Chicago Electric Power Tools - Item #60495 1/2 in. Heavy Duty Variable Speed Reversible Hammer Drill (Rating: 4)

I have some one off mortar drilling I had to do in order to get some picture hangers up on my fireplace. Which meant that my little 3/8 standard corded drills weren't up to the task, and heaven knows my 18V 3/8 Cordless wouldn't even consider doing the job, so I shot on over to Harbor Freight, and picked up my long postponed Hammer drill purchase.

I have been hearing about the Chicago Electric model from a framing contractor friend that owns one and uses it on the job site. And mind you I have no intention whatsoever of making my living drilling holes in concrete, so an infrequent use grade tool is perfect for my needs…. And even if I was, this would be a great quality tool for that job…

Let's start off with the obvious, compared to a standard 3/8" VSR drill, this thing is MASSIVE. It's heavy, with a great deal of cast metal construction. The side handle works not just as a holder for the depth stop, but is also VERY effective, and in my personal opinion REQUIRED to control the torque of this drill…

Switches are good, and operate smoothly, although the layout of the forward / reverse switch, the lock button, and the hammer on / off switch are a bit less than perfectly intuitive. Which is why I put this at a 4 instead of 5 star rating…

The forward / reverse switch is a simply toggle right by the variable trigger, it operates with no notchiness, but had sufficient resistance to not just be a floppy piece of junk.

The lock button is in the handle right behind the trigger, and operates smoothly, but isn't exactly protected from accidental engagement. I managed to lock mine on unintentionally, but it WAS easy to disengage.

The trigger itself does a pretty good job of varying the amount of power / speed relative to the amount of trigger pull with no jerky spots, just one smooth continuous pull.

And the hammer action on / off, is situated on the top of the drill. This one is the least well finished, with some stickiness on operation on my unit. Not bad, but definately not perfectly smooth.

The side handle / depth stop is a pretty simply arrangement that operates like a band clamp that tightens the handle, AND the depth stop at the same time.

To say this thing is torquey is an understatement. at 7.5 amps, it's scary strong, and very much NOT the right drill for running your small drill bits with. Running this drill single handedly and it can get out of control REALLY quickly. Even with a low speed the torque output is just, well, beastly. I do NOT recommend this for using as a driver. It will snap screw heads off or very quickly overdrive screws.

Running the drill without the hammer action on, and using the HF Hercules masonry drill bit into the mortar and it made extremely quick work of the 3/16" hole needed for the tapcon I was using for the painting hanger. It took a LOT longer laying out the extension cord and chucking the bit than drilling the hole…

The next day I was helping a friend that is building a shed attach the wall footers to the foundation, and with the hammer on, again, quick work of an otherwide tough job.

Now as you may or may not know, Harbor Freight has several different hammer drills, sold under different names. This is the one you want. There is a differrent bodel that sells for about 2/3 the price of this one under the Drill Master name…. Mostly plastic construction etc…

While this thing lacks the finesse that a DeWalt or Milwaulkee would, there is a good reason you see these on job sites, a LOT… I have no doubt this thing will last me probably the rest of my life, and a pro could probably get a couple of years out of it before it got stolen and the next guy used it up… And at the build quality of this thing, it will likely be stolen before it goes bad…

WIth the current sale, of $34.99, the almost ever present 20% off coupon brings that down $6.99 to $28.00 even. The closest competitor at the big box stores is over twice the cost, with less power, and far more plastic used in the construction.