We have a flood of levels that showed up for our recent buying guide, including several from Kapro’s Optivision lineup. While we sent a couple out to other Pros, I’m keeping my hands on the Kapro Pocket Level – their 946 Smarty – for a few good reasons.
You can’t make a great level without focusing on the main three keys: accuracy, durability, and visibility. So let’s start with those and work our way toward the extra features from there.
It can be tough for smaller levels like pocket and torpedo models to maintain accuracy as high as longer box levels. However, the Kapro pocket level nails it by keeping 0.0005″/1″ accuracy – the same as we expect from our go-to levels like the Milwaukee Redstick.
Kapro sets their vials in solid acrylic and it’s tough to find a flaw in that methodology. Rubber overmolding on the sides does more to help your grip than offer protection against drops. However, the body is cast aluminum which seems like it’s next to impossible to hurt.
The only concern I have for durability is the red plastic surrounding the acrylic vial housing. It might be vulnerable to breaking if it hits the wrong way in a drop. Considering how small an area it is overall and that it’s inset slightly from the aluminum frame, you’d have to be pretty unlucky to damage it unless you’re just prone to dropping things often.
Kapro goes against the grain by setting their clear vials against a white background. That doesn’t sound like it’s very helpful, but the red plastic set around the acrylic gives the bubble edges a defined red that stands out. It’s a pretty big advantage in low light conditions where it’s easier to see than Empire’s True Blue or even Milwaukee’s Sharpsite vials. Until it gets dark enough to need help from LEDs, it’s one of the clearest vials to see across varying light conditions.
Kapro gives you 1% and 2% gradient markings and the white shows up well against the red plastic. While there’s no indication that it will be a problem so far, I do wonder if it will rub or scratch off over time.
Two rare-earth magnets on the base of the level offer attachment to a handy belt holder. It clips on your belt or waistband and hold the level in pretty securely. The clip could stand to be more secure, but the magnetic attraction between the two is solid.
It’s tough to complain about missing features on a pocket level that does so well with accuracy, durability, and visibility. There are a couple of things to consider, though. First, is a V-notch cut out so you can easily check level or gradient on pipe. The other is a rotating vial to cover other angles aside from horizontal. Granted, that request necessarily means I’ll lose some of the strength that the cast aluminum frame offers.
The Bottom Line
Unless you need to check more than just horizontal materials, you won’t find a much better option than the Kapro pocket level. The Kapro 946 Smarty does about as well as you can hope for where it counts: accuracy, durability, and visibility. For $22, it definitely moves into the win column.
Kapro Pocket Level Key Features
- OPTIVISION Red horizontal vial – in solid acrylic – creates highly visible RED bubble edges
- Gradient lines for measurements up to 2%
- Durable cast aluminum body with shockproof rubber
- Large base with Rare-earth magnets
- Clip belt housing
- Precision: 0.5mm/m (0.0005″/1″)
- Belt holder
Kapro Pocket Level Specifications
- Model: Kapro 946M
- Accuracy: 0.0005″
- Hand Tool TypeL Standard Level
- Level Type: Pocket
- Material: Aluminum
- Number of Vials: 1
- Depth (in.): 7.63″
- Height (in.): 1.5″
- Width (in.): 5.5″
- Level Length (in.): 3.5″
- Warranty: Lifetime vial warranty
- Price: $22