Vernier caliper is the type of caliper that makes use of a vernier scale to display the reading. This vernier scale can provide you with a resolution of .001″ (0.02 mm). It is common to find a vernier caliper with a 6″ measuring range. But you can also find the longer ones such as 8″, 12″, 16″, etc.
As a precision measuring tool, this analog caliper can help you to measure length, width, outside diameter, inside diameter, depth, and step.
When comparing vernier caliper with other caliper types such as dial caliper and digital caliper, one big advantage of using a vernier caliper is its no battery operation. You can use it every time you want without thinking of its battery. Besides, it’s relatively more affordable.
This precision dimensional measuring instrument is used in many areas such as metalworking, woodworking, manufacturing, workshop, school, automotive, etc.
The best vernier caliper should have at least a high accuracy, good precision, good material, and easy-to-read graduations. Market is flooded with these caliper models. If you are confused to choose from the choices on the market, perhaps, our top 10 vernier calipers below can save you time. We also suggest the best choice overall and buying guide.
Top 10 Best Vernier Caliper Reviews in 2023
1. Mitutoyo 532-119 Vernier Caliper 5″ with Fine Adjustment [Best Overall]
When it comes to high-quality and accurate precision measuring tools, you could think of Mitutoyo’s products first. The same with finding the best vernier caliper, it’s not weird to prefer Mitutoyo vernier caliper first.
Mitutoyo 532-119 is what we find worth sharing to be the best vernier caliper overall. It’s a complete precision measuring tool that provides quality, great specification, dual reading, excellent construction, and fine adjustment carriage.
It has a 0-5″ range, .001″ (0.02 mm) resolution, and ±.0011″ (±0.03 mm) accuracy. The material is stainless steel which is good for corrosion-resistant. Incredibly, there are no screws that connect the scale and the sliding jaws. That means they are one integrated body. This is the construction that we expect.
Another outstanding thing of this precision tool is its fine adjustment. This feature is very important to reduce errors during the measurement. It allows consistent pressure on the object being measured. This feature, in turn, gives you more confidence in proper measurement.
Along with all of its advantages, the price isn’t really expensive. What a tempting choice in our point of view. One disadvantage is no hard case.
- Range: 5 inch (0-130 mm)
- Resolution: .001″ (0.02 mm)
- Accuracy: ±.0011″ (±0.03 mm)
- Great specification
- Comes with fine adjustment for reliable measurement (consistent pressure to the object being measured)
- The price is affordable
- No hard case
2. Mitutoyo 531-128 Vernier Caliper with Spring-loaded Thumb (Quick Use)
Tightening and loosening the locking screw can slow your job. Taking multiple readings can be a time-consuming activity. It’s over now with Mitutoyo 531-128 thumb clamp.
As you can see, there is no locking screw. The spring-loaded thumb clamp replaces the function of the locking screw. Pressing it with your thumb allows sliding. Vice versa, depressing it makes the sliding scale won’t move. Further, this feature allows you to operate it single-handed.
For resolution, accuracy, and construction quality, it is no doubt. This model has 6″ (150mm) range and .001″ (0.02mm) resolution. As this is the high accuracy version, it supports an accuracy of ±0.03 mm. So, it’s not just about speed but also good accuracy.
All in all, the combination of easy-to-use and high specification makes it suitable in most cases. Aside from that, you will get dual reading (mm and inch), etched markings, easy-to-read scale, and hardened stainless steel construction.
Spec (Based on Mitutoyo USA Ecatalogue):
- Range: 0-6″(0 – 150 mm)
- Resolution: .001″ (0.02 mm)
- Accuracy: ±.0011″ (±0.03 mm)
- High-speed caliper; spring-loaded thumb for easy and fast measurement
- Excellent specification
- Great construction and durable
- Etched markings
- Perhaps, a fine adjustment would make it more perfect
3. Mitutoyo 530-312 Vernier Caliper General Model
As you could browse Mitutoyo’s official catalog, Mitutoyo 530-312 is the general yet high accuracy model. It serves you with a 6″ range, .001″ resolution for its inch reading, 0.02 mm for its mm reading, and ±0.03 mm for accuracy.
This excellent specification along with its Mitutoyo quality will serve you as a measuring tool for measurements of outside diameter, inside diameter, depth, and step. In addition to its benefits, it gives you dual reading, solid united construction, and hardened stainless steel material.
In case you need a certificate calibration, the option to purchase it with Certificate Traceability to NIST is available. Herewith, you will be sure that your caliper is calibrated using a standard that is traceable to NIST/world standards.
The drawback is no thumb wheel. There is no fine adjustment like the model 532-119. However, if you are well-practiced to give constant pressure, then this is a great choice to go.
- Range: 0-6″ (0-150mm)
- Resolution: .001″ (0.02 mm)
- Accuracy: 0.03mm
- Excellent specification for a vernier caliper
- Solid and united construction
- Dual reading: inch and mm
- No thumb roller
4. Starrett 125MEA-6 Vernier Caliper General Model
Starrett is another excellent brand worth considering when you are looking for the best vernier caliper. Among the Starrett vernier calipers for sale, we are sure that this Starrett 125MEA-6 vernier caliper is one that you really figure out.
This model comes as a 6-inch range caliper that provides a dual reading of inch and mm. Respectively, the graduation of the inch and mm reading is .001″ and 0.02 mm. This graduation is also the resolution of this caliper.
This vernier caliper has two parts of accuracy. The accuracy of measurement in the range of 0-4″ is .001″. While the accuracy of measurement in the second range of 4-6″ inch is .0015″. Even though we commonly use the range of 0-4″, we should consider the second range as well.
Unlike the Mitutoyo 530-312 above, Starrett 124MEA-6 puts its inch markings in the lower scale while the mm markings in the upper scale. Like the other excellent vernier calipers, this caliper has the scale and the jaws as one body.
- Good resolution and accuracy along the beam
- Two measurement units
- An integrated body of the moveable jaws and scale
- Like the other general models, it is not a thumb roller
5. Mitutoyo 530-101 Vernier Caliper Metric Reading [Affordable]
If you are looking for a cheap Mitutoyo vernier caliper product, Mitutoyo 530-101 may be what you want. Though affordable, in terms of quality, it’s the same with other Mitutoyo vernier calipers.
The vernier face is clean and easy to read. There is no screw that invades the space which means high-quality construction. The face is also designed at an angle of 14° for easy to read and parallax error reduction. To hold the reading, the locking screw is available.
It supports measurements of outside diameter, inside diameter, depth, and step. The material is hardened stainless steel which is known more corrosion-resistant so that you can take advantage of it for a long time.
However, this one comes with a metric (mm) scale only. The metric markings are located in the lower scale. The specification for resolution and accuracy is also considered the lower one. This vernier caliper has a 150 mm range, 0.05 mm resolution, and ±0.05 mm. So, if you don’t require a high degree of accuracy, then this can be your wise choice.
- Range: 0-150mm,
- Accuracy: ±0.05 mm,
- Resolution: 0.05 mm
- Great quality
- Excellent construction
- Provides metric reading only
- Lower specification
6. Khcraft Vernier Caliper [Another Affordable Option]
An affordable cheap vernier caliper is not always bad. You may need the one that is friendly to your budget, still, it works for general purposes. If you don’t use it for accurate and precise measurements, this vernier caliper will be suitable for you.
It has a nice dual reading unit: metric (mm) and imperial (inch). The 0.02 mm graduation is on the lower scale, while the .001″ graduation is on the upper scale. The knurled thumb rest helps you to slide the scale.
However, the scale uses screws to integrate on the moveable jaws’ body. A high-quality construction vernier caliper has the scale and the moveable jaws integrated without screws. As the screw may lose and, as a result, generates even a small shake, you have to calibrate this caliper to assess its error.
All in all, this stainless steel vernier caliper is a nice option to use for general purposes. However, it’s not appropriate for professional use that requires high confidence in accuracy.
- Nice to use for general purposes
- Inexpensive option
- Dual reading unit: inch and mm
- The scale and moveable jaws are not integral part; it’s screwed.
7. Mitutoyo 530-316 Vernier Caliper Metric & Fractional Scale [for Woodworking]
If you are a woodworker who mostly uses fractions instead of decimals, Mitutoyo 530-316 is the model that you are looking for. It comes with fractional markings on its upper scale.
The resolution of the fractional scale is 1/128″. This value is taken from the main scale and the second scale that has a graduation of 1/16″ and 1/8″ respectively.
There is also a decimal metric scale. It is on the bottom scale. This scale has a graduation of 0.05 mm. The accuracy is ±0.05mm.
You don’t need to worry about its durability. Made of stainless steel material, this Mitutoyo quality product will resist corrosion better than the steel-made caliper. The construction of scale and sliding jaws are also integrated without additional screws.
When you want to be free from battery use, or need something ready to use every time for your woodworking project, this vernier caliper is suitable to use. It comes with 2 external jaws, 2 internal jaws, and a rod. Therefore, it’s able to measure outside diameter, inside diameter, step, and depth.
- Comes with fractional markings on the upper scale
- Integrated construction of the moveable jaws and scale
- 2 unit readings: fractional inch and decimal mm
- It’s not thumb roller, just a thumb rest
8. Fowler 52-058-016-0 Vernier Caliper [Fine Adjustment + Affordable]
Equipping with a fine adjustment feature may make your caliper expensive. Fowler 52-058-016-0 permits you to own it because of its affordable price.
This budget vernier caliper presents with a .001″ and 0.02 mm resolution. You will find the inch markings on the lower positioned scale, while the mm markings on the upper scale.
The fine adjustment lets you apply constant pressure to the clamped object. By this way, you are sure that the reading shows correctly.
Store it in the hard case when it’s not in use. Made from stainless steel material plus protected by a hard case, you have a double shield.
However, the construction makes use of screws to hold the vernier scale on the sliding jaws. This design allows the possibility of loosening screws. If the screws loosen, it won’t show exactly “0” reading when you zero it. Even further, you don’t generate any accurate results with it.
- Budget caliper
- Fine adjustment
- High specification
- Weak construction on the scale that uses screws
9. Fowler 52-057-004-0 Mini Vernier Caliper
Fowler 52-057-004-0 is a short 4-inch range vernier caliper. This length lets you easily bring it anywhere. You could do it by simply putting it in the pocket. Many people buy this because of its size.
It is not only portable but also incredible quality construction. The despite low budget, it gives you an integrated body similar to the Mitutoyo and Starrett calipers do. Additionally, it takes advantage of stainless steel as the body material. This material is surely better than steel.
The scale is graduated in inch scale. It’s clean and easy to read since only provides inch markings. The resolution is also great which is .001″.
In summary, this unit can be your great consideration when looking for a budget vernier caliper. It delivers compactness, high resolution, integrated body, and affordability. The only thing that you should consider is the reading. Since it’s not dual reading, you have to convert it manually to an inch. If you don’t use mm, you should prefer it.
- Pocket size
- Excellent construction
- High specification
- Inch reading only
10. Mitutoyo 530-122 Vernier Caliper [High Accuracy Metric Scale]
The last choice you could take into account is Mitutoyo 530-122 that comes with a metric scale only. In comparison with Mitutoyo 530-101, this model comes with higher specifications. So, when you need metric reading only with better accuracy, this one should be what you are looking for.
- Higher resolution and accuracy
- Fine construction
- No rolling thumb
- Metric reading only
Things to Consider Buying A Vernier Caliper
Resolution is the smallest reading a certain measuring tool can provide. Commonly, you will find vernier calipers on the market graduated in .001″ (0.0254 mm) resolution. If you get the lower one, you should expect a lower price. If you need a more accurate one than .001″, you may need a digital caliper such as Mitutoyo 500-196-30 that has .0005″ resolution and ±.001″ accuracy.
Accuracy is one of the most important things in precision measuring instruments. It doesn’t necessarily mean if your caliper has great resolution, it has great accuracy. Keep in mind that resolution is the smallest reading that it can show, while accuracy is how close you are to the truth.
If your caliper’s resolution is .001″ and its accuracy is .001″, then it’s what you have to expect. In most cases, measuring instruments’ accuracy is similar to its resolution. However, on the other hand, if your caliper’s resolution is .001″ and the accuracy is .05″, you have to less consider this option.
3. Certificate Calibration & NIST Traceability
If you want proof that your vernier caliper is accurate as described in its specification, you need to calibrate it using a reliable calibration procedure. In this case, you could hire a vernier caliper calibration service that is ISO 17025 accredited. The result of calibration is documentation that is called certificate calibration.
When you rely on ISO 17025 accredited calibration service, your vernier caliper will be calibrated using a standard that is traceable to NIST. Herewith, your caliper will be NIST traceable eventually. The definition of the 1-inch measurement results generated by your caliper will be the same as the other 1-inch measurements across the globe. Finally, this NIST traceability makes up how reliable your measuring tool is.
Is it constructed with steel, stainless steel, or hardened stainless steel? You are better off choosing the stainless one rather than the steel. The stainless steel is corrosion-resistant except for the low grades. It’s hard to know the material quality. In this case, you can rely on the reputation of the brand.
5. Integrated Body
A high-quality vernier caliper will have the sliding jaws and scale face integrated as a single body. This construction design is meant for accuracy. The lower-quality construction uses screws to hold the scale on the sliding jaws.
When the screws are the joiner, the chance of play when you shake is real. This even, eventually, generates inaccurate measurement. The most common and easiest case is when you zero the caliper. Even though both the external and the internal jaws have clamped each other, you don’t see it shows zero reading.
Visibility is important in vernier caliper because we take the reading manually. The chance of parallax error is high.
You have to get the scale that is etched rather than printed. The etched scale will last longer and not easily fade out compared to the printed one.
In addition to the visibility, you have to consider the numbers’ size. Some people that have poor vision may hard to see the numbers.
7. Inch or Millimeter (Imperial or Metric)
You cannot find all of the vernier calipers on the market with both inch (imperial) and millimeter (metric) unit reading on their scale. Some of them come either in inch or mm. Thus, you have to give a little care when selecting them. Further, this variation determines the price.
How to Use Vernier Caliper with Fine Adjustment
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How to read vernier caliper?
A: Since it comes with vernier scale, you have to learn it first. Read how to read vernier caliper here along with the examples.
Q: How to use vernier caliper?
A: Like the other calipers, you have to clamp the object to measure and take the reading. Make sure to apply a sufficient force so that no errors occur. There are some types of errors that can happen, you should take care of this matter if you need a really trusted measurement.
Q: How to check the accuracy of a vernier caliper?
A: You can do that by doing a simple inspection with your gauge block. Further, you can do a calibration. A caliper calibration is also important to know whether your caliper requires a replacement or not. You need at least a workshop grade gauge block. But you need to make sure the gauge blocks are calibrated as well and are traceable to NIST so that the calibration is really reliable.
Q: How to take care of a vernier caliper?
A: Buy the one that comes with hard foamed case. The foam will keep this instrument from shaking. Further, put the case in a dry place and at a good humidity since it is metal.
So far, the best vernier caliper brand is still Mitutoyo. They have various models you could choose from. The second brand is Starrett. And the third is Fowler.
People’s preferences may differ from each other. Some people demand accuracy, while others demand low-budget caliper for general purposes. In some cases, a fractional vernier caliper is a great option for woodworking. A short-range caliper will fit in the pocket and allow high mobility. Those requirements make us enlist the top 10 vernier calipers above as choices. Eventually, you are the one that determines.
However, if you still don’t have any requirements for what to buy first, you could buy Fowler 52-057-004-0 (inch graduation) or Mitutoyo 530-101 (mm graduation). Those two products are low-budget models but of great quality. If you look for the most excellent vernier caliper, we put Mitutoyo 532-119 as the best overall. Sometimes, a product comes without a description of its accuracy, in this case, you could assess it with a gauge block or caliper checker.
As you could read thoroughly here, the majority of vernier calipers have a .001″ or 0.02 mm resolution. If your project requires more accuracy than that value, you may need to check our top selected micrometers.