Who makes the best dial caliper? This is actually debatable. Each person has their own preference. Some may concern with the build construction, accuracy, durability, cost, repairment, country of manufacturing and even color.
There are numerous dial caliper brands such as Starrett, Mitutoyo, Brown & Sharpe, Fowler, Accusize Tools, Insize, Anytime Tools, HFS, Hornady, Taylor Toolworks, Etalon, Tesa, Igaging, SPI, nameless caliper, etc. However, in the case of current dial calipers, we favor Starrett, Mitutoyo, and Accusize Tools. If you don’t matter with the budget, then Starrett or Mitutoyo is a great choice. Otherwise, Accusize Tools offers nice products at a competitive price.
Starrett is a brand of American. It’s a reputable company for creating quality products and most of its products are manufactured in the USA. However, most of their dial caliper products are clearly made in China such as series 1202. While series 120 is the only dial caliper models they manufacture in the USA.
- 120, 120M (the only American made dial caliper)
- 1202F (fractional reading dial caliper)
- 3202 (general dial caliper)
- 120J (offset dial caliper)
- 120B, 120MB (long NIB jaws)
- PT26151 (to measure the center distance between two holes)
Our selected Starret dial calipers are 120A-6 (American Made dial caliper), 1202F (suitable for woodworkers due to its fractional reading), and 3202-6. Make a comparison price between 120A-6 and 3202-6 and you’ll see something.
|Model||Picture||What we like:||Range||Resolution||Price|
|R120A-6||American made red dial face||12″||0.001″|
|1202F-6||Fractional reading for woodworking||6″||0.001″|
As usual, Starrett provides spare parts whenever the product needs to get repaired or something of the parts is broken. You don’t need to buy a new one and save money. Especially when you have fallen in love with and you won’t turn to another one. In addition, Starrett dial calipers can be resale for a second price.
Mitutoyo is another best brand to go for if you’re looking for great measuring tools. Their products are leading in technology and always innovate. It seems that Mitutoyo frequently changes their models since many found Mitutoyo counterfeit products made in China. It’s important to remember to always buy from the authorized Mitutoyo distributors.
The recent Mitutoyo dial caliper is only series 505. The majority of their calipers are digital and vernier. Series 505 comes with different ranges, models, and specs. Things worth noting are the carbide-tipped jaws, colored dial face, and range per revolution. However, they are made in Brazil and some people may concern about it.
Series 505 comes with a price point of about $100. While the carbide-tipped models can cost you about $150 such as 505-738 (6″) OD & ID but it’s acceptable. The carbide-tipped jaws can last longer and you could save more money.
In addition, the colored model is unique. You can choose whether the red, black, purple, green, and orange. The blue is not available. It could be due to the culture of the Japanese. You could select your preference to work with. We recommend using the purple 505-742-52 because the dial marks and hand (that rotates) are white-colored. It will reflect any small light in a dark area and help you read clearly.
Anytime Tools is a brand of American company located in Los Angeles that comes with nice pricing. Not only calipers, but they also supply tools and industrial supply.
In the case of dial caliper, Anytime Tools only provides a little model. One of its popular products is AT203185. It has two unit reading (inch and mm) in a single tool which is great for some users. That said, you will notice there are two hands rotating around in the dial.
The other models are such as 100-020 double shockproof that has a simple hand in inch reading and this fractional one. Anytime Tools is a nice option for them with a tight budget. One drawback needs to note is the parts. It seems no repairment. In case the caliper falls apart, no choice unless you buy a new one.
IGaging and Anytime Tools are the same company, Anytime, Inc. It’s not easy to find the complete information of their dial caliper products. However, we discover one of them and it’s in the fractional model which is good for woodworking, 100-164.
Accusize is a brand of Accusize Industrial Tools company which is located in Canada. This company manufactures its products in several countries such as USA, Canada, China, and Germany. We are not sure whether the manufacturers are the third party or still under Accusize company.
Interestingly, there is fairly enough selection of models you can choose. But, we are interested in the P920-S212 model. It has 12″ with 0.001″ resolution and ±0.001″ accuracy. And it’s quite popular in the market.
Brown & Sharpe
Brown and Sharpe is the next respected brand to have a go for dial caliper. It has a long story and one of the market leaders in measuring instrument tools such as micrometers and calipers in the past. Folks who live during the 19th and 20th-century era must know well this brand name.
However, Brown and Sharpe today (since 2001) has become the part of Hexagon AB company, a multinational technology group headquartered in Sweden. Integrated with Tesa technology which specializes in metrology technology, the manufacturing now is located in Switzerland. Prior to integration, Brown & Sharpe was a brand of American, the manufacturing was located in North Kingston, Rhode Islan, United States.
There are two series available currently: the general dial model and the Valueline dial model. The model 599-579-4 (silver dial face) and 599-579-5 (black dial face) are the popular ones. The company claims they use the same shockproof mechanism that the Swiss watches use.
Like the Brown & Sharpe and Tesa, Etalon is also a brand under Hexagon AB company. Therefore, it’s not surprising that Brown & Sharpe, Tesa, and Etalon dial calipers are similar-looking. Their parts may be interchangeable due to the same manufacturer. The difference can be spotted on the thumbwheel. Etalon 075115811 has an extra thumb wheel to allow the users to use with one hand. While others don’t.
Fowler is an American company that supplies inspection, leveling, control, and calibration tools. They have great various dial calipers as well. One of their most commented dial calipers is 72-030-006.
What worth to note is that their products vary in this category which seemingly targets this market. The range is up to 24″ such as 52-008-024-0. What a long tool! Another is the IP54 rating such as 52-008-050-0. So, the dial caliper now is double protected, shockproof and water dust protection. From our search and reading, there is only Fowler that has this feature.
Aside from those facts, the typical Fowler products are their one-year warranty. So, in case you get trouble with, it’s possible to refund your money. Why not give it a try?
Insize is founded in 1995, a quite new company. Their products are made in Asia. Shockingly for us, we found their products on Alibaba.com. And as we browsed further, they are made in China. But we are not sure whether they are the real official manufacturer of Insize or not.
They have two brands: Insize and Insize Plus. While the Insize Plus is made in Germany, the UK, and Italy. As we visited on their website, their typical products are measuring instruments such as caliper, micrometer, height gauge, indicator, etc.
Their dial calipers fairly vary. Here is the pdf link of the dial caliper catalog (need to download it). There are two series: 1312 (0.02mm graduation) and 1311 (0.01mm graduation). They are made of stainless steel and shockproof. One of their products you could purchase now is 1311-6 (1311-150A) 6 in dial caliper.
Hornady is an established company in shooting tools. It is actually a company that produced bullets at first. However, gradually, they expanded the business and as we can see now they also do business to generate measuring tools related to reloading.
You can’t expect too much in this case. Hornady only releases one mode dial caliper 050075. As we notice on the price, it’s impossible that this stuff is made in the USA.