The Best Torpedo Level – Complete Buying Guide & Reviews

When it comes to handyman tools, few things flirt with the definition of both specialty and everyday convenience like the torpedo level. While most folks just pick out the cheapest brand they can find, the reality is that if you’re not using a good, high-quality torpedo level, then you are selling yourself pretty short and making your job a lot more difficult than it needs to be.

However, with so many different models out there, it’s easy to get trapped in the maze as you try to figure out which one is right for your needs. In this article, we’ve handpicked the best torpedo levels currently on the market. When you’re done reading this, you’ll be a torpedo level expert ready to make a worthy purchase. Let’s take a look.

​Johnson Level & Tool 8500M Torpedo Level

We have to give the best torpedo level overall to the Johnson Level & Tool 8500M Torpedo Level. It stands out among the rest for its unique and recognizable quality and its ergonomic design that comes across as one that has been built with care and tact.

The Johnson torpedo level is a very light level at only 2.4lbs and has clear acrylic vials that allow for excellent visibility.

In addition to its outstanding performance, the 8500M has some nice features such like the extruded aluminum frame, high impact plastic covers, a full-length magnetic edge and a magnetic strip to give you a hands-free effect. Overall, the 8500M is hard to beat. It has tons of great features and is backed by a reputable brand. It is a great performing torpedo all-around and gets you quality at a reasonable price.

Things we like:

  • ​It features an extruded aluminum frame.
  • It includes a well-made V-groove and sturdy magnetic edge.
  • Durable acrylic vials.
  • Extremely lightweight 
  • Made by a reputable brand 

Things we don’t like:

  • You really can’t go wrong with this product in most cases. However, you may want something heavier for some jobs.

Stanley 42-264 9-Inch Torpedo Level

The Stanley torpedo level is one of the best torpedo levels for your money. It may not be the ideal tool for bigger jobs but it gets the job done either way for minimal expense.

The 42-264 is a tough lightweight Cycolac level that withstands both abuse and shock and has a top reading feature that facilitates quick, easy reading. Folks who used the Stanley 42-264 torpedo level were generally satisfied with what they termed a handy and capable level for the typical homeowner.

Things we like:

  • Top reading feature.
  • Extremely affordable
  • 3 easily replaceable tinted 360-degree vials.
  • A magnetic strip on base that holds fast to steel or iron. Extremely useful.

Things we don’t like:

  • A little thicker than other models, may get in the way for some projects.
  • A little longer than advertised with the back-end caps included.

​Stanley 42-294 8-Inch Torpedo Level 

Stanley seems to have a great understanding of how to balance exquisite performance with some remarkably unique and useful features. The torpedo level includes a durable high compact ABS plastic and a top read feature that ensures greater visibility.

The Stanley torpedo level is a lightweight level that weights an astonishing 0.8lbs and has a pipe grove that enables use on rounded surfaces almost seamlessly. Overall, this is a great torpedo level for the price and if you’re the type of user who values performance and versatility, it would make the perfect to go to level.

Things we like:

  • Limited lifetime warranty.
  • Top read feature that ensures greater visibility.
  • Constructed of high impact ABS plastic for durability.
  • Pipe groove that enables use on rounded surfaces.
  • Pretty much the lightest level for the price.

Things we don’t like:

  • Again, weight can be an issue if you need it to stay in place while moving.
  • Shorter than other models.

​Empire em81.9 True Blue 9-Inch Torpedo Level

The em81.9 9-inch torpedo level from Empire is a capable and well-designed torpe do level.Its rife with remarkable features such as the heavy duty extruded aluminum frame, true blue vial, and a fairly strong magnetic edge.

Empire also seems to have given a lot of thought to durability by incorporating an advanced concentric molding that guarantees that the vials are perfectly formed. Empire is known for top-notch products and the fact that their products demonstrate a remarkable sense of capability and finesse. 

Things we like:

  • ​It has an advanced concentric molding that guarantees perfectly formed vials.
  • It features a true-blue vial that facilitates superior accuracy, visibility and durability.
  • It includes a heavy-duty extruded aluminum frame and a strong magnetic edge.
  • It is made in the USA.

Things we don’t like:

  • May be difficult to read in darker environments.
  • Magnetic strip is not as strong as other models.

​Johnson Level & Tool 7500M 9-Inch Torpedo Level

​The Johnson 7500M torpedo level is another affordable torpedo level with a ton of remarkable features. From being sturdy and well-built to being non-corrosive and non-conductive, it most certainly doesn’t get any better than this. What more, it is also equipped with a V-groove edge that fits on both conduit and pipe.

Overall, while astonishingly low cost, the Johnson 7500M level is a capable all-around level that packs a good number of features that you will find more than sufficient for your needs. You’ll just need to be aware that you can only do small leveling jobs with it at a go and have a little patience and you might just be surprised how much you can accomplish with it.

Things we like:

  • 1-year warranty against defects in material and workmanship.
  • It is non-corrosive and non-conductive
  • It has a V-groove edge that fits on conduit and pipe almost seamlessly.
  • It works great on small leveling jobs.

Things we don’t like:

  • Really only ideal for smaller leveling jobs.
  • Not as versatile.

​Stanley 42-465 9-Inch Torpedo Level

The Stanley 42-465 is a stout and affordable piece of equipment. It contains 3 vials for maximum versatility and easy readability and its frame is made from durable heavy-duty aluminum for purposes of longevity.

To get more out of the level, the Stanley 42-465 packs an astonishing 4.8lbs for maximum portability and a pipe groove that enables use on rounded surfaces as well. Not to mention a magnetic strip that allows a hands free operation on metal surfaces.

That said though it’s true that like any other levels, the 42-465 also has its fair share of downsides. Some users had trouble leveling surfaces with it and had a problem with the poor packaging too. Nonetheless, Stanley does give this tool a limited lifetime warranty and that should at the very least be worth something. On top of that, the vials are also designed to be replaced on the job and that’s a game changer.

Things we like:

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • It includes a magnetic strip that allows hands-free operation on metal surfaces.
  • It features a pipe groove that enables use on rounded surfaces.
  • The vials are designed to be replaced on the job without compromising on accuracy.

Things we don’t like:

  • Poor packaging has been reported.
  • Heavier than other models.

Features to Consider

At a glance, the name bubble level or spirit level sounds absurd, to say the least. However, the torpedo level or spirit level is a compact and portable construction tool that fulfills the contoured needs of a professional or do-it-yourself installation artist, carpenter, and decorator.

Even though they share a common purpose, the various torpedo levels have a lot of distinct differences. Below are a few common features that you should consider when choosing which product to go for.

If you think your project may need something a little more advanced than a torpedo leveler, you can always check out our top picks for laser levelers here.


When it comes to levels, accuracy is a deal breaker. In fact, a torpedo level is only as good as its ability to give a level measurement. And since some are no doubt better than others, it is important to ensure that the readings are spot on from the onset.

Having an accurate reading is essential for any project that requires leveling, so please take into consideration the importance of accuracy when perusing these products. It would truly be a shame to go through an entire project just to find out that your level was defective at the end. When it comes to accuracy reading, there can be a lot of technicalities that go into it. If you feel like giving your brain a workout, you can read more about accuracy readings for your level here.


The durability of a torpedo level is an essential feature. Think of it this way, levels do most of their work on job sites and these are not the most forgiving of environments. A torpedo level that is not well made will easily succumb to the pressures of wear and tear and eventually break down.

However, sometimes durability is synonymous with expensiveness. In order for you to get a high-quality durable torpedo, you have to be prepared to part with a hefty amount of money.


Even though torpedo levels only help you determine if a surface is vertically level or horizontally level, a machine that’s not visible enough will cause you grief. That’s why considering the visibility of the level will do you a world of good.

Some bubbles are more visible than others, depending on lighting conditions, the contrast of the product, and the size of the bubbles themselves. It’s obviously important for you to be able to read your leveler, so keep this in mind while shopping. 


The top of any buyers concerns when making a purchase is how much they have to part with to get their hands on a particular commodity. And things are no different at all when it comes to torpedo levels.  In fact, the stakes are much higher when it comes to handy tools because a higher price often means a more durable and better overall product.The range in prices of torpedo levelers can be pretty drastic, depending on what you need as a worker. Make sure your needs are known and the features match what need to be done to avoid overpaying or purchasing a leveler that simply does not do what you want.

Rubber Grips

This is pretty simple really. Holding onto the level for a long while can be hard especially if it is over-sized and heavy. With rubber grips, however, you can have a more comfortable grip.

Wrap Up

The best torpedo levels have specific selling points that endear them to users. However, the best torpedo level available may not always be the best level for you. It all depends on your needs and so you have to be brutally honest with yourself when making a purchase and do your due diligence so as to make an educated choice.When it comes to a level that’s affordable, efficient, and overwhelmingly viewed as positive in the eyes of DIY-ers just like yourself, it doesn’t get much better than the Johnson Level & Tool 8500M Level. It’s easy to use, lightweight, and astonishingly accurate at a price that’ll keep you out of the red. ​​​

About Gus Donaldson

I built houses for over 30 years and recently retired. I've made lots of mistakes and hopefully teach you not to make the same ones. I still love to build and have a garage workshop that I use for hobby projects like the walnut bookshelf I made for my wife. I like to write and let people know that working with your hands and tools does not need to be intimidating.

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