I am pissed off right now. Well, not right now, but yesterday. I finally made my way back to Lowes, and went to look for a 16′ version of the Stanley Auto-Lock tape measure.
I really like the 25′ version of this tape measure, and discovered that Lowes had a 16′ version (FMHT33316S) for $17.
This tape is available elsewhere for $20, but the big deal was that I didn’t even know it existed, or I had known and forgotten.
There were 3 on display, and the online inventory checkers says there were more in stock at that Lowes store.
I picked up the first one, and saw that the lock worked in the same way as the 25′ Auto-Lock. Well, of course it did!
But something seems to have gone wrong with the 16′ design or construction.
I found 2 issues that plagued all 3 tapes.
Tapes 1 and 2 had shy hooks, tapes 2 and 3 had stubborn tapes.
Shy Hook: I couldn’t grab the darned hooks! It’s just a little too shallow, and there’s a little too much vertical movement. So every time I tried to grab the hooks of 2 of the 3 tapes, it moved up and in a little, flush with the bottom of the tape body.
Stubborn Tapes: With 2 of the tapes, one of the tapes that had an ungrabbable hook, and the other tape from shelf, there was way too internal resistance when extending the tape. I couldn’t tell what the problem was, but there seemed to be resistance in the retraction system, just beyond the lock mechanism.
These tapes have a switchable lock system, where you can use it as an automatically locking tape that releases with a button press, or as traditional slide switch tape.
Trying the different locking modes didn’t really make things better. The hooks were a little more grabbable in one mode, and the tape resistance perhaps a little better in the other.
But after trying all 3 tapes, none of them were to my liking.
Stanley FatMax Auto-Lock tapes come with a removable super-sized hook, and it would have made the hook more grabbable, but you don’t want that giant hook on your tape all the time. It’s a lot wider than it appears in online product images.
I was disappointed by this, as I had really been looking to buying and using a 16-foot version of what has become one of my favorite 25-foot tapes.
I have a Stanley FatMax 25-foot tape with a defective lock, and I didn’t realize it since it was in the non-testable position of a 2-pack I bought last year.
But I don’t think these 16′ tapes are randomly defective. 3 out of 3 with similar problems? One didn’t have as bad an issue with its it hook, and another didn’t have as bad a problem with its pullout resistance. But they all seemed to be afflicted by the same issues.
What I’m hoping is that these tapes just came from a bad batch – that would be the best case scenario. The worst case scenario would be that the smaller tape measure design was not scaled properly.
If you’re interested in buying this tape, or at least as interested as I was, you’ll probably want to try it out in person, rather than ordering online. Or stick to the 25-foot version.
If you plan on stopped at Lowes anytime during the holiday season, could you please give this tape a few tugs with the switch set to both modes? That’ll help determine if this is an isolated or widespread issue.