Set of drill bits for hard metal

Drill Bits for Hard Metal: Our Top Picks

While many drill bits are versatile, they don’t all work perfectly in every setting. In fact, if you aren’t using the bit designed for a particular type of metal, you could be setting yourself and your project up for failure.

Hard metal can be extremely challenging when it comes to drilling. You must use a bit that is up for the task to make a nice, clean, smooth hole. Using a drill bit intended for softer materials will only lead to broken tools and uneven finishes.

If you are searching for the best drill bits for hard metals, you have come to the right place. Below is a list of our top picks to get you started.

Types of Hard Metals

Before choosing a drill bit for your next project, you must identify the type of material you will be working with. Hard metals are the most complicated materials to drill through, so you need strength to take on the challenge.

There are a handful of metals out there placed in the “hard” category, with some of the most popular ones being:

  • Tungsten (the hardest metal in the world)
  • Steel
  • Chromium
  • Titanium
  • Iron

If drilling a hole in any of these materials, you will need the right drill bit made for hard metals.

Best Drill Bits for Hard Metals

Set of drill bits for hard metal in orange case

When you are looking for drill bits to tackle hard metal products, you need the strongest products available. That is because you can’t drill a satisfactory hole into any type of material if the bit is made from something softer.

If you ask any professional, they would tell you that carbide, cobalt, and HSS (High-speed steel) black oxide drill bits are the best choices for drilling into hard metals.

Solid Carbide Drill Bit

A solid carbide drill bit is expensive. However, carbide bits have a drilling strength of 70+ (the Rockwell scale of hardness). This is one of the most commonly used drill bits when working with hard metal.

Can drill:

  • Hard steels
  • High-speed steel (HSS)
  • Mild hardened steel
  • High-temperature materials
  • Stainless steel
  • Most ceramics

Should not be used on:

  • Cast iron

Cobalt Drill Bit

Cobalt drill bits are very strong and extremely durable. These tools are also much more affordable than solid carbide drill bits. Typically you will find these bits have a 5-8% cobalt blend in the base material, making them ideal for high-speed and high temps.

Can drill:

  • Hardened steel
  • Bronze
  • Cast iron
  • Stainless steel
  • Tool steel
  • Aluminum alloy

Should not be used on:

  • Soft metal
  • Wood

Black Oxide High-Speed Steel

Black oxide is a coating that covers high-speed steel drill bits. This coating allows the user to purchase less expensive drill bits (HSS) while still having the benefits of reducing friction and drilling through hard metals.

Can drill:

  • Steel
  • Copper
  • Stainless steel
  • Cast iron
  • Aluminum

Should not be used on:

  • Hardened steel

Check out this interesting video about drilling into hardened steel.

What to Look for When Buying Drill Bits for Hard Metals

Metal drill bit drilling through hard metal surface with smoke escaping

When choosing the best drill bits for hard metal applications, there are a few particular features to consider.

Buy a Set

When you purchase a drill bit, consider buying sets rather than picking them up one at a time. A set of quality drill bits will help ensure you have the right tool for each project. Plus, purchasing a set will save you money.

The most common sets range in size from 1/16 to 1/4 inches.

Watch Your Size

The diameter of your drill bit is one of the most important factors to consider when drilling into hard metal. Knowing the precise measurements to create the right-sized hole is essential. You can refer to a drill bit size chart if you need help determining which option is best.


Obviously, you will want a quality, durable, and reliable drill bit set for any project. However, this is especially necessary for hard metal tasks. If you don’t have the best-of-the-best, you will quickly end up with a dull, broken, and unusable tool.

Tips for Drilling into Hard Metal

Before you begin drilling, here are a few tips and tricks professionals offer that should make your job much easier.

  • Keep your bit sharp. Sharpen your drill bits frequently [Link to Sharpening Drill Bits by Hand: A Beginner's Guide] to ensure you get a smooth cut, reducing the chance of breaking.
  • Store your bits properly. Keep your bits in a storage container away from the elements. This will ensure they stay in the best condition possible.
  • Do your homework. Although some sets might say they are okay for hard metals, make sure they are made from materials that can stand up to the job.
  • Don’t push it. Drilling through hard metal will take some time. Do not apply too much force while working; let the bit do its job. Too much pressure can cause it to break or can create too much friction and heat.
  • Look for bits that are corrosion-resistant. Hard metals create high heat and pressure while running at high speeds. Ensuring you have corrosion-resistant drill bits will ensure you don’t have to replace your tools frequently.
  • Lubricate your bits. Adding oil or lubricant to your drill bit when working on hard metals is another way to ensure they aren’t getting too hot, assisting in a clean application.

One of the most important things to consider when drilling into hard metal is knowing how to use your equipment correctly and how to insert or change out the bit. Follow the manufacturer's guide on your drill to help you choose the best bits and other accessories.

Always operate your drill safely, taking all the precautions necessary to protect your bits, tools, and yourself.

Final Thoughts

Drilling into hard metal takes a special type of bit. These bits come in materials specially made with strong metals and hard, durable coatings. Choose your bit wisely, ensuring it can withstand resistance and heat.

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