Home Blog Hammer Drill vs Rotary Hammer | Head To Head Comparison

Hammer Drill vs Rotary Hammer | Head To Head Comparison

by Chooser Guide
Hammer Drill vs Rotary Hammer

Do you have a deck ledger to hang against a concrete foundation? Or is it a wall shelf? Either way, It’s going to involve drilling a lot of holes. Your everyday drill won’t cut it.

Bring in the big boy, the hammer drill. Wait, hammer drill, or rotary hammer? Which one is better? What are the differences anyway? I’m glad you asked. Let’s go through the comparison between the hammer drill vs rotary hammer drill.

Both Hammer drill and Rotary hammer work similarly. The same fundamental comes in play in both cases.

Both the machines apply a pounding force on the rock-solid concrete while drilling through at the same time. The extra pounding force helps to pulverize the concrete that helps with the drilling.

But What makes the machine apart? What are the similarities? What are the differences? And which machine to use for what job?

That’s what I will explain in this article.

What’s a Hammer drill?

A hammer drill is an upgraded version of a regular drill. But instead of only rotating the bit, it also creates an impact on the object you are drilling in. This impact creates smaller particles or small cracks in the object.

This results in much faster and efficient drilling. This is achieved by sliding two metal disks on each other, both having a ridged edge.

One is stationary and permanently attached to the drill, another rotates with the bit and also pushed against the stationary ridge with a spring.

For the ridges, when they slide on top of each other, they also move back and forth, moving the drilling bit with it. This creates the hammering action.

What’s a Rotary hammer?

A rotary hammer is a different and more advanced form of a hammer drill with much more functionality and purpose.

Although they work on different mechanisms, Their main purpose/output is the same. It is drilling with a bit of hammering. This device is more powerful, has more modes, and can-do heavier tasks.

A Rotary hammer uses piston action to create the pounding force. Basically, an electric motor spins a crankshaft, which moves a piston back and forth inside a cylinder.

This creates strong air pressure. The air then pushes against another piston on the opposite end of the cylinder. This piston actually moves the drilling bit back and forth.

Similarities Between A Hammer Drill And A Rotary Hammer

Both hammer drill and rotary hammer works in the same principle and also used for nearly the same purpose, which is drilling holes in tough objects (such as concrete, etc.).

Besides the usual rotation motion, both the machines apply additional pounding force. Both the machines are available in the corded and cordless form.

Differences Between Hammer Drill And Rotary Hammer

There are quite a few differences between the two devices. The difference in power level is a good point to start. You see, how your hammer drill is more powerful than your everyday drill?

A rotary hammer is again more powerful than a hammer drill in the same way. And for a good reason, a rotary hammer is considerably pricier than a hammer drill.

  • Power-Output

A hammer drill is usually smaller between the two, both in size and power. The hammering power of a hammer drill is relatively weaker. But it does pound very fast. I do mean very fast, being in the range of 30,000 beats per minute. However, each blow is not significantly strong.

A rotary hammer, on the other hand, delivers much more powerful blows, but a smaller number of blows per minute. The number varies a lot between models but nowhere close to a hammer drill.

In other words, a hammer drill makes very fast but smoother blows, whereas a rotary hammer delivers lesser but significantly more powerful blows.

  • Functionality

The hammering action of a hammer drill can be turned off on some models. If so, then the hammer drill can be used as a good old regular drill. By switching the bit, it can also function as a screwdriver. But that’s pretty much it for the most part.

A Rotary hammer, being more advanced, have more flexibility. The majority of the rotary hammers have 3 modes that can be switched to with a knob or switch. Only drill mode functions as a regular drill.

Hammering and drilling mode does, what it sounds like. Last but not least is the hammer only mode. With different bits, you can make it do a whole bunch of stuff like breaking up hard soil, busting up concrete, tile removing, etc.


Regardless of their differences, both the machines work similarly, and they can be interchanged for a lot of tasks. However, when buying one, you should understand the load it’ll need to bear.

Big tasks will be too much for a hammer drill, whereas, a rotary hammer will be overkill for small household works. I hope I could make the concept clear about the two devices.

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