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Thread: Labradar chronograph experience?

  1. #1
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    georgerkahn's Avatar
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    Labradar chronograph experience?

    As my right leg gets to be more of a challenge, I have need to change "things" a bit to hopefully keep doing that which I enjoy: #1, being casting, reloading, and shooting. I've found having and using a chrony as almost a necessity, and have both a PACT as well as an Oehler-35P chronograph. Last year, primarily for airguns, I picked up a FX unit, too, which has really impressed me. It hangs on 'gun barrel -- for me, no gimping/limping .

    I've recently become aware of a product called the LabRadar which is mounted on a camera tripod -- full-sized or bench -- and "that's it"! The only "Internet" negativity I've read is with the unit getting blown over and broken from use in high wind days (duh!). [MidwayUSA url is https://ads.midwayusa.com/product/1016447132?pid=523157 ]

    I've noted a high percentage of "reviews" being either those written by "writers" rather than real shooters (like us )
    or disguised promoters of a product -- clever way to promote their product.

    The LabRadar "ain't cheap" -- but, I may have a definite buyer for my Oehler, and a pretty good possibility for the PACT getting a new home... to make it alllmost affordable.

    The big questions to me are IF it works; how well it works?

    Any information from any who may HAVE ONE, and their use experience(s) will be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks!
    geo

  2. #2
    Boolit Master


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    I just got one myself but haven't had a chance to use it. Several here have used it and it seemed to have gotten good reviews. Interested to hear more as I hope I made the right decision.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
    JSnover's Avatar
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    I like mine.
    On a busy day at the range there's a chance of picking up shots from the shooter next to you but it's possible to tune them out by tweaking the settings.
    You'll want an external power source because it chews up batteries pretty fast. Mine was made by StreamLight but I understand LabRadar now sells one. $30 at Midway.
    Warning: I know Judo. If you force me to prove it I'll shoot you.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    I’ve had one for a couple years now. I do the majority of shooting at an indoor range so it’s the only one that will work. Only issues I have had is the on-board batteries don’t last and you must get a external rechargeable battery pack.
    Also when using Bluetooth with iPhone it sometimes loses communication but that is minor to me but there are others that seem to get their panties in a wad over it. At indoor ranges I have never had any issues with it picking up other shooters.
    I have also seen the threads and videos of the wind blowing it over and in some breaking the LabRadar. If those are for real then it’s a setup or they are really stupid.

  5. #5
    Boolit Mold
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    Although pricey, one of my best purchases. I've only used mine with 9mm, 45, and 300BO. Only takes a few minutes to set up. I have measured readings in as little as 40 ft to my trap. Only problem I have is remembering to arm it. Recommend getting an external battery pack. I sourced the one LabRadar was selling online to save a few bucks. It lasts a long time.

    As usual, the initial purchase is just the beginning. Folks are selling 3-D printed scope mounts to help with alignment and others are selling transducers you velco to your gun to help trigger the LabRadar when shooting suppressed. No way would I buy another unit with screens. I was trying to get readings indoors, I played with all sorts of lighting trying to get my old unit to read. I even tried IR lights.

    Get a memory card and reader if you need one. Stick the card in your computer and dump the readings into an Excel spreadsheet. It's the cat's meow.

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master


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    I've had 3 different owners set them up alongside my Oehler M43 and M35P. Lots of lost shots (fail to read) and lost range time (fiddling with program). Apparently they only read down range velocities/BCs to >100 yards.....when they read? Yes, some say they work great but I did not see it and I was not impressed.

    A simple battery powered light available for $3 or less at Harbor freight laid on top of the Oehler SkyScreen allows indoor and after dark use. I even measure pellet velocities using that method in my RV garage. Suggest you don't sell the Oehler M35P until after you try the LabRadar…………..if then...…...
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  7. #7
    Boolit Bub

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    I've been using one for about a year and a half.

    It was a slow learning curve for me and I still have to resort to the instructions if I don't use it for a while. I would never go back to using an optical chronograph now. My shooting is at an outdoor range. Once you have the LabRadar set up properly, it never misses recording a shot. The initial purchase is just the beginning. I ended up buying a sight, the external battery pack and a memory card to go with it. I have used it for 9MM, 357 and 460 magnum. Nowdays a range trip involves shooting all I want, returning home, plugging the USB cord into my computer and downloading all of my data for the day.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks for starting this thread geo .
    I shoot mostly indoor now and can't set up my chronograph at the range I use and I sure miss it when working up loads . Labradar looks like it could be a handy solution to get some real numbers on loads with no equipment in front of my shooting position.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    My 2 cents:

    No need for a extra sight
    Buy an external battery - $20
    Use an iPad, iPhone or other for the Bluetooth connectivity. App is ok, but better than using the onboard screen.
    Tripod - I bought the LabRadar one. It is ok - and the right height for setting on the bench.
    Buy a computer laptop case for it.
    Excel for reading and saving the results.
    Note pad for recording what each string is. The program does not allow you to comment on the load, 23.5 grains or something...

    Geoff in Oregon

    Easiest chrono to set up.

  10. #10
    Boolit Bub
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    If the wind is strong enough to blow over the lab radar you probably wouldn't be shooting that day anyway. I just can't see it happening.
    They work really well and don't change the barrel harmonics like a magneto speed

  11. #11
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    Minerat's Avatar
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    I have one an have reading from my 17hh to the 50ae. It has its issues but once you get it sighted in it works fine. Even when snowing. I have their heavy steel plate bench mount and throw a couple of sandbags on it and there has not been a problem. Any UBS battery packs will work but I have the one they sell on their web site, I also have their mini tripod but have not had a chance to use it yet. The battery pack has 2 outlets so you can hook your smart phone or kindle to it too and use the bluetooth hookup to review your shots without it dieing. You just need to push the button till the blue light is on or the unit won't record.

    Yup, 10 rounds and no reading. Thought it was broke, then read the directions.

    As Larry says it's good to a little over 100 yds for most calibars. We only have a 100 yd ranges at our club so no problem for me. But a chronograph is only good for 10 yds and does not do BC calcs.

    To me its like any device there is a learning curve. I have learned,

    At this price you do not want to shoot it! So ALWAYS make sure your muzzle is even or a little in front to the device.

    that mounting it on a camera tripod to get it in front of the bench by using 2 legs leaned against the bench and the third leg extended to stabilize it so it is even with rifle barrels.

    Make sure the blue light is on before firing a shot.

    Get one of Smokes aimers (what I have) or do a google foo search for one of the others out there.

    Try to remember to input the bullet information before firing a string.

    And setup a good spreadsheet to save the data collected.

    I kept my PACT though.
    Steve,

    Life Member NRA
    Member: Clear Creek County Sportsman Association


    Kilo Charlie zero Golf Papa Tango

  12. #12
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    THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all the really GREAT replies to my questions. I had kind of reckoned the product -- at it's rather high ante -- HAD to be pretty good, or they'd be out of business. Simple as that.
    From what you knowledgeable, good folks took the time to write -- again, thank you! It looks like I'll be adding to Mr. Potterfield's (MidwayUSA) millions -- -- I will be ordering one shortly. Incidentally -- I have an extra lap-top case; never would have thought of using it for a LabRadar -- thank you, Gunor, for that suggestion!
    geo

  13. #13
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    georgerkahn...

    i use 2 tripods ....one to hold a 18"x18" frame (like a picture frame.) the frame has a poster cardboard (same size)
    clipped to it with an aiming dot in the center.

    it's like a small boat sail so it blows over really easy. so i hung a 10 pound weight to the leg spreader on the tripod.
    cured the blow over problem.

    did the same for the chrony

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I have one of the lab radars and use it a lot. Aiming It is critical, I made a 4" long tube sight to clip on in place of the aiming groove on top. This works much better for me. I normally can get readings from 22 cal center fires out to 200 yds. I have gotten reading on bpcr rounds to 300 yds. It is a learning curve to use it. My big one was the BPCR rounds (1150-1250 fps) ignore the rifle pistol and archery and set to velocity range, my BPCR rounds read and work great on pistol setting. Another is there more than one on the range you need to coordinate and be on different wave lengths. Mine is mounted on a Jim Owens spotting scope stand very stable and easy to set up and use. Mine is around serial number 100. I like it alot as its quick and easy to set up with nothing in front of the line. I also use a battery pack with mine. I used a piece of velcro to hold it to the unit.

    As a side note one Sunday we set up 3 systems My lab radar a pact professional and magneto speed together and each round was measured 3 times. All were very close together.

  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master

    dragon813gt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Gibson View Post
    I've had 3 different owners set them up alongside my Oehler M43 and M35P. Lots of lost shots (fail to read) and lost range time (fiddling with program). Apparently they only read down range velocities/BCs to >100 yards.....when they read? Yes, some say they work great but I did not see it and I was not impressed.
    This sounds like user error to me. It definitely has its quirks. It has to be aimed correctly to begin w/. It has to be setup for the correct velocity range. If people are near you then the sensitivity has to be setup correctly. And the barrel has to be in correct position next to it. It takes a bit to get it all figured out so you capture every shot.

    All that being said it’s a great product and one of the best investments I’ve made. If you have a “lipstick” charger for a cell phone then you don’t need to buy an external battery pack. There’s certainly no reason to buy the LabRadar branded one as it’s over priced. Buy a quality brand like Anker and you’re set. Most people have a few chargers lying around these days.

    The app is nice but I don’t rely on it. I dump everything into LibreCalc when I get home. I ditched MS products and switched to open source a long time ago. Have a template made up and just copy and paste the pertinent info into it.

    Biggest advantages to me are setup time and location. Plop it down on the bench, set it up and you’re ready to go in about a minute. And the only way you will shoot it is if it’s hit by a ricochet, or you intentionally shoot it. Also no need for a cold range for setup and takedown if you are at a public range. Well worth the investment IMO.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mozeppa View Post
    i use 2 tripods ....one to hold a 18"x18" frame (like a picture frame.) the frame has a poster cardboard (same size) clipped to it with an aiming dot in the center.
    mozeppa -- Thank you for your post, but I'm a tad confused vis the second tripod (w/ 18" x 18" frame with aim-dot centre)? I envision this 2nd tri-pod, say, 75 yards down-range, for your aiming point of the LabRadar, with the 1st tri-pod supporting the unit itself, adjacent to firearm's barrel? If this be the case, why would not just the centre of target bull suffice as well; or, perhaps, say, a black target spotter? (For some reason, I have tons more of these than the white ones)
    My prime reason for ordering the LabRadar (which... drum roll here... I just did -- thanks much to feedback here!) -- is my increasing challenge to ambulate. I would not be loose with the truth in guessing more than five minutes for me to gimp to 75 yard line, staple a few targets up, and limp back to line... Hence -- my hope is to be able to do lots more (vel. recorded) shooting than limping in any given time at range...
    Kindly advise if I'm visioning incorrectly the innocent tripod (I couldn't resist -- the framed one )
    Thanks again!
    geo

  17. #17
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    You can aim it towards the target using a loose scope or even a ghost ring by holding the aiming devise in the notch on the top of the unit and lining it up to your target. I don't use a scope with Smokes aimer just the rings that come with it, I line them up and center the target in the rings like a peep sight. Its not like it has to be perfect just so the radar waves emitted run parallel with your bullet to the target.
    Steve,

    Life Member NRA
    Member: Clear Creek County Sportsman Association


    Kilo Charlie zero Golf Papa Tango

  18. #18
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    Simple plastic straw is all that's needed for an aiming device. Same battery packs (white trimmed with grey) can be bought on Amazon, at half the price that LabRadar wants for their white trimmed with orange.

    Winelover

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    BTW, I use LabRadar's optional metal base to support mine, rather than a tripod.

    Winelover

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by winelover View Post
    BTW, I use LabRadar's optional metal base to support mine, rather than a tripod.

    Winelover
    I made one with a piece of aluminum plate I had and a small camera ballhead. Works great if one has room on the bench. I previously had an Oehler for many years that was a great chronograph, but setting it up downrange was a hassle, especially if other shooters were waiting or if the range dropped away from the firing line appreciably. There is a learning curve no doubt, but works well once one figures it out. Yes, the tube or straw definitely improves aiming it.
    NRA Endowment member, TSRA Life member, Distinguished Rifleman, Viet Nam Vet

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