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Old January 12, 2007, 08:44 AM   #1
ECLIPSE45ACP
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case length gauge vs caliper

Do these 2 serve the same function when reloading 9mm and 45 acp
for handguns?

thanks guys.
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Old January 12, 2007, 10:38 AM   #2
Mike Irwin
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Sort of.

A case length gauge will only tell you the length of the casing, whether it's too long. It won't tell you if you've trimmed it too short, nor will it tell you if the overall length of the loaded cartridge is correct, nor will it tell you if the case mouth with the seated bullet is oversized.

Digital calipers have really come down in price, and can be had very cheaply from places like Harbor Freight. They're a good investment.
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Old January 12, 2007, 11:00 AM   #3
ECLIPSE45ACP
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Do I need both? or will a caliper be fine?
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Old January 12, 2007, 11:18 AM   #4
Windwalker
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Calipers

If you have to decide between the two go for the calipers. So many uses for the calipers. Length gauges are fine but that's all they can check, "Length" and that is it.
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Old January 12, 2007, 12:44 PM   #5
Mike Irwin
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"Do I need both? or will a caliper be fine?"

Sorry, I should have been more specific.

No, you don't need both. Unless you want an absolute idiot proof measuring device that will allow you to check a lot of cases VERY quickly, there's really no need for the case length gauge.

The caliper is far more versatile.
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Old January 12, 2007, 02:28 PM   #6
jsflagstad
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Harbor Freight Deal

I saw that Harbor Freight had digital calipers on sale for under $10. Just got the flyer in the mail yesterday.

JSF
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Old January 12, 2007, 03:24 PM   #7
Mike Irwin
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My digital came from Harbor Freight.

It's VERY accurate according to the standard items I've measured with it (coins and some aerospace bolts).

The only thing I'll say about the HF calipers is that you need to get some REAL batteries, not the ones that come with it. The ones that came with mine lasted maybe 3 weeks tops.
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Old January 12, 2007, 03:30 PM   #8
jsflagstad
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I have a Mitutoyo and a Brown and Sharpe and they both work well but are a little spendy for the hobbiest. Had them for years and never have changed batteries. If I didn't have one and needed one, I would head for Harbor Freight and give that one a try.

Last edited by jsflagstad; January 12, 2007 at 03:32 PM. Reason: typo
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Old January 12, 2007, 07:13 PM   #9
Buckythebrewer
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A wilson pistol max gauge is more what I was trying to describe in the other post..
Something that you can just drop in and check maximum safe dimensions quickly.
I did not realise that the case gauge only measured length.
The cartridge headspace gauge I have measures head to shoulder on the datum line and maximum length as well in 223..So I gave you bad info.Sorry .
I agree the calipers would be better than just a case length gauge.But consider that Wilson "pistol max gauge" maybe.I think it will check all your maximium safe dimensions quickly.
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Old January 12, 2007, 07:55 PM   #10
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Bucky,

Are you talking about the ones that look almost as if you're dropping a cartridge down into the barrel or chamber?

I think Forster has made those for a long time.

If Eclipse was talking about one of those, then I was sadly off base in my advice.
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Old January 12, 2007, 08:56 PM   #11
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Yes,thats what I was pointing to but could not remember exactly what they were called.I did not find one in midway,but I did see them at L.E. Wilsons site.
For my ar15 I use both the rcbs precision mic(that won't help anyone using straight walled handgun cartridges),And a wilson cartridge headspace gauge(drops in and out quickly to double check die adjustment for shoulder bump)That again does no use for handgun cartridges.
But the wilson max pistol gauge I believe gives you a quick reference to your sizing, and to tell you if your ammo will function in any weapon in that caliber safely(as far as sizing goes).
Its just nice piece of mind especially for someone just getting into reloading.If it fits in the gauge and looks good on dimensions ,Then it will fit in the gun.
I believe thats how they work
Thats what I use my cartridge headspace gauge for.It measures if you've adjusted your dies to much,or to little,As well as tells you your cartridge length.
Very handy quick drop in and drop out device.
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Old January 13, 2007, 10:02 AM   #12
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Yes, the Wilson gauges quickly give you an read on the ENTIRE cartridge, sizing, case mouth, overall length, etc. They're good from that sense if you have any questions about whether a round will chamber in your particular gun.

I've never found them to be particuarly necessary, but I'm not shooting the kind of sports that require me to ferret out any round that might cause a hang up.
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Old January 13, 2007, 11:48 AM   #13
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I guess for handgun ammo(straight walled),It is not very important.But for loading bottle necked cartridges for semi-autos, gauges(like the rcbs precision mic,and to a lesser degree the wilson cartridge headspace gauge) for measuring shoulder displacement is a must IMO..Also I believe everyone using bottle neck cartridges sized in a FL die should be using this type of gauge to be sure they are not sizing there brass to much(increasing the chance of head case seperation).The exception would be neck sizing dies in Bolt actions because the brass is already sized properly to the chamber.
Again ,all this does not apply to straight walled cartridges(most handgun ammo) as far as I know..I was just figuring it would be nice for someone starting out to be able to check quickly that everything is sized properly,,Nice piece of mind,and as far as I know they are cheap too.Elipce45acp,Were you have 45acp and 9mm to check for size, I agree you would be better off with some nice calipers.If you have the extra$$(I think around $20 a piece maybe less,maybe more)you could get the case gauges.The calipers will tell you the same thing and can be used for many more things than the case gauges can,so it would be $$$ better spent.
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Old January 13, 2007, 12:44 PM   #14
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If you're a serious reloader, you need a good caliper, or far better, a good digital micrometer. Calipers only measure to .001 inch. Micrometers measure to .0001.

You also need Wilson type case guages in each caliber you reload. Especially if you load in volume on a progressive. It's a small investment, and they last a lifetime. The case guages can be purchased one at a time, spreading the expense out over a long poeriod.
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Old January 13, 2007, 02:20 PM   #15
Mike Irwin
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"Micrometers measure to .0001"

Few of the references I have, including Donnelly's book on cartridge conversions, gives data to 4 places.

A measuring device showing 3 decimal places is more than adequate for the handloader. I could see a micrometer being of much greater usefulness for a match loader.

"You also need Wilson type case guages in each caliber you reload. Especially if you load in volume on a progressive."

I'm not sure why volume loading on a progressive would matter much. I agree that the Wilson gauges can be useful, but I'm not sure I'd classify them as a needed item.

For years I've simply pulled the barrel from one of my semi autos, or the cylinder on a revolver, and used that as a gauge when setting up my dies.
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Old January 13, 2007, 02:40 PM   #16
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I recommend the Lee Cutter and Lock Stud and a csae guage. If it's too long, just throw it in the drill and then stick the cutter in. Very fast and easy. I don't own a case guage because I only load rifle, but when I get a new bag of brass, I just trim them all once and don't have to trim again.
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Old January 13, 2007, 06:32 PM   #17
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Mike,

When turning out a couple of thousand on the Dillon 650, I like the speed of just dropping them into the case guage, and instantly being able to see if one or more is out of spec.

You'r right, it probably isn't necessary, but it sure is convenient.

And the micrometer sure is nice to have for case head expansion measurements, and measuring the lead "slug" when slugging a barrel or a cylinder mouth. And for measuring case neck thickness after outside neck turning.

It comes in mighty handy for measuring how far the ogive is off the rifling with the Sinclair guage for optimum bullet seating depth as well.
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