Power Tools

What is a Pneumatic Drill? + We Review the Top 5 Best Air Drills

You will be surprised to know that the use of a form of pneumatic technology dates back to many thousands of years ago. A Greek Mathematician called Hero of Alexandria wrote in the first century about how he used the wind to generate power and transport objects. It was in the 1600s that German physicist Otto Von Guericke first invented a vacuum pump that utilized air pressure.

Following his work, the 1800s had many inventors becoming aware of how compressed air could be utilized. That’s when the pneumatic drill was invented in 1871 by Samuel Ingersoll while the pneumatic hammer was invented in 1890 by Charles Brady. The invention has revolutionized work in industries and homes.

Hand-held air drills are powered by compressed air. Because a compressed air drill is run only by compressed air. They are usually lightweight and have fewer parts which reduce maintenance costs. They are also less prone to breaking down Pneumatic tools also include the angle air drill and air hammer drill. 

Why Do You Need a Pneumatic Drill?

A compressed air drill makes removing rusted bolts on car parts quite easy and efficient. The pneumatic drill is used for walls, floors, ceilings, refractory brick, and all concrete anchoring systems. These are typically used to drill small diameter holes in hard rock. The air that powers the pneumatic drill is delivered to the drill via an air compressor which is typically run on a diesel engine. 

Pneumatic drills are used in construction, mining even the auto motor industry. Air drills come in different shapes and sizes. Most common include the pistol type, the pneumatic right angle drill, and the cordless air hammer. They can weigh from as little as 1.3 lbs up to 95 lbs.

Pneumatic Drill Buying Guide

A pneumatic drill is an extremely valuable tool for any at-home or professional mechanic. From getting that rusty bolt off in a few seconds to slicing that nasty old truck rivet in half you need the right pneumatic drill. Once you pick the right cordless air hammer you will be wondering where it was all along.

All you need is the most efficient compressed air drill to do just the job. There are a lot of options to choose from. So here is how you can narrow down the options and pick the best pneumatic hammer drill for you. Read on!

How to Choose the Best Air Drill For You

  • The task you have in mind: While some angle air drills will be used in mining, some can be used in your home garage. Consider where you want to use it, what you want to use it for, and you will have the right tool from cordless air hammer to pneumatic hammer drill.
  • Ergonomics: Knowing for how long you will use each time will help. If you will be using it for long hours, that means you will have to choose the pneumatic air drill that is lightweight to make the job less exhausting. 
  • Torque and Pressure: Most air tools like to run at the pressure of 90 psi, any more pressure will not increase performance. Just so you know, most tools’ performance dropped when the pressure exceeded 120 psi.

Safety Tips

  • Always wear earplugs to protect your ears as these tools are loud. 
  • You should regularly clean, inspect and maintain them as it can be catastrophic to use busted tools. 
  • Some safety gloves will help prevent oil on your bare skin. 
  • Do not operate at a pressure above the manufacturer’s rating.
  • Oiling it daily is a must. Because as the air runs through the system, the pressure and the moisture will work to remove any lubrication. This will protect its interior metal from any residual moisture accumulated during the day.

Now that you are fully equipped, take a look at the 5 pneumatic tools that we reviewed. Using this guide, you will be sure to spot one that works best for you. Keep reading!

Review of the 5 Top-Rated Pneumatic Drills

1. Dynamic Power 50 Piece Air Tool Kit

To kick start our list, we have the 50 piece air tool kit from Dynamic Power. This bad boy is perfect for removing heads from a car and performs as expected. Comes with many great accessories including a ½” impact wrench, one 3/8” Ratchet wrench, and tons more.

The kit features key accessories that any mechanic would need including sockets, connect fittings, chisel bits, air hose fittings a tire chuck, and tons more. It truly gives you value for your money and is durable.

The impact is rather weak but if you make sure to handle it at the recommended 90psi it should do the job just fine. It comes with an impact wrench, air hammers, and chisels. 


Dynamic Power 50 Piece Air Tool Kit


  • Durable
  • Easy to use
  • Good value for the price point


  • Relatively heavy
  • Air ratchet is loud
  • Relatively low power output

2. Ingersoll Rand 122MAXK Short-Barrel Air Hammer Kit

This air hammer kit is just what a mechanic needs! It will save you time trying to get rusted bolts off. While some may say the parts are soft, that’s not the case, take your time and let the tool do its job. Maximum comfort for extended use for long hours. That means you have the best tool when it comes to its ergonomics.

This baby might not be the strongest in its class, but its lightweight, great power, and the way it is easy to control make up for that. Offers a great price for a great deal. Looks beautiful and is very quiet. The shorter stroke with increased pulses per minute works great for removing ceramic tiles since it is very easy to control.

The rigorously tested tool components reduce tool vibration by over 30 percent when compared to standard air hammers in the 122MAX class. Only the highest quality components go into making each tool the best in its class.  


Ingersoll Rand 122MAXK Air Hammer Kit


  • Lighter than most of its competitors
  • Easy to control
  • Ergonomic grip


  • Less than ideal amount of torque


3. Chicago Pneumatic CP7110K Air Hammer Kit

Chicago is another company offering the best Air Hammer Kit. Beautiful red finish on this heavy-duty pistol hammer which comes with a standard .401 round shank. Perfect for the home and light industry. 

An excellent air hammer that comes with low vibration which is good for control and on the hands.

This easy-to-use power hammer is designed with unique vibration damping. The pneumatic chisel features a unique cushioned exhaust deflector on the barrel for extra comfort and balance. The pneumatic air hammer also comes with an in-built muffler to lower down the exhaust sound.

Very comfortable in your hand and makes it easy to control. The box will be great storage for keeping this investment safe. A nice bonus quick-change adapter in the tool kit. Might not be able to break through cast concrete but will sure remove the stone tiles. 


Chicago Pneumatic CP7110K Air Hammer Kit


  • Comfortable in your hand
  • Easy to control
  • Heavy dutytime


  • Reviews cite durability as questionable
  • Less power than those in the same class



4. ACDelco ANI405A Pneumatic Wrench Tool Kit

From ACDelco comes this pneumatic impact wrench.  This lightweight, heavy-duty and powerful twin hammer pneumatic impact wrench is designed using high-quality materials for fast and easy removal work.  Quite user-friendly as it provides comfort for long hours with a secure grip for maximum control and steadiness. Makes swapping tires a breeze.

The slim body design molded securely fit and balance hand torque to help reduce vibration and fatigue with less wear on your hands. It’s designed to withstand tough use in rugged environments, this impact wrench offers you great efficiency that means less downtime and better tool performance.  The kit comes with lubricating oil and an air hose adapter. 


ACDelco ANI405A Pneumatic Impact Wrench Tool


  • Lighter than most of its competitors
  • Ergonomically shaped
  • Durable


  • No air hose adapters
  • Heavier than the cordless
  • Trigger pinches


5. SLAIR 1/2″ Air Pneumatic Drill Reversible

The pneumatic drill reversible from Slair comes with a muffled handle exhaust which allows for more efficient and quiet operations. The reversible drill has a variable speed trigger for precise speed control. 

No need for batteries, it is air powered. Comes in handy if you are working off the grid.

Makes work easy and efficient. It’s a drill that makes hard work look like child’s play. Why don’t you give this one a try!


SLAIR 1/2″ Air Pneumatic Drill Reversible


  • Lighter than most of its competitors
  • Air Powered


  • A bit weak
  • No assembly lube



What is a pneumatic drill?

A pneumatic drill is a large, heavy mechanical drill driven by compressed air, used for breaking up a hard surface. It is also called an air drill.

How to use a pneumatic drill?

Make sure to hold the drill tight during operation. Avoid sparks in hazardous areas. Wear safety glasses and non-slip gloves and ear protectors as well as protective clothing. Warning: Never use the flexible hose as a lifting handle.

How does a pneumatic drill work?

Inside the air, the drill is series of air tubes. These connect to the pile driver and then to the drill at the bottom. The movement of the air pushes the pile driver down onto the drill bit, causing the drill bit to pound into the surface of the object.

How loud is a pneumatic drill?

According to the Center for Construction Research and Training, the pneumatic precision drill has 119 decibels and a hand drill coming in with 98db.

What is a pneumatic drill used for?

A pneumatic drill is used to drill into solid substances such as rocks. It can be used on slabs, pavements, or ceramic tiles.

Who invented the pneumatic drill?

It was invented by Samuel Ingersoll in 1871. The pneumatic hammer was invented in 1890 by Charles Brady.

How to oil a pneumatic drill?

It’s quite simple. Firstly, inspect it to make sure everything is in order. To make sure there are no signs of excessive wear or binding. Secondly, apply the oil directly into the air fitting, do it while it is upside down. About five to six drops will do to lubricate the moving parts and add a layer of protection from moisture. Don’t over oil it. 
Squeeze the trigger or activation lever a few times before turning the tool right side up. This will allow oil to flow in the passage that airflow. If you skip this, the oil will simply leak when you turn the tool right side up. 

What are air drills for?

Pneumatic drills are used for drilling into solid substances like rocks. They are also used to break slabs and pavements. It works to produce a chipping motion that is similar to a chisel or hammer action. They are most suitable for flat surfaces. 

Are air drills good?

They are good because they are lightweight and small compared to hydraulic and electric drills. They are powerful and produce greater torque than similar electric tools. On top of that, they are easy to maintain and can be used on sites where there is no power.

Why are air tools better than electric tools?

Air tools are better than electric tools in that they are less heavy and less prone to breaking down as well. There is less risk of electrical shock or explosion as compare to electric tools. Air tools increase productivity.  

Where is the pneumatic drill commonly used?

They can be used in home garages, the mining industry, and in construction. That will largely depend on the size of the pneumatic drill, to determine where it will be used.