Bosch 1194VSRK 1/2" Hammer Drill
by Jason Waters

I was tired of my old 1/2" drill and decided to upgrade.  While a 1/2" hand held drill is not an everyday use item, it will perform most tasks a homeowner/woodworker would need.  I wanted a more powerful 1/2" drill and after a recent dismal attempt at drilling concrete, I decided to spend a few more $$$ and get hammer action.

The first thing I did was to look over the options.  I looked at tools I had used and I could at least hold and examine for comfort.  I wanted a standard style chuck (no SDS or spline drive).  I narrowed it down to two drills, the Milwaukee 5371-6, and the Bosch 1194VSRK.  Both had two speeds, hammer w/ rotation or rotation-only, steel cases, and Keyed Chucks (Needed on a serious drill and in my opinion, and the Bosch keyless model had a less powerful motor).  I decided to order the Bosch because it was less $$$.

I received my package and much to my dismay, it was in a cheap plastic case.  I called the place I ordered it from and explained that I had specifically verified it had a steel case at time of order.  Luckily, the person who took my order was the supervisor and called back and said Bosch had changed to the plastic case(just my luck), and sent me a steel case since I had verified specifically at the time of order(I even held on the line while they checked).  I was told that the Bosch 1194VSRK would now only come with a plastic case.

Other than the case, the drill looked good, felt good in the hand, and had a nice, flexible rubber cord.  The chuck key resides in a rubber holder attached to the power cord exiting the bottom of the rear grip.  The front grip rotates 360 degrees (and can be removed) and is a nice feature because I like to set mine about 45 degrees instead of the standard 90 degree out to the side that my old drill had.  Much more comfortable.  It also has a depth rod which is handy if you install concrete anchors or do some repetitive depth drilling.

Now for the real test, how does it perform?  The first test was some pressure treated 2x4.  No problem with a standard 1/2" twist bit.  I drilled through the 2x4 and then leaned the drill over and it cut right out the side of the board-wow-my old drill would have stopped dead still with me holding it.  I then tried my 1" twist bit (1/2" shank, of course).  Went through the same 2x4, no problem.  Forstner Bits?  3/4" and 1" work great.  Of course, spade bits are not a problem.

Next to drill iron.  Drilled some 1/2" holes in about 3/8" thick steel.  Started with 1/4" holes.  It cut so quick even with the same bits I had been using.  The chuck was running perfectly true, I think this greatly aided cutting.  The chuck works smoothly and it is easy to tighten with the large chuck key provided. 

Concrete?  I have only had occasion to drill 1/4" in concrete, but it worked great.

Switching between speeds, the lever sometimes doesn't want to move all the way over.  Just rotate the chuck by hand and it will click in gear.  Changing between hammer w/ rotation and rotation only is another flick of the lever and it's easy.  Variable speed is accomplished by the amount you squeeze the trigger.  At first, this was awkward since my last drill had a dial to adjust the maximum speed when you squeezed the trigger.  I thought this would be a problem as the movement and jarring would cause me to vary the speed up and down.  After a couple of uses, I am used to the trigger  and the drill is smooth and doesn't cause me to vary the speed.  I leave it set on low speed (0-1000rpm) for just about all my drilling, regardless of size.

The Bosch has one of the largest rated drilling capacities of 1/2" Hammer Drills that I found.  The concrete capacity is 3/4" on low speed, 3/8" on high speed.  Steel is 1/2" on low, 1/4" on high speed.  I couldn't find the wood capacity but I think it was 1 1/2" and 3/4".

I've had this drill for a little more than six months now.  It's a great drill but I personally do not like plastic tool cases and that would probably cause me not to buy it next time if I had to purchase a steel case separately.  It also does not have externally changeable brushes but since I only occasionally use this drill, I do not anticipate wearing them out.  It's the best drill I have ever personally owned and certainly one of the best I have ever used.  The trueness of the chuck still amazes me.