2015 Cordless Hammer Drill Challenge – Bosch, Dewalt, Makita, Metabo, Milwaukee

Hammer Drill Comparison 2015

The hammer drill is the most popular cordless power tool, so no surprise these are the tools we see manufacturers reinvent every couple of years. With constant technology improvements things are changing faster and faster which is also why this is our 3rd comparison test (Comparison Test 1 5/12, Test 2 9/14) we’ve done for cordless hammer drills. Previously we compared these tools drilling holes into concrete, using “hammer mode”. Of course many of these tools will spend only a small fraction of their lives actually working in concrete and some may never touch any aggregate. The hammer drills are also included in most heavy duty combo kits so chances are good that’s what you’ll get even if you just wanted a drill/driver.

For this test we did 3 different comparisons in wood and metal to measure power, speed and runtime. We’ve got the latest tools all running 5.0Ah (5.5Ah Metabo) and their latest hammer drills; Bosch HDH181X-01L, Dewalt DCD995M2, Makita XPH07T, Metabo SB18LXTBL, and Milwaukee 2704-22 (new generation 2 brushless).

*** Added 11/27/2015 Results from Hilti 18V SFH 18-A Hammer Drill 18V Cordless


Testing cordless hammer drills

For tool weight they felt pretty close but the Dewalt was the clear winner here and Makita came in as the heaviest. We did measure with the handles and the Makita long handle alone may have been the difference.

TOOL WEIGHTS: Bosch 5.50 lbs, Dewalt 5.05 lbs, Makita 6.05 lbs, Metabo 5.70 lbs, Milwaukee 5.75 lbs 

Manufacturer Torque Reported: Bosch HDH181X – 752 in-lbs, Dewalt DCD995 – 650 UWO (best guess 800 in-lbs), Makita XPH07 – 1,090 in-lbs, Metabo SB18LXT – 797 in-lbs, Milwaukee 2704 – 1200 in-lbs.

To get a good look at “real world” performance in various drilling applications we mixed it up with some metal and wood testing. For a tougher test we used 31/64” Champion XL5 bits to drill five holes in ¼” steel, certainly a demanding application. We measured the total time for drilling 5 consecutive holes.

POWER/SPEED: Bosch 6:44, Dewalt 6:21, Makita 5:57, Metabo 5:45, Milwaukee 5:01  

The results for this test were mostly as we thought they might be. The Bosch and Dewalt not having seen significant power increases in many years thought they might be the slowest. Makita only a year ago launched the XPH07 with 1,090 in lbs torque so not surprisingly is jumped ahead. The surprise was the Metabo which is only rated at 797 in lbs performed so well, the tool rating was before the new LiHD batteries were launched (we used new 5.5Ah LiHD) which supposedly increase tool performance as well as runtime. We are very leery of a battery increasing output but from this test it seems plausible. The Milwaukee performing the best in this test was not a surprise, just launching the FUEL generation 2 with 1200 in lbs torque puts this hammer drill as the newest and highest rated (torque) in the comparison.

After completing the metal drilling we moved onto wood drilling, which we have no doubt all 5 of these drills can handle with ease. This was more to simply drain the batteries out and see what the results might be, all using their respective 5.0Ah batteries and the Metabo using a 5.5Ah. Two ways to look at that, you may want to either discount their numbers by 10% to better compare true performance per Ah or you may say I just care how much runtime I get every time I swap a battery out.

We did two different test in the wood one with a ¾” self-feed bit and another with a 1-3/4” HoleDozer Hole Saw. First we would drill 10 holes with the self feed bit, then go back over top with the hole saw. We did that for 2 reasons, first to save wood, second to get a “feel” with 2 different bits however all the drills zipped right through this challenge and difference in “Feel” was marginal. The results in battery life however were very interesting.

BATTERY LIFE: Bosch 39 (20 small/19 big), Dewalt 39 (20 small/19 big), Makita 57 (30 small/27 big), Metabo 80 (40 small/40 big), Milwaukee 72 (40 small/32 big)  

So do you say Metabo wins with 80 or discount it 10% (5.5 vs 5.0 Ah) and say runtime is a tie with Milwaukee & Metabo, we’ll leave that up to you. Results for the rest were not that surprising looking at power output, Bosch and Dewalt at 39, Makita a good number ahead at with the newer more powerful brushless motor.

Bosch 18V Hammer Drill with Active Response HDH181X-01L ($319, 4.0Ah)

The Bosch drill is using an older 4 Pole Brushed motor design very similar to what they launched back in June 2011 (see that post), at the time very arguably the best hammer drill on market. Without launching a newer high torque brushless hammer drill, we fear Bosch may remain on the bottom on these tests. The one big advancement Bosch has made, we think everyone should add to their high torque hammer drills, is “Active Response” this feature stops the drill when it binds-up preventing hand and wrist injuries. With the never-ending race for greater torque this feature will become more and more necessary.

Dewalt 20V Brushless Hammer Drill DCD995M2 ($299, 4.0Ah)

The 3-Speed Dewalt 20V Brushless Hammer Drill is rated at 650 UWO (they don’t provide in lbs torque) which roughly converts to around 800 in lbs at best guess. One of our Coptool team members actually assembled this drill in Dewalt’s Charlotte, NC manufacturing plant earlier this year (see our post) for the Dewalt Media Event. Huge to see more manufacturing coming back to the USA (especially on cordless) without driving the prices up, hopefully this is a trend that will continue throughout the industry.

Makita 18V Brushless Hammer Drill XPH07T ($349, 5.0Ah) XPH07M ($299, 4.0Ah)

Launched just over a year ago the new Makita 18V brushless hammer drill has been a big hit for those looking for serious torque. At the World of Concrete they had a bunch of these drills out all day doing demos like mixing morter and other really grueling applications. Not surprisingly this has been the drill of choice for many we’ve talk to in the concrete industry, helps Makita is the only battery platform with 18V concrete vibrators, 18V rebar cutters and other trade specific tools.

Metabo 18V Brushless Hammer Drill SB18LXTBL ($399, 5.5Ah LiHD)

Metabo has always made high quality tools, their grinders are some of the most popular around and while they fetch a little higher price most pros consider them well worth the investment. While this Brushless drill has been out for over a year as well and the 797 in lbs is very respectable the real story here is their new Lithium HD batteries. Jumping from lithium 5.2Ah (already leading the pack), to new 5.5Ah LiHD and 6.2 Ah LiHD the Metabo battery platform has stepped out as the industries best performing, gas tank. This is the first time we’ve put any merit in a battery can actually improve a tools output but it’s hard to argue with the results from this test.

Milwaukee M18 FUEL Hammer Drill 2nd Generation 2704-22 ($299, 5.0Ah)    

Leading the way with their first M18 FUEL hammer drill (2604-22) Milwaukee really set the pace for what brushless drills could do. With the second generation Milwaukee is again raising the bar to provide even more torque than Makita with 1200 in lbs but also work to reduce size and weight. The new kits also get the 5.0Ah batteries with the price tag on the kit remaining the same for a great all around value. In 2016 we will see a ONE-KEY M18 FUEL Hammer Drill (rumored $350-400) which will be Bluetooth connected for integration with inventory system, user control over tool settings and will include a safety feature very similar to the Bosch Active Response which will stop the tool in bind-up preventing injuries. Milwaukee is also launching not only a 6.0Ah, but also a 9.0Ah batteries in January.

Overall Performance        

Not very surprisingly to us the Milwaukee Hammer Drill 2704-22 performed the best overall. Naturally there is a bit of a leap frog effect with the technology improving so rapidly in brushless motors and Lithium battery technology. Milwaukee FUEL generation 2 is the newest tool in the bunch so naturally the expectation is to not just catch-up but go to the head of the pack. If we do this test again next year (which is likely as long as there is more to talk about than just 6.0Ah) will we see new competitors from Bosch, Dewalt or Metabo? If so will there be more power than 1,200 in lbs? Smaller footprint? Or will they bring new different innovations in safety, connectivity or otherwise?

**** Coptool testing disclaimer ****
We are not a testing laboratory, we are not considering long term performance and while we try very hard to remove user error there are many variable (accessories, people, materials, etc) that affect each tests outcome. We deliberately do several test on the same battery to average high and low load performance for what we consider better real world conditions. Our findings are just our personal thoughts and opinions and do not represent any recommendations on products from Ohio Power Tool or any manufacturers.  

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