Chronograph selection help

eric1115

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Joined
Dec 20, 2017
Messages
64
I am looking to add a chronograph to my load development process. I have borrowed a magneto speed from a friend a couple of times and the more I use it the more I think I may not want to go that route.

I think what I want is a old school traditional chronograph. The magneto speed has enough impact on group sizes for me that I don't feel like I can use it to get group and speed data at the same time. I'm also interested in using it for pistol loads, but that is far down the list of priorities.

A Labradar would be the ideal solution it seems, but that is definitely not in the budget.

I am not super hung up on getting an exact velocity measurement, as I plan to verify drops out to distance and true ballistic calculators off of that information anyway. I would be mostly looking to get a rough idea on speed but more important would be finding loads where I have both good group size and low ES/SD.

Am I correct in thinking that the old style optical chronos' reputation for inconsistency comes from getting one velocity on a sunny day and another different reading when overcast or sun setting, and from inconsistent setup (distance from the muzzle)? If I'm firing three or five shots, am I likely to get good data on how close those shots are in speed, even if the absolute number may not be correct due to lighting conditions and setup inconsistency?

Where have you landed on how and when to use a chronograph in your load development process? If I'm under or over estimating some factor here, I'd definitely appreciate any input from the experienced hand loaders here.

Lastly, any recommendations for a good value chronograph to accomplish these goals? The basic Caldwell? I don't (right now) have anything crazy fast or big or small, if that makes a difference.

Thanks!
Eric
 

Barrelnut

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I would consider the ProChrono. It's what I used before going to the Magnetospeed. the Prochrono works great with pistols, bows, and pellet rifles too! I still use mine from time to time. It seems to do better with changes in sunlight vs other opticals I have used.
 

Kmccord

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948
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Reilly Springs, TX
I can only offer my experience with optical Chronograph, I use the Pro-Chrony, I have only had issues when the sun has set real low, like thirty minutes from dark, it has measured everything without issues for me. If you set it up correctly, you will not have problems, I do not go to a public range, so setup for me is not an issue. I use the sky screens on mine all the time, they do make lighted sky screens, so you could use indoors or if available power outside, that would probably allow you to work it in twilight hours. Mine only cost 99.00 at the time, it has worked on everything from a pellet gun, crossbow and all of my rifles.
 

asd9055

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Nov 15, 2013
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726
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Texas
I have the CED M2. I also bought the extra infrared lights. I like it a lot, but I wish I had the LabRadar. I agree with you on magneto
 

338weatherby

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May 8, 2020
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655
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I started with a Pro-Chrony and quickly got sick of set-up. I had my 338 with a brake blow the shades off, had to shut down a range ONCE to set up and then again to pack up. Also, setting it in line with target when you change can be a pain if at a public range. I bought a Magnetospeed Sporter and used it for about 3-4 years. I just recently picked up the V3 from Magneto from a member on here. I tossed around the idea of the LabRadar but passed, for now. If your interested in a Magnetospeed Sporter PM me as I was going to list it here soon anyway.

After checking speeds, I pull the bayonet off for groups. Not perfect scenario but better then it hanging on and frustrating me with group size!
 

mongo4567

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Feb 27, 2020
Messages
126
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Pflugerville, TX
I use a prochrono and magnetospeed sporter. I bought the magnetospeed used for $125 because it seemed interesting and simple; it works great for me. I got the prochrono to cover oddball stuff like ARs with short barrels and suppressors; it seemed cheaper than all the adapters for the sporter. They meet all my needs.

I got a caldwell many years ago and it quit working after only a handful of uses over a long period of time.
 

MagnumManiac

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Joined
Feb 25, 2008
Messages
3,762
A LabRadar is definitely the way to go…but I run 2 Shooting Chrony’s with each other and get reliable data. Both are Master Beta models.
The trick is to use optical chrony’s on cloudy days WITHOUT the diffusers attached. A bright sunny day plays havoc with the sensors, even if you use the diffusers.
My 2 run about 10fps different, don’t give me errors on cloudy days like they can do on sunny days, so that’s my take on it.

Cheers.
 

ShtrRdy

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Jan 14, 2012
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I usually use a Magnetospeed but I have a Prochrono from before. The only time I can trust the ProChrono is if it's very cloudy.
 

Captain1967

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Sep 9, 2012
Messages
59
Location
Wyoming
I am looking to add a chronograph to my load development process. I have borrowed a magneto speed from a friend a couple of times and the more I use it the more I think I may not want to go that route.

I think what I want is a old school traditional chronograph. The magneto speed has enough impact on group sizes for me that I don't feel like I can use it to get group and speed data at the same time. I'm also interested in using it for pistol loads, but that is far down the list of priorities.

A Labradar would be the ideal solution it seems, but that is definitely not in the budget.

I am not super hung up on getting an exact velocity measurement, as I plan to verify drops out to distance and true ballistic calculators off of that information anyway. I would be mostly looking to get a rough idea on speed but more important would be finding loads where I have both good group size and low ES/SD.

Am I correct in thinking that the old style optical chronos' reputation for inconsistency comes from getting one velocity on a sunny day and another different reading when overcast or sun setting, and from inconsistent setup (distance from the muzzle)? If I'm firing three or five shots, am I likely to get good data on how close those shots are in speed, even if the absolute number may not be correct due to lighting conditions and setup inconsistency?

Where have you landed on how and when to use a chronograph in your load development process? If I'm under or over estimating some factor here, I'd definitely appreciate any input from the experienced hand loaders here.

Lastly, any recommendations for a good value chronograph to accomplish these goals? The basic Caldwell? I don't (right now) have anything crazy fast or big or small, if that makes a difference.

Thanks!
Eric
I have the ($100.00)pro chrono works well.

I also have labradar got it on sale from Cabelas about two years ago, during Black Friday sale ($500.00 plus 10% off and free shipping). Couldn’t pass that up. Made a mount out of a sawhorse w/ extendable legs that I shortened to fit on a bench. Works great
 

asd9055

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Nov 15, 2013
Messages
726
Location
Texas
My suggestion is, if you can't affort a LabRadar now and will buy a regular chrono with screens, make sure you get the infrared screens for it. It will help you use it in most weather situations.
 

zr600

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Jan 16, 2018
Messages
784
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Nd
Do you shoot surpressed? If so the Labrador needs additional microphone to read it good. My buddy has a Labrador I think he got it pretty well setup now but he had a lot of playing with it to get it working right. He kind of wishes he would have just saved the money and stayed with his megneto speed.
 

ducky

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Joined
Jan 17, 2016
Messages
455
Location
Colorado
A sharpie marker helps a lot with an optical chronograph. Just put the tip against the case mouth and spin the cartridge. Once the marker dries you're ready to shoot.

The dark ring around the bullet has dramatically reduced the errors I had with my Chrony and Pro Chrono. I was suggested this trick by John Barsness, and I'll bet I have less than 1% errors now regardless of lighting conditions. My optical chronographs always worked better on overcast days or if really sunny like most days in CO I rigged up a larger diffuser to shade the eyes, but now I just use the factory diffusers regardless of the light conditions.
 
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