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Decent CHEAP calipers

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by WestKentucky, Aug 10, 2018 at 12:06 AM.

  1. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    I have a new set of calipers at work, and they are extremely cheap. $30 cheap. They are certainly not mitutoyo quality, but they zero out great on calibrated blocks. They don’t have sliding jaws which I greatly prefer for measuring odd shapes, but they do have a feature I have never seen in a 6” digital caliper so cheap, inch fractional readout good to what seems to be 1/256 inch. I have never really needed that feature but I suppose it would be nice for measuring drill rod and hole sizes. Did I mention these things are $30. I’m pretty impressed with them for the money. I will not be bringing them home to play with and I don’t need a 3rd set so I’m not buying either, but from what I have seen so far, I would not hesitate to recommend them to a reloader, hobbyist gunsmith, or anybody else who might be in the market for a cheap digi-cal. If their mics are as good as this caliper set is then I’m done considering spending money on mics for home use.

    They are:
    Johnson 1889-0600
     
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  2. Deus Machina

    Deus Machina Member

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    I might have to grab a set for drills and rod.
    Just from a glance, they're obviously the standard rebranded Chinese design. I've gotten lucky with those before, but I've also gotten bit--even from the same company.
    The issue there is that the company sets a price and quality point, and sometimes one is more important than the other. They will occasionally switch suppliers and lose the quality, or the suppliers change something up without permission. Hopefully Johnson demands the former.
    I still keep a pair on the workbench for when I don't need or don't want to use the Mitutoyos, and always recommend anyone that does reloading or any repair work do so. A good pair is good. A bad pair is sometimes accurate but not pleasant.
     
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  3. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

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    I've gone down the cheap calipers route before. Never again. I'll stick to Mitutoyos
     
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  4. Blkhrt13

    Blkhrt13 Member

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    In-size makes cost effective high quality dial calipers. Also Tesa is a Swiss brand of digital calipers. They made calipers for Brown and sharpe for years. These are the cheapest calipers I recommend because I have a set of both that are going on 5 years old and still function.
     
  5. Skgreen

    Skgreen Member

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    With reloading, some folks will fret over 'half-thousandths', and some won't.
    My needs are extremely simple so I have a cheap digital and a cheap dial. (~$30~ category)
    Purchased the dial after the digital and found that I prefer working with the dial,
    Of course, nothing wrong at all with owning and taking pride in fine quality precision tools, but if only used for basic reloading, most folks will not need that level of precision, or expense.
    Sounds like the OP has found one he considers as a value for the price with a fractional read-out feature not found on all calipers.
    I'd certainly consider 'giving it a spin' myself if I was unhappy with mine and/or needed the 'fractional' feature
     
  6. chicharrones
    • Contributing Member

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    I still have a venier caliper that I used in my traveling toolkit years ago. Good dial calipers just cost too much money for me back then.

    Once the cheapie digital calipers came out, I've been using them ever since. I'm not a machinist, so the cheapies are good enough for me.

    It's just like my first multi-meter for my job was a calibrated Fluke. For what I measure, the calibrated precision of a Fluke isn't necessary. So, when the Fluke bit the dust, I've been using much cheaper digital multi-meters ever since.
     
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  7. doubleh

    doubleh Member

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    I bought a "cheapest of the cheap" digital caliper (eleven bucks on sale) from Harbor Freight to carry in my range box to get a little more accurate reading on group sizes than my Mk I eyeball is capable of. I also own a pretty good digital caliper. I've compared readings between the two on various things including a couple of standards over the years and the HF caliper always gives the same reading as the good one. If I want true accuracy I pick up a micrometer.
     
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  8. Capt.Roll

    Capt.Roll Member

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    I like my Harbor Freight 6" calipers as well; they are going on 5 years now and I paid $12.99 for them. I've taken them to work and checked their accuracy on our gauge blocks and steel pin sets; for around the house use they are more than adequate.
     
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  9. warnerwh

    warnerwh Member

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    Yup I have cheap calipers as well. I check bullet diameters and they say the same thing the manufacturer says. One thousandth is plenty accurate for most reloading. If I were a serious target competitor then I would probably be more discerning but my ammo is very accurate by most anybodies standards.
     
  10. entropy

    entropy Member

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    I have a Swiss-made General caliper I got for $1 at a garage sale. I use it for 90% my work reloading or smithing. I do have a Frankfort electronic one also, and several mics, rarely use them.
     
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  11. paulsj

    paulsj Member

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    I would buy metric SI or something that converts to it. It's much easier to cope with fractions of 10, 100, 1000,....instead of stupid old English measuring system.
     
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  12. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Perhaps for someone raised with the metric system. I'm comfortable with both.
     
  13. dusty14u

    dusty14u Member

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    I have an inexpensive set of 8" digital calipers that I have used daily for a few years with no problems. I am a Design Engineer in a small machine shop and come from a machinist background. If I want to measure something more closely I will use one of my mics. I have a set from 0-1 up to 11-12. They are Starrets and Browne and Sharpes. I also own Mitatoya and Starret 6" calipers that I use mostly for reloading. If the inexpensive calipers are accurate and reliable then use them.
     
  14. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    Years ago I got a good set for reloading at a pawn shop.. Maybe $10 IIRC
     
  15. Ohen Cepel

    Ohen Cepel Member

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    OP,
    Thanks for the lead, appreciate it!
     
  16. doubleh

    doubleh Member

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    My el cheapo HF one does metric and well as our old stupid English system as does my good one. I though it was a pretty much standard feature of them now days. I've had the HF model for five or six years and the good ones ( higher priced, anyway) for many years.

    I'm old and completely comfortable with our old stupid measuring system and can still do a lot of it in my head even at my advanced age. I have a chart on the wall to convert that goofy furrin measurement stuff. :thumbup:
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018 at 2:04 PM
  17. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    Those exact same ones can be bought at HF for $10 with coupon on a regular basis.

    I have Mitutoyos, Fowlers (the high dollar ones) & Starretts, but my shop beaters are these:

    https://www.amazon.com/iGaging-ABSO...1534005574&sr=1-4&keywords=igaging+6"+caliper

    They have proved very accurate and repeatable, moreso than most people's ability to use any caliper properly.

    I also have one of the IGaging digital 0-1" micrometers, and unless you need to hold tolerances tighter than .0002", they're sufficient.
     
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  18. Mn Fats

    Mn Fats Member

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    I have 3 or 4 different brands in various drawers. My "General" brand says "made in Japan". Must of switched manufacturers at one point or another. That one was free so it was as cheap as they come ;)
     
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  19. bassjam

    bassjam Member

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    I have a set of 6” and 9” calipers and a 1” micrometer I use at work, all from Mitutoyo. For home use, I just use a cheap $40 Grizzly dial calipers and a dial indicator that came as a set. I’ve set the lash on differentials before with the dial indicator, so both are plenty accurate enough for what I need.

    I prefer dial calipers for home use anyway so I never have to worry about a dead battery.
     
  20. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I have lots of different calipers as long as they are accurate, that’s all that matters and standards will tell that story. I like dial because they not require batteries but digital are nice to especially for differential measurements.

    I have one pair that displays in fractions like your talking about but never use them because it’s a useless feature to me. If I want to know a fraction from a decimal reading I look at a drill chart as I have them everywhere I have cutting tools and to the 64th is all they really matters anyway.
     
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  21. JONWILL

    JONWILL Member

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    I have just used my RCBS for a long time. I don't need precision for my shooting. In fact I hardly use them anymore. I just got the Lee case trimming tool chuck it in a drill and go to town
     
  22. J-Bar

    J-Bar Member

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  23. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    In the U.S., almost all reloading data is presented in decimal English measurements... inches, but with fractions expressed as decimals. Neither metric nor fractional-based measurements are very useful to us.
     
  24. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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  25. bds

    bds Member

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    Thanks for posting confirming claim by many members that same electronic circuitry maybe used in different brand calipers.

    I thought about buying gauge blocks but after what Walkalong posted, I ordered +/- Vermont pin gauges (.355", .400", .451") from Zoro Tools (owned by Grainger) to practice "feel" of my dial and digital calipers (with eyes closed) - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...ated-bullets-are-sized-the-same.818806/page-2
    Both Frankford Arsenal dial calipers and Harbor Freight digital calipers consistently verified pin gauges which I deemed good enough for reloading. Mind you, I collect USA made machinist tools (such as Starrett) as hobby and considered buying a micrometer (I sold off Starrett micrometers in previous years) but after my "cheap" calipers repeatedly verified the pin gagues, I changed my mind.

    It's similar to what we found in the myth busting digital scale thread where "cheap $20" .02 gr resolution scales were verified to be more accurate than .1 gr resolution Ohaus 10-10 beam scales (which BTW were used to win 1000 yard matches for decades) - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...tal-scale-accuracy.759750/page-6#post-9614543

    Here's repost from the thread:

    "The Vermont Gage .355 + Class ZZ Pin Gage Black Guard (Part Number 911135500) arrived.

    The pin gage was measured with Frankford Arsenal dial calipers with eyes closed/open and light to medium thumb pressure was applied on the wheel. Readings were consistently very slightly more (just on the other side of the line) than 0.355" both at thicker part of the calipers and the tip.

    The FA dial calipers is a new unit I bought last year to replace the dial calipers I bought 25 years ago from MidwayUSA. The old unit had a lot of play and was not consistent and accurate as the digital calipers I bought from Harbor Freight. The FA dial calipers is tight yet smooth without play and I find myself reaching for it more than the digital HF calipers.

    Maybe quality control at Frankford Arsenal improved after Smith & Wesson bought Battenfeld Technologies in 2014? http://www.btibrands.com/brands/frankford/

    With the calipers verified by .355"+, .400"- and .451"- pin gauges, I feel more comfortable about my measurements I post on THR threads, similar to Ohaus 10-10 beam scales and FA DS-750/Gemini-20 digital scales (now including WAOAW scale) verified with Ohaus ASTM Class 6 check weights (which goes down to .015 gr)"


    Verification of caliper accuracy allows me to comfortably post measurements like bullet diameter from different manufacturers - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...re-sized-the-same.818806/page-2#post-10567453

    And bullet setback by headstamp - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...nd-bullet-setback.830072/page-3#post-10711682

    Along with case wall thickness .200" below case mouth at bullet seating depth - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...nd-bullet-setback.830072/page-3#post-10713822

    And bullet setback from residual case lube left inside case neck - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...affect-on-neck-tension-bullet-setback.834035/
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018 at 4:12 PM
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