Best Automatic Center Punch in 2021 (Reviews and Comparison)

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Automatic center punches rule! They are excellent for everything from making the perfect dimples for drilling to breaking glass in an emergency. Do you want to know which model is right for you? And how does it work? 

We will start off by saying that there are many different types of automatic punches, and some are more powerful than others.

When looking for a tool, you’ll want the best one every time. We review the best products available on the market today. Our loyal readers trust us to bring them honest reviews and we deliver just that! To get the most out of our reviews, make sure to read the whole article.

This review covers the basics of an automatic center punch, from its uses and benefits to a few models that are worth consideration. You’ll also get a chance to read about the pros and cons of each model as well.  

Additionally, we’ll let you know exactly what to look for in an automatic punch in our Buyer’s Guide section below. Check out this article.

COMPARISON CHART

IMAGE PRODUCT

Starrett 18A Automatic Center Punch with Hardened Steel Metal, Universal Tool for Machinists and Carpenters with Adjustable Knurled Cap to Control Blow Force, No. 4 Graduation

Starrett 18A Automatic Center Punch
  • MATERIAL: STEEL
  • REMOVABLE BIT: YES
  • POWER SOURCE: HANDHELD
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Rennsteig 5-1/4" Automatic Adjustable Center Punch, RN430231

Rennsteig RN430231
  • MATERIAL: STEEL
  • REMOVABLE BIT: YES
  • POWER SOURCE: HANDHELD
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5-Piece Nail Setter Punches and Center Punch Set with Automatic Brass Center Punch and Zipper Case

Sandor SR-534
  • MATERIAL: BRASS AND METAL
  • REMOVABLE BIT: NO
  • POWER SOURCE: HANDHELD
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NEIKO 02638A 5" Automatic Center Hole Punch | Adjustable Impact Spring Loaded Puncher Tool

Neiko 02638A
  • MATERIAL: STEEL
  • REMOVABLE BIT: NO
  • POWER SOURCE: HANDHELD
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JelBo Spring Loaded Center Punch, 5'' Automatic Center Punches, Adjustable Impact Hole Breaker Tool with Cushion Cap for Window, Glass, Wood (Silver)

JelBo Spring Loaded Center Punch
  • MATERIAL: STEEL
  • REMOVABLE BIT: NO
  • POWER SOURCE: HANDHELD
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Starrett 18A Automatic Center Punch with Hardened Steel Metal, Universal Tool for Machinists and Carpenters with Adjustable Knurled Cap to Control Blow Force, No. 4 Graduation

Specification

MATERIALSTEEL
REMOVABLE BITYES
POWER SOURCEHANDHELD
DURABILITYEXCELLENT
GRIPKNURLED

Starrett has a great reputation for building precision tools such as punches. We’re happy to report that the 18A Automatic Center Punch lives up to that reputation. Made of an all steel construction, the 18A has got everything going for it.

WHAT WE LIKE

The force of the punch can be easily adjusted from the cap. The body of the punch is well balanced, and the knurled grip makes holding the tool a breeze. We tested the punch on several materials like aluminum, steel, glass and wood with no problems. We never needed more than one hand to land a solid punch.

The tempered and hardened tip makes very precise punches without damaging the surface of any of our test materials. We love the fact that the tip is replaceable. This is great if you need to sharpen or grind the tip for more precision, although we did not need to for our tests.

All in all, the Starrett 18A Automatic Center Punch is one fantastic punch for light to medium jobs.

PROS

  • Very precise punches
  • Comfortable grip
  • Pin can be easily replaced
  • All steel design

CONS

  • Some customers have reported jammed units, but we did not experience this
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Rennsteig 5-1/4" Automatic Adjustable Center Punch, RN430231

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Rennsteig 5-1/4" Automatic Adjustable Center Punch, RN430231

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Rennsteig 5-1/4" Automatic Adjustable Center Punch, RN430231

Specification

MATERIALSTEEL
REMOVABLE BITYES
POWER SOURCEHANDHELD
DURABILITYEXCELLENT
GRIPKNURLED

Let’s take a closer look at the Rennsteig RN430231. It is one of the better automatic center punches currently available.

WHAT WE LIKE

It features one side opening punch, allowing you to push straight or stop, making the workpiece stay in position without the need to pull the punch back. If you have an irregular or slightly curved workpiece, the tool will be able to punch it through.

There is a stainless steel core for strength and precision. The punch is available in six sizes, and is compatible with almost all standard 3/8″ bit sizes. It can be used with a variety of special reamers, screws, bolts, and washers.

No special tool wrenches are required for the first time. The punch can be used on both cutting and drilling tools. The tip is also replaceable if needed. Our test unit jammed twice, but otherwise worked like a champ.

PROS

  • Versatile design
  • Replaceable tip

CONS

  • Tends to jam at times
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5-Piece Nail Setter Punches and Center Punch Set with Automatic Brass Center Punch and Zipper Case

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5-Piece Nail Setter Punches and Center Punch Set with Automatic Brass Center Punch and Zipper Case

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5-Piece Nail Setter Punches and Center Punch Set with Automatic Brass Center Punch and Zipper Case

Specification

MATERIALBRASS AND METAL
REMOVABLE BITNO
POWER SOURCEHANDHELD
DURABILITYEXCELLENT
GRIPKNURLED

Another great automatic center punch you can buy today is the Sandor SR-534 model. It includes a limited lifetime warranty, so no worries about receiving damaged goods.

WHAT WE LIKE

This is actually a five piece set including a brass center punch. Four of the punches are standard punches you would use a hammer with.

What makes this model of center punch set so great is its ability to work with all sizes of nails and most types of screws. It also has a built-in floating mechanism which helps it to maintain accuracy.

On top of that, the unit comes with a 45-day money back guarantee. You can return it to the original manufacturer for a full refund if you’re not satisfied.

We found the set to work reasonably well on any material we needed it for. The brass tip of the automatic punch is accurate.

PROS

  • The entire set has knurled surface for easy grip
  • Brass tip of center punch is tough

CONS

  • Only the brass punch is adjustable, the other four punches are standard hammer-type punches
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NEIKO 02638A 5" Automatic Center Hole Punch | Adjustable Impact Spring Loaded Puncher Tool

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NEIKO 02638A 5" Automatic Center Hole Punch | Adjustable Impact Spring Loaded Puncher Tool

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NEIKO 02638A 5" Automatic Center Hole Punch | Adjustable Impact Spring Loaded Puncher Tool

Specification

MATERIALSTEEL
REMOVABLE BITNO
POWER SOURCEHANDHELD
DURABILITYEXCELLENT
GRIPKNURLED

Neiko’s latest and greatest center punch, the Neiko 02638A is simply a wonderful tool to have. Constructed of hardened S2 steel, you won’t have to worry about easily damaging the tip. 

WHAT WE LIKE

The Neiko 02638A has a number of interesting features that makes it more convenient than some of its competition. For example, the handle is bulbous shaped for superior palm grip and control. 

We found that a lot of people love this handle design.  Most customers admit to buying this punch expressly for emergencies like needing to easily break the glass on their vehicles.  

The tension can be adjusted from the handle and the knurled surface of the device makes it easy to grip. We feel that the tension could be stronger, as the punch will need repeated use on materials such as steel.

Note: When we  received our test unit, it came with a warning sticker about the handle possibly being constructed with some cancer causing materials.

PROS

  • The handle is excellent and comfortable
  • The tip is very sturdy

CONS

  • Unit could use a bit more tension for heavier jobs
  • Punch comes with warnings about the handle construction
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JelBo Spring Loaded Center Punch, 5'' Automatic Center Punches, Adjustable Impact Hole Breaker Tool with Cushion Cap for Window, Glass, Wood (Silver)

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JelBo Spring Loaded Center Punch, 5'' Automatic Center Punches, Adjustable Impact Hole Breaker Tool with Cushion Cap for Window, Glass, Wood (Silver)

CHECK PRICE

JelBo Spring Loaded Center Punch, 5'' Automatic Center Punches, Adjustable Impact Hole Breaker Tool with Cushion Cap for Window, Glass, Wood (Silver)

Specification

MATERIALSTEEL
REMOVABLE BITNO
POWER SOURCEHANDHELD
DURABILITYLOW
GRIPKNURLED

We’ll start off by saying that the JelBo Spring Loaded Center Punch is what it is. It also does exactly what it says it will. Just don’t expect more.

WHAT WE LIKE

This is a tool you can use to dimple wood, plastic and other soft materials. That said, you do not want to ask it to punch above its weight class (pun intended).

When the instructions tell you to not expect it to punch materials such as steel, you’ll want to heed the manufacturer’s advice.

When those same instructions tell you that the tip will wear down upon repeated use, that should tell you everything you ever want to know about this product.

As long as you realize that the JelBo Spring Loaded Center Punch is only for the most basic use, then you’ll not be disappointed.

PROS

  • Works well for light jobs

CONS

  • Cannot handle materials such as steel
  • Has a tendency to jam 
  • Tension not that strong

Buyer’s Guide – What To Look For in an Automatic Center Punch

Material

What should you look for in a center punch? Ideally, you want a center punch that is precision engineered and made to be robust and reliable. An all steel construction seems to be standard, although brass is also acceptable depending on the task. 

Adjustability

A true automatic needs to be adjustable as far as the tension. The more tension the tool can excerpt, the more pronounced the divot. This is what you need in order to prevent rolling when you are starting to drill through something. Also, some punches offer a self adjusting tip for more accuracy control.

Bit Sharpness

For one thing, most center punches will have different bit sizes for punching up to a 1/2″ hole. Make sure you buy one with the right bit.

No matter what, look for a tempered and hardened bit. They tend to keep their shape and durability for much longer. If your bit is removable, then you can sharpen the tip to further enhance its use.

Replaceable Bit

It’s recommended to always get an automatic punch that you can replace the bit with. This lets you choose a wider variety of dimple making bits for heavier or more precise jobs if needed. 

Being able to change the punch bit saves so much time and energy. It’s also a more economical option if you need to use various bits quite often. 

Comfortable Knob

The thickness and size of the knob on your automatic center punch! Is very important. It all depends on what you use it for. For example, people who have a punch only for emergency use such as breaking vehicle glass. They will prefer a punch with a bulbous handle. 

A jeweler or craftsman may find a smaller handle easier to use. As long as the handle can be easily gripped, you’ll have no problems. 

Conclusion

Thanks for sticking with us to the end of our article about the best automatic center punch. We really hope you enjoyed it. The winner of our review is the Starrett 18A Automatic Center Punch. It has the right blend of strength, durability, comfort, and more. 

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