Digital calipers take the guesswork out of getting exact measurements. But, how can you trust that they are accurate? To help you navigate this crowded market of knockoffs and throwaways, we compiled a list of the 8 best digital caliper models available today. These digital calipers are made with solid construction and feature dependable accuracy you can trust.
The best digital calipers may all look similar, but each one is a little different. Read our quick guide to learn the key differences, or skip right to the reviews and read about our top recommendations.
Best Digital Caliper Top 8 Comparison Guide
Features to Look for
Virtually all consumer grade digital calipers use .0005” (.01mm) resolution, and will claim a tolerance of about +/-.001”. The truth about tolerance is a bit different, however. In reality, only the very best digital caliper models can measure down to .001 reliably.
That doesn’t mean that digital calipers costing less $100 are junk, though! Even the cheapest digital calipers are usually pretty accurate, with tolerances of .005” along a 6” caliper. For the average home user, or for anyone who doesn’t need absolute accuracy down to the thousandth of an inch, just about any digital caliper is accurate enough.
Accuracy isn’t the only feature to consider when choosing the best digital caliper. These features are also important to look out for:
- Battery. The kind of battery a digital caliper comes with is often an indicator of quality throughout the unit. Silver oxide (SR) and lithium (CR) batteries last twice as long, provide stable voltage throughout their lives, and resist corrosion better than alkaline (LR) batteries. The good news is that even if your digital caliper comes with an LR coin cell battery, you can replace it with the silver or lithium equivalent.
- Construction. Like any tool, there’s a level of construction quality to expect from the best digital caliper. Look for a digital screen that’s firmly attached to the rail without any wiggle. Steel edges should be smooth, and there should be no space between the teeth of either the exterior or interior jaws when the calipers are closed.
- USB Outputs. Taking a lot of measurements at one time? High quality digital calipers with USB outputs can be plugged into a computer for easy recording. This is an indispensable feature in professional settings.
- Protection. Many of the best digital caliper models are resistant to environmental contaminates like dust, oil, and water. Mechanics should look for coolant resistant calipers, and always be sure your calipers are made of rust free materials like stainless steel.
Reviews of The Top Rated Digital Calipers
Any professional will tell you that Mitutoyo makes the best digital caliper on the market today. They’re quite pricey, but in exchange for a greater investment now, you’ll get unbelievably accurate results and dependable performance for years to come. The Mitutoyo 500-196-30 is one of their most popular models, and is ideal for those who need infallibly accurate measurements up to 6”.
Although this model claims a tolerance of .001”, in reality it’s even more accurate. Test the 500-196-30 against any gauge block to see its reliability for yourself. Measurements are absolutely precise, down to the half thousandth. Handling this quality digital caliper is a pleasure, too. The slide moves across the rail smoothly, the thumbwheel uses optimal tension for making minute measurements, and both jaws fit together perfectly with no gap between.
The 9mm LCD display is nicer to use than other digital calipers we tested. The face is clear and bright, and all numbers are featured at the same size, including the half thousandth place. Using Mitutoyo’s Absolute Onsite Sensor, you never have to worry about dust, oil, or dirt build up that may affect accuracy. All parts are also waterproof. The body of this digital caliper is made from finely ground stainless steel as well, meaning you won’t cut yourself on sharp edges.
The Mitutoyo 500-196-30 is the best digital caliper for anyone who needs unquestionable accuracy in their measurements. It has the lowest tolerance, best construction, and all the extra features you want like a USB output and depth measure. If your work doesn’t require this much obsessive attention to accuracy, however, take a look at the next two digital calipers on our list.
The Mitutoyo may be overkill for your applications, which is where great digital calipers like the iGaging ABSOLUTE ORIGIN line come in. We reviewed the 6” model but you can get these digital calipers from 4” to 40” with the same dependable results. Featuring true .001” (.02mm) tolerance, the iGaging is likely plenty accurate enough for home and even professional use.
Like the more expensive Mitutoyo, this digital caliper is dust and oil resistant as well as waterproof. Solidly built, the iGaging doesn’t rattle like lesser digital calipers and comes out of its protective casing straight as an arrow. Although you must buy the cables separately, this model also includes a USB output to help organize your data. There’s even a function to show and record measurements in fractions.
jGaging includes a 2 year warranty, proving their belief in their product and insuring your investment at the same time. This popular digital caliper is an awesome alternative to the industry standard, Mitutoyo, rivaling the company in both accuracy and construction.
The iGaging is less expensive than the Mitutoyo, but for a truly inexpensive digital caliper look no further than the Clockwise Tools DCLR-1205. Even as one of the most affordable digital calipers on our list, the DCLR-1205 has all the features and functionality you need for steady, reliable measurements.
First, accuracy is the priority and Clockwise has been repeated tested to within .001” of real life measurements, even after years of use. The no frills interface is simple to navigate, reading clear numbers across the large 2” LCD display. There are just two buttons: one to switch between millimeters and inches, and one to set Zero, On, or Off.
Impressively, this affordable digital caliper also comes with a USB output, making it an even greater value. Able to measure length, depth, and steps with near perfect results, the DCLR-1205 is a great choice for light home and professional use.
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