Checkpoint sent over their U6 magnetic V-groove level for review, and while waiting for the test sample to arrive I had mixed thoughts about what to expect.
This level sells for $45-50, which is considerably higher than the typical price of premium torpedo levels, and so my quality and performance expectations were quite high. Luckily, the Checkpoint U6 level did not disappoint.
The U6 is primarily designed to level or measure the angles of iron pipes, steel conduit (straight or curved), and similar ferromagnetic construction materials. It features a single easy-read vial, CNC-machined anodized aluminum body, 16 rare earth magnets, an all-around V-groove, and machined angles that allow for leveling at 0°, 22.5°, 30°, 45°, 60°, and 90°. Both sides of the level have high contrast laser-etched markings.
There are two things significant details to point out about the U6’s rare earth magnets.
First, the magnets are all perfectly and consistently positioned ever so slightly beneath the surface of the aluminum body. This isn’t always the case with levels or other tools, where some other brands cut corners to save on production costs.
Second, there are magnets on both sides of the V-groove. With torpedo levels, at least those with magnetic V-grooves, we often see single centered magnets shaped to conform with the V-groove. More magnets mean greater holding power.
What I found is that the U6 level works exceptionally well on steel pipes, rods, and other such structures. This is mainly due to its wide machined V-groove and both the placement and quality of the rare earth magnets.
On the downside, the wide and deep V-groove means that U6 doesn’t work so well on flat steel structures or surfaces, except horizontally with the two 0° ends. It’s a good thing then, that the U6 works so much quicker, easier, and even better on tube-like objects than torpedo levels. It earns its place in the tool bag.
I had thought that level attachment or placement might be tricky at times, since it takes two points to form a line, but the level quickly attaches to ferrous materials. It does snap into alignment with a little more authority and greater strength at 0°, thanks to the two attachment points and 4 magnets for this angle, but attachment is effortless and precise at all angles.
The battery is only shown to give you a sense of the size of U6 level.
The level comes with a canvas pouch that has a velcro closure and sewn-on belt loop. I wish the pouch was a little more distinct, possibly with Checkpoint branding on the front.
Overall, Checkpoint’s U6 level is exceptionally well made and performs superbly. If you work with iron pipes or steel conduit, weld a lot of steel tubing, or work with similar materials, you should consider picking up this level.
Buy Now(via Amazon)
Price: $45-50 (Oct 2013), ~$37 (Mar 2015)
Colors options: Red, blue, black, platinum.
Made in Taiwan
Thank you to Checkpoint for providing the review sample unconditionally. Review samples are typically given away, donated, or retained for benchmark and comparison purposes.