Taking precise measurements is impossible without the right tool. You will have several choices for measurement tools but not all of them promise the highest level of accuracy. If you are looking for extreme precision, we recommend that you rely on the best dial indicator.

Dial indicators are used in engine building. It seems like a normal gauge at first, but it works differently, especially in terms of what it can measure. From overall construction to precision, it is important to consider a variety of factors when picking the right one.

If you are clueless about which dial indicator can provide the best bang for the buck, read on and learn from some of our recommendations.


Our Top Picks for the Best Dial Indicator

Ready to start your search for the best dial indicator? Below are the best products that should be on your radar.

Mitutoyo 2416S Dial Indicator

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For most machinists, this dial indicator will be more than enough. Among others, one thing that we like the most in this product is how it comes with a double-labeled face. Because of the latter, you will be able to use it in testing multiple directions at a time.

The sealed construction is another notable feature of this dial indicator. This protects the internal components from dust, water, and other external factors that can speed up its wear or make it inaccurate.

In terms of its measurement capabilities, it measures 0 to 1-inch with a deviation of +/-.002, which makes it great when it comes to accuracy. The weight, on the other hand, is only 8.8 ounces. This makes it lightweight enough so you can easily take it wherever you need to take measurements. It even comes with a storage case.

Lastly, for your peace of mind, it passes ANSI and American Gage Design standards.

Clockwise Tools DIMR-0105 Dial Indicator

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Premium quality at a price that does not hurt the wallet – this is what you can expect from this dial indicator. The measuring range is from zero to one inch, which is the standard within the product category.

You will also love the versatility of this dial indicator. You can use either the flat or lug back. It comes with a 6.5mm hole.

The pro-grade construction is also a plus. It has a magnetic base. The components are made using high-quality materials. It comes with two magnetic faces.

Adjusting the scale will not be a difficult task. It has a twist and lock bezel. This is unlike others that come with a screw if you want to tighten the bezel. We also love the anti-dust cap that protects the internal parts.

Lastly, the manufacturer offers the standard one-year warranty for this dial indicator.

Clockwise Tools DIBR-0105 Electronic Digital Dial Indicator

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This is from the same manufacturer as the dial indicator above, but the main difference is that this model comes with a digital readout. It comes with a magnetic base and a lug back. There is also a comprehensive user guide to help you make the most out of this tool. Plus, there is a certificate that proves its factory calibration.

To maximize the effectiveness of using this tool, it is important that you install this properly on whatever is the subject of the measurement. Start by loosening the screw. See to it that there is enough space in the hole for the stem. Insert and tighten. Adjust until the position is correct.

KHCRAFT Professional Dial Test Indicator

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This is another option that provides the best bang for the buck. Aside from being affordable, it is even better that it comes with the accessories you will need for precise measurements. There are two steel dovetails in the kit. You will also receive a storage case, which protects the dial indicator from dust.

It is also a good thing that it comes with all-metal components. You can be confident that it will withstand the test of time without compromising its accuracy. It also has a satin chrome finish to make it more durable and protect from external damages.

The range of this dial indicator is from 0 to .03-inch with a graduation of .0005 inch.

For your peace of mind, the manufacturer ensures that all components undergo a stringent test. It is inspected piece by piece and approved.

Fowler 52- 520-109 AGD Dial Indicator

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This product is proof that you don’t have to spend a lot to have a dial indicator that delivers exceptional quality. At its price, it is surprising how it delivers accurate measurements. It is also effortless to use, even if you are a novice.

It comes with a revolution counter hand. Plus, there are lug backs positioned at increments of 90 degrees. The contact points and spindle rack are made of hardened stainless steel, making sure of their longevity. The case is forged brass, which makes it even stronger.

For the construction of this dial indicator, we also like how it comes with extra long springs, which are the ones responsible for exerting uniform pressure throughout the entire time that the spindle travels. This can also be one of the reasons why it has excellent accuracy.

Lastly, the manufacturer offers a one-year warranty for this product.

All Industrial ALL-51908 Dial Indicator Set

Dial Indicator, Test Indicator, Magnetic Base & Point Set
Dial Indicator, Test Indicator, Magnetic Base & Point Set

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One of the reasons why many people love this dial indicator is because it comes as a set. It has a storage case that contains everything you will need to start with your measurements. Aside from the dial indicator, it has a magnetic base, as well as a set of 22 indicator points.

The set has a 1-inch dial indicator with graduation of .001-inch. The dial test indicator, on the other hand, provides 0-15-0 reading and has a graduation of .0005-inch.

A lot of its users have favorable opinions about how it works, especially in terms of its accuracy. They also like the magnetic base, which is one of the reasons why it delivers precise readings. Even for woodworking, DIY enthusiasts will love this dial indicator.

The durable construction of the dial indicator is also worth praising. Aside from this, you will also like how it is almost ready for its first measurement right out of the box. This is unlike others that will still need calibration.

Gold Plus AGPTI16 Dial Indicator

Gold Plus AGPTI16 Dial Indicator

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This is one of the most expensive from the products in this list. However, this should not give you the reason to ditch the idea for purchasing this test indicator. Looking at the technical details of this product, it has a graduation of .0005-inch.

In terms of its construction, one part that we love the most is the adjustable bezel. This makes zeroing in almost effortless for any user.

The product comes as a complete set with high-quality components, which is one of the reasons why it is worth every dollar. Aside from the dial test indicator, it also has two extra contacts (steel and carbide), two dovetail clamps, one contact point wrench, and a brushing adaptor. For your peace of mind, the manufacturer provides a certificate of inspection and accuracy.

Lastly, the manufacturer provides two years of warranty on material and craftsmanship. This shows how much they believe in its quality.

Starrett 25-441J Dial Indicator

Starrett Dial Indicator, 25-441J – Lug On Center Back, Jeweled Bearings
Starrett Dial Indicator, 25-441J – Lug On Center Back, Jeweled Bearings

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Most of you may instantly be discouraged upon seeing the high price of this dial indicator. We don’t recommend this as an entry-level model because it is expensive. If you are a professional with discerning preferences, however, this is what you should choose. Every dollar is worth it.

The rugged construction of this dial indicator is a compelling reason to purchase this product.  It also has a universal fit, which makes it versatile. The stem is made of hardened stainless steel. It also comes with an unbreakable crystal. Plus, with the sharp bezel serration, it is easy to grip. With all these features, you can be confident that it will remain functional and accurate even through the years.

It is specifically for professional use. It has a scale on its face that runs from 0 to 100. The measuring range is up to .375-inch with graduations of .001-inch. It has a minimal deviation.

The precision of this dial indicator is also notable, which is what most people expect from a product that is as expensive as this one.

Neoteck DTI Digital Dial Indicator

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One thing that sets this apart from most of the products in this buying guide is the digital read-out. This allows users to record the measurements more accurately compared to those with markings you need to read manually.

Small linear distances will be effortless to measure when you have this tool with you. The measurement range is from 0 to 25.4mm or 0 to 1-inch. You can easily switch from millimeters to inches depending on the unit of measurement you prefer.

The aluminum alloy construction is also worth noting.  This is the reason why it is lightweight. Plus, the material allows it to stay functional even through the years.

As for the display, it is large enough to show up to four digits in every reading.

How to Choose the Best Dial Indicator

To help you narrow down your list of high-quality dial indicators, below are important factors to consider.

  • Accuracy: The most important is to make sure that it shows accurate readings. Otherwise, it is useless. Learn from the real-life experiences of other users by reading online reviews.
  • Ease of Use: Especially if it is your first time to use a dial indicator, pick one that is straightforward to use. The more difficult it is to take measurements, the more inaccurate the readings can be.
  • Readout: Traditional choices for a dial indicator have a manual readout in the form of lines and numbers. More modern alternatives, on the other hand, come with a digital display.
  • Intended Use: You also need to identify the specific application or job where you will use the dial indicator to pick one that is suitable for the task.
  • Material: This is important as it is indicative of quality and durability. Refrain from those that are made of plastic as it is flimsy.


Before we end this guide, allow us to answer some basic questions most of you have about dial indicators.

What is Dial Indicator?

As earlier mentioned, a dial indicator is a measurement tool. Two types are available – horizontal or vertical. The main difference between the two is with regards to what it uses to measure – plunger for vertical and level arms for horizontal.

What is Dial Indicator Used For?

Dial indicators have a wide array of uses, mostly in mechanical, industrial, and manufacturing processes. It is an accurate and precise way to measure linear distances. It checks the straightness of round parts, such as wheels. It also measures deck clearances, crankshaft straightness, and lifter travel, among other measurements related to engine building.

How Dial Indicator Works?

To understand the fundamentals of how a dial indicator works, let us look at its different components and briefly talk about what they do to learn how the indicator works as a whole.

  • Graduated Dial and Needle: They are the parts that record the minor increments.
  • Clock Face and Needle: It records the number of needle rotations in the main dial. This is smaller than the graduated dial and needle.
  • Plunger: This part of the dial indicator moves in a perpendicular direction towards the subject of the measurement. It extends or retracts to measure whatever value is shown in the dial.


The best dial indicator is an excellent measurement tool that is handy in a number of applications, such as in automotive and industrial settings. It is used for precision engine building. It is also a multi-purpose inspection tool. Take your time when deciding which one is best to buy to have an assurance of its accuracy.

Have you ever used a dial indicator before? Is there any product you would like to recommend? Let us know and leave a comment below.

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