The invention is an ultrasonic surface hardness depth measurement apparatus and method permitting rapid determination of hardness depth of shafts, rods, tubes and other cylindrical parts. The apparatus of the invention has a part handler, sensor, ultrasonic electronics component, computer, computer instruction sets, and may include a display screen. The part handler has a vessel filled with a couplant, and a part rotator for rotating a cylindrical metal part with respect to the sensor. The part handler further has a surface follower upon which the sensor is mounted, thereby maintaining a constant distance between the sensor and the exterior surface of the cylindrical metal part. The sensor is mounted so that a front surface of the sensor is within the vessel with couplant between the front surface of the sensor and the part.