Ballistics by the inch

Some thoughts about chronographs …

I got the following question, and it was on a topic I’ve been thinking about for a while. I thought I’d share the question and my response.

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I want to upgrade my chronograph. Any recommendations?

Actually, that’s a good question. What I have to say is just my personal opinion, and does not constitute any kind of formal endorsement/review by BBTI.

We’ve used about a dozen different chronos over the series of tests. I’ve been pretty impressed with how consistent the different brands are one to another when compared head-to-head or in checking calibration with my Python and ball ammo from one lot over the years. So in that sense, most of the modestly-priced units seem to be of comparable quality.

Where you start to see some differences is in actually getting data – whether or not lighting is a problem, how much space they need, etc. For most people just using them casually, this wouldn’t be a big deal. When you’re doing 6,000+ shots checking for the cylinder gap effect, it can drive you nuts. Of the moderately priced units (actually, on the high end), this is one we’ve had good luck with: http://www.midwayusa.com/product/773378/ced-millennium-2-chronograph-system

Personally, I have a Chrony Gamma I like ( http://www.midwayusa.com/product/331656/shooting-chrony-gamma-master-chronograph-with-ballistic-chrony-printer ) for most of my casual use checking reloads and whatnot. But that was one of the ones we had problems with now and again (and why it’s now my personal unit).

A couple weeks ago we did the .22WMR series of tests, and had a lot of chrono problems. We thought this might be the case, since the .22mag is one of the smallest bullets going the fastest – presenting the biggest challenge for the optical sensors used on a chronograph. Particularly since as you chop the barrel you are always changing the ‘sight picture’ (even though there aren’t actually sights…) and introducing changes to the barrel crown and suchlike. Meaning that you can’t trust that you’ll get the bullet over the sweet spot for the optical sensors.

So as a backup Jim K had a new high-end Oehler unit: http://www.oehler-research.com/model35.html  Very nice, more complicated than it needs to be, and about 3x the price of most other units on the market.

We even had problems with that.

Bottom line, I think most of the moderate priced units ($100 – $200) are about the same in terms of quality. I never use the printer on mine, and we don’t bother to set up a printer when we do our tests – it’s just one more thing to go wrong. But some people love ’em. If you can, take a look at some of the units, see what features appeal to you, what reviews say, whether the unit seems well constructed. Then make your best bet.

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May 19, 2013 - Posted by | .22WMR, Anecdotes, Data, Discussion., General Procedures

4 Comments »

  1. […] of the four * items, were part of our overall test sequence and had three shots made over the Oehler chronograph (which is a double-unit, and automatically records and then averages the two readings), […]

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  2. […] of the four * items, were part of our overall test sequence and had three shots made over the Oehler chronograph (which is a double-unit, and automatically records and then averages the two readings), […]

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  3. […] of the four * items, were part of our overall test sequence and had three shots made over the Oehler chronograph (which is a double-unit, and automatically records and then averages the two readings), […]

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  4. […] of the four * items, were part of our overall test sequence and had three shots made over the Oehler chronograph (which is a double-unit, and automatically records and then averages the two readings), […]

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