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Old August 12, 2012, 12:54 PM   #1
p5200
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Dial Caliper Question

I've been using cheap digital calipers for all my reloading needs and was just wondering if a dial type such as this one would be better to use? http://www.amazon.com/Starrett-1202-.../dp/B000EOJQGG Thanks!
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Old August 12, 2012, 12:59 PM   #2
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Starrett and Mitutoyo are some of the best there is. This Starrett is $10 less from Dynamite Tool.

C
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Old August 12, 2012, 01:07 PM   #3
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RCBS makes a very nice dial unit at 50$. Comes with a nice case and has remained very reliable. 0 is always 0 and using a feeler gage accurate. I have been using mine for over 25 years.

http://www.midwayusa.com/find?newcat...nsionid=12793&

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/630...tainless-steel
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Old August 12, 2012, 01:08 PM   #4
p5200
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Thanks for the tip, I'll check out Dynamite Tool!
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Old August 12, 2012, 01:22 PM   #5
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Better how? If yours are working fine why replace them? If you have extra money lying around and want to upgrade your reloading tools a good 0-1" outside micrometer or set of 1/8"-1/2" bore gauges would be a better purchase than upgrading a functional set of calipers, in my opinion.
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Old August 12, 2012, 01:22 PM   #6
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I personally like the digital calipers but each person is unique and have their preferences.
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Old August 12, 2012, 01:24 PM   #7
Creeper
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If you want to spend the extra coin, There's a Mitutoyo "absolute" digital 6" on sale here for $105.

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C
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Old August 12, 2012, 01:38 PM   #8
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You can actually find a good pair of digitals at a local big box hardware store. That's where I got mine and actually for a decent price. I believe they were less than $50 and easy to read.
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Old August 12, 2012, 02:13 PM   #9
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Better in which way. Does the calibers you presently use measure accuratly? If so, take care of them, they will probably outlast you. What more do you expect the calibers to do other than to measure accurately?

BTW I own digital calibers by Starett, Mitutoyo, Fowler, and Harbor Freight, same goes for dial calibers.
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Old August 12, 2012, 06:20 PM   #10
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Yes, that is wonderful equipment! I'm retired so the price made me gasp. I have some excellent calipers and digitals, too but it pains me to tell you that virtually all of those devices are made in China, now. You can get a Chinese copy of those calipers for $20 and truth be told, they're probably made in the same factory.

Here's a representative sample. I use these every day and also used them in my Maintenance jobs in industry.

http://www.harborfreight.com/6-inch-...per-66541.html

I've heard all the Chinese tool bashing before but when I returned to industry, I bought all Chinese tools and broke one ratchet and a spring loaded center punch in five years. I worked in a steel mill and in a heavy automated welding and blow molding plant for as many as 80 hours per week. There is no way to use tools any harder than in a steel mill or a heavy manufacturing plant!

Flash

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Old August 12, 2012, 06:29 PM   #11
chris in va
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I used a digital for a while then switched to a dial. It reads instantly and doesn't lose 'zero'. A bit more difficult to read but once you figure out it's linear way of calibration, it becomes second nature.
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Old August 12, 2012, 07:05 PM   #12
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anyone compared BIG NAME readings to the cheap ones for comparison? I use Frankford Arsenel from Midway in digital
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Old August 13, 2012, 07:50 PM   #13
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I prefer dial over digital, one less thing that needs batteries. You can buy a 6" one like this at Harbor Freight for around $20.

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Old August 13, 2012, 09:04 PM   #14
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When new, a cheap dial caliper is just as good as an expensive one in most cases. Its down the road that the differences will show up. A good set will be hardened, while the cheapies will be unhardened, or inconsistently hardened, which is just as bad. They will start to wear and introduce slop, which will throw off your measurements.

A cheap electric on the other hand, is crappy from the start. There are less parts to wear, but its also harder to tell when things go bad. Many times you can zero a cheap set of calipers, then take a few measurements, and the zero will start to drift, which is bad.....

In all honesty, in the reloading world, you're not really likley to wear out even a cheap set unless you reload a LOT, in which case you arent likley to be satisfied with a cheap set for long. For most people all that matters is consistency, and even .005-.01 drift isnt the end of the world. Its going to affect accuracy sure, but if you are the type of person who is happy with cheap calipers you probably arent worried about the difference between .75moa and .9moa on your targets.... Of course there are exceptions, but one thing is sure, you can bet the top shooters arent using harbor freight calipers....

I use a dial at work. I wouldn't mind a digital, but they cost more so I havent been able to justify it yet. Even at the high end of things, digital's arent better, they just require less thinking and counting, but I would definitely rather use a cheap dial caliper than a cheap digital any day....
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Old August 13, 2012, 09:09 PM   #15
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I work with precision tools every day, there is a difference in these tools. Brown & Sharp, Starrett, Mitutoyo along with a couple others are the gold standard. The "feel", durability and accuracy of these tools make them well worth the money. These tools will last a lifetime, invest in good tools.
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Old August 14, 2012, 01:17 AM   #16
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I agree with FlyGuy. I myself work in a large factory and make parts all day long. I use my brown and sharpe (dial) and the same Mitutoyos that Creeper posted a link to. I beat the heck out of my tools all day, they get full of oil and metal chips nonstop. Our QA department checks and calibrates our tools all the time, mine have never been off. You get what you pay for! The moment you drop a set of calipers, they should be checked with gages to make sure they are holding tolerance (+- .001) with different sizes. I had dropped a brand new (3 months old) set of digitals, now they are trash, they were cheap. NEVER AGAIN.
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Old August 14, 2012, 12:52 PM   #17
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As a mechanic/machinist/electrician, I've used a lot of measuring tools. I tried digital calipers but often batteries would die and I just couldn't get used to some "random" numbers appearing on a little display. I went back to dial (early Craftsman calipers I believe were made by Starret?). But, I did learn early if you purchase quality measuring tools, and take care of them, they will last you a lifetime (I had some Starret, 1", and blade, and Brown & Sharpe, ball and depth mics for nearly 40 years before they were stolen and they worked as good as the day I bought them...)
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Old August 14, 2012, 02:17 PM   #18
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"You can buy a 6" one like this at Harbor Freight for around $20."

Actually, we can buy those for $10-12 when on sale as they often are in Rifleman magazine and others. The H.F. calipers are exactly the same as those sold by reloading companies like RCBS for as much as $50. I have two 6" and one 12" Harbor Freight dials plus one 6" digital. All are within a half thou of my 6" B&S caliper (perhaps slightly better than Starrett/Mitotoyo) according to my Jo blocks and that's as good as calipers need to be. Anyone wanting better accuracy than a thou better be reaching for a micrometer, not a caliper of any brand.

Given that I can buy 12-20 H.F. calipers for the cost of one 'pro-grade' caliper I really don't care if they don't last a lifetime in a full time machine shop or not, that's not were I use 'em! And I'll cry far fewer tears if I drop a cheap-o and have to replace it myself. (Never again!)
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Old August 14, 2012, 05:10 PM   #19
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Quote:
"You can buy a 6" one like this at Harbor Freight for around $20."

Actually, we can buy those for $10-12 when on sale as they often are in Rifleman magazine and others. The H.F. calipers are exactly the same as those sold by reloading companies like RCBS for as much as $50. I have two 6" and one 12" Harbor Freight dials plus one 6" digital. All are within a half thou of my 6" B&S caliper (perhaps slightly better than Starrett/Mitotoyo) according to my Jo blocks and that's as good as calipers need to be. Anyone wanting better accuracy than a thou better be reaching for a micrometer, not a caliper of any brand.

Given that I can buy 12-20 H.F. calipers for the cost of one 'pro-grade' caliper I really don't care if they don't last a lifetime in a full time machine shop or not, that's not were I use 'em! And I'll cry far fewer tears if I drop a cheap-o and have to replace it myself. (Never again!)
Exactly what I have been thinking. Very few of us here that are reloading are working in an enviroment requiring the precision of a machine shop!
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Old August 15, 2012, 08:58 AM   #20
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"Exactly what I have been thinking. Very few of us here that are reloading are working in an enviroment requiring the precision of a machine shop! "

What kind of tolerance do you need?
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Old August 15, 2012, 11:15 AM   #21
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Just like some factory rifle barrels are good, some $20 dial calipers have been good.

These days I do not waste my time with barrels that might be good. I cut threads and chambers and use select match barrels that have been stress relieved and factory lapped.

I am not buying any more $20 dial calipers.

I like my 505-675-51 Mitutoyo dial calipers.

http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INPDFF?PMPAGE=296&PMCTLG=00

http://www.penntoolco.com/catalog/pr...ategoryID=5486

http://www.amazon.com/Mitutoyo-505-6...o+dial+caliper
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Old August 15, 2012, 02:21 PM   #22
jcwit
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Quote:
What kind of tolerance do you need?
flyguy958, if I'm within .001, I'm good to go, I'm not building the next NASA craft. All of my calibers measure that accurately, if perchance I need to go finer the mic's will suffice.

Oh Ya, BTW I usually do not reload in a climate controlled room.

What tolerance are you in need of for reloading?
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Old August 15, 2012, 08:22 PM   #23
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"flyguy958, if I'm within .001, I'm good to go..."

You may want to look at the specification on the calibers, +/-.001 is .002" tolerance. I agree you don't need any closer tolerance to reload, just like you don't need sub MOA accuracy, but it's nice.
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Old August 15, 2012, 09:01 PM   #24
jcwit
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Quote:
You may want to look at the specification on the calibers, +/-.001 is .002" tolerance. I agree you don't need any closer tolerance to reload, just like you don't need sub MOA accuracy, but it's nice.
Hey guy, you're the one that brought up "need" not I. My calibers measure to the .001, not a +/- .001, and as I stated anything smaller than that my mic's can more than cover it.

As far as sub MOA, a group at .317 Over all at 100 yds in .22 center fire comes out to .093 center to center group size. I believe that covers sub MOA.

Like I said, we're not building the next NASA space craft.

Last edited by jcwit; August 15, 2012 at 09:12 PM.
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Old August 15, 2012, 09:13 PM   #25
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Clark: "I am not buying any more $20 dial calipers. I like my 505-675-51 Mitutoyo dial calipers."

We would all 'like' them; I "like" my B&S caliper but it wouldn't add a thing to my reloading so I don't use it there. The question is would the caliper costing 12-20 time more than we can buy a very good tool for actually matter to a normal reloader? Answer is "NO!" Your needs are obviously more stringent than most of us but you are doing a lot more than simple reloading. You can justify more costly tools; common sense. Ditto it would be foolish for most of us to purchase a tool a machinest would use all day, every day, for our very sporatic and very light use on a loading bench; again, common sense. ??

So far as 'how much accuracy' does anyone 'need' of a caliper, every caliper I've yet examined, costly or inexpensive, has been within a half thou according to my Jo blocks. Calipers are mostly used when trimming cases and seating; anyone thinking he needs better accuracy than .001" for that is kidding himself!
Anyone needing better accuracy than a thou had better use a micorometer because no caliper I know of is manufactor spec'd tighter than that and yeah, that's a possible 2 thou spread but it's still only a potential error of +/- 1 thou.
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