Whether you are a plumber, builder, an ice fisherman, or you just do repairs around the house, a high-quality hammer drill will make your life easier. Milwaukee hammer drills in this case are reliable and will perform under the toughest of conditions.
Milwaukee has a stellar reputation in the power tools industry and has many hammer drill models across various power and price points. With each one capable in its own right, even if you are a big fan of Milwaukee rotary hammer drills it would not make sense to own them all.
To help you decide which hammer drill is the best fit for your needs, we prepared a buying guide specific to the Milwaukee brand. We also narrowed your options to the top 5 Milwaukee hammer drill kits and reviewed each one on its features and attributes.
Let’s start with a basic explanation of what hammer drills do.
How Is A Hammer Drill Different From A Regular Drill?
Hammer drills are specially designed to drill into hard materials like masonry and concrete. For this reason, the drills must have a rugged build quality that withstands the toughest conditions. Milwaukee hammer drills excel in that department.
Also known as impact or percussion drills, you will typically find hammer drills on construction sites. Not too dissimilar to the drill drivers most carpenters, electricians, and handymen typically have in their toolboxes, it is the pulsing ‘hammer action’ that gives hammer drills their name. It is what gives them their superior drilling capability. Without it, drilling into hard materials will be a challenge.
You will need a hammer drill to attach an electrical box, shelf, or other fixture to a masonry wall. The drill is also indispensable on construction sites where you routinely bore into concrete. But is that all a hammer drill does?
Besides boring into hard materials, hammer drills also have a rotary function that adapts them well for driving and other less demanding drilling work. To drive screws and drill into softer materials like pine wood and drywall, you have to set the drill in rotary-only mode. To drill into concrete and other hard materials, you switch to rotary-plus-hammer mode.
Another feature of hammer drills that sets them apart from standard drill/drivers is their heavier, beefier size. Generally, the higher a hammer drill’s voltage the heavier it’s likely to be. Because of this same characteristic, these tools can tire you down pretty quickly and aren’t the best fit for tasks where you work in tight spaces.
Milwaukee Hammer Drills Buying Guide
From the company’s longevity alone, the Milwaukee tool brand has earned its bragging rights. Being around for 90+ years means the company has had enough time to refine its products and truly know who its customers are.
The company is staunchly committed to studying the evolving needs of end-users, spending a lot of time in the field observing people as they use the products. As shown by the brand’s many raving fans, the strategy has clearly worked.
But for a tech-driven brand such as Milwaukee, it can be hard to keep up with the constant stream of innovative new product features. This buying guide will fill in any knowledge gaps you may have about the brand’s hammer drills.
How To Choose The Right Hammer Drill For You
Milwaukee hammer drills are remarkably versatile but, as good as they are, no one drill can be the right fit for every user. Depending on specific use situations, some drills are better than others.
You may need more control than some models offer or require less or more power than you can get with specific models. You will even find hammer drills designed for specialized drilling tasks and which are not suitable for driving jobs.
To decide what size and functionality you need with your hammer drill, it’s helpful to have an understanding of the most important features. Let’s discuss those next, starting with the all-important motor:
The motor determines a hammer drill’s overall power, which is measured in volts. The amount of power a drill can deliver also determines what sort of jobs it is capable of performing. For example, while a 12V drill can comfortably carry out most fastening tasks, it is inadequate when drilling into hard materials like concrete and masonry.
The best guide for a drill’s power is its rpm rating. If you routinely carry out tough drilling work, choose a hammer drill in the 1,500+ rpm range. For the best performance, also opt for a brushless motor.
Brushless motors generate less heat and use less energy due to reduced friction. They vibrate less, which ensures better torque control, and offer greater safety because of their sparkless design. As a result, those motors last longer and are more powerful and efficient while using less electricity. The Milwaukee M18 Fuel ½ inch hammer drill, for example, delivers up to 2,000 RPMs and 1200 in-lbs peak torque.
The chuck is one part of your hammer drill you will interact with the most. It is where you fit your drill bit or other attachment depending on what type of work you are doing at the specific time. For safety and precise work, you want the chuck to be able to secure the bit in place for as long as you work.
The standard these days seems to be keyless chucks that you can tighten by hand. You can also find other specialized chucks, like hex chucks that are designed for hexagonal bits and which offer a tighter bite.
With that said, chuck sizes vary with different hammer drills. Before you buy, make sure the drill can take the maximum size of the bits you intend to use. The bit sizes are measured in inches and you will find that most manufacturers mark their hammer drills by chuck size.
Hammer drills deliver so much power that if there isn’t a way to adjust it would make them unsuitable for fastening tasks. Imagine trying to drive a small screw into softwood at 2,000 RPMs. That would mean a lot of split wood, stripped screws, and nails driven too deep. A clutch with adjustable settings would therefore mean you will be able to do a broader range of jobs with the same tool.
The most standard hammer drills have a clutch that adjusts between drilling and driving modes. But the more modern ones will feature a clutch with multiple speed settings. These, like the Milwaukee M18 Fuel ½ inch hammer drill with 14 clutch settings, give you excellent control over the tool’s torque.
Milwaukee markets both cordless and corded hammer drills. The cordless drills have the benefit that you can use them where you have no access to grid power. The models are also designed to be portable. But that all counts for very little if the battery does not last long enough between charges, is heavy, and takes an eternity to charge.
Between the two options that you have – Nickel-cadmium and lithium-ion batteries – opt for hammer drills that use lithium-ion batteries. Li-ion batteries are a modern and far superior battery technology. The batteries are smaller, lightweight, charge faster, hold a charge for much longer, and can be recharged repeatedly while staying just as effective.
Nickel-cadmium batteries, on the other hand, drain much faster, are cumbersome, and will discharge until they are flat even when the tool is in storage. Milwaukee hammer drills use the proprietary REDLITHIUM™ battery packs that are super compact and lightweight and have denser power than any other power tool batteries on the market.
After all is said and done, the best drill for you is rarely the most powerful. It is simply the one that helps you accomplish your task quickly, comfortably, and satisfyingly. And because that task can be anything from drilling into hard rock to simply fastening cabinet screws, the best hammer drill for you could be a standard 12V or granite-busting 20V beast.
Corded Hammer Drill Vs. Cordless: Which One Is Better?
The development of lithium-ion battery technology that has enabled lighter, more compact, and increasingly more powerful cordless drills is arguably the most important power tool innovation of the recent past.
Now people can do more with their cordless tools while using less energy. You are no longer limited to cordless screwdrivers and 12V drills. The Milwaukee M18 FUEL™ 1/2″ Hammer Drill/Driver, for one, delivers 1,200 in-lbs of torque and up to 2,000 RPMs, which is enough to drill into concrete. Sadly, that’s as far as many cordless drills go in terms of power.
Corded drills, for the simple reason of their unlimited power, can deliver way more power than cordless drills can muster. With the same benefit of a constant supply of electricity, you can use your corded drill for much longer. In comparison, some cordless drills can only give you a few hours of continuous service before you have to recharge the battery.
The one wrinkle with corded drills comes with the power cable itself. Because it can often get in the way, it can become a hindrance or an actual safety risk. If the cord is too short, it can also limit where and how effectively you can work. Oftentimes you have to invest in an extension power cable.
So while a cordless drill comes with the benefit that you can use it where you cannot plug into a wall outlet, a cordless drill is a better option where you are going to be using the hammer drill for hours on end. The good news is that Milwaukee offers both corded and cordless hammer drills. Their only difference is their mode of electrical input.
That being said, modern cordless drills now come with interchangeable battery packs. For example, battery packs on Milwaukee’s M18 range can be used on tools across the range. You even get chargers that can charge more than one battery at a time. Therefore, you may never have to wait for a battery to recharge if you had invested in a spare one or if you own another M18 power tool.
How To Use Hammer Drills Properly (And Safely)
Hammer drills are desired for their high torque and superior drilling capabilities. But that same attraction can become a safety risk if the drill is in the hands of a novice user. You can easily hurt yourself or mess up your project if you use a hammer drill improperly.
- It is a good habit to inspect your hammer drill before using it. Check for signs of damage on the tool. Make sure the chuck is secure and that it is not worn out. If the drill bit is already fitted, test to see that it is tightly secured. Replace the drill bit if it is blunt as there is only so much you can accomplish with it.
- Before using the tool, make sure the work area is dry, free of clutter, dust, and anything that can cause slip or trip risks. For comfortable operation, avoid overextending yourself and always maintain a relaxed and comfortable posture.
- If you are drilling into masonry or concrete, wear safety goggles to prevent eye injuries. Wearing a mask is also advised to avoid excessive dust inhalation. Always work in well-lit environments, making sure to keep your hands clear of the rotating bit.
- If you are an inexperienced user, the clutch should be your best friend. This feature allows you to adjust the drill speed, giving you greater control over the tool when performing delicate tasks. Consult the tool’s manual to learn how to engage the hammer action mode as well as to switch back to rotary mode.
- Take care to use the right drill bit for the job. There are different drill bits for drilling into wood, metal, and concrete. Using the wrong one is the easiest way to achieve less-than-ideal results. Should the hammer drill malfunction, desist from disassembling and trying to repair it yourself. Engage a qualified repair technician.
Now that you know what hammer drills are, what their capabilities are, and the right and safe ways to use them, let’s review the best Milwaukee hammer drill options available today.
Top 5 Milwaukee Hammer Drills: Review
Milwaukee has so many hammer drill options it is tough to review them in one article. Sorting through them to find one that fits your needs can also be a daunting task.
To save you from the effort of sorting through the large selection of Milwaukee rotary hammer drills, we have selected five of the most popular ones and will now review them below.
Not all of us spend our days drilling into masonry and have to have a 28V beast of a hammer drill. If you are a cabinet maker and your needs for a drill/driver are limited to basic screw fastening, this Milwaukee 2407-22 ⅜ drill driver is adequate. The 275 in-lb of torque, which is 25 percent more than the competition, is sufficient.
We like the drill/driver’s ergonomic grip that, together with the lightweight and compact form, means you can use the tool for extended periods without feeling any muscle fatigue. Great for light work and yet surprisingly powerful, the compact design also adapts the drill well for working in tight spaces.
Another thoughtful feature is the battery gauge. Because you can monitor the battery level as you work, you can plan your tasks with more confidence knowing there won’t be any surprises where the battery unexpectedly drains out. Just as useful is the onboard LED light. This kit comes with two M12™ REDLITHIUM™ batteries, a 30-minute charger, and a sturdy carrying case.
Milwaukee contends that this is the industry’s most powerful ½ inch cordless hammer drill, delivering up to 60 percent more power than the nearest competitor. The POWERSTATE™ Brushless Motor was specially built for this drill and it shows in the power it delivers. Almost all people who reviewed the hammer drill on Amazon sang praises of the tool’s torque.
The brushless motor has all the superior performance of an M18 Fuel tool. Considered together with the tool’s compact form that gives it access to some very tight spaces, this M18 Fuel hammer drill does indeed come across as an engineering triumph for Milwaukee.
However, there are areas of concern that came up in several reviews. First, the chuck does lack bite and is hard to center when using smaller-sized bits. Of course, its corrosion-resistant all-metal construction is a major plus.
That the clutch’s first five settings tend to slip does suggest that this is a tool that does its best work with the tougher driving and drilling tasks. That it is up to two times faster under heavy load, its long battery life, and better handling at higher clutch settings makes it an awesome heavy-duty hammer drill.
Together with the 2804-22 Fuel ½ inch hammer drill/driver, this combo kit comes with the specialist SURGE™ 1/4″ Hex Hydraulic Driver. Because you may only ever occasionally find a need for a driver with a hex chuck, this combo deal presents your best chance of snagging one at a good price.
This combo set will all but exhaust your drilling and fastening needs as that which you cannot do with the hex hydraulic driver will most certainly be accomplished by the hammer drill.
Both tools feature a highly efficient POWERSTATE™ Brushless Motor, the proprietary REDLINK PLUS™ Intelligence tool technology that protects from overloads and optimizes power usage, and the long-life Redlithium batteries, which together guarantee long run times, more power, and a longer-lasting motor.
An absolute dream to use because of how smooth and quiet it is, the hammer drill is the most powerful drill you will handle in the 18V class. At 6.9 inches, it is also the shortest. It features an all-metal ratcheting chuck that delivers tight bit grip strength and has excellent corrosion resistance, which is ideal for when you have to work in wet conditions.
The M18 Fuel hammer drill is quiet and smooth and feels solid. With the M18 batteries being interchangeable between the tools you should never really run out of battery. Not that you will need a lot of time to charge one as the charger takes a breezy 30 minutes to recharge the battery. The majority of reviewers on Amazon liked the excellent battery life.
Ever wondered if you could get a rotary hammer drill that drives large screws and drills into and chisels masonry? Well, as they have done for years, Milwaukee went to watch builders and renovators work and came up with a solution. That solution is the beastly MILWAUKEE’S 2715-22 M18 Fuel 1-1/8″ SDS Plus Rotary Hammer Kit.
With this Milwaukee SDS hammer drill, you can drill into masonry – and even into granite – without ever feeling like you were in a wrestling match. You hardly need to apply any pressure on it. Faster and more durable than its corded cousins, the drill spots a drop motor design that’s meant to give it a compact form and comfortable grip and handling.
To enhance handling the drill has an adjustable handle with a clamping lever ergonomically positioned at the top. The rotating handle allows for precise control of the tool wherever you are working.
With the variable speed switch, you can dial in and gently drive the bit into the wall, increasing the torque as the tool bores through. To go with the switch for selecting between the drilling, hammer drilling, and chiseling modes is a chisel lock on the side of the tool. Without a way of locking the chisel bit into your determined position you will constantly be twisting the tool about as the bit rotates with the chuck.
In the event that an M18 hammer drill lacks the torque for your intended task, there aren’t many cordless hammer drills more powerful than the M28 FUEL™ Cordless Lithium-Ion 1/2″ Hammer Drill. The thing is a monster that will handle everything thrown at it. It will punch through a block wall without making much of a fuss.
To put the power of the M28 hammer drill into a clearer perspective, consider that the drill is two times more powerful than the M18 Fuel ½ inch hammer drill, itself widely regarded for its high torque. Its 750 in-lbs of torque makes it ideal for boring large holes in masonry and concrete. The class-leading M28™ Lithium-Ion Battery also runs two times longer than M18 batteries.
The chuck features carbide jaws for a strong bite in demanding driving and drilling jobs. For such a powerful and heavy tool the grip needs to be comfortable for maximum control. That’s made possible by a soft-grip handle and a side handle that increases leverage and minimizes muscle fatigue on long tasks.
Milwaukee hammer drills are reputed as the most powerful and compact on the market. The Redlithium batteries they use are lighter and run longer than other brands. The Powerstate motors run cooler, are smoother, and quieter than DeWalt’s line of hammer drills. The drills are supported by a 5-year warranty, which is also better than DeWalt’s.
The Milwaukee Fuel is a line of cordless tools that are specially engineered for the most demanding tasks. The line of tools uses Milwaukee’s finest proprietary battery and motor technology to deliver exceptional power and performance. The tools run cooler, smoother, and quieter without compromising on torque and efficiency. For these reasons, these tools are reputed as the best in class and are well worth the money.
Milwaukee operates manufacturing facilities in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and the Mississippi cities of Jackson, Greenwood, and Olive Branch as well as in China and Europe. So some of the company’s products are indeed made in the USA.
No, Milwaukee batteries aren’t interchangeable with other brands. However, the batteries on the brand’s M12 system can be used on other tools on the same system, as can those on the M18 system. Milwaukee does not design its batteries’ mounting fixtures to be compatible with other companies’ tools.
There should not be any damage to the charger or battery, but it is a good practice to unplug the charger and remove the battery from the charger when you aren’t charging.
Clearly, which Milwaukee hammer drill is right for you depends on your needs. If your needs are basic fastening and drilling, the M12 ¾ drill/driver has the perfect balance between power and control. That drill will, however, struggle with the more demanding tasks, like drilling holes into concrete or hard rock. For that, the beastly M28 Fuel ½ hammer drill will be perfect.
If you had to buy one hammer drill for most driving and drilling tasks, the M18 Fuel hammer drill easily rises to the top. It is a supremely engineered tool that both contractors and DIYers will find reliable and easy to use. Generally, though, the Milwaukee hammer drills we have reviewed are excellent tools that will serve you well for years.