10 Best Drill Bits for Hardened Steel 2022 (Recommended)

Key Points:

  • All drill bits are not capable of handling hardened steel.
  • Alloy material with 5%-8% cobalt is best for working with hardened steel.
  • The bit sets reviewed in this article are the first preference of professionals for their design and cutting accuracy.

The science of figuring out drill bits can be quite complicated. While it’s true that for most household projects, you can get away with using a steel drill bit with a tapered point, the same isn’t true when working with hardened steel.

This is obviously because, unlike wood, plastic, or other materials, hardened steel is decidedly tougher. Drill bits specifically meant for hardened steel have certain characteristics that set them apart from other kinds, such as superior resistance to heat and a unique shape.

They also tend to be made from tougher materials. But instead of telling you, I am going to show you. Find my top 10 picks of the best drill bits for hardened steel below, along with a comprehensive buying guide.

Top 5 Hardened Steel Drill Bits:

  1. Best Overall: IRWIN 316015 Cobalt Drill Bit Set
  2. Best Value for Money: Irwin Industrial Tools 63221 Cobalt Set
  3. Best Organized Set: Drill America M35 Cobalt Drill Bit Set
  4. Best Bits with Sturdy Case: DEWALT DW1263 14-Piece Set
  5. Best for Professionally Designed Bits: DEWALT DW1354 Titanium Drill Bit Set
Best Drill Bits for Hardened Steel

What Are the Available Drill Bit Materials for Drilling Hardened Steel?

The material from which the drill bit is constructed is of the highest importance because it will determine the level of performance and efficiency you can expect from the drill bit.

The more resilient the material is, the easier it will be for you to drill through-hardened steel, which can be a decidedly difficult task. Here are the main materials used in making drill bits.

Cobalt

This is the most popular choice because of its versatility. Cobalt drill bits can drill through mild steel, tool steel, spring steel, and hardened steel. They are particularly suited to hand drills.

High-speed Steel

A cheaper option, high-speed steel material, is usually coated with titanium. As long as your drilling technique is sound, you can easily drill through normal steel. This type is also suitable for hand drills.

Carbide

This material will be able to drill through every steel type, no matter how hard. One big drawback, though, is that it’s not suitable for hand drills. Furthermore, quite a bit of caution is required in handling carbide drill bits. If you’re a DIYer, skipping this is a better idea.

Diamond Coated

This kind can cut through the majority of steel types. Do note, however, that the durability of diamond-coated drill bits is unreliable.

Among them, Cobalt is the top-recommended material here because of its hardness.

Top 10 Best Drill Bits for Hardened Steel Reviews

So, after much research and analysis, I present my top picks of the drill bits most suitable for use with hardened steel. If you’re unsure what you’re looking for though, scroll down to my buying guide for further assistance.

1. IRWIN 316015 Cobalt Drill Bit Set

Key Features:

  • Finish Type: Black Oxide
  • Cutting Angle String: 135 Degrees
  • Dimensions: 10.25 x 10.94 x 11.06 inches
  • Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Number of Bits: 15 pieces
IRWIN Drill Bit Set, Cobalt, 15-Piece (316015)

The first set of drill bits I’ve chosen for your consideration is a 15-piece set from Irwin, a name easily recognizable in the construction industry. This drill bit set offers commendable performance at very little maintenance.

With a 135-degree split point tip, these bits ensure that you can cut with less force. And because they start on contact, your project will be up and running in no time.

As the bits are made from cobalt steel, you can expect a long life for their cutting edge. They have been designed to be extra resistant to abrasion and heat for longer.

And, even when you feel like they might have started wearing out, just a little bit of sharpening goes a long way.

The same is true for lubrication. In the event of any unwanted friction—which won’t be happening any time soon anyway—just top them with lubricating oil, and you’ll be good to go.

Pros

  • The set has bits with different sizes suitable for different applications.
  • To use the bits on hardened steel, they have cobalt construction.
  • You can start drilling quickly with one 135-degree split point tip.
  • With special treatments, you can use the bits for longer than its competitors.
  • It comes with a protective sturdy case so that one can carry them anywhere.

Cons

  • In electric drills, users face some minor issues with these bits.

2. Irwin Industrial Tools 63221 Cobalt Drill Bit Set

Key Features:

  • Finish Type: Titanium Nitride, Black Oxide
  • Cutting Angle String: 135 Degrees
  • Dimensions: ‎11 x 2 x 2 inches
  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Number of Bits: 21 pieces
Irwin Industrial Tools 63221 Cobalt Fractional Straight Shank Jobber Length Metal Index Drill Bit Set

This 21-piece set I am going to review next is also from Irwin, so you know it’s going to be good. Especially if you’re on the market for the best drill bits for metal, then this set is particularly going to appeal to you. Let’s find out why.

Just like the 316015, the 63221 drill bits also come with a 135-degree split point. Not only does this reduce the need for undue amounts of force, but it also noticeably reduces feed pressure.

There’s a lot to love about the spiral flute design of these things as well. You will be enjoying faster chip ejection for a smooth and efficient job experience. Furthermore, because of the different bit sizes included in this set, you’re all set for any drilling applications.

But undoubtedly, the most impressive thing about these bits is their construction. Made from M-42 5% cobalt high-speed steel, these guys are super tough and extremely resistant to abrasion. That’s what makes them a perfect choice if you’re going to be cutting through tough metal.

Pros

  • Less torque and easy drilling through tough materials are possible because of shorter cutting lips.
  • Decreasing feed pressure is beneficial and these bits can provide that with 135-degree split point.
  • You will like the spiral flute design which is suitable for heavy-duty tasks.
  • These bits are well-built and provides longer service life.

Cons

  • You have to be careful with the bits using in electric drills.

3. Drill America M35 Cobalt Drill Bit Set (DWDCO Series)

Key Features:

  • Finish Type: Gold Oxide
  • Cutting Angle String: 135 Degrees
  • Dimensions: 6.54 x 3.43 x 3.35 inches
  • Weight: 2.20 pounds
  • Number of Bits: 29 pieces
Drill America 29 Piece M35 Cobalt Drill Bit Set

You may not recognize the name of this manufacturer right away, but there’s a reason this 29-piece set ended up on my list. With a high-quality cobalt construction and intuitive design, these things are extremely sharp and extremely high-performing.

First of all, because this is a 29-piece set, you’re bound to find the bits you need for any and all projects. The set comes with fractional sizes that increase by 1/64″, so precision will never be a concern as long as you know just which size you need.

The gold oxide coating is another huge plus about these things because it ensures higher durability and naturally provides lubrication.

With all of these features, it’s no wonder these things can cut through almost any material as if through butter. Particularly if you’re working with high tensile strength materials such as Inconel, titanium, or stainless steel, then this is a great and reliable option.

Pros

  • For easy accessibility and usage the bits come organized spirally in a sturdy case.
  • You can depend on these bits as they are extremely sharp reducing burr.
  • The package includes a wide range of sizes making it suitable for all kinds of projects.
  • The cobalt construction with special coating lets the bits maintain precision at all time.
  • One can easily sharpen the bits after some uses and save cost.
  • Considering the price and competitors, Drill America M35 performs better than its competitors.

Cons

  • Reading the bit size numbers is tough.

4. DEWALT DW1263 14-Piece Drill Bit Set

Key Features:

  • Finish Type: Gold Oxide
  • Cutting Angle String: 135 Degrees
  • Dimensions: 7.5 x 4.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Weight: 13.8 ounces
  • Number of Bits: 14 pieces
DEWALT DW1263 14-Piece Cobalt Pilot Point Drill Bit Set

And now I am back to the big names, which are big names for a reason. There’s no way you haven’t heard of DeWalt’s widespread popularity, no matter the extent of your experience. This 14-piece set is particularly impressive, for the following reasons.

This set of 14 bits has all the staple sizes that are most commonly used by DIYers and professionals alike. Made from industrial-strength cobalt, you can drill through stainless steel and even metal. That’s right; the best drill bits for drilling metal are sometimes not even the ones that advertise themselves to be!

The most notable feature of these things, however, is the “Pilot Point” tips. With an unmatched sharpness and intuitive spiral design, these bits start on contact. They go through almost any material you can think of with a clean and smooth efficiency that will make you forget how affordable the set was.

I also greatly appreciate the heavy-duty case that comes with the purchase. Made from high-quality ABS material, the case comes with a sliding rubber lock and interlocking hinge. Keep your bits protected both on the go and on the job!

On the whole, there’s nothing not to love about this set, especially given the price—you can’t go wrong with DeWalt!

Pros

  • With range of sizes starting from 1/6 inches to 3/8 inches make the package perfect for sensitive projects.
  • For maximum durability, the manufacturer made these bits with cobalt.
  • DeWalt has patented Pilot Point tip that starts drilling immediately on contact.
  • Also, the bits are capable of maintaining accuracy even on tough materials.
  • These are affordable drill bits for hardened steel and several other materials.

Cons

  • The bits are not as durable as some competitors.

5. DEWALT DW1354 Titanium Drill Bit Set

Key Features:

  • Finish Type: Titanium
  • Cutting Angle String: 135 Degrees
  • Dimensions: 8.75 x 8.75 x 1.38 inches
  • Weight: ‎14.9 ounces
  • Number of Bits: 14 pieces
DEWALT Drill Bit Set, Titanium, 14-Piece (DW1354)

Yep, my next pick is also from DeWalt, and for a good reason too. While this is a much more affordable set compared to the others by DeWalt I’ve already reviewed, it certainly performs as though it costs much more.

No matter whether you’re a DIYer or professional, these extremely strong and sharp titanium-coated drill bits are bound to impress you. Truly, the efficiency of DeWalt’s patented Pilot Tip can’t really be overstated. Not only do they start on contact, they also eliminate walking completely. The result is a smooth operation that produces incredibly clean holes every time.

There’s more to love about the design. The 3-flats shank work to decrease spinning in the chuck. Furthermore, because of its tapered web, each of these bits is guaranteed to surprise you with its long life, especially when you consider how low a price you’re paying for them.

However, do keep in mind that due to their titanium construction, these bits aren’t the best option if you’re working with very tough metals or steel.

If you need your drill bits to do that, it’s better to invest in a pricier cobalt set. Still, given the price and the range of sizes, I think the performance of this set is top-notch for plastics and wood.

Pros

  • With titanium coating, the bits are able to perform longer with superior performance.
  • DEWALT DW1354 bits are not susceptible to breaking because of tapered web design.
  • Exclusive and patented Pilot Point tip makes the bits start drilling on contact.
  • 14 different sizes packed in one box making it suitable for various projects.
  • The sturdy and durable plastic box keeps the bits safe from damaging.

Cons

  • DeWalt should make the case of this bit set more compact.

6. HYCLAT Titanium Step Drill Bit Set

Key Features:

  • Finish Type: Titanium
  • Cutting Angle String: 135 Degrees
  • Dimensions: ‎6.4 x 4.7 x 1.9 inches
  • Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Number of Bits: 5 pieces; 50 Sizes
  • Shank Type: Triangle
HYCLAT Titanium Step Drill Bit Set

If you’re on the hunt for a drill bit set that will easily allow you to perform multiple applications, this 5-piece step set from Hyclat is bound to fit your needs. With a rust-resistant titanium construction and two-flute design, these bits are worth your consideration, especially if you’re not looking to spend a lot.

So let’s look at some features. Able to provide up to 50 different size configurations, each of these one-step bits can drill a wide range of bore diameters. One important benefit of this is that you won’t have to continually replace the bits.

The high-speed steel construction with titanium coating offers time-tested longevity and performance, allowing you to drill through materials like aluminum, plastic, copper, and stainless steel with ease.

I am also quite impressed by the X-type openings and double cutting blades, which allow for drilling smooth, clean holes many times over before you have to sharpen the bits. This is also what makes the bits versatile in the range of applications they can be used in: you can use them to bur, drill, chamfer, and enlarge holes, hassle-free.

Pros

  • All drill bits in this set come with a convenient and sturdy case for easy carrying.
  • For smooth and efficient cutting, it has 3-sided shank and double cutting blades.
  • Professionals like it becaue of their wide range of compatibility and drilling applications.
  • Unique and intelligent design make it drill with minimal wastage.
  • You can depend on the drill bits as they are built to minimize shocks precenting snapping issue.

Cons

  • The coating on the bits tend to melt which flies while drilling and can be harmful for your skin.

7. Migiwata Metric M35 Cobalt Steel Drill Bit Set

Key Features:

  • Finish Type: Bronze Oxide
  • Cutting Angle String: 135 Degrees
  • Dimensions: 5.12 x 0.59 x 2.76 inches
  • Weight: 4.4 ounces
  • Number of Bits: 13 pieces
Hymnorq Metric M35 Cobalt Steel Extremely Heat Resistant Twist Drill Bits

Indeed, the last set of drill bits I’ve chosen for you to consider is not from a very well-known brand. But there’s a good reason for giving this set a place on my list, and it will especially appeal to you if you’re on a budget.

Despite the low price point, this set is made from a cobalt steel and molybdenum alloy, Cobalt, as you may have guessed by now is a prime choice for drill bit material. But more importantly, these bits have a surprising ability to resist heat, while offering a Rockwell hardness of 67.

In fact, you can even confidently expect these things to cut smoothly through decently tough materials such as cast iron, copper, iron, and stainless steel. And if you’re working with materials such as plastic or wood, it’ll be a long, long time before you even feel the need to sharpen your bits.

Do note, however, that these drill bits are not suited for drilling high carbon steel and heat-treated steel. If that’s what you’re concerned about, you should consider getting drill bits made from carbide. Given the price of these, though, the performance ability for suitable materials is still highly impressive.

Pros

  • Due to hardened build quality, the bits can cut easily through tough materials.
  • Considering the price, the drill bits’ resistance to heat and abrasion is very impressive.
  • Having 135-degree Quick-Cut point, the bits can be centered easily and cut with less pressure.
  • Straight shank feature lets you hold and cut with ultimate precision.
  • Wide range of bits from 1.5mm to 6.5mm helps you finish different types of jobs.

Cons

  • These bits can’t perform well in higher RPM.

8. Mastercraft Titanium Twist Drill Bit Set

Key Features:

  • Finish Type: Titanium
  • Cutting Angle String: 135 Degrees
  • Dimensions: ‎11 x 2 x 9 inches
  • Weight: ‎3.62 pounds
  • Number of Bits: 230 pieces
Mastercraft Titanium Twist Drill Bit Set

Class HSS drill bits are the way to go when you work with versatile materials such as wood, plastic or steel. This set of 230 drill bits coming in different sizes is bound to suit all your projects with the best outcome!

A bunch of well-made drill bits can last a long time with their excellent cutting edge and hardness. Mastercraft brings you a one of a kind set offering quality drill bits from a tiny 1/16″ to a mighty ½”!

A problem that many of us face with drill bits is that the sizes are rarely appropriate for screwing in the fastener I am working with. Luckily for this set, you have generous options in a big, black heavy-duty case for easy storage and carrying.

Whether you are an electrician, a carpenter or a handyman, over two hundred drill bits is a dream come true. The size index is printed on the case so you can have the right size drill just when you need it. The drill bits have an impressive surface hardness and on top of that, they are corrosion resistant. That’s why it’s considered as the best drill bits for metal.

What I truly liked about the bits is the 135° N-shaped split point at the top that decreases heat and friction from the drilling process while reducing drill walking for neat results!

Pros

  • The bits allow or support different materials making them convenient for progessional usage.
  • With 135° N-shaped split points, the bits introduce less drill walking.
  • Due to having titanium coating, there is less torque and friction while drilling.
  • The bits come in a sturdy and strong box for easy portability.

Cons

  • The set lacks standard tap sizes which make it not suitable for tapping.

9. Bosch 9-Piece Titanium Drill Bit Set

Key Features:

  • Finish Type: Titanium
  • Cutting Angle String: 135 Degrees
  • Dimensions: 4.84 x 0.64 x 7.8 inches
  • Weight: ‎5.3 ounces
  • Number of Bits: 9 pieces
BOSCH 9-Piece Impact Tough Titanium Drill Bit Set

While the fact that titanium coated drill bits last way more than regular steel bits, you are going to love this drill bit set by Bosch for its performance and unbeatable price. The drill bits sport a long flute design and it gives them an upper hand on material removal.

To begin with, these impact-rated bits have a cooling shield that protects them from rigorous drilling. Less heat is generated throughout the process and thanks to this feature, the bits are perfect for heavy construction work.

Moving on to the tip profile, their no-skate tips decrease drill walking a great deal and help you make deep holes without smudging the workpiece surface. The hex shanks are tough, durable and they fit both impact drivers and drill drivers just the same!

The flute construction is best for universal drilling. Not to mention, you can drill into hard steel workpieces with these incredibly strong drill bits.

In the box, you get 9 high-speed steel (HSS) drill bits starting from 1/16″ up to ⅜”. That said, the door to versatile drilling has now been opened to you.

Lastly, any screwdriver that accepts the ¼” hex shanks and power groove will work with this set without a problem.

Pros

  • One of the biggest benefits of this set is its compatibility with¼” hex drills.
  • The drill bits can easily and quickly remove materials from hardened surface due to their long flute design.
  • To reduce friction, the bits come with cooling shield.
  • These are titanium coated bits with no-skate tips which are suitable for drill drivers and impact drivers.

Cons

  • Compared to the specs, the bit set is a bit expensive.

10. Proffi 7-Piece Drill Bit Set

Key Features:

  • Finish Type: Gold
  • Cutting Angle String: 135 Degrees
  • Dimensions: 7.95 x 5.28 x 1.57 inches
  • Material: M2 HSS (with at least 5% Tungsten)
  • Weight: 14 Ounces
  • Number of Bits: 7 piece
 High Speed Steel Drill Bit for Professional Duty

This set of 7 drill bits is going to be the favorite addition to your toolbox when I tell you about its brilliant specs from the start! Hardened steel, alloys, plastic, cast iron- you name it; the drill bits are great for all!   It can be termed as the best drill bit for steel

For starters, they have a remarkable compatibility with many materials which are used extensively in construction works.

The 7-piece set might make you feel that you don’t have a lot of options, but truth be told, their carefully selected sizes are not going to disappoint. Crafted from M2 High-Speed Steel with at least 5% Tungsten, the drill bits have a premium surface hardness.

Their performance is also hard to beat. Proffi also claims that the drill bits are up to 25 times more durable than the regular HSS bits in the market. After all, many German car manufacturers, luxurious Swiss watch companies and top aerospace manufacturers use Proffi drill bits for their work!

Other than that, the specially designed split-point keeps drill walking to a minimum; giving you an easy start while keeping the process comfortable for you.

Pros

  • Because of having longer lifespan, both professionals and DIYers love these bits.
  • For precise and quick drilling, the set includes a 135° split tip.
  • The package includes 7 different drilling bits for various projects.
  • Minimum drill walking is another benefit of Proffi Drill Bits.

Cons

  • The bits are not as tough as marketed in drilling hardened steel.

You may love to read: Best Wood Screws Reviews

Buying Guide For Choosing the Best Drill Bits for Hardened Steel

Regardless of whether you take my reviews at face value, it’s still good to know what you’re spending your money on. Accordingly, here is a comprehensive list of factors to keep in mind when choosing the best drill bit for steel.

Material

I have already talked about the material preference of the drill bits meant for drilling hardened steel. So, let’s focus on the other parameters below.

Coating Type

The kind of coating on your drill bit has a direct effect primarily on the drill bit’s durability, and also on performance. Without a good coating, the bit will wear out faster.

The best drill bits for drilling steel will undoubtedly be the ones that have a strong coating, such as TiCN or black oxide.

Flute Design

The “flute” of the drill bit refers to the deep groove-like indentations that twist around the bit; its purpose is to give waste material a way out. There are 2 main types of flute design that you should know about.

First is the parabolic flute design. This kind is highly recommended if you are cutting through a softer material.

On the flip side, if you’re drilling through hardened steel, then you should go for the 30-degree angle design.

Drill Point Length and Angle

These considerations are related to the design of the drill bit.

First, let’s talk about drill point length, which should vary according to what material you’re working with. When you’re working with metal, shorter drill bits are ideal, because they are more rigid, and also allow for higher accuracy. With a longer bit, you run the risk of breaking the bit.

Next, I have the drill point angle. The standard angle is 118 degrees; however, if you prioritize faster drilling, then a 135-degree self-centering angle would be more suitable. This is particularly true if you are working on a steel surface.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I sharpen my drill bits?

Sharpening your drill bits is a popular and effective way of extending their longevity. Using a bench grinder or diamond file is a common way of doing this. Some even prefer to do it by hand. You can find several tutorials online.

2. Does the length of the drill bit matter?

Yes, definitely. When working with steel surfaces, especially, shorter drill bits will allow for greater speed and precision.

3. What is the best drill bit for hardened steel?

I am a big fan of all of the drill bit sets I’ve reviewed. However, the cobalt construction and unique Pilot Point tips make the DeWalt DW 1263 my top pick.

4. Will titanium drill bits cut through hardened steel?

Yes, titanium drill bits cut through hardened steel like the cobalt ones. But you must not expect the same result or durability in titanium.

5. Which is harder cobalt or titanium drill bits?

Both have almost the same hardness level but cobalt is slightly harder than titanium. According to real-life tests, cobalt deals with harder metals better than titanium.

Conclusion

The best drill bits for hardened steel come in many specifications.

However, in terms of performance and quality, the reasonably priced DeWalt DW1263 is undoubtedly my favorite.

If you’re on a bigger budget, don’t hesitate to get the Drill America set I reviewed. For those with smaller budgets, the DeWalt DW1354 is a great pick. And if my reviews don’t convince you, you can always refer to my buying guide. Whichever route you take, I wish you happy drilling!

About Sam Maxi

Hi, this is Sam Maxi. I love talking about woodwork tools and my reviews are mostly based on the experience I have from my work. Apart from reviewing, I am a huge fan of surfing. Also, I love watching horror genre movies.

Follow me: Facebook, Twitter

Leave a Comment