Updated on April 12, 2021
Digital calipers are not a new alternative to dial calipers, although a lot of consumers are reluctant to convert. This is due in no small part to the number of options available and the often confusing nature of digital caliper reviews.
The best digital caliper will be precise, easy to use, resistant to water, and have an easy to read screen. Each of the following three calipers are excellent, top-quality choices, whether you’re in the machining, metalworking, carpentry, engineering, or other related field.
TOP PICK:When looking for a quality digital caliper, it doesn’t get better that Mitutoyo’s 500-196-30. The advanced onsite sensor (AOS) is an electromagnetic inductive sensor which provides resistance against dirt, oil, and water.
It measures depth, inside, outside, and step values with an accuracy of .0005 inches or .01 millimeters for maximum precision.
The measuring range itself goes from zero to size inches (150 millimeters) and easily swaps between imperial and metric measurements. It can also switch between absolute and incremental measurement readings as needed.
Finally, it includes an SR44 silver oxide battery in its own packaging to ensure no power has been drawn prior to using. The Mitutoyo is often found on reloading benches of gun and ammo enthusiasts who demand consistent precision.
Users of the 500-196-30 note that the quality can be felt the moment you open the package and pick the caliper up. The quality continues, with reports that the caliper doesn’t need to be reset unless you change the battery, as well as the ability to give stable, repeatable readings.
Customers who have bought other Mitutoyo calipers in the past note that the quality remains strong, while power use has become more efficient, leading to an even longer battery life.
The single biggest concern brought up by consumers isn’t regarding the caliper itself, but rather the risk of getting a counterfeit or knock-off tool instead of a genuine Mitutoyo.
Made in China instead of Japan like the real thing, these knock-offs have several features to watch out for. The two most obvious signs are the use of an LR44 battery instead of an SR44 and a display which only reads 0.000 and not 0.0000.
The official version reads in the ten-thousandths and always includes an SR44 battery which must be installed before using. The shipping information may show either China or Japan. When purchasing the 500-196-30, it is vital that you always purchase from a reputable online dealer.
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RUNNERS-UP:If you’re new to the world of digital calipers, EAGems has created a model that’s perfect for you. The caliper itself is hardened stainless steel with no plastic parts and an IP54 rating against dust and liquids.
The LCD screen provides large, easy to read numbers, unlike a traditional dial caliper. The display quickly switches between imperial, metric, and fractional measurements, with a range from zero to six inches (150 millimeters) and accuracy of .0005 inches, .01 millimeters, or 1/64 inches as a fraction.
Finally, a full, 2-year warranty is provided upon registration of the product.
This has been a winner with new consumers, as the company has been known to send a follow-up email explaining how to use digital calipers. Owners have also noted that customer service is always top-notch and the warranty provides some extra peace of mind in workshops where tools suffer plenty of use and abuse.
The quality has surprised veterans, who have compared it to industry-standards such as Mitutoyo with excellent results.
One major problem seems to be common with this company and may affect your purchase. A few users have noted that their caliper seemed to have arrived used or refurbished, leading to calibration issues, a damaged retaining clip or bushing, or overly-sensitive sensor that will turn the caliper on when the case is simply moved.
For this reason, it is best to thoroughly inspect the caliper upon arrival for signs of use or wear.
Among those that have received a used product, it has been reported that EAGems customer service representatives are quick to send a replacement if contacted and shown photos illustrating the signs of prior usage. Again, purchasing from a well know online retailer is the best insurance you can have against any issue.
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RCBS offers a high-quality digital caliper at a reasonable price with its 87323 model. Featuring a hardened stainless steel body and easy-to-read LED display, this caliper measures depth, external, internal, and step dimensions easily.
As with most calipers in its class, the 87323 is also able to switch easily between imperial and metric measurements.
Those who have purchased the RCBS model are quite pleased with the quality of this tool, paired with the relatively low price. The large display makes it easier for many users who have difficulty reading measurements on vernier and dial calipers.
Owners have also noted the high accuracy of up to 1000th of an inch and locking feature which speeds up multiple measurements.
The only common complaint about the 87323 is its lack of an automatic shut-off, which can lead to rapid battery drain if you forget to turn it off between uses. A few consumers have had issues with the auto-power and calibration.
It is unknown if these complaints have been due to a defective product, receiving a refurbished model, or have met with other problems. In most cases, notifying customer service has resulted in a working replacement.
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