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Chronograph shopping ... Advise?

kimberkidkimberkid Member Posts: 8,857 ✭✭✭
For years I've thought I'd get a chrony but to date I haven't ... I've been reloading for 20 or so years and I'm now getting into subsonic rounds for both handguns and carbines. I'm looking at some new powders that are cleaner burning for my plinkers & varmint guns so I'll be needing to build some new loads.

In the past I've just varied my powder charge until I've obtained a satisfactory group size at a given distance; typically 200 yards. As I'm getting older, the trips down range are taking more out of me (asthma/COPD). Of course I'm using graph paper and a spotting scope but nothing replaces the satisfaction of walking down range and touching the actual target, rolling back the frayed blown out edges of the impact and seeing that group with the naked eye!

I'm hoping that if I record the actual speeds I'm getting with current loads I can reduce some of the trial & error experimenting building accurate loads with new powders.
If you really desire something, you'll find a way ?
? otherwise, you'll find an excuse.

Comments

  • charliemeyer007charliemeyer007 Member Posts: 7,346 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I never cared how fast they were going. A nice tight group tell me all I need to know. Standard deviation, velocity spread etc must be OK if the group size is small.

    I just listen for the crack above sub-sonic in the rifles.

    In 40 years of reloading I think I have chronograph maybe a dozen loads on other folks equipment.
  • MG1890MG1890 Member Posts: 4,649
    edited November -1
    I've used an Oehler 35P extensively. I can say this: the chrono has nothing to do with accurate loads.
  • kimberkidkimberkid Member Posts: 8,857 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by MG1890
    (snip) I can say this: the chrono has nothing to do with accurate loads.

    That's interesting ... I always thought the speed of the bullet had everything to do with bullet stabilization and how tight of a group you could get as a result of that. I hadn't thought of it but its not out of the realm of possibility that the performance or burn rate of the powder would also effect the stabilization and accuracy.

    quote:Originally posted by charliemeyer007
    I never cared how fast they were going. A nice tight group tell me all I need to know. Standard deviation, velocity spread etc must be OK if the group size is small.

    I just listen for the crack above sub-sonic in the rifles.

    In 40 years of reloading I think I have chronograph maybe a dozen loads on other folks equipment.

    That sounds like a whole bunch of common sense ... and that's how I did things back when I started reloading ... pick a starting point and then adjust my load by a grain and try it ... if it wasn't good enough adjust my load up or down a grain and see where I was going. When I was happy, I'd stop and that would be my load.

    The only thing I worry about with subsonic loads is having a charge too lite and getting a bullet stuck in the barrel ... I've had one friend and one acquaintance have that problem and both ruined a barrel that way.
    If you really desire something, you'll find a way ?
    ? otherwise, you'll find an excuse.
  • Ray BRay B Member Posts: 11,822
    edited November -1
    For about 20 years I've been using a Chrony. The advantages are that it's very portable and easily setup. The disadvantages are that the bullets need to go through a small opening and if you miss, you may be taking out the Chrony, and due to the short distance between start and stop sensors, it's not going to be as accurate as the ones that have the screen separated by a few feet.

    As for seeing the groups on the target, I've been giving serious thought to one of those TV camera/screens where the camera is setup a few feet from the target and displays it on the screen at the firing point. Sure beats walking out to the 600 yard line to see where your bullets hit.
  • MG1890MG1890 Member Posts: 4,649
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by kimberkid
    quote:Originally posted by MG1890
    (snip) I can say this: the chrono has nothing to do with accurate loads.

    That's interesting ... I always thought the speed of the bullet had everything to do with bullet stabilization and how tight of a group you could get as a result of that. I hadn't thought of it but its not out of the realm of possibility that the performance or burn rate of the powder would also effect the stabilization and accuracy.

    quote:Originally posted by charliemeyer007
    I never cared how fast they were going. A nice tight group tell me all I need to know. Standard deviation, velocity spread etc must be OK if the group size is small.

    I just listen for the crack above sub-sonic in the rifles.

    In 40 years of reloading I think I have chronograph maybe a dozen loads on other folks equipment.

    That sounds like a whole bunch of common sense ... and that's how I did things back when I started reloading ... pick a starting point and then adjust my load by a grain and try it ... if it wasn't good enough adjust my load up or down a grain and see where I was going. When I was happy, I'd stop and that would be my load.

    The only thing I worry about with subsonic loads is having a charge too lite and getting a bullet stuck in the barrel ... I've had one friend and one acquaintance have that problem and both ruined a barrel that way.


    The chronograph doesn't help. It only records velocity data. If a box of bullets came with a tag showing exactly how fast to drive them to get bugholes, then the chrono would help.
  • Hawk CarseHawk Carse Member Posts: 4,319 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    A chronograph is useful for some applications. I use mine for:

    Power factoring for USPSA, IPSC, or IDPA.

    BPCR. The old guns have high trajectories and uniform velocity is necessary to minimize vertical spread on target. Fortunately black powder will give standard deviation and even extreme spread in the single digits.

    Long Range. Even high velocity smokeless loads need consistency to control the vertical. Uniform velocity does not guarantee small groups but it is necessary although not sufficient at long ranges.


    Oh, yeah; at present I am using the Competition Electronics Digital Pro with remote control. Catch it on sale and it is not a whale of a lot more expensive than the Chrony, but it is a more capable device.

    If I were doing a lot of chronographing these days, I would be saving up for a Labradar.

    If shooting a rifle or even a long barreled revolver on a busy range, the Magnetospeed that attaches to the gun barrel is very convenient.
  • dcs shootersdcs shooters Member Posts: 10,969
    edited November -1
    Like Ray, my Chrony has been in use since about '86.
    I have the Master with remote read-out.
  • perry shooterperry shooter Member Posts: 17,390
    edited November -1
    speed is related to small groups .IMHO each design of Hand gun bullet
    has a sweet spot when it comes to velocity I have tested thousands of rounds in 45acp ON ransom rest. Found out early did not make much difference what powder was used as long as you got the same velocity with powder X as the best Groups with powder Y each weight and design has a sweet spot
  • waltermoewaltermoe Member Posts: 850 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    To me a chronograph is just another tool in the world of reloading. I also have an off set screw driver and a roofers square in my work room, tools that are needed but rarely used. I understand subsonic loads in a pistol but trying to get subsonic loads in a center fire rifle might not pan out as well. I have used reduced loads in the past along with fmj. bullets to minimize pellet damage on critters. If you have ever used one before you know that there is a spread in velocity and you go by the average. And yes I have seen a couple that got hit by a bullet. I'd say buy one and have fun with it for awhile, it won't give you tighter groups, as I was told, "you want a tight group just fire one round".
  • Ray BRay B Member Posts: 11,822
    edited November -1
    With regard subsonic loads- I've found the chronograph quite useful. I would have to look up the load, but one that worked well for me produced 800 fps with a cast 130 gr bullet in a 270 Win. It had a muzzle "blast" about like a 22 but no sonic snap; so it was virtually silent. It was great on big game hunting trips when a grouse wanted to become dinner or a pig farmer friend of mine wanted some of the rats removed from his feed bin.
  • Mk 19Mk 19 Member Posts: 8,170
    edited November -1
    I never had a need for a chrono, I was always interested in accuracy not in speed. But now that I'm shooting out past 1000 yards I need the velocity to be able to determine my drops, so a chrono is very needed.
  • MobuckMobuck Member Posts: 12,962 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I've been using a "Chrony" for years. It allows me to set an acceptable velocity goal and helps track velocity changes per load increment. I can easily discard load combinations that show erratic MV(which often relates to less accuracy at longer ranges). After decades of loading until primers go flat, I have found a much safer way and am very satisfied.
    BTW
    There are only two kinds of all-in-one (units that have the sky screens and electronics in one box)chronographs--ones that haven't been used and ones that haven't been shot YET. If you get one that uses wires for the sun shields, I suggest replacing the wires with bamboo skewers or chopsticks. Those will shatter if hit rather than rip out of the holder damaging the unit.
  • bpostbpost Member Posts: 32,212 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by dcs shooters
    Like Ray, my Chrony has been in use since about '86.
    I have the Master with remote read-out.


    Ditto, It works well and is inexpensive too.
  • v35v35 Member Posts: 13,200
    edited November -1
    I've had a chronograph since the early '80s when I was doing pistol cartridge development.
    The chronograph and Sky screens were hit many times by bullet fragments and other good stuff that comes out of a barrel when you're up around 70kpsi.
    The Chronograph went back to the mfr several times for repair.
    I cut a piece if 1/4" Lexan to tape over the readout to protect the electronics. It Works.
    I'd recommend a remote readout and one that gives averages, range and std deviation.
    Also, the distance between sensors is critical and for that reason wouldn't buy a folding unit.
  • Okie743Okie743 Member Posts: 2,224 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I've got a Prochrono that is about 15 years old and cost about $80 when new and it works great. I like the large wide skyscreens which is also great for archery. I also have a very old model Pact (it so old it don't use skyscreens just couple of comparison pickup sensors on separate wires. that works ok that I bought at a garage sale for couple dollars and when I contacted Pact it has a lifetime warranty, just mail it in if it quits. Both units are picky when trying to measure vel of Black Powder guns, critical how far from muzzle to get a accurate consistent reading. (not sure if it's maybe the sabot trailing the bullet or the powder cloud but critical of placement distance in front of barrel and seems better if the chrono is in a shade??)
    I do not use a chronograph during the reloading process for finding a accurate load. I let the gun tell me what it desires for accuracy then eventually use a chronograph to check the velocity. I prefer a very accurate bullet going on target instead of a barn burner HV bullet not being accurate. I've seen a chronograph indicate what should have been a very accurate load, with low deviation, consistent vel, etc, and not be accurate on paper and I've seen a chronograph indicate that the load should not be consistently accurate and the load be very accurate, therefore I never use a chronograph when accuracy hunting choosing powders, bullets, primers, etc. I let the gun tell me what it wants then maybe test later with a chronograph just to see the velocity of a accurate load.
    I found out I had to take with a grain of salt and high top boots what some of the big boys were saying about using their chrono's to find a accurate load. (the big boy testers doing their write up's were MOST likely being sponsored by the maker of the chrono in use and they could keep it free of charge if they wrote a good line of BS[B)])[:)]

    The chronograph gives me a general idea of bullet drop/velocity for long range shooting/target practice.
  • AmbroseAmbrose Member Posts: 2,998 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I recommend the Oehler 35P. It's about the best of the personal chronographs. I also have a PACT and when I found that the PACT can use Oehler sky screens, I set both of them up on a common bar and use them both together with 5 screens, giving me 3 readings for each shot. My hobby is shooting groups with different loads in different guns and, since one of the things I want to know is velocity, I fire virtually all of my target shots over chronograph screens. Why not? It's not like the old days when you had to shoot through literal screens and destroy 2 screens with each shot. Why would anyone not want to know or not care about the velocity of their loads?
  • gunnut505gunnut505 Member Posts: 10,290
    edited November -1
    Ditto on Oehler & PACT, I've used both, but only I get to set up, orient & shoot through either one. No holes, no frayed plastic pieces, no morons destroying my chronographs.
    Essential piece of equipment for reloaders, regardless of the blockheads that just watch for flattened primers or pieces of their guns floating by when they shoot super-hot, unverified or borrowed reloads. There's a reason SAAMI sets standards for pressure; fewer KBs!
  • MG1890MG1890 Member Posts: 4,649
    edited November -1
    How does a chronograph tell you chamber pressure???

    Don't say by comparing velocity to published data...
  • Okie743Okie743 Member Posts: 2,224 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by MG1890
    How does a chronograph tell you chamber pressure???

    Don't say by comparing velocity to published data...


    Do a bing/google search and read!!!(and take the info with a grain of salt)
  • MG1890MG1890 Member Posts: 4,649
    edited November -1
    I played with an Oehler 35P for several years with custom built benchrest rifles. At the end of the day, all of those strips of paper went in the trash can. The target is the paper that matters.

    The only use I had for the chrono was for creating long range drop charts. Here, knowing velocity is vital.
  • FEENIXFEENIX Member Posts: 10,559 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
  • FEENIXFEENIX Member Posts: 10,559 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by Okie743
    quote:Originally posted by MG1890
    How does a chronograph tell you chamber pressure???

    Don't say by comparing velocity to published data...


    Do a bing/google search and read!!!(and take the info with a grain of salt)


    DITTO!
  • 5mmgunguy5mmgunguy Member Posts: 3,853
    edited November -1
  • MobuckMobuck Member Posts: 12,962 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    "How does a chronograph tell you chamber pressure???"

    If you reach a specified velocity, you're likely coming close to the pressure stated in the data. Physics says equal force for equal output. Do as you please but when I reach xxxx fps, I figure I'm where I need to be and stop right there. I'm getting old enough that I don't need to find out how fast I can make something go once it goes as fast as I'm comfortable with.
  • RCrosbyRCrosby Member Posts: 3,784 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I've had a ProChrono from Competition Electronics for years and it has served me well, though I could live without one if I had to.
    One trick I learned the hardway:
    If (like with the ProChrono) your chronograph has metal sky screen supports you may want to find an alternative that won't transmit the impact of an errant shot down to the chrono proper. In my case hard wood dowels of like diameter to the original steel work perfectly.
    Haven't clipped any of them yet, but I did hit one of the old steel rods and the results were catastrophic.
  • Okie743Okie743 Member Posts: 2,224 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by RCrosby
    I've had a ProChrono from Competition Electronics for years and it has served me well, though I could live without one if I had to.
    One trick I learned the hardway:
    If (like with the ProChrono) your chronograph has metal sky screen supports you may want to find an alternative that won't transmit the impact of an errant shot down to the chrono proper. In my case hard wood dowels of like diameter to the original steel work perfectly.
    Haven't clipped any of them yet, but I did hit one of the old steel rods and the results were catastrophic.


    Wooden or plastic rods is a good idea for the Pro Chrono. I could not believe that a bullet hit one of my steel sky screen rods a left a hole about size of a 30 cal bullet imprinted into the rod about midways of the rod and never broke the rod or the chrono and I never did know when it because the unit was anchored to a stationery anchored stand and the chrono still worked. Bet that ricochet shot went wild.
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