Vernier Calipers: Best Models and Why You Should Use Them

October 18, 2019 3:07 pm

Calipers are one of the most common tools that you’ll find in a machine shop. Traditionally used to measure the straight distance between two points, they are also very useful when it comes to measuring the diameter of round objects or holes.

Although much less accurate than micrometers, calipers are generally used more frequently than their counterparts as they require less “finesse” and can be used for other tasks besides tolerance measuring. However, not all the calipers are the same. Besides being available in different sizes – ranging from 6” up to several feet – calipers come in three different types: Vernier, dial and digital.

Although digital calipers are the most popular type these days (at least according to the Practical Machinist community), some machinists still choose to use the old school Vernier model for a number of reasons:


  • They are generally cheaper than their electronic counterpart.
  • They are easier to read than dial calipers.
  • They can last much longer.
  • They don’t need to have their batteries replaced.


If you are one of them and you are thinking about purchasing a new one, we’re here to help.

Here are our top picks:


Brown & Sharpe 599-577-1 Vernier Caliper



The apex of Vernier caliper design. It can take inside, outside, and depth measurements to a thousandth of an inch and its long Vernier bearing surface improves rigidity and readability.


STARRETT 125MEA-6 Vernier Caliper



This high-quality caliper offers inch and metric measurement and its sharp, black graduations make it easy to read.


Mitutoyo 530-316 Vernier Caliper



Made of hardened, corrosion-resistant stainless steel with a satin chrome finish that helps reduce glare, this caliper features a 14-degree Vernier face angle that improves visibility and helps prevent parallax error in measurement reading.

Fowler Full Warranty Vernier Caliper



The value option. This decent, fairly high-precision caliper comes with a 1-year warranty offered by Fowler High Precision.


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    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-28937">

    I’m retired now, but 1964, my first set of Vernier caliper were Starrett, retired in 2011, gifted them to young fella just coming into the machined parts trade. still have my deep jawed Etalons

    li class="comment odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1" id="comment-29183">

    Vernier calipers were fine until I needed reading glasses. I switched to dial calipers in my 40s for that reason, now at 51 years old I need reading glasses for dial calipers. I might start using some digital calipers, however, they sure seem a little bulky.

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-29185">

    For Vernier Calipers I personally much prefer the parallax free style, where both scales are on exactly the same plane. Starrett, Mitutoyo and if you run across NOS ST-Industries

    li class="comment odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1" id="comment-29333">

    I know when I use my 24″ vernier caliper at work, I don’t have to worry about one of the young engineers ” borrowing” them, and bringing them back damaged.

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