Second to this consideration is reliability. A good reloader makes reliable ammo, and tools necessary to ensure your ammo is both safe and secure are digital calipers. These allow you to measure cases inside and out, both lengthwise and diameter. On top of that, you have to measure overall cartridge length. This ensures the bullet is loaded correctly, will chamber, and cycle reliably — all important considerations for reloaders.
Below are our recommendations for the 4 best reloading calipers on the market:
Hornady Digital Reloading Calipers
If you are reloading, it makes sense to look for a set of calipers made for reloading. It makes even more sense for you to use a set of calipers produced by a company known for their ammo loads. Hornady makes a ton of different types of ammo, including precision rifle rounds, defensive pistol rounds, and even just cheap plinking ammo. The Hornady calipers are purpose-built for reloaders and are quick and easy to use as well as being quite affordable.
The Hornady calipers are digital, and digital is the superior option when it comes to excellent measurements. They are easier to read and just as reliable as dial calipers. The only downside is the requirement of a battery. The LCD screen is ultra-large for easy and accurate readings, especially if you factor in the shadow cast by your reloading gear in many cases.
The Hornady digital caliper has a smooth and relaxed moving adjustment wheel, as well as a knob that locks the slide in place. The accuracy is within .02 MMS. This level of accuracy is critical in making ammo that runs reliably, shoots true and, most importantly, is safe to use.
The Hornady Digital calipers also come with a battery and a protective carrying case. Joyce Hornady’s business goal was, “Ten bullets through one hole,” and precision is always an important factor. This is one of the best reloading calibers for the money.
Franklin Arsenal Reloading Calipers
- Frankford Arsenal Electronic Caliper with LCD Display and Case for Reloading
- Price: $24.99
- Price as of 11/24/2020 18:53 PST(more info about ad)
Franklin Arsenal is a company known for producing ammo trays, case-cleaning components, and reloading tools. They are not the biggest name in reloading but are a well-respected brand with a long history of making good gear. The Franklin Arsenal Calipers are digital calipers that are accurate to .001 of an inch. That’s quite accurate and provides you with the fine measurements that are necessary for safe and effective reloading practices.
The Franklin Arsenal Calipers is made from stainless steel that has been hardened and ruggedized for a lifetime of use. The digital screen is quite large and will give you easy to read and accurate readings. This set of calipers offer a manual scale as well to make quick estimation and to get your digital readout point to roughly the right area before measurements are taken.
This small tool takes an LR44 battery and does come with an auto shut off feature. This is a very handy feature when reloading. Your attention will likely be on your tasks at hand and not having to remember to shut the device on and off. The Franklin Arsenal calipers come with a protective case and a limited lifetime warranty. This is an affordable set of calipers that will give you the accurate performance you need for reloading almost any cartridge.
iGaging Absolute Origin Reloading Calipers
- iGaging ABSOLUTE ORIGIN 0-6" Digital Electronic Caliper - IP54 Protection/Extreme Accuracy
- Price: $41.95
- Price as of 11/24/2020 18:53 PST(more info about ad)
On the other side of the industry is the slightly pricer iGaging Origin calipers. These digital calipers deliver you a very robust and durable caliper option if you tend to be a bit rough on your tools.
This set of calipers (see full specs) is built to be water, drop, and dust resistant, so they are safe even in messy shops. As digital calipers, durability can be tricky, but iGaging seemed to figure it out pretty easily. These calipers are much larger than they need to be and give you six inches worth of measuring ability. The LCD screen is high definition with an easy to read screen and best of all a memory function.
It’s capable of keeping track of its origin position once set. This makes referencing back easier and eliminates the need for notes. The measuring speed is unlimited, and the ultra-smooth surface finish makes moving the slider very smooth and catches free. This increases accuracy and makes measurements much quicker all around. The Absolute Origin calipers can even be fed to a computer via USB for readings.
This caliper uses the more common CR2032 battery and comes with a plastic protective case. The battery will last for more than two years, and the calipers are rated IP54 for humidity and dust resistance. Overall, this is one of the best reloading calibers around.
RCBS Electronic Digital Reloading Caliper
RCBS is a legend in the reloading community. They make everything you could imagine for reloaders and cut their teeth serving the reloading community. Their RCBS Electronic Digital Caliper is easily the most purpose-built set of calipers on this list. When it comes to measuring cases, case diameter, bullet length, primer pocket depth, and cartridge length overall, there is hardly a better-built tool out there.
As you’d imagine, it’s a much more expensive tool (see full specs), but it is amazingly functional and very reliable. As mentioned before, these are digital calipers, and they feature a large and accurate screen for reading measurements at any angle. The numbers are very large, and there is squinting or guessing required. The accuracy is to .001 inch or .02mms. You can switch between inches to millimeters with a hit of a button.
The body is made from hardened steel for long life, and the finish is incredibly smooth and provides an easy and smooth slide for the jaws to open. The screen has a low battery indicator as well. The calipers come with a case and battery to top it all off.
Reloading Caliper Fun
Reloading is an interesting hobby and a great way to save money. One of the things with guns is that you can’t just guess when it comes to ammo. You have to know that your ammo is properly measured, so it feeds, ejects, and cycles. Finding the best reloading caliper for your needs will ensure you have a properly measured case and cartridge for your next range day. Good luck!
Owner of Reloaderaddict.com, Boyd Smith is a major handgun enthusiast, and although he owns Glocks, he prefers the revolving wheel type. His go-to guns are a Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center for carry and a Ruger GP100 in the nightstand biometric safe (he has kids). He loads both revolvers with old-school 148-grain Federal Gold Medal .38 wadcutters. It’s OK if you think he’s a wimp. Email him.