Starrett 120A-6 dial calipers

made in USA

This is the dial caliper to buy if you love "made in USA" tools and are thinking of keeping jobs at home. That said, there is no guarantee that all the components of these calipers are American made. Most, if not all, manufacturers use Chinese-made beams and jaws for their calipers.

Significantly, Starrett also offers a 9-inch long caliper, whereas the other brands only have an 8-inch version.

Starrett makes many other styles of calipers, including digital. Some of them are designed for specific measurement solutions. If you need something other than the standard models, please take a look at the online Starrett catalog or contact a Starrett distributor.

Long Island Indicator Service is not an authorized Starrett distributor. Feel free to check the internet prices offered by Amazon by clicking below. If buying through Amazon, make sure it says "ships from and sold by Amazon". Otherwise, check with the manufacturer to be sure you are buying from an authorized distributor in order to avoid possible imitation rip-offs.


Inside, outside, step and depth measurement with one gage. (photo courtesy of the manufacturer)

Range Dial Color Starrett No. Price US$
6" white caliper with plastic case 120A-6 check discount
6" black caliper with plastic case B120A-6 check discount
6" red caliper with plastic case R120A-6 check discount
9" white caliper with wood case 120AZ-9 check discount
12" white caliper with wood case 120AZ-12 check with a Starrett distributor

Starrett Dial Caliper Features

The following is a rather fanciful product description provided by the manufacturer. You are welcome to ignore any or all of this mumbo-jumbo.

  • Made in USA ("the only American made dial calipers")

  • Precise dial graduations of 0.001", with one revolution equivalent to 0.100"

  • Thumb-operated fine adjustment roll for one-handed use

  • Lock screw holds the sliding jaw in position, to ensure a consistent measurement

  • Rack teeth point down to keep foreign matter from clogging the gear

  • Knife-edge contacts for inside and outside measurements

The Starrett dial caliper has sharp black graduations every 0.100" on the no-glare, satin-finished stainless steel bar, and graduations on the dial every 0.001". One full revolution of the dial is equivalent to 0.100".

These calipers have knife-edge contacts for measuring both inside dimensions (ID) and outside dimensions (OD). The knife-edge contacts can be used to scribe parallel lines on the workpiece.

This caliper can be used with one hand by operating the fine adjustment roll with the thumb.

The lock screw locks the dial bezel and holds the sliding jaw in position.

The depth rod is integrated into the rack of the caliper, unlike many calipers which offer a detachable depth rod, or none at all. [Editor's note: We have never encountered a detachable depth rod. How could that work?]

"The hardened stainless steel components, including the bar, measuring surfaces, rack, gears, and depth rod, offer corrosion resistance, increased accuracy, and long life. Positive split gear anti-backlash control offers increased accuracy over standard gear configurations. Backlash is the amount of clearance between mated gear teeth in the caliper controls, which prevents the gear teeth from jamming. It is undesirable to have much backlash due to the lack of precision offered by the increased amount of play between gears. Certain gear designs can minimize or eliminate backlash; split gear systems actually split the gear into two gears, each half as thick as the original gear. One of these gears is then fixed to the shaft while the other gear is allowed to turn. The free-turning gear is connected to coil springs that rotate it until all of the backlash in the control system has been eliminated. The rack teeth point down to keep foreign matter from clogging the gear operations. This prevents measurement errors where metal chips could interfere with proper caliper operation."


Padded storage case for 6" calipers. Always store your calipers in a case!

More About Calipers

Further Notes

Model 120A is an older, discontinued version of this current caliper. Some repair parts will be different and may in fact be obsolete. There are also Starrett dial calipers which are made in China. They have different part numbers and the much lower price will give them away. If you want to be sure to get the real American made calipers then insist on model 120A-6 (for the 6" version).

Zero setting the Starrett dial caliper

If the hand is no longer set on zero then the gear jumped a tooth because the gage was dropped or hit. It doesn't necessarily mean that there's internal damage. If the caliper still moves smoothly then everything's probably okay. Resetting the hand is a bit tricky but it can be done. Remove the bezel clamp and then tilt the bezel off carefully like the plastic lid on a take-out cup of coffee. (Pretend the coffee's hot.) The hand can then be pried off using a hand lifter or two smallish screwdrivers, one on either side of the pinion. Do this with caution so that you don't break the center pinion in the process. Now realign the hand to zero and tap it back on, gently but securely. Reassemble and you're all set. Don't attempt to play with the movement or to remove it. The gears are preloaded and you'll have a heck-of-a-time trying to get things to work again. If you're squeamish about all of this, send the gage to a repair shop (we no longer repair Starrett calipers).


Not all Starrett calipers are American Made. This model isn't.

There is no question that Amazon can offer you the best prices on almost every kind of precision measuring tool. They also offer easy no-questions-asked returns and often free shipping. The small distributor simply cannot compete. That's why we include this link so you can go directly to Amazon and see what they're offering.

Two things to consider:

  • Amazon product photos sometimes don't match the product description. It's the description that you want to pay attention to.
  • There are imitation gages on the market (specifically Mitutoyo) and you can make sure you are getting the real item by looking for the words "sold by Amazon". If it is sold by a third party, you might want to call Mitutoyo to find out if they are legitimate distributors.

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