Who makes the best tape measures? Oh boy, that’s a tough one, as there’s so much subjectivity to sort through. Maybe you’re a self-locking tape measure kind of user. Or maybe you like regular slide locks. 16-foot vs. 25-foot? Do you care more about blade standout, or quicker use?
I thought long and hard about all of the different tape measures I’ve used over the years, some of which I posted about here previously. Most of my favored tapes haven’t been posted about, although once I find them all and get them in one place I might eventually do a roundup.
Which is the best tape measure? I cannot really say, but I can tell you about my favorite tape measure.
I’ve taken a real liking to Milwaukee’s 16-foot magnetic tape measure, which first came out about 2 years ago. Their 25-foot tape measure compares very favorably against Dewalt’s best, but I can often get away with using a 16-footer, which is smaller and lighter. Milwaukee recently came out with new lower-cost tape measures, which trade the finger-stop feature for greater self-standing stability.
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But is Milwaukee’s tape measure the best? I really want to say yes, but it’s not without its faults, such as its super-sized hook and the distinct swish sound the tape makes as it moves in and out of the housing.
I also like Stanley’s new LeverLock tape measure, but I can’t seem to find it at the moment. If I really, REALLY liked it, I wouldn’t have lost it, right?
Stanley’s PowerLock 25-foot tape measure is another personal favorite, but it’s far from being the best tape measure. It’s inexpensive, works pretty well, and is reasonably durable.
I’d like to tell you all about my Fisco Big T, but they’re so hard to find in the USA. I bought mine from Sears back in January of 2009, back when Sears had a great tool buyer that brought lots of offbeat brands to their catalog. Johnson’s Big J was a relabeled Fisco tape, but it has since be discontinued. None of this changes the fact that my Fisco dual-markings 16-foot/5-meter tape measure is probably among my top 3 tapes, but my opinion won’t help you if you can’t buy one for yourself.
Tape measures’ blades wear down with use, and housings break. I tend to misplace tape measures much more often than I wear them down, and so I can’t really comment about which make or model might be especially more durable than the rest.
There was always a special place on my bench for my Craftsman tape measure. Until I misplaced that one too. If I wanted another one and fast, all I could do is raid the one I think I gave my father a few years ago. Because Craftsman decided to leave the tape measure business. Sigh.
Okay, so which would you say is the best tape measure? Or maybe the best tape measure for YOU?
I’ll continue to round up all of mine, primarily because I’m down to just 2 that I can find, but also for eventual comparison purposes.