Best Drill Bit Buying Guide Buying Guides

Best Drill Bit Buying Guide for Professional Users

So you’re looking for the best drill bit and came to see what we have to say about the subject. First of all, thanks – we appreciate that you look to us as a source of unbiased information! There are a ton of drill bit options available – everything from high-end woodworking to DIY megapacks. There are endless opinions as to who makes the best drill bit in every application and there are certainly many quality choices for Pros. To help you sort it out, we asked our Pro team what they turn to when it’s time to grab a new set of bits in a variety of situations.

Editor’s Note: This article originally published on July 30, 2018.


PTR’s Best Drill Bit Picks – Best Value Drill Bit: Ryobi Black Oxide Drill Bits

Best Drill Bit Buying Guide

Black oxide is a coating over the steel drill bit to add corrosion resistance and reduce friction between the bit and workpiece. It’s a good general-purpose design that’s suitable for wood, metal, plastics, and composites that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. The downsides are that they don’t stay sharp as long as some of the other twist bit options out there and you lose the benefits as the coating wears off the cutting edges.

Whether you’re in a pinch or just need to replace a set, Ryobi’s Black Oxide Drill Bits are less than $15 for a set with 21 pieces that cover 1/16″ to 1/2″. Their 135° tips help reduce walking at the start of your hole. It’s our choice for the best drill bit on a budget.

Best Drill Bit Buying Guide


  • High value
  • Drills in most materials except concrete/masonry


  • Not as durable as other titanium and cobalt bits
  • Benefits are lost as the coating comes off
  • Better to replace than sharpen
  • 1/2″ max hole size

Ryobi Black Oxide Drill Bit Set (A10D21D)

  • Great for drilling into wood, metal and plastic
  • 135° split point drills on contact
  • 3/8 in. reduced 3-flat shank design on the 1/2 in. drill bit for secure grip in drill chuck
  • Tilting bit holders in case for easy access
  • Compact case for ease of use and storage
  • Sizes: (2) 1/16 in., (2) 5/64 in., 3/32 in., 7/64 in., (2) 1/8 in., 9/64 in., 5/32 in., 11/64 in., (2) 3/16 in., 13/64 in., 7/32 in., 15/64 in., (2) 1/4 in., 5/16 in., 3/8 in., and 1/2 in.
  • Price: TBA

Best Titanium Drill Bit: Milwaukee Shockwave Titanium Drill Bits

Best Drill Bit Buying Guide

Titanium nitride is a coating you can use instead of black oxide that does the same job of resisting corrosion and friction. The added benefit comes from increasing the surface hardness and creating a thermal barrier that reduces heat buildup. The result is a drill bit that lasts longer than black oxide.

Titanium drill bits tend to drill faster than black oxide and chips move through the flutes better. One of the downsides is that the titanium nitride is just a coating and you lose the benefits as the coating wears off the cutting edges. Another is that you’ll need to pay more for these.

Titanium is a good choice for metal and wood cutting. You’ll want to look elsewhere for concrete/masonry and you’re better off using your inexpensive black oxide bits for plastics and composites.

Milwaukee Shockwave Titanium drill bits are our choice for the best drill bit in this class. Their 1/4″ hex shaft make them suitable for use in both drills and impact drivers. Milwaukee uses what they call Red Helix – variable width flutes – to eject chips better than standard designs. They also go with a 135° tip to help cut in more quickly and reduce bit walking.

Milwaukee’s 15-piece set includes sizes from 1/16″ to 1/2″ and runs just under $25.

Milwaukee Red Helix Drill Bits


  • Harder than black oxide and cobalt bits
  • Faster drilling than black oxide
  • Excellent chip ejection
  • Lower heat build up
  • Excellent drilling characteristics in wood and metal


  • Benefits are lost as the coating wears off
  • Not recommended for plastics, composites, or concrete/masonry
  • Better to replace than sharpen
  • 1/2″ max hole size

Milwaukee Shockwave Titanium Drill Bit 15-Piece Set (48-89-4630)

  • Titanium Coating for Up to 3X Life vs. Black Oxide
  • SHOCKWAVE Impact Duty, Engineered for Drills and Impacts
  • RED HELIX Design for Rapid Chip Removal
  • CHIP BREAKER Decreased Heat Buildup
  • 135° split point for precision start no walking
  • Sizes: 1/16″, 5/64″ , 3/32″,  7/64″, (2) 1/8″, 9/64″, 5/32″, (2) 3/16″, 7/32″, 1/4″, 5/16″, 3/8″, 1/2″
  • Price: $24.99

Best Cobalt Drill Bit: Milwaukee Red Helix Cobalt Drill Bits

Best Drill Bit Buying Guide

Cobalt drill bits are made from an alloy of 5% – 8% cobalt. Because the cobalt is part of the steel blend, its benefits run through the entire bit instead of wearing away like a coating. That characteristic also makes them an excellent candidate to sharpen rather than replace. With a much higher price tag than black oxide and titanium, you’ll want to go the sharpening route to save money.

Cobalt bits are capable of drilling through just about everything, though most Pros reserve them for metal drilling due to their cost. That’s a good move – you don’t want the one bit you own that’s able to drill through cast iron getting dull on everyday tasks that less expensive bits are perfectly capable of tackling.

When you need to pick up a set, give Milwaukee’s Red Helix Cobalt Bits a shot. Just like their titanium bits, they have the Red Helix variable flute design and 135° tip. They don’t have a 1/4″ hex shank, though, so you won’t use these in your impact driver. Considering their primary goal in life is to drill well in metal, you don’t want to use them in an impact driver in the first place. When you’re looking for the best drill bit with a cobalt blend, this is what we turn to.

Milwaukee Cobalt Red Helix Twist Bit


  • Benefits of cobalt extend through the entire bit
  • Better to sharpen than replace
  • Best drill bits for metal drilling, including stainless steel and cast iron


  • Cost generally makes these a specialty metal bit even though they’re capable of more
  • 1/2″ max hole size

Milwaukee Red Helix Cobalt 15-Piece Drill Bit Set (48-89-2331)

  • Up to 10X Life vs. Black Oxide
  • RED HELIX Design for Rapid Chip Removal
  • 135° split point for precision start no walking
  • CHIP BREAKER Decreased Heat Buildup
  • Secure Grip – Prevents bit from slipping in chuck
  • Sizes: 1/16″, 5/64″, 3/32″, 7/64″, (2) 1/8″, 9/64″, 5/32″, 3/16″, 7/32″, (2) 1/4″, 5/16″, 3/8″, 1/2″
  • Price: $42.07

Best Concrete/Masonry Drill Bit: Bosch Daredevil Multi-Purpose Drill Bits

Best Drill Bit Buying Guide

When you start looking at drilling in concrete and masonry, most Pros turn to their rotary hammers. The common denominator for SDS-plus and SDS-max bits is the use of tungsten carbide cutting tips and that’s what Bosch turns to for their Daredevil Multi-Purpose Drill Bits. Carbide is tough enough to cut through any material and you can’t help but see it on blades for cutting wood, metal, composites, and even demolition.

Taking that material and optimizing the tip design, Bosch creates a drill bit that’s legitimately useful across all the major material categories. They’re more expensive than black oxide, titanium, or cobalt options, though. The cost may leave you buying just the specific sizes you need as you come across them. However, the 5-piece set will cover the most common sizes you’ll need without turning to a rotary hammer.

Bosch Daredevil Multipurpose Drill Bits


  • Tungsten carbide tips are perfect for concrete/masonry
  • Designed for wood, metal, plastic, composites, and concrete
  • Hex shanks fit in impact drivers and hammer drills


  • More expensive than black oxide, titanium, or cobalt
  • 1/2″ max hole size

Bosch Daredevil Multi-Purpose Drill Bits (MP500T)

  • Upgraded multi-grind heads – deliver up to 85% faster drilling in metal than standard bits
  • Hex shanks and impact rated – allows use in impact drivers and hammer drill/drivers for added versatility
  • Sharp ground cutting edges – designed for advanced performance
  • Steep flutes with ribs – deliver fast material removal in multiple materials
  • Multi-application design – good for drilling in masonry, brick, block, tile, metal, wood and plastic
  • Long-life construction – provides up to 9x life in multi-material applications than standard bits
  • No-skate tip design – allows for cleaner holes
  • Sizes: 5/32″, 3/16″, 1/4″, 5/16″, 3/8″
  • Price: $19.95

Best Spade Bit: Bosch Daredevil Spade Bits

Best Drill Bit Buying Guide

As you move beyond a 1/2″ hole diameter, you move away from traditional twist bits into some different options. One of the most cost-effective is a spade bit. Sometimes called a paddle bit thanks to its shape, spade bits throw chips out as they cut rather than sending it up through the flutes. It makes for a much cooler slow-motion video but generally leaves a larger mess. Unlike your standard twist bits, spade bits are really only good for making holes in wood.

While there’s plenty of room for debate when you’re talking about the best drill bit in different applications, Bosch Daredevil Spade Bits enjoy a fantastic reputation and large market share. In fact, they recently exceeded 50 million bits sold. That’s impressive.

What’s more impressive is the legitimate performance that comes along with the reputation. A threaded tip and wave design give the Bosch Daredevil an advantage over most of its competition. It cuts faster and relatively cleaner than other spade bit options. As icing on the cake, it has a 1/4″ hex shank so it will fit in your impact driver.

Bosch Daredevil Spade Bit


  • Inexpensive
  • Covers hole sizes up 1-1/2″
  • Long shaft sizes available for deep holes
  • Drills well in sheet goods and other thinner materials


  • Not as smooth as an auger bit
  • Not as easy to drill long, straight holes as an auger bit
  • Doesn’t cut as cleanly as an auger bit

Bosch Daredevil Spade Bit 6-Piece Set (DSB5006P)

  • Features a full-cone threaded tip for fast and effortless drilling
  • Contoured paddle for fast chip removal
  • Hex shank power groove to reduce slippage
  • Spur and reamer tips for cleaner holes
  • Provides a cleaner hole quality with reduced breakout
  • Sizes: 3/8″, 1/2″, 5/8″, 3/4″, 7/8″, 1″
  • Price: $14.39 ($21.79 with pouch)

Best Auger Bit: Bosch Daredevil High-Speed Auger Bits

Best Drill Bit Buying Guide

Another way to drill larger hole diameters is an auger bit. These have a threaded tip that pulls the bit forward as it rotates in wood. Their flute design is much deeper than a twist bit with a shallower angle and excels at moving material out and away from the hole. Its strong, full-fluted design makes it an excellent choice for drilling larger holes through thick or stacked material.

When the best drill bit for the job is an auger bit, we look to Bosch and their Daredevil lineup. Among the standard auger bit benefits, you’ll find that Bosch looks specifically to enhancing performance with cordless drills. The head allows you to stay in high speed for a wider range of diameters and the tips help improve your runtime and durability.

Price is definitely the name of the game here and most Pros will just pick the sizes they need. Bosch has a 3-piece set I carry that includes 5/8″, 3/4″, and 1″ bits for just under $35.

Best Drill Bit Buying Guide


  • Strong design is great for drilling deeper holes
  • Threaded tip pulls the bit through the cut
  • Makes a smooth, clean cut compared to spade bits
  • Covers hole sizes up to 1-1/2″


  • More expensive than spade bits
  • Not the best choice for making holes in sheet goods or other thin materials

Bosch Daredevil High-Speed Auger Bits (NKSC5003)

  • Specially designed bit heads – engineered to work in cordless high-speed mode
  • Decreased pitch tips – deliver up to 2X more holes per charge
  • Reinforced tips – furnish up to 2X longer life than standard auger bits
  • Effective overall length – built to be 6-1/2 In. long for use in-between studs and in tight areas
  • Sizes: 5/8″, 3/4″, 1″
  • Price: $30.33


Best Step Bit: Irwin Unibit Cobalt Step Bits

Best Drill Bit Buying Guide

Stepping away from wood and moving back into metal, you’ll find a need for step bits (AKA unibits). These are among the best drill bits for making holes in thin metal, like sheet metal or breaker boxes. A step bit starts with a short pilot, then moves through a series of increasing widths as you move from one step to the next.

They’re great for moving beyond your standard twist bit sizes and eliminating the need for a punch for holes up to 1-1/4″ or a little more. They also feature a flat flute with a slight taper at each step. This gives you the ability to drill in sheet metal and other thin metals that might deform if you cut through at an angle. In addition to making new holes, they also excel at enlarging existing ones.

The downside is that you’re limited to around 1/8″ as your thickest material. This will also be one of the most expensive single bits you own, with prices often exceeding $50 for some sizes. Just keep in mind that you cover multiple sizes with each bit.

Our team reaches for an Irwin Unibit Cobalt Step Bit when thin metal drilling is on the menu. The cobalt blend gives the bit a much longer life – an important point considering these are very difficult to sharpen. A Speedpoint tip gets the hole started quickly and helps reduce the amount of wandering your bit does. It seems like a small thing at first, but Irwin laser etches the measurements on the inside of the flute where they won’t wear off over time.

Best Drill Bit Buying Guide


  • Easily enlarges existing holes
  • Cobalt blend offers outstanding life
  • Multiple bit sizes on one accessory
  • Can eliminate the need for a knockout punch on smaller holes


  • Expensive
  • Difficult to sharpen
  • Limited to thin metal applications

Irwin Unibit Cobalt Step Bit #4 (10234CB)

  • 6X Longer life vs. the competition
  • M35 grade Cobalt HSS
  • Radial concave flute
  • Speedpoint tip
  • Laser marked sizes
  • Sizes: 3/16 – 7/8″ in 1/16″ steps (12 total sizes)
  • Price: 45.19

Best Drill Bits, But What About…?

We know we didn’t cover every category of hole making accessories like hole saws and didn’t touch driver bits, either. While we chose to draw the line where we did, keep your eyes open for more buying guides to cover those accessories down the road!

Disagree With Our Choices?

That’s okay! We know personal preferences take a front seat in determining the best drill bit, and every Pro is different. Do Pro Tool Nation a favor and tell us what your top pick is and why you love it. Feel free to put it in the comments below or on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter!

Why Pro Tool Reviews is a Reliable Source

At Pro Tool Reviews, we have our finger on the pulse of the tool industry. We’re constantly keeping up with the latest press releases and researching the newest tools. The most relevant tools for our Pro audience make it into our editorial calendar for review. We do hands-on reviews of more than 200 tools each year as standalone evaluations. We run dozens more through our head to head tool shootouts. Additionally, we get our hands on hundreds of other tools at media events and trade shows throughout the country and internationally. With a team of Pro reviewers across every major trade involved in the construction process, you’re sure to get an expert opinion every time.

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Kenny KoehlerJens pedersenJohn McFarlandMikey WattJesse Twichell Recent comment authors
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Jens pedersen
Jens pedersen

Putting a new drill bit out there in Vegas 7-9may.. national hardware show.

No more need to change drill bit. Go thru wood, bricks, concrete, even the bottom of a glas botle.

No need for a hammer drill.

This is gonna change How you drill!

John McFarland

I’ve used the titanium shockwave drill bits. I’ve experienced very rapid dulling on some of the bits. I drill wood and drywall almost exclusively. From my experience, I don’t think they are worth the price. They are, however, much more resistant to snapping off than Dewalt bits I’ve used before.

Mikey Watt

I use the Milwaukee titanium shockwaves and the Bosch daredevils Spade bits, both EXCELLENT choices.

Jesse Twichell

I’ve been very impressed by the cobalt bits I have from Milwaukee. The difference between them and black oxide or titanium when drilling through steel is huge. Definitely worth it.