Like many items which have "trade sizes" it seems a little ambiguous what the length of a pipe nipple actually means.

For instance, if I see a 4" pipe nipple advertised, what portion of the object is the 4" a measurement of? Is it even a measurement at all? (like 2x4 is not really 2" by 4"...)

Looking at various shopping websites doesn't actually make this very clear. And unfortunately I don't have any examples on hand to examine. Even if I did, I'm not sure if this is an industry "standard" or not.


I looked at some manufacturer's documentation. Short answer: the stated size is the total length of the pipe nipple including the threaded sections.

This does appear to be consistent among manufacturers (at least in the US / North American market).

Also an important detail is that the length of the threaded sections is standard for each pipe diameter. So with a little information you can figure out what length the unthreaded middle portion of the pipe nipple has.

Length diagram from Anvil Intl.:

enter image description here


And their accompanying diagram of the available standard nipple lengths. What's important about this is the "close" lengths - these are nipples that are fully threaded, and so its the shortest length they could be at that diameter. If you subtract this from any of the others you get the unthreaded length.

Example: a 1" size pipe 6" long. The close length is 1 1/2", so the remaining unthreaded portion must be 3 1/2". (Plus or minus 1/8" as noted on the first diagram).

enter image description here

These documents state "APPLICABLE SPECIFICATION: ASTM A733" which means, I think, that these measurements should be consistent among manufacturers.

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  • When you say "close length" do you mean the length of the cut threads for both ends inclusive, e.g. each thread on a 1" pipe goes for 3/4" on each end? Or is it 1-1/2" on each end? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 4 at 22:50

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