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Best dial calipers under $100.

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by coondogger, Feb 28, 2019.

  1. coondogger

    coondogger Member

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    Outside of Starrett, what’s the best dial caliper under $100?
     
  2. CrankyCraig

    CrankyCraig Member

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    I have some Hornady calipers think I gave like 28.00 for them. Seem to work just fine.
     
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  3. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    I like my Dillon calipers.. around 30 bucks.

    Probably not the best ones out there, but they’ve never let me down.

    Good luck with your search, and stay safe!
     
  4. rg1

    rg1 Member

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  5. DeepSouth

    DeepSouth Member

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    I have to ask, why not Starrett?

    They can be had for 100 bucks.
     
  6. coondogger

    coondogger Member

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    Have not seen that.
     
  7. Bat Rastard

    Bat Rastard Member

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    I have a Midway branded caliper. They are as accurate as my Starrett. Gritty, but functional and robust.
     
  8. forty_caliber
    • Contributing Member

    forty_caliber Contributing Member

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    I have been using this set of i-gauging calipers for a couple of years and they have provided excellent service.

    .40
     
  9. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    i would get a HF for under $20 there lifetime warranty, just get a new one after every year or spend the money and get a mitutoyo or starrett.
     
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  10. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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  11. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    Mitutoyo, Brown & Sharp are also good ones.

    That said you you have a set of standards you might find a $10 set is just as accurate.

    3BEAC42F-38DE-4031-A1EA-24E98B98461F.jpeg

    If you are looking for precision a caliper isn’t the right device anyway a micrometer is what you are looking for. For most reloading tasks a caliper is just fine, expensive or cheap.
     
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  12. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    You are reloading not building a precision Swiss Watch.
     
  13. RandyP

    RandyP Member

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    +1

    For reloading purposes most any dial or digital caliper will have more than sufficient 'accuracy' for the tasks involved, namely measurements out to just 3 places. However, if having high priced tools fits your budget and makes you happy? Giddy-Up. I've been using the lower end digital and dial calipers and an under $35 digital scale for over ten years, and haven't blowed up yet - lol
     
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  14. George P

    George P Member

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    I agree, I have an older set bought at a flea market; older as in no digital stuff, purely mechanical. Well made and exact
     
  15. CMV

    CMV Member

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    I agree with Harbor Freight. I'm also a hobby machinist so have a small assortment of measuring tools and standards to calibrate them.

    The frequently on sale for $9.99 HF digital calipers are perfectly fine, IF:

    You have a store close by
    And can be bothered to do it.

    Mine is just a few miles away and I pass it often anyway so not at all inconvenient to stop in. I'll buy a handful of them for $9.99 ea, take home & check them out, keep the couple best, return remainder. Alternatively you could check out in the store, but they might frown on you unboxing and repacking their product in an aisle sorting thru them.

    But there are plenty that are silky smooth, dead nuts accurate over entire range (don't just use a 1" test), and will repeat same measurement infinite times. Make sure all that, then make sure it always restarts in inch or mm - wherever you had it last, and make sure if you leave it on & untouched for 5 min or so it auto shuts down. So you sort thru half dozen to get that one - you literally just got a Mitutoyo-level quality measuring tool for $10! I have both and use Mitutoyo at work frequently so I have plenty of opportunity continually compare the two very similar tools. The Mitu is better looking cosmetically and the plastic thumb rest in front of the thumb roller feels better. That's it. They both measure to same .0005 level.

    Ultimately - they're more precise than you are with a caliper - an outside mic will be better to measure most of what you typically use a caliper for out of convenience. Just rarely need that level of precision. Not making space shuttle parts where 1 thou may as well be a quarter mile....

    I forget the battery size - LR44 maybe - but whatever it is, get a multi blister pack of name brand like Energizer from Amazon cheap. When the initial battery fails, don't use the included spare, use the name brand & if sorted properly and made sure yours auto-off's properly, it will be years and years until the battery fails again!
     
  16. sparkyv

    sparkyv Member

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    Hey CMV, have you experience with HF dial calipers? Mine work great. I have no check standards, but they are right in line with my feeler gauges.
     
  17. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    i worked there part time during the days when i was working at ups at night. they don't mind you checking them out. the caliber boxes open with out destroying its package. bring a bullet with you to check the calibers. remember they are life time warranty, when the batteries die get a new par.
     
  18. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    Me too. The pair I got from them in 1990 are "Aerospace" brand. Mine are very smooth, faces are dead flat, well hardened, parallel, repeatable, well built, and gauge dead on. IMO, they compared well to B&S I used at work, and they are actually nice to use. FWIW, I DO NOT like using digital for reloading - I like to watch the needle move around, kinda the same way I only like an analog needle for checking run-out, heck even concerning a speedometer, tach, coolant, watches...; just something about digital that doesn't work for me.

    Now if I really need to do quick inch-to-metric, quick taring, etc, then my $8 digitals are easier to use, but I like how an actual needle goes about doing business.
     
  19. Wishoot

    Wishoot Member

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    I have a Fowler Shockproof stainless steel dial caliper (analog). I think it cost me around $60. It's been great.

    I haven't had much luck with digital, but I must admit that I never paid more than $35 for any digital caliper. Measurements were rarely repeatable and they lost zero often. Ultimately the digitals were returned.
     
  20. NapalmMan67

    NapalmMan67 Member

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    +1 on the Mitutoyo, but surely not BS... Although I may have a biased opinion having worked at Mitutoyo for many years, BS was the enemy. lol

    I would go with any of Mitutoyo's 505 series dial calipers... accurate, easy to use, good service support if needed and don't require batteries like the 500 series digital. Not that there is anything wrong with the digital series.

    Just my .03


    .
     
  21. berettaprofessor

    berettaprofessor Member

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    +1 on the Fowler Stainless. Love mine. Funny story, had a Fowler for years and when I got a bullet comparator I decided I needed a digital caliper to be able to zero at any point. Bought a Harbor Frieght Pittsburg brand stainless digital (there’s a new Harbor Freight store nearby) for $20, got it home and it was the grittiest, cheapest thing I’ve ever used. It was then that I realized what a quality piece the Fowler really was.
     
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  22. Mostly Lead

    Mostly Lead Member

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    These Starretts are a dollar over budget and reviews indicate made in China...
    https://www.amazon.com/Starrett-Dia...r&qid=1551449256&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1

    Mitutoyo is a multi-national Japanese company, reviews mentioned being made in Brazil, but still three dollars over budget...
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B016E44V0...&pd_rd_r=61ec7f68-3c2b-11e9-adc1-07d663083cc6

    Mitutoyo has different colored faces too, which looks pretty cool...
     
  23. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Starrett and Mitutoyo are the industry standards. Having said that, I have a dial caliper, a General, Swiss-made, plastic one I picked up for a buck at a garage sale.It's as accurate as I need it to be for reloading. I also have a Frankford Arsenal I got in sale at Midway for @$10, it works, too. I have micrometers to back them up if need be.
     
  24. fotheringill

    fotheringill Member

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    The cheap ones are ok IF

    1. They are calibrated properly, and there are no gaps on the inside measurement blades. I had a cheap General pair that I used for outside and it was perfect. After six years, I had occasion to use the inside blades. A machinist pal took them from me and reported back the outside was perfect but there was a slightly angled gap for the inside blades that threw things off by .002. We held it up to a light source and sure enough there was light coming through the gap.
    Buyer beware.
     
  25. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    I have a Fowler vernier caliper that I bought in the late 1970s. It always works and the batteries never need replacing. But, I'm getting to the point that I need a magnifying glass to read it.:)

    As others have said, for reloading tasks, the $20-$30 Chinese digital under numerous brand names are quite adequate. It seems that Harbor Freight can have the best price if you catch a coupon deal.

    Recently, I have decided that I really do not use digital calipers all that frequently and have purchased a dial Mitutoyo caliper. If I remember, they were less than $100 or in that vicinity. Battery life was the main reason for the choice.

    On the digitals, to insure I have battery power at each use, I remove the battery from the calipers.
     
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