Why buy a chronograph?

Why buy a chronograph?

This is a discussion on Why buy a chronograph? within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; OK, I have been reading a lot and it seems universally known I need a chronograph, but why. I can see that keeping the speed ...

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Thread: Why buy a chronograph?

  1. #1
    Member Array Ghuqu2's Avatar
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    Why buy a chronograph?

    OK, I have been reading a lot and it seems universally known I need a chronograph, but why. I can see that keeping the speed your reloads in a "cluster" will tell you if you are doing a good job at the bench, but how will it be easier for me to work up a load? Won't I still need to make groups ~15-20 rounds in .2 gr increasing increments and fire them down range to find the best group w/ my components? What am I missing/ not understanding. Is there a good primmer on how to best use a chrono in reloading? Finally if I get one (looked at the SC Beta Master ), can you place it in a steel box on the tripod so I don't shoot it if I miss ?

    Thanks for your info!
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  2. #2
    VIP Member Array cvhoss's Avatar
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    A chronograph is a handy item for the reloader, especially if they're into precision rifle shooting or bullseye pistol shooting. It's not a necessary item but it is another tool to add to the arsenal.

    I've heard good things about the Shooting Chronys but actually shooting them does seem to be a problem. If you get one with a remote monitor, then most of the electronics would be away from a bullet impact. I have the PACT Professional Chronograph and while I like the product, PACT has the worst customer service I've ever dealt with. Would not buy another one. If I were buying today, I'd look hard at the Competitive Edge Dynamics M2. Dillon Precision sells this machine as well. One criteria for me is the ability to connect to my PC and download the information. Plus, you can also get infrared sky screens for it (minimizes lighting problems) and a rechargeable battery pack for the infrared screens.

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  3. #3
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    The most useful information you get from a chronograph is SD (standard deviation) and ES (extreme spread). These numbers in most instances will tell you how your load is performing. Typically the smaller these two numbers the more accurate the load. This doesn't absolutely always hold true but generally it does. Personally I only use mine for rifle loads when I'm trying to work up a new load.
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  4. #4
    VIP Member Array Stevew's Avatar
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    In addition to the other post I would like to add that you can also tell if your bullet is traveling within the velocity parameters that it will need to work as designed.
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  5. #5
    VIP Member Array JerryM's Avatar
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    The loads shown in manuals are not always exact when it comes to individual guns.
    Most of my life I loved hunting rifles. Some of my rifles would handle loads that others would not, and even with the same loads the velocity would vary.
    I was never an accuracy nut, and if my big game rifle would group in 1.5 MOA that was fine.

    I have a .243 Win M70 fwt that will handle loads that with 100 gr bullets move at 3200 fps. Others have to work hard to get 3000 fps. Factory loads used to run about 2900 fps. Such a difference is important to me, and without a chrono I would never have had a clue as to the velocity.

    I load my practice rounds for the .45 ACP at slightly less than 800 fps, but I would not know that without a chrono.

    It is obvious that one can do without a chrono, but it gives some interesting and useful information, and makes the game more fun.

    Regards,
    Jerry

  6. #6
    VIP Member Array frankmako's Avatar
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    i have had one for many mango seasons and it has been one of the best items that i have in my reloading kit. it lets me know how my loads are. the load data in the books are not what you will get out of your gun. with one you can work up some good loads, loads that will work and fill your needs. also i use it for a safety factor. they are cheap now and there is no reason not to have one.
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  7. #7
    VIP Member Array farronwolf's Avatar
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    I didn't go too long after starting to reload before buying a chronograph. I didn't spend a lot, about 100 bucks on an Alpha Chrony, and use a camera tripod to mount it on. It was well worth the money spent because now I can accurately determine the energy in loads. For my pistol hunting loads I really do like to know just what is coming out of the barrel instead of guessing.

    On bulk rounds that I load for punching holes in paper or playing at the range it isn't that important, but I will run the rounds through the chrono after I find a load that I like the way it shoots. I usually only load range rounds at about 80% of what the top end of the scale is.

    One other thing I have used the chrono for is to determine if I am getting the performance out of factory SD rounds as what the manufacturer says it should be. For instance on Speer GDHP 124+P 9mm, I have found that in my 24/7 they consistantly shoot at about 1210 fps, and in my PT111 they are consistant at just over 1150 fps. That is what Speer says they should be, so in my mind I am getting what I am paying for. Without a chrono I would be taking it for granted.

    Oh, and just don't stand too close to the chrono when shooting, as the unburned powder can be detrimental to it sometimes.
    Just remember that shot placement is much more important with what you carry than how big a bang you get with each trigger pull.
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  8. #8
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    ust don't stand too close to the chrono when shooting
    Good point. Also another thing to remember is that if you shooting a round that has a wad in it (muzzleloader, shotgun, etc) then you need to be back far enough that the wad does not pass over the screens or it will give you some interesting results.
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  9. #9
    VIP Member Array nedrgr21's Avatar
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    Another use is to determine if you've reached the pressure limit for your particular gun. If you are working up a load and each .5 gr increment gives you 200 fps increase (just making those numbers up) and then suddenly you get no velocity increase or a 500 fps increase - time to back down to the last load fired.

  10. #10
    VIP Member Array Stevew's Avatar
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    For Chrony tripod I use a Moultree Game cam tripod. Oh, by the way I shot my chrono the first day I got it. The next day I was real careful and shot it again.
    Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around laws. Plato

  11. #11
    VIP Member Array nedrgr21's Avatar
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    1) Da boollit ain't gotta go just over the sensor
    2) Yo barrel is about 1.5" below the crosshair
    3) Aim halfway up the side posts or maybe even a little more

  12. #12
    VIP Member Array Majorlk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevew View Post
    For Chrony tripod I use a Moultree Game cam tripod. Oh, by the way I shot my chrono the first day I got it. The next day I was real careful and shot it again.
    Geez, don't you people aim?

    I have no idea how many rounds have passed over my Skyscreens in 25 years and I've yet to hit them.
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  13. #13
    VIP Member Array JerryM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Majorlk View Post
    Geez, don't you people aim?

    I have no idea how many rounds have passed over my Skyscreens in 25 years and I've yet to hit them.
    Yes, right at the top edge of the screen. I always hit it when I aim there.
    Of course the problem is that there is that 1.5" difference in where the scope is and the barrel. In an effort to make sure I did not hit the instrument I held a little too high.

    But after the first I had no more trouble with the rifle, but then came the handguns???

    I have had an extra set of screen or shades would be a better name for about 20 years or so.

    Regards,
    Jerry

  14. #14
    VIP Member Array Majorlk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JerryM View Post
    Yes, right at the top edge of the screen. I always hit it when I aim there.
    Of course the problem is that there is that 1.5" difference in where the scope is and the barrel. In an effort to make sure I did not hit the instrument I held a little too high.

    But after the first I had no more trouble with the rifle, but then came the handguns???

    I have had an extra set of screen or shades would be a better name for about 20 years or so.

    Regards,
    Jerry
    Interesting. My screens have a triangular frame about 8" high with a diffuser on top. Anywhere between the skyscreen top and the bottom of the diffuser results in the chrono reading the shot. The chrono itself sits safely on the bench beside me and the screens are on 25' cables.
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