Calipers are precision measurement tools that use a ruled scale, a dial, or a digital display. When reloading, you want to be sure that your ammunition measurements are exact, and a caliper will help you do that. To make sure you choose the right caliper for your needs, check out these reviews of the best calipers for reloading.
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When you’re choosing the best caliper for reloading, you’ll want to consider a few features. Here are four that rank highest on the list of necessities.
Most calipers are easy to use, but some offer advanced features a beginner might not need. It’s also worth noting how sensitive the thumb wheel might be—that’s something that beginning users might not consider, but it can mess up the measurements.
Calipers offer different measuring modes, and some calipers offer multiple units within one tool. You’ll have to decide if you need a fractional, Imperial, or decimal caliper. The best caliper for reloading will include millimeters since you’ll be working on such a small scale.
The best caliper for reloading will have impeccable precision, so your casings will be uniform. If possible, buy one that provides accuracy down to 0.02 millimeters or 0.001 inches. A relative zero feature also helps with precision because you can zero out previous measurements quickly to keep working.
Calipers need to be durable and long-lasting. Some are weatherproof if you take your caliper out to the range or work on reloading outside.
For digital calipers, you need to consider battery life. Not only will a long battery give you more usage time, but you also won’t have to buy replacement cells. This feature’s bonus factor is if the caliper has a sensor to warn you of a low battery charge.
Five calipers have ranked highest as the best for reloading. Read on for a brief overview of each, along with pros and cons, why it stands out, and why you should buy it.
The top pick of best calipers for reloading is the Mitutoyo Digimatic Calipers.
Though this is one of the more expensive digital calipers on the market, it’s worth it because of the ease of use and battery life. The coolant-proof surface is advantageous because otherwise, you’d have to be very careful to protect the electronics inside.
Mitutoyo Digimatic Calipers have no power switch; they wake up when you start using them. This is nice because another button is just one more feature that can fail over time. This waking up feature goes hand-in-hand with the automatic shut-off to help preserve battery charge—not something that many digital calipers can boast.
Mitutoyo includes a calibration certificate with each tool, a vote of confidence because there’s always a margin of error with digital tools. The slider is very smooth, and there is no wandering or shifting while you work with this caliper.
Mitutoyo is the brand that engineers use, so you know it’s going to be good. It offers precise measurements, a large digital screen, and impeccable battery life. This is the ultimate top pick of best calipers for reloading.
The runner-up pick for the best caliper for reloading is the Hornady Digital Caliper.
This is an excellent basic caliper for the price, including a spare battery and a storage case. The flimsy battery cover is a deterrent because it affects the tool’s usage—you have to hold the cover in place while using the caliper.
The Hornady Digital Caliper stands out because it boasts an accuracy of 0.001 inch, which is the goal precision measurement outlined above. The large display screen is also an impressive feature. Hornady has been a leading innovator of ammunition and reloading tools since 1949, and its reputation shows in its digital caliper. Though made for reloading, it’s handy and efficient to use around the house as well.
This is the best digital caliper you can get if you’re on a budget. You get good value, a quality tool, plus a spare battery. This tool’s lifespan might not be as long as you’d like, especially considering the slider friction issues that will develop, but since it won’t break the bank, it’s worth the buy.
The best budget option is the Lyman Electronic Stainless Steel Caliper.
Across the board, reviewers agree that the Lyman Electronic Stainless Steel Caliper has the best price. Though it quickly eats up battery charge and isn’t as sturdy as a top of the line model, this caliper provides good quality for the price and gets the job done.
The Lyman Electronic Stainless Steel Caliper is the best budget option because, though it’s not expensive, it still provides an impressive accuracy with its measurements. The caliper has a button that allows users to toggle back and forth between inches and millimeters. It’s not as durable as a higher-end model, but for this price, it doesn’t have to be.
If you want a caliper that’s good for reloading but you don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Lyman Electronic Stainless Steel Caliper is the way to go. It might not last long with a battery charge, but with its impressive accuracy, it’s worth looking into for reloading and any other tasks that might call for a basic caliper.
The best caliper for reloading doesn’t have to be digital—the Hornady Dial Caliper is a quality option if you want to stay away from electronics.
Along with the great price, reviewers appreciate the ability to rotate the dial and easily reset their zero points. Hornady has a high reputation in this market, and buyers say this product reflects that quality.
Dial calipers are typically more accurate than digital calipers, so if you don’t care about having a digital readout, this is a quality caliper to buy. You don’t have to worry about battery life, recharging the caliper, or purchasing replacement batteries. Since there are no inner electronics, you don’t have to worry about being careful with the tool. This caliper is made of stainless steel, so it is sure to feel sturdy as you’re using it for reloading.
For a dial caliper, this is a durable, well-priced item. The dial is red, so it’s easy to find when you’re working, and the measurements are guaranteed to be accurate.
Not having to worry about battery life or technology is a major benefit that means you can easily take this caliper anywhere. Hornady offers lifetime guarantees for its products, so there’s no reason not to give this a try if you’re looking for a dial caliper.
The RCBS Electronic Digital Caliper is a quality option for the best calipers for reloading.
Buyers say that the RCBS Electronic Digital Caliper is a good option for a low price and that the tool feels durable when they use it. The calipers also retain zero very well. Unfortunately, the lack of an automated on and off feature drains the batteries, and replacements are expensive.
The handle of the RCBS Electronic Digital Caliper is ergonomic and comfortable to hold onto as you’re reloading. The ability to lock in a measurement is also a nice feature because it can speed up your reloading process.
The LCD screen is large and easy to read, which is vital for a digital caliper. Since there is no automated on and off feature, the battery drains quickly. There is a low battery indicator that will warn you when you need to replace the batteries, which is helpful.
The RCBS Electronic Digital Caliper is decent if you’re looking for the basics. It offers what most other digital calipers provide, with no stand out features. But it gets the job done, and at the end of the day, that’s what you need in a caliper for reloading.
With so many quality tools on the market, there are certain features you’ll need to consider before buying the best caliper for reloading.
If digital calipers are what you’re looking for, battery life will be the feature at the top of your list. You’ll want a caliper with long battery life, like the Mitutoyo Digimatic Caliper. An extended battery charge means you’ll be able to use your caliper for an extended period, as well as take it with you to the range or in the field. It will also mean you won’t have to buy replacement batteries, so it could make even an expensive caliper more cost-effective over time.
The display is an important feature to consider whether you’re buying a digital caliper or a dial model. The Hornady Dial Caliper, for instance, has a bright red edge on its dial, making it eye-catching while you’re taking measurements.
When you’re looking at digital calipers, it might come down to how large the displays are.
Digital calipers have a variety of ways they turn off and on—some have a standard power button, but others have automatic shut off and even turn on when you begin to use them.
You’ll have to consider if you want a power button on your caliper because you might accidentally bump it while you’re working. Automatic on and off features are beneficial because they also help conserve battery life.
Dial calipers are viewed as the most accurate caliper on the market because there are no electronic aspects that can misfire. Battery life is also no concern with dial calipers, as they’re entirely manual. However, learning to read the measurement can take some practice since you’ll have to read a dial instead of the values.
Also, it’s best to handle dial calipers with care, so the dial doesn’t get knocked out of alignment.
Digital calipers are a modern version of the dial caliper. The circuit board on the slider shows the measurements, making it quick and easy to read. Some calipers allow you to switch between metric and imperial readouts. However, digital calipers require batteries, so you could find yourself out of luck if you run out of charge.
There is also a slim margin of error with digital measurements due to technology.
The best calipers for reloading are digital because they can be precise in a way that dial calipers won’t allow. Digital calipers also make reloading quicker due to the smooth sliders and large measurement readouts.
After a thorough inspection of the five best calipers for reloading, you might still have some questions. Here are a few of the most common problems with quick answers to help you get the caliper you need.
The top pick for the best digital caliper for reloading is the Mitutoyo Digimatic Caliper. It has the best battery life, along with a unique automatic shut-off. It is coolant-proof, so you can use it in many work areas without worrying about moisture shorting out the electronics inside.
Digital calipers have a slim margin of error due to the technology used, which can’t compare to the human mind noting the actual measurement. Some digital calipers also note that an inaccurate value might display based on pressure used while holding the tool.
Hornady makes the best dial caliper. It’s easy to use and has quality features like locking the slider to get a precise measurement. You can reset the zero by loosening the dial near the face and turning it in the direction you need.