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Dial Caliper Recommendations

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by film495, Mar 1, 2021.

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  1. film495

    film495 Member

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    Top 10 Dial Calipers of 2020 | Video Review (ezvid.com)

    I have a kid of cheap digital caliper, that is OK. I was messing with my grandfather's dial caliper when the battery died on my digital one, and I kind of prefer it. Problem is - I think it is old and does not hold a zero for beans.

    Is there a budget dial caliper that will work good? or do you have to put $100 or so out to get a decent tool? If so - which one?
     
  2. Hugger-4641

    Hugger-4641 Member

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    I've been doing machine work (lathe and mill) off and on for about 30ys now and I've kind of grown fond of Starrett for analog and Mitutoyo for digital.
     
  3. film495

    film495 Member

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    The digital ones I have are Neiko, and were only like $20, so - I figure they can't be very good, but have been OK. The dial calipers, the old ones I've been trying to work with are Mitutoyo, no idea how old they are - my guess would be 1960s. Zeroing both calipers and comparing measurements, they would be withing 1.5 thousandths of one another, but - both seem to lose zero pretty often, and - one set was so cheap it is basically an intro model, the dial is interesting - and to measure a bunch of brass I find just hitting the same spot on a dial better than reading the numbers.

    I figure if I am going to get a better tool, the dial caliper is for me, and takes no batteries. I'll keep the digital set as a backup, and return the old set into the archive.
     
  4. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    I use mitatoyo dial calipers. When I was searching the best value digital was iguaging. The ran 70 ish dollars and were run through a bunch of accuracy and comparisons... I still haven bought a set as my old set does everything splendidly and I have fun teaching my son.
     
  5. chris in va

    chris in va Member

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    Been using the Lyman dial, no complaints.
     
  6. BigBore44

    BigBore44 Member

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    The key that I’ve found to keeping dial calipers accurate is not applying too much pressure. The man I learned machining from had been a machinist for 50 years. You don’t try to make your calipers give you the numbers you want. You accept the numbers they give.
     
  7. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    Excellent advice
     
  8. Hartkopf

    Hartkopf Member

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    I prefer Mitutoyo. All day every day for the last 30 years. The only ones that have died in my shop were killed by the clumsy or barbarians.

    If your shop has lots of clumsy people or barbarians, buy cheap stuff.:)
     
    Zahn likes this.
  9. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    Waiting for Jmorris to chime in.

    I have a set of Mitutoyo that I use for serious things and a set of HF digital for rough measurements.
     
    Zahn likes this.
  10. Highland Lofts

    Highland Lofts Member

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    I like Browne & Sharpe. Bought mine from E bay
     
  11. Kp321

    Kp321 Member

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    I use mostly Brown and Sharp dial calipers, the smoothest and most repeatable ones out there. I have picked up several on eBay, never paying more than $70.00. Retail is $300+. By close reading of the description and studying the pictures, I have not gotten a bad product. Mitutoyo is second choice.
     
  12. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I have lots of calipers some feel better than others, some more durable than others, some I just like better.

    Get some standards so you know they are accurate or more importantly that they are not. Then you don’t have to 2nd guess them, just check. I keep cheap ones all around because I know they are as accurate as I count on calipers to be and am not rich enough to go around leaving hundreds everywhere.

    10C4B26B-8839-47BA-A44D-310CD099EADC.jpeg
     
  13. WeekendReloader

    WeekendReloader Member

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    You can pay more and get better quality, but I use a dial caliper I got from Harbor Freight. No batteries needed. They are pretty accurate and repeatable from my checking. I've been using the same calipers for 25 years.
    Some people prefer the digital and I agree they are nice, too.
     
    Harriw likes this.
  14. mcb

    mcb Member

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    At work I mostly use Mitutoyo digitals, the new solar powered digitals are awesome since the batteries never go dead. At home I have Mitutoyo and Brown & Sharp dial calipers, but I also have a cheap pair of Chinese duel unit dial that is handy and a cheaper pair of Vernier calipers (~$16) that get used for the dangerous stuff like at the anvil when forging etc.
     
  15. Mark_Mark

    Mark_Mark Contributing Member

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    only 2 you need to know if Starret and Mysotoyo

    Cost $150-$250 is last a lifetime!

    BOMB
     
    Offfhand and Lineman65 like this.
  16. bear166

    bear166 Member

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    The only dial caliper I've used is Hornady's, and I haven't found any reason to use anything else. I can't tell you that it will last 30 years since I haven't been using it for more than a few, but it seems well-built to me and it measures very accurately. If ever you did have a problem with one, I'm sure you'd have no issues dealing with Hornady's customer service, as they are very helpful in my experience. Plus, it's only $50, which I consider to be pretty cheap for its quality.
     
  17. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Mine says General on it, it's Swiss, and cost me $1 at a garage sale. It's more than accurate for most my needs, and I have micrometers for when it isn't.
     
    IMAhobbyist, murf and Hartkopf like this.
  18. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    Highly entertained by the statement accurate enough... what does that mean... precision ground guage pins are cheap, verification is easy. How good is a good enough scale....
     
  19. gifbohane

    gifbohane Member

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    My experience, I bought $20 Hornady's, $40 Home Depots, a few $ 60 brand X's, and finally accepted reality and bought a $175 digit set of Mits. Now if my measuring skill could reach the accuracy of the Mits I would be happy.

    I like Big Bores advise.
     
    9x56MS and AJC1 like this.
  20. film495

    film495 Member

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    now I'm kind of wondering if there is a replacement dial I can put on my grandfather's one that are Mitutoyo? I looked for a model number, but didn't find anything. that is a good idea to get some standards to check with, I did wonder how these things were calibrated.
     
  21. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    Simply that calipers as far as precision tools go are the least precise but cheap and handy to use.

    $120 for a set might seem really expensive to folks that only own tape measures but when compared to a $500 bore micrometer or a $12,000 set of micrometers, they are cheap and not as accurate.

    If you want precision measurements you use precision tools.

    1A07C218-B7A3-4B97-88BB-A25B096C7B28.jpeg

    B8801630-FFEB-4BFD-9284-A70FE710352F.jpeg

    Calipers are “accurate enough” for most reloading chores, meaning more precision isn’t necessary for them.

    You could measure your, say seating depth to .000002 but it wouldn’t matter because you can already tell they are not that precise just using your calipers...
     
  22. bassjam

    bassjam Member

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    I have a digital Mitutoyo I've been using for work for over a decade, batteries last seemingly forever and I always keep a few SR44's around for when they die.

    At home I have a "Grizzly" dial set that came with a dial indicator which I needed when I set the backlash on my truck's differential years ago. They get used both in my garage and in the reloading room and have held up fine for 15 years, they're probably about the same quality as what you get from Harbor Freight. I did lose a screw in them this past summer, when they finally die I'll likely replace them with a $100 dial set from Mitutoyo, Brown and Sharpe, or Starrett. While I generally don't mind batteries the winters in the garage seem to kill them.
     
  23. mcb

    mcb Member

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    That is an impressive set of micrometers.
     
    entropy likes this.
  24. WeekendReloader

    WeekendReloader Member

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    For general reloading, an inexpensive pair of calipers is sufficient. The tolerances in the press, seating die, nose of the bullets, etc. far exceed the tolerances of basic calipers.
    If you are trying to take your reloading to the next level, then it may make sense to invest more dollars into better measurement tools and calibrated standards to verify the tools.
     
    Skgreen and .38 Special like this.
  25. rabid wombat

    rabid wombat Member

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    ...and you learn how to use them. Most of us are taking “relative” measurements. It does not matter what the actual measurement traceable to a standard is - are you consistently measuring the same way every time. In industry, there is typically a gage R&R done. This indicates in the device is returning the same measure time over time. Likewise, it indicates if the human is returning the same measure time over time. There is a lot of “feel” to use a caliper or micrometer correctly.

    Micrometers = calibrated c-clamps :rofl:
     
    Legionnaire, AJC1, BigBore44 and 2 others like this.
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