How to Choose a Cordless SDS+ Hammer Drill - Toolstop's Guide

Hitting hard, drilling big are important features of any SDS+ hammer drill. Many of us are tethered to a power cord when we use our SDS+ hammer of choice, but in this guide we’ll show you why you should buy a cordless SDS+ hammer drill.

We've got a fantastic range of cordless SDS+ hammers in stock for next day delivery, click here to see what's on offer.


sds+ hammer drill buying guide

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What Can You Do With an SDS+ Hammer Drill?

First off, we need to understand what SDS+ means. There are a few definitions of the term, the most common of which is “Slotted Drive System”. Some argue that it comes from the German phrase ‘steck, dreh, sitzt’ that translates as ‘insert, twist, fits’.

Either way, SDS+ refers to how the chuck interacts with the bit.

SDS bits are slotted and the design allows them to be inserted into the chuck and, with a twist, locked into place via the chuck’s sprung ball bearings. This pays dividends when the drill is used in hammer mode as the slots in the bit allows for the back-and-forth action required while reducing friction within the drill.

Energy is delivered to the bit in a much more efficient way, reducing the amount of pressure you - the operator - needs to put into the application. The hammer action, coupled with the SDS+ bit, means you get the job done without breaking your back.

Basically, an SDS+ hammer drill will allow you to drill into wood, metal and masonry. Now we need to consider the modes of our SDS+ hammer.

Think Modes, BPM, Joules and RPM

SDS+ hammer drills are available in a few different varieties, determined by the modes offered, all of which will be selected via the mode selector ring on the drill.

A 2-mode SDS+ hammer drillwill have rotary hammer and rotary only. You’ll be able to drill into wood or metal (using rotary only) whereas by selecting the rotary hammer mode you’ll be drill into masonry due to the hammer-action provided.

3-mode SDS+ hammer drillgive you the same as a 2-mode, but with the addition of chiseling function. This is the ideal drill for times when you need to do some light chiseling or chipping into concrete or masonry.

Oftentimes a 3-mode SDS+ hammer drill will include a neutral position on the mode selector which gives you the opportunity to position your chiseling bit at the desired angle, before moving the selector ring to chiseling mode.

The final type of SDS+ hammer drill available, determined by the modes offered, is the 3-mode with changeable chuck.

This type of SDS+ hammer drill gives you the benefits of a 3-mode but also allows you to swap out the SDS+ chuck for a regular chuck. Now you’ll be able to use your standard drill bits.

Be on the look out for the blows per minute (bpm) and revolutions per minutes (rpm). In each case the higher the number will typically be better in terms of how hard the drill will chisel or drill into masonry and the size of holes you’ll be able to drill.

And very importantly, look out for the Joules, or energy, behind each BPM. The higher the number the stronger the impact. Obviously a smaller machine, like the one pictured above, will give you all the benefits of a lightweight drill such as superior ergonomics and a less-fatiguing experience, but it may lack the energy to punch as hard as one of its larger relatives.

Bear all of this in mind; do you need portability or do you need heavy hitting? This should inform your smart buying choice.

sds+ cordless drill buying guide

That being said, the harder the drill works, the more charge the motor will need to pull from the battery. So if tougher applications are your norm, you're going to be in the market for a tool that comes supplied with higher capacity batteries, such as 4Ah or higher.

In summary then, determine the type of applications you’ll perform the most with your cordless SDS+ hammer drill, then make a buying decision based on the number of modes you’ll require.

Think Size and Weight

Just because an SDS+ hammer drill has been designed for pushing larger bits into harder materials doesn’t mean that the drill itself needs to be large and weighty.

The advent of brushless motors has seen more and more SDS+ hammer drills appear on the market that are downright diminutive while giving you the grunt you need.

Therefore, even though the addition of a battery adds a little weight to these drills, going for a brushless model will claim some of that weight gain back in your favour, meaning you can use the drill for long periods without arm or hand fatigue.

Our guide will cite the weight of the drills with the battery attached.

Think Safety

Clearly the type of applications you’ll be performing with your cordless SDS+ hammer drill will take a toll on the tool and you. So, keep your eye out on the safety features installed on the drill.

Some manufacturers engineer safety checks into the motor and battery of their tools, and these are great ways to make sure you’re not overloading the drill, putting yourself, those around you, and the tool itself, at risk.

Therefore, check the spec of your new cordless SDS+ hammer drill for any safety features built-in.


Metabo 685048000 Cordless Starter Kit with 3 x 5.2Ah li-ion Batteries, ASC30 Charger and InlaySometimes its possible to buy a cordless power tool like an SDS+ hammer without batteries.

This is called "naked" or "body only" (click for our guide to this type of tool). If you're already carrying around spare batteries that are compatible with the SDS+ hammer drill from your manufacturer of choice, it might save you cash opting for the naked version.

Alteratively, look out for the SDS+ hammers that are supplied with higher capacity batteries, such as 4Ah from Makita or DeWALT, 5Ah from Hitachi or even Metabo's 5.2Ah li-ion packs. Higher capacity means longer runtimes, it's that simple.

And if your cordless SDS+ hammer is sold with more than one battery, that could be a huge advantage to you also.

What Cordless SDS+ Hammer Drill Does Toolstop Recommend?

Metabo KHA18LTX SDS+ Hammer

Metabo KHA18LTX SDS+ Hammer - Body Only

Key Spec:

  • Drilling capacity in: Concrete 24mm
  • Drilling capacity in: Steel 13mm
  • Drilling capacity in: Wood 25mm
  • Rotation stop for chiselling
  • 2.2J Impact Energy
  • 4000 blows per minute
  • 1100rpm

Key Benefits:

  • Vario (V)-electronics for working with customised speeds for the materials used
  • Metabo S-automatic torque limiting clutch: mechanical decoupling of the drive if the drill jams for safe working

Milwaukee M18CHX-502X SDS Plus Hammer Drill

Milwaukee M18CHX-502X SDS Plus Hammer Drill with Charger and Case - 5Ah batteries

Key Spec:

  • 4 mode operation: rotary hammer, hammer only, rotation only and variolock for maximum versatility
  • 4900 blows per minute
  • 1400rpm
  • 2.5J of impact energy
  • Drilling capacity in concrete: 26mm
  • Drilling capacity in steel: 13mm
  • Drilling capacity in wood: 28m

Key Benefits:

  • REDLINK PLUS intelligence system delivers the most advanced digital overload protection for tool and battery and uniquely enhances the tool performance under load
  • All metal gear case - optimum seating of the gears for enhanced service life
  • Brushless motor

Makita DHR242Z 18V Cordless li-ion SDS Plus Brushless 3 Mode Rotary Hammer DrillMakita DHR242Z 18V Cordless li-ion SDS Plus Brushless 3 Mode Rotary Hammer Drill

Key Spec:

  • 3 mode operation: Rotation + Hammering, Hammering only & Rotation only
  • Drilling capacity in concrete: 24mm
  • Drilling capacity in wood: 27mm
  • Drilling capacity in steel: 13mm
  • 950rpm
  • 4,700 blows per minute
  • 2.0J impact energy

Key Benefits:

  • Body-only - costs less, just use your own Makita LXT batteries
  • The tool body is separated into the upper and lower housings at the foot of handle portion where the housings are jointed with vibration absorbing cushion rubbers
  • Brushless motor
Hitachi DH36DAL 36V SDS-Plus Hammer Drill
Hitachi DH36DAL 36V SDS-Plus Hammer Drill

Key Spec:

  • 3 mode operation: Rotation + Hammering, Hammering only & Rotation only
  • Drilling capacity in concrete: 26mm
  • Drilling capacity in wood: 30mm
  • Drilling capacity in steel: 13mm
  • 110rpm
  • 4,500 blows per minute
  • 2.8J impact energy

Key Benefits:

  • Replaceable carbon brushes for longer service life
  • Fan cooled charger
  • "Save Power" mode
  • Electric brake

Panasonic EY7880LP2C31 28.8V Li-ion SDS Rotary Hammer DrillPanasonic EY7880LP2C31 28.8V Li-ion SDS Rotary Hammer Drill (2 x 3.0Ah Batteries)

Key Spec:

  • 920rpm
  • 4500 blows per minute in hard mode
  • Slow and high speed drilling mode for different materials
  • Hard and soft hammering mode for best results in different materials

Key Benefits:

  • Vibration-damping soft rubber grip
  • Intelligent Power with High Levels of Dust and Water protection
  • One of the lightest and most compact tools in this performance class

Dewalt DCH273P2 18V XR li-ion SDS+ Rotary Hammer DrillDewalt DCH273P2 18V XR li-ion SDS+ Rotary Hammer Drill

Key Spec:

  • 3 modes
  • Drilling capacity in concrete: 24mm
  • Drilling capacity in wood: 26mm
  • Drilling capacity in steel: 13mm
  • 1500rpm
  • 4600 blows per minute
  • 2.1J impact energy

Key Benefits:

  • Rotation stop mode for light chiselling
  • Perform & Protect: best-in-class vibration at 6.6m/s, minimising user fatigue
  • Brushless motor with high capacity XR 5.0Ah 18V Lithium-ion battery platform for extreme runtime and reduced maintenance

Makita DHR263ZJ 36V Cordless SDS+ li-ion Rotary HammerMakita DHR263ZJ 36V Cordless SDS+ li-ion Rotary Hammer - Body-only

Key Spec:

  • 3-mode operation
  • Drilling capacity in concrete: 26mm
  • Drilling capacity in wood: 32mm
  • Drilling capacity in steel: 13mm
  • 1200rpm
  • 4800 blows per minute
  • 2.5J impact energy

Key Benefits:

  • 36v motor powered by two 18v LXT batteries (fit your own) up to 4Ah in capacity
  • Compact design
  • 40 different bit-angle settings
  • Low battery indicator light

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Which cordless SDS+ hammer drill do you currently use? Tell us in the comments what you think of it, and if you've got any questions about the tools in our guide, let us know!


brownStick on Mon, 13 Jun 2016 20:34:09 +0100 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

I think it's nice as well.

Ankit on Thu, 05 May 2016 17:08:35 +0100 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

There are plenty of blogs for DIY but power tools blog words are limited. I just appreciate Toolstop effort to share such useful information about tools. The best part of this blog is the comparison analysis of tools. I'm very thankful to you guys Just keep it up.
All the best !! on Wed, 10 Feb 2016 09:07:42 +0000 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

I just bought a Bosch 2100 RE , it has only 1.7 J . I suspect it is too low power, should have bought like 4 J hammer drill .

Ilona Kalistaya on Thu, 15 Oct 2015 08:20:50 +0100 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

Thanks a lot for such interesting and useful article! As for me, very important drill feature is its weight! It should not be too heavy, otherwise i feel a big tiredness in my hands even after a short period of work. I have found a nice drill I think, but I'm not sure if it will be suitable for me. What do you think about it?

SimonKM on Sun, 06 Apr 2014 21:02:26 +0100 (Likes: 3 / Dislikes: 0

hello Toolstop,
thanks for this article and the detailed comparison (almost too much information
for my small smartphonescreen).

One 'scientific' nitpick:
energy is measured in Joule, the higher the J value the stronger the impact!
High bpm alone, which might each be weak, don't help you!!
greetings, Simon.

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