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Best dial calipers under $100.

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

  1. Whiterook808

    Whiterook808 Member

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    I have a 20 year old Dillon dial caliper and an recently purchased iGaging Absolute Origin unit that I paid $39 for on Amazon. Both work well and I still use both. I find that I like the dial better for some tasks, such as checking case trim lengths and the digital for others such as COAL.
     
  2. DeepSouth

    DeepSouth Member

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  3. coondogger

    coondogger Member

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    I have a HP dial caliper but it doesn't read all that consistently. I just wanted something a little better.
     
  4. 2011redrider

    2011redrider Member

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    At HF the lifetime is only on the dial calipers, the digital are only 90 days. Went thru 2 digitals and no more for me. Got a Shars digital from Brownells as they will warranty it for life. 35 bucks and just waited for a 10% day plus 4% thru Active Junky.
     
  5. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    they will replace them.
     
  6. bds

    bds Member

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    +1.

    Like verifying scales with check weights, I prefer to verify calipers with pin gages with round cylinders as I can have better "feel" when measuring bullets over standard blocks (I usually close my eyes when checking with pin gages and also when measuring bullets to be more consistent) - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...ks-for-digital-calibers.821135/#post-10545265

    Not the "best" but my Frankford Arsenal dial calipers has consistently verified .355", .400", .451" plus/minus pin gages.

    Many reloaders, even long-range bench rest/Palma match shooters consider .1 gr resolution of scales good enough for reloading. As jmorris posted, I also consider .001" resolution of calipers "good enough" for reloading. After verifying 4 calipers I had with pin gages, I retired the oldest dial calipers I bought when I started reloading some 27 years ago.

    I collect vintage American made tools as hobby and have sold off Starrett calipers and micrometers. I am currently looking at buying new/good used Starrett/Mitutoyo micrometer and leaning towards Mitutoyo.

    I bought my HF digital calipers more than 5 years ago and still very happy with accuracy/consistency but I think in recent years quality/consistency has gone down and would highly recommend verifying them with pin gages in the same caliber range (They are only $3 to $5) before buying one - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...ks-for-digital-calibers.821135/#post-10545265

    Over the years, I have not been happy with HF dial calipers I have checked enough to not endorse them on THR. For me, I consider Frankford Arsenal dial calipers to be minimum quality standard for reloading (Around $25) - https://www.jgsales.com/frankford-arsenal-dial-caliper-p-35742.html

    No, I would rather recommend pin gages or even feeler gages over bullets as they come in different sizing and what says on the box don't always reflect the actual sizing - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...re-sized-the-same.818806/page-2#post-10567453

    Just for 9mm, they can come sized .354", .355", .3555", .356".
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2019
  7. CMV

    CMV Member

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    Also, while I'm only a hobbyist machinist, I've managed and supervised actual professional machinists for many years in the past. It was very easy for everyone to be using calibrated tools, everyone be a veteran machinist who has used measuring tools to check his work every single day for a decade or three, pass the same part around and be ± a thou, sometimes 2, using a dial caliper. I had to PROVE this to an MSEE process engineer (book smart, no real world experience) by demonstrating that dial calipers aren't the right tool to measure a critical dimension with extremely tight tolerance.

    And a separate demonstration that if the people doing the measuring KNEW what the dimension should be, they were more likely to measure and hit that # vs if they had no idea they would be closer to what the CMM said it was. Measuring precisely is a skill. Thankfully, we don't need that kind of perfection in measuring.

    I'm not saying don't go drop $100+ on a Mitu, Starrett, or whatever brand you like. Just that it's overkill unless you're using for something else AND you're good enough to use it to its level of precision. Most amateurs/hobbyists are not.
     
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  8. km101

    km101 Member

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    My $11.00 Harbor Freight digital calipers are just as accurate as my Starrett or Mitutoyo dial calipers. (Guess I got a good one). I have standards so I check them fairly regularly and they have not needed adjusting in over four years. And if I accidentally drop or bang them I haven’t lost much. They work great for reloading needs. Why spend more for the name brand?
     
    bds likes this.
  9. gifbohane

    gifbohane Member

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    A few years ago I bought a Hornady digital that works fine but eats batteries fast When the battery stars to get low it keeps giving me mm readings. Works well for my purposes.

    However I broke down and bought a set of analog Mitituyo's two months ago. Really good but have to zero them from time to time. Prefer using them for reloading...easier.
     
  10. 2011redrider

    2011redrider Member

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    No they wont, at least my store wouldn't!
     
  11. brutus51

    brutus51 Member

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    Having 50 years of machining experience I would recommend either Brown&Sharpe or Starrett dial calipers. Mititoyo are also OK.
    Don't trust anything electronic and a good set of calipers are most useful in measuring crimp diameters. Cheap calipers usually were out on the inside measuring blades.
    Have had my Brown&Sharpe's 6" and 12" in my toolbox for 25 years and they are still spot on.
     
    glc24 likes this.
  12. kmw1954

    kmw1954 Member

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    I have a 4" Mitutoyo that I purchased way back in 1979. Best money Ever spent!
     
  13. otisrush

    otisrush Member

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    I started with a set of digital calipers from Cabela's. After about 2-3 years of use they started to fail - but it took me a long time to figure out that they were. They'd lose zero. Then I'd start resetting the zero during sessions. Then they'd start being inconsistent (not by much....a few thousandths) and I just lost confidence in them.

    I bought a set of Mitutoyo 505 series dial (non-digital) and I LOVE LOVE them.....for two reasons. First, I just love going old school a bit; for the same reason I like using a beam scale over digital. But beyond that, they're solid and consistent as a rock. My confidence in the measurements I was taking skyrocketed. They're really really great.
     
  14. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    You know your getting old when someone says dial calipers are “old school”.


    I present you with the most reliable design of calipers, if you have eyes young enough to read them or a set of readers handy.

    DEDEC0D8-0B4B-4112-A899-7F8D36A272CD.jpeg
     
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  15. drband

    drband Member

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    That's worse than trying to read a Lee Safety Scale!:eek:
     
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  16. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I think for kids these days that can’t even read an analog clock, the numbers on a vernier caliper might as well be hieroglyphics, even with great eyesight.
     
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