The 10 Best Air Hammers

Updated December 04, 2017 by Quincy Miller

10 Best Air Hammers
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. If you work in an auto shop or in home remodeling, sometimes a basic hammer and chisel just aren't enough to get the job done - at least not if you don't want to be at it all day. A hammer that uses compressed air will make quick work of any job, giving you all the power you need. All of the air chisels in our selection fit the very definition of "working smarter, not harder." When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best air hammer on Amazon.

10. Wilmar M668

If price is your main concern, then the compact Wilmar M668 is a cost-effective solution for panel cutting, hole punching, and removing rivets. As an added bonus, it comes with 5 treated chisels to complete your project with confidence, but don't expect it to last forever.
  • quick-change spring safety retainer
  • great for home use
  • trigger can pinch occasionally
Brand Performance Tool
Model M668
Weight 4.8 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. Bostitch BTMT72394

The Bostitch BTMT72394 is great for automotive applications, as the medium-sized barrel design can fit into snug spaces without sacrificing power. It also features a touch-control trigger and a cushioned grip to help absorb any shock.
  • lightweight and easy to carry
  • good for a low-volume compressor
  • included chisels are poor quality
Model BTMT72394
Weight 3.9 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. DeWalt DWMT70785

If you do a lot of work with tile, then the DeWalt DWMT70785 is worth its weight in gold on remodelings or demolitions. It can take down a bathroom or kitchen in no time, but it's really not powerful enough for anything more challenging than that.
  • vibration-absorbing handle
  • protected by 3-year warranty
  • unable to adjust air pressure
Model DWMT70785
Weight 5.6 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. PowRyte Basic

Don't let the bargain-basement price fool you - the PowRyte Basic is a dynamo for smaller, round-the-house tasks. No, it won't stand up to the strain of constant use on heavy-duty jobs, but that's not what it's designed for, and it's perfect for the weekend DIYer.
  • good for bathroom renovations
  • comes with extra-length cylinder
  • trigger is prone to jamming
Brand PowRyte Basic
Model 100374
Weight 4.4 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Ingersoll-Rand 118MAXK

The Ingersoll-Rand 118MAXK has a long-barrel, giving you protracted strokes for maximum power. It doesn't vibrate much while working, so you can use it all day without feeling the shaking in your arms the rest of the week. You'll want to replace the chisels ASAP, though.
  • good for stubborn materials
  • easy to change attachments
  • trigger is a little twitchy
Brand Ingersoll-Rand
Model 118MAXK
Weight 10.5 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. Ingersoll-Rand 114GQC

The Ingersoll-Rand 114GQC isn't the best choice for heavy-duty jobs, but for most shops and simple DIY work it should be more than enough. It has a 2-5/8" stroke and 3,500 BPM, giving you plenty of power and speed when you need it most.
  • great for tile and concrete
  • built-in power regulator
  • chisels feel loose inside
Brand Ingersoll-Rand
Model 114GQC
Weight 5.8 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. Sunex SX243

The Sunex SX243 boasts a sturdy aluminum alloy housing in a hardened long-barrel design, ensuring that it can handle any abuse it might encounter on the job site. It also has a built-in regulator knob, so adjusting it on the fly is a cinch.
  • great choice for auto mechanics
  • quick-change coupler stays snug
  • powerful and solid impact
Brand Sunex
Model SX243
Weight 5.6 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Thinset Removal

Offering a whopping 4,500 BPM, the Thinset Removal can make short work of even the most stubborn jobs, while still being comfortable and easy to control. It's also compatible with other standard 0.401" pneumatic accessories, giving it excellent versatility.
  • money-back guarantee
  • hex wrench is included
  • comes with detailed instructions
Brand Thinset Removal LLC
Model pending
Weight 3.1 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Ingersoll 122MAXK

The short-barrel Ingersoll 122MAXK comes equipped with built-in anti-vibration technology and an ergonomic grip, providing plenty of comfort for all-day use while lessening hand fatigue. It ships with a quick-change retainer, a 5-piece chisel set, and a durable case.
  • very high impact force
  • easy to control
  • operates relatively quietly
Brand Ingersoll-Rand
Model 122MAXK
Weight 9.2 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Chicago Pneumatic CP717

Designed with professionals in mind, the heavy-duty Chicago Pneumatic CP717 offers superior precision and control over its speed range thanks to its unique spool valve and positive-action trigger. This tool is an investment, but it's one that will pay off in spades.
  • weighs under 4 pounds
  • very durable construction
  • has tons of power
Brand Chicago Pneumatic
Model CP717
Weight 5.2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

The Power Is In The Air

Air hammers are pneumatic tools, and, for the record that's a silent 'p' in pneumatic. What that means is that they utilize air pressure to create the force of the blow.

At a certain place on the tool, most often the bottom of the handle, there's a little nozzle that attaches to a hose running to an air compressor.

When air from the compressor reaches the hammer, it moves an internal piston with incredible force than translates directly to a bit, usually a chisel or similar element. Internally, the units are rather simple, which is lovely, since that usually implies durability.

That chisel bit is interchangeable with a whole slew of tools, from ends that allow you to use your air hammer more like a simple hammer, to the pickle forks we mentioned above, and more.

One of the most common pneumatic hammers you've probably seen in use is a kind of extra large version we usually call a jackhammer. When air powered (there are electric models), the jackhammer works by the same mechanism as the air hammer, just on a different scale.

Ends For Your Means

Air hammers are a little bit like pizzas. They're all pretty much made from the same ingredients, though the quality of those ingredients can differ. They all do the job you ask them to, which in the air hammer's case is to drive your chisel, hammer, or other element, and which, in the pizza's case, is to satisfy your hunger.

Where the comparison fails is in durability, reliability, and price variance. If you can find me a posh slice of 'za that's nearly three times more than the average price, there's a good chance I'll want to try it, but only if you're buying, and I don't think it's going to last any longer in the fridge than that $2 slice from the corner.

So, how do you choose your pizza? Well, it's going to have a lot to do with price to start, but there are also important considerations beyond that. Getting back to the air hammers, if you're looking to make an investment, odds are the least expensive option isn't the one built to last your lifetime and handle anything you throw its way.

There's also the question of intended application, which has greatly to do with the power behind an air hammer's blows. If you have heavier duty jobs in front of you, you're going to need a pricier unit. It's pretty much a directly proportional relationship.

If the toughest thing you have in your future is automotive work on your SUV or lighter, you'll be just fine without the best air hammer on the market. The attachments are almost endless (like toppings!), so as long as you don't need that extra burst of power you should be able to find the end you need to fit the job at hand.

The only downside in buying a cheaper air hammer is that you can't grow with it. But, then again, you can't grow with pizza either.

Pneumatic By Another Name

We call them air hammers, presumably because spelling and pronouncing 'pneumatic' is not, well, automatic. Now, I know you know what 'automatic' means, but it's educational if we break it down here. 'Auto-' is from the Greek for self, or one's own, and '-matic' from the Greek for thinking, or animation.

In a language called Proto-Indio-European, that is supposed to have existed between 4500 and 2500 BCE and which left no written textual record, etymologists believed there was the word 'pneu-' meaning to breathe.

So pneumatic comes from the marriage of breath and animation, or "to be powered by air."

It was in the late 19th century that an inventor named Jon W. Duntley began to develop what would become the world's first pneumatic hammer. With a big investment from the steel magnate Charles Schwab, the patent hit in late December of 1901, and an industry was born.

Since then, advances in the safety and accuracy of the hammers themselves, as well as increases in the power harnessed by the air compressor itself, have placed the power of this industry capably in the hands of everyday homeowners and handy folk.

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Last updated on December 04, 2017 by Quincy Miller

Quincy is a writer who was born in Texas, but moved to Los Angeles to pursue his life-long dream of someday writing a second page to one of his screenplays.

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