The best SDS drill

Allen Foster

If you are working extensively in stone, brick, or tougher materials, you don't want a tool that is simply capable of doing the work, you want a tool that was specifically designed to tackle the job. An SDS drill will save you time and frustration. Beyond that, it is actually safer to use than traditional hammer drills.

When shopping for an SDS drill, you should pay close attention to features such as ergonomic grips, weight, and vibration suppression. Our favorite is the DeWALT SDS Max Rotary Hammer Drill, a top-shelf tool that doesn't disappoint. If you'd like to learn more about the features to look for in other quality models, keep reading our buying guide.

Considerations when choosing SDS drills

SDS Plus vs. SDS Max

There is a confusing history regarding the evolution of bits for SDS drills. To keep things as simple as possible, we'll focus on the two most common types: SDS Plus and SDS Max.

SDS plus

These bits are the smaller of the two and are designed for lighter-duty work, so they are typically used for smaller holes. Additionally, tools that use SDS Plus bits are tough but allow the user to work with a little more finesse so as not to damage the surrounding area.


These bits are the larger of the two and are designed for heavy duty work, so they are typically used for larger holes. Additionally, tools that use SDS Max bits pack enough punch to chip and dig as well, making them ideal for demolition work.


Vibration suppression

The vibrations resulting from an SDS drill are not only fatiguing, but they can be damaging as well. The best models include some type of vibration control to help protect the user.

Kickback protection

In the event that the drill bit catches on something unexpectedly while working, you need an SDS drill with some sort of clutch that disengages so the tool is not ripped violently from your hands.

Ergonomic design

Anything that can add to the comfort of using an SDS drill should be sought. This can range from a padded handle to a lighter-weight tool.

Included accessories

Some SDS drills only include the body and nothing else -- not even a battery. Check what is included with the tool you are considering so you are not surprised if you need to purchase additional items.


If you won't be using an SDS drill on a regular basis and the jobs you need it for aren't heavy duty, you could get by with a model for around $75 to $100. A better, more durable investment would be an SDS drill in the $150 to $300 range, but if you're doing this for a living, you'll likely want a model that costs $400 or more.


Q. What does SDS stand for?

A. SDS stands for "slotted drive system." It is a type of drive system that ensures the bit and the drive move as one to deliver the most power.

Q. How does an SDS drill differ from a hammer drill?

A. A hammer drill uses a specially designed gear system to hammer the bit back and forth as it is rotating, while an SDS drill uses a piston mechanism, making it much more powerful.

Q. Do hammer drills and SDS drills use the same bits?

A. No. If you have an SDS drill, you will need bits that are designed for that drill. You could purchase an adapter, but a regular drill bit will only be able to drill. At that point, there's not much sense in using an SDS drill for the job.

SDS drills we recommend

Best of the best: DeWALT's SDS Max Rotary Hammer Drill

Our take: A high-performance SDS drill with a number of features that make it a choice model.

What we like: Features active vibration control and a kickback brake to help reduce fatigue and increase comfort and safety. Brushless motor system provides extended run time. Retractable utility hook allows for convenient hanging.

What we dislike: There is not really anything to dislike about this impressive tool.

Best bang for your buck: Hiltex's SDS Rotary Hammer Drill

Our take: An affordable SDS drill that comes with a versatile set of drill bits and chisels.

What we like: Functions in three modes: drill only, hammer only, and drill and hammer. Side handle features a 360-degree swivel, for maximum flexibility. Includes a case.

What we dislike: Durability may be a bit underwhelming.

Choice 3: Makita's LXT Cordless Rotary Hammer

Our take: A reasonably priced SDS cordless drill that does not include the battery or charger.

What we like: Like other models, this SDS drill has drill-only, hammer-only, and drill-and-hammer modes. One-touch sliding chuck allows users to quickly change bits. Two-finger variable speed control is an appreciated feature.

What we dislike: The ergonomics of this long drill may provide a little less comfort than users may be hoping for.

Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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