Best Hammer Drill 2021 | Video Review

We’ve done a ton of drill testing over the past months between our Test Track, speed challenges, power challenges, and more. We mentioned we were building up to something bigger… and now we’re ready to reveal the top 10 best cordless drills of the year.

Full Transcript

When we say they’re the 10 best, we really do mean the cream of the crop. These are cordless drills from premium brands, and they’re the top performers for each. We’re going to rank them based on how they performed, but keep in mind that every single one of these drills earns our stamp of approval. That means not everyone gets a trophy. To make the final cut, each drill had to score at least 9 out of 10 on our rating scale, and not every drill we tested did.

Let’s start by taking a look at our starting list.

Up first is the Bosch GSB18V-755C. Along with its solid build and excellent ergonomics, this 18V hammer drill features kickback control and comes Connected ready. If you want to enable the smart features by pairing the hammer drill with Bosch’s app, simply pick up the Connected Module for about $19 at your favorite retailer and install it in the handle. 

Next, DeWalt enters with their DCD998. Of the three hammer drills at the top of the 20V Max lineup, the Power Detect model is the one that gave us the best results. Perfectly capable of using any DeWalt 20V Max battery, this 3-speed model kicks its performance up in a big way if you use an 8Ah pack or higher. As a bonus, you can flip the LED light into a 20-minute flashlight mode—something that’s unusual on a drill.

A relative newcomer to the premium cordless drill scene, the 24V Max Flex FX1271T-2B has a deceivingly compact size—it’s just 7.1 inches long. When you engage Turbo mode with a button on the foot, it’s capable of 2500 RPM in high gear and 1400 in-lbs of torque in low. It’s another model that includes an anti-kickback feature.

The Hilti SF 10W-A22 is the only brushed drill in this competition, but don’t let that fool you—it’s a drill that can challenge for the top position. The lowest of the 4 speeds gives you what we think of as a “mixing” mode with 310 RPM. On the highest gear, it tops out at 2100 RPM. With 1062 in-lbs of torque available, one of the few downsides is that it lacks a hammer drill option.

Kobalt made the move to an advanced hammer drill with the launch of their XTR lineup. Highlighted by high performance at a great value, the KXHD 1424A-03 is more compact than Kobalt’s previous model. It also boasts an impressive 1200 in-lbs of torque, 2000 RPM on the top end, and includes kickback control. 

Makita brings their 40V max XGT hammer drill to the competition. The GPH01 is compact at just 7.1 inches long yet packs 1250 in-lbs of torque and pairs that with a top speed of 2600 RPM. Plus, it has kickback control to add a measure of safety as well as an electronic clutch for controlling torque. The 40V max battery is only slightly larger than a 5.0Ah 18V LXT pack, making the transition to XGT’s higher performance levels easier.

Metabo’s SB 18 LTX-3 BL Q I isn’t the most compact but it has blistering speed, topping out at 3800 RPM in the highest of its three gears. When you need precision, Metabo uses an electronic clutch and an impulse mode to help with damaged fasteners. It’s part of the Metabo Quick system with easy chuck changes and accessories such as a torque multiplier. It’s also one of the few cordless tools with a battery that works across multiple brands. Check out the Cordless Alliance System for details on which ones. 

Metabo HPT’s 36V MultiVolt hammer drill has the advantage of using a 36V battery that also works with their 18V tools. Plus, you can add an AC adapter if you’d like to have corded power as an option. Add in solid ergonomics, the safety of kickback control, and a lifetime warranty, and you get a hammer drill to watch closely through our performance tests.

Milwaukee’s 2804 is the third generation hammer drill for the M18 Fuel line and it’s quite noticeably the most compact model in our test at just 6.9 inches. Hiding inside that small frame is a brushless motor producing up to 1200 in-lbs of torque and 2000 RPM. There’s also a ONE-KEY option if you’d like to explore Milwaukee customizable controls, tool-tracking, and inventory management. Look for the 2806 model if that sounds good to you. 

Ridgid took a step back from the size of their Octane line with the launch of their updated 18V brushless hammer drill. Much more compact and lighter, it pairs with Max Output batteries to produce 2100 RPM on the top end and up to 800 in-lbs of torque. 

Before we jump into our performance results, let me take a quick moment to say thank you for clicking on our video—we hope you enjoy it! While you’re here, consider subscribing to our channel and turn on notifications so you know when we post a new video. When you’re finishing watching this, check out…

In our first test, we started with ¼-inch Bosch Multi-Purpose bits to see how fast each drill could make a hole 3 inches deep in a 4000 PSI solid concrete block. We intentionally skipped Hilti in this test because it lacks a hammer drilling mode. 

Metabo smoked the competition, coming in first place with an average time of 2.35 seconds. DeWalt and Flex also had strong showings but were more than a full second behind. 

Next, we moved up to a ½-inch Multi-Purpose bit in the same block. This time, Metabo needed 3.49 seconds on average and it had some competition from Flex, just 32 hundredths of a second behind. 

Flipping over to rough-ins, the next test brought us to 2×4 studs—which were rather expensive, by the way. Using a 1 ½-inch Milwaukee Switchblade self-feed bit, we ran each drill at high speed. 

Taking first place, Flex showed off its determination with a 1.18-second average. Makita’s XGT wasn’t far back with a 1.38-second average, and DeWalt finished in a close third. 

Moving up to the 2-9/16” size, we had to experiment a little to find which gear each drill would have the best success in and the ones with three or more certainly had an advantage. 

This time, Metabo HPT took the top position with an impressive 1.63-second average. Makita’s 40V max XGT joined it as the only two to finish the task in less than two seconds. 

FInally, there’s the PTR Test Track, where we send each drill through a series of tests starting with 20 drywall screws to test control, 10 holes each with a ½” twist bit, ¾” spade bit, and ¾” auger bit to see how it handles lighter loads, and wrapping up with 1” and 2-1/8” hole saws. The clock doesn’t stop between tests, so accessory changes and human error come into play. 

Coming in first place, Flex edged out Makita’s XGT by just two seconds with a 1:56 finishing time. DeWalt was just over the 2-minute mark to finish in third.

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After all of that, here are our final rankings for the best cordless drills this year and their overall ratings. 

Number 10: Bosch GSB18V-755C – 9.0

Number 9: Hilti SF 10W-A22 – 9.3

Number 8: Ridgid R86115 – 9.3

Number 7: Kobalt KXHD-124B-03 – 9.4

Number 6: Metabo SB 18 LTX-3 BL Q I – 9.4

Number 5: Milwaukee 2804-20 – 9.5

Number 4: Metabo HPT DV36DA – 9.6

Number 3: DeWalt DCD998 – 9.7

Number 2: Makita GPH01 – 9.7

Number 1: Flex FX1271T-2B – 9.8

While it is on the heavier side and its list of compatible tools isn’t as broad as DeWalt, Makita, and Milwaukee just yet, its performance and design set it apart in a tough competition among cordless drills. 
We know that everyone’s priorities are a little different and the best cordless drill for you might not even be one that we tested in this impressive group. Let us know what your top pick is in the comments below and as always, thanks for watching!

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