What’s the Best Jackhammer?
Most people see jackhammers as expensive machines used by large construction companies. Until fairly recently, this was the case. Traditionally known as pneumatic drills or pneumatic hammers, they used to require a large compressor to supply the power needed to break through concrete, rock, and asphalt. So for the DIY enthusiast, a jackhammer, while being the best tool for the job, seemed like an unaffordable luxury. If you’ve ever attempted to break through a concrete floor, driveway or foundation with a sledgehammer, you’ll know how tough this is.
Most people doing home renovations have resorted to hiring a jackhammer or even getting a professional demolition company in to do the breaking work. Though technology has changed and the introduction of highly efficient brushless motors means that one can get an electric jackhammer, running off a standard 120V socket that is powerful enough to compete with large commercial machines. By their technical name, electro-pneumatic jackhammers have internal air compressors that allow them to do almost the same job as those that use an external air compressor. After reviewing the best jackhammers, I’ll explain how these machines work.
The best news for homeowners is that an electric jackhammer is not expensive at all. You can get a jackhammer that’s capable of breaking through a concrete floor for well under $200. These machines are also reasonably light and easier to handle than large industrial jackhammers. This means that if you’re going to use the jackhammer a few times (even if this is over a period of years), it’s probably going to work out cheaper to buy one than rent it. You have the added bonus of bragging to your friends that you own a jackhammer. Come on guys, owning a jackhammer does do something for your street cred.
It’s likely that you’ve never owned a jackhammer before, or even used one yourself. Through the course of this article, we’ll look at how to choose the best jackhammer for your needs and give you some great safety tips. At first, using a jackhammer may seem like a daunting task but using a reasonably light electric jackhammer doesn’t need to scare you. We’ll help you understand these machines better and lay your fears to rest.
I’m sure there are a lot of people reading this article who want get down to the nitty-gritty, this being a review of the best jackhammers. So before getting to the other stuff, I’m going to review our selection of the best jackhammers. These are all great machines, suitable for light to medium construction work and the DIY homeowner who’s looking for an affordable jackhammer for home improvement projects.
Review of the Best Jackhammers
For this review of the best jackhammers, there are four models to choose from.
- XtremepowerUS 61108-XP – the best jackhammer for homeowners buying on a budget.
- Makita HM1810X3 – best of the best and also the most expensive of the four.
- TR Industrial TR89100 – high quality and affordable.
- Bosch 11335K – an Industrial grade jackhammer that offers great value for money.
Best jackhammer for homeowners buying on a budget. Electric jackhammer model.
- Input motor : 2200 watt
- Voltage: 120V/60Hz
- No Load Speed: 1900 Impacts Per Minute (55j)
- Blow-molded Case
- Includes: 1-1/8″ Bull Point Chisel, 1-1/8″ Flat Chisel
If you’re a homeowner looking for an affordable jackhammer that’s going to get the job done, the XtremepowerUS 61108-XP is just the machine you’ve been looking for. It’s powerful, very powerful and light enough for just about anyone to handle with ease.
This little jackhammer is certainly packed with power, 2200W is a lot from a 120V electric motor. Using a standard 120V power socket makes it a very convenient solution for home use. Though you need to be aware of what gauge extension cord you’re using, especially if you’re using one that’s around 100FT long, which is very likely with the type of work that one uses a jackhammer for. A 2200W 120V motor draws 18.3A, so check that your extension cord can handle this. Also, remember that the startup current is going to be more than 20A, so you’ll need to use an electric circuit rated for a load of more than 20A, otherwise the breaker is likely to trip every time you start the jackhammer.
All these watts translate into 55j of usable energy, giving you 1900 impacts per minute, that’s with no load. With a load on the machine, it’s rated for 1400 impacts per minute, which is still very impressive. This is up there with the best of them, so don’t be fooled by the compact and lightweight design of this jackhammer. When I say lightweight, it’s one of the lightest you’ll find, weighing only 15Kg (33LBS). As for the compact size, it measures 13.8” X 31.1” X 8.3”.
Vibration is always an issue when it comes to jackhammers. The handles and general design give me the impression that the XtremepowerUS 61108-XP is not the best when it comes to vibration and, therefore, user comfort. A jackhammer this small with all that power is going to shake rattle and roll as you use it. Though with all of this in mind, the XtremepowerUS 61108-XP has surprisingly low levels of vibration and most customers seem to back this statement up.
You get everything you need to get started when you buy this jackhammer. This includes two drill points (a 1⅛” bull point chisel and 1⅛” flat chisel). You’ll also get an oil feeder, hexagon bar wrench, gloves, safety goggles, and a safety mask. The jackhammer comes in a blow molded plastic case which doesn’t seem to be of the best quality, quite a few customers have said that the case was damaged when they received it. Though the jackhammer itself seems to have always arrived undamaged. At this price, I’m prepared to overlook an insignificant detail like a plastic case.
Because the XtremepowerUS 61108-XP is so incredibly cheap, I took a lot of time reading customer reviews to see if this isn’t just too good to be true. This is not a recognized brand, so one always has to be cautious. I haven’t found a single complaint (except for a number of issues about the blow molded case), I also found one user who said that one of the chisels broke. Because this was an isolated incident, I’m inclined to think that he may have been pushing the machine beyond its normal capabilities.
I wouldn’t recommend the XtremepowerUS 61108-XP for heavy-duty construction work, it may take too long to accomplish large breaking jobs. Though if you’re a homeowner thinking of hiring a jackhammer, you’ll probably spend less buying this one. Then you have the added advantage of having a jackhammer in the garage whenever you need it. It’s an incredible deal, by anyone’s standards.
Best of the best and also the most expensive of the four.
- Efficient 15 AMP motor with improved hammer mechanism delivers 46.5 ft.lbs. of impact energy to handle the most demanding applications
- Anti-Vibration Technology is an internal counterbalance system that greatly reduces vibration and directs more impact energy to the work surface for increased user comfort and greater productivity
- Fixed movement handles for more control and better accuracy
- Automatic brush cut-off protects commutator from damage for longer tool life
- L.E.D. power light indicates switch failure or cord damage
- AC/DC switch for use with alternative power source
- Low profile design is engineered for easier movement around uneven surfaces
- Large, easy-to-operate switch for operator comfort and control
- 16.4 ft. jobsite cord for greater versatility
- Cylindrical tool holder enables new bolt holes to be drilled should the original bolts break
- Makita Motor Advantage engineered with field core interlocking steel laminations, dual ball bearing armature and more copper commutator bars, increasing energy transfer efficiency for more power and longer tool life
There aren’t too many people who will be able to look past the price of the Makita HM1810X3 and see it for what it is – a magnificent work of engineering brilliance. Call me foolish, but I can see the value in this and I consider this jackhammer to be the best of the best. Much of my admiration for the Makita lies in the finer details and this may not seem too important to many people. However, if you’re looking for one of the finest electric jackhammers that’s going to work hard for years and years, you might agree with me.
I’m going to start with the power of this jackhammer because this is a perfect example of how superior engineering gives you more for less. The Makita HM1810X3 uses a 15A electric motor which is 3.3A less than the (much cheaper) XtremepowerUS 61108-XP. Despite drawing less power from the electrical outlet, the Makita HM1810X3 gives you a lot more power at the chisel, where it counts. Providing 1100 impacts per minute or blows per minute (BPM), your first thought may be that this is less than the cheaper Xtremepower model. Though you need to look at your energy in joules, this is the actual power or force with which you’re pounding the surface that you’re breaking.
Here’s where the Makita really display its superiority. With 63J of impact energy (compared to 55J for the XtremepowerUS 61108-XP), the Makita HM1810X3 is breaking with more force. It’s going to work harder and get the job done faster. All this while drawing less power, which means less chance of breakers tripping and a small saving on your electricity bill – though I wouldn’t take that too seriously. This lower power consumption can make a big difference when using a generator, especially when it comes to startup when the machine is drawing a peak current.
Number two on my list of wow factors when looking at the Makita HM1810X3 is the Anti-Vibration Technology (AVT) that they use. This is a counterbalance system that reduces the vibration to a third of what it would be had they not used this innovative design (8M/S²). This makes the Makita HM1810X3 incredibly easy and comfortable to use. It also prolongs the life of the jackhammer. Lower vibration levels means less wear on the components. Then there are the dual easy-grip handles on either side that give you excellent control and a comfortable working position. If you’re going to be breaking heavy concrete for hours on end, the Makita HM1810X3 is going to prove its value in productivity. You won’t need to stop and rest your arms as often as you would with any of the other jackhammers.
Later in the article, when I discuss jackhammer safety, we’ll look into dust extraction which is major health benefit (more like a necessity) when using a jackhammer. To this end, the Makita is also a real winner, with an excellent dust extraction port at the chisel head. It’s quite heavy when compared to some others at 71.3 LBS. This might be tough for some, but it’s an indication of the industrial strength of this machine and, in some ways, a heavier jackhammer gives you more stability when using it.
Makita is proud of their noise level registering 107dB. Though most electric jackhammers seem to have a noise level in this range. A jackhammer is always a noisy machine and you should wear ear protection for any noise level above 85dB. So I’m not too sure how beneficial this noise level is – except, maybe, for the neighbors.
I’m more than impressed with the transportation caddy that you get with the Makita HM1810X3. It’s as solid as anything you’d get from Makita – they don’t mess about when it comes to quality. There’s also a good storage solution for the four steel bits that you get with the machine and the extra-long (16.4FT) power cord. The three chisel point bits and one bull point bit that Makita provide are also of the highest quality. The Makita HM1810X3 uses 1⅛” hex bits, which is very much the standard for this size jackhammer.
It has all kinds of protection to ensure that the jackhammer isn’t harmed when, for example, the brushes wear down. LED indicators also bring your attention to the nature of the fault. The large on-off switch is perfectly located on the handle for ease of use and perfect safety. In true Makita style, they’re looking at long-term endurance, durability and serviceability. An example of this is the large cylindrical tool holder that allows for one to drill new holes if the old ones become damaged. Dual ball bearings on the armature as well as more copper and steel than one would normally see on a power tool all add to the heavy-duty nature of this jackhammer.
Understandably, the price of the Makita HM1810X3 won’t appeal to everyone – especially the occasional user. Though if you’re looking for the best engineering and durability in an electric jackhammer, you can’t beat this machine. Easily the number one choice for the hardworking contractor, I’d recommend the Makita HM1810X3 as the best.
- AMPS : 15
- Blows Per Minute : 1,100 BPM
- Impact Energy (ft.lbs.) : 46.5
- Impact Energy (Joules) : 63 J
- Vibration Control : Yes
- Vibration (m/s²) : 9
- Noise Level : 107 dB
- Cord Length (ft) : 16.4′
- Overall Length : 32-1/2″
- Net Weight : 71.3 lbs.
- Bit Type : 1-1/8″ Hex
- Breaker/Demo class : 70
- Power Type : Corded
- Shipping Weight : 141.3 lbs
High quality and affordable. One of the most popular and best electric demolition jack hammer.
- BREAK ON THROUGH: Power you can trust to break through concrete, clay, concrete floors, and more
- ACCESSORIES INCLUDED: Jackhammer, hex/flat/spade chisels, safety goggles, working gloves
:800 Blows-per-min of hammering speed . Comes standard with 6.5 foot power cord and a 360-degree swivel auxiliary handle, giving you optimal maneuverability and handling
- POWER: Excellent heavy-duty drilling power, 11 amp motor, 1,800 bpm, and TÜV tested – 176 hours
- Comes with 3 chisels : Point, Flat and Scoop Shovel.
- SAFETY: Inspected and certified with ETL listing, double-insulated plug, and UL listed cable
- ETL listed, compliance with UL and CSA standards UL: 60745-1 & 60745-2-6
- 45 Joules of impact power
- 1800 Blows-per-min of hammering speed
- Weighs 32 pounds (machine only)
- 11 AMP motor
- 45J of impact energy
- 1,800 blows per minute
- CNC machined cylinder
- Dual ball bearing armature
- 360 degree swivel auxiliary handle
- Plastic molded roll-out case
- Double insulated plug
- 55 HRC modulus gears
- Carbon brushes with extended life
People looking for a more affordable jackhammer with a high level of industrial quality can breathe a sigh of relief with the TR Industrial TR89100. It’s the second cheapest in this review of the best jackhammers. So it’s not as cheap as the XtremepowerUS 61108-XP but it seems to me that this is probably a more industrial quality machine. This isn’t all that easy to determine – you have to put a jackhammer through its paces for a quite a while to know for sure how durable it is. Though the fact that the TR Industrial TR89100 has received an Intertek ETL listing and has undergone 176-hours of durability testing at TÜV Rheinland is proof of how serious these guys are about their product.
So I have no doubt that the TR Industrial TR89100 is of a high quality standard, despite its deceivingly low price. That being said, I wouldn’t rate it in the same class as the Makita HM1810X3 or the Bosch 11335K that we’ll be reviewing next. For many home users, this jackhammer will probably exceed your expectations and even some contractors who are not going to be doing heavy-duty work on a daily basis will find this to be a useful and inexpensive jackhammer.
While it may have the upper hand on the cheaper XtremepowerUS 61108-XP when it comes to quality certifications, it doesn’t quite match up to most of the best jackhammers in this review when it comes to power. It’s still not that bad though. The 11A electric motor gives you 1800 BPM with 45J of usable power. So while it’s not the best, it doesn’t lag too far behind the others.
The construction of this machine seems really durable and it has handles that look reasonably comfortable to use. Like the Makita, the armature has dual ball bearings. Though if these bearings are of the same quality standard as those used in the Makita is anyone’s guess. Generally, very few manufacturers meet the same high standard as Makita when it comes to durability. It weighs only 32LBS. While this makes it an easy machine to carry, this does indicate that it doesn’t have the same heavy-duty components as the heavier (and more expensive) machines. It’s really compact and I think many might appreciate this. The TR Industrial measures 30” X 14” X 7.5”.
Apart from the bull point and chisel point bits, which seem to be almost standard as accessories, you also get a spade attachment. They also include safety glasses, gloves, a plastic case, wrenches, and a set of carbon brushes with the kit. So you’re getting a nice selection of extras with your purchase.
For the most part, the TR Industrial TR89100 has been met with a lot of praise from customers. I’ve only been able to find one negative customer review and I’ll write this off to bad luck. It seems like that guy got a machine that should not have passed quality control – who knows? From my initial impression and the opinion of most customers, this seems like a tough little machine. As far as value for money goes, I’d give it a huge thumbs up.
Visit Makita to learn more about their range of jackhammers and other tools.
Jack Breaker Hammer. Industrial grade jackhammer that offers great value for money.
Engineered to tackle heavy-duty applications such as outdoor asphalt work or indoor foundation removal.
- Power-to-weight ratio – 22 ft.-lbs. of impact force at 38 lbs. of weight for great removal rate
- Vibration Control technology – shock reduction in hammer mechanism and at handle
- 360° articulating auxiliary handle – versatile placement for greater operator control
- In-line design – tool balance controls angled, horizontal and vertical applications
- Versatile two-way bit retention – accepts Bosch 1-1/8-In. hex steel and standard 1-1/8-In. air steel
- Carrying case with wheels – convenient storage and easy transportation
- All-metal housing, metal tube and case — designed for great jobsite durability
- Service Minder™ brush system – shuts tool down when maintenance is required
- Grease-packed gearbox and hammer mechanism – smooth and robust operation
- 2 Way Tool Retainer – accepts standard 1-1/8 In. (28 mm) hex, air tool steel with retaining collar or
- Bosch internal locking combo steel
- All Metal Housing — jobsite durability
Before reviewing the Bosch 11335K jackhammer, I have to admit that I’m a brand snob when it comes to power tools. Generally, my first choice would be DeWalt, Makita, or Metabo. Bosch power tools always make the perfect second choice – in my opinion. Maybe I’m being a little unfair to Bosch by saying this. Their tools are really great and usually way cheaper than the other brands that I’ve mentioned. If the Makita HM1810X3 is out of your price range or you won’t be using the jackhammer to the extent that the price seems justified, but still want a high-quality jackhammer, the Bosch 11335K is the perfect alternative. It has similar capabilities, is built to a high standard and is a lot cheaper.
It doesn’t take an engineering degree to see that the Bosch 11335K is a durable jackhammer. All the working components are crafted from top quality metals and it’s clear that this jackhammer is made for heavy-duty work. Despite its tough design, the Bosch 11335K weighs only 38LBS and is quite compact; 30” X 13” X 5”.
I’m a little disappointed at the power specs for this jackhammer. The Bosch 11335K uses a 15A motor providing 1300 BPM at no load with 22FT LBS (29.8J) impact energy. Even the cheaper models in this review beat this figure. Though the Bosch does have some outstanding design features that compensate for this.
Like the Makita, the Bosch is designed for low vibration and excellent user comfort. The Bosch Vibration Control system uses a longer air cushion to absorb much of the vibration and the dual handles are well-padded for extra comfort. The auxiliary handle rotates 360° to provide for versatility when it comes to working positions. The two-way tool retainer means that you’re able to use standard 1⅛” bits as well as Bosch internal locking combo steel bits. If noise is an issue, you’ll appreciate the 103dB noise level of this jackhammer, one of the lowest of any.
Bosch don’t throw in a lot of extras when you buy the 11335K. You’ll get a pointed chisel, auxiliary handle, a really great carrying case with wheels, a grease tube, and a cleaning rag. The rag made me laugh a little, I don’t think that anyone’s going think: “wow, you get a free rag. Now that’s a great deal!” The fact that the gearbox uses grease, instead of the usual oil, should mean that it’s smoother and could be more robust than many others. It has good protection to prevent damage, the Bosch 11335K will shut down when maintenance is required. Bosch also have a pro-guard dust extraction system available for improved health and safety.
The Bosch 11335K is certainly designed for heavy-duty work. I wouldn’t place it the same league as the Makita but, then again, it’s much cheaper. While it’s likely to be as robust as any of the best jackhammers, it’s not as powerful as many others. Let’s not forget that the Bosch 11335K is probably the only jackhammer that comes with a free cleaning rag.
Best professional-grade jackhammer for industrial applications.
Uses : Engineered for heavy-duty applications like floor trenching for pipe, breaking out stairs/risers, creating openings into shafts, breaking asphalt, loosening/breaking hard packed dirt/gravel/clay and confined space work.
- SHOCKS – Active Vibration Control reduces vibration felt by the user at the handles. A Perform and Protect feature.
- 52 joules of impact energy provides maximum performance
- 15 amp motor provides maximum power and overload protection
- Rubber-coated handles provide greater comfort and control
- Electronic Soft Start increases productivity by reducing bit walking
- Hammer Truck provides easy transportation of pavement breaker
- Uses 1-1/8″ Hex Demo Steel
- Compatible with DWH052K chiseling dust extraction system
How does a jackhammer work?
Like many of the machines we use today, the origins of the jackhammer can be traced back to the industrial revolution when steam power was the energy source of the day. Unfortunately, steam was not the best solution for powering a jackhammer and it wasn’t until the invention of the air compressor that these machines really came into their own. The first patent filed for a pneumatic jackhammer was in 1892 and this was granted in 1894.
Known by many different names, pneumatic jackhammers, pneumatic drills, rock drills, or pavement breakers have become very common. We’ve all seen them on road construction projects, but their initial purpose was mainly for the mining industry.
At first, pneumatic jackhammers used a large air compressor, powered either by gas or diesel. Compressed air is delivered to the jackhammer via a high-pressure hose. By pressing down on the jackhammer, the operator engages a valve that causes the compressed air to push down on a piledriver which, in turn, forces the drill bit downward with incredible force (enough to break rock or concrete). After this has happened, a second valve is actuated causing the pressurized air to move in the opposite direction, pushing the bit back up. All this happens around 20-25 times per second, resulting in a rate of up to 1500 beats per minute (BPM). This means that the bit hits the ground up to 1500 times every minute.
While pneumatic jackhammers are still very common because they remain the most powerful, the invention of the electro-pneumatic jackhammer has made them much more accessible to home users and small construction companies. Eliminating the need for an air compressor makes the electric jackhammer more versatile and less expensive to use.
An electro-pneumatic jackhammer uses an electric motor to drive a cam or crank which drives a reciprocating piston. This is a complicated way of saying it moves a piston back and forth. This piston compresses a small cushion of air that pushes a second piston up and down. This piston is connected to the drill bit. The result is the same as using valves to channel compressed air. The drill bit moves up and down rapidly with enough force to break rock, concrete, and asphalt very quickly and efficiently.
There are many bits that can be fitted to a jackhammer. The most common of these being a sharp bull point bit that rapidly beats a series of holes into the surface causing it to break. Wider chisel bits are used to break along lines to create square shapes and remove larger amounts of debris.
Using a Jackhammer Safely
If you’ve never used a jackhammer before, it’s understandable that you may be apprehensive at first. A machine that is able to break off chunks of concrete and other hard materials in minutes is very powerful and that can be scary. So it’s important to consider your safety before getting started with a jackhammer.
The most obvious safety concerns when using a jackhammer are the risk of injury both from the power of the machine and the flying debris. Fortunately, modern jackhammers have some fantastic built-in safety mechanisms. The most important of these is an automatic shutoff that will disable the bit movement as soon as pressure is released. This means that if you let go of the jackhammer, for whatever reason, the bit will stop. This helps a lot in preventing injury.
Your most immediate risk is that of heavy debris and dust – you’re breaking up hard material and the shards that fly in all directions can be dangerous. It is essential that you use the full spectrum of PPE safety gear when operating a jackhammer. Ear protection is also vital as these machines are noisy (above 100dB). Here’s the list of safety gear that you’ll need.
- Safety boots – steel cap or equivalent.
- Leather gloves – thick shock-absorbing gloves will make your life more comfortable when using a jackhammer for prolonged periods of time.
- Eye protection is a minimum requirement, though I’d suggest a full-face protective mask.
- Dust mask.
- Ear protection.
- Protective clothing – wear thick clothing that will protect you from small chips of rock and other debris.
When cutting or breaking any form of rock or masonry, there’s a silent killer that we all have to be aware of. Most rock types, clay, sand, and masonry is likely to contain Crystalline Silica – commonly known as quartz. These extremely fine particles are invisible to the naked eye and are associated with numerous health disorders, some of which can be fatal.
One of the most common health disorders associated with crystalline silica is silicosis. Treatment for silicosis can only be symptomatic, there is no cure. However, prevention of silicosis is easy. It’s merely a matter of preventing crystalline silica from entering your lungs.
The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have strict laws in place to ensure that workers are protected from the hazards of dust inhalation. Of course, when using a jackhammer for your own use doesn’t require adherence to these laws. Though for your own good, observing these health precautions is vital.
I’ve already mentioned a dust mask as part of your PPE requirements, but it’s better to take things a step further. If your jackhammer has a dust extraction attachment, use it. If not, wet the area that you’ll be breaking as this prevents dust. Not only will this help protect you from long-term health complications, but working in a dust-free environment is easier and more comfortable.
A Basic Guide to Operating a Jackhammer
Once you have the basic safety requirements taken care of, you’re ready to start using your jackhammer. As with any power tool, read your owner’s manual and get to understand the machine. It’s important to understand how to insert the bit correctly and ensure that it is properly secured.
Switching the jackhammer on is always easy and this is explained in your manual. A jackhammer will usually only start working once pressure is applied, as you press the jackhammer against the surface that you’re breaking. Before doing this, prepare your stance. Stand with your feet apart and the jackhammer in between, tilted slightly toward you. Once you’re ready, press down and the jackhammer and the machine will do the rest. You just need to maintain a firm grip on the jackhammer.
It’s important to remember that you’re breaking the surface, not cutting it. This means chipping away at it from the edge like you would if you were using a hammer and chisel. If you start too far from the edge, the jackhammer is simply going drill into the surface and get jammed there. You want pieces to break off as you work – a few inches at a time. If the jackhammer does get jammed, you’ll need to rock it back and forth until releases itself.