Comparing The Top Chronographs On The Market
By Len Backus
For quite a few years I used the $600 Oehler brand three-screen chrono. For decades it was considered the best. And it probably still is the best screen-based chrono out there.
But even it would sometimes fail to read in tricky light conditions. If you have to drive a ways to shoot, you NEVER want a failure-to-read situation. And setting up the screens was a bit of a pain in the butt. And of course for those who shoot at busy public ranges, it's especially inconvenient to set up screens given the range safety issues and rules.
Thank goodness the MagnetoSpeed Chronograph hit the market several years ago followed by the LabRadar. They have both been proven by industry experts like Brian Litz in side-by-side testing of all the top chronos to be at the very top of the heap in terms of accuracy. And their ease of setup and use is truly a game changer.
Both systems take a completely different approach to measuring bullet velocity compared to traditional chronographs and I am so glad they do! Are you ready to ditch that frustrating old chronograph?
MagnetoSpeed straps to the end of your barrel and uses electromagnets to measure the speed of bullets. It is extremely accurate and never misses a reading. It is quick and easy to strap on, then push a button or two and you are up and running and measuring muzzle velocity on just about any type of projectile from airguns to .50 cal.
- Simple and easy to use.
- Very accurate.
- Never misses a reading (practically).
- Relatively low price, especially the Sporter model which is a real bargain.
- V3 models handles suppressors and large, aggressive brakes well.
- Excellent Battery life.
- No chance of picking up neighbor's shot at a busy range.
- Small company out of Austin, TX with great customer support and warranty.
MagnetoSpeed Sporter provides you with the same electromagnetic technology and accuracy as the V3 but at half the price. They trimmed down to the core operating features to be able to offer a more budget friendly alternative for the basic rifle shooter.
- Uses different size shims to align the bayonet relative to the center of the barrel. This can be a little putzy. Once you have the shims figured out for a given gun attaching the MagnetoSpeed is a snap. Switching between guns can be a hassle though.
- Because MagnetoSpeed attaches to end of barrel, harmonics can be affected causing slight change in point of impact or group size. If you only need mv this is a non-issue.
- Does not work with bows or crossbows.
- Can't attach to some pistols (with long slides for example).
- To pick up airgun projectiles and some small rimfire calibers a sensitivity setting may need to be adjusted which can be a bit tricky.
The Sporter works on barrels from 1/2 inch up to 1 inch in diameter. It can also accommodate muzzle brakes, flash hiders, etc, up to 2.7 inches in length. Ideal for contoured rifle barrels (sporter barrels) and long-barreled revolvers.
4.8 out of 5 Stars - 5 Customer Reviews
The MagnetoSpeed V3 ballistic chronograph kit was designed to be used on barrels and suppressors from 1/2 inch all the way up to 2 inches in diameter. In addition to the larger diameter tolerance, the V3 also has one inch more clearance in the blast zone to account for longer (up to 3" in most cases) muzzle brakes, flash hiders, etc.
It also offers some other feaures the Sporter doesn't, like a better display and 3-button navigation menu, an adjustable sensitivity setting needed for airgun and small rimfire, an sd card for saving and working with data on a computer, and a rapid fire mode.
4.9 out of 5 Stars - 22 Customer Reviews
LabRadar Ballistic Velocity Radar
Doppler radar is known to be extremely accurate and reliable but in the past there were no relatively inexpensive consumer models on the market. Then came LabRadar.
Attach LabRadar to any tripod or the optional Bench Top Mounting Plate and place it next to your weapon, point the LabRadar in the direction of the target, push one button to turn it on and another button to arm it - and shoot. LabRadar is extremely accurate and never misses a reading. The controls are simple and intuitive. You can store data on the unit or use the optional SD card to work with the data on a computer later.
We use LabRadar to verify muzzle velocities for dozens of students during our LRH Shooting Classes each summer in Wyoming and it can be done just so darn easy and with 100% confidence.
- Extremely simple to use.
- Very accurate.
- Never misses a reading (practically).
- Handles most suppressors and brakes well.
- Measures most any projectile from airgun to .50 cal.
- Switching between multiple guns requires no adjustment (in most cases).
- Works with bows and crossbows using the optional Archery Trigger Adapter.
- Because nothing touches your gun you can confidently work up loads and check mv at the same time with no chance of it affecting point of impact or group size.
- US Distributor is a small company in Michigan who does a great job with customer support and warranty.
- To avoid picking up neighbors' shots at a busy range a sensitivity setting may need to be adjusted which can be a bit tricky.
- To pick up airgun projectiles, some small rimfire calibers and some suppressed rounds a sensitivity setting may need to be adjusted which can be a bit tricky. (An optional Airgun Trigger Adapter may be needed to pick up the sound of the shot to engage the radar.)
- Uses 6 AA batteries and battery life isn't the greatest. The optional USB Rechargeable Battery Bank is a wise investment.
Doppler Radar has been used by defense agencies and ballistic laboratories for many years for research and development of all sorts of projectiles, but the units were bulky and extremely expensive. The manufacturer of LabRadar has been an industry leader in Doppler Radar for over 20 years and is proud to offer the same outstanding technology in a compact, affordable and easy to use package.
4.9 out of 5 Stars - 15 Customer Reviews
Len Backus is the owner of www.LongRangeHunting.com. He has been a long range hunter since the 90's and is as likely to bag his game with a camera as with a rifle or a specialty handgun. His outdoor photography can be seen at LenBackus.com