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Dial or Digital Calipers?

Discussion in 'Maintenance & Gunsmithing' started by taylor, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. taylor

    taylor Willamette Valley Well-Known Member

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    Which are better for having around if I'm getting into reloading?
     
  2. spengo

    spengo GLORIOUS CASCADIA Active Member

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    Well, I don't know how much money you're willing to spend, but if you are going cheap, NICE dial calipers >>>>>> a crappy digital one.
     
  3. OreShooter

    OreShooter Portland Member

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    Either will work taylor. I have access to both, but prefer the dial because I don't have batteries to think about. Either way you go, I would take a minute and measure some known items after you buy. Plug gauges, if you have access to them would be a good thing to measure. A quality bullet will even work if you know what the diameter is *supposed* to be, not the nominal. If it is off more than .001 I would send it back as something is wrong, assuming you zeroed it out correctly before you measured. This is not something you will wear out reloading, so you should be OK without buying some top end item. Midway has good buys on them.
     
  4. lucky strike

    lucky strike Woodburn Member

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    Digital is nice because it's so quick but man does it suck when you're in the middle of a reloading session (or gunsmithing or whatever you're using it for) and the battery dies. If you do go digital make sure you buy a handful of spare batteries so you've always got a fresh one on hand.

    I've currently got a digital but am likely going to be getting a dial soon because the one time i was left high and dry with a dead battery was really frustrating.
     
  5. Brandon44647

    Brandon44647 Portland Member

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    I use both, they both work pretty good but like luckystrike suggested, if you go digital have a few spare batteries on hand.......
     
  6. HahnsXD

    HahnsXD Battle Ground WA Active Member

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    I have both.

    Digital to actually measure something and dial for checking consistency.
     
  7. olyshoots

    olyshoots Vancouver USA Member

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    Dial only for me. Call me old-fashioned, but even in powder scales I get more consistency out of a good quality manual scale over the newer digital models.
     
  8. orygun

    orygun West Linn Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Put me in the group that prefers dial over digital. Mostly cuz my dials will never have a dead battery.

    There are a couple of benefits that you can have with a digital, though. The ability to take a measurement and then convert it from inches to metric (or vise versa) can be useful, or just the fact that it can be used for metric measurements could be a big consideration for some. I used to work for a company that had parts made by an overseas vendor.. My brain thinks in good ol' inches, but our blueprints were in metric!

    If you decide on a digital set, look for one that has an automatic shut off feature. Also, most digital sets that I've seen have a place for a spare battery in the case. This would be another good idea. When you have to use the spare, it's there. As long as you replace the spare, it's all good.
     
  9. MarkAd

    MarkAd Port Orchard Well-Known Member

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    dial

    Why? Adjustment is easy for temp changes. cal is easy. reliable. i know ndt guys use 20 y/o calibers. spend 50 - 100. a life type investment. and unlike the digital ppl you don'y insult momther earth with dead batteries.

    :bluelaugh::bluelaugh:
     
  10. The Cheese

    The Cheese somewhere special Member

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    I got a cheap digital caliper from Harbor Freight. For the last 4yrs it has treated me very good. I think I paid like $6 on sale for it. Very consistent and accurate. Not the smoothest, but hey for $6 it has been more than worth it to me. That said I do, at some point need to get a nice set of dials in metric and standard. I find digitals are a bit faster to read. And when running ammo on a progressive press its nice to just grab a round and check it quickly every once in a while. Granted a dial caliper isn't that much slower, but the digital requires a bit less thinking and that is a good thing (for me anyway). Plus you can switch back and forth from metric to standard by hitting a button. very nice.
     
  11. travis

    travis willamette valley, OR New Member

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    vernier or digital imo. I was a machinist for a few years before I went to school and we found that any debris that got into the gearing on a dial caliper would make it jump a tooth and cause it to lose its zero (which you wouldn't notice until you closed it up). just some food for thought. btw vernier is very accurate. with some practice you can consistently get +/- .0005". but you can't beat digital for ease of use. those HF digi calipers are just fine. just make sure to get metal ones. no plastic!
     
  12. rodell

    rodell Newcastle, WA Active Member

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    I go with quality digital (Mitutoyo or Starrett) and am very pleased. I also keep it calibrated. Sometimes I use the download function to load data into an excel spreadsheet when doing stats on my loads.

    For most purposes, though, the $25 digitals are ok as long as you remember to zero them. +/- .003 is rarely a problem. If you are doing real precision work it takes some time, practice, and calibration.
     
  13. sheepdip

    sheepdip Redland Well-Known Member

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    i have both, seem to run pretty close to each other, there are also several different ones where i work, check them against each other pretty regularly. usually within .001 or so
     
  14. Jamie6.5

    Jamie6.5 Western OR Well-Known Member

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    I vote dial, adhering to the KISS principle.

    I have, and regularly use verniers too, but one has to learn to read them, and good eyes or good glasses are required. But mine are Helios, are over 70 years old, were very expensive to begin with, have been properly used and stored, and are as precise as any micrometer, to .0001".
    Thanks Dad!
     
  15. beezer66

    beezer66 Salem, OR Active Member

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    I like the digital calipers. I am a machinist, I use mine everyday. I like that I can zero them at any point to make comparison measurements. The batteries last a couple of years with daily use, and my Mitutoyo has a low battery indicator.
     
  16. DAB

    DAB ydnaS nogerO New Member

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    I have both and like the digital for the same reason . The dial type you have to make sure you keep them super clean ( the teeth ) or you get false measurements.

    DAB
     
  17. HollisOR

    HollisOR Rural OR, South of Dallas Active Member

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    Or vernier? I have all three and do not use them to reload or case forming. It is one of those things, if a person does not understand tolerances it will only confuse them. There are plenty of controversies invented because somehow a person thinks 0.0001 is very important in a +-0.001 world.

    Only problem with dial, over time under heavy use, the gears wear more at the low end. (first inch or two/2.5cm-5.0cm)
     
  18. g.i. joe

    g.i. joe Portland Active Member

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    I think dial is the way to go. Its easier for me to do the math looking at a dial than a digital readout. As for jumping a cog, quite possible, but has never been an issue for me. I have used my calipers for metal and woodworking. Keep your calipers clean, and get in a habbit of closing the jaws often to verify zero. As for vernier, very accurate but considerably slower to read.
     
  19. HollisOR

    HollisOR Rural OR, South of Dallas Active Member

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    A side note, as g.i.joe says, dial is good way to go.

    but, I have a very cheap set of vernier calipers I use a lot, like I would use a ruler. It is metric but the great part it is also in inch, not hundreds of in, but like a tape measure. 1/16ths. Often dealing with raw material in a inch world, I don't have to convert 1/8th to it's decimal equiv, Not so hard, but 1/64th or 1/32nd. I don't use it for machine work.
     
  20. Partsproduction

    Partsproduction Tillamook Oregon Active Member

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    I've been a machinist for 30 years. I have both, but very rarely use a digital. It's nothing I could put my finger on, except you can watch a trend with a dial, not with a digital, since you can see the direction the needle is drifting.