Measures in inches, fractions and millimeters. 2 sets of jaws for precise measurement. Large LCD display. Stainless steel construction. Gives consistent, accurate readings. Reasonably priced.
The sliding action is not as smooth as it could be. Some have said the jaws are not flush.
Available in 6-inch, 8-inch, and 12-inch sizes. Polished stainless steel. Smooth sliding action. No calibration necessary. Takes external, internal, depth and step measurements. Hard plastic case and spare battery included.
Reports measurements in 1/128 of an inch, which some users find impractical for their needs.
Large, easy-to-read display. Sturdy plastic carrying case included. Retains its accuracy well over time. Fraction display, so no math is required. Water-resistant. Made of high-quality stainless steel.
Some say the battery life is short, so have extras on hand.
Made of hardened stainless steel. Easily converts between inches, millimeters and fractions. Slides easily. 2-year warranty. Auto-off helps to conserve battery life. Provides an accurate reading that doesn't fluctuate.
This caliper is heavy. The thumb wheel can be a little loose, causing the caliper to slide slightly during use.
Large, digital readout. Resistant to dirt, oil and water. Measures inside, outside, step and depth values. Protective case included. One of the best in terms of accuracy and durability. Made of stainless steel.
This digital caliper may be too expensive if you're on a tight budget.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
When people think of measurements, the ubiquitous tape measure is often the first product that comes to mind. While a tape measure is an excellent tool, and indispensable to the construction trades, it’s only precise down to 1/32 inch. Even then, there’s room for small errors, as reading a tape measure requires you to precisely line up the measuring line with the point you’re measuring to.
Unlike a tape measure, a caliper is a precision tool designed to measure objects down to a thousandth of an inch or one-hundredth of a millimeter. This makes calipers the ideal tool for scientific and engineering applications or anything requiring extremely precise measurements.
There are a number of different kinds of calipers, such as a vernier or dial caliper, but one of the most common is a digital caliper. This style is popular due to its ease of use and the precision a digital readout affords.
The single biggest thing to consider when shopping for a digital caliper is the construction. As a precision tool, the caliper should be made of materials that are durable, rigid, and precise. When you’re trying to measure down to a thousandth of an inch, you want your caliper to be rigid enough that no errors are introduced due to any give or flexibility in the tool itself. For best results, choose a caliper that’s made of high-grade stainless steel. [If you’re in need of additional measuring tools, check out our reviews on laser measures and tape measures.]
Digital calipers use a thumbwheel to open and close the jaws. However, you can also open and close them manually. It’s important to make sure the thumbwheel produces smooth movement along the scale. If the thumbwheel halts, catches, or moves in a choppy manner, you risk getting an imprecise measurement.
Another thing to consider is the span of a digital caliper. Calipers come in different sizes to fit and measure a variety of objects, so it’s important to consider the size of what you need to measure before you buy.
Since the LCD display is what differentiates a digital caliper from a vernier or dial caliper, it’s important to choose one with a large, easy-to-read screen and well-defined numbers.
If you plan on using your caliper outside or in wet conditions, a digital caliper with a water-resistant LCD screen can be a make-or-break feature. Some are also resistant to dust, dirt, oil, insects, and anything else that can throw off your reading a bit.
For the most versatile usage, be sure to look for a caliper that has both imperial and metric measurement. This is usually controlled by a button on the LCD display that lets you toggle back and forth.
For a digital caliper to give accurate results, the object you’re measuring needs to rest flat against its two measuring surfaces. High-end calipers sometimes offer carbide-tipped measuring faces to prolong the perfect smoothness of the face. This ensures you’ll get the most accurate measurements every time for years to come.
If you plan on using your caliper for work with sensitive electronics, it’s a good idea to look for one advertised as magnetic-free.
Another important feature to look for is the ability to take differential measurements. This is done by zeroing the digital display to a point on the scale where you have taken a measurement, then measuring the difference from that point.
For a seemingly simple tool, you may be surprised at how much the price can vary from one caliper to another. Some are as cheap as a few dollars, while high-end units are hundreds of dollars.
Inexpensive: For under $25, you’ll find entry-level calipers that may be good for some tasks but are generally not suitable for precision work. They will have non-carbide tips, basic LCD displays, and no water-resistance.
Mid-range: Calipers priced between $25 and $100 are a significant step up in terms of quality and features. These models include hardened stainless steel, smooth sliding action, and water-resistance.
Expensive: Once you cross the $100 mark, digital calipers are exceptionally precise tools, well suited for almost any task. These models include LCD displays that convert between inches, millimeters, and fractions. Many of these models also include the ability to set the zero at any point on the scale.
Q. Are digital calipers as good as dial or vernier calipers?
A. Yes, a high-quality digital caliper can be just as precise as a dial or vernier caliper.
Q. How long will a digital caliper’s battery last?
A. A year or more is not uncommon, but it depends on the manufacturer and the type of battery they include.
Q. My caliper has a “reading hold” button. What is that for?
A. Some high-end calipers have the ability to take a second measurement without re-zeroing the caliper. Once you take your first measurement, press the button and take the second measurement. The caliper will then calculate the difference.