Best SDS Rotary Hammer Drill – Head to Head Testing

Overall Winner – Makita HR4013C

Makita took this Head to Head with superior AVT, great operator interface, and a few innovative features sprinkled in to top it all off. This tool performed exceptionally well in almost all categories, was a favorite among the crew, and is significantly more affordable than our number two model the Hilti TE-60-ATC-AVR.

SDS Rotary Hammer Drill Head to Head 9

The Hilti dominated the speed drilling test and performed consistently in every category. This is a fantastic SDS Hammer Drill, powerful, fast, and well worth the big ticket price tag. This is a tried and true model and a definite consideration for your hammer drill purchase, Hilti is the first name in SDS Hammer Drills, but still number two in our head to head.

Rounding out the top three again is DEWALT’s D25603K, it delivers some solid features and great performance overall, but was consistently overshadowed by Makita and Hilti. Still a solid tool, that is powerful, comfortable, and features great dust extraction accessories. Another definite consideration for your SDS Rotary Hammer needs.

Specifications & Features

Bosch RH540M

Features:

  • SDS-max bit system
  • Combination dual mode selector
  • Vario-Lock rotates and locks chisel into 12 different positions
  • Designed so a qualified service technician can quickly replace the brushes and cord
  • 360° Auxiliary handle
  • Integral clutch disengages torque transmission if the bit gets into a bind situation
  • Grounded design, CSA listed, complies to OSHA

Specifications

  • Amperage: 12 Amps
  • Cord Length: 8 ft
  • Height: 10.5″
  • Impact Energy/EPTA (ft. lbs.): 6.1 Ft. Lbs.
  • Length: 19″
  • Max. Hole Diameter in Concrete: 1-9/16″
  • Max. Hole Diameter in ConcreteCore Bi: 4″
  • Max. Hole Diameter in ConcreteThru Ho: 2-1/2″
  • No Load BPM: 1,500-2,900
  • No Load RPM: 170-340
  • Optimal Concrete Capacity Range: 1/2″ – 1-3/8″
  • Rating: 120V
  • Voltage: 120V
  • Warranty Limited: 1 Year
  • Weight: 15.2 lb

 

DEWALT D25603K Read our full review here: DEWALT D35603K Hammer Review

Features

  • Holes in concrete and masonry from 12 to 45 mm in diameter. Core drilling up to 100 mm
  • Chain drive with an oil filled gearbox to ensure total component lubrication and heat dissipation
  • Active Vibration Control system with a floating rear handle and damped side handle
  • Ultimate Torque Control (UTC) which switches off the tool within a fraction of a second in a stall situation
  • Patented two stage clutch to provide maximum protection to the user
  • Rotation-stop for medium-light demolition applications
  • Unique dust sealing protection delivering high durability and extended tool life
  • Hammer mechanism is optimised by reducing the number of components and by improving dampening
  • Efficient mechanism delivers impact blows directly to the bit without losses through excessive vibration
  • Ergonomic, compact and slim line design
  • Electronic variable impact energy/speed
  • Lock-on switch for greater control when in chipping mode
  • Magnesium housing for lower weight
  • Electronic service and brush wear indicator
  • Power to weight ratio: 8 Joules of impact energy delivered by a 6.9 kg hammer

Specifications

  • Power Input: 1250 Watts
  • Power Output: 615 Watts
  • Load Speed: 210-415 rpm
  • Blows per Minute: 1430-2840 bpm
  • Impact Energy: 12 J
  • Tool Holder: SDS-Max Morse Taper
  • Max. Drilling Capacity [Concrete]: 45 mm
  • Max. Drilling Capacity [Breakthrough bit]: 65 mm
  • Max. Drilling Capacity [Core bit]: 100 mm
  • Weight: 6.9 kg
  • Length: 477 mm
  • Height: 245 mm
  • Width: 104 mm
  • Hand/Arm Vibration: 8.7 m/s2
  • Uncertainty K 1 (Vibration): 1.5 m/s²
  • Hand/Arm Vibration – Chisel: 6.8 m/s²
  • Uncertainty K 2 (Vibration): 1.5 m/s²
  • Sound Pressure: 93 dB(A)
  • Uncertainty K 1 (Sound): 3 dB(A)
  • Accoustic Pressure: 104 dB(A)
  • Uncertainty K 2 (Sound): 3 dB(A)
  • Impact energy (EPTA 05/2009): 8 J

 

Hilti TE-60-ATC-AVR – Read our full review here: Hilti TE-60-ATC-AVR Combihammer Review

Features

  • The Active Torque Control (ATC) stops the motor if the bit binds and the housing begins to rotate too quickly
  • Active Vibration Reduction (AVR) optimizes comfort and productivity
  • Virtually dustless coring and chiseling with the new, optional dust removal system
  • Improved performance in large coring applications up to 4″ in masonry and unreinforced concrete
  • Ruggedly built for a long lifetime
  • Drilling anchor and through-holes in concrete and masonry 1/2″ – 4″, recommended diameter 5/8″ – 1-1/2″
  • Medium-duty demolition work
  • Coring in masonry and concrete with TE-Y BK core bits up to 4″ diameter
  • Coring in masonry with optional DD-TE-Y adapter HDMU core bits up to 4″ diameter

Specifications

  • Rotation speed gear 1 under no load: 350 rpm
  • Full hammering frequency: 3300 impacts/minute
  • Single impact energy: 5.4 ft-lbs
  • Hammer drill bits (optimum dia. range): 11/16 – 1-9/16 in
  • Chiseling function: Yes
  • Active Vibration Reduction: Yes
  • Active Torque Control: Yes
  • Dust removal module: TE DRS-Y (optional)
  • Max. chiseling performance: 55 in³/min

 

Makita HR4013C

Features

  • 11 AMP motor delivers 8.4 ft.lbs. of impact energy
  • Anti-Vibration Technology (AVT®) reduces vibration resulting in a low 5m/s2
  • Air actuated counterbalance
  • Vibration absorbing housing
  • Integrated damper spring at the base of the impact bolt
  • Lock-on or trigger activation in “Chipping Only” mode with a push button start/stop control
  • Constant speed control
  • Soft start suppresses start-up reaction
  • L.E.D. service light notifies the user approximately 8 hours before the brushes need to be replaced
  • L.E.D. power light indicates switch failure or cord damage
  • Variable speed control dial
  • Torque limiting clutch engineered to prevent gear damage by automatically disengaging gears if the bit binds
  • Sequential impact timing delivers timed hammering during rotation to minimize overlapping bit impacts
  • Automatic brush cut-off protects commutator from damage for longer tool life
  • 2-mode operation for “Chipping Only” or “Hammering with Rotation”
  • 24 bit angle settings allow the bit to be set at different positions for operating convenience
  • One-touch sliding chuck for quick bit changes

Specifications

  • Amps: 11
  • Capacity (concrete): 1-9/16″
  • Impact Energy (Joules): 11.4 J
  • No Load Speed: 250-500 RPM
  • Blows Per Minute (variable speed): 1,450 – 2,900 BPM
  • Bit Type: Accepts SDS-MAX
  • Overall Length: 18-11/16″
  • Cord Length (ft): 16.4′
  • Net Weight: 15.1 lbs.
  • Shipping Weight: 21.99 lbs.

 

Milwaukee 5317-21

Features

  • 10.5 Amp Motor: Delivers 450 RPM and 3,000 BPM
  • Hammer Mechanism: Delivers 5.5 ft-lbs (7.5J) of impact energy
  • CPT™ – Constant Power Technology: Delivers consistent performance
  • Mechanical Clutch: Protects the tool when the bit binds up
  • 2-Mode Operation: Rotary hammer and hammer only for maximum versatility
  • 12-Position Chipping Adjustment: Allows the user to maintain the desired hammer position

Specifications

  • Length: 17-3/8″
  • Weight: 15 lbs
  • Voltage: 120V AC
  • Tool Warranty: 5 Years
  • No Load Speed: 450
  • No Load BPM: 3,000
  • Cord Type: Grounded
  • Electronic Feedback: Yes
  • Bit Shank: SDS Max
  • Blow Energy: 5.5 ft lbs
  • Clutch: Yes
  • Drilling Mode 2-Mode: Rotary Hammer and Hammer Only
  • Handle Style: Drop Motor
  • Vibration Reduction: No
  • Thick Wall Core Bit Capacity 4″
  • Cord Length 13′
  • No Load RPM 0-450
  • Amps 10.5
  • Trigger Lock No
  • Solid Bit Capacity 1-9/16″

 

 

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.

All posts by Philip »

41 Comments

  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:
    http://www.boschtools.com/Products/Tools/Pages/BoschProductDetail.aspx?pid=HDC200
    http://www.boschtools.com/Products/Tools/Pages/BoschProductDetail.aspx?pid=HDC250
    http://www.boschtools.com/Products/Tools/Pages/BoschProductDetail.aspx?pid=HDC300

    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?
    /unfair

    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.
    regards.

    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

  18. Benjamin Lane

    I own the Bosch and Makita, and the Makita is by far the most used one simply because it’s better. I officially became a Makita fan when I accidentally DROVE OVER the drill with a 11,000 pound skid steer. At the end of a brutally long work day we had loaded all the tools we had out into the bucket and was driving it to the trailer when I felt it drive over something. It was dark outside, and somehow the Makita drill had bounced out of the bucket and I had driven over it. 11,000 pounds of weight is usually enough to end the life of any tool, but not this one. The auxiliary handle was bent badly, but only the long screw connecting the two sides of the handle had to be replaced. That was over a year ago and it is still working strong.

    1. Scott E

      Jesus – that’s impressive! If you were to choose between that Makita (1 9/16), 8.4 lbs impact energy, and a lightly used Bosch 1 3/4″ max, 5″ core capacity with a few bits – for the same price, which way would you go?

  19. dean toth

    I work for the City of Parma in ohio and we do our own road work and I currently use Dewalt drills, we are looking for close quarters concrete drilling. My men wanted Dewalt but after your review I leaning to the Makita. Better vibration protection not sure about physical size for drilling into curbs and road sections. Can you advise please. Good review.

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Dean – They are so close in size I’m not sure size would be a factor.

  20. Scott

    Based upon each supplier providing their own RH’s in each class (assuming by regular bit max capacity (excluding core bits etc), I think the review makes sense. However, I’ve noticed that it seemed that Makita had upped the power of their drills while not increasing the max diameter bit. In the past, one could accuse Bosch of doing this in certain sizes (their previous 1 3/4 model, and others). It might seem better to compare either via price or impact energy. What are your thoughts on that?
    Secondly – what is the Hilti magic? How do they consistently use less impact energy, draw less amps/watts/power, and still get a faster machine? I think their newest models have changed, from what I have read, and I know you pay extra money for a Hilti, but I’m still perplexed by impact energy stats being almost useless on a Comparison chart of Hilti vs everyone else.

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Scott – Great perspective! It’s so hard to get a true apples to apples comparison any more on any tool. Every manufacturer is putting their own spin on the design with what they feel are the most important design features in a given class of tool.

  21. matt

    is there a reason you felt you should make this article 10 pages long forcing us to click over and over instead of just listing the information in one long page?

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Matt – This is something we struggle with. Some readers prefer the long format (myself included), but some readers want it broken down. We appreciate the feedback and will consider it moving forward. Thanks for reaching out!

      1. Anders

        I’m also for the long format. But the multipage layout is OK with a proper index drop down so the reader has a decent chance of navigating the pages (see ie. dpreview or tomshardware)…

  22. Michael

    I am new to the RH market. I am looking to drill 64, one half inch diameter holes. would the Milwaukee be sufficient for this purpose or which on would you recommend. This would be the only big project I would use it for.

    1. Todd Fratzel

      How deep would the holes be? It’s likely you could get away with a smaller unit.

  23. Eric

    Why did you compare a 1 3/4 inch dewalt against 1 9/16 Makita?

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Eric – We spent quite a bit of time selecting models based on input from each of the manufacturers. At the time of the test, these were as close to each other as we could get.

  24. I need a recommendation I have 300 7/8 holes 36″ deep in reinforced concrete
    It’s going to take days. Which rotary hammer would last thru this ordeal?
    Which one would drill the fastest? Any recommendations for type of bit and dust extraction

    1. Todd Fratzel

      Jeff – That’s going to be a brutal project, especially when you hit rebar at those depths. You’ll want to get a very good bit that is designed to cut through rebar. I’d use dust extraction at the hole, not the bit, just so you can get the best bit possible. I would probably recommend either the Hilti, DEWALT, or Makita for this application. All three are very strong.

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