Micrometers are incredibly accurate measuring tools. They get used for the most demanding measurements from engine work to reloading. Measurements that critical require tools that will ensure your project is done right.
When it comes to micrometers, the best manufacturers are the ones that consistently put out a quality product. These are those brands:
Starrett has been in the micrometer business for a very long time. It’s no surprise that they are capable of creating quality measuring tools at such a consistent pace. They nearly perfected the micrometer and have maintained that excellence throughout the years. Starrett is a good brand to look into when buying a standard micrometer.
You are very unlikely to come across a Starrett micrometer that doesn’t measure accurately without being subjected to a substantial amount of abuse. Their digital micrometers face some stiff competition that keeps them from being the top dog but their standard analog mics are the best of the best.
Best budget micrometer brand
Anytime Tools is new to the game. Started in 1999, they have really come on strong. 20+ years in the industry might sound like a long time but and when it comes to measuring tools many of the players in the game have been around for decades not years. Starrett and Mitutoyo have each been making gauges for over 100 years.
Much cheaper than other micrometer manufacturers such as Starrett, Mitutoyo or Fowler, Anytime Tools is an American company but I am fairly certain they source their products from another country. The good thing is that it seems to have no effect on their quality. They are consistently producing tools comparable to other big name manufacturers and at a fraction of the price.
As a side note, Anytime Tools also owns iGaging which has also been producing consistent quality measuring instruments.
Best digital micrometer
Mitutoyo is hands down the best digital micrometer manufacturer. Their Digimatic line of digital micrometers blows the competition away. They come at a premium cost, but the price is worth it. Mitutoyo digital mics are the standard by which all other micrometers should be judged.
The build quality and accuracy of Mitutoyo’s Digimatic micrometers is second to none. They are precise, accurate and hold up very well to all types of abuse they might encounter in a normal machine shop environment.
If you really want the best, consider their QuantuMike. Read our review to understand why.
Best budget digital micrometer brand
Rexbeti is a newer competitor in the digital micrometer space. What they lack in experience they certainly make up for in quality.
While they can’t quite compete with the likes of Mitutoyo and their Digimatic micrometers, they do come pretty darn close at a fraction of the price. For most users, the .0001” accuracy of the Rexbeti digital micrometers will be more than sufficient.
One concern with just about all of the cheaper digital micrometers is that the battery life is much shorter than higher end models. Not a deal breaker but think about keeping some spares on hand so you know the tool is ready to go when you need it.
Also, if you won’t be using the micrometer frequently then think about taking out the battery between uses to save on battery life.
Best used analog micrometer brand
We already covered Starrett’s long track record of producing excellent micrometers above. Just a reminder that this is a very good thing for anyone shopping for a quality used mic as well.
Very little has changed over the years with their standard micrometer line. There have been small variations in the frames and other components but nothing earth shattering. The most important aspect of their micrometers hasn’t changed. The accuracy has consistently been excellent.
While it would be great to purchase a brand-new micrometer and care for it lovingly from day one, sometimes you just want to save a little cash. The good news is that as long as you verify the accuracy of the tool, there is very little reason to expect that a used micrometer would perform any differently than a new one.
In fact, a huge portion of Starrett micrometers made decades ago are still measuring good as new. They aren’t the only ones either just one of the most consistent. For some more used micrometer recommendations see other brands to consider section below.
Best used digital micrometer brand
Digital micrometers are different from your standard analog micrometers. They have changed substantially over the years.
The earliest digital micrometers were not nearly as reliable. If you are looking for a used digital micrometer, stick with something from Mitutoyo’s Digimatic line. They have been exceptional for many years.
There have been other good digital micrometers over the years from various manufacturers, but the quality has been kind of up and down. Some had battery life issues. Others are not nearly as accurate as you would hope. Battery life is easily remedied by keeping a spare in your toolbox. They are cheap enough nowadays.
When it comes to any micrometer, analog or digital, accuracy is the most important factor.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, check the accuracy of any used tools before purchasing.
Please note there are also an assortment of mechanical digital micrometers on the market. Some people like them. I have never been that person. Their greatest positive is that they don’t require batteries. Unfortunately, all of the mechanical digital micrometers I have used were not precise enough for my taste. They are not something that I recommend but mechanical digital micrometers are an interesting tools nonetheless.
Other brands to consider
While we have listed the absolute cream of their crop in their respective categories, there are many other brands to consider.
The hard part is that unfortunately many brands which were known for their quality in years past have moved manufacturing to new locations and quality has suffered as a result.
This can make it difficult to know whether their tools are quality or trash because they simply aren’t consistent.
I recommend the following brands for both new and used tools. Still make sure to verify their accuracy whether buying new or used. You never know how the previous owner or the UPS man treated them.
- Brown and Sharpe
Things to consider when buying a micrometer new or used
Check the specified accuracy
Most micrometers should be accurate to .0001”. Some of the best such as the Mitutoyo digital mics listed above are good to .00005”. That’s twice as good and going to be overkill for most users.
One thing to watch out for is that some older micrometers are only accurate to .001”. If you only need accuracy of .001” then go with a caliper instead. They provide more versatility in your measurements. You should be buying a micrometer for extreme accuracy. Avoid mics that are only accurate to .001”
Check the accuracy yourself
Micrometers are precision measuring tools. Because their accuracy is so important, it is essential that its accuracy is verified before purchasing if used or immediately after receiving the tool if new.
Take a known standard such as a set of calibrated gauge blocks and check the tool at various steps across its measuring range.
For example, if you have a 0-1” micrometer, try to check it at 0.000”, .250”, .500”, .750” and 1.000”. Sometimes this might not be possible but it is good practice to check at random intervals. Many times, users will only check the tool at the two ends of the measuring ranges, in this case 0.000” and 1.000”. In most cases, this is sufficient but if you can check intervals in between it will be a better verification of the accuracy.
How to care for your micrometer
Look for a micrometer with a case. For used tools, this is a great indicator that the tool was well cared for. A case doesn’t need to be anything fancy.
I have seen used tools with purple velvet lined cases. They were actually the worst. The velvet, felt or whatever the material was gets dirty with oil and coolant eventually. A simple, easy to clean plastic case is the best type to have.
If you keep your micrometer in a case or toolbox, you will be handling 95% of the care needed. You would think that a tool as precise as a micrometer would be a delicate instrument. In reality, they are quite rugged.
Keep your mic clean and out of harms way and it will measure accurately for many years to come.
Do I need a calibration or NIST traceable certificate?
No, a calibration certificate is not needed. You need to verify the accuracy yourself and should make sure to do it regularly.
The best practice is to check the accuracy every time you use the micrometer. You should always assume that the janitor at your shop or your kids in your garage have knocked the tool on the floor and put it back in its place hoping no one will be any wiser.
A calibration certificate only certifies that the tool was accurate somewhere else. It doesn’t do you any good in your shop.
Tips for finding a quality used micrometer
Don’t be afraid to explore Craigslist or Facebook for cheap micrometers. Yard sales and estate sales are another good option for budget tools.
In most cases, people will price them one of two ways. Either same as brand new or dirt cheap.
Do not buy used at like new prices. If it isn’t a quarter or a third of the new price then avoid the deal. You would be better off spending a little more and knowing the history of the tool.
If you can find a good cheap used micrometer there is no reason to believe it won’t last for years to come.
If there are any tips we forgot please let us know and share them in the comments below.
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