Over in an older post about the Milwaukee M12 Fuel SDS rotary hammer, Jim asked a tough question: 12V-sized rotary hammer, or 18V-sized hammer drill?
Jim was specifically asking about the M12 Fuel rotary hammer, and an M18 Fuel hammer drill. For that question, I said I would consider the masonry drill size and frequency. I think 3/8″ would be the deciding factor. Larger holes would be drilled by a bigger tool. But keep in mind that the M12 Fuel SDS is capable of going up to 5/8″. Even the non-brushless version can drill holes up to 1/2″.
But I still wouldn’t want to use a hammer drill for larger sized holes. For me, the hole size would determine which class size of rotary hammer I would use.
My mind the jumped to a more general question: how often do professionals use a hammer drill for masonry drilling applications, over a rotary hammer.
A rotary hammer often has more capabilities than just drilling- many can be used in impact-only mode. And a drill can do a lot of things you simply cannot do with a rotary hammer.
A hammer drill can competently drill holes in masonry, up to a certain size of course. But hammer drills are not nearly as efficient as rotary hammers, and they vibrate a LOT more. The vibration is the reason why I said I would go to a larger tool to drill holes larger than 3/8″ or thereabouts. Bigger tools have different ergonomics.
It’s like prepare Thanksgiving dinner with a paring knife. Sure, you could do it, but why would you if you had something larger and better suited to the task?
Cordless hammer drills are extremely popular. If I could only carry one drill and faced the possibility of having to drill into masonry every now and then, I’d either buy a cordless hammer drill or keep a corded model available.
If you drill into masonry on a regular basis, which is your chosen tool, a hammer drill, or a rotary hammer?