I was browsing my Instagram feed and I spotted this post from @toolaholic about Lufkin’s Black Widow 25′ tape measure. It jogged my memory back to when I talked to an Apex Tool Rep at the last Acme Tool in-store event. I had meant to post about the tape then, but I forgot to write about it because I was too focused on the killer track saw deal I scored.
What makes this tape standout from the very many others on the market is its unique blade color scheme. Rather than the standard black on yellow markings, the markings are a “Hi-Viz” green on a black background, to improve contrast and low-light readability.
The 1-3/16″ wide blade has markings in increments of 1/16″ on both the front and back side. The dual-end hook is attached to the blade with four rivets and makes it easy to use either side of the tape. The front side has horizontal markings while the back has a vertical scale. The blade has a standout of 10′ and a matte nylon coating to reduce glare.
Here’s the front scale.
And here’s the back side. The entire 25′ tape is marked, front and back.
For added durability, Lufkin uses five screws to hold the case together. It features a built-in tether point, non-slip rubber overmold, standard slide lock mechanism, and flat spring metal belt hook.
The 25′ Luftkin L1025B Black Widow tape measure can be found for $13 at Lowes and Amazon.
Buy Now (via Lowes)
Buy Now (via Amazon)
Above you can see a standard black on yellow bladed tape measure next to the Black Widow. It’s not the greatest photo, but you can see how the “Hi-Viz” green markings really stand out in the store lighting. I didn’t really have a chance to try the tape out in low lighting, but that’s where the new blades colors are really supposed to “shine.”
Lufkin really didn’t really include any other bells and whistles on this tape. It has an unimpressive 10′ standout, compared to some more recent 25′ tape measures with a 13′ standout. And while I personally don’t look at blade standout in tape measures, I’ve been told by many contractors that a long standout is one of the first things they look for.
What intrigued me was the color scheme and the clarity of the markings. It reminded me of an old VT terminal with the green on black display. I remember reading somewhere that green on black was used because it was the highest contrast, but now I see that may have just been a justification for using the cheaper green phosphor CRTs.
Lately I’ve seen way too many tape measures suffer from dull looking yellow blades and muddy markings. So seeing a tape that’s designed around making the measurement easier to read was enough for me to want to post about it.
I still wonder about the long term readability of this color scheme. It does have a nylon coating to prevent the markings from rubbing off, but will the black stay black or will the matte finish attract dirt and make the markings harder to read?
Do you think the green on black is easier to read, or do you prefer the standard black on yellow?
Just looked at this one last week at the local Lowe’s. The green on black is nice, seems very useful, but I don’t think they could pry me away from my Fat Max auto-lock tape. Now if Lufkin came out with this in an auto-lock style they might have something!
Ditto, I love my Stanley Fat Maxes. Probably because it has the word “FAT” as a model number.
The green on black does look easier to read. I’d like to see a few other features, though. Auto-lock would be good, also I like the area where you can mark measurements that Fastcap has. I have a couple of Lufkin tapes and they have lasted a long time, one is a center read which sometimes comes in handy. One (I think it’s a Lufkin) has both metric and imperial, again this can be useful. For this type of tape, the standout would be a good thing, too.
The crummy photo is just the thing to show how effective the color scheme is. I’m intrigued, but I too, love my fat max autolock. It would be great to see it in a 16’ model with the autolock. For me, I would not be concerned with the durability of the color scheme because a tape measure never makes it past a year anyway…keep looking at that photo, I gotta go check it out.
How hard would it be for them to make it universal by having both metric and standard? And for the US maybe with a couple fractions indicated and the 16-32-48-… highlighted in a separate way.
Other photos cover the ft and 16oc part … so leaves having it metric as well.
I only know of Fastcap that does that. They’re not the best for construction sites, but they are fantastic tape measures if you don’t need it to survive a 20′ drop.
Mark Lee Shelton
I love my Lufkin “self-centering” tapes. They are the only tapes I use. I have about 10 of them. I would like a black widow version of that tape.
They should go all the way – neon yellow glow in the dark markings!
As my eyes age each passing year, little things like this make a difference. I don’t understand why (both are technically high contrast), but the black tape does appear to be a little better. I’ll check it out next time I’m in lowes. If they eventually offer it in 16ft models I would buy it.
Lazy Guy DIY
I’ve had the Black Widow in my shop for a while now and while it’s great visually (and looks even better in my content), because of the upward out-feed angle, you can’t set the tape down on a surface and have it stay hooked on the edge. Whether you lock the blade or just hook it, the tape angles up so you always need to apply tension to the hook if you want to mark with your other hand. It’s a real pain in the rear that you have to hand hold this tape measure.
I just picked one up last time I was at Lowes.
You are right the tape does come out at a slight angle, couple that with the fact the hook wants to slip off easily because there’s no barbs or sharp edges to grab, It’s not the easiest tape to use.
The other thing that bothers me is the blade lock. While it’s really positive and doesn’t let the blade slip at all, I can’t operate it one handed very well. Overall the tape feels just a little too big in my hands.
They’re on to something and I’m surprised it’s taken this long. I too love my stanley fat max.
but I think back to other things I’ve worked on and often we use green scale for visability. Screens on aircraft cockpits – even in today’s OLED screened plane – most markings are available in a “night mode” that is predominately green on black with less glow. (I mean other screens are full colors for weather radar and maps ect. – but engine and system info – green on black is a common option)
Night vision screens for the FLIR camera – green scale on black.
So I have to say I like the idea and I would tomorrow buy a fat max in this system. Another thing I like is the markings on both sides of the blade.
Markings on the back are a must!
Tried it, not good for framing,but for a diy guy, looks nice. We only buy DeWalt tapes 30′ or longer,shorter lengths not allowed.
We return them every 90 days for new ones,it works out well.
Never liked fat Max tapes,too curled to measure correctly..
So you guys are into the oft hoped for Perpetual Warranty Exchange Plan?
I wonder if any other manufacture could knowingly offer such a customer friendly service?
Ford, GM, Chrysler? They could sure use that as a marketing plan. Until they bankrupted.
I have had one for a couple of months and thus far I like it. I have the Dewalt and Stanley Fst Max versions also! I believe I like the Dewalt the best for ease of use and just a good quality however, because if my age I really like the extra visability the Lufkin provides. I have a ton of tape Measures I’ve accumulated over the years including Husky and lessor quality name brands. For the utmost in quality and measuring the name brands like Dewalt, Stanley, Lufkin etc are worth the extra money spent. I have NOT at this point tried any of the Milwaukee’s.
They will disappoint you. The locks don’t lock, just slow the slip. The giant hooks are cumbersome without actually hooking better. The tape is floppier when trying to measure vertically.
Whiskey and Wood
I actually really like them, they were $17 for the longest time and I couldn’t justify buying a bunch of them, but I really like the one I have, especially for the fineness of the markings (thinner lines) for precision work in the shop! Also, I feel silly, had no idea it was marked on the underside! Now I know!
I’ve had nothing but trouble with Lufkin products. Not well made at all and I can’t imagine they’ll last long as a company!
Slightly off topic but can anyone recommend a good set of metric tape measures I can get in the US? 2m, 8m, 50m that sort of thing?
I live in Seattle but will eventually move back to the UK. Now I’m investing in tools, like Woodpecker, i’m trying to stick to metric.
There’s a wide blade Fat Max style version called the Longreach tgat Lufkin make in Australia. A great tape