LabRadar Chronograph Review
By Jeff Brozovich
I was pretty excited to test this new bad boy of the chronograph world out, so I asked Rhian Mantha, AKA "BignGreen," to come along and help. I mean if a guy is going to go shoot, he might just as well have company right? Besides, this will set the stage for those that read this review to get two opinions from two long range guys.
Opening the box showed a pretty good selection of parts and pieces. Looks like we have everything we need for sure. The LabRadar unit, tripod, plate for getting prone or off a bench if desired, USB cable, carrying cases, instructions and warranty card. So let’s get to the range and get her programmed.
The handy carry cases make transporting the unit and gear nice!
Programming is not too bad once you get the drift of the button sequence.
You will page through settings like:
- Velocity Units: We chose feet per second.
- Distance Units: We chose yards
- Weight Units: Weight of projectile, we used grains.
- Velocity Range: Rifle (984 fps and up)
- Proj. Offset. Distance from the side of the unit to muzzle
- Set Distances: Distances in which the velocity measurements are made. DX 1 through DX 5. We played with this a lot. DX 1 was 6 yards out from the muzzle to simulate where we typically set up other chronos, and on out to see how far we could get readings.
- Projectile Weight: We tried 3 different weights.
- Arm Time: Time the unit will stay in ready to fire mode. This resets with each shot.
- Screen Saver: Time the display will stay up.
- Trigger Source: Internal Microphone.
- Trigger Level: This is a sensitivity setting.
- TX Channel: In case more than one unit is in the area.
- TX Power: Standard or Low. We chose STD for longer distances.
LabRadar Chronograph ReviewWhew!! Got it! Now for some shootin’. We set up prone and Rhian got his trusty .308 with some 215 Bergers ready.
The display is easy to see if you set up straight on to the unit.
As you can see, we got the corrected reading for the muzzle, 6 yards out, 20, 40 and 60 yards out, but it didn't get the 80 yard.
We were having some issues with grass and felt it could be blocking some results so we set up on the tripod at its lowest point. Also we switched to my 300 win mag with 215 Bergers and I put my MagnetoSpeed chronograph on for velocity comparisons. The readings of the two units were very close, so close that it would be hard to prove which one is actually just a few fps off.
Next we strapped the MagnetoSpeed to my AR 15 in .223 with 55 gr bullets to see how the LabRadar does on smaller calibers. We pretty much failed here. Even with several adjustments to settings and unit location the LabRadar was not wanting to grab the small bullets. The ones it did grab registered a couple hundred fps different than the MagnetoSpeed. Investigating led us to find out we were using one of the earliest prototype units and a software change had already been put in motion. New units should not have this issue. We also had some issues with wind triggering the unit on the very sensitive settings. This was only an issue while trying to tweak the unit to get readings on the .223.
Publisher's Note: We recently received the software (firmware) update for our unit. We haven't had a chance to install it and re-test, but we will report our findings when we do. We were told the update will solve the issue of missed readings on smaller calibers.
By the way, this thing is really easy to set up and use. I love it. I had tested it briefly before we sent the unit on to Jeff and Rhian for their own independent evaluation.
We'll be using it at the LRH-NTO Shooting Classes next month to help in validating trajectories for each of the shooters' rifles. Imagine this unit's advantages when you have 8 rifles to measure velocities on in a short time frame.
LabRadar Chronograph ReviewOkay, now the part we long range guys wanted. Let’s head for the hills and see how the Labradar works in a field setting for some long shots on rocks. For this we ventured to one of my favorite places, with targets both on incline and decline shots, distances of 800, 1000, 1200, 1400 feet and my favorite rock 8 degrees up at 1805 yards. Rhian broke out a rifle he had just finished in 338 RUM loaded with 250 Bergers and I stayed with my 300 win and the 215's.
We found that with the longer shots and scopes dialed up the bullet arc was leaving the window of the unit. But if we repositioned the unit higher we could get readings farther out. I think we even grabbed a couple out to 120 yards. Cool!
We didn't have an SD card, so sorry to say we cannot report on the function of transferring data to our PC, but we did have the option. So we were running on the internal memory of the unit which is said to be "limited", but we had over 8 files going and never ran out of space. Named files could be loaded to a PC by use of the USB cable and data saved for later use or review at any time.
We will give two summaries, one from Jeff ("Broz") and the other from Rhian ("BignGreen"). Here goes.
Jeff Brozovich ("Broz")
I am very excited about the amount of new technology being made available to us. The thought of what we are testing here is a great concept. The unit worked well for us for how unfamiliar we were with it. The Labradar is a great tool and today’s chronographs like this will save a guy a lot of wasted ammo when we are working up loads or drops because we have solid velocity data. I do however feel this unit is best suited for bench use from a solid location. I feel the guys that like to document lots of data from a solid bench are going to like the LabRadar. The ease of reach and function from a bench position would make the entire experience very enjoyable.
Rhian Mantha ("BignGreen")
I've gone through a lot of chronographs, most of which have been more trouble than they were worth between poor mounting option, trying to hit that perfect day where the sun and wind line up for good velocities and navigating menus that I'm sure were used as some sort of encryption code in a third world war. There are a few exceptions that we've seen in recent years that have been providing excellent velocities and usability for us but none until now have given us the capabilities that are wrapped up in the LabRadar.
We did find that a large muzzle blast will cause a nonread, but positioning the LabRadar back near the shooter solved that. The menu does take a little time to learn but you won't mess anything up if you push a wrong button as it asks for confirmation of the action you chose, so backing out is simple. We changed the screen setting to shut down in 20 seconds and we saw over 4 hours of near continual use and there was still battery left, so with a little management I'm not too concerned about battery life. Being of modern design, if there are minor issues we have the ability to update the software. This gives me some confidence in buying any tool with software in it!
For many, the use of a chronograph is a critical component in every phase of their load development routine. You want accurate velocities and groups without any influence from a barrel mounted unit, or having to reposition to keep your shots going in the same place over the unit. The LabRadar delivers the ability to shoot ladders or troubleshoot during load development and know your velocities are accurate and groups are free from any influence from a barrel mounted chronograph, and you can shoot a series of targets without repositioning. For some of us this would be a nice tool, for others this is the chronograph that they've been waiting for!
Jeff Brozovich is a long time big game hunter who has become proficient at long range hunting, shooting and training. He also has a passion for ELR and is often stretching the distances well over 2000 yards. If Jeff is not out shooting you will often find him in his reloading room setting up a long range rifle, fine tuning a precision load or testing bullets. Jeff enjoys hunting with family and friends as well as riding horses in the beautiful mountains of Montana.