½’’ concrete.
3. Bosch 11255VSR Bulldog Xtreme - Corded Variable Speed SDS-Plus
- D-handle ideal for overhead and downward applications
- 3 modes of operation
Not so Good
- Side handle can loosen during extended use
The Bosch 11255VSR runs on a powerful 7.5 amp motor capable of generating 2ft lbs of impact energy, up to 5,800 blows per minute and a maximum no-load speed of 1,300 RPM. An SDS+ bit system with automatic bit locking has 36 positions for the user to choose from to set the chiseling angle to their unique specifications.
Multi-function selector offers 3 distinct modes; rotation only, hammer only and rotary hammer. Variable speed trigger with reverse setting for accurate starts and straight forward removal of bits and fasteners. Integral clutch minimizes torque reaction
The D-handle design is great for controlling the drill, especially in overhead and down-facing applications where having total control over the drill is important. Along with the drill you get; 1 x depth gauge, 1 x auxiliary handle and a carrying case. The cord is 8ft in length.
High powered drilling for a fraction of the price. The Bosch 11255VSR has 3 modes which make it suited to a wide range of applications. Who said those on a budget aren’t allowed to experience the benefits of an SDS hammer drill?
4. Milwaukee 2715-20 M18 Fuel 1-1/8" SDS Plus Rotary Hammer
- Overload and overheating prevention
- Highly durable
- Plenty of power
Not so Good
- Can occasionally get hot
- Battery and charger sold separately
The 3 mode Milwaukee 2715-20 runs on their trademark POWERSTATE brushless motor to deliver 3.3 ft-lbs of impact energy, 1,350 RPM and 5,000 BPM. This is in addition to REDLINK plus electronic intelligence which enhances communication between the battery and the drill to optimize performance and productivity. A reverse switch is positioned just above the trigger
Anti-vibration system maximizes user comfort while limiting user fatigue. An in-built LED work light at the bottom of the tool brightens dark working conditions. It can get hot with extended use and the battery and charger are sold separately.
The Milwaukee 2715-20 will stand up to the many challenges you’re likely to put in front of it, and with excellent vibration control, you’ll be comfortable every step of the way.
5. Bosch GBH18V-26 18V EC Brushless 1-Inch SDS-plus Bulldog Rotary Hammer
- Slow ramp up for accurate bit starts
- L-shape design for improved horizontal drilling
- Great safety features
Not so Good
- Not intended for heavy-duty work
- Tool only, batteries and charger separate
An 18V brushless motor powers the Bosch GBH18V-26 allowing it to deliver 1.9ft lbs of impact energy and produce 0 – 4,350 BPM and 0 – 890 RPM. Bosch’s Electronic Protection Control limits start-up to 70% which allows for more accurate bit starts, even with impact. Of course, you still have the option for 100% power on startup with the flip of a switch!
KickBack Control Technology reduces the risk of sudden tool reactions in binding conditions. This is triggered by an integrated acceleration sensor that will automatically shut the tool off when it detects potentially dangerous rotational torque.
The GBH18V-26 also features electronic motor and cell protection to avoid overloading and overheating while in use. A mode selector dial offers drill only, hammer only, drill + hammering and vario-lock options. Comes with an auxiliary handle and depth gauge.
Excellent for light and medium-duty work, the Bosch GBH18V-26 is perfect for drilling holes up to 1’’ in diameter. If you need to make regular holes larger than 1’’, you’ll need to go for a more powerful model.
6. Ryobi P222 Ryobi One+ 18V SDS Cordless Rotary Hammer
- GRIPZONE over mold grip
- Incredibly light
Not so Good
- Can get through the battery rather quick
- Motor will get warm with extended use
For a unit this small the 18V Ryobi P222 is surprisingly powerful, offering 5,000 BPM and a maximum speed of 1,300 RPM. These figures beat out some of the top competition and are indicative of a fully-fledged rotary hammer.
It has an easy to use 3-mode selector allows users to alternate between rotational drilling, rotary hammer or chisel only mode. The innovative chisel bit adjust mode allows the chisel bit to be maneuverer into an optimal position depending on the application.
Users can also take advantage of the in-built LED work light to keep an eye on their work in dark environments. Although the motor can get warm, a few minutes is plenty for it to cool down so you can get back to work.
The Ryobi P222 is a versatile yet powerful drill that will see you drilling holes through tough materials like concrete in just seconds. Don’t make a job any harder than it needs to be with poor tool selection and give the P222 a try!
What are the differences between SDS, SDS Plus, and SDS Max drills?
The SDS bit was developed in 1975 by Hilti and Bosch and originates from the German phrase ‘Steck Dreh Sitzl’ or ‘Insert Twist Stay’. Today it is most commonly known as a ‘Slotted Drive System’ and essentially refers to how the drill chuck interacts with the bit.
SDS plus is simply an improved version of the original SDS chuck system, with both systems being compatible with the same bits.
SDS bits are designed with slots that fit into the chuck of an SDS drill. Once inserted into the chuck and given a twist, the bit is retained by 2 sprung ball bearings that lie within these slots.
The slot design is great for allowing the bit to move back and forth in hammer mode with minimal friction. The efficient transfer of energy reduces the resulting forces on the user and the amount of pressure they need to apply.
SDS and SDS plus bits typically drill holes 1-1/8’’ in diameter, are 10mm and inserted 40mm into the chuck. As mentioned earlier, SDS plus bits and be interchanged with SDS.
SDS plus is the most manufactured and popular type of rotary hammer drill and are used for light to medium duty applications such as efficient drilling into concrete, stone and masonry.
Varieties of SDS Plus Hammer Drill
There are 3 types of SDS plus drills; 2 mode, 3 mode and 3 mode with changeable chuck.
2 mode SDS plus hammer drill – has a rotary hammer mode which will allow you to drill into masonry with the hammer action. The second mode is rotary only and is used when working with wood and metal.
3-mode SDS plus hammer drills – have the same two options as a 2 mode, plus an additional chiseling function. This mode is used as the names suggests, when you need to do some light chiseling work like tile removal or breaking up some masonry.
3-mode with changeable chuck – This model includes everything you get with the 3-mode plus the ability to swap out the SDS plus chuck for a regular chuck. This option means you can use your standard drill bits with an SDS plus hammer drill.
SDS max drills are larger and stand on their own as their bits are not interchangeable. This is due to a different system which instead of ball bearings features three open grooves and a locking segment. The bits are also larger, usually 2’’ in diameter with an 18mm shank.
The major selling point of SDS max drills is their increased strength, power and capacity over SDS and SDS plus drills. As a result, they are used for more heavy-duty tasks like demolition and working on tough masonry. Expect to pay more for the luxury of this added power, however, unless you’re a professional working on large scale projects you’ll be just fine with a standard SDS plus drill!
Wrapping it up
There we have it, 6 of the most well-rounded SDS hammer drills on the market. But when it comes to the best, we believe the Dewalt DCH293B takes the title. Why?
Well, it outputs some serious power, especially for a cordless model. It even closes the gap on some corded models. This power and usability combo is a huge advantage when it comes to SDS drills. It is also built to an outstanding level of quality making it more of an investment than a typical purchase. Anything from drilling effortless concrete holes to tile removal, the Dewalt DCH293B can do it all.
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