Few tools are as versatile as the common claw hammer. Equally adept at creation and destruction, these tools have the power to breathe life into a project or completely dismantle it with just a couple of swings. You’ll rarely see a toolbelt that isn’t loaded with one of these tools.
Hammers might be the earliest of all hand tools. In fact, archaeologists discovered primitive stone hammers in Kenya that date back 3.3 million years! Of course, the hammers we use today are a far cry from that outdated stone-age technology. Modern hammers are well-balanced, offer excellent leverage, and even have additional features built-in to increase their usefulness.
If you’ve been to a home improvement store recently, then you know that there are hundreds of hammers to choose from. So, how are you supposed to pick just one? Well, you can start by reading the following 10 reviews that will compare some of the best and see how they stack up.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Estwing E3-16S Claw Hammer||
|Best Value||Stalwart 75-HT3000 Hardwood Claw Hammer||
|Premium Choice||Stiletto FH10C Claw Hammer||
|IRWIN 1954889 Claw Hammer||
|Best Choice Stubby Claw Hammer||
The 10 Best Claw Hammers – Reviews 2021
1. Estwing E3-16S Claw Hammer – Best Overall
Hammers lead difficult lives that consist of getting their heads bashed in daily. To endure such an existence, they need to be robust and durable, which is why the Estwing E3-16S Claw Hammer is forged as a single piece of solid steel. The handle and head are all one piece, ensuring there are no weak points in the design. This makes for an incredibly strong hammer, though it also causes it to ring like a tuning fork when you strike it.
To make sure that your bones don’t ring like the hammer from each impact, a shock-absorbing grip was used that reduces 70% of impact vibrations.
This hammer features a rip claw that allows you to yank boards apart, remove nails, and perform other demolition tasks. On the other side of the head, the smooth face is perfect for finish work and isn’t as likely to mar if you accidentally hit something you didn’t mean to.
Luckily, Estwing’s hammers are warrantied against failure from normal use. Unless you decide to throw this hammer off of skyscrapers, it might be the last hammer you ever need to purchase.
2. Stalwart 75-HT3000 Hardwood Claw Hammer – Best Value
A tool doesn’t have to be expensive to deliver quality, as proven by the Stalwart 75-HT3000 Hardwood Claw Hammer. It’s priced much more affordably than most competitors, though it’s still loaded with great features that we think make it one of the best claw hammers for the money.
For instance, the anti-vibration handle is carved from natural hardwood and helps to reduce the impact you feel from each strike. It’s polished so it looks and feels nice, though it’s not as sturdy as other hammers we’ve tested and it wouldn’t be our top choice for heavy professional use.
This hammer has a curved claw that’s great for pulling nails, though it’s not the best choice for demolition work. Opposite the claw, the face is smooth so that it’s less likely to mar if you miss a nail and hit your material instead. Overall, it’s a great deal for the price and we’re confident that you’ll agree.
3. Stiletto FH10C Claw Hammer – Premium Choice
It’s hard to avoid getting sticker shock when looking at a hammer that costs almost 10 times as much as some of the competition. But the Stiletto FH10C Claw Hammer is one of the most impressive hand tools we’ve used.
It’s well-built and feels very solid with a head that’s crafted completely from titanium. The head weighs just 10 ounces, but it has the driving power of a 16-ounce hammer, saving your muscles. It also absorbs a majority of each impact, thanks in part to the hickory handle that absorbs a lot of the shock.
The only downside to this tool is that it’s not intended for banging on hardened steel tools like chisels that can actually dent the titanium head.
For professionals who rely on their hammer daily, this Stiletto hammer is built to hold up. Moreover, it’ll help you get more out of yourself since it spares your joints and muscles with each strike.
4. IRWIN 1954889 Claw Hammer
When a tool is warrantied for life against normal use like the IRWIN Claw Hammer, you know that it’s a well-built tool you can rely on. But that’s not the only great thing about this hammer. It’s got a forged steel head durable with a smooth face that’s less likely to mar any surfaces you hit accidentally. Unfortunately, it’s not as hard as we’d like. Ours got several dents from hard impacts, particularly against steel tools like chisels.
Banging a hammer around all day can create some serious impact on your joints and bones. Luckily, this hammer has a vibration-absorbing fiberglass handle that doesn’t transfer as much impact. Plus, the ProTouch grip reduces impacts even further and provides great grip so the hammer never slips.
One big complaint we have with this tool is how the head and handle are joined. They’re glued together with epoxy. For light-duty use, this is fine. But if your hammer is going to be abused, we’d recommend looking for one that’s a bit more durable.
5. Best Choice Stubby Claw Hammer
Not every hammer is intended for building homes or destroying them. Take the Best Choice Stubby Claw Hammer, for instance. At less than 7 inches long, you can safely call this tool tiny. But if you just need a hammer for hanging a picture frame on occasion, then this tool is perfect. Its small size makes it easy to store, just don’t lose it in the junk drawer!
If you’ve ever accidentally hit your thumb instead of the nail head you were aiming for, then you’ll appreciate the magnetic nail holder built-into this hammer. It will hold your nail straight so that you can get it started without the need for holding it with your other hand.
This hammer has a curved claw that’s great for pulling nails. With a hammer this size, even if it was a rip claw, it wouldn’t be good for much else. Don’t expect to build or demo anything serious with this hammer. It’s made from soft alloy that won’t hold up to the abuse. But if you need a tiny tool to stash away for the rare moments you need it, then this hammer is the perfect candidate.
6. CRAFTSMAN CMHT51399 Claw Hammer
Sometimes, you need a bit more oomph behind your swing, which is where the 20-ounce head on the CRAFTSMAN CMHT51399 Claw Hammer comes into play. The extra weight gives you more power and leverage when you need to drive large framing nails or something similar. Likewise, you’ll have more power to drive the rip claw into boards for removing them and pulling things apart.
Of course, there’s a downside to that extra weight. It might give you more power, but it also takes more energy, wearing you out quicker. You’ll also notice that this hammer is a bit more expensive than many competitors, which is likely because of the 20-ounce head.
Still, you can’t complain about some features on this hammer, such as the full lifetime warranty that protects it. We also liked the overstrike protection on the handle near the head. This reinforces the hammer in the critical area where you’re most likely to make impact if your swing misses. Thanks to this feature, you’re much less likely to need that warranty, but we still like the peace of mind it provides.
7. Dewalt Dwht51048 Rip Claw Hammer
DeWalt is one of the most trusted names in tools and we’ve used many of their products with great success over the years. Unfortunately, the DeWalt 51048 Rip Claw Hammer didn’t live up to our expectations.
This hammer looks unique. It’s also more expensive than the competition by a wide margin, so we had high hopes when we started using it, but they were quickly dashed. First, we noticed that there were rough edges inside the claw that made it difficult to pull nails. Not to mention, the claw is straight like a rip claw, but it’s too short to be of much use. For us, this is a major oversight.
Still, there were things about this hammer we liked. It’s got a built-in nail start system that allows you to start nails with one hand. The face is also smooth, making it less likely to leave marks if you miss. We also liked the weight distribution of this hammer that gave it a good feel overall, but there were simply too many flaws for us to get past.
8. Edward Tools Oak Claw Hammer
We like affordable tools, so we were hoping that the Edward Tools Oak Claw Hammer would be a winner since it’s one of the cheapest hammers we tested. Despite the low price, it’s equipped with some great features like a contoured anti-vibration handle made from solid oak or the lifetime warranty that protects this tool.
But the downsides vastly outweighed the positives when we started using it. The head is forged carbon steel, which is great. But it wasn’t securely attached to the handle. It was loose right out of the box, which didn’t instill any confidence.
The handle had two stickers on it when the hammer arrived. We removed them, but they left sticky glue all over the handle. Then, we noticed on the first swing that this hammer is completely unbalanced. It just doesn’t feel good to use. For us, that was the last straw, which is why this hammer is ranked so low on our list.
9. TEKTON 30123 Jacketed Fiberglass Claw Hammer
The TEKTON Jacketed Fiberglass Claw Hammer is built with an impact-resistant fiberglass handle that saves your joints and bones from the jarring impact of metal on metal. It’s available with either a flattened or curved claw, depending on your needs.
On paper, this tool looks great. In person, it leaves a lot to be desired. To begin with, the head is bonded to the handle with epoxy, which is a very weak method of attachment. Ours started coming loose pretty quickly. All it took was a few hard impacts and they were beginning to separate.
We were certain the head would come off soon, but we were surprised when the handle broke instead! It occurred right below the head in the thinner part of the handle. Obviously, this presents a danger, so we can’t recommend this hammer.
10. Stanley STHT51346 Curve Claw Fiberglass Hammer
This Stanley hammer is more expensive than most competitors, but we’ve had good luck with Stanley tools in the past, so we decided to give it a chance anyway. It’s got some great features that we loved, such as the Stanley lifetime warranty that protects the tool for life. We also liked the reinforced overstrike protection plate that absorbs missed hits.
But for the price, we were hoping for a better product. This hammer is smaller than it appears. When you hold it, it feels undersized, making it difficult to get a comfortable, secure grip. It’s nearly an inch shorter than most of the other hammers we tested, and you can feel the lack of leverage when you’re trying to get some power behind your swing.
The worst flaw with this hammer is that the head is attached with epoxy. After only a few hours of use, the head was beginning to get loose. We didn’t want to give it the chance to come off and cause an injury, so we left it there. For the price, there are much better hammers available, so we don’t recommend this one.
From hanging pictures to building homes, hammers can be used for a wide variety of tasks. But different traits will mean that some hammers are better suited for certain tasks than others. So, how do you decide on a single hammer to trust?
After using and abusing dozens of hammers on hundreds of projects, we’ve whittled the list of features down to the most important ones that you need to consider before purchasing a hammer. If you keep these things in mind, you’re sure to get a hammer that’s perfect for your needs.
One of the most important things you must decide is what weight of hammer you need. Hammers come in a wide range of weights and sizes, though most fall between 8-42 ounces.
Lighter hammers are smaller, easier to wield, and won’t wear you out as quickly. On the other hand, they don’t provide as much leverage or strength. Driving long nails will be difficult with a light hammer, though you’ll have a much easier time driving finish nails since the lighter hammer is less likely to bend them.
Heavier hammers will wear you out more and they take up more space on your toolbelt or in your toolbox. But they also give you a lot more power. Driving long nails requires a heavier hammer, though a heavy hammer can easily bend finish nails.
For claw hammers, the average size is 16 ounces and almost every hammer on this list was a 16-ounce hammer with just a few exceptions. In general, this is a great all-around weight for most tasks. That said, if you’re doing framing work, you’ll want a heavier hammer that’s closer to 20 ounces. If you’re only going to hang picture frames, then a light hammer will do great.
When you compare hammers, one of the biggest differences you’ll notice between models is the materials that they’re made from. Every part of the hammer can be made from different materials, including the head, handle, and even how they’re attached.
Most commonly, you’ll see handles that are made from either wood or fiberglass. Both materials will absorb vibrations and help reduce the amount of impact that you feel.
Wooden handles are usually polished or etched. Fiberglass handles are usually wrapped with an additional layer of rubber that provides improved vibration dampening and gives you a better grip.
Some hammers feature a metal handle that’s the most durable of all. These hammers are usually forged into a single piece, strengthening the area where hammers are most likely to break; right below the head.
The most common material you’ll find used to make a hammer head is steel. Generally, it’s drop-forged and hardened so that it can endure repeated abuse.
Some hammers use a steel alloy instead. Most often, you’ll find this on small hammers like stubbies that aren’t intended for hard use.
Other hammers that tend to occupy the top of the price range feature titanium heads. These heads are great at absorbing impacts and can save your joints and bones. But they’re not great if you need to hit steel tools like chisels since they can dent the titanium.
There are several methods for attaching the head to the handle. The most durable hammers are a single piece of forged steel.
Other hammers use epoxy to glue the head onto the handle. This is the weakest method of attachment and we’ve had the heads come off of several hammers that were constructed like this.
Some hammers with wooden handles use a metal wedge inserted inside the wood to pressure fit it to the handle. These tend to be much stronger and more secure than epoxied handles.
Other buyer’s guides:
A good hammer is an investment that will keep on paying you back for years. You might have already decided on the right one after reading our reviews, but if you’re still on the fence, we’re going to reiterate our top picks once more.
The Estwing E3-16S Claw Hammer is our number one pick. It’s super durable since the entire tool is forged as a single piece of solid steel, and it’s even warrantied against failure from normal use. Plus, the shock-absorbing grip reduces 70% of impact vibrations, saving your arms and prolonging your energy.
When you want a quality tool at a budget price, we recommend the Stalwart 75-HT3000 Natural Hardwood Claw Hammer. It’s got a drop-forged steel head with an anti-vibration handle and it’s one of the most affordably priced models we tested.
For professionals who need tools with no compromises and they’re willing to spare no expense, we suggest the Stiletto FH10C Claw Hammer. It’s got a 10-ounce titanium head with the driving force of a 16-ounce hammer with a shock-absorbing hickory handle, saving your joints and muscles so you can keep working for longer.
Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Pete has been working in the trades since high school, where he first developed a passion for woodworking. Over the years, he has developed a keen interest in a wide variety of DIY projects around the home. Fascinated by all sort of tools, Pete loves reading and writing about all the latest gadgets and accessories that hit the market. His other interests include astronomy, hiking, and fishing.
As the founder of House Grail, David’s primary goal is to help consumers make educated decisions about DIY projects at home, in the garage, and in the garden.
- 1 A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- 2 The 10 Best Claw Hammers – Reviews 2021
- 2.1 1. Estwing E3-16S Claw Hammer – Best Overall
- 2.2 2. Stalwart 75-HT3000 Hardwood Claw Hammer – Best Value
- 2.3 3. Stiletto FH10C Claw Hammer – Premium Choice
- 2.4 4. IRWIN 1954889 Claw Hammer
- 2.5 5. Best Choice Stubby Claw Hammer
- 2.6 6. CRAFTSMAN CMHT51399 Claw Hammer
- 2.7 7. Dewalt Dwht51048 Rip Claw Hammer
- 2.8 8. Edward Tools Oak Claw Hammer
- 2.9 9. TEKTON 30123 Jacketed Fiberglass Claw Hammer
- 2.10 10. Stanley STHT51346 Curve Claw Fiberglass Hammer
- 3 Buyer’s Guide
- 4 Conclusion