Last updated: August 5, 2021

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Percussion drills allow you to drill through materials where a normal drill reaches its limits. This is because percussion drills can generate an additional "shock" to the normal rotary motion of the drill, making it easier to drill through hard materials such as concrete.

In our big percussion drill test 2021 we looked at different models and variants of percussion drills and compared them with each other. With this guide, we want to provide you with all the important information on the topic of percussion drills so that you can find the right percussion drill for you. Whether you are a beginner or a professional, a hammer drill can be the perfect addition to your workshop.




Summary

  • A percussion drill is a drilling machine to which a "percussion" can be added. This allows you to drill through hard materials such as concrete.
  • Impact drills have 3 main functions: Drilling, percussion drilling and screwing. Other add-ons vary depending on the model.
  • Impact drills are available as classic models with a cable and mains adapter and as battery-powered versions. The battery-powered impact drills usually have less power.

The Best Impact Drill: Our Choices

Percussion drills: buying and review criteria

When buying a percussion drill, you have to pay attention to some features and criteria. We have picked out the most important features that are decisive for the purchase.

So that you know what the central aspects of each criterion are, we present all the mentioned evaluation criteria in detail.

Power

The power of the impact drill can be very important depending on the purpose and possible work. The power is mainly the wattage of the machine. In general, the more watts a hammer drill has, the easier it is to get through hard materials.

If you are a DIY enthusiast or want to buy a professional impact drill, you can also pay more attention to these factors.

  • Speed: The speed indicates how often the drill rotates per minute; the higher the speed, the more effective the drilling. Good machines have a speed between 3,000 and 4,000 (rpm).
  • Torque: This specification is given in netonmeters (Nm) and indicates the power with which a tool works. For hard work, the percussion drill should have at least 35 Nm. For normal DIY tasks, a machine between 10 and 20 Nm is sufficient.
  • Impact frequency: With this information you can determine how many impacts per minute the machine performs, this determines the effectiveness and efficiency of the impact drill to drill holes in a wall. Good machines have an impact rate between 35,000 and 50,000 impacts per minute.
  • Impact energy: The impact energy indicates the kinetic energy released when one body hits the other. In other words, the hardness of the stroke. And this determines how fast a hole can be drilled. It is given in the unit joule.

In order to make a comprehensive statement about the performance of a machine, all factors must be taken into account. The listed factors are mentioned by most models and dealers.

Drill chuck

The drill chuck is the socket at the end of the machine on which the different drills or other tools can be inserted. There are different types of drill chucks. The drill chuck that is used for most impact drills is the so-called quick-action / self-clamping drill chuck.

The drilling performance is determined, among other things, by the diameter of the drill chuck. A normal powerful percussion drill has a drill chuck with a diameter of 10 - 13mm.

Weight

When choosing an impact drill, it makes sense to also take a look at the weight of the machine. Especially if you plan to use the impact drill for long periods of time.

The machine should not weigh more than 3kg.

A heavy weight can quickly fatigue your muscles and cause you to make dangerous mistakes.

Even if you are looking for a tool for a woman, a teenager or a weak person, it makes sense to buy a light drill, even though you may have to spend more money.

Functions

Some models have some useful additional functions that can make your work easier. In the following, we will present the most common functions:

  • Speed control / gear: With a speed control or gear shift, you can set the speed of the impact drill individually and adapt it to the different materials.
  • Kickback control: A sensor detects when the drill is blocked in the material and then automatically switches off the motor. This minimises the risk of injury.
  • Left & right run: With this function, the direction of rotation of the drill can be adjusted. This way, if the drill gets stuck in the wall, you can simply change the direction of rotation and get the drill out of the wall.
  • LED lighting: A light on the drill illuminates the working area and you can work optimally even in poor lighting conditions.
  • Locking head: With this you can lock the on/off button of the drill and thus switch it to continuous operation.

Generally, the more additional functions a device has, the more expensive it will be. Therefore, before buying, you need to consider which functions you need and want. A beginner may need different functions than a professional in the field.

Scope of delivery

Finally, let's talk about the scope of delivery. Depending on the model, the scope of delivery can vary greatly.

Usually, the machine comes with a set of drills and a case, so you don't have to buy a new drill for different materials. But there are differences here too. Make sure that the drill set contains wood, stone and metal drill bits in different sizes.

If you want to use the impact drill for heavy work, it is helpful to have a second handle. This allows you to hold the machine better and apply more pressure to the wall.

In addition to these things, some models also include a measuring device, a nut bowl, screws or similar. Depending on how much of this you have at home, you can also save here.

Another important point is the length of the cable supplied. This way you can estimate whether you need an extension cable to reach the power source. In the case of a cordless impact drill, you should also pay attention to whether and how many batteries are included.

Finally, it is also important to check whether a user manual is supplied in your language. Only then can you be sure that you are using the machine correctly and know all the functions. With new machines you probably don't need to worry about this, but if you buy a second-hand machine, it could well be that no user manual is included.

Impact drills: Frequently asked questions and answers

In the following we want to answer all the important questions and background information about impact drills, so that you have all the important information you need to buy the right impact drill for you.

What is a percussion drill?

As the name suggests, an impact drill is a special type of drill. A hammer drill is a tool that can be used to drill holes in a wall. A drill bit is placed on the device and set into rapid rotation, which allows the machine to drill through various materials such as wood, metal and plastic.

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With an impact drill, you can drill, impact drill and screw. (Image source: ronix tools / unsplash)

However, a normal drill reaches its limits when it comes to materials like stone or concrete. This is where an impact drill comes into play.

These machines work in the same way as drills, only they apply an additional force to the material, the so-called impact. This is a vibration-like movement in the axial direction. This impact can be switched on and off.

How does an impact drill work?

Before we look at how it works in detail, here is the basic set-up. The impact drill must be connected to a power source and the drill bit of one must be clamped in the drill chuck.

The impact drill works with 2 forces: a rotary motion and a forward motion, the " impact".

The "percussion" of a percussion drill is triggered by the principle of the ratchet percussion mechanism. Inside the percussion drill is the motor shaft. A motor shaft is a rotating cylindrical element that is used to transmit rotary motion.

A toothed disc with slanted teeth is attached to this shaft. Another disc is located in the housing in front of the motor.

When the percussion drill is switched on, it resounds back, allowing the teeth of the two discs to be pressed against each other. The drill then resounds forward again and the impact is transferred to the wall.

How do I use a percussion drill correctly?

Now we want to give you a little general guidance on how to use a percussion drill. To start, hold the drill vertically against the wall at chest height, then you can start drilling.

When drilling with the impact function, make sure to drill normally first to find a grip in the wall/material, then you can adjust the impact function.

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Only use the drill function for small holes and soft materials. For larger jobs on concrete, you can switch on the impact function. (Image source: Simone Impei / unsplash)

When drilling, you need to pull the drill out of the hole every now and then to prevent it from overheating. If your machine has a speed control, switch to a low speed for rough work and to a high speed for small holes.

What is SDS?

If you search for impact drills or drill presses, you will probably come across the word SDS. But what is SDS anyway? SDS is a clamping system for drills and rotary hammers. It stands for "Special Direct System" and has the purpose of enabling a simple and quick change between chisel and drill in one device, without additional tools.

However, SDS is not used in percussion drills; instead, the so-called quick-action drill chuck is used in many percussion drills. It enables the insert tool to be clamped quickly by hand.

Who is a hammer drill suitable for?

The machines are suitable for DIY enthusiasts and professionals.

A hammer drill is an all-rounder with which you can drill holes in various materials from wood to concrete. You can also use a hammer drill to drive screws into a wall. In the next section, we will introduce you to the different impact drills so that you can find the right impact drill for you.

What types of impact drills are there?

There are different types of impact drills that are suitable for different applications. In the following, we will briefly present the advantages and disadvantages of the different machines and then go into more detail about the devices.

Type advantages disadvantages
Professional percussion drill high performance, therefore also suitable for concrete, long service life, many additional functions heavy, expensive
Do-it-yourself percussion drill an all-round machine for many areas of use, good price-performance ratio, light weight often not suitable for concrete, sometimes high effort when changing the drill
Battery-operated percussion drill can be used flexibly, easy to transport more expensive, often lower performance

Professional machines have a power of at least 1000 watts and can therefore also drill through concrete. They also have many additional functions such as a second gear, an additional handle or the possibility to change the direction of the drill. However, the machines are usually relatively heavy, which can make working for long periods of time very tiring.

Continuing with impact drills for do-it-yourselfers, these machines have a power of up to 750 watts. This makes them suitable for lighter materials such as bricks, wood or lightweight concrete. Depending on the model, the machines have many or few additional functions. Some machines do not have a quick-action drill chuck, which makes changing the drill bit more complicated.

Beginner machines have a power of up to 550 watts.

Compared to other models, cordless impact drills do not need to be connected to a power source. This makes them flexible to use and they can also be used in areas where there is no power socket nearby. However, the percussive power is usually low, so if you want a high-quality and reliable cordless percussion drill, you will have to spend a little more money.

What materials can an impact drill drill through?

As already mentioned, an impact drill can drill through many materials, the higher the power, the coarser the materials the impact drill can penetrate.

Here is a list of the materials that a hammer drill can penetrate:

  • Wood
  • Stone
  • Masonry
  • Metal
  • Light concrete
  • Concrete

You can drill into concrete with an impact drill, but it is a good idea to only do small, fine jobs with such a device. For larger jobs, a hammer drill is suitable, which we will also introduce to you in the course of this guide.

What does a hammer drill cost?

Percussion drills are available in different price ranges. The more power and additional functions a machine has, the more expensive it usually is.

and above

Type of machine price in euros
Impact drill for beginners 30 - 60
Impact drill for do-it-yourselfers 60 - 100
Impact drill for professionals 120
Battery-powered impact drill 80

The impact drill for beginners can be classified in the category of impact drill for do-it-yourselfers. This is a version that has low power, no or few additional functions and a small scope of delivery.

What are the alternatives to an impact drill?

Instead of a hammer drill, you can also buy an alternative that may be better suited to your needs. In the following, we would like to present the most popular alternatives.

Alternative Description
Drill Suitable for drilling holes in materials such as wood
Hammer drill Suitable for very hard materials and with chisel function
Cordless screwdriver For screwing and unscrewing screws

We have already described a drill at the beginning of this guide. With this device you can drill holes in walls without adding a "blow". You can only use it to drill through light materials, but you also save on the price. This model is also available as a rechargeable version.

Drill hammers are ideal for renovations.

A hammer drill expends more energy on the "blow" than a percussion drill, so hard material can be penetrated more easily and better. A special addition here is that the rotary motion can be switched off, turning the hammer drill into a chisel.

With a cordless screwdriver you can screw screws in and out. These tools are usually small and easy to store. They are also cheaper than combination tools such as hammer drills. So if you only need one tool for screwing, you're in the right place.

Are there accessories for an impact drill?

To use a hammer drill, you need a few accessories. Some models come with a lot of accessories, for other models you have to buy the accessories.

In the following list, we have compiled the most important accessories for you:

  • Wood drill bits: With wood drill bits you can drill through wood. A set with a diameter of 3 to 12 mm is sufficient for most jobs.
  • Masonry drill bits: With these special drill bits you can drill through stone, concrete and the like. The drills are often treated with tungsten carbide. With a drill set of 5 to 12 mm, you should be well prepared.
  • Metal drills: These drills are made with a special pointed angle and are suitable for working on metal. A set of 3 to 10mm is sufficient for most drilling jobs.
  • Flat drill bit: A flat drill bit with which you can lay cables or wires after drilling a hole in a wall.
  • Case: In a case for impact drills you can safely store and transport all the drills and the impact drill.
  • Micro-filter system: Some models have a so-called micro-filter system, which allows you to suck up the drill dust directly.
  • Depth stop: This device allows you to control the drilling depth of a drill.
  • Socket: For removing and inserting screws.

Many impact drills come with various drill bits and a case. You have to buy the rest of the accessories yourself.

What do I need to know to use a hammer drill safely?

In order to be able to work safely, you need to take a few safety precautions, which we will now briefly introduce to you.

Safety measures Description
Safety goggles Protection from flying splinters and drilling dust
Hearing protection Protection from the noise
Helmet Protection from falling objects
Gloves Protection from bruises and heat
Safety shoes Protection from falling objects
Operating instructions To familiarise yourself with the machine and its data and functions
Locate pipes To avoid drilling through water, electricity or gas pipes

If you want to let children or young people work with your impact drill, do not leave them unobserved when working and show them exactly how everything works at the beginning. Also make sure to use a low-power and light machine.

How do I look after an impact drill?

If you want your new impact drill to last for a long time, it is important to care for and clean it properly, preferably after each use. You can wipe the housing of the machine with a cloth. You can remove drilling dust from the grooves, ventilation slot and operating elements with a brush.

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Dust in the machine and on the ventilation slots can cause the machine to overheat, so it is important to clean the machine after each use. (Image source: Chris Briggs / unsplash)

Then it's on to cleaning the drill chuck. To do this, simply remove the drill bit and then hold the drill chuck down and shake out the coarse construction dust. Every now and then, you can treat the drill chuck with machine oil and then run it at idle speed, so that the oil is well distributed.

Conclusion

A hammer drill can be a useful tool for your workshop or toolbox, enabling you to assemble furniture and drill holes, among other things. The hammer drill is available as a version for beginners and do-it-yourselfers, for professionals and as a rechargeable version for flexible applications.

The models are available with various accessories that can make your work easier and extend the range of applications even further. To find the right machine for you, you have to weigh up different factors such as performance and additional functions. However, all impact drills can be used for drilling, percussion drilling and screwing.

Image source: 97953674 / 123rf

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