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Many people have electric drills in their home tool kit, but if you’ve ever tried using one for boring into masonry, you know they often come up short. That’s when you reach for a hammer drill. As the name implies, these tools apply a percussive force to the drill—it’s kind of like smacking the back of it while it’s turning. This added force helps it drive through brick and mortar. In many ways, it’s like combining a drill with a jackhammer.

You can turn the hammer function off on many hammer drills, turning them into electric drivers. However, they’re often heavier and bulkier than their cousins, so many people prefer to own both tools. While both use standard types of bits to drill, hammer drills require a special carbide-tipped bit designed for masonry work.

While hammer drills often cost more than electric drill/drivers, if you find yourself drilling a lot of holes into brick walls, or working with concrete or other stone surfaces, it’s an invaluable investment for your tool kit.

Powerful without the power-cord. Amazon

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DeWalt’s hammer drill delivers 2.1 joules of impact energy. It features a brushless motor for long-life, and a factory-set clutch that reduces sudden, high-torque reactions if the bit jams. A retractable utility hook makes hanging the tool convenient—keep that work shop neat! It’s ergonomically designed, weights 6.4 pounds, and has vibration control technology to make working more comfortable.

For the homeowner that likes to take on big projects. Amazon

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This hammer drill features 1 to 1,200 RPM and 0 to 4,000 BPM. It has a one-touch sliding chuck for quick bit changes, and three-mode operation that switches between rotation only, hammer and rotation, or hammer only. A large, two-finger, variable-speed trigger helps increase control, and a torque-limiting clutch reduces gear damage by automatically disengaging gears if the bit binds up. The Makita also has synchronized RPM and BPM for efficient drilling.

For the craftsperson on a budget. Amazon

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This less expensive hammer drill is compact and lightweight at only 4.2 pounds. A three-in-one function lets you switch between hammer only, hammer-plus-rotate, and rotate only, while LED lighting illuminates the work area when the trigger is pressed. A two-inch keyless ratcheting chuck with auto spindle lock makes changing bits quick and easy.

Professional-strength equipment for big projects. Amazon

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The Bulldog Xtreme lives up to its name by producing 0-1,300 RPM and 0-5,800 BPM, and delivering 2 foot/pounds of impact energy—more than enough power for most applications. It features the usual three modes— hammer only, hammer-and-rotation, and rotation only—and a variable-speed trigger for additional control. The D-handle is a nice ergonomic touch, making it easier to use the hammer when drilling overhead or downwards.

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