Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer Review – Big Holes, No Sweat

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Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus

What's This?This post is sponsored by The Home Depot. Got some ‘crete to beat? One of the items on my upcoming to-do list is to install posts and railings on a set of old concrete porch steps. The posts and railings will be wood, and will have to be attached with wedge anchors sunk into the concrete. Drilling holes – especially big holes – into concrete is not a job for a little wussy drill. For that task, a rotary hammer is generally the weapon of choice. We recently received an Orange drill that definitely does NOT fall into the wussy category; join us as we ventilate some concrete with the Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer.

The Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus rotary hammer, ready to perforate some concrete.

Although very similar in appearance to the previous X4 version, the Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer brings several improvements. The most important is the use of a brushless motor. Brushless motors are more efficient, more powerful, and require less maintenance. The new motor, in combination with a Ridgid Octane battery, provides a power increase of over 10%, and Ridgid says the new model can get through that ‘crete over 50% faster. The new drill can also handle a 1” bit vs. the 7/8” limit on the older model. Here’s the list of features and specs from Ridgid:

• Over 50% faster drilling in high demand applications vs the previous model R86710, 18-Volt X4 7/8 in. SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer
• Extreme vibration reduction minimizes tool vibrations for greater comfort, less fatigue, and increased productivity
• 3-mode selector to manually switch between hammer, drilling, and chisel modes
• Mechanical clutch helps minimize torque reaction when the bit binds, protecting both the tool and user
• Brushless Motor Technology delivers up to 50% more runtime and longer motor life
• Auxiliary handle with adjustable depth rod to easily rotate the handle and adjust to the application
• 100% Compatible: Works with all RIDGID 18-Volt Batteries
• Impact energy 2.0 ft./lbs.
• No load speed: 0 – 1,400 RPM / 0 – 5,000 BPM
• Registered within 90 days, this product is backed by the Industry’s Only Lifetime Service Agreement: FREE Parts. FREE Service. For LIFE.
• Includes: (1) R86711 OCTANE Brushless 1 in. SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer (Tool Only), auxiliary handle assembly with depth stop rod, and an operator’s manual
• Batteries and chargers are sold separately

Drilling Through The Features On The Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer

At just under seven pounds, with dimensions of roughly 13” X 9” X 3”, the Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer comes across as a pretty serious tool. It looks and feels very ruggedly constructed, and rubber overmold on the main handle makes it comfortable to hold, while helping to dampen vibration.

Rubber overmold means more comfort and less vibration.

Controls on the Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer are well laid out and intuitive to operate. Rotational direction is set with the normal push-through switch, with the center position being a lockout. The variable-speed trigger operates smoothly, and an electric brake stops the tool quickly when the trigger is released. An internal clutch helps prevent your arm from being ripped off if the bit binds up.

The trigger is smooth, and the directional switch is up and out of the way.

An efficient brushless motor is used to spin the motor. It can be powered by any Ridgid 18V slide battery, but the tool is optimized to work with a Ridgid Octane battery. Electronics in the tool and the Octane battery communicate, to provide optimal power under heavy loads.

Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus
For maximum power, power up with a Ridgid Octane battery.

When a rotary hammer is banging away, it tends to produce a fair bit of vibration. To keep some of that vibration from working its way through the handle and into your hard-workin’ hands, Ridgid came up with a way to dampen its enthusiasm. On top of the tool, between the handle and the motor, is a little accordion-rubber section, aka Extreme Vibration Reduction, to help absorb the shock.

Chucking It Up

If you’ve never used an SDS-Plus tool before, prepare for a pleasant surprise. To install a bit, just insert it into the chuck, and rotate it until the slots line up and it drops fully into position. To prevent premature wear, Ridgid recommends coating the inserted end of the bit with machine grease before installation.

Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus
To insert an SDS-Plus bit, just push it in and rotate to make sure it’s locked in…

Removal is just as easy: Pull back on the collar around the chuck, and pull out the bit. If you just finished drilling, and aren’t partial to second-degree burns, gloves are advisable.

To remove, just pull back the ring and pop it out. AFTER it’s cooled!

Orange Ala Mode

Changing modes on the Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer is also simple. A large dial near the chuck allows you to easily select which of the four modes you want to use: Rotary hammer mode, rotational drilling, chisel adjust (allows the chisel bit to be rotated to any position), or chisel only (hammering action only, for chiseling concrete, tile and masonry). Simply push in the orange button on the side of the dial and rotate it; the dial locks into place as it clicks into your chosen mode.

Pick your mode: Plain old rotational drilling…
rdigid octane sds-plus
Meat and potatoes hammer drilling…
Adjustable chisel mode…
Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus
Or put-the-hammer-down straight chiseling.

Light It Up And Get A Handle On It

For those tasks where the lighting might not be quite up to OSHA standards, the tool has a bright LED light at the base of the motor housing. It can be activated by a separate switch on the front of the main handle, and is also activated when the trigger is pulled.

An LED light helps when you’re working on the dark side.

To help tame the torque the Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer cranks out, an adjustable auxiliary handle clamps on just behind the chuck. Adjustments are made by simply twisting the handle to loosen it, moving it to the position of choice, and tightening the handle back up.

Adjusting the auxiliary handle is simple: Twist and rotate.

To keep you from getting out of your depth, a depth stop rod is incorporated into the auxiliary handle. Simply depress the big orange button on the side, slide the rod to the desired depth of drilling, and release the orange button.

The tool-free depth stop keeps you from drilling where you shouldn’t oughta.

Get Your Eyes And Ears On

As with pretty much every power tool these days, the manual for the Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer has approximately 435,000 WARNINGS!!! If ever a tool deserved to have some of these inevitable !!!WARNINGS!!! heeded, the rotary hammer certainly qualifies. As you might guess, a tool that can drill big holes through concrete at high speed has the potential to make some little chunks of that concrete go airborne, so grab a good pair of safety glasses, with an ANSI Z87.1 rating. Don’t cheap out when it comes to your vision.

Enjoy being able to see and hear? Grab your PPE!

SAY WHAT? ROTARY HAMMER DRILLS ARE LOUD?? Why yes, they are, so when using them in hammer mode, outfit yourself with a stylish set of earmuffs. These tools can also generate a fair bit of dust, depending on the task, so if you’re using one without a dust extraction system, you should consider masking up too.

Hammer Time For The Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer

To test the power of the Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer, naturally I wanted to introduce it to some concrete. Drilling through concrete blocks or pavers is relatively tame; I wanted something a bit more challenging. Concrete cures as it ages, and I have access to a slab roughly 8-10” thick, that has been curing for a good 70 years. Should be hard by now!

Greasing the shank helps prevent premature wear…

I smeared a little grease on the base of a 12” long ½” bit, and slid it into the chuck. I love how easy it is to get the bits in and out: Slide it in, twist it a little to make sure it’s fully seated, and you’re good to go. I slid a Ridgid Octane battery into place, donned some stylish earmuffs and safety glasses, and fired ‘er up.

The Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus rotary hammer enjoys some tasty, well-aged concrete…

The drill is very easy to control, and the vibration isn’t bothersome. And wow – does this thing rip through concrete! With very little pressure, letting the bit do the work, it tore through the concrete in less than ten seconds.

I drilled several more holes, and then switched out the ½” bit out for a big 1” diameter bit. Naturally, this slowed things down somewhat, but the drill still augured through with no loss of power at all. Drilling the larger hole took a bit over 20 seconds.

Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus
Even the big 1″ bit powered steadily through.

Changing The Power On The Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer

After starting out with a Ridgid Octane 9.0 Ah battery, I changed batteries and drilled several more holes, alternating between a 6.0 Ah Octane battery and a 5.0 Ah Ridgid Hyper Lithium battery. Using the smaller Octane battery, I couldn’t really tell any difference in power, even with the big 1” bit. The 5.0 Ah battery worked well with the ½” bit. It was able to complete holes with the big bit, but it was struggling a bit toward the end.

All Ridgid 18V slide batteries will work; Octane batteries work best.

Most of the holes I drilled were solid concrete for most of the length of the bits. To fully bury the 12″ bit, I drilled a couple of holes in from the side of the slab. Once again, the drill powered quickly through, until the entire bit was buried in concrete.

To give the drill a bonus challenge, I drilled through the slab from the side…
ridgid octane sds-plus
And quickly buried the 12″ bit.

Hammering Out The Final Details

If you have occasion to drill good-sized holes through concrete on a regular basis, you should take the Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer for a spin. The tool is very robustly built, and the controls are well laid out, with virtually all adjustments tool-free. Its beefy brushless motor provides plenty of power, and run time during our testing was very good.

ridgid octane sds-plus
The Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus rotary hammer makes it easy to ventilate concrete.

The Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer is sold as a bare tool. If you already have a Ridgid 18V battery, preferably an Octane version, you’re good to go; otherwise you’ll need a battery and charger. The Home Depot offers various individual and combo kits including batteries and chargers. Here’s an insider’s tip: Frequently, you can buy a combo kit with an Octane tool that comes with a battery or two and a charger, for roughly the same price as the battery and charger alone.

The drill comes as a bare tool. Check for deals on combo kits with batteries.

You might also want to invest in a tool bag. I like to keep all my tools in a bag or case, both to protect them and make them easier to schlep around, and to keep the accessories from wandering off. I bought a 17 X 9 X 5” Ridgid bag separately for just over $20, and it’s big enough to stow the drill, auxiliary handle, several long bits, and three 18V batteries.

I bought a tool bag to keep everything corralled…
And make it easy to pick up and go.

Ridgid backs the big drill with a three-year limited warranty. It’s also eligible for Ridgid’s Lifetime Service Agreement; registering the Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer within 90 days of purchase entitles you to free parts and service for life. As this goes to press in June of 2020, the Home Depot has doubled its normal 90-day return period, giving you 180 risk-free days to ventilate some ‘crete and be a hard-core chiseler.

Buy the Ridgid Octane SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer from the Home Depot:

Buy Now - via Home Depot

I acknowledge that The Home Depot is partnering with Home Fixated in sponsored content. As a part of the sponsorship, Home Fixated is receiving compensation for the purpose of promoting The Home Depot. All expressed opinions and experiences are our own words. This post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

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About Phil

Phil’s path to the pinnacle of success as HomeFixated’s Senior Writer was long and twisted. At various stages of his life, he worked as a framing carpenter, attended motorcycle mechanics school, served as an Army MP, did a hot and itchy stint installing insulation in Phoenix, owned and operated a small contracting firm doing residential renovations, and worked as an employee of a major airline (Motto: We’re not happy ‘til YOU’RE not happy). He is currently semi-retired, but continues to take on little projects, such as the total renovation of an old farmhouse. Yes, he is a slow learner. Future projects include a teardown restoration of his 1965 BMW motorcycle, and designing and building a kick-ass playhouse for his grandsons. Phil loves spending time outdoors, hanging out with family and friends, cool tools, and a cold IPA when beer o'clock rolls around.

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