Chronograph?

Chronograph?

This is a discussion on Chronograph? within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; Chronograph? OK, I am have started reloading and the 9mm rounds that I have loaded seem to be OK with a lower powder charge. However, ...

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Thread: Chronograph?

  1. #1
    Member Array BlackJack's Avatar
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    Chronograph?

    Chronograph?

    OK, I am have started reloading and the 9mm rounds that I have loaded seem to be OK with a lower powder charge.

    However, now I need to start refining my loads. In order to do this I need to get a chronograph to measure velocity so that I can “dial-in” my loads to what I want.

    What is a good chronograph that I can get for under $150.00? I have seen the reviews on the RCBS AmmoMaster, the Shooting Chrony Beta Master, the Shooting F-1 Chronograph, the Shooting Beta Chronograph. None of them get consistently good reviews. They all seem to get a pretty wide mix of great reviews and awful reviews.

    Leaves me with the questions, which one should I get?

    I want something that is easy to use and will last, but I also want to keep my cost as close to $100.00 as possible.

    So, based on your experience, what can you recommend that I look at?

    Thanks,


  2. #2
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    I think $100 gets you halfway to where you need to be.

    My wife got me a Chrony Beta Master for my birthday last year, and I've shot rifle and pistol over it. Like many new digital devices it takes a little "cockpit time" to learn the functions, but an air pistol in the back yard gave me the familiarization I needed. I think it's a great machine. The remote readout/control is a must and worth the extra bucks, IMO.

    Whatever you get, you'll need a tripod or similar rig to mount it, and you need sandbags or similar to hold it in place. I hung a concrete-filled coffee can from the center of the tripod to weight it down. A used Pelican case from fleaBay keeps all the pieces together for cheap.

    The one thing I wish Chrony would add would be a better means to download data; you can buy their software for another $75 I think, but I'm too cheap to spring for that. I just copy down the data from each string and enter them in the spreadsheets manually, but I'm sure there's a better way.

    The chronograph definitely adds another and highly useful dimension to reloading.
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  3. #3
    VIP Member Array PAcanis's Avatar
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    This is the one I use.
    Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital Chronograph
    It does everything I need it to. They must be popular because it looks like they are out of stock.

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    Is a chrony helpful? Yes. Is it necessary? No.

    When it comes to "dialing in" a load, what are you trying to accomplish? Ultimate velocity or accuracy. All a chrony will do is show what the velocity of a particular load is and how consistent it is in terms of velocity (Velocity spread). It will have little to do with how accurate a load is (and no doubt some will argue that).

    If you're after accuracy, speed isn't the only significant factor. What a load does on a target at various ranges is more important than how fast is goes. A deer won't know the difference whether the bullet that hits it is going 2600 FPS or 2800 FPS, but you'll sure know if the bullet hits 3 inches from your point of aim.

    I have tuned loads that will shoot under MOA in my stock Rem 700 .30-06 without every knowing the actual velocity. Would it be nice or helpful to know the velocity? Maybe, but putting the bullet where I want it is more important to me than its speed.

    If you can afford one and will use it, get one. Personally, I haven't found it necessary and would rather spend the money on bullets and powder.
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  5. #5
    VIP Member Array frankmako's Avatar
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    i got my chronograph in 1984. so you can feel what the price was in those days. now the prices are much better. they are all build all most the same and will do what you want it to do, tell you how fast the bullet is going. most reloaders don't need one. in fact 95% of reloaders don't need one. the reason i needed one was i was shooting pistol and rifle matches and i was trying different powders/bullets/primers combos that the load books did not show and still don't show. most people as long as they stay with book data they will be good. to dial in your load work on the grouping. tight group means good load. save the money to buy more primers/powder/bullets.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldVet View Post
    Is a chrony helpful? Yes. Is it necessary? No.

    When it comes to "dialing in" a load, what are you trying to accomplish? Ultimate velocity or accuracy. All a chrony will do is show what the velocity of a particular load is and how consistent it is in terms of velocity (Velocity spread). It will have little to do with how accurate a load is (and no doubt some will argue that).

    If you're after accuracy, speed isn't the only significant factor. What a load does on a target at various ranges is more important than how fast is goes. A deer won't know the difference whether the bullet that hits it is going 2600 FPS or 2800 FPS, but you'll sure know if the bullet hits 3 inches from your point of aim.

    I have tuned loads that will shoot under MOA in my stock Rem 700 .30-06 without every knowing the actual velocity. Would it be nice or helpful to know the velocity? Maybe, but putting the bullet where I want it is more important to me than its speed.

    If you can afford one and will use it, get one. Personally, I haven't found it necessary and would rather spend the money on bullets and powder.
    Normally I would agree with the above with no argument, however there is one area in particular, where it can make the impossible possible, or just make the possible easier.

    To gather "dope" for extended range shooting (say 500 yds and up, extending past a mile), a minimum of two things are required.

    The easiest two, are having an accurate velocity of the projectile (muzzle or corrected other), and the ballistic profile (coefficient) of the projectile in question. From there, any number of sources (including some real handy, cheap apps for todays phones), can, with some other related info, plot accurate drop tables out to a LOOONG ways, usually to where the projectile drobs to sub-sonic speed where predictable behaviour can be dicey.

    The alternative to having an accurate velocity to start with, and possibly lacking the ballistic profile mentioned above would require a Data table or "dope" to be built manually at as many distances possible up to and including the distance you would like to shoot. Sometimes range distance/availablity makes this impossible.

    Having the velocity as a known value has definate merit here, and can dial in a data table quickly and accurately. Although it should always be checked and adjusted (density altitude works great for this), I am amazed every time I dial a value into my scope at longer and longer ranges, and have perfect elevation (wind can be another story), first shot hits.

    I guess if pistol shooting only, none of the above means much, but I wanted to mention it just the same.

    Terry

  7. #7
    VIP Member Array high pockets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackJack View Post
    Chronograph?
    ....
    Leaves me with the questions, which one should I get?

    I want something that is easy to use and will last, but I also want to keep my cost as close to $100.00 as possible.

    So, based on your experience, what can you recommend that I look at?

    Thanks,
    Definitely get the one that jumps out of the way while you are shooting at it. Either that one, or the one with the armored module and the Kevlar sky screens!

    Oh yeah, and when you go to the restroom in a bar, remember: "Don't eat the big white mint!"
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  8. #8
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    I only use it to make sure that I make Major for IPSC. The accuracy issue has already been taken care of.
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  9. #9
    Distinguished Member Array dangerranger's Avatar
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    I have used the F1, the Beta ,and the Beta Master. a long time back I used a Oeler model 1. they all do the same thing. when you understand how they work it makes them much easier to work with. If weather conditions are right you dont need the sky screens at all. sometimes you need the screens and someties you need to rig a light to them. Thats why the wild differances in the way they are rated. people dont take the time to understand them. The differance between the most expencive and the most basic are the conveniances built in. If you have a good understanding of the data, the crono and a calculator will give you lots of answers. I used to shoot with a guy who had the first portable computor I had seen. He would input the info after each shot. later he worked out a patchcord to input directly into the computor. Id bet that even the most basic models would have an output to a lap top now.
    They all give basic info, what you do with that will determine how well they work. DR

  10. #10
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    Here's a tip or two: You don't have to skim the bullet right over the sensors for the thing to work and remember your scope is probably 1.5 inches above where the bullet's gonna be when you pull the trigger; many a chrony has died an untimely death b/c people forget or don't realize this two tidbits.

  11. #11
    Member Array BlackJack's Avatar
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    All good information and good feedback.

    If I was just reloading for plinking, or even target practice, I wouldn't even worry about . But, I want to duplicate my carry load so that I can practice with something as close to my carry round as possible. For that I need the chronograph. I also want to start reloading rifle for hunting. Since certain bullets perform better, or worse, at specific velocity ranges, I am concerned with making sure that I have the desired velocities as well as the accuracy.

    Actually, the velocity is as important to me as the accuracy since for SD with a pistol, I don't really need to be any more accurate than a 4 – 6” group at 15 yards and for hunting I don't need to be any more accurate than 2 moa. But, in both cases I need to make sure that the velocities are right. For SD, I need to make sure that the velocities are right so that I can duplicate my SD ammo with something for the range. For hunting I need to make sure that the velocities are right for bullet performance.

    Besides, I really want to “play around” and just see what I can do in regards to both accuracy and velocities and see how they correlate in my firearms.

    Any input is appreciated.

    Thanks.

  12. #12
    Distinguished Member Array dangerranger's Avatar
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    I was most intrested in finding loads that were the most concistant. My friend was a walking bullet lab. He was very interested in external bullistics. He would even test the effects of weather on bullets. He would look for canyons that he could test bullets shot into and with the wind. There arent many places in central CA to test wind theorys. DR

  13. #13
    VIP Member Array Aceoky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nedrgr21 View Post
    Here's a tip or two: You don't have to skim the bullet right over the sensors for the thing to work and remember your scope is probably 1.5 inches above where the bullet's gonna be when you pull the trigger; many a chrony has died an untimely death b/c people forget or don't realize this two tidbits.

    Guilty as charged (though I knew the above) I still managed to kill a Chrony with a .308 SST 165 gr

  14. #14
    Senior Member Array Rigrat's Avatar
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    I use the Chrony Master F1, and it is close to your cost range.

  15. #15
    Member Array ETXhiker's Avatar
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    I bought the cheapest F1 Chrony online from Walmart - $80 bucks. No frills, but I don't need them. I use a pad and pen to note my velocities. And a pair of binoculars to see the readout clearly from 15 feet away with my old eyes. Yeah, I'm cheap that way :)

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