Last updated: August 5, 2021

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The percussion drill or also called impact drill is a drilling machine for drilling in solid materials such as bricks, lightweight concrete or even stone. In addition to the normal rotary movement, the percussion drill also has a vibration, so that drilling in solid materials is possible. Percussion drills are used especially for mounting lamps in the home or for drilling other holes in the wall of the home.

With our percussion drill test 2021 we want to show you different types of percussion drills so that you can find the right one for you. We have tested pure percussion drills, cordless percussion drills and percussion screwdrivers, as well as percussion screwdrivers for changing car wheels and listed the advantages and disadvantages for you. This should help you with your purchase decision.




Summary

  • Impact drills are used to drill through harder materials such as walls, bricks, concrete or other harder materials. This is made possible by the percussive motion. With a normal drill you will fail miserably.
  • The biggest difference in performance, design and handiness of impact drills is between corded and cordless impact drills. Another type is the multifunctional cordless impact drill, which can be used for impact drilling and screwing as well as normal drilling.
  • The drill bits for the impact drill are very important. When buying a drill, it is important to know which drill is needed for which material. This means that a different drill bit must be used when drilling in concrete than when drilling in wood.

The Best Percussion Drill: Our Choices

Percussion Drills: Buying and Evaluation Criteria

The following explains which factors you should pay particular attention to when buying a percussion drill. You should take a closer look at the following criteria to find the right percussion drill for you:

In the following section, we will explain what the individual criteria are exactly. We will also show you the differences between cordless and corded impact drills, as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

Weight

The weight of an impact drill is a decisive factor in determining how powerful and professional it is. The really good tools can weigh up to 5 kilograms. The weight also depends on how the percussion drill is supplied with energy.

While cordless impact drills are usually rather heavy, cordless impact drills are usually more compact and lighter. Corded impact drills are even lighter. Compressed air impact wrenches for screwing on vehicle wheels are particularly heavy.

Power in watts / volts

The power of an impact drill depends on the power supply as well as the type of machine. The higher the power, the easier it is to drill through hard materials. Power-driven percussion drills, which are cable-connected, usually have a higher output. Battery-powered impact drills usually have more functions, but have a lower drilling or percussive drilling power.

The difference between the volt and watt numbers is that the volt number refers to the motor power, while the watt number refers to the total power.

The power in watts is mainly specified for corded impact drills. With cordless impact drills, the power is only given in volts, whereby an increased number of volts means a higher power output. Normal cordless impact drills usually work with a voltage of 12 to 18 volts.

Number of gears

The number of gears of an impact drill determines the number of revolutions per second of the drill. The number of gears indicates how many different power levels the impact drill has. The more gears, the finer you can adjust the percussion drill. It is particularly important to know where you can adjust the gears so that you can match the required speed of the drill exactly to the material. On the one hand, a higher gear means a higher speed, but at the same time, a higher speed reduces the running time of battery-powered devices.

Depending on the model, the gears are located in different places on the machine. Some models have a wheel near the drill switch that can be used to adjust the gears individually. This wheel or knurled wheel is usually found on corded impact drills. In cordless impact drills, the gears are usually located on the top of the impact drill, whereby the gears can be varied forwards or backwards with a lever.

Percussion rate and speed

The number of strokes provides information about the maximum number of vibrations or strokes the percussion drill can achieve within one minute. The speed, on the other hand, provides information about the maximum rotation of the drill within one minute. The higher these two values are, the better you can drill through or into hard materials.

The higher the number of revolutions and impacts, the easier it is to drill into harder materials.

There are clear differences between corded and cordless impact drills in terms of the number of revolutions and impacts, with corded ones having higher numbers. Cordless impact drills have a speed between 1,200 and 2,000 and an impact rate between 27,000 and 34,000 per minute. Corded impact drills are more powerful and usually have a speed between 2,800 and 3,000 and an impact rate between 43,000 to 58,000 per minute.

Of course, there are more powerful models as well as weaker ones.

Percussion drills: frequently asked questions and answers

When buying a percussion drill you will quickly find yourself asking questions. Which percussion drill is the right one? Which brand should you choose? Does it make more sense to buy a percussion drill or a combination of percussion drill and drill?

Percussion drills are available for all quality and performance requirements, both for professional use by craftsmen and for simple home use. (Image sources: Myriams photos / Pixabay)

To answer these questions as best as we can, the most frequently asked questions about impact drills are answered below.

Who is a percussion drill suitable for?

A hammer drill is particularly suitable for people who want to hang a heavy picture, a shelf, a lamp or other things on a wall or ceiling in their own home. Percussion drills are suitable for people who do this kind of work very often.

For people who only need an impact drill from time to time, an impact drill is more suitable, as you can also use it to tighten screws or drill without hammering. A certain level of manual dexterity prevents many accidents or damage.

When drilling into walls and ceilings, be especially careful not to hit any pipes.

The use of an impact drill should be carefully considered. If you have no experience at all with drilling into walls, it makes sense to get help. Drilling into walls and ceilings can be very tricky, as all the pipes and cables are located there. If you live in a flat, your landlord, the caretaker or a builder can certainly help you.

If you live in your own house and want to do your drilling here, there are plans with the exact lines and cables marked on them. If you can't find the plans or can't read them, we recommend that you contact a builder.

What types of percussion drills are there?

Basically, percussion drills are divided according to the type of drive. You will find battery-powered, corded or percussion drills with compressed air. Furthermore, there are mixed devices between percussion drills, screwdrivers and drills, especially in the case of cordless percussion drills, so that you have all the functions in one device.

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Corded percussion drill Very high power Less flexible
Cordless percussion drill Very flexible Less power
Compressed air percussion drill Very high power Very loud, compressor is needed, rather cumbersome
Impact drill Several functions in one device (drilling, impact drilling and screwing) Less power than pure percussion drill

A more detailed description of the specifications, advantages and disadvantages of impact drills can be found below. Depending on how often you want to use your percussion drill and which materials you want to drill, a different type of drive will be suitable.

  • Corded percussion drills: Usually have a higher power output than the battery-operated ones. However, it should be noted that corded percussion drills are often limited and may require a cord reel.
  • Battery-powered percussion drills: Usually have less power than corded percussion drills, but can be used more individually and flexibly. With battery-powered tools, it is advisable to have at least one spare battery so that you can work without hesitation. As a rule, two batteries are sufficient for a whole day's normal use.
  • Compressed air impact drills: are very loud and require an additional compressor to function. Compressed air percussion drills are hardly found any more, as corded or cordless percussion drills are handier and have a similar performance. Pneumatic wrenches are often used for tightening or loosening when changing car wheels.
  • Impact drills: These are multifunctional drills that can be used for impact drilling, normal drilling or screwing. Due to the multiple functions, the impact drilling function in particular suffers a loss of performance, but this is hardly or rarely noticeable for normal DIY use. The clear advantage of impact drills is their multiple functions. This saves both money and space.

Which type you want to buy depends on your intended use. If you are looking for a professional percussion drill to exclusively perform drilling work in hard materials, you should buy a corded percussion drill or a more expensive and powerful cordless percussion drill. However, if you only want to do small jobs at home, a cordless impact drill with multiple functions is more appropriate.

How much does an impact drill cost?

The cost of impact drills depends largely on their performance. Other price factors include the type of impact drill (corded, cordless, etc.) and the machine tool manufacturer.

Type Cost
Corded percussion drill 30.00 - 600.00 Euro
Cordless percussion drill 29.00 - 830.00 Euro
Pneumatic percussion drill 30.00 - 300.00 Euro
Impact drill 20.00 - 800.00

The cost of the equipment varies greatly. This is particularly noticeable in the performance and durability of the impact drills. The big machine tool manufacturers such as Hilti, Makita, DeWalt or Einhell are particularly powerful and durable. These percussion drills as well as drill manufacturers are very often used by construction workers. The cheapest tools usually have a very short lifetime and a very low performance, so it is usually more sensible to spend a little more and have a functioning percussion drill for a longer period of time.

What are the alternatives to a percussion drill?

Unfortunately, there are not many alternatives to the percussion drill. A normal drill cannot penetrate harder materials because of the lack of vibration. Walls, concrete etc. are impossible to work on with normal drills. Therefore, the only alternative to the various types of percussion drills is to rent a percussion drill or have a craftsman do the work.

Type Description
Craftsmen Can do professional work and are especially suitable if you are not particularly skilled in craftsmanship. Craftsmen are usually a bit more expensive, but always do their job professionally.
Ask friends If you only need to do small drilling jobs, a friend or family member can help out with a hammer drill. If no one has one, you can rent one cheaply.
Borrow one Maybe a neighbour has a hammer drill and can even help with the work.

As you can see, there are no real alternatives to the percussion drill or the various types of it. Only the help of others can be considered an alternative. If you don't know much about handicrafts, the best alternative is to ask your neighbours, friends or family to do the drilling work. If all of these do not own or know how to use an impact drill, or if the work is more complex and larger, it is advisable to ask a craftsman.

How does an percussion drill work?

The main function of an impact drill is to drill into or through harder or hard materials. Drilling through a harder material is made possible by the rapid jerky vibration of the percussion drill. The drill rotates like a drill and at the same time it moves very fast from forward to backward. The speed provides information about how fast the drill rotates in one minute and the number of strokes or vibrations the machine makes per minute.

Before you start drilling, you should check whether your drill fits the material so that it does not break. (Image source: Mushon Tamir / unsplash)

Depending on the speed and number of blows of a percussion drill, the machine can penetrate materials better or worse. To drill through stone, you need a particularly high number of revolutions as well as blows. For wood, a relatively soft material, a high number of revolutions is needed, but no number of blows.

Do I need a percussion drill or is a cordless screwdriver sufficient?

A cordless screwdriver can tighten screws, loosen screws or drill into soft materials. To drill soft materials such as wood, you should have a good drill bit that is sharp. A normal cordless screwdriver is not suitable for drilling into hard materials such as brick walls, concrete or stone. This includes all work such as mounting furniture, TV sets or other fixtures on the wall or lamps on the ceiling.

Work for the cordless screwdriver:

  • Tightening and loosening screws
  • Drilling in soft materials such as wood with a sharp drill bit

Work for a percussion drill:

  • drilling in harder materials such as stone, concrete, lightweight concrete, bricks, walls and ceilings

Work for cordless impact drill:

  • Tighten and loosen screws
  • Drilling in soft materials such as wood with a sharp drill bit
  • Drilling in harder materials such as stone, concrete, lightweight concrete, bricks, walls and ceilings

For all drilling work in harder materials, you therefore need an impact drill. If you still want to drill a hole in the wall with the cordless screwdriver, this will take a very long time and the drill will most likely break off.

Conclusion

Impact drills are mainly used for drilling in harder materials. This is made possible by the vibration and the simultaneous rotation of the drill. Basically, there are different types of percussion drills. On the one hand, there are the pure percussion drills, which are usually cable-connected and specialise in drilling in hard materials and have a high performance. On the other hand, there are multifunctional cordless percussion drills, which combine a percussion drill and a conventional drill, but with a loss of performance.

For professional use in hard materials, corded impact drills are particularly suitable. These usually have a high rotation and impact speed, which makes drilling easier. For home use, a cordless impact drill is best, because with this you are equipped for everything and you do not need two different machines. When buying an impact drill, you should also choose the right drill bits for the right material so that they drill cleanly and stay whole.

Cover picture: Kalinovsky/ 123rf.com

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