Can You Zero a Dial Caliper?

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One of the issues of using dial calipers for reloading ammo is that the tiniest bit of wear on the moving parts of the caliper can ruin the accuracy of the zero setting.

Many wonder, “can you zero a dial caliper?” There is a provision that allows you to adjust the zero on your caliper.

Can You Zero a Dial Caliper?

To zero a dial caliper, turn the thumbwheel until the jaws meet. Loosen up the adjustment lock screw, and turn the dial until the hairline indicator reaches zero. The orientation of the dial does not make a difference. Tighten the lock screw, and now you have a zeroed dial caliper.

You must ensure that the caliper is clean before you begin the process to zero it. There should be no dirt or debris on the jaws since it can lead to you getting a false zero on your dial calipers.

Dial Caliper with zero adjustment

What Makes Dial Calipers Accurate?

Dial calipers are known to be just as accurate as Vernier calipers since every graduation of the dial equals 0.001 inches.

  • These tools are accurate because they make use of a rack-and-pinion mechanism.
  • It uses a gear-toothed rack to transfer the slider’s linear motion into rotary motion on the hand of the dial.

Why Are Dial Calipers Found in Ammo Reloading Shops More Than Digital Calipers?

There are several reasons for this. Both machine shops and reloading ammo shops use dial calipers more often than digital calipers since they allow accurate measuring of different features of an item quickly and easily.

What’s more, dial calipers tend to be cheap and hence are easier to replace than expensive digital calipers. They don’t require a battery, either, making usage hassle-free.

But most seasoned ammo reloaders tend to use dial calipers simply because they are familiar with them. Many find that their digital calipers are out of battery and have trouble reading the numbers on the LCD. A common complaint is that a “1.115” reading looks too similar to “1.215” at a glance.

Can the Accuracy of a Dial Caliper Be Compared to a Micrometer?

Yes, dial calipers boast an accuracy that rivals that of a micrometer since both of these measuring instruments can measure to the nearest thousandth of an inch.

One of the biggest advantages of using a caliper is that the user can measure several inches in length. You would need a handful of micrometers (or more) to measure several inches.


Zeroing a dial caliper is an easy process that you can learn quickly. Before you begin, clean all the dirt and debris off the jaws of the calipers. Next, turn the thumbwheel until the jaws close, and loosen the adjustment lock screw.

You’re halfway there. Now, turn the dial until the dial caliper’s hairline indicator reaches zero. You don’t have to pay heed to the orientation of the dial and can tighten the adjustment lock screw when it’s positioned appropriately.

James Forrester is a lifelong gun and firearms owner, and an even bigger advocate for gun safety. He created with the purpose of sharing helpful tips and educating others on how to keep guns and weapons safe and secure.