Top Rated Manual Micrometers [Updated 2020]

September 20, 2019 10:13 am

When it comes to precision measurements, no tool can serve the purpose better than the good, old micrometer.

Small, sleek and accurate, mics are considered one of the most important tools to have in the toolbox and, despite the proliferation of new, advanced equipment, they are often the first tool that inspectors reach for on the shop floor.

For this reason, when shopping for a new micrometer, you should always aim for the best model. It might cost you a little more, but you’ll be guaranteed to have an extremely accurate instrument that will last you a very long time.

From material to resolution, the variables to consider when selecting a micrometer are numerous and all equally important. We collected them all and made them easier to digest in our ultimate guide to micrometers that you can read here.

One of the main things to decide before getting started with your research is if your next micrometer will be digital or manual. Manual or mechanical micrometers are the most common type. They apply the working principle of the screw and nut to create an amazing magnification. Digital micrometers, on the other hand, apply electronic principles to take a measurement. There are pros and cons for each type. You can read more about digital micrometers here.

Our goal is to help you find the best manual micrometer. (If you are considering a digital mic, check out our review of the Top 5 Digital Micrometers for Machinists or read our Ultimate Guide to Micrometers.)

To learn which manual micrometers are the most popular among metalworkers in 2020, we asked the Practical Machinist community to share their top picks. There were five particular models that dominated the conversation. Here’s what they were, in order from least to most popular.

Recommended Models

Fowler Micrometer Set

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If you are looking for a micrometer set, this is a great option. This set includes insulated frames to work against any expansion and contraction from heat and carbide measuring faces for durability. Casing included for convenient storage and protection. A great option if affordability is a priority.

Brown & Sharp Classicmaster Micrometer

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This tool is known for its reliability and features carbide measuring faces for wear resistance and a friction thimble that supports quiet and one-handed operation. When you buy this tool, you also get a hex key, spanner wrench, and storage case.

Etalon Micrometer

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This model has made quite the name for itself. Keep in mind this tool reads in metric units.  Including the satin chrome finish for easy readings and the tungsten carbide facing on the spindle and anvil provides wear resistance. It also has a heat insulated frame that reduces temperature related expansion and contraction.

Starrett Outside Micrometer

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Claimed to be a bit heavier than its competitor Mitutoyo, this model is definitely a fan favorite. The friction thimble enables repeatability and the high-grade tool steel construction enables durability. For many Practical Machinist members, satin chrome finish is a must as it supports optimal reading visibility, and this Starrett micrometer has it. It also has a locking ring mechanism, as opposed to a lever-type, for securing locking of the measurement position. If you prefer the lever-type locking mechanism, keep reading! For more reviews about Starrett micrometers, check out this Practical Machinist forum thread.

Mitutoyo Outside Micrometer

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The Mitutoyo micrometer was the most mentioned and recommended manual micrometer. Members of the Practical Machinist community raved about the lightweight quality of the tool. This tool has all the advanced features: a friction thimble, flat, carbide-tipped measuring faces for durability, and most importantly, that beloved chrome finish. It also features a lever-type mechanism to securely lock measurements.

Do you have experience with any of the manual micrometers mentioned above or a favorite model that didn’t make this list? Share with us in the comments.


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  • Russ says:

    Depends on how you are using the micrometer. If you are making a bushing to fit an I.D. and using the same micrometer the make the bushing that you used to measure the hole,only the accuracy of your feel comes into play. The micrometer could be off a ton and it wouldn’t matter for making that part.If you are making a part from a print then that may be a different story

  • Leon says:

    Iam a little biased and less fashioned craftsman and would not trade in my mitutoyo manual micrometer for anything.(note :-I even state brand name)

  • Ronnie says:

    Starrett, Mitutoyo and Brown and Sharpe are my three go to mics. I have 50 years of machining R&D tool making back round. These 3 micrometers are the absolute best .

  • Sinisterslick says:

    Starrett is my go to mic. 25 yrs of conventional machining and the only one I’ve replaced , minus the carbide tips, is 2”-3”. Regardless of the job the mic should read correctly. Especially when tolerances are 4 place decimal.


  • Chip Burns says:

    As has been stated above, some of the accuracy comes from the micrometer, and a portion from the tradesman’s hands. Selecting a brand of measuring tools, tends to come from the brand that is carried by the sales person that visits the shop on sales calls.
    The first shop that I worked, was a B&S shop. Nearly all of the shops that I worked in later, leaned toward Starrett tools. The Mitutoyo dial calipers had a better system to keep the rack clear of chips than the Starrett Mdl. 130. In these times, the digital calipers are a winner.
    In my years of building dies and molds, I would recommend carbide measuring faces on any brand of micrometer. Another point that I feel is important with today’s shrinking tolerances, is to standardize all of the shop tools with in house gauging and inspection or having someone on the outside come in to assure that all of the inches or millimeters are the same size.

  • Raymond says:

    I like the Starrett slant line. I have had one since the ’60’s.
    Can’t beat a 6″ vernier caliper either. No dial needle to jump, no battery to go dead, immune to coolant.

  • Frank says:

    You should always use you micrometer as a comparing tool, (ie measure a known (calibrated) gage then compare to your part) and still buy the best mic you can afford.

  • Joe says:

    I have used the Brown & Sharp for over 40 years it was my first Mic my dad gave to me when I was 10 , yes we had a lathe in the house and I learned to run it at 10 years old. It has always been my go to for the 0-1, Mitutoyo makes some nice stuff but for my 0-1 which is my primary Mic I will always go with the Brown & Sharp personal preference I guess.

  • John says:

    I have used all types of Micrometers over the years even off brands made in Poland that work very well. I do like the Mitutoyo. The biggest thing I see is the need for proper care of your tools. As well finding a GOOD Calibration Company is important. There are many that say they can do it but it is my experience that many of them do not know what they are doing. Of course you can always do it yourself unless company policy states otherwise.

  • Mike says:

    It’s hard to say which of the big three is best, B&S, Starrett or Mitutoyo. Each have their attributes. I have all 3 plus others LOL.
    I suggest you try them before buying to see how they each feel measuring a Jo block. From the tool guy if you have one, not the guy on the
    next bench over.

  • Murph says:

    I have two 0-1 Starrett mics . The only problem is, one of them will go on vacation and never return. I’ve searched the the shop for weeks looking for my 0-1s . After a few months I purchased another pair. Two years later I grabbed the MSC catalog of the shelf and SOB there they were , right where I left them as a bookmark!

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