Milwaukee Auto-Lock Tape Measure Review

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Table of Contents

Quick Take

The Milwaukee 16-Foot Auto-Lock Tape Measure is among the best auto-lock tape measures we’ve come across. The build quality shines, as does its overall durability and its fractions markings. This is an easy pick as one of the best tape measures for woodworkers.

Milwaukee 16-Foot Auto-Lock Tape Measure
Pros:
  • Auto-locking blade
  • Blade durability
  • Includes easy-to-read fractions
  • Great ergonomics
Cons:
  • No magnetic tang
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Milwaukee 16-Foot Auto-Lock Tape Measure review

FeatureSpec
Weight334 grams
Length16 feet
Blade width1 inch
Standout9 feet
HousingPlastic and rubber
WarrantyLifetime

Ergonomics

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Credit: Nathan Hamilton

The Milwaukee 16-Foot Auto-Lock Tape Measure is compact and has great one-handed ergonomics for several reasons.

First off, the 16-foot blade naturally means the casing is smaller than other longer tape measure lengths.

Secondly, the rubber is seamlessly molded to the plastic casing and is strategically placed in the right locations for a smooth but grippy in-hand feel.

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The stiff belt clip is a bit disappointing, considering the otherwise great overall design. Credit: Nathan Hamilton

But the ergonomics aren’t perfect in every scenario. The stiff belt clip means you’ll likely need two hands to clip the tape measure to your tool belt or pants pocket.

The blade

The Milwaukee 16-Foot Auto-Lock Tape Measure’s blade is durable enough for regular use. Including fractions means it is best suited for general carpentry and woodworking.

FeatureSpec
Tang styleBottom tang only
Blade markings1/16” with fractions; Includes 16” on-center stud markings and 19.2” floor joist diamonds
Blade durability (poor, good, great)Good
Blade protectionNylon coating

Tang style

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Credit: Nathan Hamilton

Plain and simple but well built, can best describe the Milwaukee 16-Foot Auto-Lock Tape Measure’s tang. While the tang just includes a bottom hook, it is made of thicker metal than other models we tested. So, you shouldn’t need to worry about the tang bending and leading to inaccurate measurements.

MORE >> How to Use a Tape Measure

Blade markings

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Credit: Nathan Hamilton

The Milwaukee 16-Foot Auto-Lock Tape Measure includes all the essentials and more. You’ll get standard imperial scale markings at 1/16” intervals, in addition to red highlighting at 16” on-center stud intervals and floor joist diamonds every 19.2”. The inch and foot measurements are also labeled in large font for high visibility.

One useful feature of this hand tool is that the blade includes fractions on the bottom edge. The added markings take the guesswork out of recording measurements.

MORE >> How to Read a Tape Measure

Blade durability

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We assessed the Milwaukee 16-Foot Auto-Lock Tape Measure’s blade with an abrasion test that wrapped a dowel in 150-grit sandpaper and rubbed the blade for several seconds. The Milwaukee 16-Foot Auto-Lock Tape Measure’s blade experienced some visible scratches, but the sandpaper didn’t penetrate past the painted markings.

While we believe this tape measure is rugged enough to take a beating and last for years, it didn’t match the highest levels of durability found with some of the best tape measures.

Self-retraction strength

A tape measure with poor self-retraction can be frustrating and slow down your workflow. Fortunately, you won’t have to worry about that with the Milwaukee 16-Foot Auto-Lock Tape Measure. This tape measure shines with a strong self-retracting blade that is easy to retract in any orientation and at varying lengths.

Auto lock

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Credit: Nathan Hamilton

Every tradesman seems to strongly believe in choosing a tape measure with a sliding lock or an auto lock. Regardless of your preference, it’s hard to beat the ease of use of an auto-locking blade, particularly the Milwaukee 16-Foot Auto-Lock Tape Measure’s setup. The button is easily depressed to retract the blade, which is great for one-handed use.

Consistency and accuracy

As mentioned, the Milwaukee 16-Foot Auto-Lock Tape Measure is well suited for woodworking. In such uses, consistency is more important than accuracy. It’s okay to be 1/16” off when making measured cuts as long as all other cuts are off by the same amount.

The Milwaukee 16-Foot Auto-Lock Tape Measure’s tang is loose enough to get consistently accurate readings for interior and exterior measurements.

While consistency is important, we did also consider accuracy. The Milwaukee 16-Foot Auto-Lock tape measure was well within our acceptable accuracy tolerance of 1/32”.

Value

A tape measure’s value comes down to balancing the features and build quality with the price. The Milwaukee 16-Foot Auto-Lock tape measure offers great value with its well-built design and the fact that it can be readily found online for around $10. There’s no doubt that this tape measure will endure years of rugged use, which is rare for tape measures in this price range.

FAQ

  • Do Milwaukee tape measures have a lifetime warranty?

    Yes. Milwaukee offers a lifetime warranty for its hand tools. The warranty covers defects in materials and workmanship, not misuse and abuse.

  • Are Milwaukee tape measures durable?

    This tape measure is durable enough for years of use around the home. The overall build quality outshines many models we’ve tested.

Methodology

Our research for models to test started by searching user reviews at several online retailers. That research resulted in us narrowing down the choices on the market to the models we wanted to review in more depth. Tape measures that appeared over-priced or didn’t offer great build quality were immediately cut. We eventually purchased 12 models for in-house testing.

Our in-house testing involved reviewing the tape measures for their feature sets and their ergonomics, accuracy, and cost. We paid special attention to several critical items: ease of one-handed use, casing and blade durability, good self-retraction, and a smooth sliding lock. In total, the tape measures were assessed across 16 factors. The performance in each category determined our overall editorial opinion.

What's new?

11/20/23: New page design, no editorial updates
11/16/23: Reviewed content for accuracy and to ensure opinions and insights are current. Added a detailed testing methodology.

Nathan Hamilton
Nathan Hamilton
Nathan Hamilton is the founder of DIY Gear Reviews and a recognized expert in the home and DIY space. He has over 200 bylines covering topics such as power tools, hand tools, and woodworking. Nathan is the strategic director for DIY Gear Reviews, deciding everything from the content covered to designing the testing methodologies for lab-tested reviews. He can be emailed at nhamilton@diygearreviews.com.

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