Heavy 20 pound head reduces number of strikes needed for breakage. Brightly painted head improves visibility. Steel core prevents damage from overstrikes.
Hammer head may be too heavy for common household demolition jobs. Handle is damage-resistant, but not unbreakable. Pricey selection for casual use.
Features both a demolition face for breaking up concrete and a driving face tor installing spikes. Shock-absorbing handle reduces user fatigue. Extra-large driving face improves strike accuracy.
Handle does not have eyelet for lanyard or wall attachment. Noticeably heavier than 8 pound sledgehammers sold for home use.
Great dead-blow and non-sparking technology. Urethane-covered steel handle reduces noise. Soft striking face helps address user fatigue issues.
Closer to a dead-blow mallet than an actual demolition sledgehammer. Some user complaints about off-set seams on the mallet's head.
20 pound head great for intense demolition or workouts, other weights available. Rubber grip minimizes shock and vibration. Ideal for splitting logs with a wedge.
Hickory wood handle does not absorb shock well, tendency to break. Quality control issues with head-to-handle connection. May be too heavy for inexperienced home users.
Fiberglass handle improves durability and rubber grips reduce shock. 3.3 pound head easy to lift and control. Suitable for lightweight demolition duty for do-it-yourselfers and professionals.
Not suited for commercial demolition work. Striking ends are very small in diameter, accuracy and safety can be issues. Not as balanced as other light duty hammers.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
A sledgehammer seems like a pretty simple piece of equipment – until you start shopping for a new one.
It turns out there are all sorts of sledgehammer options on the market today. There are different materials to choose from, different head and handle combinations, different weights, and prices that run the gamut. Unless you're a demolition expert, choosing the right sledgehammer is a surprisingly complicated task.
BestReviews was created to help resolve this type of shopping dilemma. We run in-depth investigations of a product's pros and cons to help customers make the right buying decision. We refuse to accept manufacturer samples because it might lead to bias. Instead, we buy items with our own money and, where feasible, donate them to charity when we're done. Our impartiality enables us to provide readers with honest, unbiased product recommendations and reviews.
The five sledgehammers in the product list at the top of this page are those that passed our rigorous standards. If you’re in the market for a new sledgehammer, we invite you to check out those options. If you’d like a little more information, the shopping guide that follows discusses the elements you will want to think about when choosing the best sledgehammer for your own needs.
There aren't many components to a sledgehammer: just a handle and a head. Nevertheless, the composition of those two items varies enormously and has a massive impact on your decision.
Wood is the traditional sledgehammer handle material, particularly ash and hickory.
Fiberglass is often touted as a lighter, tougher alternative to wood – but if you’re considering this option, it's important to check the actual weight of the handle first. Cheap fiberglass handles can actually be heavy.
Steel is an extremely durable material, and it has come a long way from being a big old rusty metal bar.
The modern steel sledgehammer handle is very strong and resistant to damage. Most are covered with some kind of rubber or nylon that may be sculpted for better grip.
Advanced models are constructed from numerous bars bound together, or laminated, reducing the weight. Some even have built-in shock-absorbing systems.
Steel-handled sledgehammers can be extremely tough, but “unbreakable” claims should always be taken with a grain of salt.
High-tech sledgehammer handles are expensive.
In general, sledgehammer handles are 36 inches long. It's a length that suits most people. If you want a shorter handle, some high-end manufacturers offer 24-inch and 30-inch alternatives. These are also available from suppliers of replacement sledgehammer handles. If you're working in a confined space, a small sledgehammer with a 12- or 15-inch handle may be a viable alternative.
Surprisingly, sledgehammer heads are not all same the shape. Some have a flat face, which is good for knocking in fence posts but not so good for breaking concrete. Some are slightly domed, making them more dual-purpose in nature. And some have two different faces — one flat and the other wedge-shaped to focus destructive force.
Almost all sledgehammer heads are made of forged or drop forged steel. The handle is made by pounding a basic lump of steel into shape with huge hammers or presses. In the process, it becomes very hard – about 30% harder than cast steel.
Some sledgehammer heads are coated in urethane or a similar plastic material. The purpose of this coating is to make the sledgehammer safe to use in areas where sparking could be a concern.
They also come in a variety of colors for greater visibility. Notably, the color of a sledgehammer head does not reflect how well it works.
Sledgehammer heads come in lots of different weights. In this way, you can buy a tool specific to a particular job.
Small, light-duty sledgehammers are available with heads weighing around three pounds. If you're cracking off tile in cramped surroundings, a head of this weight could be very useful.
A sledgehammer of eight to ten pounds is suitable for home use. It’s light enough for most people to swing yet heavy enough to knock in fence posts or break up moderate areas of concrete.
Sledgehammers of 20 pounds and up are considered "professional" tools. They're hard work to use, but they demolish quickly and efficiently.
We would avoid the cheapest sledgehammers for safety reasons. Due to poor construction, the handle could split or break too easily, and in rare instances, the head could shatter.
You can get a good, durable sledgehammer of three to five pounds for $15 to $20.
A high-quality, 10-pound sledgehammer from a well-known brand will likely cost you from $50 to $70. In this price bracket, you have an enormous choice, from traditional hickory-handled models to those with built-in shock-resistance and alternate faces.
Professional-grade sledgehammers in the 20-pound range can cost upwards of $150. If you’re going to use it a lot, however, it's probably a worthwhile investment. High-quality tools of this nature will give a lifetime of service in very tough conditions.
When you're shopping for a sledgehammer, you face an almost bewildering selection of weights, sizes, and materials. If you’re struggling to make a choice, remember that it all boils down to a simple question: what job do you need the sledgehammer for most of the time?
If you're taking out an old kitchen or doing modest remodeling inside your house, a three- to five-pound tool with a handle length between one and two feet will cope with most close-up tasks, and you'll be able to manage it for reasonable periods of time.
If you're doing more serious demolition or simply want a general-purpose sledgehammer, an eight- to ten-pound model with a three-foot handle is a good all-rounder.
Follow these tips to optimize your sledgehammer strikes:
Keep both feet at the same level, and place your left foot slightly in front of your right.
Concentrate on where you want to strike. Focus on the target, not the hammer head.
Think about swinging the head onto the target in a smooth arc.
Don't “choke” the hammer by placing your hands too close to the head.
Don't try to drive the head. Instead, allow its weight and momentum to do the work.
If you can't hit the same place twice, you're probably forcing it. Try to relax.
Always wear gloves and protective goggles when demolishing with a sledgehammer. Wear a face mask in dusty environments.
Make sure you've got plenty of room to swing your sledgehammer without obstruction – and make sure the area is clear of children and pets. A distraction could cause serious injury.
Never over-stretch. If you're struggling to reach your target, you are off balance and could hurt yourself badly.
Never practice swinging a sledgehammer on an old tire; the recoil could surprise you and cause serious injury. It's a training method used by bodybuilders, but it takes practice.
To judge the correct distance to the object you want to strike, rest the sledgehammer head on the target and move back until you have a comfortable grip on the handle.
Most sledgehammers need little maintenance, but always follow manufacturer's instructions.