About 10 years ago, I bought a 1/2-inch hammer drill. It dependably drilled anchor holes in tile, mortar, block, and — usually — concrete. It also doubled as a regular two-speed drill. But the tool struggled with large bits and had a hard time with concrete that contained a lot of heavy aggregate.

Last year, I had the opportunity to test seven hammer drill-sized pistol-grip rotary hammers. For me, they took concrete and masonry drilling to an entirely new level. My decade-old hammer drill? I retired it from drilling concrete.

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