Best Dial Caliper Review

best dial caliperSome people may be a big fan of dial caliper and still love them whatever happens. There is something to be said that dial caliper has the advantages that vernier and digital cannot achieve.

Dial caliper is a great tool. They are the most beautiful classic-styled measuring tool ever that exists on earth. Though their popularity is conquered by the digital.

However, not all the dial calipers are good. You need to select them carefully. In this coverage, we unveil some dial calipers that we believe worth to recommend. Surely, they have passed some tight selection and comparison.

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For a quick preview, these are the top 3:

  1. Starrett 120A-6 (6″) Stainless Steel Made in America Dial Caliper best for the quality
  2. Mitutoyo 505-738 (6″) Carbide-tipped outside & inside dimension jaws best for the durability
  3. Accusize Tools AT203185 (6″) double unit reading inch and mm best for the money

Top 11 Picks of Best Dial Caliper 2019

Overall, these are the top 15 picks for the best dial calipers. Here we put them together in the following table in order for you to preview it easily.

BrandPictureRangeResolutionShockproofMaterialGraduationUnitBuy from
Anytime Tools
AT203185
6"0.001"Yeshardened st steeldecimalinch/
mm
Anytime Tools
100-020
6"0.001"Yeshardened st steeldecimalinch
Starrett
1202F-6
6"0.001"Nohardened st steeldecimal/
fractional
inch
Starrett
120A-6
6"0.001"Nohardened st steeldecimalinch
Mitutoyo
505-742-56
6"0.001"Yeshardened st steeldecimalinch
Mitutoyo
505-738
6"0.001"Yesstainless steeldecimalinch
Accusize
P920-S216
6"0.001''Yesstainless steeldecimalinch
Brown & Sharpe
599-579-4
6"0.001"Yeshardened st steeldecimalinch
iGaging
100-164
6"0.001"Nostainless steeldecimal/
frictional
inch
Shop Fox
D3208
6"0.001"Nostainless steeldecimal/
fractional
inch
Hornady
050075
6"0.001"Yesstainless steeldecimalinch

1. Anytime Tools AT203185 Dial Caliper

This is the right choice when your budget is restricted and require a good quality dial caliper. Moreover, it offers you a dual reading feature in a single tool. So, you can see two black and red hands inside and they turn around clockwise. In addition, by having this feature, you are possible to convert the reading in spite of mechanical dial caliper.

2. Anytime Tools 100-020 Dial Caliper

Enforced with hard plastic bezel and better construction, it becomes double shockproof. The design offers improved protection. Though it’s plastic, the performance can’t be doubted. Many users agree that this is their best buy for the money. If you need the best dial caliper somewhat like the Starrett or Mitutoyo, this one can be your purchase. There is also available the 8″ and 12″ range of this dial caliper model if you need a longer one.

3. Starrett 1202F-6 Dial Caliper

Utilizing hardened stainless steel, the durability gains more enforced. Along with the fractional inch graduation, Starrett 1202F-6 is seemingly designed to last for woodworkers. The yellow dial around the fractional marks with black colored numbers will let you easily read them.

4. Starrett 120A-6 Dial Caliper

Not just made in the USA, Starrett 120A-6 truly provides the users with the satisfaction of accuracy. For those who use dial caliper frequently, then you need a consistent yet durable dial caliper and this one is yours. Starrett 120A-6 dial caliper is officially American made. You could see this on the products.

5. Mitutoyo 505-742 Dial Caliper

Another great Mitutoyo dial caliper if you need the lower price. It’s constructed with hardened stainless steel with improved construction. Feel an enjoyable measuring experience with its smooth sliding. Mitutoyo is a well-known brand for precision tools. You can’t go wrong with it. In addition, unlike the other dial caliper, it nicely comes with a solid plastic case. So, it fits snugly. Buy now with Amazon prime to take advantage of the free shipping.

6. Mitutoyo 505-738 Dial Caliper

For a heavy-duty job like in the machine shop, you need to employ a die-hard dial caliper too. The jaws have to be designed resistant to wear. Mitutoyo 505-738 knows the market and they come to what you want. As usual, Mitutoyo always gives the best of their products and keep maintaining their brand name.

The knife-edge part on the jaws is longer than the usual dial calipers. It’s important to reduce error from the flatness and parallelism. Moreover, the jaws are carbide-tipped whether at the outside or inside jaws. Feel a great sense of smooth while sliding the caliper. In addition, Titanium Nitride coating provides resistance against wear to the sliding surface. Further, the spare parts are available to purchase in case you get a bad day.

7. Accusize Tools P920-S216 Dial Caliper

Available in 4 different ranges (4″, 6″, 8″, and 12″) Accusize Tools P920-S216 comes with 6″ range in which the standard length many people use. You can measure outside diameter, inside diameter, and depth with this. This dial caliper will not rust and you can save it without too much worry of rusting due to its stainless steel construction. It’s worth to give a try.

8. Brown & Sharpe 599-579-4 Dial Caliper

Looking for the best one of Swiss-made dial calipers? We recommend Brown & Sharpe 599-579-4 dial caliper. It’s also available the black colored dial face for this model 599-579-5. This caliper is obviously different in terms of its construction. The covered rack functions to block the workpiece chip or dirt to disturb the gear. The main scale is only graduated in inch. While the shockproof meets the mechanism technology that is used by Swiss watches. Talking about the accuracy, it meets DIN 862 standard.

Brown & Sharpe is actually a fine product. Our main concern lies in the rolling wheel. If you concern about such this simplicity, then this dial caliper may not your choice.

9. iGaging 100-164 Dial Caliper

iGaging 100-164 can be your next dial caliper to accompany your woodworking jobs. It has fractional graduation which you commonly use. One full rotation is divided into 64 division. So, a division is 1/64″. Price about $30, this can be the best dial woodworking caliper for the money.

10. Shop Fox D3208 Dial Caliper

This is another option you can refer to when looking for a fractional graduated dial caliper. The graduation is divided into 1/64″. Made of hardened steel, this is a great dial caliper that will last longer. You will never need a battery and worry about it. Moreover, it’s smooth and feels good in the hand. For woodworkers, this is another fine dial caliper you could buy.

11. Hornady 050075 Dial Caliper

Hornady is a respected brand of shooting products. Currently, they expand to the tools for reloading. The dial caliper is a helpful tool to measure the bullet (thickness neck, length, diameter, etc). And dial caliper can do all of the needs easily, quickly, and accurately. Hornady 050075 comes with a stainless steel body to ensure durability and ±0.001″ for accuracy.

What is Dial Caliper?

The dial caliper is a mechanical tool. It’s one of the types of caliper that works mechanically employing the rack and gear. The mechanism will turn the hand at the dial clockwise. The hand then points a particular mark as the measurement reading.

Whether it’s displayed in inch or mm, you can choose from which one you are familiar with. This could be a matter of country you are living in. Fractional graduation is also available and suitable for woodworking as they usually work with that reading. While decimal is widely spread over a number of jobs.

Commonly, a typical dial caliper currently provides 0.001″ / 0.02mm resolution. People normally rely on dial caliper to do a fast measurement with great accuracy. Besides, the other advantages are:

  1. No battery issues so you will never figure out the power
  2. The stainless steel construction is powerfull to fight for rusting
  3. No electronics issues so you can spot if there is trouble with reading
  4. Quite easy to repair than most digital calipers
  5. You could do inside, outside, step and depth measurement in a single tool

Top-Rated Dial Caliper Brand Reviews

Who makes the best dial caliper? This is actually a debatable question. 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

Starrett R120A-6 best dial caliper
One of the 120 series: SR120A-6

Starrett is a brand of American. It’s a reputable company for creating quality products and most of their 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.

Starrett series 1202 dial caliper: 1202-6 (discontinued), 1202-8, 1202-12 (discontinued), 1202F-6 (fractional, hardened stainless steel), and 1202F-12 (fractional, hardened stainless steel).

Currently, Starrett has 6 dial caliper series available to purchase as you could see in this catalog for page 96 and 98:

  • 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
120A-6 American made 6″ 0.001″
R120A-6 American made red dial face 12″ 0.001″
3202-6 Hardened steel 6″ 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

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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. Need to remember to always buy from the authorized Mitutoyo distributors such as Amazon.com.

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 spec. Things worth to note 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

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

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 on Amazon in the fractional model which is good for woodworking, 100-164.

Accusize

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 series that can be found on Amazon.com is the general one. 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.

Etalon

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

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 caliper on Amazon 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

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 can find on Amazon is 1311-6 (1311-150A) 6 in dial caliper.

Hornady

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.

Things to Figure Out Buying the Best Dial Caliper

1. Range of Measurement

The most used range of a dial caliper is 6″. However, it can offer up to 12″ in most cases. We would like to mention that the more length it is, the less accurate it is. Some users may need to measure a longer one, this can be their solution as calipers are the easy-to-use tools and provide a fast measurement.

2. Resolution

Resolution is important for a precision measuring tool. For a dial caliper, the most common is 0.001″/0.02mm. Actually, 0.001″ is 0.0254mm. We advocate you to avoid calipers under this resolution number.

3. Accuracy

It will be a long explained guide to tell you about accuracy which includes uncertainty and other related things. The bottom line is we recommend select the ±0.001″ accuracy dial caliper. Fortunately, most of the dial calipers today have this accuracy standard. You could also request if necessary.

4. Shockproof

The crystal, bezel, and rotating hand are easy to break when it drops down. Some brands put “shockproof” to their dial wall. What does it mean they are truly shockproof?

5. Lock Screw

This is the part of a caliper that functions to lock the slide at the point you want.

6. Thumb Knob

For a single-handed user, the thumb knob is highly useful to move the slide back and forth.

7. Smooth Slide

Feel a great measuring experience with dial calipers that slide smoothly. A high-quality construction must generate a great smooth sliding dial caliper.

8. Clear Readout

Some people may use the dial caliper in a less light place. The clear readout can help them with this matter. Choose from the color that can reflect the light. You could select the white-colored hand and dial marks with darker dial face to reflect the light.

9. Material Construction

To gain a high durable dial caliper, you need to choose great material for all of its parts. How to make sure the caliper doesn’t stick to a magnetic object. Stainless steel is actually the best material for durability but it’s fairly heavyweight. Plastic cheap dial caliper should be avoided except you are going to use for sewing.

10. Stainless Steel Vs. Hardened Stainless Steel

They might hear similar. Their characters are actually different.

11. Where Is It Made of?

Even though the caliper is labeled with “made in the USA” or etc, it doesn’t mean all the components are made in there. And that is common in industries. However, as long as the majority of components are made in a certain country and the quality surpasses their standard, we consider it’s worth it to have a go.

12. Carbide-tipped Jaws

This is another extra enforcement of any caliper. Carbide-tipped jaws are great to coat to the jaws for durability. As carbide is resistant to wear. The calipers with carbide can be expensive but it offers a great return. Not only does it provide durability, but also the accuracy improves. Great to use in a machine shop or other heavy-duty jobs.

13. Repairment

Some brands also sell the dial caliper spare parts. In case your caliper breaks, the parts are available to buy. Moreover, perhaps you may have been so convenient with and don’t want to turn again to the others. You don’t need to buy a new one and can save some bucks.

14. Resale

An extremely high-quality dial caliper can last so long. You end up bored using it. Nicely, you can sale it to get extra money to buy the next one. After a lot of money-saving, you now can sell it. What a great economical choice.

15. IP rating

There is further protection you may need, an IP rating. The piece of small metal may come in such a way, or mist in the dial that you can see on the crystal wall. Having a dial caliper that meets a certain adequate ingress rating can prevent this even.

16. Knife Edge Jaws

It has the advantage to increase accuracy. Some inaccuracy issues come from the flatness and parallelism of the jaws. The knife-edge jaws reduce the surface area that touches the workpiece. This can result in a more reliable measurement.

17. Chase

Some people may forget about this. The case is important to secure the caliper. Even though it acts as additional protection, it’s better off saving your dial caliper in the right box.

Final Verdict: Pick Out for Me

We know that your needs vary. You may need longer range, on a budget, purpose, accuracy, durability, etc. Here we recommend some dial calipers from the top 11 list above.

Top 3 Best Dial Caliper for Woodworking

Dial caliper for woodworking has to provide graduation in fractional. In this case, a high precision one is not needed. However, the caliper should be smooth sliding, durable, and easy to work with a single hand. According to the list above, we can clearly tell that Starrett 1202F-6 (higher price), Shop Fox D3208, iGaging 100-164 are available to choose from.

Our Favorites Best Dial Caliper for Machinist

The machinist generally utilizes digital caliper, however, it’s possible to turn to dial caliper. Perhaps, the LCD cannot display reading clearly in a darker area. A dial caliper with white hand and marks can be easily seen because they reflect light. Additionally, the battery is easy to run out in some condition or circumstance. In contrast, a dial caliper doesn’t need such that overwhelmed care.

The dial has to fulfill adequate quality such as carbide tipped jaws, anti-rusting material, precision, accuracy, smooth sliding, durable to use very frequently, etc. Simply, you need the higher quality dial calipers. Our suggestion is to pick the Mitutoyo or Starrett. Mitutoyo 505-738, Mitutoyo 505-742, Starrett 120A-6 are reliable to handle your jobs.

The Best Budget Dial Caliper

If you are on a budget, then getting the best possible one is still there. The dial calipers from Anytime Tools are great to pick out such as Accusize Tools AT203185. You could afford it under $50. Nicely, it comes with inch and mm graduation so every user is familiar to use with.

Plastic Dial Caliper

The plastic dial caliper is made of plastic on the thorough body. So, it should be cheaper. However, this tool is not accurate. But you can use it for sewing as well as educational toy for kids.

Nameless Dial Caliper

Nameless / no brand name dial caliper still functions well depending on the quality. But, this kind of caliper commonly comes from China. You could find it easily on Alibaba and make further browsing to find exactly the real manufacturer. A company could come easily and hire the manufacturer there to put their brand name on it. Perhaps, they also could let it blank and sell it on Amazon. You could use this for home use whenever the durability and quality are not your concern.

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