Hammer Drill Vs Rotary Hammer – Differences Explained

The hammer drill and the rotary drill are both effective tools that every homeowner must have at their disposal. Of course, most of the time you’re only going to need just one, which raises the question: what are their differences?

Through this article, we’ll explore the main differences between these two tools. Our mission is to shed light about what these tools can and cannot do, hoping you have a better understanding of which one is the most suitable for your projects.

Continue reading to find out more!

What Are The Main Differences Between These Tools?

As masonry workers, we notice quickly that certain tools don’t deliver what their marketing campaign promises.

Regardless of what manufacturers say, there are limitations to what their machines can do, and it is disappointing to learn that one of the tools at the workshop is not enough to complete our projects.

That is the case when it comes to the hammer drill and the rotary hammer drill. When looking for the best drilling tools, we come across these two drill machines, and we’re lead to believe they are both capable of drilling through anything. However, that is not true in the slightest.

The following are the most noticeable differences between these tools. These differences make them unique, and also suitable for different purposes.


The Hammer Drill

hammer drill

It is a power tool that most woodworkers have at their disposal. To sum it up, this tool is a drilling machine that includes the hammer function. Through its internal system, the hammer smacks the drill repeatedly, allowing it to drill further in different types of materials.

This tool is also known as mini jackhammer because of the rapid bursts it produces. However, although most manufacturers have tried their best, plenty of hammer drills can’t entirely contain their outbursts of energy, and they often generate loud noises as well as vibrations.

Nonetheless, that’s a small price to pay for completing masonry projects successfully.

Let’s take a closer look at the different features that make a good hammer drill.


  • Power Capacity

Hammer drills can deliver higher BPM (blows per minute) in comparison to the rotary hammer drill. It provides an outstanding amount of BMP using metal anvils of smaller size at the back of the chuck. This construction is highly efficient at dealing concussive blows at the materials.

There are different types of hammer drills that can receive power from both electricity and 18 to 20 volts lithium-ion batteries.

The hammers that use a battery as their power source have higher portability, as you’d expect. It allows woodworkers to use the tools under different circumstances when electricity is not reachable.

For motor power, the most optimum hammer drill must be in a range of 5 to 8 amps. This amount of power will get the hammer through most light carpentry materials in a breeze. More than that is just overkill.


  • Construction & Comfort

The hammer drill is a little bit larger than a normal drill, which is due to the included anvils in its setting. Also, there’s another element to determine the size of the hammer, and that is the included chuck.

For a more comfortable experience, it includes an adjustable ergonomic handle that you can remove if it’s necessary.

This ergonomic handle tries to improve the quality of the hammer’s performance by reducing vibrations. In most cases, it doesn’t take care of that issue entirely, but it does succeed at making it more bearable.


  • Functionality

The hammer drill’s functionality is somewhat limited when compared to other power tools like the rotary hammer. For example, the rotary hammer can do what the hammer drill does and still provide more.

Overall, the hammer drill’s incredible functionality is highly noticeable during light masonry projects that don’t require high power. It takes the best out of every feature to perform efficiently, and it manages to get the job done.

  • Applications

Hammer drills are the perfect tool for DIYers to fulfill projects around the house. As stated above, as long as they include 5 to 8 AMPs motors, you can rest assured it will be more than enough to work with many materials because of its drilling capacity.

It is capable of drilling holes up to 1/2-inch in different materials like blocks, mortar, bricks, and plenty of other light materials.

Additionally, the hammer drill works through concrete, but it does take longer than required by other tools.

The Rotary Hammer

Rotary Hammer

What we like the most about the rotary hammer drills is the amount of versatility it can provide. Having tools like a powered drill or a cordless power screwdriver is an advantage for light tasks, but what about when you need a power tool for heavy-duty purposes?

In that scenario, the rotary hammer drill becomes the best solution.

It also has another incredible benefit, which is the drilling bit. Changing this part allows the rotary hammer to perform different types of work very easy and very fast.

Let’s dig into this tool to learn what it can offer.

  • Power Capacity

The motor’s power should be your first consideration before buying. For rotary hammer drills, the drilling speed measures in RPM. Many brands offer rotary hammers capable of producing up to 1,200 RPM, which is the most effective amount of RPM for plenty of tasks.

However, you should keep in mind the BPM, too. After going through many options and different brands, the recommended BPM in a rotary hammer is 4,000.

This amount of BPM powers up an internal piston capable of driving the chuck forward, which creates strong energy-filled blows for soft and hard materials.

The BPM in these tools is not as high as the amount the hammer drill produces, but it provides enough energy to offer solid performance.

  • Construction & Comfort

The rotary hammer drill’s body is larger in comparison to the hammer drill’s body. It must be that way to keep the internal piston secured and working at its best capacity. It also includes a large rear handle, as well as the adjustable handle for better stability.

This handle does wonders for this power tool as well, especially considering that you can use the rotary hammer for heavy-duty purposes.

Overall, the design of the rotary hammers allows them to perform at complicated tasks without losing functionality or durability, like drilling through concrete.

  • Functionality

Plenty of rotary hammer drills have different working speeds and chiseling adjustments for the chuck. This setting allows the chuck to be in a hammer-only mode, where it can operate without making rotations. It is ideal for carpentry work that doesn’t require a power tool.

The chisel adjustment also ensures there isn’t a large amount of chopping block getting in the way of your work.

Additionally, you want to learn about the drill bits and their capabilities, too. The bits are one of the rotary hammer drill’s most incredible benefits.


  • Applications

Using a rotary hammer drill might be a little too much if you want to perform tasks that demand low-powered tools. There’s no denying that it can achieve those purposes, but this tool shines the most when you use it for heavy-duty purposes.

Most of the times, people use it to dig up large holes or to work through hard materials. However, the drill bits truly make the rotary hammer have the upper hand over most drilling tools when it comes to having a versatile tool.

There’s one drill bit for everything: wood, plastic, steel, you name it, and chances are it exists already.


Which One To Pick?

One misconception most people have about these tools is that they work equally for the same tasks. It is not entirely wrong, but there are still noticeable differences in their design that make them better choices for different jobs.

  • When Should I Buy a Hammer Drill?

The hammer drill includes a clutch which allows it to spin the drill bit efficiently. It travels a small distance in and out under a rapid operation, though with a low force for the blows.

As mentioned above, the hammer drill works through different materials that include wood, and metal. However, if it is harder like concrete, it will take longer than other tools to cut through.

For that reason, the hammer drill is a suitable choice for light masonry work.

  • When Should I Buy a Rotary Hammer Drill?

In many ways, the rotary hammer drill is an improved version of the hammer drill. It provides higher durability because of the air pressure system, created by the crankshaft and the piston assembly.

The rotary hammer drill excels in providing more versatility, too. It covers most of what the hammer drill can do, and does even more. For instance, completing light tasks around the house with soft materials is a breeze. However, you can use it for more complicated projects as well.



Picking the right one for you depends entirely on what type of job you’re going to do. So, make sure you consider all of your options to figure out which hammer is the proper one for your projects.