Calipers?


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skypirate7
February 13, 2013, 03:24 PM
Are calipers necessary for reloading? Or are there other ways of achieving the same check of proper length? I'm going to be reloading .308 Winchester.

Opinions / experience / wisdom / dissertations - please share. :)

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ATLDave
February 13, 2013, 03:26 PM
Yes. You'll find all kinds of uses for them.

Besides, there are some pretty good ones that aren't expensive at all.

mgmorden
February 13, 2013, 03:29 PM
I'd say yes. You really need to be able to check accurate OAL. Heck if you're really desperate you can get plastic vernier calipers for less than $2 off ebay. A nice pair is less than $20 (I prefer vernier over digital or dial. they're cheaper, simpler, and take no batteries).

Searcher4851
February 13, 2013, 03:31 PM
Yes, calipers are a must. They come in handy for a variety of measurements, and some measurements really need to be made. You can find them reasonably priced.

rcmodel
February 13, 2013, 03:33 PM
Harbor Freight digital.

They are on sale for less then $10 bucks all the time.
And they are pretty darn good.

http://i81.photobucket.com/albums/j219/rcmodel/100_4898.jpg

rc

cfullgraf
February 13, 2013, 03:59 PM
Are calipers necessary for reloading? Or are there other ways of achieving the same check of proper length? I'm going to be reloading .308 Winchester.

Opinions / experience / wisdom / dissertations - please share. :)

Yes they are are other ways a cartridge length could be measured, but adequate calipers are pretty reasonable in cost, do it quite efficiently, and have zillions of other uses.

Not a place to be "penny wise and pound foolish".

skypirate7
February 13, 2013, 04:17 PM
Thanks guys. I've got dial calipers on the way from Harbor Freight.

Legion489
February 13, 2013, 04:26 PM
Are they REALLY needed to load ammo? No. Are they darn handy when loading? Yes. Of course just because the book, manufacturer or what ever said to use whatever as a OAL does NOT mean that will work in your gun! A friend was having problems and measured the .223 ammo and it was the right length for that bullet, etc., it just wouldn't chamber. What was wrong?! I said either the case was not resized properly (he said it was), shoulder/neck crumpled from over crimping (he claimed it wasn't), OAL length wrong (in spec), then the ogive has hitting the rifling, set it a .01" deeper, if that didn't work, another .01" until it was right. Guess what? THAT worked.

Also they are just plain handy to have around and fun to use. So yes, get one. In fact as rcmodel pointed out (the first thing I thought of too) is Harbor Freight has them for $10 and they are perfectly good and well worth the money.

arizona_cards_11
February 13, 2013, 04:40 PM
Calipers are definitely a must.

And if you're Obsessive Compulsive like me, they give you a reason to be angry at your Redding Competition seating die for randomly seating +-0.003" off.

chris in va
February 13, 2013, 04:41 PM
I had some electronic calipers for a while. They have to be rezero'ed often and blanked out when the little metal contacts lost connection.

I much prefer the manual dial type as they are dead reliable and instant reading.

rcmodel
February 13, 2013, 04:43 PM
So, how hard is it to zero them?

I zero mine every time I turn them on.

The zero button is right next to the power button!!

rc

chris in va
February 13, 2013, 04:47 PM
RC, mine would lose zero during operation.

rcmodel
February 13, 2013, 04:52 PM
Hmmm?

That shouldn't happen.

Probably had something to do with the other problem with the battery contacts.

My Harbor Freights have been dead nuts reliable for about three years now.
And still on the first battery it came with in it.

rc

PJSprog
February 13, 2013, 05:49 PM
I have both the dial and digital calipers from Harbor Freight. I use the dial almost exclusively. Never needs a battery, and have only ever had to zero it once. I find them quite handy.

JSmith
February 13, 2013, 06:53 PM
I have a dial caliper from RCBS that works well.

Cosmoline
February 13, 2013, 07:16 PM
Yes, they are essential. I'd advise nice quality stainless steel analog calipers. I use mine all the time.

edfardos
February 13, 2013, 07:29 PM
I have the ones rc pictured. They come down in price when the chinese container ship makes port and billions of them hit the market. They lose zero more often as the battery dies. I remove the battery between loading sessions.

I like the caliper, but would like a more reliable/expensive one.

you need'm for measuring length and crimp.


edfardos

dragon813gt
February 13, 2013, 07:40 PM
I don't know what you guys are doing to the HF ones. Mine are four years old and are still working perfectly on the original battery. And it came with a spare :) They shut off automatically and rezeroing takes about one second to do. But I do realize its cheap Chinese electronics so there could be bad ones out there.

No matter what you need a way to measure OAL. Calipers are the easiest way to do it. I'd go as far to say that you should have a micrometer as well. If you cast your own bullets you definitely need a micrometer. But I find use for it during reloading of jacketed bullets as well.


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Kevin Rohrer
February 13, 2013, 07:59 PM
I got a steel set from Dillon and use them regularly.

BYJO4
February 13, 2013, 09:36 PM
Glad you ordered a caliper. You won't be sorry.

Walkalong
February 13, 2013, 09:42 PM
I have nice Mitutoyo and Brown and Sharp dial calipers, but since the old eyes are not what they used to be, I use the HF digital calipers for most reloading chores. They are very accurate as far as .001 goes, and we don't need .0001 accuracy for the vast majority of reloading.

Hondo 60
February 13, 2013, 10:36 PM
Is there another tool that'll measure to 1/1,000th of an inch?
(with an overall length somewhere between 1/2 inch to 3 inches or so)

If you have such a thing, then no a caliper isn't mandatory.

But they're not expensive unless you buy a Craftsman, Starrett, Snap-On or some such.
Any Lowes, Menards, Home Depot etc will have inexpensive ones.
Harbor Freight is the cheapest I've seen.

joneb
February 13, 2013, 10:56 PM
I use $10 HF calipers a lot, if I need a more accurate measurement I will use Starrett micrometers.

dsm
February 13, 2013, 11:20 PM
Pony up and get a good set made by Starret or Mitutoyo. Will save you some headaches and money in the long run. I have a set of Mitutoyo digital and they are rock solid. Never needs to be re-zeroed and are consistent every time.

savanahsdad
February 14, 2013, 05:51 AM
Pony up and get a good set made by Starret or Mitutoyo. Will save you some headaches and money in the long run. I have a set of Mitutoyo digital and they are rock solid. Never needs to be re-zeroed and are consistent every time.
+1 one ^^^^^^ but I ran a mill and a lathe for a living a life time ago, most of my stuff is over 24 years old , but I bet they out last me as there made for everyday use

Walkalong
February 14, 2013, 07:27 AM
One never regrets buying quality, that is for sure, but for many starting out in reloading a more thrifty approach is needed. The HF calipers will serve them well and last a long time. Meanwhile they can be saving their pennies for a nice replacement if they ever need it. A machinist would be foolish to buy the HF for daily hard use, but the hobbyist will be well served by them.

Do not buy cheap if you really need .0001 accuracy, but as I posted, the need for that kind of accuracy is rare in reloading.

jcwit
February 14, 2013, 09:33 AM
Pony up and get a good set made by Starret or Mitutoyo. Will save you some headaches and money in the long run. I have a set of Mitutoyo digital and they are rock solid. Never needs to be re-zeroed and are consistent every time.

With this logic one only needs to look for Rolex when searching for a timepiece!

Come on folks, we're discussing reloading here, not working in the trades.

But I think the question has been answered for the OP, as he has a set coming from HF, a dial set, good choice.

Searcher4851
February 14, 2013, 10:11 AM
A $25.00 Casio watch will tell the time as well or better than a Rolex.

The Harbor Freight calipers will serve the OP well, as they have served many others well. I have a few different sets of calipers, but seem to use the Harbor Freight ones most often.

Buying a tool that will do the job, without paying a whole lot extra for brand name recognition, helps to allow the beginner to afford other tools for reloading, or components. (if he can find any)

ranger335v
February 14, 2013, 10:23 AM
"I have a dial caliper from RCBS that works well."

Yeah, they do. Same calipers as sold by Lyman, Hornady and Midway, all from the same Chinese maker as Harbor Freight.

A pro grade caliper is nice to have but hardly worth the cost to a reloader. I put my pro Swiss made caliper aside and use HFs for my reloading, fully as accurate and if I drop it it's likely runined but I can buy about 20 more for the cost of replacing my pro tool.

tbob38
February 14, 2013, 10:50 AM
After my last chinese junker caliper bit the dust I got a Starrett and I'm glad I did, every time I use it. The last cheap one failed such that the error wasn't immediately apparent but was causing oal problems with handgun loads.

Certaindeaf
February 14, 2013, 11:41 AM
Yes you need to measure accurately. I also set aside my high end (don't know what it is its been so long) and use a HF dial caliper and got/use a full boxed set (5?) of HF micrometers also for like $15-20 (I forget).. the box alone should cost that price in my opinion.

Steve C
February 14, 2013, 03:20 PM
I reloaded accurate and functional ammo for about 20 years without any "measuring" tools using a factory round to set OAL's and chamber checking rounds.

Bought a dial caliper on sale from Midway and spent a lot of time measuring things that didn't really matter Put the thing back in the box and now only rarely take it out to check something, usually not hand loading related.

IMO they're not really needed but can be useful at times. People will fret about small measurable differences in loads that really don't make a bit of difference in their accuracy but for the overly anal they cause lots of consternation.

If you are loading .308 for bolt guns you really don't need one. For hunting ammo just keep a factory round to set your OAL. For target loads there's lots of ways to determine OAL for just off the lands length. You can buy a case gauge to check for max case length and conformation to other maximum dimensions that's certainly quicker and easier to use than a caliper.

Certaindeaf
February 14, 2013, 03:32 PM
.If you are loading .308 for bolt guns you really don't need one..
I like hand grenades also!

angus6
February 14, 2013, 03:50 PM
Well at least he got a dial unit ,have 2 buddies that have had the HF calipers give up the goust, that being said I've got a set of no name e-bay digitals that other then the fact they auto shut have been fine.
Now the never get used as I picked up a Brown & Sharpe unit off of e-bay for $35 much quicker to use when processing large amounts of brass

JSmith
February 14, 2013, 03:57 PM
A pro grade caliper is nice to have but hardly worth the cost to a reloader.

Yeah, but...

Sometimes good tools are nice to have in and of themselves. You know you're holding a quality tool as soon as you pick it up. I expect to replace the cheap Chinese starter caliper with something better after I've reloaded for another year or so.

Elkins45
February 14, 2013, 04:12 PM
I find myself measuring diameters more often than measuring length. If you ever get into bullet casting you'll absolutely need a set of calipers or a micrometer so you can see what size your mold is dropping with your alloy.

They are one of those tools that you will find uses for once you own them.

ranger335v
February 14, 2013, 07:38 PM
Calipers are good to one thou; ONLY micrometers are good for less than a thou.

Yeah, I like tools myself, high grade tools are comforting to the soul. But, at $10-12 vs. $150-200 for calipers my soul can stand a bit of discomfort. (Don't shout about what a good deal you got on eBay, they are used so the next one may be in poor shape and no one can count on getting a good deal anyway.) Ditto my watches; I'd love to have a Rolex Oyster but I don't dive anymore so my soul is quite happy with $10 Walmart Chinese watches, they're deadly accuate until the battery dies and I can replace the whole watch for a couple of bucks more than a new battery costs. That's not a hard decision to make!

jcwit
February 14, 2013, 08:03 PM
Hard to dispute what you say there ranger335v.

I suggest those who wish a super quality tool "any kind" at a low price to check out their local pawn shops. One can usually get very good buys that way and you can check them out right in the store not waiting till they arrive in the mail.

Case in point, picked up a NIB w/Tags, never worn, Bulova Accutron for $180.00 yesterday, a couple of months ago got a NIB Winchester 94 30/30 for $175.00, deals are out there.

dsm
February 14, 2013, 08:25 PM
With this logic one only needs to look for Rolex when searching for a timepiece!

Come on folks, we're discussing reloading here, not working in the trades.

But I think the question has been answered for the OP, as he has a set coming from HF, a dial set, good choice.

Precision minded reloaders will always appreciate accuracy and precision in their tooling.

jcwit
February 14, 2013, 08:53 PM
Precision minded reloaders will always appreciate accuracy and precision in their tooling.

A set of dial or digital calibers are only accurate to within .001, some folks claim they can go to .0005, try that in the trades and see where it gets you. Calibers made from steel whether from Starrett or Mitutoyo or Harbor Freight will be more than adequate for reloading, if one wishes more accuracy they better start looking at micrometers.

A Ford or Honda will get you there and few of us can afford a Rolls, so the Fords & Honda's are adequate.

A Timex quartz can tell very accurate time, if a chronograph even adequate for timing laps, will be as accurate as your reflexes are at pushing the button. However I do like my Seiko, Pulsar, Citizen, and Accutron chronographs, and yes a Rolex is out of my price range.

If a Starrett floats your boat, have at it, it is more than adequate.
If a Harbor Freight fits in your budget, go for it, it also is more than adequate.

As far as for the hobby of reloading both are adequate.

Walkalong
February 14, 2013, 09:44 PM
.001
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=167074&stc=1&d=1340796258


.0001
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=177026&d=1357151050

:)

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