We reviewed C.H. Hanson’s Precision Ball Level a few months ago, and have used it a few times since then. Thus far, the ball level seems to be in great shape. However, as mentioned in comments to the review, the levels on the shelves at local home improvement retailers (mainly Lowes) are in terrible shape, with rubbed-off crosshairs.
I make it a point to check the levels at every different Lowes location I happen to come across. At every one of the 6 or so different stores I visited in recent months, the ball levels are piled together, with little or no separation between levels.
Maybe it happens during shipping, maybe it happens when the stack of levels are moved around from one shelf to another, or perhaps customer handling is to blame. Regardless, it is disappointing to see that this happens so consistently.
With all that said, we still think that these ball leves are recommendable for DIYers. They’re very well made, and function exactly as advertised. Contractors will want to stay away from these levels though, since daily use and transport may wear away the red crosshairs quickly, greatly decreasing the level’s accuracy.