SDS Plus Vs. SDS Max: Which One Do I Need?

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When we need to drill heavy-duty material such as concrete, stone, brick, and many more, we need a hammer drill. But regular hammer drill is not efficient for this. Therefore we can use SDS drills with more efficient hammering power. SDS Plus and SDS Max are the best hammer drill available in the market. So let’s see, what are the differences between them.

The main difference between SDS Plus and SDS Max is drill bit rails. SDS Plus has 04 rails, and SDS Max has 05 rails. More than that, the SDS plus shank is 10mm, and the length is 110 mm-1500 mm. But the SDS max is 18mm. SDS Max has a locking ball rail so it is more stable than SDS Plus.

There is more difference between these drills. So let’s keep reading on more details.

What is SDS Plus Drill?

SDS-plus-drill
SDS Plus Drill

The SDS Plus drill is an improved version of the SDS drill. It can be used for heavy-duty work due to its high performance. An SDS Plus drill is with a powerful hammering action and it uses a special drill bit with 4 rails.

Slotted Drive Shaft (SDS)” had many iterations over the years and can identify with different variations. SDS is about phased out and SDS plus can be bought from most stores. There is a few differences in SDS Vs SDS Plus drills.

Both SDS and SDS plus are used with carbide drill bits. Drills from 5/32” to 1-1/8” and thin wall carbide core bits up to four inches. There are also several types of small chipping and chiseling bits. 

SDS-Plus bits have four grooves on the shanks. Those four grooves consist of two open grooves and two closed grooves. Also, locking balls are attached to the grooves. Those grooves lock securely into the chuck.

Although it allows the bit to move back and forth independently of the chuck, they are super easy to insert and remove, no tools are required. SDS plus drill has a 10mm diameter shank and 04 rails. This drill bit size is popular and suited for hammering up to 4kg.

The shank of SDS has the advantage of fitting into a simple spring-loaded chuck. Therefore, those bits can simply be pushed into the chuck without tightening. This shank and the chucks of SDS drill bits made for it are especially suited to hammer drilling with masonry drills in stone and concrete.

Read More About – SDS Drill vs Hammer Drill: Which is the Best?

What is SDS Max Drill?

SDS max Drill
SDS Max Drill

As mentioned earlier, SDS max is an improved version of SDS plus drill type. Among types of SDS drills the big rotary hammers also have a similar system, but a larger one called the SDS-Max.

Speaking of SDS max drills, their shanks are 18mm thick and have 05 rails. The shank and spline drive bits, have 19 mm. This drill bit size is popular and suited for hammering up to 5kg. That is, the thickness of the SDS plus drill bits are more workable during heavy masonry work.

For example, drilling concrete with reinforcement and SDS plus is not that much. SDS drills can be used to drill through materials such as steel, brick, masonry, and concrete.

SDS max drill bit has three open grooves or drivers. Also unlike the SDS Plus drill, there is a locking section instead of a ball

What are the Differences Between SDS Plus and SDS Max?

SDS Plus uses 4 rail 10mm diameter drill bits and SDS Max use 5 rails 18mm diameter drill bit. SDS plus is used for drilling concrete while SDS max is used for extremely heavy-duty drilling and chipping the concrete.

Drill Bit Differences Between SDS Plus and SDS Max

SDS Plus Drill Bits

SDS plus use the 10mm diameter drill bits, and those ends should be like this. SDS plus is with 4 rails (shank) end. This cross-section can tight well to the SDS plus drill.

More than that, chuck is also different. Chuck has designed to mount this kind of drill bit easily. There is a ball bearing that can hold the tool without throwing away under force. These tools are smaller than the SDS max.

regular-SDS-plus-and-SDS-max-Drill-bits-sections

SDS Max Drill Bits

SDS max drill bits are 18mm in diameter, and it has 5 rails. These 5 rails are specially designed for the drills as well as chisels. Drilling a hard material will need more torque. To hold the torque, the bit is specially designed as 5 rails. And also rails length is more than the SDS plus. Due to this drill bit can move about 1″ in the chuck with force.

There are also SDS Max drills, which have larger drill bits with more indentations on materials. They are generally used more for heavier duty work such as tough masonry and rock. They are also used for demolition purposes. Most standard SDS rotary hammer drills are SDS plus drills. Heavy-duty combination hammers are generally SDS Max drills that use SDS Max drill bits.

SDS plus drill and SDS max drill shank sizes are different. The shank size of the SDS plus drill bit is 10mm. The shank size of the SDS max drill is 18mm. Therefore, The SDS max bits cannot be interchangeable with the SDS or SDS plus drill.

Usage Differences Between SDS Plus and SDS Max Drills

SDS Plus Drill

These drills are used for many purposes. SDS and SDS plus are used for light jobs such as drilling a small hole such as 10mm without reinforcement. But SDS max is the most heavy-duty drill that we can use for hard work. SDS max is a big brother of the SDS Plus.

SDS Plus Drill

SDS max is used for most heavy-duty jobs such as drilling with reinforcements and chiseling also. Therefore the drill bit is also different with considering the SDS plus. The drill bit has been designed to resist more load and resistance.

The end of the SDS max drill bit has been powered with high-strength metals. Those are highly resistant to heat and torsion.

Differences Between SDS and Hammer Drill?

When considering the SDS drill and hammer drill, there is an extraordinary difference in the chuck.

Both SDS and Hammer drills have hammering mechanisms. The Hammer drill chuck moves forward and backward during the hammer action, and in the SDS drills, only the bit moves forward and backward. Hence its hammer action is higher than a regular hammer drill mechanism.

Although the chuck on the hammer drill is not designed to hold the SDS drill bit. Therefore, the SDS drill bit can become loose, and you have to tighten the chuck. If not it begins to wobble and slip during the drilling. Anyway, if you need a drill tough materials like concrete and masonry, an SDS drill will be the best option.

Hammer drills can also be called “percussion drills” also because their hammering mechanism is different. A hammer drill chuck has three jaws. While tightening the chuck, these three jaws can move close, and the drill bit will tighten.

Hammer drills and SDS drill types do not need to provide much torque for the drilling there, for the chuck will not lose.SDS drills are with a different chuck without a key or rotational tighten. Just move backward the chuck and then drill put it into the chuck and move forward.

SDS drill is different from a hammer drill, in its

  • Mechanism,
  • Usage,
  • Hammering power,
  • Chuck,
  • Types of drill bits.
 SDS DrillHammer Drill
MechanismWith a piston-based hammering mechanismWith percussion mechanism
UsageHeavy-duty deep drilling Light drilling 
ChuckQuick changed chuckKeyless
Use hammer mode onlyYesNo
Drill bitsSpecial bitsCircular
ConclusionHas more power and more performanceWith less hammering power
Differences between SDS drill and hammer drill.

Are SDS Plus and SDS Max Interchangeable?

Basically, SDS and SDS plus are interchangeable because of their same size of drill bits. However the SDS and SDS Plus cannot be interchangeable with SDS max drill because of the size of the SDS max drill. There are adapters and chucks to use the smaller SDS or SDS plus drill bits in an SDS max rotary hammer.

Although SDS Max was not intended to be backward compatible with SDS or SDS plus drill bits.

Both SDS Plus and SDS Max require different hammer tools. Although, many people who use both types of equipment often use them in the same body by using an adapter.

The adapter helps to use the same body for both of them efficiently. The adapter compensates for the differences in the drills so that both can be used in the same body or on occasion without buying another rotary hammer.

Will SDS Plus Bits Fit SDS Max?

Simply, SDS plus bits will not fix in SDS max due to their different rails. Different SDS drill bits need a different power tool. Because there is a physical difference between the two drill bits beforehand, these two bits can never be used on both devices. SDS plus drill bits are smaller to fix with the chuck of the SDS max drill.

SDS plus drill bit,

  1. The shank size is 10mm
  2. Four rails to fix with chuck
  3. The shortest SDS-plus masonry drill bits are about 110 mm in overall length
  4. The longest 1500 mm

SDS max drill,

  1. 18mm shank with three open grooves,
  2. Locking segments rather than balls. 




Tom Mackency

Tom Mackency

Hi, I am Tom Mackency. It has been 10 years that I have been working as a professional woodworker since 2013. I am really enjoying my carrier by creating many kinds of projects in my workshop. But mostly I like for home improvement projects. Home improvement and DIY projects are the most interesting things for me. More than that, the coolest things are power tools. Those are very precious and efficient than a decade ago. So I try to introduce so many things about power tools, woodworking, DIY projects, home improvement and many more interesting topics here.


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