Demolition Hammer vs. Rotary Hammer vs. Combination Hammer. Comparison & Uses

When it comes to drilling masonry, chipping tiles, and breaking up concrete, one of the best power tools that you can us is the rotary hammer drill. The trouble you have several variations of rotary hammers and it is hard to find the difference from the manufactures description of the tool.

Don’t worry! I was in the same boat once. Let me explain to you the key difference between each of these tools.

Generally, you’ll see three options available from tool suppliers in this category: rotary hammer, demolition hammer, and combination hammer.

Demolition hammer vs rotary hammer vs combination hammer
Rotary Hammer: The rotary hammer drill uses rotation with a hammering action that works to bust up the concrete while you operate the tool. It’s designed to provide everything needed for everyday use. This choice is the best option for DIYers, handymen, and some general contractors.

Demolition Hammer: A demolition hammer is a heavy-duty tool with hammer only mode. You’d use it to chip or break concrete that you’d want to remove.

combination Hammer: With a combi hammer, you have a tool that provides both drilling and hammering functions.

Now, let’s have a detailed look at each of these tools, shall we?

Differences: Comparison Chart

What is the difference between a rotary hammer and a demolition hammer? How does a rotary hammer compare to a combination hammer? The following comparison chart should give you a clear picture.

Rotary Hammer Combination Hammer Demolition Hammer
Modes: Drilling, Hammer-Drilling, Chiseling Modes: Chiseling, Hammer-Drilling Mode: Chiseling (Hammer Only)
SDS, SDS-Plus SDS-max, Spline SDS-max
Slightly bigger than regular drills Bigger than rotary hammer Large Heavy-duty tool
Pistol grip, D-Handle D-handle, L-Shaped D-handle, L-Shaped
Best for every day applications, DIY work. Construction and Remodeling. Professional demolition work.

Milwaukee 2712-20 Rotary Hammer
Cordless Rotary Hammer, SDS Plus
Click here for Price

Bosch RH540M Combination Hammer
Bosch 1-9/16-Inch SDS-Max Combination Rotary Hammer RH540M, Blue
Click here for Price

Dewalt D25899K
DEWALT SDS Max Demolition Hammer, 21-Pound (D25899K)
Click here for Price

Rotary Hammer

A power tool that has rotary motion and hammering action that enables it to drill through masonry and break concrete. Rotary hammers has normally equipped with SDS-plus tool holding system.

Rotary hammer has three modes

  1. Hammer Drill: In this mode the drill bit rotates with hammer blows.
  2. Chisel Mode: This is a chiseling only mode where there is no rotational movement.
  3. Drilling: With this mode you can use your rotary hammer as a regular power drill.

Advantages of Rotary Hammer

The key benefit of a rotary hammer drill is its versatility. You can not only use it for drilling and breaking masonry, but can also use it as a regular drill to drill holes in soft materials like wood and plastic.


You can use this power tool to drill wood, metal, concrete, and do chiseling work such as removing tiles, breaking down thin walls etc.
If you are a DIY guy, homeowner, or handyman, a roto hammer is the tool that you need.

Combination Hammer

This is a larger hammer drill with dual-mode. You could consider it as the big brother of the rotary hammer.

A combination hammer usually has just two modes.

  • Hammer Drilling mode
  • Chiseling only mode

Most of the combination rotary hammers in the market have an SDS-max tool holder that works well for larger sizes tools.


When you have the appropriate bits attached to this tool, you can set deep bolts, screws, or anchors to manage your construction requirements. You’d use a combi hammer to install a framework on a foundation, build a deck with concrete footers, and similar tasks.

Can you control the Torque?

Manufactures such as Dewalt offers spline and SDS-max hammer drills with torque control. They achieve this through a two-stage clutch system which is a patented technology. Dewalt calls this CTC or complete torque control.

Where is this useful? Imagine you are drilling concrete and your drill bit is stuck on rebar. You can switch the settings to adjust the torque that will give you better control and allows you to complete the work with ease.

Demolition Hammer

This power tool looks similar to a rotary hammer but much bigger. The key difference between a demolition hammer and a rotary hammer is that the demo hammer is delivers hammering action only.

They are designed for chipping masonry and breaking up concrete. There is no drilling mode on a demolition hammer.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Demolition Hammer?

Demolition hammers come with several exceptional benefits.

The primary advantage with a demo hammer drill is the higher power levels you’ll receive. When all things are equal, you won’t find a more potent handheld power tool for your concrete or masonry removal needs. Of course, there are heavy-duty breaker hammers that are used for breaking pavements, roads, and buildings. But these are much bigger and more heavy tools.

You can reduce the time it takes to complete projects when a demolition hammer is available. If the tool comes with a variable speed dial, you can produce the exact results needed for your project. Some models come equipped with a slow-start function that makes it much easier to chip stuff out with the chisel.

Demolition hammers are also much longer than the standard rotary hammer design, achieving up to twice the length. This design element places you a little further away from the drilling point, allowing more pressure to apply at the contact point for a positive result.

When you stand further back from concrete or brick when drilling it, fewer chips fly out to impact your body. You’ll still need to use personal protective gear, but it will be a much more comfortable experience.

Chipping Hammer

This is another power tool that can cause confusion especially because different manufacturers have different names for this tool.

These are tools designed with a focus on chipping operations. Originally these tools were similar to roto hammers but with only chiseling function and hence the name chipping hammer. This is nothing but a demolition hammer. However, manufacturers have also started adding the drilling function to this tool, which is now known as combination hammers.

A chipping hammer can be either a demolition hammer or a combination hammer depending on the manufacturer.

For example, the Dewalt D25810K is sold as a chipping hammer but has both drilling and chipping functions. Whereas Metabo (previously Hitachi) produces chipping hammers with only chipping function.

Generally speaking when someone mentions chipping hammer, they are most probably referring to a demolition hammer.

What Does It Mean If I Have an SDS Drill?

An SDS drill refers to the bit retention system equipped to the tool. It refers to how the drill holds the bit securely. SDS stands for the “slotted drive system.”

You’ll see the bits made for this tool’s design have slots at the end of the shank. It fits into the check of the drill to reduce friction, provide more security, and create an effective percussion experience.

An SDS drill still goes through concrete, masonry, steel, and more when you need to bore holes in materials at home or work. The SDS tool holding system offers easy tool loading and removal and delivers better contact and driving force on to the tool bit.

You may find that the bits needed to accomplish each task are slightly different than a standard rotary or demolition hammer. Most roto hammers are SDS-plus with few using SDS-max whereas the majority of the demo hammers I have seen are using SDS-max or spline. Before purchasing any tool bits, refer to the owner’s manual to see what products are required. You can learn more about the SDS drills here and see the difference between SDS-plus and SDS-max here.

Demolition Hammer or Rotary Hammer – Which is Best?

The real question is, should a rotary hammer drill or demolition hammer be in your toolbox?

When considering the different hammering drills available in this category, it is crucial to review each product’s features. Overall durability is an essential aspect of this investment because of the challenging work the tool must accomplish.

Most people will not need a demolition hammer. You could invest in one with a variable speed setting to simulate standard rotary action while providing the extended benefits of more power. Still, that advantage comes with an added cost.

If you don’t plan to drill through concrete or brick soon, a standard power drill or impact driver is a better investment. If you are a DIY enthusiast who do occasional drilling on brick or masonry, go for a hammer drill.