Lufkin Shockforce G2 Tape Measures
The Crescent Lufkin Shockforce G2 tape measures are, as the name suggests, the Generation 2 (G2) versions of the original Crescent Lufkin Shockforce tape measures. When the Gen1 (G1) versions were first introduced a few years ago I reviewed them and really liked them. They were tough, feature-rich, and easy to use. They became my go-to tapes. The new Crescent Lufkin Shockforce G2 tape measures are improved versions, adding features that the market asked for and improving others. There are also a raft of new versions: metric, autolocking, magnetic, etc., such that the Crescent Lufkin Shockforce G2 tape measures are now a fully fleshed-out product line.
Below are the features of the Crescent Lufkin Shockforce G2 tape measures, with any new characteristics spelled out. Briefly, the major changes are: greater durability, clearer markings, improved belt clip, and modified end hook.
Big, Consistent Numbers
The Crescent Lufkin Shockforce G2 tape measures still have large, bold numbers along their entire length. These large bold numbers make reading inches easy and misreading more difficult.
The ruggedness of a tape measure is usually specified as how many feet it can drop, or how many drops it can take, onto some hard surface. Crescent Lufkin has actually improved the “drop claim” of the G2 tapes from 100 to 120 feet, although onto what surface is not specified (anything is impressive). I was able to drop the G1 tapes from a good two stories repeatedly onto asphalt before one got damaged…but it was still functional. The rubberized body and lock lever protective steel rails are still there on the G2 models.
If there was any complaint about the original Lufkin Shockforce tape measures, it was that the front end of the tape (the first few inches) bent and kinked too easily. What’s interesting though is that while some users complained about this, many (including me) did not — I seldom use a tape measure to measure a few inches. I think this discrepancy has partly to do with the fact that such front-end damage mainly occurs when the tape is allowed to freely retract at high speed. Some users manage the retraction speed more diligently than others. In any case, Crescent Lufkin addressed this concern with a thicker blade (you can feel the difference), a thicker protective blade coating, as well as a visible layer of polymer blade barrier protection for the first six inches of the tape.
The Crescent Lufkin Shockforce G2 tape measures also have slightly wider blades. Measured peak-to-peak across the top (concave) edge, the width increased from 1 inch to 1 1/8 inch. Crescent Lufkin also claims to have increased the toughness of the case. All of these improvements in durability of course dictate an increase in size. For example, the 25-foot measure went from 3 inches to 3 3 /4 inches in length, increased in height by about 1/8 inch, and increased slightly in width. The difference is noticeable. If you have average size hands, the Crescent Lufkin Shockforce G1 25-foot tape measure, like almost all 25-foot tape measures, was about at the limit of what was comfortable in the hand. The 25-foot Crescent Lufkin Shockforce G2 tape measure is a bit much for my average-size hands (however the new autolocking version compensates for this).
The Shockforce tapes assume that you’re an adult, and they feature normal tick markings for fractional-inch readings and the units are also normal 16th inches, not busy 32nd inches. They do not have those insulting fractional readouts.
Crescent Lufkin made a big deal about the Shockforce’s 14-foot standout on the G1 models. I wasn’t able to get much more than 12-feet (with the body angled upward at about 15 degrees) but I didn’t make a federal project out of it either. I get pretty much the same standout on the G2 models. That means that if I take a short step and extend my arm I can easily hook something 16-feet away; I can’t expect more than that!
With the G2 models, Crescent Lufkin cites a 17-foot reach (not standout). Reach is a new industry term that’s frankly misleading…but if one vendor starts using it then Crescent Lufkin has to play that game too since people are easily confused. If you don’t know, reach refers to standout plus roughly the span of your arms. But at the end of the day, standout is what counts and the Crescent Lufkin Shockforce G2 tape measures still have industry leading performance there.
Rough End Hook
The Shockforce G1 tape measures featured a large end hook with a rough texture. The hook extended both down and up from the tape quite a bit which I found very convenient. The rough texture of the hook means that it will stay put in places where a shiny one wouldn’t. The Crescent Lufkin Shockforce G2 tape measures have reduced size hooks, but still substantial ones, and still with a rough texture. I suppose that there were some people who felt the hook caught on things as the blade retracted, or maybe the large hook got bent too easily. In any case, the new, smaller-but-still-ample hooks continue to do the job well – I haven’t had any reason to complain.
Matte Finish Blade
No shiny surface to reflect the sun or shop lights back into your eyes. The matte finish blade makes reading the tape easy.
Need to draw an arch? It’s easy with the Shockforce: just locate the center of the circle, drive a nail through the pivot hole there, extend the blade to the length of the radius (minus 3-inches), hold your pencil to the tape’s end hook, and draw. The G2 models retain this feature. It’s also a tether tie point if you need that.
Two Sided Blade
The back side of the Shockforce blades have marks orientated for vertical reading, making vertical measurements easier to take, especially over your head. This is really a great feature.
The Nite Eye version of the Shockforce tapes feature safety green markings on a matte black blade. This sort of light-on-dark printing is called “knockout” printing in the printing industry, and it’s long been known that knockout print is easier to read for small amounts of text such as found on signs, book titles, and so on. I find it FAR easier to read the Nite Eye tapes than black-on-yellow or black-on-white mark ones. Also, in low light the Nite Eye really shines. Using both versions of the Shockforce tapes in a dark room illuminated only by a small night light, once my eyes got dark-adapted, the Nite Eye green-on-black tape was readable in dark corners where the regular version wasn’t. This is the version I’d want in a dimly lit attic, cellar, or crawl space.
The G1 Shockforce tapes had the ½-inch before and after the foot marks in the same color as the numbers for the entire tape width, and 16-inch measurements in a contrasting colored block. It could be a bit confusing in measuring or marking feet measurements in that you could mistake the edge of the solid colored portion for the actual foot mark. The G2 versions now use a less-than-full-width contrasting block for feet designation and an outline around the measurements at 16-inch increments, which doesn’t have any confusion potential.
The belt clip on the G1 Shockforce tapes was a bit tight and difficult to engage for some users, so the Crescent Lufkin Shockforce G2 tape measure clip has been redesigned to include a lever at the top of the clip that you depress to open up the clip itself. This is a big improvement, and one that every tape measure ought to incorporate (and probably soon will).
The blade lock on the G1 Shockforce tapes is a traditional up/down affair that operates easily. New on the G2 lineup are autolocking versions (my preference).
The Crescent Lufkin Shockforce G2 tape measure lineup now features several models with magnetic ends, which is a great boon for carpenters working with metal studs, pipe fitters, and others who work with metal stock.
A Word About Accuracy
People obsess over the accuracy of tape measures. While reasonable accuracy is certainly necessary, tape measures aren’t precision tools to begin with. In Europe they use a Class 1 and Class 2 designation for tape measure accuracy. Class 1 tape measurers can have an error margin of 1.1 mm (0.043 inches – between 1/16 and 1/32 inch) over 10 meters (about 33 feet). Class II tapes can have an error 2.3 mm (0.09 inches – a little over 1/16 inch) over 33 feet – call it 1/16 over 25 feet. While the United States doesn’t have similar accuracy standards for tape measures, Crescent Lufkin says that their tapes sold in Europe meet Class 2 specifications. I don’t know, but doubt, that Crescent Lufkin has different factories manufacturing their Shockforce tape measures, so I would assume that those sold in the States are accurate to 1/16 inch over 25 feet, or not much less. Really, you expect more?
Tape measures are designed to be used in general trade work, usually in the field, and for that they are fantastic tools. If you need even more accuracy for some kind of highly precise work (furniture making, maybe) than you are talking shop work and you will need a machined, calibrated rule that will cost hundreds of dollars.
For what it’s worth, for shop work I use an old-fashioned folding wood rule, in both indie-measuring and outside-measuring variations. Crescent Lufkin is a major manufacturer of those.
Finally, the accuracy of a measuring instrument isn’t important if you use the same instrument for both measuring both the opening to be filled with a work piece, and for marking the work piece to be cut. It’s only when you have to use different instruments for each task (such as calling out a measurement to someone else who’s doing the cutting) that accuracy comes into play.
Of all the excellent features of both the G1 and G2 versions of the Crescent Lufkin Shockforce tape measures, the one that is a “must have” for me is their Nite Eye version with a black background and bright green markings. I am simply blown away at how much easier it is to read than traditional black-on-yellow tapes (which are of course still available in the G2 Shockforce series if you prefer them). This feature alone more than compensated for any other little thing that I personally might not have found ideal in the original models.
With the improvements in the G2 series, particularly the clearer markings, improved belt clip, and the autolocking versions, I am even more impressed. The one characteristic of the G2 models that I don’t like as well as the G1 models are their increased size. The lever-locking G2 25-foot rule is just too large for my average-size hands, although the 25-foot autolocking version is easy to use. Since I prefer autolockers anyway, this is a wash.
Also, like many general practitioners, I have pretty much moved to 16-foot rules as my primary go-to, and the G2 16-foot Crescent Lufkin Shockforce G2 tape measure fits my hand just fine.
Now if Crescent Lufkin would come out with a 16-foot Nite Eye Shockforce tape measure in an antolocking version, my quest for the holy grail of tape measures would be over, and I could get to work on that world peace project that I’ve had on the back burner.
Note to the design team at Crescent Lufkin: Don’t you want world peace?