Best Dial Calipers for Money


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Triumph
February 21, 2013, 08:50 PM
I don't like digital calipers because I never seem to get the same reading twice. Also, don't like the batteries.

Can you guys give me suggestions on the best dial calipers for the money.

I am thinking RCBS because of their spectacular customer service (from what I hear).

Thanks

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ColtPythonElite
February 21, 2013, 09:24 PM
I bought some Midway labeled ones 20 years ago and have no complaints. I think Midway still selling them, just with Frankfort Arsenal on them.

bds
February 21, 2013, 09:35 PM
You mean this Starrett dial caliper from MidwayUSA? :D - http://www.midwayusa.com/product/411115/starrett-1202-dial-caliper-6-stainless-steel

I am still happily using the dial caliper I bought from MidwayUSA almost 20 years ago - http://www.midwayusa.com/product/119623/frankford-arsenal-dial-caliper-6-stainless-steel

ColtPythonElite
February 21, 2013, 09:40 PM
Ain't no 100 buck calipers at my house. They 20 buck model works for me.

chris in va
February 21, 2013, 09:50 PM
Agreed, my $25 stainless dial calipers work great. If they're anything like digitals, most come from the same factory regardless of price.

cag215
February 21, 2013, 09:58 PM
6 inch Mitutoyo Stainless Steel dial caliper....good stuff that will last a lifetime.

leadchucker
February 21, 2013, 10:09 PM
A good used dial caliper is the sort of thing you can find for cheap on evilbay if you're just a little patient. I found a nice older used Mitutoyo dial caliper with case there for around $20.

cfullgraf
February 21, 2013, 10:12 PM
For the vast bulk of reloading chores, the $20-$30 digital calipers from a variety of sources will be more than adequate.

OF course, if you insist, there are more expensive ones out there.

Jesse Heywood
February 21, 2013, 10:38 PM
Best bang for the buck is the Harbor Freight when they are on sale for $10-12.

dsm
February 21, 2013, 11:42 PM
Another vote for Mitutoyo digital...mine are several years old, same battery and never once drifted or inconsistent results.

.22-5-40
February 22, 2013, 12:39 AM
Bought a 6" stainless Starrett dial caliper new in 1974..been my constant companion as machinest..then tool & die maker. Bought another about 15 years ago for home/reloading use. Only have to buy quality once!

280shooter
February 22, 2013, 12:54 AM
i bought a Lyman over 30 years ago. its a dial. No batteries.. its works just great,

savanahsdad
February 22, 2013, 01:11 AM
Starrett, Mitutoyo, Brown&Sharp.

most others don't make them they just slap there name on them , on the low end I'd go with General tool.

mike.h
February 22, 2013, 01:55 AM
Yep, I got mine at harbor freight, they work fine

10 Spot Terminator
February 22, 2013, 02:21 AM
Another vote for Mitutoyo here.

dubbleA
February 22, 2013, 02:49 AM
I have a 6 inch Starrett digital, a 6 inch Starrett dial and a 6 inch Mitutoyo dial. The Starrett dial probably sees the most use, dont really know why they just do.
My dad gave me a 6 inch vernier caliper made in Germany by Helios last year. They have sentimental value as the are appx 50 years old and are the what I cut my teeth with.

My father always told me growing up....."son, you might as well start out with what your going to wind up with" and I have always tried to abide by that.

Buy quality, it willl pay off in the end.

Otto
February 22, 2013, 02:56 AM
Mitutoyo Digimatics are all I use.
I can see why cheap Harbor Freight calipers would turn someone sour on digital calipers.

Clark
February 22, 2013, 04:10 AM
ColtPythonElite
I bought some Midway labeled ones 20 years ago and have no complaints. I think Midway still selling them, just with Frankfort Arsenal on them.

I got some of those 15 years ago and they were freakishly good.
I own a lot of calipers.
My cousin has the patent on coolant proof calipers.
He uses a 3 phase magnetic position sensor.

The only way I have found to get calipers as good as those old Midway made in china calipers is buy Mitutoyo.
It is going to cost $90+
http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INSRIT?PARTPG=INLMKD&PMPXNO=8505015&PMAKA=307-3602

Zeke/PA
February 22, 2013, 06:23 AM
I bought my first set of Starretts about the same time and still have 'em after all this time in the same trade.
Got a set of 12 inchers too plus a set or two of digitals.
Greatest thing since Instant Mashed Potatoes!

7075-T7
February 22, 2013, 07:59 AM
I have a pair of 6" dial calipers from Harbor freight and Mitutoyo. The HF are fine, the Mitutoyo are just better made and more repeatable.

I use the Harbor Freight at work and the Mitutoyo for reloading.

Walkalong
February 22, 2013, 08:41 AM
99% of measuring for reloading just isn't that demanding. I use a HF digital for most things because they are easy to read and work just fine. I use my Mitutoyo dial calipers out by the lathe. I break out my Brown & Sharp dial caliper once in a while to double check something or if I just want to feel that silky smooth movement and check out the beautifully marked lines etc. No comparison in quality, but the HF calipers work just fine for .001. Heck, if we are off .001, or .002, we aren't making ball bearings here, or fitting one part to another part.

Buy quality and you won't be sorry. Buy cheap (Smart cheap) and it will work for you.

beatledog7
February 22, 2013, 09:38 AM
^^ The best bang for the buck in calipers is in digitals. They're inexpensive, easy to read, accurate enough, and completely reliable as long as one manages to keep a couple of spare batteries on hand.

eam3clm@att.net
February 22, 2013, 10:52 AM
I am at the point that I have given up on th harbor freight calipers. I have gone through three digital calibers. They started out fine. but over time their accuracy grew to unacceptable levels. I then switched to their dial type. The first one worked fine for a while, but it the pointed finally gave out. I bought a pair to replace it, and I kid you not between .000 and 1.00 on the body, it reads 3 4 5 6 7 1 2

jcwit
February 22, 2013, 11:05 AM
I think what many forget is that calipers are not a tool, they are a precise instrutment.

They should be handled as such.

Triumph
February 22, 2013, 11:14 AM
6 inch Mitutoyo Stainless Steel dial caliper....good stuff that will last a lifetime.

Can you help me with a model #?

Triumph
February 22, 2013, 11:17 AM
Mitutoyo Digimatics are all I use.
I can see why cheap Harbor Freight calipers would turn someone sour on digital calipers

Bingo!!!

Have a pair of digital off Amazon & they are very inconsistent!!

The Bushmaster
February 22, 2013, 11:34 AM
The "best" calipers for the money----Starrett.

For what you need when reloading ammunition----The $25.00 stainless ones that Midway have for sale.

Jim Watson
February 22, 2013, 12:00 PM
My most used dial calipers are RCBS branded ChiCom.
But I still find myself picking up the $4.00 1970s Swiss made plastic Sears vernier for routine pistol OAL adjustment.

I have a set of Frankfort Arsenal/Midway branded ChiCom in reserve, exchanged for a dud digital.

I have a Starret micrometer if that last .0001" up to 1.0000 matters.

Triumph
February 22, 2013, 12:06 PM
The "best" calipers for the money----Starrett.

For what you need when reloading ammunition----The $25.00 stainless ones that Midway have for sale.


Only problem is "Made in China". Also found out RCBS "Made in China". I already have a cheap Chicom pair that don't work well.

Anyone know of a reasonable "made in USA" pair of dial calipers?

I would be ok with Japanese (Mitutoyo) but don't see any with a dial.

HexHead
February 22, 2013, 12:35 PM
I started with some digital calipers and disliked them for the same reason you stated. I ended up get an RCBS dial caliper and could't be happier with it. Probably was around $50.

Triumph
February 22, 2013, 12:47 PM
I started with some digital calipers and disliked them for the same reason you stated. I ended up get an RCBS dial caliper and could't be happier with it. Probably was around $50.

That may be a good option. Even thought they are Chinese - RCBS has great customer service. If I had a problem with the pair I get I can always call RCBS

savanahsdad
February 22, 2013, 01:10 PM
That may be a good option. Even thought they are Chinese - RCBS has great customer service. If I had a problem with the pair I get I can always call RCBS
if your looking for calipers for under $50.00 and don't care where there made , then Lyman, RCBS , or a set of MidWay's will work and they have better customer service than the junk tool deelers out there, but I would keep an eye on e-bay for Starrett , or Mitutoyo for just a few buck more

Clark
February 22, 2013, 04:38 PM
Triumph
6 inch Mitutoyo Stainless Steel dial caliper....good stuff that will last a lifetime.
Can you help me with a model #?

I posted one above already, but that is just one.

Look for any 6" Mitutoyo dial caliper with .1" per rotation on the dial.
The colors of the dial make for a lot of different part numbers.
The color does not matter..... to men.
Look for sales.
Enco is a cheap place to buy things and they have sales all the time, and those are on sale often.
Amazon is also a good place
http://www.amazon.com/Mitutoyo-505-675-56-Stainless-Accuracy-Resolution/dp/B000VBCF0Q/ref=pd_cp_hi_0

As was stated above, many do not need great accuracy and resolution for handloading.... but I do. I have pin gauges, a ball micrometer, and dial indicator in my reloading room.

Also, if you know how to check out used calipers, Starrett calipers in a pawn shop can be a great deal.

Certaindeaf
February 22, 2013, 04:54 PM
There was a thread just like this here the day before yesterday. I've got some good stuff but just use a $10 Harbor Freight dial.. works plenty good

rikman
February 22, 2013, 06:12 PM
Another vote for Mitutoyo here.
Another vote for Mitutoyo...buy once cry once...

ranger335v
February 22, 2013, 07:58 PM
"I am thinking RCBS because of their spectacular customer service (from what I hear)."

Calipers are only expected to be +/- .001" tools. The RCBS, Hornady, Lyman, Midway, Grafs and Cabalias' calipers, dial and digital, are from the same Chinese maker. And they all tend to work fine so the only thing you would be paying for above the basic low price of the Harbor Freight tools is the warm fuzzy glow of a "better" plastic name plate; we pay a LOT for the 'spectacular' RCBS 'free replacement' warranty and no where is that better exhibited than in the cost of their caliper.

My 6" Chinese Midway (dial) and Harbor Freight (2 dial and 1 digital) and my fine professional grade Swiss calipers are all within a half thou of each other according to my precision Jo Blocks. The Swiss tool is much smoother working - but I can buy some 15 Harbor Freights (often on sale for $10-12) for the cost of ONE new high grade tool. It is possible to buy a good grade caliper for much less on eBay and, if you're lucky, you may even get a good one but, to me, the better choice for most reloaders is obvious. HF often has sales in men's magizines, including the Am. Rifleman.

Anyone wanting tighter measurements than 1 thou should also have a micrometer but that's rarely helpful for reloading, what we do simply isn't that precise. I usually keep my B&S mic (that reads in tenths) stored and use my no longer available inexpensive 40 year old Craftsman mic instead. And, IF I ever drop it, I'll replace it with an inexpensive HF mic.

nofishbob
February 22, 2013, 10:37 PM
Great information in this thread!

After all of the experienced caliper users have weighed in on their favorite high-end brands, I was disappointed to not see Mahr (Mahr Federal in the US) mentioned.

They make some of the smoothest hand held calipers and micrometers in both dial and digital versions.

All of the top brands of these instruments compete on a very high level of quality. When you are looking for a quality instrument, Mahr should be on your list of brands to consider.

Full disclosure: I work for Mahr Federal.

Bob

savanahsdad
February 22, 2013, 10:49 PM
Great information in this thread!

After all of the experienced caliper users have weighed in on their favorite high-end brands, I was disappointed to not see Mahr (Mahr Federal in the US) mentioned.

They make some of the smoothest hand held calipers and micrometers in both dial and digital versions.

All of the top brands of these instruments compete on a very high level of quality. When you are looking for a quality instrument, Mahr should be on your list of brands to consider.

Full disclosure: I work for Mahr Federal.

Bob
I see no one said Fowler or Snap-on eather

GT1
February 23, 2013, 04:17 AM
My dial is a Fowler, it matches my HF/FA/whatever digital. I prefer the digital, fast to use, and old eyes. But one day I'll forget to buy batteries or it'll die maybe...the dial is a good back up.

Blue68f100
February 23, 2013, 10:32 AM
I've been using a pair of Starrett model 100 for 30+ yrs. For reloading you normally do not need a high accuracy set to check OAL.

redneck2
February 23, 2013, 08:53 PM
Uhhhh....everybody's missed the best answer. Pawn shop. Any decent pawn shop will have multiple good quality ones for cheap. I bought a set of Starett digitals years ago for $15 IIRC

cfullgraf
February 23, 2013, 09:53 PM
I see no one said Fowler or Snap-on eather

I have a Fowler vernier caliper. Works great. Never needs batteries. But digital or dial are more convenient to use.

They are a reminder of the "good ole days".:)

Skyshot
February 24, 2013, 10:01 AM
Here is a very good quality built caliper. We have several of these in the shop. A good price at around seventy bucks. http://www.toolsource.com/dial-caliper-range-graduations-p-76154.html

OilyPablo
February 24, 2013, 10:46 AM
I have a Mitutoyo (12") digital that I rarely use. I have a larger Starrett dial caliper that is even used less. I mainly use my 6" Frankford Arsenal for gun stuff.

tbob38
February 24, 2013, 11:17 AM
I went through 2 cheap Chinese digital calipers over the years and have finally bit the bullet so to speak and bought a Starrett digital. Couldn't be happier.

jcwit
February 24, 2013, 12:45 PM
if your looking for calipers for under $50.00 and don't care where there made , then Lyman, RCBS , or a set of MidWay's will work and they have better customer service than the junk tool deelers out there, but I would keep an eye on e-bay for Starrett , or Mitutoyo for just a few buck more


Harbor Freight offers a lifetime warranty on all their hand tools which the calipers qualify for. How much better warranty do you want?

engineermike
February 24, 2013, 02:32 PM
A 6 inch one will work just fine but a 12 inch one is more impressive when you take if off your bench and show it to your friends. :neener:

Sorry, I'm just now waking up. (No coffee yet)

Still Shooting
February 24, 2013, 06:57 PM
I have a Starrett #799 digital that I love to use, but my backup is a 25 year-old Lyman polyamid dial that has been used/abused for everything (reloading, car repairs, checking screw diameters, etc.). The Lyman is still repeatable, and it agrees with the Starrett to a thou.

deadeye dick
February 24, 2013, 07:50 PM
I also like Starret s/s dial calipers and Mitutoyo. I used mitutoyo Dial comparaters professionally for years.They are the timex's of dials(take a licking and keep on ticking) I also have a Mauser vernier caliper pre wwll with the proof papers still in the original box. Took it from a nazi.:D

hueyville
February 25, 2013, 12:45 AM
If your making sloppy loads for sloppy Combloc guns then Chinese harbor freight may be what some want. That lifetime warranty is a deal of you want to take the time and burn the gas to return them every few years. Starret, Mitutoyo, Brown & Sharpe will all last a lifetime. Dial or digital your choice. Pawn shops are a good source but I look on them on sale from one of my reputable vendor or have them kick in a free set to close the occasional deal on a high dollar machine tool. I actually got a free 18" Mitutoyo dial caliper when I purchased my endmill sharpener. Salesman wanted to close the deal as unit was a Swiss made sharpener in five figure range that had been in inventory for longer than expected. Never be afraid for a kicker when buying machine shop tools if you do that. I also got several off ebay from reputable vendors that checked out just fine.

jcwit
February 25, 2013, 06:30 PM
If your making sloppy loads for sloppy Combloc guns then Chinese harbor freight may be what some want. That lifetime warranty is a deal of you want to take the time and burn the gas to return them every few years. Starret, Mitutoyo, Brown & Sharpe will all last a lifetime.

Have never needed to return a set of H/F Calipers for any reason, neither the dial or the digital. Over the last 20/30 years I have needed to replace the batteries in the digital, both the Harbor Freight and the Mit's.I have needed to sent Mitutoyo calipers in for repair a couple of times, but have yet to need to do the same with Starrett or my Brown & Sharp, or for that matter my Fowler calibers.

Retired Tool & Die Maker.

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