Calipers - do you use them


September 19, 2004, 06:46 PM
I have a question for you reloading gurus out there. How many of you use calipers. How many say that I should (as a brand spanking reloading noob) plunk down the funds for a set. I'm reloading .40 S&W if that matters.

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September 19, 2004, 07:03 PM
I use mine a lot. About every 100 rounds I load I will measure overall length and the case mouth to make sure I am in spec.. I would not feel comfortable loading without them.

$20 for brand new stainless steel at Midway (Frankford Arsenal), and plenty accurate.

Oh, yeah, and I am definitely not a reloading guru.:)

September 19, 2004, 07:19 PM
In invaluable measuring tool ..... for many purposes and not just reloading. Get the best you can afford ... tho some of the budget ones are adequate if you do not need 1/2 thou accuracy. Best thing with cheaper ones is to check them against known standards .. that way, if they read a thou under or thou over for example ... you'll know and can adjust the readings.

Short answer ... yeah, get some! :)

September 19, 2004, 07:44 PM
Check at pawn shops and used tool outlets.A digital set for 30.00 to 40.00 is pretty normal.I use mine all the time.;)

Mal H
September 19, 2004, 07:51 PM
I don't believe I have had a reloading session in the past 20 years when I didn't use calipers (or a micrometer). IMX, it is one of the most valuable tools a reloader can own.

If you look around you can find a good one for around $20. In fact, I just bought an accurate digital caliper for $24 as a backup at a tool show.

Zeke Menuar
September 19, 2004, 08:50 PM
I have a set of Mititoyo calipers from when I ran CNC at a production machine shop. Use them all the time for handloading and amateur gunsmithing. I also use dial indicators on my case runout gauge and I sometime use the micrometers I have when trimming cases.


September 19, 2004, 09:42 PM
I think my dial calipers were $12 from Harbor Freight Tools. Though the digital one was on sale for $20 also. :D This was before I had the dealer discount at Midway.

September 19, 2004, 11:20 PM
Well, I'm gathering that the answer to my question is a resounding YES. Guess I'll have to get some tomorrow. I noticed WhoKnowsWho mentioned the calipers from Harbor Freight, and I know everyone said get the best you can afford, but will these do in a pinch? I plan on getting better ones in the future, but since I just plunked down the cash for the reloading supplies, the funds are running into a dire shortage. :D

September 20, 2004, 12:12 AM
As was mentioned previously, I have not reloaded in the last 20 years without using calipers.
When I first began loading with a Lee Loader, I briefly winged it by seating a bullet and then trying to make it roughly the same size as a factory round.
I use calipers all the time, for all kinds of things. I have two benches right next to each other with presses on both benches. I have a set of calipers for each bench.

September 20, 2004, 06:13 AM
You really can't reload without them, and don't get the cheap plastic ones, get a decent set made from stainless steel.

September 20, 2004, 06:26 AM
Under $30; from Grafs / Midway / Natchez / etc...

And use, lots.

September 20, 2004, 07:53 AM
as above don't reload without them, necessary, valuable tool.

September 20, 2004, 08:03 AM
I agree. They're instrumental especially when working a new round.


September 20, 2004, 08:35 AM
Me too. Use them all the time. They provide inexpensive gun, hand, and face insurance especially with .40 S&W.

September 20, 2004, 09:01 AM
and don't get the cheap plastic ones,

My cheapies were Steel also.

If you buy it and feel it isn't as good as you want, return them. I bought a work bench from them, assembled it, didn't work for reloading, returned it. Tried another one, assembled it, returned it for a full refund too. Did the same with a clamp, bought it, wrong size, returned it.

I can use my calipers, and measure the same piece of brass, and it gives the same number... good for me!

Black Snowman
September 20, 2004, 11:30 AM
Yes. The Frankford Aresenal ones are a good value.

Dave R
September 20, 2004, 06:04 PM
I use mine to measure OAL of pistol rounds. And to measure brass for rifle rounds, to see if I need to trim.

But that's it.

I don't use them (much) for rifle rounds these days. I do the ol' black the bullet and check to see if its on the lands. When I get a length just off the lands, I back the die down a turn, then load a dummy round, then use that from then on.

I measure OAL of a finished round occasionally, just to see if I'm still on. BUt I don't need it to establishb OAL of the round. (Except seimauto pistols, which I always load to OAL spec.

Johnny Guest
September 20, 2004, 06:19 PM
- -How long I reloaded WITHOUT a decent set of calipers.

There's a lot you can do without 'em, using a machinist's rule and such, but, really: If you can't measure something, accurately, you're dealing in guesswork, not science.

Buy a good set, learn to use them properly. You'll be glad you did.


September 20, 2004, 07:32 PM
A most useful tool for a reloader.I bought a Sears vernier caliper 30 years ago when I first started reloading and I more than got my moneys worth out of it. I would recommend a dial caliper or one of the digital calipers. They are much easier to read than my verier style withs it tiny marks.

Paul "Fitz" Jones
September 20, 2004, 08:51 PM
When I left high school and was operating my first reloading business. My instructor who got me started gave me a present of a wooden box with a set of 4 micrometers of different sizes. They have been useful for 50 years.


September 24, 2004, 10:24 PM
You can reload without them, but they so damn handy you won't want to once you have one. And the plastic ones work just fine as long as you're easy on them.
Zeke, I'm insanely jealous. Couldn't afford that quality when I was machining(no journeyman's ticket. Couldn't get an apprenticeship) and still can't. Nothing like having good tools.

September 26, 2004, 12:13 PM
I have been a reloader for 18 years--mostly handgun. I use my Lee dial calipers (which measure to 1/1000"--like 1.460"), and wouldn't want to be without them. Occasionally I use them for other purposes.

September 26, 2004, 12:22 PM
Actually I have about 4 pairs. One set is Mititoyo dial, one Mititoyo digital, and one is a set of digital Browne and Sharpe, the last set is a cheapie set that I rarely use unless I am measuring +/- .050.

Besides reloading, if you do any gun maintenance or repair they extremely useful.

September 26, 2004, 10:19 PM
For $20 its worth every single cents... got mine from Cabela's. I used it every 50 rds or so.


September 27, 2004, 08:02 PM
I know this is overkill but save yourself the trouble of buying a cheap pair of calipers and buy a nice pair that will last you a lifetime. I bought a couple pairs for under $50 and then I bit the bullet and bought a pair from Starrett. Words cannot describe how well those calipers feel and unlike the cheapies, they don't flex unless you put the gorilla hand to it.

September 27, 2004, 10:20 PM
Well, I partially bit the bullet. I bought a cheap digital pair to use for now until I get more situated in the whole reloading thing (did I mention funds are low?). I bought a 4" pair from Harbor Freight last week and loaded my first 10 rounds. Now, I just need to get a chance to go to the range and see if I can keep from blowing my hands off.

September 28, 2004, 12:28 AM
What is the "top of the line" caliper?

Mititoyo and Starett seem to have the nod so far... just wonderin.

Greg Jones
September 29, 2004, 07:28 AM
It has been a long time since I used machinist tools to earn a living, but several years ago Starrett was the top of the line with Brown and Sharpe and Mititoyo close behind. You cannot go wrong with any of these brands.

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