Best Drill Bit For Drilling Hardened Steel: Reviews

Drills and drill bits are often used in metalworking, woodworking, and other DIY crafts. However, not all drill bits are made equal, particularly when drilling into hardened steel. Not only does having the correct drill bit for the task save time and effort, but it also provides a clean, accurate cut.

This post will analyze the finest drill bits for hardened steel leveraging the MECE (Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive) framework. MECE is a problem-solving method that assists in breaking down significant challenges into smaller, more manageable bits. Using this framework, we can offer a complete and structured review of the many hardened steel drill bits available, their benefits and drawbacks, and, finally, which is ideal for the task.

Characteristics of Drill Bits for Hardened Steel

Drilling through hardened steel can be a challenging task that requires specialized equipment. One of the critical components of the drilling process is the drill bit, which must be carefully selected to ensure that it can handle the task. Here are some of the characteristics of drill bits specifically designed for drilling through hardened steel.

Hardness and durability

Drill bits for hardened steel must be tough and durable to withstand the wear and tear of drilling through rigid materials. These bits are usually made from high-speed steel (HSS), cobalt, or carbide, which are much more rigorous and robust than standard steel.

Heat resistance

Drilling through hardened steel generates a lot of heat, which can quickly damage or destroy a drill bit. Therefore, the set steel drill bits must resist heat and maintain strength even at high temperatures. Cobalt and carbide drill bits are particularly well-suited for this purpose because they have a higher melting point than HSS.

Precision and accuracy

Precision and accuracy are crucial when drilling through hardened steel. The drill bit must maintain its shape and size throughout the drilling process to ensure the hole is the correct size and shape. Additionally, the drill bit should have a sharp point and a clean cutting edge to prevent it from slipping or wandering off course.

In conclusion, the characteristics of drill bits for hardened steel are hardness and durability, heat resistance, precision, and accuracy. Choosing a drill bit with these characteristics ensures that your drilling process will be efficient, effective, and safe.

Types of Drill Bits for Hardened Steel

Drilling through hardened steel requires specialized drill bits to withstand high heat and pressure. Here are some of the most common types of drill bits that are used for drilling through hardened steel:

Cobalt drill bits

Cobalt drill bits are made from high-speed steel combined with cobalt to create a more rigid and heat-resistant material. These drill bits are well-suited for drilling through tough materials like hardened steel because they can maintain strength even at high temperatures.

Carbide drill bits

Carbide drill bits are made from tungsten carbide and cobalt and are known for their extreme hardness and durability. These drill bits are ideal for drilling through hardened steel and other hard materials like cast iron, ceramics, and titanium.

Diamond-coated drill bits

Diamond-coated drill bits are made by coating a standard drill bit with a layer of synthetic diamond particles. These drill bits are tricky and can quickly drill through hardened steel and other hard materials like glass, ceramics, and stone.

In conclusion, when drilling through hardened steel, choosing the right type of drill bit for the job is essential. Cobalt drill bits, carbide drill bits, and diamond-coated drill bits are all excellent choices for drilling through hardened steel, depending on the project’s specific needs.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Drill Bits for Hardened Steel

When drilling through hardened steel, choosing the right drill bit is essential for achieving accurate and efficient results. Here are some of the factors that should be considered when selecting drill bits for hardened steel:

The hardness of the steel

The hardness of the drilled steel is a crucial factor in selecting the right drill bit. Harder steels require drill bits made from durable materials like carbide or cobalt, whereas softer steels can be drilled with standard high-speed steel bits.

Drill bit size and shank size

The size of the drill bit is also an essential factor to consider. The diameter of the bit should be appropriate for the size of the hole being drilled. Additionally, the drill bit’s shank size should match the drill’s chuck to ensure a secure fit.

Drill speed and feed rate

The speed at which the drill bit rotates and the rate at which it advances into the steel are critical factors that impact the efficiency and effectiveness of the drilling process. The superior speed and feed rate will depend on the material being drilled and the size of the drill bit.

Cooling and lubrication

Drilling through hardened steel generates a lot of heat, which can cause the drill bit to overheat and wear down quickly. Therefore, it’s essential to use a cooling and lubrication system to keep the drill bit cool and lubricated during the drilling process. This can be achieved by cutting oils, coolants, or compressed air.

In conclusion, when choosing drill bits for drilling through hardened steel, it’s essential to consider factors like the hardness of the steel, drill bit size and shank size, drill speed and feed rate, and cooling and lubrication. By considering these factors, you can select the right drill bit for the job and achieve accurate and efficient results.

MECE Framework for Choosing the Best Drill Bit for Hardened Steel

The MECE (Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive) framework is a helpful technique for breaking down significant issues into smaller, more manageable ones. This framework can identify the numerous criteria that must be considered when selecting the optimal drill bit for hardened steel.

The MECE framework classifies aspects as mandatory, essential, or conditional. Let’s look at these factors and their significance in selecting the finest drill bit for hardened steel.

Mandatory elements

Mandatory elements are the most crucial and non-negotiable when selecting a drill bit. Several conditions must be satisfied for the drill bit to be judged appropriate for the purpose. The material of the drill bit, for example, must be robust enough to resist the rigors of drilling through hardened steel.

Essential elements

Essential elements are significant but may not be as crucial as necessary elements. The kind of drill bit, the coating of the drill bit, and the cutting angle, for example, are all essential elements to consider when selecting the optimum drill bit for hardened steel. These considerations help narrow down the possibilities and select the optimum drill bit for the given job.

Conditional elements

Conditional elements are less significant and may be relevant only in particular situations. These considerations improve the decision-making process and make the greatest drill bit even better. For example, if the project demands a smoother, slower cut rather than a quicker, more aggressive cut, the number of flutes on a drill bit may be a conditional element.

Finally, the MECE framework is a helpful tool for breaking down the tough challenge of selecting the optimal drill bit for hardened steel into smaller, more manageable portions. Understanding the MECE framework and its usefulness when selecting the best drill bit for hardened steel is critical for success, whether you are working on a building project, a DIY project, or any other form of metalworking. It is feasible to make an educated choice that considers all of the most significant aspects by classifying the elements as required, crucial, and conditional.

Comparison Table of our Best Drill Bits For Steel

Hardened steel is created from some of the hardest materials in the universe. Stainless steel is melted together with titanium and iron, and then the mixture is hardened at a very high temperature. The outcome is a material tougher than any of the original contents. So, if you thought drilling through stainless steel is a problem, then it’s about time you knew about a bigger problem, making a hole through-hardened steel.

  Product Name Sizes Materials  Quantity  
  DEWALT DW1354 Drill Bit Set, Titanium finish 1/6 to 1/2-Inch Metal 14  
  Bosch CO14B. Cobalt M42 Drill Bit Set Cobalt 14  
  IRWIN Drill Bit Set, M35 Cobalt Steel (3018002) 1/16 inch -1/2 inch in 1/64 inch increments Cobalt 29  
  DEWALT Cobalt Drill Bit Set with Pilot Point (DWA1240) (2) 1/16″ bit, (1) 5/64″ bit, (1) 3/32″ bit, (1) 7/64″ bit, (2) 1/8″ bit, (1) 9/64″ bit, (1) 5/32″ bit, (1) 3/16″ bit, (1) 7/32″ bit, (1) 1/4″ bit, (1) 5/16″ bit, (1) 3/8″ bit Cobalt 14  
  DEWALT DW1263 Cobalt Pilot Point Drill Bit Set (2) 1/16-inch, (1) 5/64-inch, (1) 3/32-inch, (1) 7/64-inch  (2) 1/8-inch, (1) 9/64-inch, (1) 5/32-inch, (1) 3/16-inch, (1) 7/32-inch, (1) 1/4-inch, (1) 5/16-inch, (1) 3/8-inch Cobalt 14  
  HYCLAT 5pcs Titanium Step Drill Bit   Cobalt 5  
  Drill America M35 Cobalt Drill Bit 1/16″ – 1/2″ X 64ths Cobalt 29  
  Hymnorq Metric M35 Cobalt Steel Extremely Heat Resistant Twist Drill Bits 1.5mm, 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm,3.2mm, 3.5mm, 4mm,4.5mm, 4.8mm, 5mm, 5.5mm, 6mm, 6.5mm M35 Cobalt High-Speed Steel 13  
  IRWIN Drill Bit Set, Cobalt(316015) 1/16″ Through 3/8″ Cobalt 15  
  IRWIN Drill Bit Set (63221) from 1/16″ to 3/8″ in 1/64″ in Cobalt 21  

Top 10 The Best Drill Bit For Hardened Steel- Reviews

Drilling through metal is tougher than wood. Therefore, you need to have a powerful drill bit that is specifically designed for drilling steel. We have reviewed the top 10 products that you can pick. These are amazing tools that will offer the best results when drilling through steel. Check their reviews.

DEWALT DW1354 Drill Bits for steel

DEWALT DW1354 Drill Bits for steel

Dewalt is a renowned brand when it comes to power tools. The DEWALT Drill Bit Set is an amazing tool that you can add to your toolbox. This drill bit features heavy-duty titanium pilot points that start right away on contact and prevent walking. The set includes a wide range of drill bits that use in wood and metal applications. Unlike other drill bits, this model features a no-spin shank, so the bits do not slip. Additionally, they feature tapered web to provide durability and reduce breakage.

To enhance their durability, the drill bits feature a titanium coating. If you would like to carry your tools on the go, the set comes with a long-lasting carrying case that helps you to keep them organized and safe. Another great aspect of this drill bit set is the connectable accessory that helps in optimizing the storage space. On top of that, they feature a patented bit-bar design that promotes easy bit removal as well as customizable placement. You can also see the contents at a glance because the lid is clear.

Item Specification:

  • Connectable accessory storage system to optimize storage space of drill bits for wood, metal, and plastic

  • Patented bit-bar design for easy removal and customizable placement of bits

  • Clear lid for easy visibility of contents

  • Clip latch for secure closing

  • Small Bulk Storage size fits inside the Small and Medium Tough Case Plus (sold separately)

  • Patented web taper to increase rigidity and decrease the potential for bit breakage

  • Proprietary PILOT POINT tip for speed and clear, burr-free holes, reducing bit walking

  • Ideal for use on metal, wood, and plastic.

2. Bosch CO14B Cobalt Drill Bits Set For Steel

Bosch is another top brand on the market that you can trust with quality tools. This is one of their best drill bit sets designed to provide you with durable performance. The drill bits are ideal for drilling hardened steel, titanium, cast iron, aluminum, and light gauge metal. They have high heat resistance and provide smooth and clean holes.

Unlike other drill bits, this set features an enhanced M42 alloy material that contains 8% cobalt alloy. This provides up to ten times more life as compared to the standard drill bits. They can withstand high temperatures, even when using them for an extended period. The drill bits feature a thick web helix design, and this offers more stability when handling tough projects. On top of that, they feature a surface-hardened tip that penetrates effectively on abrasive materials.

Item Specification:

  • Cobalt M42 drill bit for durability and high heat resistance
  • M42 alloy material contains 8% Cobalt for a 10x longer life than standard bits
  • High-heat resistant for extended use in high-temperature applications
  • Thick web-helix design for added stability in tough applications
  • Surface-hardened tip for penetrating tough abrasive materials
  • Includes sizes: 1/16″, 5/64″, 3/32″, 7/64″, 1/8″, 9/64″, 5/32″, 3/16″, 7/32″, 1/4″, 5/16″, 3/8″, 1/2″
  • Suitable for stainless steel, cast iron, titanium, light-gauge metal, and aluminum

IRWIN 3018002 Drill Bits Set for steel

Get the IRWIN Drill Bit Set if you intend to drill tough metals like hardened steel and heavy-duty abrasive alloy metals. The drill bit sets are made of high-grade material that offers a durable performance.

It features 8% of cobalt alloy, which is abrasion and heat-resistant. The set has a total of 29 pieces that come in various sizes to suit different drilling projects. Each of the drill bits features a 135-degree split point, so they start fast without walking across the surfaces.

The set contains drill bits in 1/16-1/2 inch bits in 1/64 inch increments. The drill bits with more than 3/8 inch feature reduced shank which allows you to use them with 3/8 inch drill chucks.

It comes with a convenient metal case that helps you organize the drill bits for safe storage and easy transportation.

4. DEWALT DWA1240 Drill Bits for steel

DEWALT DWA1240 Drill Bits for steel

Finding quality drill bits for hardened steel can be tough. Some models break with ease while others cannot withstand heat. Dewalt provides you with an exceptional drill bit set that works well on hard metals. These drill bits provide maximum speed without compromising durability. They are designed for use on hard metals, and they deliver incredible drilling results. The set is ideal for drilling through stainless steel, i-beams, and angle iron, among other tough metals. You will get 14 pieces in various sizes to suit your drilling requirements.

The drill bits feature a pilot point and a slit tip design to provide clean and accurate holes. This reduces lock-up when breaking through. When it comes to construction, the drill bits feature industrial-strength cobalt that provides extended life. Additionally, you will not have a bit of walking, which gives you better control when doing your work.

  • Connectable accessory storage system to optimize storage space of drill bits for wood, metal, and I-beams.

  • Patented bit-bar design for easy removal and customizable placement of bits.

  • Clear lid for easy visibility of contents.

  • Clip latch for secure closing.

  • Small Bulk Storage size fits inside the Small and Medium Tough Case+ (sold separately) for the organization of loose bits.

5. DEWALT DW1263  Cobalt Pilot Point Drill Bits For Steel

DEWALT DW1263 Cobalt Pilot Point Drill Bits For Steel

This is another great drill bit set from Dewalt. Just like the previous model, this one also includes 14 pieces of drill bits that are commonly used. The drill bits are designed to provide faster cutting and durable performance.

They feature a pilot point tip design that ensures there is no walking at start-up, and this gives users with increased precision. The drill bits are made of a quality cobalt material that is tough and suitable for drilling through tough metals like stainless steel.

You will find the bits in different sizes, and they are well-packed in a case that keeps them organized for easy transportation. The case features a heavy-duty industrial-grade ABS material, and it protects the drill bits during transportation.

Additionally, the labeled slots for every drill bit combined with the advanced drill bit holder offer easy organization, and you can identify the bits that you need with ease.

Item Specification:

  • Maximum speed and life in stainless steel and other hard metals.

  • Pilot Point tip starts on contact for clean, accurate holes and reduces lock-up on breakthrough.

  • Industrial-strength cobalt alloy for optimum life and durability in metal.

  • The heavy-duty case is made from industrial-grade ABS material.

  • 14 bits ranging from 1/16-inch to 3/8-inch.

HYCLAT Titanium Step Drill Bits For Steel

Purchasing drill bits in sets is a great idea because you get different sizes at a pocket-friendly price. The HYCLAT drill bit set contains five-piece step bits that allow you to make 50 sizes.

When it comes to construction, the drill bits feature high-speed titanium steel and a titanium coating to offer better performance and durability. This helps you drill holes in a wide range of materials like plastic, metal, copper, stainless steel, and aluminum, among others.

Unlike other drill bits, this model provides smooth and faster cuts. The bits feature double-cutting blades, and a three-sided shank to offer the best drilling performance. On top of that, you can enjoy a versatile performance because the drill bits work on the chamfer, enlarging holes and bur, among others.

They also work with a wide range of materials. The set comes in a protective aluminum case that keeps them safe, so they don’t get dull. You will also find canvas packing that is light and easy to carry.

As compared to other conventional drill bits, this set offers minimal shock and less friction, which extends their life.

Item Specification:

  • 5pcs step drill bits that can function in 50 sizes, saving time and effort.

  • Made of Titanium high-speed steel for durability and capability in drilling holes in several types of metal sheets.

  • Double-cutting blades and 3-sided shank design for faster, smoother cutting and reduced slipping.

  • Versatile use for chamfering, burring, drilling, and enlarging holes in wood, sheet metal, steel, and more.

  • Comes with a protective aluminum case or canvas bag, and a 24-month warranty. Ideal as a gift for DIY enthusiasts.

7. Drill America DWDCO Cobalt Drill Bits For Steel

Looking for a thoughtful gift to give a DIY lover? You can consider the Drill America 29 Piece drill bit set. This is a nice set that comes with all the bits that you need. You will get 29 pieces that are available in different sizes to suit your drilling requirements.

The drill bits are easy to use and access. You can keep your hands free by hanging them on your belt when you are working. They come in a nice plastic case with a beautiful design to make transportation and storage easy.

The set also fits well in any place just as you would place your travel coffee mug in your car. They have a 135-degree split point tip for effective self-centering, and this reduces thrust. This is unlike other models that have 118 degrees.

All the drill bits feature durable construction, and they are rust-resistant. You can use them to drill a wide range of materials like stainless steel, steel, metal, titanium, and Inconel. These are tough materials, and you can be sure of the best drilling outcome.

Item Specification:

  • Set of 29 jobber length drill bits in inch sizes 1/16″ to 1/2″ in 1/64″ increments

  • Made of cobalt steel for extended tool life when drilling hard materials

  • Gold oxide finish for lubrication and wear resistance

  • Self-centering 135-degree split point for easy penetration of hard materials without a pilot hole and producing small chips to reduce clogging

  • Meets ANSI specifications.

8. Hymnorq Metric Drill Bits for steel

Hymnorq Metric Drill Bits for steel

You need a powerful drill bit set for cutting through hard metals like steel and cast iron. The Migiwata Metric M35 provides an exemplary performance when for repeated drilling in metals. This drill bit set provided a 135-degree split point, so you don’t require a lot of force to remove the metal. This is unlike when using lower angles like 90 and 118 degrees. Another great aspect of this drill bit set is the self-centering split point. It allows you to drill directly to the required size without doing any pre-drilling.

On top of that, it features a twist drill bit body with a high-flow spiral design to give you faster removal when you are drilling through thick materials. These drill bits also feature heavy-duty construction, so they don’t break with ease during operation. They are designed with a straight shank that is ideal for the standard drill chuck. The end of the shank is chamfered to offer a firm holding.

The set works amazingly well when it comes to cutting through hard metals like stainless steel and cast iron. But you can also use the drill bits on softer materials. For ease of use, you can download the user guide that provides you with more tips for effective operation.

Item Specification:

  • Set of 13 cobalt steel twist drill bits, made of M35 cobalt steel with added molybdenum and cobalt for the hardened alloy with a Rockwell hardness up to 67, providing faster cutting and longer lifespan.

  • 135° Quick-Cut points are self-centering and penetrate quickly with less pressure, reducing “walking” or “wandering”

  • Straight shank allows for firm holding and accurate centering and fits standard drill chucks and regular round collet chucks.

  • The set includes 13 metric sizes: 1.5mm, 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 3.2mm, 3.5mm, 4mm, 4.5mm, 4.8mm, 5mm, 5.5mm, 6mm, 6.5mm

  • Suitable for metalworking, particularly efficient in cutting through hard metals such as stainless steel and cast iron, and comes with a downloadable user guide with tips and an RPM chart for drilling different metals.


9. IRWIN 316015  Drill Bits Set for steel

Investing in cheap and low-quality drill bits will not give you an incredible performance when drilling through hard metal. This is why you need a tough drill bit set like this one to help you drill through tough metal, heavy-duty abrasive, hardened steel, and many others.

The drill bits feature heavy-duty construction, which makes them durable. Additionally, they are heat and abrasion-resistant. The cobalt steel construction prolongs the edge life and helps in maintaining the cutting life after you re-sharpen the drill bits.

They provide you with a 135- degree split point tip on contact, meaning that you can use less force when drilling. The drills are also extra hard, which reduces their chances of wear. Therefore, you can enjoy prolonged use without compromising a better outcome.

The set comes nicely packed in a rugged case featuring a rubber over-mold to provide more impact resistance and sliding. Additionally, they feature a latch design that provides more security.

Item Specification:

  • Clear visible lid for easy viewing of contents

  • Stackable design for convenient travel and storage

  • Accessible for customizable kits

  • Redesigned tip for promoting long life

  • Three-flatted shank design suitable for keyless chucks

10. Irwin 63221 Industrial Drill Bits For Steel

This is another amazing drill bit that offers a high-speed performance when cutting through tough metal like steel. The set features a highly abrasive resistance, and this makes it tough on metals.

Each of the drill bits features a quality spiral flute design that offers effective chip ejection. The drill bits have a 135-degree split point to minimize feed pressure and offer easy penetration.

On top of that, they feature shorter cutting tips that also reduce drilling torque when working with high-tensile strength metals. All the drill bits feature a cobalt construction with high abrasive resistance to handle tough metals.

Item Specification:

  • Drill bits made of M-42 5% Cobalt Alloy Steel high-speed steel for high abrasive resistance in tough metals

  • 135-degree split point reduces feed pressure for easy penetration without work hardening

  • Heavy-duty spiral flute design for faster chip ejection

  • Shorter cutting lips reduce torque for drilling in high-tensile-strength materials

  • Comes in a metal index case for organization and storage.


YouTube Video Credit: Tyler Grigg


What is the difference between hardened steel and regular steel?

Hardened steel is a form of steel that has been heated and treated to improve its hardness and strength compared to ordinary steel. Regular steel, often known as mild steel, is less rigid and more ductile than stainless steel, making it less appropriate for applications requiring great strength and endurance.

Can I use a regular drill bit on hardened steel?

No, a standard drill bit cannot be used to drill through hardened steel. Because hardened steel is significantly more rigid and more difficult to drill than conventional steel, it necessitates using a specialist drill bit manufactured particularly for this material.

What type of drill bit is best for hardened steel?

Cobalt is a challenging and long-lasting metal that can resist the rigors of drilling through hardened steel. A cobalt drill bit is the best drill bit for hardened steel. Depending on the exact project needs, other drill bits, such as carbide or high-speed steel, may also be acceptable for drilling through hardened steel.

Is a cobalt drill bit better for drilling through hardened steel?

Cobalt drill bits are frequently superior to high-speed steel drill bits for drilling through hardened steel because they are composed of a more substantial and lasting substance. Cobalt drill bits are also resistant to heat, making them less prone to shatter or dull after extended usage.

How can I determine the hardness of the steel I want to drill?

A Rockwell hardness tester or a Brinell hardness tester may be used to determine the hardness of the steel you intend to drill. These gadgets determine the hardness of steel by applying a predetermined force and measuring the size of the resulting indentation. The resultant value may then be compared to a defined scale to establish the steel’s hardness. Suppose you need access to a hardness tester. In that case, you may seek help from a metallurgical engineer or a metal supplier to determine the hardness of the steel.

What is the best type of drill bit for hardened steel?

You can use any drill bits made of steel. I drill at a slow speed with cobalt drill bits that are made of steel. keep drill bits sharp all the time.

What kind of speed will I use when drilling steel?

Slow speed is the best way to drill steel.

How does oil work in steel drilling?

It lubricates the drill bits and keeps their temperature down, which protects the drill bit from being damaged.

Disadvantages of Fast Steel drilling.

If drill bits get hot through drilling steel they will dull easily.


As I conclude, I would recommend the overall best drill bit for drilling hardened steel projects. But then, I think I’d better leave that to you. Remember, all the above drill bits are perfect for powering through very hard surfaces. But some are even better, by being able to work on multiple other surfaces other than just hardened steel.

As at this point, picking your favorite drill bit from our list will depend on your personal needs. And also, the kind of projects you handle greatly influence the instrument you need. The best part is, through a touch of professionalism and expertise, we managed to review the top products in detail. This makes things a lot easier for you as a buyer.

Besides, the most important features depending on different tasks have also been explained. This is meant to enlighten you on what to look for in drill bits for hardened steel and other tough surfaces. Therefore, landing the right bit for your drilling projects will not be a problem anymore. Thanks to our handy experts.

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Hello. You've come to the right place if you want to learn more about power drills and how to make your home improvement projects go quicker and easier. I'm Jacob P., the founder and content writer of Anyone who needs assistance with a project or has a query about how something works (or doesn't) can count on me to share my expertise.