This article originally appeared on the TOOLS OF THE TRADE website.

OSHA has updated the rules on acceptable exposure to silica dust, and accordingly, tool manufacturers have developed several methods to help employers comply with the new rules. This is a big deal in construction because when silica gets into the lungs, it doesn’t come out, and long-term exposure can cause major problems to the lungs and kidneys. Silica can be found in asphalt, brick, cement, concrete, drywall, grout, mortar, stone sand, and tile, all of which are common materials on the jobsite.
The most common task I have as a framer that can generate silica dust is drilling concrete, so one of the most-used tools for us are rotary hammers; believe it or not, they can produce a fair amount of silica dust. Almost all of the manufacturers now offer onboard dust-extraction attachments for their cordless versions of these tools. Because there are so many options out there now, I asked Tools to reach out and send me cordless brushless models that are rated up to a 1-inch cutting diameter and work with onboard dust extraction, so that we could do a head-to-head comparison. Rarely do I need to cut concrete, but when I do, I wear a mask and use our Hilti cut-off saw, which has an integrated water delivery system. When it comes to drilling, mostly I need to drill 1/4-inch holes for split-drive anchors to attach mudsill to concrete slab. I typically drill 1/2-inch or 5/8-inch holes for Titen HD bolts, and rarely, 3/4-inch holes to epoxy threaded rod.

Common Features. Every one of the seven tools shipped with a dust-extraction tool that attaches to the roto-hammer. It came either as part of the kit or as an optional accessory. This attachment is basically a small dust extractor equipped with a HEPA filter that includes a suction head mounted to a rail. The drill bit centers on the suction head, and as you enter the concrete, the suction head sits flat against the surface, collecting the dust generated during drilling. Each of these attachments has a removable filter that you can open and empty.
Each of the cordless drills has three modes: drilling only, hammering only, and combination. They all manage vibration and hold SDS+ bits. The battery attached to the drill powers the dust extractor as well. All of the dust-extractor attachments stay on for a couple of seconds after you let go of the trigger.

For the dust extractor to be effective, a 6-inch bit is the maximum length recommended. This is because if the bit extends past the suction head, then no dust is collected until the suction head sits on the surface.

All of the tools have a depth gauge included. The battery platform for all of them is 18V except for DeWalt 20V (18V nominal) and the Hilti, which is 22V (21.6V nominal). The most outstanding feature of these drills is just how well they all do their job. The runtimes vary, but all of them made my old corded rotary hammer obsolete.
There isn’t much to say to differentiate each of these models. The size varies on the units; some come with a box to hold all the components, others a bag; and some include the dust extractor in the kit. All of them did a great job except the Metabo HPT, which shipped with a 3-Ah battery (compared with 5-Ah, 6-Ah, or 7-Ah batteries in other kits). As far as runtime is concerned, the tool couldn’t possibly perform as well as the tools with 6-Ah or 7-Ah batteries.

Runtime and Specs. Each of these tools shipped with a different Ah battery. So I drilled into an old eco block on a jobsite using a full battery until the battery died. I then divided the number of holes into the battery’s Ah to see how many Ah it took to drill each hole; the smaller the Ah per hole, the better. I drilled 1/2-inch holes 6 inches deep with the dust extractor attached. For each tool, I drilled without stopping; none of the tools overloaded, though they all got warm.

DeWalt DCH232P2 equipped with the DWH303DH extractor attachment drilled 14 holes on a 5-Ah battery, which works out to be .35 Ah per hole. This drill is compact and manages vibration well, and the clear HEPA filter made it easy to see how full the filter was. This tool maxes out at a 1-inch bit in concrete. The drill comes as part of a kit that fits in a plastic case. The tool, charger and two 5.0-Ah batteries fit in the case. The dust extractor is separate and doesn’t fit in the case.

The DeWalt rotary hammer drill kit retails for $529. The dust extraction attachment is $169. Total for this setup is $700. The rotary hammer kit includes two DCB205 5.0-Ah Batteries, DCB101 Charger, 360-Degree Side Handle, Depth Rod, and Retractable Utility Hook. The dust-extraction attachment includes the unit and a side handle.

Specs: No Load Speed: 0-1,100 rpm
Impact Rate: 0-4,600 bpm
Impact Energy: 2.1 Joules
Max Bit Capacity: 1” SDS-Plus

Bosch GBH118V-26K24GDE drilled 24.5 holes with a 6.3-Ah battery, which works out to be .25 Ah per hole. The HEPA filter on the dust extractor has a small window to show how full it is. The maximum bit diameter this tool will use is 1 inch in concrete. The drill has kick-back control to stop the bit when it binds, say, if you hit rebar. The drill, two batteries, and charger fit in the case, but not the extractor accessory.
This Bosch kit sells for $599 The kit includes the GBH18V-26 18V EC Brushless 1 Inch SDS-plus Bulldog Rotary Hammer, two GBA18V63 CORE18V 18V 6.3-Ah batteries, GDE18V-16 SDS-plus Dust Extraction Attachment, 18V Fast Charger, Auxiliary Handle, Depth Gauge, and Carrying Case that doesn’t fit the extractor attachment.

Specs: No Load Speed: 0-890 rpm
Impact Rate: 0-4,350 bpm
Impact Energy: 1.9 ft.-lb.
Max Bit Capacity: 1-inch SDS-Plus

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 2712-22DE drilled 16 holes on a 5.0-Ah battery, or .31 Ah per hole. This dust extractor is the largest of the bunch and so holds the most dust. Max hole size in concrete is 1 inch. The drill, two batteries, dust extractor, and charger fit into a large plastic case. There is no way to see into the filter and tell how full it is. The rail on the dust extractor has a ruler which can help as a gauge, though the tool does ship with a separate depth gauge.
The kit sells for $599. It includes the M18 FUEL 1-inch SDS Plus Rotary Hammer, an M18 Hammervac Dedicated Dust extractor (2712-DE), an M18 & M12 Multi-Voltage Charger (48-59-1812), two M18 Redlithium XC5.0 Extended Capacity Battery Packs (48-11-1850), Side Handle, Carrying Case, HEPA Filter, and Depth Rod.

Specs: No Load Speed: 0-1,400 rpm
Impact Rate: 0-4,900 bpm
Impact Energy: 1.7 ft.-lb.
Max Bit Capacity: 1-inch SDS-Plus

Metabo HPT (formerly Hitachi Power Tools) DH18DBLP4 + 402976 drilled five holes on a 3.0-Ah battery, or 0.6 Ah per hole. This doesn’t really tell much because it drilled so slowly. This is not the battery that should ship with a tool that is designed to drill concrete. The dust extractor has a translucent extractor box to tell how full it is. The dust-extractor attachment is larger than the average of this group and the rail is on the shorter side. Max hole-cutting capacity in concrete is 1 inch.
I could only find tool only online, so $279 (rotary hammer, including side handle and depth gauge) + $279 (two 6-Ah batteries) + $59 (charger) + $115 (dust extractor attachment) = $732. There’s no carrying case or bag.

Specs: No Load Speed: 0-1,050 rpm
Impact Rate: 0-3,950 bpm
Impact Energy: 1.9 ft.-lb.
Max Bit Capacity: 1-inch SDS-Plus

Makita XRH01ZVX drilled 16 holes on a 5-Ah battery or 0.31 Ah per hole. This ships without batteries or charger, though it does include the dust-extractor attachment; online there are deals that include batteries. The HEPA filter case is clear and the maximum hole-cutting capacity is 1 inch in concrete. The drill and dust extractor come with a bag for storage. The drill has a built-in clutch to disengage gears when the bit binds.
While Makita uses a “Sequential Impact Timing” to minimize overlapping bit impacts and claims it results in 50% faster drilling, we didn’t notice any difference.
The kit, which comes with and fits in a canvas bag, retails for $399. Add two 5-Ah batteries ($159) and a charger ($90): All-in cost is $650.

Specs: No Load Speed: 0-950 rpm
Impact Rate: 0-4,700 bpm
Impact Energy: 2.4 Joules
Max Bit Capacity: 1-inch SDS-Plus

Metabo KHA 18 LTX BL 24 drilled 18 holes on a 7.0-Ah battery or 0.38 Ah per hole. The drill, two batteries, charger and dust extractor will fit in the plastic case. The dust extractor has a clear box for the filter. It comes with a “fast drill chuck exchange for working with SDS+ or straight shank drill bits.”
Kit with tool, vacuum, two 5.2-Ah batteries, charger, and case $599

Specs: No Load Speed: 0-1,200 rpm
Impact Rate: 0-4,500 bpm
Impact Energy: 2.2 Joules
Max Bit Capacity: 1-inch SDS-Plus

Hilti TE6-A22 + TE DRS 6 -AT1-BA drilled 31 holes on a 5.2-Ah battery or 0.17 Ah per hole. This tool wore me out because it just kept going. The drill, two batteries, charger, and dust extractor fit into the carrying bag. The filter cartridge for the Hilti is opaque, so there is no telling how full it is. What I noticed drilling 1/4-inch holes for split drive anchors is that the dust extraction stopped working after fewer holes than the other tools. This is because the cartridge is smaller, so I had to empty it more often.
Hilti kit: $849 Includes: rotary hammer drill, two 22V 5.2-Ah batteries, dust extractor attachment, charger, 1/4-inch-by-6-inch bit, 3/8-inch-by-6-inch bit, 1/2-inch-by-6-inch bit, five filter cartridges, and carrying bag.

Specs: No Load Speed: 0-1,050 rpm
Impact Rate: 0-5,100 bpm
Impact Energy: 1.8 ft.-lb.
Max Bit Capacity: 1-inch SDS-Plus

Dust Extraction. I took the filter cartridge, knocked out all the dust, and weighed it; then I drilled 10 1/4-inch holes bottoming out the same size bit and then weighed the cartridge with whatever dust it had in it.


After 10 holes

Weight of dust

















Metabo HPT












Metabo collected the most dust per hole while Milwaukee collected the least.
So what’s the best option? We had two basements to frame out with these tools, so we were drilling a lot of split drives. We were amazed at how much power they all have. I never once wished I had a corded model. I would say the best option is to buy the tool that you already have a lot of batteries for. With the exception of the Metabo HPT, they all performed great in practice. Metabo HPT was very slow due, I think, to the lower blows per minute (bpm) compared with the other drills, but it did very well on the extraction side, in part because of the tip.

When it comes to cordless tools, my advice is to buy into a brand based on the tool you need and use the most. For me, that is the Makita cordless inline saw, so I would build around Makita. Our electrician loves his Milwaukee Fuel drills and has built his tools around those. Our plumber loves DeWalt for its FlexVolt 60v, so he built around that.

All of these rotary hammers do a great job. If you need to build around these tools, I would recommend the Hilti. It is more expensive, but it is a work horse. The only thing I didn’t care for was that it seemed I had to empty the filter more often. A very close second are the Bosch and Metabo. They just feel solid and are very fast. I love that both tools come with a case, though only the cases from Metabo and Milwaukee fit the dust extractor along with the tool, battery, and charger. The rest of the tools are great tools. We have a lot of Makita batteries, so that’s what I’ll use most often.