5 Best Cordless Hammer Drills of 2020 – Reviews & Buying Guide
Cordless hammer drills provide the power you need to beat the toughest screws into position, or to make short work of sheetrock, wood, or even brick walls. However, shopping online for these tools can make it feel like you’re on the receiving end of one of them.
If you want to take back control of your shopping experience, then you need to find a resource that cuts through the misleading product descriptions you find online and gets right to the heart of what’s good and what’s not-so-great about each model.
Our reviews of the best cordless hammer drills of 2020 are designed to do just that and show you what makes for a great cordless hammer drill. We’ve also created a buyer’s guide so that you can learn everything you need to know about these tools before you buy.
List of our Favorite Models in 2020:
|Best Overall||DEWALT DCD996B 20V||
|Milwaukee 2404-20 M12||
|Best Value||PORTER-CABLE PCC620B||
The 5 Best Cordless Hammer Drills:
1. DEWALT 20V Cordless Hammer Drill – Best Overall
The DEWALT DCD996B 20V Hammer Drill is a testament to how far portable tools have come in the past few years. The new brushless motor provides huge performance gains over the old design, and even though it provides more power, it also runs more efficiently, so you get more power and a longer runtime on a single battery. It weighs less than five pounds, making it a lightweight tool, and one that’s not going to wear you out quickly. Also included is a three-mode LED light, which allows you to work in darker conditions without stopping.
The three-speed transmission gets the job done, and does it efficiently, further increasing the amount of runtime you get out of this model. If you’re looking for a model that can go all day, this is one of your best portions. However, the bare tool is a little expensive, and we’d like it more if a battery was included for the price. However, it runs on DEWALT’s great 20V battery line, so there’s a chance you already own the batteries you’ll need. Overall, this is a great cordless hammer drill, and despite its high price, it’s the best model on the market today.
2. Milwaukee M12 Cordless Hammer-Drill
The Milwaukee 2404-20 M12 Hammer Drill is another great option for those looking for a good combination of power and portability. Like our top model, this one comes with a brushless motor, which provides you with increased performance, a lighter weight, better durability, and a superior runtime on a battery of the same size. This model is also nearly two pounds lighter than our top model, so if you have a real need for a lightweight piece of equipment, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more suitable model than this one.
It’s also very compact, so it’s good for situations where you don’t have a lot of extra space in a toolbox or toolbelt in which to carry it around. However, like the first model on our list, you’ll have to pay extra to get a battery. It also suffers from some quality control problems. While Milwaukee usually doesn’t have this problem, some units in this model line will have runout issues, which could lead to accuracy problems. If those were ironed out, this model could easily take first place on our list. While everything else works very well on this model, that problem is too significant to ignore.
3. PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Hammer Drill – Best Value
If you need enough power to complete projects at home but aren’t looking to use this on the job or on a construction site, then the PORTER-CABLE PCC620B 20V MAX could be the model you’re looking for. It comes with an LED light, which makes it good for working in spaces in which there may be no lights, or illuminating the corners in which you’re working. It also weighs about 3.5 pounds, making it lighter than our top model, though not the lightest model on our list. It also provides more than 27,000 beats per minute, so you get superior driving power in a small package.
However, the fact that you can get this model for about a third of what you’ll pay for our top model means that this one is the best value for your money. Not only does it work well, but the price you can get it at is nearly unbeatable. Unfortunately, like the other models, this one doesn’t come with a battery. At this price point, that seems more reasonable, but keep in mind that you’ll have to spend more if you don’t already have a battery that will fit.
4. VonHaus Cordless Rotary Hammer Drill
The VonHaus Cordless Rotary Hammer Drill B07G136TRT is a surprisingly-strong workhorse available at a decent price. Unlike most cordless hammer drills, it comes with not only drill-mode and hammer-and-drill mode, but also with hammer-only mode, which allows you to use this model like a hammer when the situation calls for it. It can also accept bits that are 1-3/6”, 1/2”, or 1-9/16”, which gives it a wider range of bit options that most hammer drills. Also included are a ton of extras, including a 360-degree swivel handle for extra control, multiple drill bits, a depth gauge, and a storage case.
All of that is included for a reasonable price, but this model weighs far more than most on our list. It weighs nine pounds, or almost double the next-heaviest model above it on this list, making it a heavy and clunky tool. It also only comes with one speed, which is underwhelming for the price. Overall, it has pretty good power, but it’s too heavy, and it lacks the speed customization that you sometimes need. Fix those problems, and this model could easily climb to the top of our list. As it stands, it’s not great value for the price.
5. Hitachi 18-Volt Hammer Drill (Cordless)
The Hitachi DV18DCL 18 Volt Li-Ion Hammer Drill is a model with some potential. It comes with a 22-stage clutch, which gives you the most control over your torque of any cordless hammer drill on our list. It also only weighs just over five pounds, and that’s including its battery, which is included with this model. Those features alone create pretty good value, even if this isn’t the cheapest model on our list. However, this model has poor maximum torque, which is going to ultimately limit how effective it is. If you’re looking to do heavy-duty jobs, this model will likely disappoint you.
Compounding the problem is this model’s poor maximum speed. Some drilling jobs need to maintain a consistently high speed, but this model doesn’t have enough power to do that. That means that the toughest jobs are off the table with this model. It also has problems with durability. You should expect to be able to use this model for a year, but it certainly won’t last you a lifetime. While this model provides decent value for the money, it’s going to be frustrating to use, and it won’t be the right buy for most people.
Hopefully, our reviews have already given you some insights into what makes for great cordless hammer drills, and what features to lead to models that you’re better off skipping. If you’re new to these tools, then make sure you check out this buyer’s guide. It’s full of great general information, designed to teach you what features to pay attention to before you buy, and which red flags are a good sign that you better skip a model. It also shows you the steps required to get the best value for your money, while also getting a model that you’ll be happy with, so if you’re looking to get a great deal, make sure you check out this guide.
Brushless vs. brush motor
We hope we’re not exaggerating when we say that brushless motors are the best thing to happen to the home tool market in the past few decades, but it’s hard to underestimate their importance. If you have the opportunity to choose between a model with a motor that still uses brushes and one that is brushless, you should always go with the latter.
Brushless motors don’t use the brushes that caused so many problems in previous models. The brushes moved around a central core at a high speed, and they naturally wore down over time, meaning that they need to be replaced periodically if you want your tool to work well. The more you used it, the more you had to replace this part. The bad news was that any speck of dirt that got into that compartment could wreak havoc and greatly decrease the lifespan of the brushes inside it.
Brushless motors don’t use those brushes, so there are no parts that need to be periodically replaced, and they generally hold up better against dirt and dust.
But, they’re not only better from a maintenance perspective. They’re more efficient since there’s far less friction involved in the process. Since they’re more efficient, they use less power, which means tools can last longer with a battery of the same size. They’re also lighter, so they’ll wear you out less when you work with them.
They also don’t raise the price significantly, so if you’re looking to get a model that you’ll love using, due to its lightweight, great efficiency, and low-maintenance, then you should get a model with a brushless motor.
Like motors in portable tools, batteries have come a long way in the past two decades. You may still find batteries today that are running on nickel-cadmium batteries, or NiCad, as you’ll sometimes see it written. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these batteries, but like the brush-using motor, there are better options available to you today.
In part due to the rise of smartphones, a new type of battery, known as Lithium-Ion, has become the new standard for power tools. These batteries have a higher energy density, so they can pack more power into the same weight as an old NiCad battery, or, they can provide the same amount of runtime out of a smaller and lighter battery.
If you buy your cordless hammer drill from a prominent brand, there’s a chance that they have a line of tools that use the same line of batteries. Since the batteries are interchangeable, you won’t have to buy a new battery each time, or you can buy new batteries each time and greatly increase the amount of runtime you’ll have on each tool in your arsenal.
There are a few extra features that may not seem like they transform your experience, but they still add value to your purchase versus a similar model without them.
The first of these is an LED light. While this is a feature that many experienced workers will scoff at, even a weak light can help you better see the area in which you’re working. While this will be of negligible benefit most of the time while you’re working outside, it can be invaluable indoors and could mean that you don’t have to carry a flashlight around.
A handle gives you more control when using your hammer drill. While this part may not be strictly necessary for most operations where you’re driving a screw, you may find that it comes in handy when you’re trying to drill holes. If you don’t want the machine to buck or slip and damage the wall elsewhere, then a handle provides a second place to grip and gives you extra control.
A case also adds a lot of value to your purchase. It protects your tool while it’s in storage or transit, and it provides a convenient place in which to store your extra parts and bits, making it an overall great thing to have, even if it’s not strictly necessary.
Which cordless hammer drill is right for you?
Each hammer drill differs a little both in price and in features. Only you know the jobs which you’ll be working in the future, so getting a model that you’ll love using depends on your needs. The first thing you should do when shopping for one of these tools is to figure out the kinds of jobs you’ll be doing. Once you know that, figure out which features will make those jobs quicker and easier.
Then, make a shortlist of models that have those features. Rank them by price. Then, buy the cheapest one. It has all of the features that you need out of your cordless hammer drill, so you’ll be happy with its performance. And, since it has the lowest price among models on your list, it will provide the best overall value for your money, which will make your wallet happy.
Our favorite model is the DEWALT DCD996B 20V Hammer Drill which comes with a brushless motor, three-mode LED light, and a light frame, making it the best overall. The Milwaukee 2404-20 M12 Hammer Drill is the lightest model on our list, is compact, and also comes with a brushless motor, and if it weren’t for some quality control issues, it could take first place. The PORTER-CABLE PCC620B 20V MAX comes with an LED light, a low weight, and a very high BPM, making it a great overall cordless hammer drill, and its low price means that it’s the best for the money on our list. The VonHaus Cordless Rotary Hammer Drill B07G136TRT includes the elusive hammer-only mode, can take multiple kinds of bits, and comes with lots of extras, but its high weight and one speed drop it to fourth place.
We hope that our reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you understand what makes for a great cordless hammer drill. Armed with this information, you should be able to make your next tough project an easy one.
More of our pages about hammer drills:
Looking for a lithium-ion drill? Then see our guide here
Inspirational source used for writing this article:
- List of our Favorite Models in 2020:
- The 5 Best Cordless Hammer Drills:
- Buyer’s Guide