Cobalt vs HSS

With so many Drill Bit options it is hard to decide which is appropriate for the task in hand. This helpful article guide will do a head-to-head comparison between High-Speed Steel (HSS) and Cobalt to determine which is the stronger and more suitable metal material for drill bit tools.

HSS vs Cobalt : A Comparison


What is Cobalt?

Cobalt is a combination of an alloy (typically Steel) mixed with Cobalt. Cobalt (symbol – Co) is a chemical element found within the Earth’s crust as a chemically combined form. It has an Atomic Mass of 58.933195 u and a Melting Point of 1,495 °C. The metal is within a group of transition metals as one of only three ferromagnetic transition elements alongside Iron and Nickel. The strong mass and high melting point makes it a hard metal ideal for the toughest applicational uses.

The high durability of Cobalt material gives the Cobalt Drill Bits a long-lasting lifespan. Cobalt Drill Bits also have strong heat resistance allowing for deep drilling into tough metal material. RUKO UK offers tips, guidance and advice on drilling through materials such as Hardened Steel, Aluminum Drilling and Titanium Drilling. Check out our blog posts here.

For intense Steel drilling then Cobalt is most suited, however for more general applications, HSS is recommended.

Cobalt Drill Bits


What is HSS?

HSS is an abbreviation of High-Speed Steel. High-Speed Steel is a form of carbon steel with additional elements that potentially could include chrome and vanadium. It is most commonly used within cutting and drilling tools as an ideal economic cost-effective material for general purpose applications such as DIY jobs and small-scale projects. HSS has strong wear resistance with an increased hardness level.

The material is flexible and can be used for a hand drill as well as a drill press. In addition, they can be resharpened to increase their lifespan.

HSS drill bits are recommended for Light Metals, Wood and Plastic drilling.

 HSS Drill Bits


A Comparison: Cobalt or HSS?

Strength and Resistance

Cobalt is stronger than HSS, making it better for heavy duty drilling applications with a more rapid high-speed endurance. Cobalt also offers the advantage of being more heat resistant over standard HSS, allowing for longer running time performance when undertaking any drilling activity.


Brittleness Quality

High-Speed Steel Bits are more elasticated in comparison to Cobalt Bits making them more flexible and adaptable for different drilling scenarios. Cobalt Bits are more brittle and so are susceptible to chipping.


Pricing and Versatility

HSS Drill bits are a more economical option in comparison to Cobalt Drill bits and is the most cost-effective drill bit type available. Making HSS Drills more suited for the general multi-purpose use activities such as small-scale DIY tasks. Cobalt being a more expensive option are typically used by professional construction users and trades personnel for specific purposes.


Material Suitability

Cobalt is suitable for stronger metal drilling, such as Hardened Steel, Stainless Steel, Cast Iron, Bronze and Titanium as well as being well suited for drilling through weld seams. HSS is better for the lighter metals as well as wood and plastic applications. The Cobalt drills will not be adequate for the use within wood or plastic as it would cause damage to the surface material, whereas HSS would not be the most adequate material for cast iron, bronze, titanium or hard steels as it could potentially wear damage to the drill bit.



For general DIY small-scale usage, on multiple surfaces and applications, HSS is the better option for the best all round, cost effective, versatile drilling process.

However, for challenging Steel, Iron, Bronze or Titanium it is recommended that Cobalt should be considered for its high heat resistance and longevity when drilling.


RUKO UK stock both Cobalt and HSS drill bits online with Free Next Working Day Delivery when you spend over £50.


How Long Do Drill Bits Last? | RUKO UK

No drill bit lasts forever, check out our post on “How Long Do Drill Bits Last?” for further information on how long they last and recommendations of how and when to replace your drill bit. You can also check out our Online Store for various types of drill bits when replacing your worn out dull redundant drill bits.


You can contact RUKO UK Monday – Thursday from 8:30am - 5:00pm and Friday from 8:30am – 3:00pm, by Phone on 01299 269 501 or by Email at

Contact RUKO UK

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