Launch Slideshow

Milwaukee Tape Measures

Milwaukee Tape Measures

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    Milwaukee Electric Tool

    The first tapes to be offered will be 16- and 25-foot magnetic models. At some point in the future Milwaukee will offer non-magnetic tapes and plus tapes in 30- and 35-foot lengths.

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    Milwaukee Electric Tool

    The belt clip is a wire bale – which is said to cause less wear to the pockets it’s clipped onto. Note the open area at the bottom and the wire loop where the hook butts up to the case. The cutout allows you to slow the retraction of the tape or hold it out without using the lock. The loop keeps your finger from being pinched when the hook slams into the case.

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    David Frane_ToTT

    To demonstrate the tool’s resistance to dirt and grit Milwaukee attaches the tape to the side of a sandblasting case with the blades passing through the side of the enclosure. The Milwaukee is on top; the tapes below are competing models that have been painted gray to make them hard to identify.

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    David Frane_ToTT

    Here’s what the tapes look after sandblasting. It took less than 5 seconds to blast the numbers off the lower two tapes. The tape at the top is Milwaukee’s. It has been sandblasted for about 30 seconds and yet it’s still in good shape.

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    Michael Davis

    Here’s what the tapes look after sandblasting. It took less than 5 seconds to blast the numbers off the lower two tapes. The tape at the top is Milwaukee’s. It has been sandblasted for about 30 seconds and yet it’s still in good shape.

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    Milwaukee Electric Tool

    The end of the tape has two magnets; one faces out and the other faces down.

This summer Milwaukee announced a new line of tape measures and I asked them to send one for testing. They sent the 25-foot magnetic model (48-22-5125).  I've been using it for a couple of months and am impressed by its durability and features.

Milwaukee says they've run this tape (another one, not mine) through a drop test, and it stood up to as many as 200 impacts from a height of 10-feet. I've dropped mine from 8-feet onto concrete a few times, and it still works perfectly.

According to the manufacturer, the blade is made with a nylon bond technology that makes it more resistant to grit than other tapes. To prove how durable the markings are Milwaukee performs a demonstration (which I saw at a media event) that shows its blade being sandblasted alongside two competitors' blades. It takes only a few seconds to clean the number off the competitors' blades. Sandblasting cause minimal damage to the Milwaukee's blade; after 30 seconds it looked almost new.

Dual magnets near the hook of the tape allow you to stick the end of it to steel studs, conduit, and the like. While useful for the trades that use those materials, the magnetic feature has forced me to change some of my habits. I've always kept my tape in the outside pocket of my tool bags, along with the smallest fastener I'm using. That doesn't work with a magnetic tape because the fasteners in the pouch will stick to it. I fixed that problem by emptying out a pocket and devoting it to the tape alone.

The blade is 1 1/16 inches wide and the manufacturer says it has 9 feet of standout. The farthest I could extend it before it flopped over was 8-feet 3-inches (not a deal breaker for me).  The blade is clearly marked on both sides, so if you're in an awkward position and can only see the bottom of the tape, you can still get a measurement.

By placing your finger behind the finger guard and applying slight pressure you can stop the tape wherever you like without using the blade lock. The guard keeps your finger from being pinched when the hook hits the case.

What I like best about the Milwaukee tape is the 12-inch architectural scale on the back of the blade. I'm good at scaling drawings in the field with a tape measure, counting out eighths and quarters to get a dimension, but it's easier to do with an architectural scale. The scale is one of those, "Gee, why doesn't everybody do it," ideas.

To reduce wear on pockets and tool belts the belt clip is a wire bale instead of a flat piece of metal. It does a good job holding the tape in place; there's nothing worse than climbing to take a measurement and then realizing your tape fell to the ground.

The first Milwaukee tapes to be released are 16- and 25-foot magnetic models. In the future they will offer a full line of magnetic and standard (non-magnetic) tapes in 16-, 25-, 30-, and 35-foot lengths.

I've seen the 25-foot magnetic model (48-22-5125) online for between $21 and $25 – a price that's in line with competing magnetic models. Milwaukee says their reinforced housing and nylon blade technology will allow their tape to last up to 10 times longer than competing models. If that's true, then this is not only a really nice tape; it's a good value too.