Best SDS Rotary Hammer Drill – Head to Head Testing

1-9/16″ SDS Rotary Hammer Drill Head to Head

SDS Rotary Hammer Drills are no small investment. Whether this tool is your workhorse in a commercial setting or your life-saver in the residential setting we here at Tool Box Buzz want you to make the best choice for you and your needs on the job-site and help you choose the best SDS Rotary Hammer Drill for your needs!

1-9/16″ SDS or Special Direct System Rotary Hammer Drills are a definite nice to have for professional remodelers whether for demolition, framing applications, or basement renovations. These heavy duty tools can make quick work of concrete demolition, speed up your foundation work, and be a life saver when working in a basement and need to effectively work with concrete. I’m an avid believer in the right tool makes a job faster, easier, and safer so the investment in a heavy duty SDS Rotary Hammer Drill is a solid decision for your business.

SDS Rotary Hammer Drill Head to Head 2

For professionals who almost solely work with concrete, drilling holes in commercial concrete structures, the 1-9/16″ SDS Rotary Hammer IS their job. So with each seemingly small advance in SDS Hammer Drill technology the lives of the men and women behind those drills improve dramatically. That’s why we thought it was so important to take a look at the current 1-9/16″ SDS Rotary Hammer Drills on the market and give our readers our professional opinion on their performance to ensure you are making a truly informed decision if and when you decide to purchase one of these tools.

About the author

Philip Benevides

Phil is a 28-year old Air Force Veteran who decided to transform his passion for construction and home improvement into a career. Inspired by his Grandfather who built his home from the ground up with his bare hands in Portugal, he received his formal training in Carpentry at the North Bennett Street School in Boston, MA. Phil continues to grow his skills as a lead carpenter, managing job sites in and around Boston, and a Captain in the Air National Guard bettering himself as a leader. He loves exploring new building products and construction methods to solve job-site problems and reviewing tools for the pro-contractor and serious DIYer.

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  1. Matt

    Great review Rob, I’m curious if you were given the new Bosch dust collection system to try which I think is similar to the DeWalt system where it collects it at the bit. It does look like you got the new vac – sweet!

    These are the ones I was asking about:

    1. Todd Fratzel

      They sent the new system after our testing date. We mentioned that in the article.

  2. […] Hammer, their newest rotary hammer, through some field testing.  The testing was part of our  Best SDS Max Rotary Hammer Drill – Head to Head […]

  3. […] the test on 10″ Reenforced Concrete Bridge Decks. This is the same location we conducted our 1-9/16″ SDS Rotary Hammer Head to […]

  4. why used and compare small milwaukee 5317-21? why it’s not kango545s?

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Each manufacturer was contacted and asked to supply a hammer. They all knew which hammers we were testing from the other Brands. Milwaukee chose that particular hammer to compare to the others.

  5. Ron

    Hello. I’m a plumber looking for a good rotary hammer. Mostly used for chipping concrete. I have always been a milwaukee guy, but I am on the fense about dewalt.
    Which do you recommend and why?
    Dewalt D25501kr or milwaukee 5317-21

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Ron – Tough question! To get a better picture you need to look at a couple things. First of all, when you compare the two tools, the DEWALT is a bit more powerful, larger motor, more impact energy. On the other hand, sounds like you’re considering a factory refurbished vs a new unit, so that’s something to consider.

      Honestly, if you are only chipping concrete a few times a month, I can’t see much difference. If you were chipping every day, i’d probably go with the DEWALT as it has a more robust anti vibration package.

      Both companies offer great service and support, and they both build high quality tools. Good luck.

  6. […] we plugged larger tools like our Makita HR4013C Rotary Hammer, into the 110v vacuum outlet, we tripped 15amp breakers.  A grinder will do the same.  To avoid […]

  7. […] we plugged larger tools like our Makita HR4013C Rotary Hammer, into the 110v vacuum outlet, we tripped 15amp breakers.  A grinder will do the same.  To […]

  8. Jeremy

    I am looking to replace some of our rotary hammer drills and would like to know which you feel have the best safety features. I am familiar with the DeWalt e-clutch but have not been able to try the Makita or Milwaukee brands. We primarily drill through basement walls for gas line installation and have had some injuries as a result of the bits binding up. Would like to stay around the 15lb range in weight. Thanks

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Jeremy – The DEWALT, Makita, and Hilti offer great anti-vibration features in this class. The DEWALT in my opinion offers the best clutch for preventing bind up injuries. When you look at price, along with that feature, I believe it’s a great option.

      Good luck!

  9. Jeremy

    Thanks for the follow up. I really appreciate it.

  10. Grant

    Hello, great site! I am looking at a new rotary hammer drill, I am a Professional Pest Control Technician. I do Termite work and I can at some jobs go from just 10 holes to 100+ in a day, we currently use a very old Black & Decker Macho V 1½” 6.6A, RPM300, BPM2800, 750W, Weight 13.5lbs.

    I’m looking for something that could drill better than this. We have a friend that is a Milwaukee rep and he said we can get a good deal through him. I don’t think I would need a big 1-9/16″.

    Also do you have any recommended drill bit’s that you like? More durable/faster? we use DEWALT DW5711 5/8″ x 17″ Masonry Drill bit’s.

  11. […] NH quarry again this year, which was the site of our first SDS-Plus drill bit comparison and our 1-9/16” SDS Rotary Hammer Head to Head to evaluate the speed and endurance of these 3/8” bits on a heavy duty substrate; 10” […]

  12. Chris

    Great reviews – I have a unique question

    I instal ground screws. Our hand held unit is powered by a SDS Max “Hammer Drill”. The problem is we need the power of the drill, but need the hammer feature off. We also need reverse.

    Is there a drill out there that can do this?

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Chris – Interesting question. As far as I know they all are either chipping only mode, or hammer drill mode.

  13. milo

    Hello, great article!!, why you mention milwaukee tool but there are no results about the performance?
    i’m currently deciding between makita and milwaukee would be nice to see some comparison between this two brands.

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Milo – If you read each section of the article, you’ll notice that Makita did better than the Milwaukee. However, there’s a pretty big price difference as well. Really comes down to how you’ll use the tool, and which features are most important to you.

  14. Keith Briggs

    Relatively new to hammering. Article helps a lot but how do I determine how big a hammer I need to unearth and break up some easy, some very hard basalt (lava) boulders (Captain Cook, Hawaii?) Some combination of hammer, chisel, drill, dig, , lever, hammer, chisel drill, dig, ad nauseam. Its dizzying just taking one brand on amazon today the
    DEWALT D25501K 1-9/16 is 347
    DEWALT D25601K 1-3/4 is 488
    DEWALT D25603K 1-3/4 is 584 clutch is 96 more
    DEWALT D25721K 1 7/8 is 700
    DEWALT D25723K 1-7/8 is 849 clutch is 149 more
    DEWALT D25761K 2 is 869
    DEWALT D25763K 2 is 950 clutch is 81 more

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Keith – Boulders are tough…I’m not familiar with basalt….if it were here in NH…I’d rent a large electric breaker hammer for that type of work vs one of these smaller rotary hammers. These are for minor chipping operations and most importantly drilling. If you only have some small rocks, then one of these might be ok…but I wouldn’t tackle huge rocks.

      1. Keith Briggs

        Thanks. Its slow going because there’s soil, small rocks and an unknown number of bigger rocks. Need the rotary hammer to loosen the soil and rocks around the boulders to free them. Not that many that I need to break down. Grading by hand I guess you could call it. I feel like a pilgrim. I ended up ordering the D25761K on toolnut for 829 and got 2 point chisels, 2 flat chisels and two 3/4 bits for starters (on amazon). Since I’m doing more hammering the extra clutch did not seem like it was worth it. Limited tool rental on the big island so have to get by with what I can use myself.

  15. Anders

    Thanks for the review! 🙂
    Good to see that the expensive Hiltis are not untouchable! (We’ve had one stolen and are looking for a replacement)

    Currently I’m fairly keen on Hitachi’s new brushless models (DH40-MEY, DH45MEY and especially DH52MEY (22J!)). They look like great value but unfortunately there are seemingly no independent reviews to find (yet)… Spec. wise they are definitely top of my list; Hilti (second) only wins on marginally lower vibration. But unfortunately specs does usually not tell the full story… ;o)

  16. Roger

    I purchased a property that is on the New England coastline. During the last Ice Age, the glaciers dumped tons of New Hampshire granite on this property. I am in the process of putting in driveways and the like and am dealing with these little gems. I have been using the feather and wedge technique to split the rocks and am looking to upgrade from a Bosch Bulldog to a larger drill. Due to your article, I am strongly considering the Makita HR4013C rotary hammer. I believe that this will be the best mid-range tool to get the holes drilled into the very hard granite. I have been using 3/4″ and 1″ diameter drills and have been drilling 4″ and 6″ deep holes for this process.I know that my question may be slightly off topic but, can you help me with the best choice of drill bit for getting this job done? Roger

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Roger – Sounds like a lot of work! I think for a situation like yours each of the hammer drills we tested would work quite well. The biggest impact in my opinion is buying the best bit you can afford. The big difference in these drills comes into play more for PRO’s who use them day in and day out. That’s where the anti-vibration features play a big part. Also, when it comes to demolition and chipping I feel some have more power than others. But simple drilling they are should be comparable.

  17. Neil

    Hi you all forget Hilti offer a 2 year no cost period all services and repairs are free for 2 years ….. no cost and then after that you will never pay more than 30% of the tools list price for a repair.
    The rest are miles behind

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