Best Digital Calipers

Having been a cnc machinist for over 30 years, drawing from my experience, I can confidently say that the Mitutoyo 6″ digital calipers are the best digital calipers to buy if quality tools are what you want. 

Every machinist I have ever worked with has owned a set, every machine shop I have worked at have invested in Mitutoyo measuring equipment.

Accuracy, reliability and durable construction are how Mitutoyo are thought of, truly the best digital calipers you can buy

A digital electronic caliper to rule them all!

Just click the link below and buy a set, you will have no regrets.

Sale
Mitutoyo 500-196-30 Advanced Onsite Sensor (AOS) Absolute...*
  • Measures 0 to 6" (0 to 150mm) in 0.0005" (0.01mm) increments for precision use
  • Digital readout LCD shows inch or metric units for versatility when measuring
  • Advanced onsite sensor (AOS) electromagnetic inductive sensor for resistance to dirt, oil, and water
  • Measures inside, outside, depth, and step values for versatility. With thumb roller. Except 500-500-10, 500-501-10,500-502-10
  • Includes protective case and SR44 silver oxide battery

But if you really want some other options feel free to continue reading this review and I will give my opinion based on my practical knowledge.

Compared to other types of measuring calipers on the market, digital caliper pros far outweigh any cons, and they are the most popular type of precision measuring tool you can buy. They are used in a multitude of different trades but are most prevalent with machinists. They are also more versatile and less costly than a micrometer.

If you own and operate a cnc machine/router you will need a set of the best quality digital caliper.

Of all the types of caliper tools available, such as Vernier, digital and dial, the electronic digital caliper tool is the most convenient and easiest to read.

This article will provide you the information to choose (and use) the best digital caliper you need.

Preview
Mitutoyo 500-196-30 Advanced Onsite Sensor (AOS) Absolute...*
Mitutoyo 500-197-30CAL Absolute Advanced Onsite Sensor (AOS)...*
Digital Caliper, Adoric 0-6" Calipers Measuring Tool -...*
iGaging IP54 Electronic Digital Caliper 0-6" Display...*
Mitutoyo 505-742J Dial Caliper, 0.1" per Rev, 0-6" Range,...*
Description
Mitutoyo 500-196-30 Advanced Onsite Sensor (AOS) Absolute...*
Mitutoyo 500-197-30CAL Absolute Advanced Onsite Sensor (AOS)...*
Digital Caliper, Adoric 0-6" Calipers Measuring Tool -...*
iGaging IP54 Electronic Digital Caliper 0-6" Display...*
Mitutoyo 505-742J Dial Caliper, 0.1" per Rev, 0-6" Range,...*
Measuring Range
0"-6"
0"-8"
0"-6"
0"-6"
0"-6"
Units of Measurment
Metric and Imperial
Metric and Imperial
Metric and Imperial
Metric and Imperial
Imperial
Recommended?
Definitely
Definitely
No
Budget Buy
Yes
Preview
Mitutoyo 500-196-30 Advanced Onsite Sensor (AOS) Absolute...*
Description
Mitutoyo 500-196-30 Advanced Onsite Sensor (AOS) Absolute...*
Measuring Range
0"-6"
Units of Measurment
Metric and Imperial
Recommended?
Definitely
Check Price
Preview
Mitutoyo 500-197-30CAL Absolute Advanced Onsite Sensor (AOS)...*
Description
Mitutoyo 500-197-30CAL Absolute Advanced Onsite Sensor (AOS)...*
Measuring Range
0"-8"
Units of Measurment
Metric and Imperial
Recommended?
Definitely
Check Price
Preview
Digital Caliper, Adoric 0-6" Calipers Measuring Tool -...*
Description
Digital Caliper, Adoric 0-6" Calipers Measuring Tool -...*
Measuring Range
0"-6"
Units of Measurment
Metric and Imperial
Recommended?
No
Check Price
Preview
iGaging IP54 Electronic Digital Caliper 0-6" Display...*
Description
iGaging IP54 Electronic Digital Caliper 0-6" Display...*
Measuring Range
0"-6"
Units of Measurment
Metric and Imperial
Recommended?
Budget Buy
Check Price
Preview
Mitutoyo 505-742J Dial Caliper, 0.1" per Rev, 0-6" Range,...*
Description
Mitutoyo 505-742J Dial Caliper, 0.1" per Rev, 0-6" Range,...*
Measuring Range
0"-6"
Units of Measurment
Imperial
Recommended?
Yes
Check Price

best Digital Caliper Reviews

Mitutoyo are considered the industry standard when it comes to measuring equipment products. All other brands get compared to them. This set being the most popular 6″ digital caliper Mitutoyo have produced to date, with all the common features you will need.

Mitutoyo 6″ Calipers

Mitutoyo's best digital calipers

My experiences with owning several of them are very positive, they do what they are designed to do and will last a long time if you look after them. They are definitely models that are sold on the strength of quality.

The jaws are accurately ground and the digital caliper itself is quite light. The light weight makes them easy to use in difficult places, e.g. if you have to stretch to reach where you need to measure. It also boasts a large clear easy to read LCD display.

The main body of the calipers utilizes a thumbwheel to move the jaws. This helps to give a smooth movement when measuring your project.

They are made from quality materials, there are no cost cutting with the design and they feel smooth and precise with all the features you need.

After trying this product for many years I have never had a fault occur with the digital readout electronics. I have worn out a few of these calipers over my career but the readout display has always out lasted the digital caliper themselves. (This is with normal use, i.e. not dropping them in a coolant tank!).

A set will usually last me about 7 years or so, using them every work day. They end up wearing away on the jaws, specifically at the tips making them less accurate. I have to get my tools inspected by QC every 3 months, so when they wear too much I cannot continue to use them.

The best digital calipers you can buy.

Pros

  • As Accurate as you can expect a digital caliper to be
  • Made with high quality materials that produce a solid, tight feel when using
  • Industry standard model, used by professionals
  • Battery life is around 1 year of regular use
  • Reliable consistent readout display
  • The quality ensures they will last for many years
  • Complete with a protective case

Cons

  • Higher cost for initial purchase, but will likely be more cost effective over time due to its longer lasting build quality
  • No auto off feature
Sale
Mitutoyo 500-196-30 Advanced Onsite Sensor (AOS) Absolute...*
  • Measures 0 to 6" (0 to 150mm) in 0.0005" (0.01mm) increments for precision use
  • Digital readout LCD shows inch or metric units for versatility when measuring
  • Advanced onsite sensor (AOS) electromagnetic inductive sensor for resistance to dirt, oil, and water
  • Measures inside, outside, depth, and step values for versatility. With thumb roller. Except 500-500-10, 500-501-10,500-502-10
  • Includes protective case and SR44 silver oxide battery

Large Range Digital Caliper

Even though I have just reviewed the 6” Mitutoyo calipers I thought it would be useful to review this Mitutoyo 8 inch large range digital caliper. There are several sizes of Mitutoyo digital caliper available including a 12 inch , 18 inch models and a small 4” set.

Mitutoyo 8″ Calipers

After also trying this product for many years, all the opinions I gave about the 6 inch digital calipers apply to these as well. 

I have found from using this product that bigger is sometimes not better. If you need the extra measuring distance this instrument provides then you should get them. 

But don’t buy a bigger set just because you can, the extra size of the digital caliper can work against you in smaller spaces.

If you extend a 12” set of calipers out, the depth blade at the rear will make the overall length of them to over 24” long.

If your machine is close to a wall or in an enclosure, this Mitutoyo 8 inch set might not let you measure your part while it is still in the machine.

Choose the size of your tools wisely…

Pros

  • This digital caliper accuracy is as high as can be
  • Made with high quality materials that produce a solid, tight feel when using
  • Industry standard tool, Used by professionals
  • Battery life is around 1 year of regular use
  • Reliable consistent readout display with all the necessary features
  • The quality ensures they will last for many years
  • Complete with a protective case
  • Has an auto off feature
  • 12″ measuring range

Cons

  • Higher cost for initial purchase, but will likely be more cost efficient over time due to its longer lasting build quality
  • Make sure these are not too big for the space around your machine
Sale
Mitutoyo 500-197-30CAL Absolute Advanced Onsite Sensor (AOS)...*
  • Calibrated caliper with a measurement range of 0 to 8" (0 to 200mm), resolution of 0.0005" (0.01mm), and an accuracy of + or - 0.001", for measuring inner/outer diameters, depth, and step of items in harsh workshop conditions
  • LCD screen displays in inches and metric units
  • Thumb roller and Absolute electrostatic capacitance type linear encoder for accurate measurements and a 0.75", round, depth bar
  • Functions include absolute measurement, incremental measurement, scale contamination alert, and low-voltage alert
  • Includes a Mitutoyo Certificate of Calibration that the tool has been calibrated, and meets the International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) 17025 International Standard for testing and calibration laboratories

The best budget digital Caliper

adoric calipers

Adoric 0″-6″ Calipers

At the other end of the spectrum of products is this budget digital caliper from Adoric, they give you a choice of plastic carbon fiber and stainless steel models. This Adoric digital plastic carbon fiber set is optimistically described for household or DIY use but I doubt they will be good for anything. The standout feature being the low price.

My findings show that they might get bent in shipping.

The other choice of the stainless steel model would be the preferred option if you want a budget set for general ‘household’ users. 

The accuracy is listed as +/- .05mm which is +/- .002” which isn’t great to be honest, but for what these cost it isn’t too surprising. This Adoric digital caliper does not have a thumbwheel for moving the jaws. This is not a major concern, but certainly a consideration.

My biggest concern with any of the budget priced calipers would be the reliability of the digital readout and the linear encoder.

Through my practical knowledge and given the price this type of digital caliper sells for, I doubt the quality of the electronics or parts can be relied on to last, although it does have a fairly large display.

Luck may play a part in a user getting a reliable set.

Pros

  • Extremely well priced tool, can almost be used as disposable
  • All the usual digital features
  • Made with stainless steel
  • Best for general D.I.Y users
  • Good battery life
  • plastic carbon fiber is non magnetic

Cons

  • Not well made enough for consistent accurate readings
  • Questionable reliability with the readout display
  • Possible to order one of the plastic models by mistake
  • No thumbwheel
  • Unlikely to last for too long before you upgrade to the set you should have bought
  • No protective case supplied.
Sale
Digital Caliper, Adoric 0-6" Calipers Measuring Tool -...*
  • Precise measurement: Measurement range: 0 - 6''/ 0 - 150mm; Resolution: 0.01”/ 0.1mm; Accuracy: ±0.2mm/0.01”. Perfect and accurate caliper measuring tool for household/DIY measurement. Please choose stainless steel digital caliper for more accurate measuring
  • 4 measuring modes: This digital caliper can be used to Measure inside and outside diameter, depth and step with two sets of jaws and a probe. Powered by battery, comes with a pre-installed battery and a spare battery
  • Inch/mm conversion: One button quick switch between two units: inch and millimeter, definitely save your time. The buttons are made of rugged plastic carbon fiber composites, durable and portable
  • Zero setting function: The smart design allows you to set zero with an easy touch of a button and start a new measurement at any point of the scale, ideal for differential measuring
  • Large LCD screen & auto off: The large and easy-to-read LCD display helps you get precise results quickly and easily, auto shutdown for saving battery after 5 minutes if without operation

The Best Digital set for dIY

igaging calipers

IGaging IP54 0-6″ Calipers

If cost is an issue and you are determined to save a few bucks these Igaging calipers are definitely worth considering.

These are at the higher quality end of the chinese built digital calipers and have plenty of positive reviews.

The measuring product manufacturer, IGaging, claims they have an accuracy of +/- .001” and a readout resolution of .0005” which is comparable to a high end digital caliper set. 

There are a lot of different models and sizes available from this company and they claim an IP code of 54. 

An IP54 rating means it is slightly dust proof and can resist a ‘splash’ of water.

My research indicates that these are a rugged digital caliper with solid construction, plus they do come with a protective plastic case.

I would be tempted to buy this set for general use and abuse but I have an old set of Mitutoyo 6” calipers for home use. 

This model is definitely an option to consider if you are budget conscious although I am reluctant to recommend them without actually owning and using a set for a reasonable amount of time.

These could be ideal for woodworking as this is a less harsh environment than in a machine shop.

Pros

  • Competitively priced.
  • Made with stainless steel.
  • IP54 rating
  • Perfect for general d.i.y, for mechanics etc
  • Supplied with a protective case
  • Good battery Life

Cons

  • Questionable reliability with the readout.
  • A few minor build quality issues reported in reviews
Sale
iGaging IP54 Electronic Digital Caliper 0-6" Display...*
  • Easy read SUPER LARGE display (2-3/8"x7/8")
  • IP54 - Splash water, oil and dust resistant
  • Hardened stainless steel body
  • Precision lapping finish
  • Range: 0-6" Accuracy: 0.001" Repeatability: 0.0005" Resolution: 0.0005"/0.01mm/1/128"

Best dial Calipers

mitutoyo dial calipers

Mitutoyo 6″ Dial Calipers

These Mitutoyo dial calipers are probably the best quality construction you can expect to buy, If you prefer dial calipers instead of Vernier calipers, these are the set I recommend.

There are still some people who like to use dial calipers, so I included a set in this review to give my experiences using them. 

Reliability will never be an issue with dial calipers if you buy from a high end manufacturer, they will last a long time provided they receive proper care. 

They work using a rack and pinion to drive the pointer on the readout face giving an accuracy of around +/- .0005. This is the same as digital calipers. The big advantage being that no battery is needed.

This type of caliper relies heavily on the quality and fit of the rack and pinion mechanism, any slop here will result in a noticeable decrease in accuracy and repeatability.

This is why I would only recommend you buy dial calipers from a reputable company.

When I trialed a budget set I found that it would occasionally jump teeth when some debris gets on the rack. This emphasizes the biggest problem with dial calipers and that is the exposed rack.

Making sure the gear teeth are clean is important, as well as checking that the dial reads zero with them closed before every use. 

Pros

  • If you object to using batteries, these are ideal.
  • Made with stainless steel.
  • The best quality set will be as accurate as digital calipers
  • Supplied with a protective case.
  • No battery needed

Cons

  • Only reads in one unit of measurement
  • Not as versatile as digital calipers
  • Need to keep the rack and pinion free of debris
  • Lacking features due to its analog design
Sale
Mitutoyo 505-742J Dial Caliper, 0.1" per Rev, 0-6" Range,...*
  • New designed dial movement for ultra smooth sliding and high shock protection
  • Improved finish on sliding surfaces for longevity.
  • Lock screw for dial bezel and for holding the sliding jaw position
  • New face for improved readability.
  • Can measure OD, ID, depth and steps.

How to use Your digital caliper

Digital calipers are quite simple to use but require a certain amount of skill and practice to use properly when measuring an object.

The first procedure is to make sure the caliper blade faces are clean and free of debris, this will ensure your dimensions are accurate.

It is common practice to wipe the jaws clean with your fingers and check that the readout is zero with the them closed.

To use them to achieve the most accurate measurement, you need to make sure they are parallel and perpendicular to the faces being measured.

You need to check if this is true when looking from above and to the side of the object you are measuring.

The following diagrams explain the basics of using digital calipers.

demonstrating the correct way to use the best digital calipers
demonstrating the wrong way to use digital calipers
demonstrating the wrong way to use digital calipers
using the best digital calipers to measure the inside of a pipe

Measuring a Depth With Digital Calipers

Typically the hardest measurement to achieve accurately is using the blade on the rear of the calipers. The measuring range with the blade is the same as the using the jaws and enables it to be used as a depth gauge.

Holding them perpendicular to the measured face of an object can be quite tricky and multiple measurements may be needed to get a consistent reading of the parts dimensions. 

using the best digital calipers to measure a depth

It is not uncommon for two different machinists using the depth gauge to get quite different measurements of the same feature.

What are Digital Calipers used for?

Measuring two external or internal faces and depths from one parallel face to another, also internal and external diameters of an object. 

To put it more simply, they can be used to measure almost everything you need, and do it quite accurately.

Sure there are other measuring instruments that will do specific jobs more accurately and consistently but digital calipers can be considered a ‘jack of all trades’ when it comes to measuring.

Digital Caliper IP Rating

An IP rating, or Ingress Protection rating, is a measure of how well a device is protected against dust and water. In the case of digital calipers, an IP rating indicates how resistant the caliper is to dust and water intrusion.

The IP rating is usually represented by two digits, such as IP67 or IP68. The first digit indicates the level of protection against dust, while the second digit indicates the level of protection against water.

For example, an IP67 rating means that the caliper is protected against dust and can withstand immersion in water up to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes. An IP68 rating, on the other hand, means that the caliper is protected against dust and can withstand immersion in water at a depth greater than 1 meter.

When selecting a digital caliper, it is important to consider the IP rating if you will be using it in environments where there may be exposure to dust or water. A higher IP rating can provide better protection against damage from these elements, ensuring that your caliper remains functional and accurate over time.

A caliper with an IP54 rating is probably the minimum you would want if you use coolant when machining.

IP RatingFirst Digit (Solids)Second Digit (Liquids)Description
IP4040Protection against solid objects greater than 1mm and no protection against liquids
IP5454Protection against limited dust and water splashes
IP6565Protection against dust and low-pressure water jets
IP6767Protection against dust and immersion in water up to 1m depth for 30 minutes
IP6868Protection against dust and continuous immersion in water beyond 1m depth

Note that some digital calipers may have an IP rating that is not listed in this table. In general, the higher the IP rating, the greater the protection against solids and liquids, but also the more expensive the caliper may be. It is important to consider the IP rating of a digital caliper when selecting one for use in environments where it may be exposed to dust or water.

Are they ideal for the hobby machinist?

This question is a no brainer. They are an essential addition to your tools and for anyone with any type of cnc machine doing any type of project. If you don’t already have a set you need to buy some now!

They are more versatile for a hobby machinist than using micrometers.

How long will a digital set last? 

If you don’t abuse them, the best quality set of calipers will last many years. I own a set of Mitutoyo calipers that I have had and used consistently for 15 years. 

They are getting worn out at the tips now and in need of replacing but they still work just fine for hobby use.

Vernier Caliper Vs Dial Calipers

This could be described as the battle of the old school calipers. In a nutshell, a Vernier Caliper is almost indestructible but harder to read accurately. The advantage of dial calipers are they are easy to read but are quite prone to damage and require you to be more careful. Keeping the gear rack free from debris and dirt is a must.

Budget vs Quality

The one measuring tool any machinist should not cheap out on….

Digital calipers are tools you will rely on and use the most, you want them to be as accurate and consistent for as long as possible.

My findings show that you most definitely should choose Quality.

What Construction Materials are best?

Steel only. I would not consider buying a plastic carbon fiber set unless accuracy is not your prime consideration.

Mitutoyo calipers
Mitutoyo digital Calipers

That does not mean you should not buy a budget set, they have many uses and having a set you are not worried about abusing or lending to someone can be useful.

Even though they have the same features they will not be able to compete with the durability and accuracy of a quality set of digital calipers.

Consider the durability of the material the calipers are made from. As mentioned in my review above, Adoric make a set from plastic, this is not the ideal material for an accurate measuring device.

My advice is buy a set made from steel, a lot more of a durable material for measuring.

Digital Caliper Components

The anatomy of digital calipers

Is a Caliper necessary with a cnc wood router?

Yes, you will still need a set. Even if you are only milling 3D reliefs and decorative projects you will still need them for measuring tooling, fixturing etc. 

How to Maintain and store your digital caliper

Keep them clean – the user should occasionally wipe them with a clean dry rag. 

Don’t drop them, if you do, check the tips of the jaws with a loupe (eye glass). If they get damaged, use a flat stone to carefully smooth away any dings or burrs.

If your they aren’t coolant proof, don’t worry if they get splashed. All that happens is the readout goes doolally.

Wipe them dry and leave for a while and when all the moisture is gone they will work just fine. 

If they are supplied with a storage case, use it. It can protect them from accidental damage.

Are they Delicate?

If they fall off the bench into a bucket of oil, they’re screwed. 

If you throw them against a wall in a temper ‘cos you’ve just scrapped a job, they’re also screwed.

Solar Powered Electronic Caliper?

My analysis of this type of product revealed that they can keep switching off if you are trying to measure in a low lit area, which is extremely annoying.

The battery life in a regular set is generally really good.

What is the typical Tolerance of a digital Caliper?

A typical set of digital calipers will measure in increments of .0005” or .01mm on its readout. This is as high a tolerance as you can expect to get when measuring with calipers due to their design. Getting a repeat measurement with a smaller tolerance would be very unlikely.

Do You Need a good digital caliper?

Digital Calipers use a linear encoder to give the measurement on a digital display. Being digital enables manufacturers to add other useful functions. Primarily these are the ability to switch the readout between different measuring units and an incremental function.

If you are considering purchasing a set and would like my recommendation, the Mitutoyo 6″ calipers are in my opinion perfect for any machinist, not just a hobbyist.

Electronic caliper Data Transfer

Digital calipers with data transfer ports allow you to connect your caliper directly to a computer or other device to transfer measurement data.

Here’s how it typically works:

  1. Connect the caliper to your computer or device using a data transfer cable. The cable will usually have a USB connector on one end and a connector that fits the caliper on the other end.
  2. Once the caliper is connected, you can use software on your computer to read and record measurements from the caliper. Some calipers come with their own software, while others may be compatible with third-party software.
  3. When you take a measurement with the caliper, the measurement data is transmitted through the data transfer cable and recorded in the software on your computer. This allows you to easily store and analyze the measurement data without having to manually record it.
  4. Some digital calipers with data transfer ports may also have additional features, such as the ability to automatically calculate statistical measurements (such as average and standard deviation) or to log measurements over time.

Using a digital caliper with a data transfer port can save you time and increase accuracy by eliminating the need for manual measurement recording. It can also make it easier to analyze measurement data and to keep track of measurements over time.

Which Digital Caliper has Great Ratings?

In my opinion it is the Mitutoyo 6” calipers, (click link to check price). They are the ultimate all round purchase and are the tools that all others are compared to. 

All you need to decide is which size range would be ideal for your needs.

Being a machinist by trade, I could not possibly recommend any of the lower priced calipers and have a clear conscience. I will only recommend tools I actually use.

If you needed a set for general use, buying budget along with a good quality set would certainly be an excellent combination.  

I know the difference a quality set of calipers makes to your work and even though the cost of a Mitutoyo is higher, it is certainly justified. This is definitely a ‘get what you pay for’ situation.

If my opinion is not enough, a little background on Mitutoyo’s history and business focus may go a long way to convince you why you should choose Mitutoyo over any other brand:

Mitutoyo was founded in 1934 by Yehan Numata with the goal of making an accurate and affordable micrometer. The company continued to focus on precision measurement technologies and expanded their product line to include advanced micrometers, calipers, indicators, and other measurement tools. In 1963, Mitutoyo America Corporation was established, and they now offer a full range of more than 5,500 metrology tools and equipment, along with calibration services and turnkey metrology solutions.

They also provide software development, training and education classes, and service support to ensure that their customers have access to the latest metrology technology and techniques. Mitutoyo America Corporation has built one of the highest performance ISO/IEC 17025 accredited calibration laboratories in the country, and they have state-of-the-art M3 Solution Centers and highly trained technicians to ensure that their customers have access to the best metrology support and service. Overall, Mitutoyo America Corporation provides their customers with competitive advantages that result from best practice metrology.

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