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Old March 31, 2013, 04:54 PM   #1
Eppie
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Advice on calipers and micrometer

Hi Guys,
I'be been gradually shifting from reloading 308s for my AR-10 to precision handloading for my Savage 10 and hope to eventually work my way up to the 1,000 range. I was told that a high quality caliper and micrometer are necessary since I will likely be doing neck turning.

I have been using a Harbor Freight digital and dial calipers (one to occasionally verify the other). I think I paid $10 for each of them. I do not own a micrometer.

Now I'm looking at a Starrett set and the price is a little shocking and I'm wondering is this stuff really necessary? I'm not sure I even know the right questions to ask so please fire away.



Your counsel is appreciated.
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Old March 31, 2013, 05:02 PM   #2
g.willikers
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And that's not all that's needed, either.
Like a dial indicator for measuring neck and bullet runout, for just one example.
The more precision desired, the better the tools need to be.
Long range shooting is a tedious and frustrating business.
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Old March 31, 2013, 05:29 PM   #3
jepp2
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Quote:
I have been using a Harbor Freight digital and dial calipers (one to occasionally verify the other). I think I paid $10 for each of them. I do not own a micrometer.
The set you included in your post is more expensive than you can buy the similar equipment for used. I bought my 0-6" Starrett dial caliper for around $70 in excellent condition. And I bought my 0-1" Brown & Sharpe micrometer (0.0001" resolution) for around $30. I didn't need digital.

If you are turning necks, I'm not sure a traditional micrometer will suffice. I think you will want a case neck micrometer. And I don't know why you need a higher quality caliper. I just prefer how the Starrett feels when I use it.

Have you considered tools to measure bullet or neck runout? An excellent source for improving the accuracy of your handloads is: Precision Shooting - reloading guide by Dave Brennan. It has excellent material and it is practical.

Good luck in your quest for accuracy.
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Old March 31, 2013, 06:04 PM   #4
Eppie
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jepp2, g.willikers,

Thanks for your quick response.

I am aware of bullet runout, I've purchased a NECO concentricity, wall thickness and runout gauge, although I haven't used it yet.
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Old March 31, 2013, 06:37 PM   #5
ScottRiqui
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Also, keep in mind that a digital readout in and of itself does not make an instrument one whit more accurate, so you can save money on your caliper and micrometer by going with manual versions without sacrificing anything (except possibly how long it takes you to read them.)
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Old March 31, 2013, 06:56 PM   #6
Eppie
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I just found this on craiglist

http://houston.craigslist.org/tls/3632151326.html

It looks like a pretty good deal to me. What do you guys think? Should I jump on it?
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Old March 31, 2013, 07:00 PM   #7
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That's a good brand, and they don't look abused. I'd probably get them and test them against some known standards.
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Old March 31, 2013, 08:41 PM   #8
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It doesn't matter what you paid for micrometers or calipers. Accuracy is usually pretty good on a cheap set as well as a more expensive set. However, with either set they need to be checked against a gage block (an actual standard that is certified). If they are accurate after being compared to the standard(s) then they will remain accurate unless a) used a LOT or b)suspected damage from dropping, etc. Most machine shops have some gage blocks and probably let you check your measuring devices with the standards. As stated above, some just "feel" better when you use them. I know it's hard to believe but the cheap ones are usually pretty accurate. I managed a gage lab and calibrated thousands of gages over the years. Most places allow the employees to bring in their own sets and then they are checked and put into a calibration system for routine checking. Even the cheaper sets worked pretty good.
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Old March 31, 2013, 09:00 PM   #9
James K
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I learned to use a micrometer and a vernier caliper a long time ago, but they are not easy to work with and as my eyes get older I turn more and more to a digital caliper. I have double/triple checked one type against another and have not found any significant errors with either type. The truth is that guns are pretty crude instruments, and there are darned few times when even a thousandth of an inch matters, let alone a ten thousandth.

Jim
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Old March 31, 2013, 09:29 PM   #10
Eppie
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James K, NoSecondBest, Thanks for you advice, I thinjk I will hold off for now until I see a real need for them.
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Old April 1, 2013, 10:04 AM   #11
Chris D
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I'm not a fan of Starret. I have some on my desk as I type. Accurate, but crappy overall.

I prefer Mitutoyo.

Micrometers are seldom used, Calipers are way more useful
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Old April 1, 2013, 10:12 AM   #12
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I would personally avoid the digi calipers... I have several calipers, one digi, & it's my least preferred to use ( batteries are dead, 1/2 the time I go to use it )
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Old April 1, 2013, 06:01 PM   #13
wncchester
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"Now I'm looking at a Starrett set and the price is a little shocking and I'm wondering is this stuff really necessary?"

Good heavens, NO! Virtually NO reloader has or would even benefit from buying the high dollar brands. Nothing a reloader does needs better accuracy than 1 thou, most of the time all we really need is a comparison and consistancy. But no one uses a dial/digital caliper for accuracy under a thou, that's micrometer territory no matter the caliper's brand! And VERY FEW reloaders actually need a mic either.

I own some pro machinest grade mics and calipers; bigg deal. For my reloading I use Harbor Freight dial calipers, they read within normal toleraces with my pro tools and as checked on my precision standard dimension test blocks. If I drop a caliper on concrete it's going to be shot no matter how much it cost! I can get HF calipers on sale - as they frequently are - for $10-12. I can buy a couple dozen of them for the best price I can find a new pro grade tool. And I would strongly suggest you get new HF measurement tools rather than used pro-grade stuff that just may not be worth dealing with.

It's also worth mentioning that the various reloading company branded calipers are all probably made in the same Chinese shop the H.F.s are but they all cost a lot more!

If you have trouble reading a dial, by all means get a digital model.
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Old April 1, 2013, 06:10 PM   #14
NoSecondBest
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These old eyes went digital a few years back. Just keep a battery on hand. They actually last quite a while and most shut off if they aren't used for a while to save the battery.
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Old April 1, 2013, 07:14 PM   #15
Eppie
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All your comments are appreciated and received. You saved me $360 + s/h.

I've decided that I'm going to stick with my HF cheapies. But I might look into a gage block that NoSecondBest mentioned. After all, regardless of the brand of calipers a standard is required to verify their accuracy.

God bless you all.
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Old April 2, 2013, 08:00 AM   #16
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I have a set of Frankford Arsenal caliper that seems to measure as accurately against a Brown & Sharpe caliper.

Of course I really want a B&S as I have an appreciation for precision instruments made by those chocolate eating cuckoo clock makers.
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Old April 2, 2013, 11:12 AM   #17
searcher4851
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As others have stated, save your money. HF calipers are accurate enough for just about anything reloading related. About the only thing I've ever used a micrometer for is measuring slugs after slugging a bore. (and even there, calipers work fine). My micrometers get used more just to verify the caliper reading when I question it. (the old measure twice.......)
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Old April 3, 2013, 08:33 AM   #18
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I have a set of .251" to .500" pin gauges in the reloading room.

See if i can talk like my wife:
As a primary standard, I can use an SPI .3080-" pin gauge.
As a check standard, I use Mitutoyo 6" dial calipers
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Old April 3, 2013, 09:32 AM   #19
BigD_in_FL
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Check around at bigger flea markets and similar - I found a s.s. Mitutoyo precision caliper with a leather "holster" for $10. Priced a replacement on line and it was about 10X more for new
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