Tool Box Buzz

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.

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.

This Head to Head featured all the big names in the Rotary Hammer market, let’s take a look at each make and model evaluated for our Best SDS Rotary Hammer Drill – Head to Head Testing:

Bosch 1-9/16″ SDS-Max Combination Hammer [RH540M] Average Price $420.00
DEWALT 45mm SDS-Max Combination Hammer [D25603K] Average Price $590.00
Hilti 1-9/16″ TE-60-ATC-AVR Combihammer [TE-60-ATC-AVR] Average Price $1,500.00
Makita 1-9/16″ AVT Rotary Hammer [HR4013C] Average Price $590.00
Milwaukee SDS Max Rotary Hammer [5317-21] Average Price $400.00

For more detailed Specifications & Features on each model see listings below photo gallery at the end of this article  [“Average Price” above based on review of several major online retailers]

For this Head to Head we appropriately traveled to the “Granite State” to a quarry where we had five concrete slabs awaiting the impact energy and power of these SDS Rotary Hammer Drills. We put these tools up against these slabs testing the demolition capabilities and drilling speed. With hours of chipping, drilling, and hammering we evaluated the comfort, ease of use, vibration, power, speed, and safety features of these tools. Additionally we reviewed complimentary HEPA rated vacuums and their integrated dust control systems for applicable models.


Our team of professional contractors have all weighed in to help us drill down on the best in class SDS Rotary Hammers in the following categories. Let’s see who came out on top.

Case, Kit, and Dust Control Accessories Winner – Hilti TE-60-ATC-AVR

Tool storage is a constant battle in this industry, balancing organization and efficiency against being prepared for any and all scenarios can be tough to accomplish. So it’s a huge plus when the company provides a well put together kit that organizes components and accessories so you don’t have to.

This was a close call between Hilti, DEWALT, and Makita all delivering comprehensive kits and well thought out organization. We loved Makita’s integrated diagrams in their cases to give you an easily accessible quick reference for the tool and how the dust extraction components are intended to be used. DEWALT featured an ingenious dust extraction system with their kit that left a lasting impression on us, which we’ll discuss later.

And finally Hilti who eked out as the winner in this category delivered a high quality and expertly executed kit with all high quality components neatly and efficiently packaged for operator convenience.

Bit Change Winner – All Way Tie

The Special Direct System developed by Bosch in 1975 revolutionized hammer drills allowing a cylindrical shank fit into the chuck with indentations that lock the bit into place yet allows the bit to move up and down a short distance. Therefore you can expect this technology and the accompanying chucks to be standard across the board, hence the all way tie.

Although the one and only discriminator we found was that the Bosch RH540M did not feature a quick change chuck, meaning it was the only model that required you to pull the chuck back to insert the bit, where all other models would accept the bit without moving the chuck and only required pulling back the shroud when removing bits.

Ease of Use and Operating Features Winner – Makita HR4013C

The Ease of Use Category despite being inherently subjective in nature as there is little to no quantitative comparisons between models is continuously an important category for us to note in our head to heads. First and foremost we have enough operators in most tests that we get a wide perspective of opinions.

Also, this category often is a bellwether for the overall winner, which is determined only after category winners, quantitative data, and model specification information is taken into account. So needless to say the “feel” of a tool is a valuable factor in our tests and the opinions you hear are from professional tradesmen and contractors. As we like to say “trust the pros” and in this category we KNOW we got it right.

Makita’s HR4013C hands down continuously garnered quotes from our team like “smooth”, “impressive”, and “that’s awesome”. Whether it’s the additional chipping D handle attachment, lighted lock on button for hammer only use, or just the incredible anti-vibration technology integrated in the tool this model was a stand out in every category. It was easy to use and included all the bells and whistles you’d want in a SDS Rotary Hammer.

Hilti’s TE-60-ATC-AVR was a close second as it is an amazing tool with power, speed, and high end operating features similar to the Makita model. The anti-vibration technology is also quite advanced and the Hilti also performed well in all categories of our evaluation, but consistently Makita was just a bit better in most categories and when you compare the price tag of the Hilti to the rest of the field the Hilti just looks less attractive.

Ergonomics Winner – DEWALT D25603K

DEWALT’s D25603K impressed us with it’s large D handle, solid shock absorption technology, and an innovative variable position auxiliary handle which allows an operator to comfortable stand more erect when working on horizontal surfaces, especially with big bits. These tools can be hard enough on your body without the added discomfort of bending over the drill during work.

Makita’s HR4013C was a close second with the addition of the removable auxiliary D handle for chipping and demolition applications, which, despite being very difficult to put on and remove, allowed users to customize the grip of the tool to maximize comfort during those stressful tasks. Additionally, we have to mention Hilti and the TE-60-ATC-AVR’s ability to comfortably negate the powerful impact energy of the tool allowing the user to bore through the work with very little stress on the body, but we’ll discuss that in detail further in the article.

Chipping Winner – Makita HR4013C

Using a heavy duty demolition tool like a large bit rotary hammer can be very tough on your body. Between the repetitive action, heavy tool, and the irregular and always changing work surface a task like chipping is a great test of how well a tool performs. Furthermore how the operator feels during the work and after the work can be a huge indicator of whether a tool does the works for you or a tool you have to work. Given this concept we think the order of the best in class for this category is on point.

The Makita HR4013C definitely does the work for you, powerful and comfortable this tool matches its performance with Anti-Vibe Technology that prolongs the stamina of the operator and can help mitigate injury from long term exposure to vibration. The Makita also features a unique, detachable, D-grip auxiliary handle. This flexibility allows the user to zero in on a the most comfortable position for the task. Ultimately the Makita HR4013C delivers features that make you safer, faster, and more productive.

The Hilti TE-60-ATC-AVR is a close second here with an unmatched power that you can see but hardly feel. During our chipping test, operators were able to bare down on the tool and watch the concrete flake away while that additional impact energy is never felt by the user. Many of our evaluators mistook this for “feeling underpowered”, including myself, but the more you used the tool the more it became evident that it delivers serious power, and is easy on your body. The Hilti T#-60-ATC-AVR’s power and speed is even more clear in our drilling test.

DEWALT gets kudos for being competitive in this category with a powerful rotary hammer that is comfortable to use. But ultimately falls short to Makita’s comfort and Hilti’s power. The D25603K was just behind the two aforementioned models and overall our team was impressed with it’s performance chipping.

Drilling Speed Winner – Hilti TE-60-ATC-AVR

To evaluate speed we timed how long it would take our operators to drill five 4″ holes. We had three consistent operators for each drill and averaged the times of the three heats for a final median speed. Each drill was outfitted with a SDS MAX 1″ x 12″ x 17″ 4-Cutter Centering Bit provided by Milwaukee as a control measure.

The times are displayed in the bar graph below:

Hilti came out on top in this test with an average time 11 seconds faster than the next competitor. This evaluation of the tools really highlighted the power and speed of the TE-60-ATC-AVR, removing the misguided perceptions of our operators and focusing on the empirical data. Not far behind was Makita’s HR4013C with a time of 2 minutes and 37 seconds. And finally Bosch gets on the scoreboard with it’s RH540M clocking in at 2 minutes and 54 seconds.


The chipping and general use evaluations of this head to head are certainly valuable but the lion’s share of this tool’s workload will come in the form of drilling holes, so this category is an important one to selecting the overall winner of this head to head. And not surprisingly the two front runners came out on top, with small margins between them.

Dust Control and Vacuum Integration Winner – DEWALT D25603K

We named DEWALT the winner in this category for it’s innovative suction ring designed to cling to the work piece and remove dust at the source. This dust control strategy avoids awkward modifications to the actual tool set up and allows you to see the drill make contact with the work piece, which is often an issue with other shrouded dust control systems.

We want to note that Bosch has a similar system but it was not provided for our head to head testing. This type of system is clearly the future for dust extraction, but it still has some shortcomings namely the connection to the work-piece can be adversely affected by the surface of the concrete, works well on smooth clean material, but the suction bond struggles on irregular surfaces.

Hilti is a notable model in this category with a high quality dust control system featuring heavy duty plastic and rubber components. This system is shroud based unlike the DEWALT but when tested, performed exceptionally removing all dust from the environment.

Operational Anti-Vibration Winner – Makita HR4013C

Throughout the course of our test, whenever one of our team members stepped up to the Makita inevitably they would look up and comment about the comfort and feel of the HR4013C compared to the rest of the field.

The Makita SDS Rotary Hammer transferred noticeably less vibration during chipping and drilling according to our team. This model features Makita’s Anti-Vibe Technology (AVT) which in this tool combines air actuated counter balance, vibration absorbing housing, and an integrated damper spring at the base of the impact bolt.

Ultimately the Makita HR4013C easily took this category.

Hilti’s TE-60-ATC-AVR which still showcased top of the line Anti-Vibration to our operators and was also consistently rated the second most comfortable model to use. Then by a bit of a wider margin the DEWALT D25603K rounds out the top three.

Value Winner – DEWALT D25603K & Makita HR4013C

Performance, features, and specifications are great reasons to purchase a tool, but when it comes down to spending your hard earned dollars, cost is just as important, if not the most important factor when investing in a new tool. We split this category between DEWALT and Makita, as both models deliver great performance, great operational features, and great safety features at a GREAT price.

Both the DEWALT DC25603K and Makita HR4013C average in cost at about $590.00 almost $200 more than the most affordable models in the head to head, but clearly give the user more for their money. As we mentioned previously the Hilti has a steep price compared to the rest of the field and the two winners of our head to head can go toe to toe with the Hilti, at a much more affordable price.

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.

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




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




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




Makita HR4013C




Milwaukee 5317-21





Exit mobile version