What kind of digital calipers do I need?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by pyroducksx3, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. pyroducksx3

    pyroducksx3 Well-Known Member

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    Well I've been using the regular dial calipers and and ready to get some digital ones. After some research I've gotten mixed reviews about what I should get. So I guess I'll just ask the question again. What kind/brand of digital calpers do I need to get? I've seen the hornady and others in the 25-40$ price range and all zero and read to .001 accuracy. But I've read there are better ones in the 99+$ price range. From your expierence should I spend the money on the "better" calipers or would I just be spending more money than I need too? Thank you
     
  2. Browninglover1

    Browninglover1 Well-Known Member

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    I work in a machine shop where all we use are Mitutoyo calipers and they are amazing but they're also over $100. I was going to buy one of the Mitutoyo's for reloading but I bought an RCBS caliper for 20 bucks instead and have absolutely loved it. It repeats exactly the same every time and I tested it against some Starrett micrometers and it measured right on from 0-5 inches (I didn't test to 6 inches).

    The only thing I don't like about the RCBS caliper is that it doesn't shut off automatically and because of that I need new batteries all the time. WhenI remember to shut it off the battery life is quite good. You definitely get what you pay for with calipers but if you need more precision than the RCBS unit offers than you really need to step up to a micrometer.

    That being said.... I've heard of people that buy the Hornady or RCBS calipers and they break quickly or don't function out of the box, but for buying a cheaper caliper you take that chance. Luckily both companies have excellent warranties and will replace them, it just is a hassle to deal with.
     

  3. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    if I remember right I own eight sets of calipers in lengths from 4" to 8". Some are dial and some are digital. I use a pair of digital Starretts most of the time simply because they are handy. I also have Brown & Sharpes and a pair of Fowlers. I like the B&S best, but there's not much wrong with the Starretts either. The Fowlers seem to go thru batterys quicker. But when I'm actually reloading, I use a pair of Mitutoyo dial type 4" long. I can reset the zero in about a minute, and they are very durable (I bought mine in 1970). I do not like the Starrett or B&S dial types calipers. I've never really seen any serious advantage to the digital ones, and there are things the analog ones will do better
    gary
     
  4. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

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    "... never really seen any serious advantage to the digital ones, and there are things the analog ones will do better"

    Ditto.

    You don't say why you're looking to add a digital so we don't know what you need. About all a digital does is limit what you can do to a given accuracy with a resolution of +/- one count.

    It appears that all of the reloading branded calipers are made in the same Chinese plant, the only "difference" is in the labels and prices and that includes both dial and digital. You can get the same 6" calipers, both types, from Harbor Freight Tools for about $12 on sale, which they often are.
     
  5. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    food for thought:

    * Anybody every check to see just how tight there calipers are? They can't be rock solid because they move back and forth. If the blades spring much under pressure you get a false reading. Better ones have ways to tighten them back up, but that job is not for the novice.

    * the basic frame work on a digital and a dial caliper are somewhat similar in concept, but of course one is much simpler. The frames still spring a little bit under movement and pressure. Nature of the beast. A four digit decimal is useless in a caliper due to the slide movement alone. Calipers are really three place decimal devices. The better digital calipers come with the ability to be setup with a nominal deminsion, and then work from that established zero point. I've maybe used this feature twice! (mostly because I forget it's there). One nice thing about a digital caliper is that they are fairly well sealed up, and fine grain powders can't wreak havoc with your brain!

    * some folks have the idea that the good old digital (or dial) caliper is all you need to become a master at precision measurments. Sorry folks but they just ain't gonna replace Grandad's old pair of Lufkins anytime soon! It's a good idea to have a nice one inch micrometer that reads in tenths. Forget all the fancey carbide anvils. Then learn to use them (lots of folks use them everyday, and get lots of different readings everyday). Buy good ones, and you'll never regret it. I used a pair of Starretts the otherday measuring .223 necks for a post on here. They were bought new in 1949. You all get what you pay for! The newest 1" mic I own is a B&S sold in 1970, and it's just as tight today as it was new. (by the way I bought that pair used in 1974 for the huge sum of $10). I'm not going to give my twice a year dial indicator lecture, but trust me it's needed.
    gary
     
  6. mountainman

    mountainman Active Member

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    I use Starrett calipers and mic's only. I guess I should add that I used starrett mic's and calibers everyday for the last 30 years, several times an hour at my job. takes me about 2 seconds to reset the calibers( turn the dial) and yes their mic's take a few minutes to reset( need allen wrench)but rarely need it.. Also used fowler digital calibers as well, just press one button to reset to zero and pretty good battery life. I'm talking pricey mic's and calibers, few hundred dollars each but they take the abuse, you wouldn't believe the things I saw happen to them. Tryed several cheaper brands but they just didn't hold up, just a few weeks use and they were trashed. Can't remember the brands because I tryed every brand we could fined to help lower cost but starrett are the only ones that held up. If I remember right your looking at about 1K+ or so for both calibers and a mic. I know, cost to much, but for my personal use their going to way out last me and I have yet to adjust my personal mic's in 30 years of reloading and the calibers take about 1 to 2 seconds to zero,press a button or turn a dial. The fowler calibers measure down to .0001 and the starrett dials and mic's to .001. You can get 1/10,000 mic's if you want. Mine were free so I can't complain.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2011
  7. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    I own two or three pairs of Starrett dial calipers plus one digital set. Their dial calipers are a pain to reset. I can reset a Mitutoyo in about one minute. But on the otherhand their digital ones are nice. I don't think I've ever used a Mitutoyo digital caliper. One nice thing about the Starrett is the sliding back plate that contains the battery. You slide it out so the battery looses contact and last a zillion times longer! You only have to move it about a quarter inch. Think B&S also works that way as well. You can't do that with a Fowler! Analog ones never have the battery go dead on you, and I like that!
    gary
     
  8. pyroducksx3

    pyroducksx3 Well-Known Member

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    I suppose I wanted a set just out of shear laziness. I have a set of frankfort arsenal dial calibers. Was just thinking it was nice to dail and read, no misreadings, so like I said laziness and less chance of misreading it because it just tells you .284 or something like that.
     
  9. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

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    ".. laziness and less chance of misreading it because it just tells you .284 or something like that. "

    No offense intended but are you sure reloading is a good activity for you?
     
  10. pyroducksx3

    pyroducksx3 Well-Known Member

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    ok boomtube I didnt say I was lazy about reloading, it was just an honest answer to the question. Why does anyone use digital calipers vs dial? Because they are easier to read! It was just mailnly to check OD of case necks, maybe getting bullet seating depth gauges, things like that. Maybe you were just being a smarta$$ but pretty strong statement either way. I give great attention to my reloading. I know I have a lot to learn but I load the best ammo I can with the knowledge I have and continue to make it better. I have heard people say the dails are better, I have a set. Was just wanting an easier way to read things our even a way to check each other even. Maybe I shouldnt have taken offense to what you said after all you did say "no offense" so I guess I'll say " no disrespect" but I took a little offense to that, but maybe I asked for it with my light hearted reply. I can agree with the comment you made if you are lazy then you should be reloading though. So vent/defensive reply over, friends again :)
     
  11. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    You didn't reset the dial calipers, you just moved the error. You have to split the case body and move the gear a tooth or two on the rack to put it the correct location. It dosn't matter if they are a six inch pair or a 24 inch pair it works the same. That's why I don't like Starrett dial calipers. You do not set a micrometer with an allen wrench. You do it with the small spanner wrench and a special pair of pliers (these move the whole body back to their correct location after adjusting). The anvils are pressed in, but can also be replaced. I have a small super mic head laying around that reads in .000050", but do not know how to adjust it as it much different in design. A good test with a caliper is to measure several Jo Blocks with the same methods you measure anything else. Just make sure they are at room temperature
    gary
     
  12. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    a dial caliper is no better than a digital caliper, and vice sersa. The better digital calipers also come with a remote plug in to allow you to record readings. This is nice when checking big bores or hard to reach places. These are often used in production areas where numbers are recorded to track statistical errors. But when numbers have to be accurate; nobody uses calipers.
    gary
     
  13. mountainman

    mountainman Active Member

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    You are clearly useing a different set mic's and calibers then I do. Mine have to be checked every day to make sure their accurate and ASTM comes in once a month to check them as well.We also use the check blocks as well up to 1 inch for mic's and for our DIAL calibers you just have to unlock and turn the face to zero and relock. our mic's donot have number readouts like most, those are a pain. What I use you just loosen the nut on the end of the handle, close the jaws and turn the handle to zero and tighten the allen nut on the end of the handle, no case to split, no gears to move. I work with .001 tolerances all the time,no more, have been for 30 years and thats all the tolerance you really need for reloading. The number readout mic's can't take very much abuse, drop one and your done half the time and yes you do need a spanner wrench and allen wrench with that type.I have used jaw type dial calibers and yes you split the case and reset gears, but if you let the jaws slam together on closing they will jump zero. They were junk and we quite useing them after a few weeks and they were starretts. A good quality 6" dial calibers that can be reset to zero by moving the face ring ( 2 sec's)and a non number readout mic is the simplist to use and maintain and should last a life time and cover most reloaders needs and tolerances. A target shooter may what tolerances in the .0001 are better range but basic reloaders, the .001 range works just fine.
     
  14. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    I have never seen a micrometer that you can reset the zero that easy. Not a bad idea if the hold their zero. I used to have two cabnets full of micrometers that went all the way up to sixteen inches, and had access to sets that went to 20+". Also had metric sets that went up to about 200mm. My micrometers stayed locked up, and were adjusted to my feel. My dial indicators were cleaned about once every 18 months unless they got dunked, or were dropped. But I often replaced the wands or anvils twice a year due to wear (even the carbide tipped ones wear out). Used everything from 1" travel to .000020" indicators ( I used these to measure flatness of surface plates). All of my measuring tools were checked very often, and rarely needed work.

    gary