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Recomend a Chronograph

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by bmw2, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. bmw2

    bmw2 Mount Vernon, Wa Active Member

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    It's time to get serious and buy a chrony. I rarely load anything to the maximums, so I'm not too worried about safety but I need to start keeping additional data and I'd really just like to have an idea where I'm at on speeds. Anyone using a moderately priced chrony that they're happy with?
     
  2. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Whatever your choice, get one with the "brains" not incorporated into the sensor unit. Even if you don't hit it by accident, the readout is inconvenient when it's 10 feet or more in front of the "firing line".

    I went the route of inexpensive a few years ago with a Shooting Chrony Beta. Ended up having to take a pair of binoculars to the range to read the numbers and had to go forward to reset or erase any numbers. Inconvenient when shooting at a public range.

    I ended up buying a Pact XP Pro with IR skyscreens. I can now even shoot and measure speeds on an indoor range, even with dim or fluorescent lights. Outdoors I don't have to worry about NW weather where it's sunny one moment and clouds cover everything 10 minutes later. The "brains" sit next to me at the bench and I can print out my results to then staple in the "book" along with my load data. This may be a little pricey at just under $300 delivered but it's well worth it.

    For a more economical version Pact also offers the Model 1 XP which has Non-IR skyscreens for $130 or with the IR Screens for $169. This model has the readout at the bench so no squinting or binoculars needed. If you do put a shot into the screens or sensors, it's a $30 or less repair bill instead of a complete replacement.

    CED also makes some good chronographs but I decided to go for the "full package" as it's been my experience that in the end it doesn't really cost any more than buying something you end up unhappy with or wish you'd stepped up for the extra features.

    If it's just a matter of the "cheapest out there" Shooting Crony's are about it with some models under $75. I know that I was sure unhappy with mine.
     
  3. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    I agree with Deadshot, but if money's the real issue, there is a very decent one with a remote readout you can bring to your bench. I see it here with varying prices:

    LINK
     
  4. bmw2

    bmw2 Mount Vernon, Wa Active Member

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    Awesome, thanks.
     
  5. CrossHairs

    CrossHairs Tigard Active Member

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    I have the shooting chrony(green) with the remote display and printer, it's ugly, has the styling of a brick but works well...managed to fire a 9mm round over the top of the rear sensor....luckily did little damage and did not prevent it from working. A chronograph is a great tool for sure.

    I made a set of diffuser lights for mine out of a couple of leds, the body of a ball point pen(frosted plastic) and a couple of batteries. Works great when light conditions get 'iffy'!
     
  6. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Howdy. For what it's worth, here's info from a mossback.

    I bought an Oehler 33 at a gun show 20 years ago, after "borrowing" a friend's for ten years while he taught school in Alaska. I still have it, use it at least once a month in the dreary season, twice a week at least in the better season (now). I believe this is heavy use compared to most shooters. I have a 100 yard range, and a heated cabin for the bench. The 33 came with the old style skyscreens, (black painted venetian blinds, no diffuser on top) and I upgraded to the diffuser panels above styrene wing vanes about 10 years ago. I use a chronograph more often than most people mow their lawns.

    This machine is durable, accurate, and invaluable for telling me what I cannot determine might be the cause of a result on the target. It will measure perfectly the speed of everything from a .220 Swift to a thrown tennis ball, and everything in-between: this includes paintballs out of a wrist-rocket (proving that is better for velocity than a good modern paintball gun). I am a bowhunter too, and it puts to rest buddy's claims of how fast their bows launch an arrow. On one happy occasion, a bumble-bee was proving that contrary to science, and against all rules of aviation, they are good flyers and made it through both skyscreens. The Oehler gave the reading: 34fps. I dutifully recorded his performance in my notebook.

    The screens are forward (mine are exactly 10 feet from muzzle), and the magic box sits on the bench right next to the rifle. This "ancient" model will allow disregard of a shot you know was an anomaly toward your string and summary that includes highest velocity, lowest velocity, average velocity, and Standard Deviation (the average of the variance, shot to shot: a valuable measure that is directly correlated to consistency where velocity is concerned). NOTE: Standard Deviation is not necessarily an indicator of potential accuracy: only a clue. It is not a rare occurrence that a load that is LESS consistent in velocity is MORE accurate. A valuable lesson I would have never benefited from without a chronograph.

    I am always careful about barrel alignment over the electric-eye windows (closer is better), but ONCE.........ONCE..... I thought I had been careful, and the gun was not mine, had a scope mounted way high (on "see-thru" mounts), and the bullet smacked the eye-housing ever so slightly. The groove it cut is still there as a reminder: be more careful. I shudder to think what would have been the result if my error had been slightly greater, and I was using a unit with all the brains in front of the gun. The mistake cost me nothing: at worst I would have been compelled to buy a new skyscreen. I've heard reliable stories that Oehler has replaced these free of charge under the same circumstances (and I'm certain, a humbled, embarrassed letter from the owner).

    This unit has the option to choose a less spacing of the skyscreens (quick re-calibration of the brain), but greater distance between the screens is understandably the more accurate way to go. A chrono is nothing more than a stopwatch: measurement over a greater distance is more truthful. (4 feet is where I run it.) Some of the "brain forward" chronos run a much reduced space between the triggering eyes.

    For a handloader, and frequent shooter, this is an INDISPENSABLE tool. Invest in the best, invest for your lifetime.
     
  7. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    No doubt the Oehler was the "gold standard" of chronographs. The 35P is the successor to the model you have. At just under $600 it is quite an investment considering the others (CED, Pact, and Shooting Chrony) that are available today. Oehler made a run of the 35P's in 2010 and were sold on a first come, first serve basis. Don't think you can buy a new Oehler Chrony today.

    As an "insurance policy" I use a laser bore lighter to set up my Pact Chronograph. Sandbag the rifle in the rest while aimed at my target, insert bore sighter, set up chronograph by seeing where the "dot" passes over the sensors. For $25 or so it keeps me in business. Like you, I use my chronograph every week. I am a "data junkie" and don't just shoot 3-5 round groups for speed but will often shoot 25-30 round strings. The greater the sample, the more reliable the statistics.

    As for Extreme Spread and Standard Deviation, my Pact prints this all out but the statistic I pay more attention to is "Mean Average Deviation". The speed variation above or below the average speed is a better indication of the rounds performance rather than the mathematically derived SD.
     
  8. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Oehler is offering now a re-issue of the 35P. I don't think a printout would be useful for me, as I like to record in writing any anomaly observed with each shot, as the velocity for that shot is written. (flyer, brass/primer appearance, bolt lift effort, felt recoil, etc.). Of course, I could record such just the same in the notebook, and attach the printout to the page, but recording the velocity (averages, ES, SD, etc.) myself takes little more effort and allows direct partnering of all info just after the shot. I will admit that on more than a few occasions, I have forgotten to write down a velocity, and the printout would preclude this oversight.

    Mean Avg Deviation I agree is quite valuable, and something the old 33 does not do.

    Your idea of the laser for preventing a less than happy accident is a good one. However, I have never found any use for a laser (or optical) boresighter as opposed to the old-fashioned true boresighting methods, and some of the models of such that I have experimented with (belonging to others) are of less reliability than an actual boresighting procedure. Some proved actually nearly useless when compared to true boresighting. Personal preferences and experiences vary, but I've never been able to justify the expense for my own usage. Your idea has warranted some reexamination of my conclusions.

    For the guns that do not allow peering down the bore (levers, pumps, autos), I find that firing two to four shots at 25 yards, adjusting sights between each shot, will get me on target for the 100 yard range, with the added bonus of my bore being properly fouled for the refinement, so the old claim of "saving ammo" with a boresighter is somewhat overrated.

    Some boresighter manufacturers' claims of using it to check your sights prior to hunting simply horrify me, and I wonder how many uninformed shooters fall for this suggestion, and worse: how many accept a sporting goods store's "boresighting" of their gun as anything near adequate for going hunting.
     
  9. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    The only thing I use the laser bore sighter for is to set up my chronograph. I use the old fashioned method as well when working with new sights or scope. The bore sighter is just an insurance policy as it was cheaper than just one replacement sensor. It's also easier to use when setting up a chronograph than running back and forth, looking to see where the bore is aligned with the skyscreens.

    Using this method also allows me to shoot for group size while gathering data rather than the "shoot into the dirt" method a lot of shooters do. They just set up the 'graph and then shoot between the uprights regardless if they hit the target or not.
     
  10. Grommit327

    Grommit327 Buckley Active Member

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    I just bought a shooting chrony alpha model to help figure out some loads. Worked great for 9mm but I am having problems with other calibers. When shooting 40sw it reads either 330, 530 or 930fps with a 5fps variance or so over a 10 shot string. I tried moving closer or farther and raising and lowering shot placement but didn't seem to help just changed what wrong velocity it read. Unfortunately with all this adjustment I had an errant round take out both wire rods on one side. I have an email into the company to see what's going on but anyone have an idea? Also read around 230fps while shooting a .380 which isn't right
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2011
  11. BillM

    BillM Amity OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Tried the cheap ones for a while---really touchy about light, hard to see the readout, and erratic enough that I just did not
    TRUST them.

    Finally went to the CED Millenium II. It was the chrono I saw the most at the chrono stage at major matches--for good reason.
    $200 stung a bit, but "buy once, cry once" isn't that bad a philosophy. Didn't go with the infra-red screens, but I may update
    sometime in the future.
     
  12. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    I have a Shooting Chrony Beta that I now rarely use. It is extremely sensitive to Light. Too much direct sunlight and it gives funny readings. Too little light and it does likewise.

    If you are shooting on a cloudy day, the diffusers are not needed. Using them on a cloudy day just cuts down the amount of light.

    To avoid shooting the rods try using some soda straws with short pieces of welding rod (2" or so) instead of the wire uprights. Put the "stubs" in the socket and the straws on them. Works great if the diffuser's are not needed.

    Another interesting thing about this Chronograph is that sometimes it is necessary to "blacken" the bullets. Just take a felt tip pen and darken the bullet jacket. This increases the "contrast" and gives a better signal to the sensors. Sometimes a shiny bullet with lots of side lighting will not be sensed correctly as it passes over the sensors.

    Sometimes you need to clear the memory in order to keep previous readings from interfering. Don't know why, just found that mine usually settled down when I did.

    Lastly, the battery needs to be as fresh as possible. If it starts to loose it's "snap" that too gives crappy readings. Even the more expensive chronographs are sensitive to voltage.