From reading through this thread it is obvious that there are many things to consider about chronographs but it all comes down to a few central ideas:
1. Do you need to know the velocity of the loads you are shooting? If you are hand loading to hunt out to 400 yards, a chrono is not necessary (but it would be informative). If you want to go farther than that, owning a chronograph is the easiest means to an end.
2. If you decide you need a chrono, then buy the chrono with the characteristics you consider important? (Since you indicated the Magnetospeed
won't work with your pistols I'll drop that from further consideration.)
Clearly the most important consideration is measuring bullet velocities reliably? For all but the Magneto speed
, you play a role in making that happen. First off you have to read the directions and use it properly. Mostly you have put it far enough away, align it perfectly, put the bullet through it in the sweet spot and keep it out of lighting conditions that causes it to misread. It isn't as hard as it sounds.
It is unfortunate but some chronographs are only good at doing and impression of a real chronograph. They look and act like a chrono but they don't actually read velocities accurately and repeatedly. That has caused a lot of the pain and confusion you heard expressed in this thread. Those chronographs tend to be the cheap ones though not always.
The CED and the Pro Chrony Digital are the ones I would consider among the conventional chronographs and of those two the best value in my opinion is the Pro Chrony Digital. I have the CED and it works every time all the time (because I know how to use it.) My nephew has the Pro Chrony Digital which also works great.
If you decide to get a chrono, also get a heavy tripod to put it on and a bore sight laser to use to align it. A chrono that is misaligned will always read low. 10 degrees misalignment in both pitch and yaw will cause a 3,000 fps bullet to read as 2,900 fps.