If you’re considering a cordless SDS hammer drill, there are a number of great options available. In the realm of cordless tools, the DeWalt XR series has proven to be extremely versatile, with the power to rival any corded alternative. It is reasonable to assume that a DeWalt SDS hammer drill is going to feature highly on the list of top cordless models. There are many to choose from, making it possible to find the right drill for the job. The biggest advantage in choosing a DeWalt 20V MAX rotary hammer drill is a battery platform that supports well over 200 products.
This article is going to present two of the best DeWalt SDS hammer drills, both using the renowned 20V MAX battery system. You have the option to upgrade to the DeWalt FlexVolt (20V/60V MAX) battery at any time. After the review, I’ll be answering the many frequently asked questions pertaining to SDS hammer drills.
For now, I’m going to be focusing on the main topic, DeWalt SDS hammer drills. More specifically, the top choices for cordless variants. This will include the DeWalt DCH273B; DCH273P2 kit, and DCH293B models. To offer a good comparison, I’ll also be reviewing two Makita SDS rotary hammer drills, the XRH01Z and DHR263Z. Both DeWalt and Makita rate amongst the top brands for cordless tools. We cannot ignore Milwaukee, or Bosch, when buying high-end rotary hammer drills. However, for this review, we’ll only be considering a few of the DeWalt and Makita options. Both brands offer really good value for money as industrial grade tools. This review is much about DeWalt vs Makita, a battle of the Titans .
Review : DeWalt SDS Hammer Drill
Model : DCH273B
- 2.1 Joules of impact energy for fast drilling in concrete.
- SHOCKS ACTIVE VIBRATION CONTROL System reduces vibration felt by the user at the handles, compared to rotary hammers without this feature.
- Lightweight design makes this tool ideal for rod hanging, seismic & safety attachments, cable tray & strut mounting, clamp mounting, and rail mounting.
- OSHA Table 1 Compliant when paired with DWH303DH On Board Extractor.
- Brushless motor and durable German-engineered mechanism for efficient performance and runtime.
- Rotating Dial to set tool to a specific application mode – Drill, Hammer Drill, or Chip.
The DeWalt DCH273B 1” SDS rotary hammer drill is not the most powerful of its kind. For drilling larger diameter holes in concrete, the mighty DCH773Y2, 60V MAX is the ultimate in the DeWalt cordless range. Though each has its place. Apart from being much more affordable than the 2” 60V SDS hammer drill, the DCH273B has a fantastic power to weight ratio. For overhead drilling, and working in difficult positions, this is probably one of the best SDS hammer drills. The DeWalt engineers developed this drill specifically for jobs like rod hanging, seismic and safety attachments, cable tray and strut mounting, clamp mounting, and rail mounting.
At only 6 LBS (without the battery), the DeWalt DCH273B is wonderfully practical for anyone requiring a lightweight hammer drill, with a good deal of power. It delivers 2.1 joules of impact energy, giving you optimal drilling into concrete up to ½”. Like all DeWalt drills, the DCH273B has a great trigger switch, providing you with precise speed control: 0 – 1,100 RPM (no load speed) and 0 – 4,600 Blows per Minute (BPM).
The 1” SDS+ chuck is the easiest for quick bit changes and grips perfectly. You use a rotary dial to select drill only, hammer drill, or chisel. The L-shape offers a fantastic main handle, with the trigger switch conveniently placed at the top, providing a comfortable working position under any circumstances. The side handle can rotate 360° and it includes a depth rod. A cool feature, especially for working on ladders and platforms, is the adjustable hook. Since this lightweight SDS hammer drill is probably going to be used mostly by contractors who work high above the ground, this is an important safety advantage.
Comfort and safety feature throughout the DCH273B design. The DeWalt SHOCKS system is one of the best for reducing vibration. User fatigue is one of the biggest issues when using a rotary hammer drill, it takes a toll on your hands and forearms. This drill is remarkably easy in this regard, with vibration of only 6.6M/S². This is more important than one might think. Lowering the vibration, which can be excessive with tools like hammer drills and jackhammers, is not just about user comfort, or being able to work for longer to increase productivity. According to this article on the OHS website, high vibration, produced by some tools and power equipment, is responsible for several long term health complications, like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. A rotary hammer drill will always be on the high end of the vibration scale, making it a high-risk tool for ailments relating to vibration. By reducing this hazard substantially, you can work better and safely. Another health concern, especially when drilling into concrete, is dust. Exposure to silica dust has been linked to numerous work-related health issues affecting the respiratory system, and OSHA has introduced strict regulations to combat this. Used with the DWH303DH onboard dust extraction system, the DeWalt DCH273B is OSHA table 1 compliant.
The DeWalt XR brushless motor has earned massive recognition as being incredibly reliable and durable. Digital brushless technology is also super-efficient, extending battery working time. The XR mechanism was designed by experts in Germany and is, arguably, the best for performance and reliability. These tools have proven to be some of the toughest you can get.
Anyone who has been using power tools for some time should agree that DeWalt is one of the premier brands, especially when it comes to cordless tools. An SDS hammer drill is a sophisticated machine, with much that can go wrong. These tools are expected work hard in some of the toughest conditions. For this reason, it is crucial to buy a drill that is up to the task. I trust DeWalt to deliver the goods when it comes to performance and rugged durability. The DeWalt DCH273B has proven to be one of toughest and most reliable cordless SDS hammer drills on the market. Coupled with the DeWalt reputation for exceptional customer service, and their legendary 3-year warranty, 1-year free service plan, and 90-day money back guarantee, this is a product that can be purchased with the utmost confidence. You really can’t go wrong with DeWalt.
Review : DEWALT DCH273P2
The full kit.
- DCH273 Rotary Hammer
- 360˚ Side Handle
- (2) 20V MAX* DCB205 Batteries
- Depth Rod
- Adjustable Hook
- Kit Box
If, like so many cordless tool users, you already own a number of DeWalt 20V MAX tools, you probably only need to buy the DCH273B bare tool. Anyone who doesn’t already own a DeWalt 20V MAX charger, and batteries, could benefit considerably by choosing the DCH273P2 kit.
This kit consists of the DeWalt DCH273B SDS+ rotary hammer drill, with the regular accessories (side handle, depth rod, and adjustable hook). It also includes 2 X 20V MAX 5AH (DCB205) batteries, a DeWalt 20V charger, and a box for the kit. This box isn’t some cheap extra that has been thrown in to sweeten the deal. It’s a tough item, with a good handle.
Like all DeWalt kits, the DCH273P2 SDS hammer drill kit offers really great value. You save quite a bit, as opposed to buying all these items individually.
- 3.5 joules of impact energy provides corded power without the cord
- E-Clutch for maximum control in bind-up situations – A Perform and Protect feature.
- SHOCKS – Active Vibration Control reduces vibration felt by the user at the handles. A Perform and Protect feature.
- DEWALT built brushless motor for all day runtime and durability
- Retractable utility hook for convenient hanging
- German Engineered for Quality and Durability
- Dust Management Ready. Use with D25304DH.
For more power, and some additional advanced features, the DeWalt DCH293B is noticeably superior to the DCH273B (reviewed above). It boasts the same impressive, German engineered, XR system, maximizing power output and battery working time. It also features the versatile L-Shape for working in tight spaces. While this drill is unavoidably heavier than the 1” DCH273B, it is exponentially more powerful, with a greater drilling capacity. Making it the ultimate DeWalt SDS hammer drill, in terms of power to weight ratio. With all this going for it, the DeWalt DCH293 is obviously a more expensive drill.
With 3.5 joules of impact energy, the DCH293B is immensely powerful. There was a time, not so long ago, when obtaining this kind of power from a cordless drill was deemed impossible. Isn’t modern technology a wonderful thing? We have a lot to be thankful for in the discovery of digital brushless technology used in modern DC electric motors. As I’ve mentioned, the DeWalt XR digital system is one of the best. This brute power results in some pretty impressive specs for the DCH293B. It produces an incredible 0 – 4480 BPM, with enough energy to effortlessly pound through hard concrete, optimal for a bit up to ⁷⁄₈”. Rotation speed ranges from 0 to 1,000 RPM, controlled by a smooth action, variable speed trigger switch. I really appreciate the sensitivity of DeWalt trigger switches. You’re able to ease the drill up to full speed, without it juddering off in all directions. With this much power at your disposal, the ability to start off slow, then gently increase the speed, helps a lot.
Another feature that makes this powerful hammer drill easier and safer to use, is the E-Clutch. It offers the user maximum control in a bind-up situation. When the bit encounters an obstacle that causes it to stop suddenly, a hammer drill will usually continue to spin with the same force as before. This causes the body of the drill to twist, and your hand ends up taking this force. The more power behind this force, the more dangerous the consequences. Most of the more powerful, high-end rotary hammer drills have some means of controlling the force of a bind-up. The DeWalt E-Clutch eases off the power transferred to the chuck as soon as the bit encounters excessive resistance.
As this is one of the top models amongst the DeWalt SDS hammer drills, all the expected safety and comfort features that we’ve come to expect are included. This means the exceptional SHOCKS active vibration control and dust management compatibility. The main handle is delightfully comfortable, thanks to vibration control, ample padding, and a blissfully ergonomic design. It also has a side handle with 360° rotation and a depth rod. The SDS+ clutch is, true to DeWalt standards, superb. It also allows for chisel rotation. The usual dial, on the side of the drill, allows you to instantly change from drill only, to hammer drill, or chisel.
Having delivered all the good news, there are plenty of reasons why anyone should consider this an amazing machine, it’s time to look at the less favorable aspects to this drill. We can’t view these as faults, but rather the inevitable consequences of such a powerful rotary hammer drill. The DCH293B is roughly 2-pounds heavier than the DCH273B, at 8.2 LBS. Considering the massive increase in power, this weight difference is quite remarkable. In good way. Another factor that can’t be avoided, is increased vibration. Obviously, if you don’t utilize the full power of this drill, vibration levels will be in the same range as the less powerful machine. However, when all those 3.5 joules spring into action, vibration levels reach 7.5 M/S². Let’s just say you are certainly going to feel the power of this hammer drill.
The DeWalt DCH293B stands out as one of the most powerful 20V cordless SDS hammer drills. It has all the top features, common to DeWalt hammer drills, and a few extra, like the wonderful E-Clutch system. For it’s capabilities, this is an incredibly lightweight drill, albeit a little heavier than the DCH273B. You get the same 3-year warranty, 1-year free service plan, and 90-day money back guarantee, as you would with any other DeWalt XR cordless power tool.
Review : Makita XRH01Z
- Efficient BL™ Brushless motor is electronically controlled to optimize battery energy use for up to 50% longer run time per charge
- The BL™ Brushless Motor eliminates carbon brushes, enabling the BL™ Motor to run cooler and more efficiently for longer life
- Compact and ergonomic design at only 12-7/8″ long
- Weighs only 7.2 lbs. with battery (battery not included) for reduced operator fatigue
- Variable speed trigger enables user to match the speed to application for greater versatility
- Multiple Chisel Positions has 40 different positions to align tool more comfortably with the application
- Torque Limiting Clutch prevents gear damage by automatically disengaging gears if the bit binds
- Sequential Impact Timing provides timed hammering during rotation to minimize overlapping bit impacts resulting in up to 50% faster drilling
- Job Site tested shock absorbent handle protect the battery housing for extra durability
- Equipped with Star Protection Computer Controls™ to protect against overloading, over-discharging and over-heating
- Rapid Optimum Charger communicates with the battery’s built-in chip throughout the charging process to optimize battery life by actively controlling current, voltage and temperature (battery and charger sold separately)
- Rapid Optimum Charger has a built-in fan to cool the battery for faster, more efficient charging (battery and charger sold separately)
- Makita technology delivers category-leading charge time so the battery spends more time working and less time sitting on the charger (battery and charger sold separately)
- Compatible with Makita 18V Lithium-Ion batteries with a Star symbol (battery sold separately)
- 3-year limited warranty
The Makita XRH01Z is a little more powerful than its DeWalt counterpart, the DCH273B. It’s a snippet heavier too. Based on this initial analysis of these two important specs, one may be led to believe that the Makita cordless rotary hammer drill is superior to the DeWalt 1” SDS model. As we delve deeper into the features and specs, the Makita drill becomes even more impressive.
I was suitably impressed with the power to weight ratio, when the reviewing the 1” DeWalt SDS hammer drill. Very few can rival this. The Makita XRH01Z comes pretty close. This drill weighs 7.2 LBS (without the battery), making it more than a pound heavier, when compared to the DeWalt model. The power spec for the Makita drill is 1.7 ft. LBS (2.4 joules). This means the Makita XRH01Z produces 0.3 joules more impact energy than the DeWalt DCH273B. This is not much of an improvement. I doubt the extra power will even be noticed in most situations. Though, more power is always desirable. In the end, the slight increase in power, related to the noticeably heavier weight, places the Makita drill at a slight disadvantage in terms of power to weight ratio. Technically, the extra power isn’t much of a plus. When we move past this basic evaluation, the Makita XRH01Z starts rise to the occasion.
The Makita model, like the DeWalt DCH273B (featured at the start of the review), is a 1” cordless SDS hammer drill, with an optimum drilling capacity in concrete of ³⁄₁₆” – ½”. The two drills can, therefore, be seen as equals in terms of working capacity. I consider the Makita BL brushless system and 18V LXT battery to be every bit as good as the DeWalt XR series. It delivers great power and excellent efficiency, resulting in good working time from your battery. This drill also utilizes the, very practical, L-Shape design with 360° rotating side handle. It has a variable speed switch, offering excellent speed control from 0 – 950 RPM, and 4,700 BPM.
For a hammer drill in this class, the Makita XRH01Z is packed with more high-end features than one would expect. It has a sophisticated torque limiting clutch, protecting both the user and the gearbox in a bind-up. The entry level DeWalt SDS hammer drill does not have this have this advantage. Though, the Makita XRH01Z fails dismally on vibration specs. The handle is great, with plenty of soft padding and has a fantastic two-finger trigger switch.
Unfortunately, this model does not have an active vibration control system, like the DeWalt equivalent. The vibration is tough to contend with, 13.5 M/S². This is, to my mind, is greatest drawback for anyone considering the Makita XRH01Z. On the plus side, it is great for use with a chisel, with 40 different chisel positions. The selector for drill, hammer drill, and chisel is exactly where we’d expect it, a large dial on the side of the machine. The SDS+ chuck is easy to use and will remain reliable for many years. You also have the benefit of perfect HEPA dust extraction, using the DX01 vacuum attachment.
I’ve found the Makita rapid charger and star computer controls to about the best there is. Really clever computer technology monitors the battery during charging and when being used. This ensures the battery charges as fast as possible, without over charging or overheating. When you use the battery in your tool, it is protected against overload, over-discharge, and overheating. Makita Star control ensures that you get the best performance and lifespan from your LXT batteries.
I can’t quite come to grips with the high vibration experienced when using the Makita XRH01Z. For user comfort, I’d certainly prefer any DeWalt SDS hammer drill, for the active vibration control. In every other aspect, the Makita is a better machine. It is more powerful by a small margin, but it helps. The bind-up protection, offered by the great Makita clutch, is certainly an advantage. Makita tools are incredibly tough, possibly the most durable I’ve seen. They provide great service and a 3-year warranty.
The Makita DHR263Z was the first Makita LXT cordless tool to use a 36V system. Two 18V batteries slot into the bottom of the drill, connected in series. This offers the improved efficiency of a higher voltage. Upgrading the voltage, using an existing battery platform, is extremely practical. You don’t need to buy additional batteries, you can use the same 18V LXT batteries used in your other Makita tools, and you avoid the clutter of extra batteries and chargers. DeWalt has probably found a better solution to this issue with the 20V/60V FlexVolt battery, a dual voltage battery that can be used for both 20V and 60V tools. Two batteries add bulk, but you end up with the same power as a corded hammer drill with really great working times. Compared to the two (20V MAX) DeWalt SDS hammer drills in this review, the Makita DHR263Z is much more powerful. This really is one of the best cordless rotary hammer drills.
When Makita set about designing a cordless SDS hammer drill to rival corded machines, they certainly met their objective. This mighty beast produces 3 joules of impact energy, giving you the ability to muscle through concrete without working up a sweat. You have optimal concrete drilling up 1” in diameter. The powerful 36V brushless motor provides 0 – 1,250 RPM with an astounding 5,000 BPM. A large trigger switch offers smooth variable power delivery, giving you perfect control over the drill at all times. If you encounter a bind-up, no problem. The torque limiter ensures your safety and protects the gearbox.
The chuck is designed to handle all that power and is truly Makita tough. It seems, though, that Makita expect their users to be as indestructible as their tools. The DHR263Z, unlike the XRH01Z (reviewed above) utilizes a sliding handle, which offers some active vibration control. A soft grip handle helps to a degree; but cannot match the vibration dampening offered by the DeWalt rotary hammer drills. Given the immense power behind the Makita 36V drill, vibrations are heavy on your arms and hands, 14.5 M/S². I suggest thick leather gloves when handling this unruly beast.
The power to weight ratio achieved by the Makita engineers is almost a miracle. The tool, without batteries, weighs only 7.5 LBS. Of course, two batteries will be twice as heavy as using only a single battery. Though, for the power it provides, coupled with outstanding working times, this an admirable achievement. To make the L-shape drill even easier to use, particular attention has been directed toward ensuring a perfect center of gravity.
This drill includes an LED work light, with an after glow feature which will keep illuminating after the trigger has been released. Makita Extreme Protection Technology (XPT) provides superior protection from dust and moisture. This is a huge advantage when drilling into concrete, bricks, and rock. Fine dust in the motor and bearings is probably the number one cause of wear in a tool like this. Offering this improved level of dust protection, ensures excellent long term durability and lower maintenance costs.
I was somewhat disappointed by the vibration levels for the smaller, less powerful Makita XRH01Z. The enormously powerful DHR263Z takes harsh vibration to the extreme. Apart from this, it may be the ultimate cordless SDS hammer drill. Second only to the 60V DeWalt DCH773Y2. The latter being more comfortable to use. Though, the significant price difference between the 60V DeWalt SDS hammer drill and the 36V Makita equivalent makes the Makita model a much better deal. Bottom line: the Makita DHR263Z is a highly accomplished cordless rotary hammer drill. It is, like any Makita product designed and built to the harshest conditions in its stride. There is no shortage of high-end features and, apart from uncomfortably high vibration levels, this drill wonderful to use. Makita service, and a fantastic 3-year warranty, is yet another compelling reason why this is such a popular product.
SDS Rotary Hammer Drills Explained
Because a rotary hammer drill is a fairly complicated machine, there are many questions asked by those new to these tools. If you’re about to buy your first rotary hammer drill, it could be helpful to have the answers before making a decision. Even if you’re experienced in using these tools, there is probably a lot that has not been explained. Extra knowledge is always an advantage.
What is a Rotary Hammer Drill?
Although a rotary hammer drill is often referred to simply as a hammer drill, there is a significant difference. I’ll begin by explaining what a hammer drill is, and why you may need one, then explain the difference between a rotary hammer drill and a conventional hammer drill.
Most handheld drills have a switch that allows the user to engage a hammer function. This is identified by a small hammer icon. When a drill is used in hammer mode, the bit is forced back and forth as it rotates. Simply put, it’s like someone is using a hammer to knock the back of the drill bit. The purpose of this hammer action is to help break hard material, like concrete, as the bit rotates. Just like a hammer and chisel is used to chip away at concrete, rock, and brick, the hammer drill does the same, whilst also drilling a circular hole.
Hammer Drill vs Drill
If we’re to look at the difference between a hammer drill and a drill, it’s a simple matter of the hammer action described above. A drill rotates a bit that cuts a hole into the material. A drill can also be used with driver bits to drive screws and other fasteners.
A hammer drill uses the hammer action for drilling into hard, brittle material, like concrete, bricks, and rock. Hammer drills differ between a conventional hammer drill and a rotary hammer drill.
What’s the difference between a hammer drill and a rotary hammer drill?
For the most part, a hammer drill and rotary hammer drill do the same job. If you’re deciding between a hammer drill vs rotary hammer drill, you need to consider how much concrete drilling you do, and the size bits that you intend using.
Essentially, a rotary hammer drill is more durable and has a more powerful hammer action than a conventional hammer drill. There are a few other differences, like the chuck and a chisel option. Though, for now, let’s focus on the mechanical difference between these tools.
A standard hammer drill has two discs inside the chuck. These discs have ridges that, when they make contact, push against one another. As the tips of the ridges make contact, the chuck moves forward, toward the object being drilled. At the low point of the ridge, a spring pushes the chuck backwards, away from the object being drilled. As the drill spins at a few thousand RPM, this action is repeated much faster. This creates a rapid hammer action.
The main problem with hammer drills, especially when used for heavy-duty regular work, is the friction on the discs. Every time the ridges make contact, there is wear on the discs. The hammer action of the drill will fail after repeated use.
A rotary hammer drill uses a piston connected to a crankshaft. As the motor spins, the piston moves backward and forward along the length of the drill. It works like a small air compressor forcing air toward the chuck. The compressed air is used to propel the chuck forward, into the material being drilled. When the piston move back, the air pressure is reversed, moving the chuck back with it. This has the same effect as the mechanical hammer action described above. The critical difference being that there is no contact between the piston and the chuck. There is, therefore, very little wear on the moving parts. A rotary hammer drill can be used continuously for heavy-duty hammer drilling without internal components failing.
A rotary hammer drill also has the ability to engage the hammer action without rotating the chuck. This allows for the use of chisel bits. To make the rotary hammer drill more competent, they usually have an improved chuck design, known as an SDS chuck.
What is an SDS drill?
An SDS (or SDS+) is designed to hold a bit in position more securely and won’t lose grip under intense vibration. Conventional chuck design utilizes jaws to hold the bit, much like fingers gripping a pencil. This works fine for light-duty drilling, but the bit has a tendency to slip when the resistance is too high. Vibration also causes the jaws to loosen the grip. This can also cause the bit to slip or fall out of the chuck.
To cope with heavier applications, an SDS chuck is used. An SDS bit has grooves in the shank which allow the bit to be locked into position. This secures the bit perfectly and allows it move independently of the chuck. The SDS chuck is not affected by vibration and will not slip.
An SDS bit inserts easily, you simply push it into position and extruded ridges in the chuck lock into the grooves of the bit. Like the bolts on a secure door lock, the bit cannot slip out of position.
Hammer Drill vs Impact Driver
Although these are very different tools, the confusion between a hammer drill vs impact driver is understandable. Both seem to do very much the same thing, rotate whilst providing an impact or hammer action. To understand the difference between a hammer drill and an impact driver, we need to start by looking at what they are used for.
As we’ve established, a hammer drill is used to drill into concrete and other building materials that require a hammer or chisel action. An impact driver is used to loosen bolts, nuts, and screws that are locked into position.
Many automotive components require high-torque fasteners. A torque wrench is used to secure nuts and bolts that experience excessive vibration, or high torque. This means that they are tightened with greater force than light-duty bolts and nuts. It takes more force to loosen these bolts. Over time, fasteners become more difficult to loosen. Rust and dirt fuse nuts and bolts together. It can become impossible to loosen them without the assistance of extra force.
To loosen a stubborn bolt manually, we knock on the back of the wrench with hammer. This usually requires two people. One to turn the wrench, whilst another uses a hammer to provide the additional force. This helps break the tension on thread and loosen debris or rust that may be preventing the bolt from turning. An impact driver uses mechanical energy to provide the hammer action. They are also used to tighten bolts to a higher torque than a hand wrench.
An impact driver has an internal anvil and impact spring, providing force perpendicular to the driver bit. The impact is delivered when the bit locks through the resistance against it. In other words, when the bit is unable to turn, the anvil is used to break the resistance.
A hammer drill utilizes perpendicular force continuously. Ideally, when the hammer drill encounters resistance, the impact should cease. In a bind-up situation, the drill bit locks into a hard object that prevents it from turning. The full power of the motor is then transferred into the body of the drill, causing the drill to turn, instead of the bit. This can cause serious injury to the user. For this reason, most high-power rotary hammer drills are fitted with a clutch that will disengage the power to the chuck when the bit jams.
Based on this, we can deduce that the purpose of the impact used for drivers and hammer drills is used for opposing results. An impact driver is designed replicate a hammer action when the force prevents the rotation of the bit. A hammer drill is designed to only provide impact when the bit is turning. A hammer drill has the primary purpose of forcefully breaking solid material, whereas an impact driver needs to break the tension that prevents a bolt from turning.