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Caliper for reloading?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by SIG383, Jun 6, 2012.

  1. SIG383

    SIG383 Graham, WA Well-Known Member

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    I need a caliper for reloading, as I am just starting out. I am at a bit of a loss on what to get. I don't want to go with a cheap one that will fail shortly after getting it, but at the same time what is overkill? I know I do want to go with a digital one. Any and all help is greatly appreciated!!!
     
  2. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Try Craigslist, I see them listed all the time for cheap. I have a Harbor Freight model that I use and it has performed well so far, but I have a Mitutoyo to check it against.
     
  3. eganx

    eganx Kingston WA Active Member

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    I am a machinist......so my opinion is biased, but I would look up MSC and see what they have on sale. I would look at Fowler or SPI brand calipers, as they are on the lower end of decent machinist tools, but should be plenty good for reloading.
     
  4. SIG383

    SIG383 Graham, WA Well-Known Member

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    Thank you! I was hoping a machinist or someone of the like would chime in. I'll be checking those out now!!
     
  5. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    For reloading RCBS sells a real nice plastic dial caliper. I used mine for years to make handmade folding knives with tolerances getting close to .0005".

    I now use a 6" digital I bought at Harbor Frieght with a coupon from the paper for less then 10 bucks. And for reloading it is more then accurate enough reading to .0005" heck I started my reloading using a pass through frame (like they use to gauge crabs when you catch them) I'm sure it wasn't accurate to .005" and I never had a problem
     
  6. orygun

    orygun West Linn Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I have NSK and Mitutoyo dial calipers. I like dials because I never deal with a dead battery!

    But, many of the digital ones have an automatic shut off feature. If you are near to a Harbor Freight you might check them out, just don't buy the cheapest one they have.

    I've also purchased from MSC and got a great quality tools for my money.
     
  7. eganx

    eganx Kingston WA Active Member

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    For everyones information.......a caliper may read to a given increment but may not be accurate to said increment. Some may read out to .001 but are only accurate to .008.
     
  8. MarkAd

    MarkAd Port Orchard Well-Known Member

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    if you are interested in more precision you can buy check blocks to verify what you using.
     
  9. SIG383

    SIG383 Graham, WA Well-Known Member

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    After looking at MSC, I think I'm gonna go with either a Fowler or SPI. They are both accurate to .001 in. The SPI is $49.80 and the Fowler is $63.22...A lot better than the Mitutoyo I was originally looking at! lol. Reason I'm going with a caliper a bit more high end than a harbor freight type one is I'll be using it for more than reloading and have been wanting a good one for a while. Now just need to sell some things so I can order one!
     
    orygun and (deleted member) like this.
  10. orygun

    orygun West Linn Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I think this statement should be qualified. The caliper would be accurate within .008" at the extreme end of it's measurement range. Which means a 6" caliper would be within .008" when measuring something that is nearly 6". At smaller measurements, the discrepancy would be much smaller.

    That said, a micrometer will always give you more precise, easily repeatable measurements.

    If I was measuring case head swell on a piece of brass to compare post-firing to pre-firing, I'd use a micrometer. If I really needed to split hairs on the diameter of a bullet, I'd use a micrometer, too!

    But, for the rest of the needs a handloader has, a decent pair of calipers will be just fine. And, like most things in this life, you get what you pay for!
     
    deadshot2 and (deleted member) like this.
  11. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    For measuring OAL or sorting bullets, a nice economical digital caliper is all one needs. Dial Caliper too although my plastic one is just a little hard to read. I use it for sorting cases by locking it on a setting and toss cases that "fit" between the jaws in the "no trim" bucket.

    Buying a "big name" caliper for reloading, usually costing well over $100 is overkill. Digital micrometers are available for measuring the "gnat hairs" and is the best choice for precision as orygun pointed out. One can buy a good one for case head measurement and bullet measurement for around $50.

    OAL measurements within .001" are more than close enough and even those cheap calipers out there measure down to .0005"

    At some point, trying to measure a cartridge and it's components to a high level of precision gets to the level of trying to "pick the fly poop out of the pepper".
     
  12. greydog111

    greydog111 peoples repubilik of Oregon Active Member

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    Harbor Freight. Under $25.00
     
  13. Allfat

    Allfat Marion County Active Member

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    +1. I use a Harbor Freight Cen-Tech caliper all the time for my job and it has never let me down. I have owned one that I use for hobby stuff at home for over 4 years with no issues at all, and the best part is it cost me $12 on sale.
     
  14. Velzey

    Velzey Estacada, Oregon Gunsmith Gunsmith Bronze Vendor Bronze Supporter

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    Some good advice here!

    Remember, the worst thing you can do with your calipers is drop them! And When your measuring, remember to use light pressure. You can make them read whatever you want, with enough pressure!

    As for battey life...I have a pair of Mitutoyo digital I use everyday and have never changed the battery...I bought them 12 years ago...I think they may be solar powered...Its odd
     
  15. SIG383

    SIG383 Graham, WA Well-Known Member

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    Now after thinking about it, if I can make it to Harbor Freight, I might see what they have for the time being. Then I will at least have something that will do the job until I can get what I want.
     
  16. Benihaus

    Benihaus Portland American

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    I went to Harbor Freight today for a caliper, works just great! $12-$15