I purchased a set of niobium steel drill bits from “Drill Hog”
The price was good, and I was interested in whether they’d work better than cobalt for some applications.
Cobalt drills are known to be hard, but quite brittle. I’d use either kind of bit only in a drill press, if at all possible, and only with cutting fluid. I would in general use less expensive high-speed steel drill bits in a hand drill.
There are a few videos online evaluating these bits making large, deep holes in stainless steel, and in the videos they handle that fine. Drill Hog claims that niobium is a specialty drill bit which only works well with certain metals (they don’t say which) and which they usually sell to locksmiths and gunsmiths.
Locksmiths would use this sort of drill to drill the pins out of a hardened lock cylinder; a forced-entry method that, if done carefully, only damages the lock cylinder and some pins and springs rather than the entire lockset; allowing the locksmith to repair the lockset after entry. Gunsmiths also drill into hardened steel. I am making some antenna mounts out of 1/4 inch 304 stainless steel. I might also fabricate some space satellite parts for Open Research Institute. Perhaps I’ll find it makes more sense to stick with cobalt for those applications.
Tool steel is not a homogeneous solid. It’s a matrix of hard carbides or nitrides in metal. Alloying with niobium promotes a fine grain of the carbide and nitride crystals and better case hardening, and promotes the toughness, strength, and formability of the steel.
“Drill Hog” is a brand name used to sell a number of common and specialized drills on Amazon and eBay.
Their prices on eBay are cheaper. Amazon takes an 18% markup, is required to carefully charge sales tax, and often does their own fulfillment (processing the order and shipping). eBay vendors pay less of a markup, may avoid sales tax in some cases, and generally do their own fulfillment. So, always look for the same product from the same vendor on eBay before you buy.
Besides their own brand, Drill Hog has sold some Norseman drills. Norseman is a well-known source of high-quality drills. Drill Hog’s house brand drills look like copies of Norseman drills, with the same thin web (the metal between the two flutes) and similar details to the machining of the bit. They are marked “USA”. Mine came packaged in a black plastic canister which seems to be a knock-off of the one Norseman sells – a slightly different shape and different color.
There were some questions online regarding who Drill Hog really was, because so far they don’t have an email or a phone number published. No phone is not unusual for someone’s “side hustle”, when they work another job all day, but I would have preferred to see an email. Drill Hog requires warranty registration at hogwarranty.com . Once you have registered, they service their warranty through this address, which is a box in a UPS store:
12223 Highland Ave #106-402
Rancho Cucamonga CA 91739
Mail your broken drills there, with your name and your previously registered serial number, and they say they’ll mail replacements back. The drills are claimed to have a “Lifetime Warranty”, but of course with a small business one has no guarantee of what lifetime the company will have, during which it will fulfill warranty claims.
Drill Hog is a brand name of “Canary Island Corporation”, incorporated in Nevada, registered in California and operating in California. The sole officer is Mr. Joseph John Russell, who uses the same address as above. I could not find a California fictitious business name registration for “Drill Hog” (and I am not clear that one is necessary). The business is a “manufacturers representative”, which means that Mr. Russell probably purchases these drills from the actual manufacturer for resale. There is some left-over web presence of what appear to be two previous businesses of Mr. Russell: Something called “tarpsdirect”, and toolprice.com which sold Harbor Freight style merchandise. Their web site appears in the Internet Archive. There is more information about Mr. Russell easily available, but not reproduced here out of courtesy.