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Thread: Chronograph Help

  1. #1
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    buckwheatpaul's Avatar
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    Chronograph Help

    I dipped my toe into the murky water of the 300 AAC Blackout and I have decided that I really need to get a chronograph to really get the most out of that round.....with that said I need your guidance on two different types.

    1. MagnetoSpeed Sporter
    2. Caldwell Ballistic
    3. You suggestion if you dont like these two and why

    I have read quite a bit about those two but when you read their strong posts and the weak posts (reviews) it leaves me really confused....hence I am coming to my family for your 2 cents worth!

    I would appreciate the strong points; the weak points of each; and why you like or dont recommend a particular chronograph.

    I would like to thank you each for your guidance because I do want to get it right before I ask Mrs. Santa Clause to ask Santa for my Christmas gift.....Paul
    When guns are outlawed only criminals and the government will have them and at that time I will see very little difference in either!

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  2. #2
    Boolit Master

    rancher1913's Avatar
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    I have the magneto speed and find its very persnicity to use, I have only used it on shotguns so that might be my issue. it has to be strapped on just right and adjusted just right or you dont get a reading, when it works, it works but a lot of the time I get error messages and I have had to send it back for repairs once due to a bad sensor. I am curious to see how people like the caldwell.
    if you are ever being chased by a taxidermist, don't play dead

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
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    BWP: I have used an Oehler 33 chronograph for the past 40 years. It was an expensive acquisition at the time, but over the years it has been worth every cent I paid for it.

    Just knowing your velocity is only the start of "usefulness".

    I like to chronograph every shot of every group I shoot in load development. Shot by shot velocity for some rifles will explain why individual shots are going high or low. I do quite a bit with lever action .30-30s. They are particularly prone to vertical stringing explained by velocity variation. My rule of thumb for that is that 100 fps difference in velocity equals 2" vertical displacement on target at 50 meters. Without that insight I would be blaming vertical stringing on bench technique, bedding etc, which would get me nowhere. Thanks to the chronograph I know that what I have to do for those rifles is to work on velocity variation/uniformity. These observations do not apply to my bolt action .308.

    The difficulty I see with the MagnetoSpeed system is that hanging the device off the barrel is likely to alter both the grouping and POI of the rifle, invalidating any velocity based explanation of grouping and POI.

    So for me, a basic requirement would be that the device DOES NOT attach to the rifle.
    It'll be handy if I never need it.

    Experience is what you get when you don't read the instructions

  4. #4
    Boolit Bub slam45's Avatar
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    before you decide on a chrono be sure to take a good hard look at Lab Radar... I've owned and used most of the sky screen chronos and the lab radar beats them all for easy accurate use , fast setup for any type of firearm and the fewest lost shots... best I've use in over 30 years of chrono testing.

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master

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    This one is sure to be mentioned at some point, The Lab Radar. I really like the ones that have nothing in front of the firing line, How many posts just here have you read/seen I SHOT MY CHRONO TODAY. With the lab radar and magneto speed nothing is in front of the line.

    I started out with a pact professional and used it for close to 20 years. It was a very good unit and reliable but I did replace repair 3-4 sky screens over the years from being hit. Set u[p on a open range was a pain since the screens were in front of the line, so the line had to be clear to set up. Cords from screens to unit were a pain in transport. When this unit gave up and couldnt be repaired I borrowed a magneto speed a couple times.

    The magneto speed is a good unit, set up can be done seated at the bench so line could be hot with no problems. with modern ammo it was a very good unit. I shoot a lot of black powder cartridges and the wads passage would fault the unit, it also became a real mess with lubes and fouling. Another issue is the mounting with a globe sight or under lugs the mount can be interesting. I never payed attention to it but I also suspect the trader on the muzzle may affect harmonics making testing and chronoing at same time rough.

    I purchased the lab radar nothing attaches to the rifle so zeroing testing isnt affected, sets up very quickly, is accurate and reliable I run mine off a phone battery pack cheaper than all the AA batteries. When testing 2 or more rifled there is no additional set up. If there is any fault its in aiming the unit that can be improved.

    Several times we tested the LR, Nagneto soeed, And different sky screen chronos at the same time as each shot could be recorded by all 3 units, They were all very close in readings and the difference was set up.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master Half Dog's Avatar
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    I have a Caldwell and I can’t complain. I haven’t used others so I can’t say that I prefer one to the other. Perhaps we can meet at a range and I can share.
    The sooner I fall behind...the more time I have to catch up with

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Lab Radar is the best I have ever used, I wasted a lot of time and ammo using cheap radars.

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master

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    One little trick with any chronograph is to use a known to check test the set up and unit each time.For me its my rws pellet gun with a set aside lot of pellets. 10 rounds after set up and I know all is good.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy Cast10's Avatar
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    Not sure if they(Pact) still make them, but I’ve had/used a Pact PC2 for over 30 years! Shhhhh! Don’t want to jinx it now!

  10. #10
    Boolit Bub iflyskyhigh's Avatar
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    Chronograph Help

    Lab Radar. Buy once once. Cry once. Used em all. Nothing else even close in terms of ease of use. Used it with all types of rifles and pistols, suppressed and usuppressed. PCP air guns, and archery. It just works.

    Another plus is I can use it at my indoor pistol range when doing load development.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master



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    If you buy a LabRadar - I'll buy one too . . . .
    Last edited by square butte; 10-02-2021 at 03:27 PM.
    Being human is not for sissies.

  12. #12
    Boolit Bub iflyskyhigh's Avatar
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    Chronograph Help

    Lab Radar used to run a sale every Black Friday. $50 off I believe. Use that and a Brownells coupon and itís a pretty good deal. If you can wait another couple months

    I got mine back in the day when Brownells was still running 10% off. Got the LabRadar, case, and old style mounting plate for less than $500.

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy
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    I don't have strong opinions here, because I haven't used many different chronos.

    If you're going to get the magnetospeed, though, don't get the Sporter, get the V2. It has a rail attachment that's good for AR's and will save you the hassle of trying to get the sensor set up right. It works, it does what it should.

    Downsides are that it doesn't work well for all rifles, and for very few pistols.

    Upsides are you'll never accidentally shoot it, it doesn't rely on good sunlight, and you don't have to go out into the range to set it up (not a problem for home ranges, but public ranges you have to wait for a cease fire).

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  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy
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    I use a ProChrono Digital Chronograph.
    I am very happy with it.
    I've used it for several years now.
    It will cost you about $100.00 with free shipping at Amazon.
    1A - 2A = -1A

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    I have the Oehler 35P. Works great except in winter. Then I have to wrap it in a blanket to keep it warm.
    The only amendment the Democrats support is the 5th.

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy almar's Avatar
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    I never shot my chrono but my old chrony died on me a while back and got a caldwell G2 (upside-down chrony), its a real upgrade from the chrony. It connects to you phone and saves your data, calculates our average, spread and std dev, and it doesn't need to connect to an outlet for the shades. I came really close to getting the labradar, but its a pricey bundle with all you need with it and I may eventually splurge if I go back to precision shooting at a range one day but on my land, im good with the caldwell

  17. #17
    Boolit Man QuackAttack24's Avatar
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    One more vote for the LabRadar. More money, but worth it for accuracy and ease of use. Using the ones that have to be placed in front of the firing line are a pain to use at the range while other people are shooting. Getting one with bluetooth makes it less of a pain getting your data and changing groups, but still a pain to set up. I have not used the ones that attach to the barrel simply because they don't work well with pistols. Save up for the labradar and you'll be a happy camper.
    What could possibly go wrong?

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    I've been happy with my Caldwell. Cost was ~$75 IIRC. I've had 2 Crony clocks in past but both were hit. One of those was on account of a poorly mounted scope. Chrony is now out of business I understand. The only thing with the Caldwell is set up. Don't know where you shoot, but I'm a member of a large private club these days and before the Covid mess, the line on Sundays was almost always full, ya had to get there at dawn to get set up before the crowds came in. A trick I've learned is to get a rifle sighted on the target board, then get a basic alignment of the clock looking back to the barrel. This will get you initial alignment close enough that two maybe three adjustments has you shooting through the window. (the clocks destruction's will explain it's window) I'd love to have a Lab Radar but for no more than I use it, the Caldwell does just fine for me. About the only time I really want to know my velocity is when I'm making up a load for hunting or want a good trajectory chart for a particular bullet/load that I'm gonna shoot at more than 100 yards.

    I built a 300 Black Out AR several years ago, and it was what put me on the road to having a clock again (I'd been running without one at least 12 years at that point) I wasn't so much interested in staying subsonic with my loads but working with a lot of powders from as fast as H110/WW296 to as slow as 3031 and at times with data from, shall we say not the best of sources, I wanted more than a half way wild ass guess. I can't say it actually helped me in any load development, it just kept me between the lines so to speak. So yeah it's definitely a useful tool and there are some things I couldn't do without it. Again, it would be nice to have a Lab Radar, but I'd rather spend that money on nice scope upgrade or power/primers. The Caldwell tells me all I need to know.

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy
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    I currently use a Oehler 35P with sky screens. There are two problems with screen based chronographs. The first problem is shooting the screen (or the unit with built in screens like the Caldwell). You can minimize the risk but never totally eliminate it. For me the second problem has become the biggest annoyance. That is setting the unit up in front of the firing line. My club range has become busier as membership has increased. Trying to set up on a weekend is a real pain. Being retired I just go on a weekday and usually can set up without bothering anyone.

    I have no personal experience with the magneto speed but have heard mixed reports. I have watched a couple shooters using the Lab Radar and those I have talked with have all given positive reviews. Of course at that price one might tend to be a bit biased.

    The Lab Radar and Caldwell are at VERY different price points. If you can afford the Lab Radar I think you will be very happy with it. (used units, if you can find one, for sale don't take a very big hit). If it's out of the budget then the Caldwell should suffice. Put a small metal deflector in front of the unit to help protect the vitals. Be aware that sometimes gas checks can separate early and cause problems.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    I'm not a salesman for anything but I've been well served by my original PACT Pro from 1995.

    I like ease of use from my tools. My Pact's screens have been been quick and easy to set up when mounted on an inexpensive (thrift shop) photo tripod. (I hang a nylon mesh bag loaded with extra weight items under the tripod for added stability in the wind.)

    I've never shot a screen because I have two ironclad rules:

    * I will test anyone's ammo for them but no one shoots through my chronograph but me.

    * I tape a 2 1/2" bit of cardboard over both photocells to help align the screens before shooting. That way, if I can't see the target the screens are clearly too high to live.


    The Pro's built-in ballistic computer and thermal printer allows me to calculate anything I wish and immediately make hard copies of everything.

    No matter if I'm checking rifle, pistol, shotgun or arrows, my PACT Pro does the job and it has nothing attached to my barrels to affect accuracy.

    I know of no other chronograph offering anything close to that degree of versatility.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check