A digital caliper is a convenient tool to have around if you need to measure various physical properties of an object. Length, height, weight, depth-you can determine a variety of item attributes using a digital caliper. This article will show you how to pick the best digital calipers to suit your purpose.
A digital caliper is a must-have for professionals like mechanical engineers and carpenters. If you fancy yourself as the handyman in your household, you would not be able to do without a competent digital caliper in your toolbox. A working digital caliper guarantees the most precise measurements.
Yes, some people prefer to do things the old fashioned way. But, we assume you are not one of them. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this article. The primary advantage that digital calipers have over classic dial ones is that it can save you a lot of time and minimizes the risk of taking erroneous measurements.
We have broken down this article into several sections so that we can discuss purpose-specified models. If you are looking for one to do woodworking, you can skip the rest and head straight into our best digital calipers for woodworking sections. Similarly, we will have separate discussions for reloading, woodworking and machinist applications.
Best Digital Caliper For Reloading
If you are a gun enthusiast, you would know the difference the slightest alterations in bullet dimensions can make. It might come across as a bit bit-picky to others, but it is the truth. Infinitesimal changes can impact the trajectory and force of a bullet. So, a digital caliper can help you determine the right bullet size for your weapon.
Making your own ammunition would give you the satisfaction of tailoring your gun experience to perfection. On top of that, it would save you money. Retail bullets don’t come cheap. To produce the best bullet, you would need to use the best tools. Here are some of the best digital caliper for reloading:
1. Mitutoyo 500-196-30 Digital Caliper Reviews
The Mitutoyo 500-196-30 comes equipped with AOS sensor technology that makes the unit incredibly precise. The AOS sensor keeps the caliper highly functional in all conditions and keeps it immune from grime accumulation and water exposure. For a factory and garage environment, this would be the perfect fit.
The 0-150mm measuring range would be enough for most users. You can also switch the measurement unit to inches if you want. The construction of this caliper is solid, to say the least. You can hope this to serve you for years. Moreover, it comes in a gorgeous carrying case that saves it from sustaining dents while carrying.
- Digital Readout LCD: The LCD display in the Mitutoyo 500-196-30 is very easy to read. To add to your convenience, it has a hold feature as well. Therefore, you would be able to know the measurements after removing the caliper from the object.
- AOS Sensor: Advanced Onsite Sensor (AOS) to repel oil, water, and dirt. This nifty addition makes the caliper operational in extremely challenging conditions like a factory or an automobile workshop.
- Zero/ABS Key: Recalibrating the caliper can be irksome in some models, but that’s not the case for the Mitutoyo 500-196-30. Thanks to the dedicated Zero/ABS key, you can restore the origin point of the caliper without any hassle.
- The AOS sensor keeps it safe from dirt, water, and oil exposure.
- Pinpoint accuracy.
- You can measure in both metric and imperial units.
- Durable build with a durable carrying case for safer and comfier portability.
- The price is a bit high, compared to other models.
2.EAGems Digital Caliper Electronic Measuring Tool Review
Caliper manufacturers tend to use plastic in digital calipers to minimize production costs. However, plastic also makes it difficult for the caliper to glide along a surface as it gets stuck often. With the EAGems Digital Caliper, you will not have to deal with any of that nonsense as it boasts a stainless steel build. Also, the price is ideal for most!
The EAGems Digital Caliper is worthy of a mention in any best digital caliper debate. We love the one-button interchangeability of units. You can get it in millimeters, inches, or fractions. The hardened stainless steel construction makes it one of the sturdiest digital calipers around. The display features auto-shutdown to avoid unnecessary power usage.
- Stainless Steel Build: The digital caliper is made of stainless steel. This particular attribute gives it unrestrained gliding ability on any surface. Not to mention, makes it highly durable.
- Auto Screen Shutdown: Often we forget to switch off the caliper screen manually when it is not in use. The EAGems Digital Caliper shuts down automatically when it detects inactivity over a certain period.
- Easy Unit Convertibility: You can get readings in the unit of your choice. This digital caliper can give you both imperial and metric readings. The best part is, all you need to do to switch between the units is to press a button.
- High accuracy.
- Stainless steel build for better maneuverability and long lastingness.
- Auto screen shutdown for better battery economy.
- The sensor sensitivity has room for improvement.
best budget digital caliper Under $50
By this point, we all know how useful of an addition a digital caliper can be to your toolkit. It will let you take a handful of measurements with the utmost accuracy. Metalworking, carpentry, engineering, woodworking - a digital caliper has useful applications in a variety of fields. So, buying the best digital caliper will be a smart investment to make.
That said, you don’t need to spend a lot for a digital caliper that is up for the job. The most expensive digital caliper is not necessarily the best digital caliper. You have to consider the functionality and value of money to determine a caliper’s actual utility. Here are some of the best digital calipers that are available for less than $50:
Despite being a budget unit, the Neiko 01407A electronic digital caliper has a lot to offer in functionality. It also looks great on the eyes. It has a 0-150mm measuring range with a 0.1mm resolution. You have the option for readouts in inches. So, from a performance perspective, you won’t be making much of a sacrifice buying this caliper.
What makes this tool even more ergonomic is its stainless steel design. It is easier to operate and is also responsible for maintaining the preciseness of the measurements. We got no complaints about the LCD screen as it has ample visibility in all situations. The use of an LR44 battery makes the caliper lightweight.
- Three Distinct Measuring Modes: You can move between three units to get the measurement data from this caliper. You can either take readings in inches, millimeters, or fractions. And all these can be navigated via a single button push.
- Stainless Steel: The Neiko 01407A has a stainless steel design. The stainless steel structure enables the caliper to freely move across any surface and also makes the unit remarkably enduring.
- Extra Large LCD: The readings appear vividly on the LCD screen of the unit. You can read the screen in any light conditions. It is also quite large so that you can get your necessary info by taking a single glance.
- High accuracy.
- Stainless steel build.
- Lightweight and easy to carry.
- Jaw and ruler movement is not as smooth as you would like.
2. Hornady Digital Caliper Review
We were originally considering the Hornady Digital Caliper for our best digital caliper for reloading section. But, the almost-unbelievable level of cost-effectiveness this caliper has to offer made us rethink that condition. Buying the Hornady Digital Caliper, you will get more bang for your buck than you had ever imagined.
This particular digital caliper specializes in taking small scale measurements. But, that does not mean it can’t do the job when you need to make relatively larger measurements. The level of accuracy you would be getting from this product is incredible. It has a simple three-button operational system that is very easy to get a hang of.
- Specializes In Reloading: If you are looking for a digital caliper on a budget to measure your cartridges, then the Honrady Digital Caliper could be an excellent choice. It is perfectly suited to make such delicate measurements with high accuracy.
- Ergonomic Knob Lock & Adjustment Wheel: The knob lock and adjustment wheel play a vital role in moving the jaws and the ruler. Both of these components exhibit optimum ergonomics to yield high-precision results.
- LCD Screen: When you buy cheap digital calipers, there is always a concern about the LCD. In cheaper models, the screens are often smaller and murky. We can assure you, that is not the case for Hornady digital caliper.
- LCD screen with excellent visibility.
- Simple operation.
- Gives out accurate readings on either extremities of its range.
- Ideal for reloading.
3. Lyman Electronic Digital Caliper
Lyman electronic digital caliper is another option to look at if you are looking for the best digital caliper under $50. Per your needs, you can switch between two measurement modes-imperial and metric. It is also very accessible. You don’t be a seasoned handyman to get used to it. It is one of the user-friendly digital calipers you can buy.
It has a stainless steel body that is immune to rust and also holds up well against dirt and water. We won’t claim that it is the most aesthetic piece of digital caliper out there, but it more than compensates for it with its functional design. It feels comfortable to grip and won’t slip out of your hand easily.
- Stainless Steel Construction: The building material for Lyman Electronic Digital Caliper is stainless steel. Therefore, you can expect this caliper to be at your service for years to come. Moreover, stainless steel also makes the caliper more high-precision.
- Two Measurement Modes: The Lyman Electronic Caliper has two measurement modes. You can choose to get the readings in millimeters or inches. A simple one touch button changes the measurement mode from one to another.
- Hold Function: The caliper has a hold setting that allows you to freeze a measurement as you move on to take another reading. This feature would come in handy if the screen goes out of sight while taking measurements.
- Ergonomic design.
- Hold function.
- Stainless steel body.
- Poor battery life.
Best Digital Caliper For Machinist
A machinist has to be extra attentive towards the preciseness of part dimensions to ensure they fit into the right places. Even the slightest deviation in calculation could render hours of hard work worthless. If you somehow do manage to put everything together, the risk of malfunctioning remains high if you miscalculate the component dimensions.
For this reason, machinists reach for their digital calipers on their toolboxes quite a few times throughout a typical workday. They rely on this tool to make pinpoint measurements of machine parts and ensure an appropriate assembly. Here are our recommendations if you are looking up the best digital caliper for machinist online:
1. Starrett 798A-6/150 Digital Caliper
Starrett 798A-6/150 is the first name that pops into our minds whenever anyone brings up the best digital caliper for machinists. This digital caliper has earned its place in our article because of its accuracy and durability. It is made of stainless steel which boosts its profile in terms of work efficiency and long-lastingness.
It can measure from 0-150mm or 0-6 inches. The caliper is programmed to provide readings in both metric and imperial formats. Apart from the stainless steel body, the 3.5mm bar thickness should assure you that the caliper will not snap into half anytime soon. The IP67 rating reflects the ruggedness of the unit.
- IP67 Rating: The IP67 rating of the Starrett 798A-6/150 Digital Caliper makes it more resilient to water exposure and other extremities. The caliper can take more than just accidental spills. It will stay operational if you submerge it for a few minutes.
- LCD With High Readability: The 0.31 inch display catches the eye easily. So, it shouldn’t be difficult for you to take note of the measurement data no matter how scarce the light is in your work environment.
- Integrated Depth Rod: The caliper features an integrated depth rod for accurately measuring depth. The rod extends into the bottom of a surface as the jaws move apart from each other.
- Integrated depth rod for measuring depth.
- Easy to read LCD.
- One hand operation.
- Can be a bit expensive.
Best Digital Caliper For Woodworking Project
Why would you contemplate investing in a digital caliper as a woodworker? Woodworking, like the other fields we have discussed above, requires precision measurement. Miscalculations that come across as negligible might mess up your entire project. So, the use of precision instruments is mandatory for woodcrafts.
Since woodworking is one of their most common fields of application, digital caliper brands manufacture woodwork-oriented products all the time. However, not all of them are capable of delivering the level of precision a woodwork professional or enthusiast demands. The following items are our pick for the best digital caliper for woodworking:
1. VINCA DCLA-0605 Electronic Digital Vernier Micrometer Caliper Review
The VINCA DCLA-0605 is one of the bestselling digital calipers in the market. But is it worthy of the best digital caliper crown? We will take a brief look here. The first thing you would notice in this caliper is its smooth stainless steel finish. It has a premium feel to it, and we assure you, the glamour of this unit matches its performance.
No, it doesn’t have any out of the ordinary features, but it knocks the ball out of the park doing the basics. The reading is accurate and fast, and the LCD is visible from all possible angles. You can take measurements in three different formats and switch between imperial, metric, and fractions whenever you want. It goes quite easy on the pocket too.
- Polished Stainless Steel Body: The stainless steel construction of the caliper has an elegance to it. It looks stunning and also feels great to hold. The slip-resistant design ensures the calipers do not fall out of your hand while measuring.
- Available In Multiple Ranges: This model is available in five different ranges-6’’, 8’’, 12’’, 24’’, and 40’’. The price goes up as you move towards higher ranges. So, you can buy according to your usual measurement requirements.
- RS232 Data Transfer Port: The unit features an RS232 data transfer port. You can use it to send data to a computer for record keeping. Use a VINCA DTCR-O3 cable to successfully connect the caliper to a computer.
- Multiple range options.
- Suitable for all types of users.
- Comes calibrated.
- Stainless steel build.
- The caliper jaws don’t bite tightly and often wobbles.
Buying Guide Of Best Digital Calipers
If you have been paying attention, then you are already familiar with the best digital calipers in the market. But, we don’t recommend just picking up any of the aforementioned models randomly. Without being aware of the fundamental aspects, you might regret buying a digital caliper. You also need to understand how suitable the caliper is for your intended purpose.
We will mention some of the key factors to look at while buying a digital caliper. The following list touches on the core elements that define the overall performance of a digital caliper. Before you settle for a particular model, it would be smart to see whether or not it meets these particular benchmarks:
A depth rod enables the caliper to measure depth. However, it is not a universal addition in digital calipers. For machinists, the depth rod is indispensable, while people from other professionals would also need to use it occasionally. So, we recommend getting a digital caliper that can at least take on a depth rod as an accessory.
Pre-Calibration Or Manual Calibration?
Calibration refers to the process of comparing a caliper’s calculations with a standard one. That means a calibrated caliper will deliver accurate or near-accurate results. Most calipers come pre-calibrated. Many advanced users like to calibrate their tools by themselves. If you are a rookie, however, we advise you to purchase a pre-calibrated model.
The accuracy rating of a digital caliper indicates the possible amount of deviation from actual readings. The ratings vary between 0.01mm-0.04mm. The lower the ratings are, the more accurate the readings would be. So, we suggest getting a 0.01mm one, but you can make do with a rating of 0.02mm.
The locking screw of the caliper you are buying has to be up to the mark. You can’t expect to take a proper measurement if the caliper jaws don’t firmly hold the object. If the jaws shake, then your results would be faulty. The locking screw has to keep the position of the jaws rock solid. So, avoid calipers with flimsy lock screws.
The IP rating of a digital caliper shows how much abuse it can take. For most applications, IP54 rated calipers are sufficient. The IP54 rating means the unit is resilient to dust, water, and oil spillage. If you work in factory conditions, then you should look for IP67-rated calipers, which offers protection from liquid submersion.
Most digital calipers provide results in both imperial and metric units. You need to buy a caliper that can switch between these two modes effortlessly. Some models might lose their accuracy to some degree while swapping measurement units. Therefore, make sure the caliper is equally functional in both systems.
A lengthy caliper is easy to hold and maneuver. Also, it determines the range of your caliper. So, choose wisely before buying a digital caliper. You are not only considering the length for ease of operation, it would also determine the extent of it. Six-inch calipers are the standard, but you might need lengthier options for more advanced applications.
What Is The Best Digital Caliper For Reloading?
For reloading, you would want a digital caliper that can make delicate measurements with utmost precision. A 6-inch caliper would be enough to get the job done, spending more on larger calipers would be meaningless since we would only measure ammunitions. All things considered, the Mitutoyo 500-196-30 is our pick for the ultimate best in this regard.
Of course, it is not a flawless unit. You would be paying a hefty amount of money for this unit. So, you would expect this to have an auto-shutoff feature which it doesn’t. It’s a predominant feature in even cheaper models, and it plays a vital role in managing your battery. So, the absence of auto screen shutdown was a big let down for me.
Why You Should Buy A Digital Caliper?
You would need to use a caliper to measure various dimensions of an object. Measuring length is quite simple, as it could be done with a ruler. But, when it comes to measuring the diameter of a flower vase or the thickness of a wooden panel, a measuring tape or a ruler won’t be able to complete the task.
Here’s where the calipers come in. Calipers deal with these tricky calculations, and digital calipers are the best in the trade. Before the arrival of digital calipers, dial calipers were the only option to execute these measurements. But, measuring with dial calipers might seem to be a bit challenging for novice users. Not to mention, dial calipers are more error-prone.
In dial calipers, you would have to take note of the position of the indicator on the dial. This would take more time than simply reading out the results from the electronic display of a digital caliper. Therefore, digital calipers are more user-friendly and accurate than their traditional counterparts.
A digital caliper would be useful in reloading, woodworking, machinery, garage work, and other DIY projects. It’s the go-to object for taking precise measurements, so having a digital caliper around is a smart idea even if you are not a professional. The increased level of accuracy and accessibility makes them suited for both professional and amateur use.
How To Use Calipers For Reloading?
As we have stated earlier in this article, hunters and gun enthusiasts use calipers for customizing their bullet dimensions. Here are some caliper tricks that you can put into use while reloading:
- Check the jaws before using. Close them and see if there is any light passing through. If there are, then the jaws have dirt and you have to clean them.
- Before measuring your ammunition, clean them thoroughly. Dirt and debris would lead to faulty readings.
- Use the outside region of the big jaw to gauge the diameter and length of bullets.
- Use the inside region of the jaw to measure holes and gaps.
- While measuring a bullet, be attentive to the location of the jaws. They have to be perpendicular to the cartridge.
- The jaws should strongly grasp the bullet while measuring. Tighten the lock screw to keep the jaws from wobbling.
- The measurement value would appear on the screen of the caliper. Write down the result.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does An Electronic Digital Caliper Work?
The principle of digital calipers is to create a capacitive array with multiple plates. The purpose of these plates is to detect motion. These plates come in two categories-stator and a slider. The stator plate can be found in the mechanical ruler on which the electronic housing moves along. The slider, on the other hand, is located in the electronic housing.
Once powered on, the slider plates deliver electrical signals to the stator plates. The capacitance increases when one pattern matches the other, and it decreases as the alignment shifts away. This process continues as long as the power connection is live. This results in the functioning of the caliper.
How Do You Measure With A Digital Caliper?
Using a digital measurement, you can usually take outside measurements, inside measurements, depth measurements, step measurements, and difference measurements. For outside measurements, you will have to use the larger jaws on the caliper. For inside ones, you will have to use the smaller jaws.
For depth measurement, you would have to use the depth rod. Insert it into an object so that it touches the surface. In each case, take the reading before removing the jaws or the rod. If you are not in hold mode, the readings would get lost immediately. Also, press zero before you move on to a new measurement.
Are Cheap Digital Calipers Any Good?
Being cheap doesn’t necessarily mean that a digital caliper is not good enough for the task at hand. In our Best Digital Calipers Under $50 section, we have reviewed some high-quality digital calipers that come with very modest price tags. So, not all cheap digital calipers are a waste of money.
That said, you have to look at certain qualities that dictate the performance of a caliper. It needs to have a decent build. Look for something that has an IP54 rating. You will find many budget calipers with stainless steel bodies. The level of accuracy might be a bit high than you would want, but if it holds true to its accuracy ratings, then the caliper would be a good buy.
What Are The Best Digital Calipers?
In our article, we have reviewed some of the best digital calipers currently available. Here are our top three selections for the best digital caliper honor:
- Mitutoyo 500-196-30: This Mitutoyo digital caliper tics almost all the right boxes. It comes at a great price, is incredibly sturdy, has a fine polished stainless steel build, and AOS sensor for uncompromised accuracy in harsh conditions.
- Starrett 798A-6/150: This one is even more robust than the Mitutoyo caliper we just discussed. With an IP67 rating, this digital caliper will stay functional ignoring heavy abuse.
- Mitutoyo 500-752-20: The Mitutoyo 500-752-20 is also a heavy-duty digital caliper that has an IP67 rating. It also got an automatic screen shutdown feature to prevent unnecessary battery consumption.
Digital calipers are the modern iterations of the tool invented by Pierre Vernier back in the 17th century. Even though the original Vernier Caliper still offers the highest accuracy, they are far from easy to use. Therefore, they are not the universally go-to instruments when we need to take measurements of several dimensions.
Digital calipers are way more accessible to us than run of the mill Vernier calipers. They also trump dial calipers in terms of convenience and performance. Thanks to recent advancements in technology, digital calipers are not overly expensive these days. There are many budget digital calipers in the market that can deliver exemplary performances.
In our article, we attempted to introduce you to the best digital calipers. As a part of that endeavor, we classified our recommendations into different categories based on their expertise. We hope that would help you to pick up a digital caliper that is befitting to the work you plan on doing.
Since this a complete guideline to the best digital caliper, we touched on all avenues we felt relevant. We also took the time to write a buying guide that would walk you through the Do’s and Don’ts of digital caliper shopping. Before wrapping up, we would like to remind you of the fact that price doesn’t define a caliper, look at the offerings on the table before making a decision.