Best Automatic Center Punch of 2021-Review & Buying Guide

best automatic center punch

Have you ever tried drilling a hole through any surface, be it metal, wood, ceramic or plastic, without first marking the starting point? It is not only frustrating and exhausting, but is also poses a danger to your safety. Without first making a dimple, the drill keeps sliding off and you end up making inaccurate holes. The sliding drill may also slide too far to land on your feet, causing you harm. This is where a center punch comes to your rescue.

A center punch is a small handy tool that is used to make dimples on your working surface. It can either be automatic or manual. The manual model requires you to use a hammer, forcing you to use both of your hands. On the other hand, the automatic model eliminates the need for a hammer, making it easier to use.

In this article, we are going to take you through some of the top rated best automatic center punches to help you acquire an excellent tool.

Top 5 Best Automatic Center Punch For Quick Selections





Starrett 18C Automatic Center Punch

HORUSDY Adjustable Spring Loaded Metal Drill – 2pcs

Neiko 02638A Automatic Center Punch

GTools 89 Rust Proof Automatic Center Punc​​h

Lisle 30280 Automatic Center Punch

Top Ten Best Automatic Center Punch

1.Rennsteig Adjustable Automatic Centre Punch 

This German made tool has a striking force of between 180N and 250N. This force is adequate enough to be able to make a mark on structural steel. Different materials require different amounts of force to make dents. The force of impact is adjustable by changing the spring’s tension. You can achieve this by turning the knurl clockwise or anticlockwise to attain the force you require.

Another interesting feature is its handle, which is designed to provide you with the best possible grip. First, the tool has a round knob at the top for a comfortable grip. As though that is not enough, the handle is covered by a shock absorbent plastic pad that acts to protect you during impact. This allows you to make several punches a day without your hand suffering from the after effects.

Besides, it has a hardened tip that is designed to help to achieve the highest precision possible. This way you can comfortably make dents even in the hardest industrial steel. The tool makes dents with a shank diameter of 17mm or 0.67 inch. Also comes in handy when you need to break the window of a vehicle in the shortest time possible, whether on land or under water. The finishing on the tool is to die for as it is plated using Nickel.

Rennsteig Adjustable Automatic Center Punch with...
85 Reviews
Rennsteig Adjustable Automatic Center Punch with…
  • Spring loaded self striking mechanism
  • Activated by downward pressure (you don’t need a hammer)
  • Precision design, Replaceable hardened pin


  • Shock absorbent handle
  • Force of impact easily adjustable
  • Hardened tip for precision
  • Well finished using Nickel


  • Not suitable for all types of steel
  • Limited shank diameter


2.Neiko 02638A Automatic Center Punch 

Neiko 02638A is unique in that it is made from S2 steel, a type of steel that consist of extra vanadium and manganese. This definitely adds to its strength and durability. Besides, its bidy shank is coated with chrome which protects it against counter corrosion, adding on to its durability. This tool has a total body length of 5 inches, which makes it neither too big nor too small.

Its handle is designed to ensure your comfort during drilling. The handle is composed of a plastic red ball that allows you to make as many dimples as possible without hurting your hand. Besides, the handle has a knurled texture that is resistant to dirt and corrosion. The knurled handle also allows you to firmly hold the tool without risk of slipping and hurting yourself. Different surfaces require different amounts of force to make a dimple.

It is for this reason that the Neiko 02638A allows you to adjust the amount of force to be applied on impact. To adjust, you simply turn the cap clockwise or anticlockwise to adjust the depth of the dimple to be made. To make a dimple, you do not have to apply any force. All you have to do is to apply a downward pressure on the cap and the punch is automatically applied.

NEIKO 02638A 5-Inch Automatic Center Hole Punch |...
4,952 Reviews
NEIKO 02638A 5-Inch Automatic Center Hole Punch |…
  • [ADJUSTABLE]: Each 5-inch center punch tool is spring loaded…
  • [CONVENIENCE]: The active spring-driven action and hard…
  • [HEAVY DUTY]: The chrome plated shank body withstands high…


  • Great for wood
  • Protects your hand from harm
  • Made of good quality steel
  • Easy to use


  • Need to make more than one punch on steel, even mild steel
  • Spare parts not readily available


3.Starrett 117C Center Punch 

The Starrett 117C is manufactured by the L.S Starrett Company which is popular for its role in manufacture of metrology and testing equipment, measuring tools and saw blade products. The company has over 100 years’ experience and has its headquarters in Athol, MA. The Starrett 117C has a round shank that is 4 inches long, making it of suitable length, not too long not too short. Its tapered end makes dimples with a shank diameter of 3mm.

This unique tool is made from hardened steel, making it resistant to wear and tear thus increasing its durability. This eliminates the need to keep on buying punches every now and then. Starret 117C utilizes an automatic mechanism. It has an internal spring that requires you only apply downward pressure for it to punch. This eliminates the need of a hammer, leaving your other hand free to steady the material you are working on.

Its grip is designed to ensure your comfort and safety as you punch. The handle is knurled making it impossible for it to slip as you work. Therefore, you do not have to worry about hurting yourself as you work.

Starrett 117C Center Punch With Round Shank, 4'...
1,099 Reviews
Starrett 117C Center Punch With Round Shank, 4″…
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Hardened and tempered steel provides wear resistance and…
  • Round shank is knurled for grip


  • Made of good quality material
  • Utilizes an automatic punching mechanism
  • Has a knurled handle
  • Tapered end for precision


  • Limited shank diameter


4.GTools 89 Rust Proof Automatic Center Punc​​h 

General Tools 89 is built to withstand the pressure that comes with the job. It is made of high quality stainless steel which the manufacturer promises does not rust. Besides, the durable material assures you of a long life for your tool. The end is tapered, enabling the tool make high precision punches. This punch utilizes an automatic spring mechanism. All you are required to do is to apply a downward pressure to make the markings. This eliminates the need for use of a hammer, leaving your hand free.

Its handle also adds to its attractive features. It has a knurled handle that is easy to hold and almost impossible to slip during use. This means you do have to worry about the punch slipping and hurting you. The force of impact can be adjusted to suit the type of material you are about to punch. You just need to rotate the knurled cap clockwise or anticlockwise to adjust the impact force.

This tool can also be used in life and death emergencies. For example you can use it to break the window of a vehicle to rescue someone or even yourself, be it on land or underwater.

General Tools 89 Stainless Steel Automatic Center...
844 Reviews
General Tools 89 Stainless Steel Automatic Center…
  • ONE-HANDED SPRING IMPACT – automatic center punch has…
  • ADJUSTABLE SPRING TENSION – spring tension adjusts for light…
  • MARKS HOLE LOCATIONS – accurate center punch prevents…


  • Made of high quality durable material
  • Force of impact is adjustable depending of type of material
  • Knurled handle for easier grip
  • Automatic punch


  • May bind back up shortly after use
  • Takes a few punches to mark on hardened steel


5.Starrett 18C Automatic Center Punch

This is another product from L.S Starrett Company, which has over 100 years’ experience in manufacture of different tools including precision measuring tools. Starrett 18C is manufactured from hardened and tempered steel, which is able to withstand heavy duty use. Tempered steel is also strong and durable, meaning you can punch without the fear of fast wearing down. Besides, the steel is resistant to rust, which means it can withstand harsh working environments.

This punch is 5-1/4 inches long, not too long, not too short. It makes dimples with a shank diameter of 17mm. The tip is tapered for precision and also has an 80 angle which allows you to expand the dent to provide a larger surface area for the drill. Interestingly, the tip can be removed for replacement or sharpening. The handle is knurled to provide you a better grip that is free from slip ups.

The force of impact can be adjusted by turning the knurled cap. This allows you to adjust the force according to the material you are punching. This is an automatic punch that only requires you to apply downward pressure for the punch to be made. The upside with Starrett 18C is that it has an internal mechanism of two springs, which create enough tension to make a dent in any material.

Starrett 18C Automatic Center Punch with Heavy...
1,054 Reviews
Starrett 18C Automatic Center Punch with Heavy…
  • PRE-DRILLING TOOL: The C18 Automatic Heavy Duty Center Punch…
  • STEEL CONSTRUCTION: This Center Punch is made of hardened…
  • NO HAMMER NEEDED: This punch has a mechanism that…


  • Made of hardened and tempered steel
  • Its tip has an 80 angle which allows you to expand the dent
  • Adjustable force of impact
  • Two spring internal mechanism for optimum tension
  • Removable tip


  • Not favorable for use on wood


6.HORUSDY Adjustable Spring Loaded Metal Drill – 2pcs 

Different materials require different strengths to make dimples. This is probably the reason why Horusdy provides you with two automatic center punches, a black Super Strong Automatic Center Punch and a yellow General Automatic Center Punch. The larger center punch is 6.1 inches long while the smaller punch is 5.12 inches long. Both punches are automatic, eliminating need to use a hammer.

Both punches are manufactured using hardened and tempered steel, which is strong and durable. The shank body is polished using chrome, making the punches resistant to corrosion. The tip of these punches is made from chrome vanadium, which makes it sturdy and resistant to wear and tear. The tip is also angled to allow you to expand the dimple to fit your drill. Furthermore, the tip can be removed to be replaced or sharpened.

The handles of these punches are knurled to provide you with an extra grip during work. The punches allow you to adjust the spring tension by turning the knurled handle. One major difference between the two punches is that the larger one has a double spring action for more tension while the smaller one has a single spring action. This makes the larger punch suitable for harder materials such as mild steel while the smaller punch is suitable for lighter materials such as wood.

HORUSDY 2-Pack Super Strong 6' Automatic Centre...
912 Reviews
HORUSDY 2-Pack Super Strong 6″ Automatic Centre…
  • Features adjustable spring loaded design for variable impact…
  • One handed operation, simply adjust to desired spring…
  • One-handed operation makes accurate marks without the need…


  • Two punches for different materials
  • Automatic punch
  • Knurled handles
  • Adjustable force of impact


  • Internal mechanism requires regular oiling
  • Prone to binding up


7.Lisle 30280 Automatic Center Punch 

For any professional, portability is one important factor to consider when purchasing a center punch. Lisle 30280 is unique in that you can easily carry it around. It has a clip that enables you to safely keep it in your tool belt or pocket. It is manufactured from high quality hardened steel that is durable and suitable for heavy duty use. The hardened steel is also resistant to rust, making it suitable for working in harsh environments. It has a few unique features that make it easy to use.

For one, it has a knurled handle for a strong non-slippery grip. Therefore, you should be least worried about hurting yourself while working. The handle can be turned to adjust the spring’s tension depending on the type of material you are working on. This makes it suitable for professionals who have different materials to work on. It has an automatic firing action, which makes it unnecessary for you to use a hammer. You only need to apply a downward pressure for the punch to be made. This leaves one hand free to carry out other tasks at a go.

Its tip is removable, either for replacement or sharpening.

Lisle 30280 Automatic Center Punch
545 Reviews
Lisle 30280 Automatic Center Punch
  • Hardened tool steel tip is replaceable
  • Automatic firing action
  • Works on metal, plastic, wood and other materials


  • Replaceable steel tip
  • Suitable for working on a variety of materials
  • Adjustable impact force
  • Automatic punch
  • Made of high quality steel


  • May jam from time to time
  • Require regular oiling

8.LAUREL + HOLLAND Automatic Center Punch – Pack of 2

This amazing pack of two is designed to make your drilling easier. In it you will find everything you want in a center punch. Each punch is 5 inches long and has a shank diameter of 1/2 inches. The body of each punch is made of solid brass, which is not only durable and resistant to wear, but also resistant to rust. Its tip is made of hardened steel, for high precision punching as well as to withstand wear and tear.

The handles have deep knurls curved into them, for a strong non-slip grip. The knurled handle makes your work easier and free from worry of slipping and hurting yourself. It is possible to adjust tension at the springs by turning the knurled handle. This enables you to adjust the impact force depending on whether you are working on metal, wood, brass or copper. It is also able to shatter glass on impact. Therefore, in case of an emergency where you will need to shatter the glass windows of your vehicle, either one of the punches in this pack will come in handy.

Besides, it has an automatic spring mechanism, which eliminates the need for use of a hammer during punching. You only need to use one hand to apply downward pressure for the dimple to be made.

Automatic Center Punch - 5 inch Brass Spring...
1,291 Reviews
Automatic Center Punch – 5 inch Brass Spring…
  • HIGH QUALITY! HEAVY AND WELL MACHINED: Our automatic center…


  • Made of high quality brass
  • Knurled handle
  • Comes in a pack of two
  • Suitable for different materials – wood, metal or plastic
  • Can be used to shatter glass


  • Non-removable tip
  • Tip does not allow you to expand dimple to fit your drill


9.Mayhew Tools 62213 – 4 piece knurled center punch kit

Manufactured in the USA, Mayhew Tools 62213 is a great advancement in technology in the industry of manufacturing tools. This 4-piece provides versatility and adaptability to various projects and materials. The set is most suitable for professionals and automotive enthusiasts. Included in the set is 24200 1/4 – inch center punch, 24300 5/16 – inch center punch, 24301 3/8 – inch center punch and 24302 1/2 – inch center punch. All the four knurled center punches are contained in a carry-pouch, making it easier to carry around.

The punches are manufactured using high quality tempered steel. This makes them durable and resistant to wear and tear. Uniquely, they all have a black oxide finish, which makes them resistant to rust. Therefore, they are suitable for use in harsh environments, like that construction site you are currently working at. Their handles are knurled giving a strong grip that is almost impossible to slip. Slipping of a center punch during punching puts you at risk for hurting yourself.

The set comes with a two year warranty, which shows the confidence by the manufacturer.

Mayhew Tools 62213 4-Piece Knurled Center Punch...
717 Reviews
Mayhew Tools 62213 4-Piece Knurled Center Punch…
  • Includes: 24200 1/4-Inch Reg Knurled Center Punch
  • 24300 5/16-Inch Knurled Center Punch
  • 24301 3/8-Inch Knurled Center Punch


  • Four in one pack for different drilling needs
  • Made of high quality tempered steel
  • Manufacturer gives a two year warranty
  • Suitable for different materials


  • Unfavorable for someone with few drilling needs

10.Stanley FMHT16446 FATMAX Center Punch

Stanley FMHT16446 is one of the products from Stanley Company, a reputable company in the tools industry. This punch is no contrary to this reputation. It is a high quality tool that is designed to make your drilling a little easier. It is an automatic tool, meaning you only need to apply downwards pressure on the handle and the dimple is automatically made. No need for a harmer nor extra force. You only use one arm while the other is left free to hold down the material you are working on.

It is made from high quality material that is hardened, quenched and tempered for long life and durability. Besides, it ensures it can withstand working on hard materials such as steel without breaking.

This punch is powder coated making it easier to locate. Thus you do not need to keep looking for it in your tool box, saving you time. It measures 5 inches long, a suitable length for a good grip. It makes a dimple with a diameter of 3/8 inches. For days you have many drills to make, Stanley FMHT16446 has got your back. It has rounded edges to protect your hands from hurt during work.

Stanley FMHT16446 FATMAX Center Punch, 3/8'
30 Reviews
Stanley FMHT16446 FATMAX Center Punch, 3/8″
  • One piece forged construction for strength
  • Hardened, quenched, and tempered for long life and…
  • Powder-coated finish for easy visibility


  • Automatic center punch
  • Manufactured from high quality material
  • Rounded edges from hand protection
  • Easily visible due to its powder coated finish


  • Does not work well in small spaces
  • Its handle tends to chip off with time
  • Tip does not allow you to expand the dimple

Best automatic center punch buying guide 

You have already established you need to purchase an automatic center punch, either for professional use or for your home garage. There are a lot of options in the market, each with its own advantages and limitations and each promising to be better than the other. This has got you confused and you do not know which one to choose to suit your needs.

Below we discuss a few pointers to consider when buying an automatic center punch.

  • Tip

The tip is the front portion which makes contact with surface you are working on, creating a dimple. It serves as the most important part of your puncher as without it, you cannot make your mark. Ideally, the tip needs to be strong and durable. It should not chip off with every use. Instead, it should be able to withstand the force of working with hard materials. The tip should also be tapered so it can make precise markings, to avoid irregularities in your drilling.

Another important spec the tip should own, is the ability to expand the dimple to match the size of your drill. If the dimple is too small for your drill, you are likely to experience trouble when drilling. Most punchers lack this feature.

  • Adjustability

Whether you are a professional or you are working from your garage, you will have different types of materials to be working on, be it be metal, plastic or wood. These different materials require different forces to make a mark. Therefore, it is important that your punch is adjustable to suit the different material needs. While most punches are adjustable, by simply turning on the handle, some are suitable for a specific type of material and not the other. Ensure you have a rundown of the materials you will be encountering most to avoid purchasing a punch that is least suitable. 

  • Handle

An automatic center punch is a one-handed tool. Despite this, your hand will have to experience comfort while you are working. Besides, you need a tool that will not slip as you work putting you at risk of injuring yourself. Some punches come with knurled handles, while others have rounded edges for a strong non-slippery grip. Still, there are a few models that will lack either of these features, making the slippery during use.

There are a few models that have shock absorbers on the handles. This protects your hands from the forceful impact experienced when the tip makes contact with its target.

  • Spring

For a center punch to be regarded to as automatic, it has to be fitted with a spring. It is the spring mechanism that allow you to apply that one downward pressure and the tip strikes its target. For this to be possible, the spring should be powerful enough to produce enough pressure and at the same time, reset after firing, in preparation for the next strike. There are models with two springs, making them suitable for harder materials such as steel. Others have one spring, thus produce just enough tension for lighter materials such as wood.

How we picked the best the best automatic center punch 

There being a variety models of automatic center punches in the market, choosing the best is not easy. Each model promises to deliver you the best. We have to ensure we bring you the most accurate information we can get, to help you make an informed and correct decision. As we came up with the list, we appreciated the tough competition between the different models.

When choosing the best automatic center punch, there were a variety of strategies that were put into place. For one we had a personal experience with each of the punches by taking each one for a test drive. As we were doing this, we were also noting down the advantages, disadvantages and limitations for each. This way, at the end of the test drive we were able to compile a list comparing each of the tools against one another. We compared features such as material, tip, adjustability and handle.

We also put into consideration customer favorable services such as warranty, though this played a minor role. Our other source of information was online customer reviews, though they also played a minor role. We appreciated that the customer reviews may be biased as some companies may offer customers incentives so as to give positive online reviews. Some companies go as far as posting the reviews themselves. 

All you need to know about automatic center punch 

The more technology advances, the easier life is made for man. An automatic center punch is one of the developments of man that have made life so much easier for the ‘handy’ people. As earlier elaborated, an automatic center punch is a one-handed tool that is used to mark the surface of where you intend to drill. It is referred to as automatic because you only need to apply force once and the rest works out itself. Your mark is automatically made. No need to use a hammer, thus your other hand is free. No extra force needed.

  • Why do you need an automatic center punch?

I am sure you have tried drilling through any surface, a metal, wood or plastic, without first making a dimple. I am also sure the experience was terrible. The drill kept on sliding every time you tried to drill through. The end result was nothing of what you imagined it would be. You were lucky if you did not hurt yourself, luckier than those who have had the experience of ending up in a hospital ER after hurting themselves when drilling.

An automatic center punch helps you avoid all that hustle. With it, you make a dimple on the site you intend to drill through. Some models allow you to expand the dimple to fit the size of your drill. It is through this dimple that you drill through. By drilling through the dimple, it is unlikely that the drill will slip while at work. This not only makes it easier for you to drill, but also ensures your end product is flawless. Besides it protects you against possible injury by a sliding drill.

  • How does an automatic center punch work?

An automatic center punch works in a simple yet efficient way. First you need to identify where you are planning to drill through. Using your dominant hand, tightly hold on to the automatic center punch using the handle. Most have features that limit the tool from slipping from your hand while working. Depending on the material you are working on, adjust the impact tension by turning on the handle. This resets the tension on the interior spring to suit your needs. Slowly but firmly apply a downward pressure on the handle. Being automatic the dimple is made on impact of the tip with the surface you are working on.

It is as simple as that. Make as many dimples as you wish to drill through. Do not worry about harm to your hand as most of them have features that protect your hand from the force of the impact. Given that the other hand is free, you can use it to stabilize the surface you are working on. You do not need to be the two of you nor do you need a harmer.

Important Q/A about automatic center punch

  • What is the use of an automatic center punch?

An automatic center punch is used to make marks on the surface you intend to drill through. This prevents sliding as you do the actual drilling, ensuring you work is flawless. Prior marking also protects you against injury by a sliding drill.

  • Is there a precise difference between these two, the automatic and a manual center punch?

Both of them serve the same purpose. However, they are some distinct differences between them. A manual center punch is more difficult to use. It requires you to use both your hands. You will need a hammer to hit the manual center punch to make the dimple. On the other hand, the automatic center punch is a one-handed machine that only requires you to push the handle downwards for the mark to be made. This saves you time and energy.

  • Can I sharpen the tip of my automatic center punch?

With use, the tip becomes blunt. You can sharpen the tip or can remove it altogether and replace with a new one. What is important is that the tip remains sharp for precision.

  • How do I maintain my automatic center punch?

How well you treat your automatic center punch determines how well and how long it will serve you. Always store the punch in a cool dry place to avoid degradation by the moist environment. After every use, ensure you clean it thoroughly. Replace or sharpen the tip when necessary and oil the internal parts occasionally to ensure smooth running.

Final verdict 

Every ‘handy’ person wants to ensure they have a smooth running during their tasks. They also want to ensure they stay safe and not end up in the hospital ER. For any task to be successful the appropriate tools have to be used. Besides, the correct techniques have to be applied. An automatic center punch will go a long way in ensuring this.

We hope the information we have given will help you gain adequate knowledge on automatic center punches, for you to be able to make an informed decision when purchasing one.

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