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Thread: Garmin Xero C1 Pro Review -- Tedious, Clumsy, Poor Bluetooth Implementation

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy Liberty1776's Avatar
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    Garmin Xero C1 Pro Review -- Tedious, Clumsy, Poor Bluetooth Implementation

    Bottom line: if you like to do ballistic tests on multiple pistols/revolvers and rifles with various loads and bullet weights at the same time, the Xero is a zero.

    I own and have for years used a Caldwell Ballistics Precision G2, that sells for $259. All its functions, except turning the unit on, are controlled and recorded on the phone in real time via Bluetooth connectivity. I can even monitor battery charge state. Why would I want to deal with the unit's tiny screen and pushbuttons? The phone is a much better interface.

    Let's walk through what it takes to use a Xero C1 Pro, that sells for $600.

    Let's start a "New Session." Pick up the Xero and 1) turn the Xero on. 2) Click OK button on New Session. 3) Scroll with up/down buttons to Rifle, Pistol, Bow, Air Rifle or Other. 4) Click OK button. 5) Scroll up/down buttons to selected velocity range. 6) Click OK button. 7) A screen asks "Enter bullet weight?" Scroll up/down buttons to select Yes or Skip. 8) Click OK button. 9) Enter bullet weight by pressing up/down buttons multiple times for first digit, 10) click OK button. 11) scroll up/down buttons for second bullet weight digit 12) click OK button. 13) scroll up/down buttons for third digit. 14) click OK button. 15) scroll up/down buttons for fourth digit. 16) click OK button. 17) get a screen with a picture of how to align the gun over the Xero 18) Click OK button.

    YEA! Now you can shoot your test.

    When done pick up the Xero and 19) click OK button. 20) Scroll up/down buttons multiple times to End Session. 21) click OK button.

    Finally, the data is sent to the ShotView (TM) phone app if you've paired the phone.

    Now, put down the Xero and pick up your phone. In the phone app, click the "hamburger" in the upper right corner to Rename Session. Do this right away or you will not know the details of the given test -- which gun, powder, load, weight, notes, etc of that session. And believe me, it gets confusing, fast.

    All done with the phone? Let's do the next gun and its particular load. Put down the phone and pick up the Xero. Click OK on New Session on the Xero and go through the 21 button-pressing steps above. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

    When I do a ballistics test, I test a BUNCH of loads, sometimes several different guns, bullet weights and powder loads. This Garmin system is tedious to the max.

    You should not have to touch the Xero, except to turn it on. It should all be done on the phone. $600! Is Garmin new to Bluetooth and apps? I contacted Garmin Chat to discuss issues. Was informed they don't have a Xero chat, so sorry. Bye.

    For Garmin, a mature technology company, using a Xero is like using DOS, or an Apple II, or a Nokia flip phone, or programming a sprinkler timer or figuring out the four buttons on an old Casio watch. Buttons? Tiny screen? Non-real time data integration? Did I say $600? Come on, Garmin. Join this century.

    I thought the Xero was going to be easier, faster and more advanced and convenient than my now-aged Caldwell G2. It's certainly not.

    Yes, the Xero is tiny and very portable. Yes, I no longer need to set up a tripod and shoot through sky screens. But actually recording useful data is a royal pain.

    Here's what a typical data history screen looks like on the Xero. You get Date, Time, Type and Number of Shots. That's it.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    You cannot relabel on the Xero itself. And what you do in the phone app does not sync back to the Xero. Thus your "history" on the Xero becomes gibberish. I see no reason to keep any data on the Xero itself.

    Also, with the Caldwell G2, I can actually take a picture of the target, or the bullet, and store it with the data on the phone. Not the Garmin. Perhaps they'll figure it out, some day, for an upcharge. Or if you buy the "new and improved C2 Pro, for only $750." There's a reason Garmin's GPS market share fell off a cliff compared to the iPhone GPS, which automatically improves at no extra cost.

    One final observation: Since I'm not shooting at/through/over skyscreens, I was hoping to get shotgun data. It's very iffy. Sometimes it records a velocity. Most of the time it doesn't. Not sure what the secret is. There is no "shotgun" setting, so it may not be officially possible. Too bad.

    Overall, for the money, I'm somewhat disappointed. The Garmin Xero C1 "PRO" is overrated.
    Last edited by Liberty1776; 07-04-2024 at 02:02 PM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Not to be smart BUT sounds like progress New pickup is loaded with stuff like that. Wish could delete, shut of or even just ignore. Nope just the way tech is taking us GW

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
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    You can turn off the enter bullet weight and the diagram for where to put the chrony in the pro settings. I don't know if picking rifle or pistol really does anything but you do have to enter the estimated velocity range. Once you end your session and starts another it defaults to the last setting so all you have to do is hit enter. I rarely use my phone anymore. I just right down the velocity and ES for every load then clear all sessions when I am done.

    My only real gripe is there is not much overlap in the velocity choices. I estimated the shot was over 1700 fps but it didn't read it. Changing it to the higher range the bullets were going 1750. Unlike my conventional chrony those are the only shots it ever missed.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy Liberty1776's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Delkal View Post
    You can turn off the enter bullet weight and the diagram for where to put the chrony in the pro settings. [snip] I rarely use my phone anymore. I just right down the velocity and ES for every load then clear all sessions when I am done.
    I have the opposite need: I might be shooting 125gr, 96gr, 200gr, 205gr, 105gr bullets in both revolver and lever gun to compare how they perform.

    If you're using the same bullet over and over fine, but the whole purpose of an advanced chronograph is NOT to write stuff down on a piece of paper you can lose. It's right there on the phone. I like to export to excel, too so I can gather all the data for a given caliber and gun, and then sort by velocity or power factor to see which powder is doing a good job.

    I wouldn't have to experiment with so many powders, but my favorite Cowboy Action powder (Trail Boss) has disappeared from my local market and is constantly "out of stock" at Hodgdon and Midway. So I need to try other powders I have in stock -- Clay Dot, Titegroup, Solo 1000, whatever.

    On top of that, I'm trying to work up loads for .45 Colt Cowboy Special, which has no official data anywhere. Yes, I can start with Auto Rim or even ACP, but those are much higher pressure and velocity, using heavier bullets, usually.

    My chronograph data is the main tool that allows me to chart the differences easily.

    Another thing I could really use is for CSV exported data to export everything in a single row for Excel. As it is, it exports as 15 rows. Needs a lot of reconfiguration to get many tests onto a single page. How do I import 10 tests, say, into a spreadsheet all at once? As it is, I need to open an exported session, reconfigure it, copy and paste into the compilation sheet that I may have been building for weeks, then do it again for each test. I'm not that proficient in spreadsheets, obviously.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    The Labradar isn't much different. All that extra stuff is for those who use the raw data as is. Bullet weight is there mainly to calculate downrange energy. I just start a new session (file) when I want to segregate data.

    I'd rather go the other way on the device software. Get rid of all the extra data on the device screen (or phone app). Don't allow anything to be input in the file and simply output the vel data. I can choose to have a lot of different files for different loads/bullets, or, I can write down on my log which vel corresponds to which load (eg, #1-10 are for xxx, 11-21 are for yyy). I don't even use the phone app.

    I load all the info into my computer at home to evaluate in a spreadsheet. Group according to target or to load or to firearm, etc. Then I can do all the calculations the way I want, avg vel, min, max, sd, etc. It would make things much easier if the main data files only had a single column of vel data. As noted above, all the extra columns are just wasted space and makes things complicated to work with.

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
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    Then at least turn off the "where to put your chrony" screen so you have one less button to press every session. For me knowing the energy of each shot is the last thing I care about. I just want to see how the velocity increases with powder charge to get a reality check and an ES to know if the powder is burning efficiently. When I finalize a load I might calculate the muzzle energy later. Or I might not.

    What chrony have you been using?

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    Boolit Buddy kaiser's Avatar
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    Liberty gave an excellent description of how to operate the Garmin! What was not discussed was how small and portable the unit is, which is compact enough to hold in one hand with a 3 legged tripod that is also extremely compact and sturdy. It comes with a recharging cord in a box that will easily fit in a “small” range bag. IOW, you don’t need large “bipod” to mount it; wires or plugs to attach; or diffusers for it to work. While it may not record data expected of a “lab type” unit made by “Ohler” or other companies, the setup’s “simplicity” is a “quantum leap” over previously offered units IMO. You simply take this little unit out of your bag, screw in the little 3 legged tripod to the bottom of the unit, and turn it “on”. Follow the instructions given, set within 15” of your barrel, aim it down range, and fire away.
    I’m interested in obtaining the average velocities of my loads, of which I write down while my barrel cools between shots. I’m sure I miss some important information valuable to the more professional “statisticians” than myself (I barely passed college level “statistics”). I consider using a phone app just a distraction when I’m shooting (I’m not good at operating a a GPS in car while driving either!).
    There is no getting around the fact the Garmin is rather expensive, I was fortunate to find mine at a hundred dollar discount online. After dealing with “Crony’s, PACT, and other chronographs over the years I have come to value a smaller, compact units over larger, more complicated “gizmos”. I’ve had enough Garmin avionics equipment in the form of “handheld” GPS’s, auto GPS’s and aviation units to trust their reliability and accuracy.
    I hope that Garmin has started a trend toward smaller, lighter chronographs that will drive down the costs; in the mean time, I’m very pleased with the one I have - it was my 58th anniversary gift from my loving wife!

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy Liberty1776's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Delkal View Post

    What chrony have you been using?
    My current chronograph is the "upside down" (sky screens on the bottom) Caldwell Precision G2. $240. It functions completely from the phone by remote. No need to read off the unit itself. Even monitors Bluetooth and battery charge state.

    All I do is turn the G2 on. The rest is on the phone. Direct input of numbers and notes, using the phone's keyboard.

    Yes, the Xero is tiny. That's great. Wonderful leap forward. My G2 needs a tripod and has to be 10 feet in front of me. And it's comparatively huge and bulky.

    But why can't Garmin take a cue from Caldwell's interface? Garmin is like texting on a flip phone's dial pad. Garmin claims Bluetooth and an app. But they don't integrate them well to the unit.

    Did I mention $600? For that, the Garmin should get itself out of the car, set itself up, and bring me coffee.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy kaiser's Avatar
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    "Touche'" Monsieur Liberty

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    Greetings,

    Before you buy a Garmin XERO, download the App to your phone and see if it works.

    My phone will not load the App (says it is incompatible) and I saved $600.00.

    The LabRadar app does work on my phone.

    Cheers,

    Dave

  11. #11
    Boolit Master elmacgyver0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liberty1776 View Post
    My current chronograph is the "upside down" (sky screens on the bottom) Caldwell Precision G2. $240. It functions completely from the phone by remote. No need to read off the unit itself. Even monitors Bluetooth and battery charge state.

    All I do is turn the G2 on. The rest is on the phone. Direct input of numbers and notes, using the phone's keyboard.

    Yes, the Xero is tiny. That's great. Wonderful leap forward. My G2 needs a tripod and has to be 10 feet in front of me. And it's comparatively huge and bulky.

    But why can't Garmin take a cue from Caldwell's interface? Garmin is like texting on a flip phone's dial pad. Garmin claims Bluetooth and an app. But they don't integrate them well to the unit.

    Did I mention $600? For that, the Garmin should get itself out of the car, set itself up, and bring me coffee.
    I'm sure you could sell that zero Xero in the swapping and selling section easy enough.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy Liberty1776's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elmacgyver0 View Post
    I'm sure you could sell that zero Xero in the swapping and selling section easy enough.
    I'll keep the Xero.

    My point in comparing the Xero to my old Caldwell G2 is to point out that state-of-the-art Bluetooth connectivity was achieved years ago and that the Garmin interface is in the comparative stone age of computing. Manual pushbuttons? Menu "screens"? It's like

    Did Garmin not even look at the competition before releasing what many call The Best?

    We shooters so desire to get rid of sky screens and giant tripods, and are so dazzled by the Xero's miniature size, and its ability to track almost every shot, that we're willing to take a giant step back in terms of software and user interface.

    The Xero's GUI could be MUCH better.

    In terms of shot reliability, my old G2 fails to register shots about one in 50. The Xero is better IF YOU GIVE IT SUFFICIENT TIME BETWEEN SHOTS.

    If you fire too quickly, the Xero won't have time to analyze the shot and it will not even know you took the shot. It's about 2 seconds or so, but I have not accurately timed how fast the Xero is ready for the next shot.

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