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Father Kit Cool Gun Garth

Reloading Calipers - What do you use?

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NOTE: I changed the title of the Post from "The Best?" to "What do you use?

 

In a recent post I started regarding Ammo questions, the mention of a set of calipers came up.

I mentioned that although I currently do not reload, I was already checking out a set of calipers to purchase when I do reload.

When I inquired as to whether the calipers I was thinking about*, Phantom replied that "18 dollar calipers...Ain't close to the best."

For those of you that reload, what calipers do you use and why did you chose it or why do you like it?

 

After posting this I did some additional reading prompting the following questions:

1.  Prefer digital over dial, or vice-versa, and why?

2. Do you actually have a set of both, digital and dial?

3. What size - 6", 8" or other?

 

*  VINCA DCLA-0605 Quality Electronic Digital Vernier Caliper

    1274011272_VINCADCLA-0605QualityElectronicDigitalVernierCaliper.JPG.1a644fc479c76fd9d587dcb9c0ae68c8.JPG

 

Edited by Father Kit Cool Gun Garth
Additional questions added in BLUE - Changed Title

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Don't over analyze it Kit, like others have said get something at a decent price and run with it.

 

My first set was the cheapest I could find off Amazon. It still works, but I got another one because I set the battery cover down on my workbench and the Gremlins moved it somewhere. I don't even see a brand on the one I use now, $15.00 off eBay. 

 

I may do like Assassin and get some dial calipers; never have to worry about batteries again.

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$18 calipers are not even comparable to “the best”, but you also don’t need “the best” for what we do. You want a good set, get a set of Mitutoyo, Beown and Sharpe, or Starret. 

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Howdy

 

I'm old fashioned. I have always kept a Starrett 6" Dial Caliper on my loading bench. By the way, where I used to work these were regularly referred to as Verniers. Which they are not.

 

Why Starrett? Because they are the best.

 

A good friend of mine who is an old school machinist once told me he did not trust dial calipers because a chip can jump into the rack, throwing everything off. I later realized that if a chip jumps into the rack the measurement will be so far off that it will be obvious. Pretty simple to reset anyway. Plus he was in a machine shop where chips were flying around all the time. Not a lot of chips on my reloading bench.

 

He swears by Vernier calipers, but last time I talked to him he had an 8" digital Mitutoyo.

 

http://www.starrett.com/metrology/product-detail/1202-6

 

 

I do have a Mitutoyo 8" digital caliper too, for when I need to measure something longer than 6". I used digital calipers at work for years, so when I wanted something larger than 6" I went with this 8" digital caliper from Mitutoyo. Also a very good brand.

 

Just so you know, with a dial caliper with .001 graduations on the dial, you can interpolate the tenths. With a digital, it will default to either .0000 or .0005. Not that we ever really need that kind of accuracy, that's what a micrometer is for.

 

 

https://www.grainger.com/product/1ZRR3?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIrd2u4Mj63wIVFInICh2_jgIEEAQYASABEgLOYfD_BwE&cm_mmc=PPC:+Google+PLA&ef_id=EAIaIQobChMIrd2u4Mj63wIVFInICh2_jgIEEAQYASABEgLOYfD_BwE:G:s&s_kwcid=AL!2966!3!56542783677!!!g!102360815157!

 

What ever you decide to buy, buy metal, not plastic.

Edited by Driftwood Johnson, SASS #38283
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If you want cheap, a vernier caliper should do what you need for measuring OAL for SASS etc. I wouldn’t waste my money though on anything with a dial or digital readout that costs less than about $80 minimum. Just because it has 4  numbers after the decimal doesn’t mean that they are accurate enough to care what they are. 

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I have gone through many calipers over the last 50 years. First vernier then dial. (still have some Starret dial ones). I currently use digital ones. Expensive $200+ from Starrett and Mitutoyo in the machine shop but in my reloading room I use a pair of Fowler Euro-cal IV 6".  Very good calipers for the money.  I do however use an expensive 4 place Mitutoyo micrometer in my reloading room. 

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Just to be precise, you asked what the best calipers for reloading were as you didn't want to buy twice... Hence my response.

 

<_<

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Starrett and Mitutoyo make excellent dial calipers. Accurate and easy to read. The vernier scale calipers require better eyes than I have to read. For most quick reference checking when loading cartridges I use a less expensive Frankford Arsenal digital caliper. It is accurate, easy to read and will display in SAE or metric scales with the push of a button.

Edited by Lead Monger
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Quote

 

After posting this I did some additional reading prompting the following questions:

1.  Prefer digital over dial, or vice-versa, and why?

2. Do you actually have a set of both, digital and dial?

3. What size - 6", 8" or other?

 

First of all, the best is an anomalous term for the majority of the reloading applications needed for calipers ...

* All of my calibers 6 - 8" - vernier and digital calipers are Harbor Freight.  Determined that the digital caliper readings are 0.002 different than measured with certified plug gauges

* Most used is the 6" set of vernier calipers which is always laying on top of the work bench

 

And not mentioned for accurate readings in the reloading room are high priced micrometers:

* Have 2" Mitutoyo inside & outside ones

Plus a reloading room IMO is not complete if it does not have a set 0.2 - 0.5 set of go- no go plug gauges

Edited by John Boy
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I've been using the Frankford Arsenal digital caliper for several years.  It works fine for reloading.

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Look hard at the Starrett model #120A. It's a 6" dial type. USA made.

Good price here-

https://www.amazon.com/Starrett-120A-6-Stainless-Accuracy-Resolution/dp/B00002254I

 

Starrett-

http://www.starrett.com/metrology/product-detail/120A-6

 

 

Just remember, that cheap tools will never save you 1 cent.....

 

OLG

 

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Short answer, any 6 inch $25 set of digital calipers from any of hundreds of sellers on ebay will work fine for reloading. 

 

A noted youtube machinist, Abom79, (look him up, his videos are pretty cool) tested an inexpensive digital caliper against known metrology standards and compared that to a Starrett.  He found virtually no difference. 

 

In my shop I have a variety of calipers, from a plastic dial unit that I use for woodworking that reads in fractional inches,  to a vintage Craftsman vernier to a Lyman dial and Mitutoyo digital and another $15 digital bought off ebay.  (All are 6 inches. I have another 12 inch digital, but that is overkill for this discussion). For reloading purposes, any of them (other than the plastic one) is perfectly fine. I still like the no batteries required verniers because that's what I've used for 40 years. But I'm more and more often picking up the digital because it's so easy to read.  Even my $15 digital calipers read within .0005" of the Mitutoyo. 

 

Those that noted Starrett is the best are arguably correct, though Brown & Sharpe and Lufkin make very good stuff. Mitutoyo is close behind and much more affordable. Starrett stuff is almost out of reach for any one who needs a complete set of metrology tools,  and Mitutoyo has quality tools that suffice in all but the most demanding applications. I have a couple Starrett micrometers and they are fine. And by fine, I don't mean, "ok." I mean fine as in perfection. Not necessarily more accurate, but perfection in function, proper tactile feedback, smooth operation, etc. 

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Doe's anybody have any idea what brand the digital calipers from Dillon are ?  I have a set of them and have used them for 5 or 6 year's with no problem's.  Iv'e alway's wondered how accurate they would be against a better pair. Think these were around $ 30.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Deadshot Dan said:

Doe's anybody have any idea what brand the digital calipers from Dillon are ?  I have a set of them and have used them for 5 or 6 year's with no problem's.  Iv'e alway's wondered how accurate they would be against a better pair. Think these were around $ 30.

 

 

No clue who made'em.

Just be sure to confirm a "O" reading before each use session, and you'll be fine.

OLG

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5 minutes ago, The Original Lumpy Gritz said:

No clue who made'em.

Just be sure to confirm a "O" reading before each use session, and you'll be fine.

OLG

Iv'e looked them over well, paper work too, and no brand or maker.  They do always hold their zero and seem to do a good job.  Thank's Lump.

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2 minutes ago, Deadshot Dan said:

Iv'e looked them over well, paper work too, and no brand or maker.  They do always hold their zero and seem to do a good job.  Thank's Lump.

Change the battery on a regular schedule.

OLG

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3 minutes ago, The Original Lumpy Gritz said:

Change the battery on a regular schedule.

OLG

If i'm not using them on a regular basis i take the battery out of them also.

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10 minutes ago, Deadshot Dan said:

If i'm not using them on a regular basis i take the battery out of them also.

If they have an 'OFF' button. Not really necessary.

Doesn't hurt to either....

OLG

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I have both digital and dial.  Prefer the dial one as I don't have to worry about replacing batteries.  If using for reloading, a good dial caliper will do.  If using for machining, well, get the best that money can buy.  

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I own and used Mitutoyo, Starrett, Brown and Sharpe precision measuring tools for 40 years. They were expensive and necessary to measure down to half a ten thousandth of an inch. The $20 dial calipers from HF, Franklin Armory, General tool and others are reliable and accurate enough (+/- half a thousandth) for reloading.

 

Imis

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1 hour ago, Imis Twohofon,SASS # 46646 said:

I own and used Mitutoyo, Starrett, Brown and Sharpe precision measuring tools for 40 years. They were expensive and necessary to measure down to half a ten thousandth of an inch. The $20 dial calipers from HF, Franklin Armory, General tool and others are reliable and accurate enough (+/- half a thousandth) for reloading.

 

Imis

Yes, but he wanted the "best".

 

:P

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Sorry Ripsaw, I don't care what joe machinist on youtube said. After calibrating and repairing these for over 30 years for the military, the best and most reliable (repeatable) are Starrett, B&S and Mitutoyo. Period! Yes, there are many other brands out there that will work fine for what we do, but the best are these. And like OLG said, make sure you start your measurements with a good zero. Take care of them and they will last a very long time.

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First of all I wish to thank everyone who responded to this post. ;)

Your comments and input will be invaluable when making my decision when I am ready to reload.

As Phantom so eloquently stated, I did ask for the best, which may have been, on my part, the wrong way to ask the question.:blush:

It appears that many variations of calipers are being used by those of you that reload, and I guess my intention was to find out how accurate of a measurement do I need to prevent re-loading catastrophes.

Who would have thought that getting reloading equipment all the way down to a set of calipers would be as difficult and expensive as obtaining your CAS equipment. (Should I go with a Marlin or a Winchester, Stoeger or a 97, Ruger Vaqueros or Colt SAA's).

Budgets seem to always collide with quality.

I have learned a lot, and still have much research to do before I ever delve into the reloading arena.

I did find the following video helpful in answering the primary question of quality in calipers that may be informative for those having the same questions I have raised regarding caliper acquisition.

Thank you again.

 

 

 

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having both digital and dial , I would say get both 

the batt is always dead when all I can grab is the digitals 

always keep a couple extra batts in the case with them 

I keep a set of dials in every shop , just in case , I don't want to track down a batt 

Chickasaw 

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Both the dial and dig. have 'gib' screws in the top of the slide rail. That must be kept adjusted to remove the wobble.

OLG

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2 hours ago, Father Kit Cool Gun Garth said:

First of all I wish to thank everyone who responded to this post. ;)

Your comments and input will be invaluable when making my decision when I am ready to reload.

As Phantom so eloquently stated, I did ask for the best, which may have been, on my part, the wrong way to ask the question.:blush:

It appears that many variations of calipers are being used by those of you that reload, and I guess my intention was to find out how accurate of a measurement do I need to prevent re-loading catastrophes.

Who would have thought that getting reloading equipment all the way down to a set of calipers would be as difficult and expensive as obtaining your CAS equipment. (Should I go with a Marlin or a Winchester, Stoeger or a 97, Ruger Vaqueros or Colt SAA's).

Budgets seem to always collide with quality.

I have learned a lot, and still have much research to do before I ever delve into the reloading arena.

I did find the following video helpful in answering the primary question of quality in calipers that may be informative for those having the same questions I have raised regarding caliper acquisition.

Thank you again.

 

 

 

Judging from what the reviewer on this video say's the EZ Cal set on the bottom left sound like a pretty decent caliper.  Found them on flea-bay for less than $30 free shipping.

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Mitutoyo no. 505-629 serves my needs.  Good to .001".  I am sure there are better but, as has been said, no need for what we need in the reloading room.

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Been happy with the Frankford Arsenal brand for the reloading bench, and at work (as a maintenance tech,not as a machinist).

I like that it has an on/off button. I used to have a brand without the on/off button and it seemed like the battery never lasted very long.

I always get a kick out of seeing the Frankford Arsenal brand displayed in reference photos in Handloader magazine.

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Frankford-Arsenal-Electronic-Caliper-Reloading/dp/B0018E9FVC/ref=asc_df_B0018E9FVC/?tag=bingshoppinga-20&amp;linkCode=df0&amp;hvadid={creative}&amp;hvpos={adposition}&amp;hvnetw=o&amp;hvrand={random}&amp;hvpone=&amp;hvptwo=&amp;hvqmt=e&amp;hvdev=c&amp;hvdvcmdl={devicemodel}&amp;hvlocint=&amp;hvlocphy=&amp;hvtargid=pla-4583726540815597&amp;psc=1

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I've got Brown & Sharpe,, 45 yrs old,,  fantastic,, paid $125 I believe back then,, maybe,,, that was a long time ago,,, 

 

Mitutoyo can't hold a candle to them,,, used them in manufacturing for years

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For those that have or want digital calipers, they take LR44 batteries.  Save your money going to the Rx stores to buy them.  These come with free shipping ... https://www.dx.com/s/LR44 batteries?cateId=0

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I like the Digital calipers from Harbor Freight. Perfect for what we do. I wait for them to go on sale for $9.99. 

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Lets kinda sorta try and remember, we're talking about reloading here.  Not necessarily precision machine of balls or bearings.  We have available a reliable and repeatable go - no go gauge nearby if needed.  I've found, over 50 years of reloading, measuring ammunition down to the thousandth is a waste of time.  The only question is does it fit ..... yes/no.  Done.  But ... ir you simply must measure stuff, a 20 dollar dial caliper will do just fine.  Just check ZERO when ever you use it.

 

Well and example, just for grins.  Does the 44-40 round fit the cylinder ... yes ... don't do anything.  If ....No .... Do it over so it fits.  You can't measure the shoulder anyway.  Have to look for skuff marks.

 

PS:  General Tool makes a nice inexpensive Dial Caliper that will do everything we might need a caliper for.

Edited by Colorado Coffinmaker
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