Best Drill Bit for Steel and Metal: A Comprehensive Review

Best Drill Bits for Steel and Metal

A high-performance, sturdy, energy efficient drill set is a tool to swear by, be it a professional or an enthusiastic DIYer, when it comes to construction jobs.

But even a good drill set gets put to a tough test when facing hard metals. Finding the best drill bit for steel or metal is an absolute must if you're a serious DIYer.

A drill set attributes a large part of its efficiency to the quality of the drill bit. A good drill bit allows the strength and versatility of it realized fully and its importance gets even more pronounced when working with tough materials, like metals.

What To Look For?

Picking out the perfect drill bit for steel, suited to your project requirements can be tough, given the large variety of materials, strengths and designs they are available in.

Frequency of use should be pre-meditated to get an estimate of the price range in which you should look for the drill bit. It would be unwise to invest in an expensive drill bit, designed with a premium metal and peculiar tip design, if you are not going to use it regularly.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind when browsing the market for drill bits to use for jobs concerning metals:

  • Material of the drill bit: Drill bits can be found in a number of metal variants and each is fit to be used when working with certain materials. Where steel bits are used for, carbide-tipped bits are suitable for masonry. When concerned with metals, you should look for sturdy varieties that can deliver high performance on tough materials without withering. An excellent bet can be a cobalt bit that performs well with metals like aluminium and even harder ones, like stainless steel, though they come at a comparatively heavy price tag.  High-Speed Steel or HSS bits are stronger than their steel counterparts and work well under high heat conditions. Black-oxide coated HSS bits exhibit high-functionality with metals and come with the HSS advantage of high durability and heat resistance. Sturdier still are Titanium-coated HSS bits. They drill through metal smoothly and resist corrosion longer.
  • Type: Once you have made up your mind about the type of material you want for your drill bit, the next important step is to look for the correct type or design of the bit. Drill bits are available in a variety of designs with different drilling angles. These differences make them suitable for use with a range of materials and jobs. For use with hard metals, the most recommended type is the Step bit. It is a conical drill bit that allows drilling through sheet metal. In addition, holes of varied sizes can be drilled using it as the bit has progressing grooves of increasing diameters. Twist bits with flatter angles can also be used for the job but do not stand against thick materials. For special purposes that require very large holes to be drilled, metal hole saws made with HSS steel are the best fit.
  • Durability: Drilling through hard metals is not an easy job and the drill bit naturally, takes the heaviest toll. Therefore, heat and corrosion resistance should feature on your checklist when picking out a drill bit. Titanium and cobalt bits score excellently on this criteria.
  • Can it be sharpened: A lot of friction and heat is generated when metals are drilled through. Over time, this causes the drill bit to lose its edge. A drill bit that can be sharpened once it wears out poses as an economical option. Cobalt bits can be sharpened when they wear out. Titanium bits are harder and therefore tougher to sharpen. Sharpening can also compromise the Titanium oxide coating on these bits. However, if they require sharpening in the first place, that doesn’t matter.
  • Tip Design: When drilling through metals, experiments show that a flatter angled tip works better than one that is at a pointed angle.
  • Coating on the Drill point: The tip or point of the drill bit is coated with a metal alloy to increase sturdiness and performance. Black oxide coating provides strength, but is not suitable for use on non-ferrous metals. TiN and TiCN, both make the drill bit capable of drilling through strong metals by making them harder and corrosion-resistant.

Top 5 Picks for the Best Drill Bits for Steel and Metal

Once you have decided the kind of project you are going to undertake and the type of metal you will be dealing with, it becomes easier to envision a checklist of criteria that your equipment should meet.

A bit that does not drill a hole in your pocket and yet gives value for your money can be difficult to find, given the wide range of products available in the market. Here are some of our favorites:​

1. Bosch CO18 18-Piece Cobalt Twist Drill Bit Assortment in Plastic Case

Bosch CO18 18-Piece Cobalt Twist Drill Bit Assortment

This 18-piece twist drill bit set from the trusted brand of Bosch is an excellent choice if you are looking to work with hard metals. Steel bits come with cobalt coating to provide enhanced strength that elevated performance and conserves effort. The bits angled at 135-degree help avoid any skating, delivering accurate results. The set contains a variety of bits- from 1/16 inch to ½ inch that offer versatility and becomes a good investment. It has an overall bit hardness of 66-68 HRC and works well with challenging metals like treated stainless steel and cast iron.

Excessive heat generation due to friction can often water-down the bit’s performance. However, the cobalt alloy used in this set offers great heat resistance of up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, for long periods. The bits come encased in a specially designed plastic case with a warranty of up to 1 year.

Things We Liked

  • Deliver high-performance with good wear-resistance.
  • Has a split point that ensures sharper results.
  • Comes with a sturdy, convenient storage case

Things We Didn't Like

  • Cobalt bits are known to hard but brittle.
  • Not suitable for out-of-the ordinary, special purpose jobs.

2. DeWALT DW1361 Titanium Pilot Point Drill Bit Set, 21-Piece

DeWALT DW1361 Titanium Pilot Point Drill Bit Set

This 21-piece set from DeWalt is a rather versatile product, featuring titanium point drill bits ranging from1/16 inch to ½ inch. Professionals for commercial jobs as well as for regular home-improvement purposes can employ this set.

These solid steel bits have titanium coating that enhances strength and prevents corrosion when drilling through tough metals. It also saves on a lot of time and effort.

The bits also stand well against high heat, unavoidably generated when drilling metal. These twist-design bits penetrate metal smoothly and the Patented Pilot Point gives clean, sharp results without any drag. The bit shanks are designed to avoid any spinning while in the chuck.

These are some of the best drill bits for steel and metal, and they come neatly arranged in a strong, easy-to store plastic case. The company offers a 30-day money back guarantee

Things We Liked

  • Patented Pilot Point tip on the drill bits provides cleaner finish
  • Tapered web on the bits increases durability

Things We Didn't Like

  • Optimum performance on non-ferrous metals only
  • Angled for general purposes; not suitable for special jobs

3. Irwin Industrial Tools 63221 Cobalt Fractional Straight Shank Jobber Length Metal Index Drill Bit Set, 21-Piece

Irwin Industrial Tools 63221 Cobalt Fractional Straight Shank Jobber

A high-performance range from Irwin, this 21-piece set is modeled from sturdy steel, enhanced by a Cobalt coating. It stands strongly against tough metals owing to its abrasion-resistant design.

The spiral flute design of the bits helps in quick chip removal, increasing efficiency. The 135-degree split point allows for easy penetration in the toughest surfaces without much effort. The Irwin drill bits pass the heat-resistance test satisfactorily.

The kit offers 21-pieces of high quality bits that cater to your versatile needs, justifying the price of the product. The drill bits come encased in a durable metal case to keep them organised.

Things We Liked

  • 21-piece set; fit for various purposes.
  • Cobalt coating provides strength to drill easily through tough metals.

Things We Didn't Like

  • Some smaller bits do not perform as well as the bigger ones on hard metals.

4. Neiko 10197A Titanium Step Drill Bit Set, High Speed Steel 5-Piece Set.

Neiko 10197A Titanium Step Drill Bit Set

Boasting of titanium HSS, step-design bits, this 5-piece product from Neiko packs power and performance in one set. The tough titanium coating that cut through thick metals like butter ensures the strength and durability of the bits.

The bits are designed with a 135-degree angled tip and two-flute design that gives accurate results by preventing skating or walking. The design also enables quick chip-expulsion to increase accuracy.

The shank is tri-flatted which secures the bit firmly and avoids slippage. The step-design of the bits also makes them suitable for enlargement of holes as the bigger step chamfers the edges to give smooth results.

All bits in this set work well under high-heat conditions and are appreciably abrasion-resistant. The bits are arranged in an aluminum case for safe storage and easy transportation.

Things We Liked

  • Step-design, recommended for metal drilling.
  • Varying diameters on a single bit allow versatility.
  • Step design provides up to 50 sizes with only 5 drills.

Things We Didn't Like

  • User-dissatisfaction with the quality of the carry case.

5. Titanium HSS Step Drill Bits Set with 1/4-Inch and 3/8-Inch Shanks By Rioa, SAE, 5-Piece with Aluminum Protective Case

Titanium HSS Step Drill Bits Set

This 5-piece, step-design set comprises of sturdy steel bits with strengthening titanium coating. They work efficiently with tough metals, be it for commercial or personal purposes. The tri-flat shank ensures a firm grip while the two-flute design neatly removes metal chips. The bits are neatly marked with step sizes and the markings are corrosion-resistant. The kit passes on essential criteria of durability and heat-resistance.

This set is an excellent option for a low-budget purchase that offers high quality. The drill bits are packed in an easy-to-carry aluminum storage case.

Things We Liked

  • Recommended step-design for metal drilling
  • Step-design offers versatility

Things We Didn't Like

  • Suitable for low-frequency usage

Conclusion

On a thorough analysis of features, pros and cons, it was a tough choice among equally qualified products. However, the competition boiled down to Bosch CO18 18-Piece Cobalt Twist Drill Bit Assortment in Plastic Case and Neiko 10197A Titanium Step Drill Bit Set, High Speed Steel 5-Piece Set.

Both these sets come from reputed manufacturers and fulfill nearly all criteria enlisted that make for one of the best drill bits for steel and metal. However, a few fundamental differences became the deciding factor:

No. of Pieces

On one hand is Bosch that offers 18 pieces in its drill bits set and on the other hand is Neiko with only 5. However, let this not fool you. Even though the number of bits is less, versatility is not compromised owing to the step-design. The progressing steps increase in diameter providing up to 50 sizes with only 5 pieces. This greatly reduces the hassle of changing bits when required as well as storage. Therefore, Neiko takes away this category.

Price

The 21-piece drill bit set is economically priced provided that it packs a large number of pieces. On the other hand, Neiko, although not priced extravagantly, does not beat that advantage.

Bit Design

The step-design of drill bits as offered by Neiko, is recommended for its efficiency in drilling through sheet metal smoothly and cleanly. The twist-design, on the other hand, is better for hard wood and plastics. However, the 21-piece set from Bosch is strong and can definitely perform the function. So, this competition ends in a tie between the two.

Material

Both Bosch and Neiko manufacture their drill bits with sturdy steel. The difference lies in the metal alloy coating. The Bosch bits come with a Cobalt coating that is strong and durable. However, the Neiko drill bits are coated with a Titanium alloy, making then sturdier, more corrosion and heat resistant, ideal for challenging metal surfaces. Therefore, Neiko clinches this category.

Out of the four judgment criteria, one ended in a tie while Neiko proved better on two in comparison to one in favor of Bosch. In a close call, Neiko 10197A Titanium Step Drill Bit Set, High Speed Steel 5-Piece Set emerges the winner.

Finding the right drill bits are only half of the battle, but you'll also need a great drill to support them. Read our reviews of the best cordless drills as well to find out which are highest quality.

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