Lets talk Chronographs


January 17, 2005, 07:23 PM
Now that I am into reloading I am in the market for a decent chronograph.

So whats the best deal going and what should I look for as far as accessories, performance and maintenance.


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January 17, 2005, 08:26 PM
Hi Lenny,

I've been using a Pro Chrono for the last year, and have been pleased with its performance. I'm not much into printer capabilities, as I transfer my targets and chrono info to my load software (Point Blank) when I get home.

That's a nice feature of the Pro Chrono, you can shut it off at the range, and it keeps all data in memory. Nine strings of 99 shots each.

Around $90.00.


January 17, 2005, 08:44 PM
Educate me on point blank if you would.

January 17, 2005, 08:45 PM
Lenny - I bought a Shooting Chrony quite some time ago - the basic F1 IIRC it is called. That was then about $60. It served me well and I just wrote down data.

I then a year or so ago bought a printer off a member here - and with this added it has become a very useful tool. The printer does the printout and calc's for usual aspects like SD Hi, Lo etc. Can't interface it with puter but I think there is the highest model in the range which can.

January 17, 2005, 09:25 PM
I just went through the process of looking at chronographs. I looked at the Oehler, Pact and Chrony models and a few others. The Oehler is nice, but big and expensive. I'm already carrying too much stuff from the truck to the line. The PACTs seem nice, but I wanted a printer, and as far as I can tell they use thermal paper and also run the printer from the same batteries that the chrono uses, so battery life seemed like a potential issue. I liked the small footprint of the master Chrony models on the bench and their very compact storage. If the batteries in the printer die, the chrono will still be going strong and I can save the data and print it out later. If you go with a Chrony, I'd strongly recommend either getting the cheapest version, or getting one of the master models with the control head that sits on the bench -- easier to read and less expensive when/if you shoot the screen unit downrange.

Here's a good article on these: http://www.realguns.com/Commentary/comar44.htm

January 17, 2005, 10:21 PM
Another option is the Pact chrono/timer for about $200. It's a versatile shooting timer (mainly for action/timedl shooting) and a high quality chronograph in the same unit. The skyscreens (and mounting bar, optional) are seperate and only needed for chrono work. You only have to add a camera tripod for the mounting bar (holds both skyscreens). If you are into shooting and need a timer also, this can be a good deal. I think the model is Mark 4.

January 17, 2005, 10:47 PM
Oh yea, forgot to meantion one other thing.

I'm also gonna be using it to check my arrow speed for my hunting/tournament bow so window size might be an issue as well.

January 17, 2005, 10:55 PM
Haven't measured Lenny but the Chrony I'd say is approx 4 or so inches wide at base of rods ... and perhaps 12 inches at the top ... and height? .... probably 10 inches from screens to unit. Of course, lower light, screens can be taken off - but then you'd not want to shoot too much higher even so - to register properly.

Shoot straight! :p

January 18, 2005, 08:45 AM
Point Blank is a freeware ballistics software program. It is very useful for record keeping etc.

You can check it out at: http://www.huntingnut.com/pointblank.html


January 18, 2005, 12:33 PM
I recommend getting one with replaceable screens. It's only a matter of time before you hit one. If you shoot at a public range, you'll also want to be able to read the display, so something that sits on the bench is nice.

I picked up a Pact Model1 on ebay for $50. Love it!


January 18, 2005, 02:31 PM
good info so far.

Pointblank seems to be missing a file in their download. Winzip wont let me open it up. Might be my puter.

January 18, 2005, 03:55 PM
If all you want is basic readouts for occasional testing, the F-1 Chrony will still do the job. I bought a refurbished one from the factory a few years back for $35. I still see them on Ebay for around the same price. It's been a fun and informitive tool that works well with everything from air pistols to highpower rifle. It's drawback is that it does no recording or calculations of averages etc. Still , it allows me to record what I want and factor out and WAY out shots using a pencil;-) I considered a more advanced unit but concluded it was not used enough ( once loads are developed) to justify for my needs. Of course, your needs/ wants may differ. Just throwing out the info FWIW.

January 18, 2005, 07:03 PM
I bought the Pact Pro last year and while I'm fairly pleased with the performance, I think it leaves something to be desired.

1) Pact does not have their act together and released this product before they completed everything

I waited 4 months for the chrony to show up after ordering it, 8 months for range bag to show up and I'm still waiting on the download cables/software to connect the device to my PC. This device was advertised in the Midway catalog as available. I told them that I would write the drivers for them in not time if they told me their preferred transfer method and format. The guy thought I was joking and assured me they were working on it.

2) The unit has a few software bugs

If you delete the first data point in a string, the entire string becomes corrupt. I haven't mentioned this to them but plan to when I call for an update on the download cable. In addition there is no easy way to exit a string review without veiwing every shot in the string once you are into the individual shots. I experienced multiple resets when navigating the menus but haven't pinned down where in their state machine the problem arises.

3) The printer and paper is poorly supported and executed.

They tried really hard to fit a small printer in the package but the printer is very slow and is painful to work with at times. The line feed function is very poor and sometimes feeds the paper unevenly as it exits. The paper also does not automatically advance enough to tear it after printing, you must advance it many lines to remove the printout without cutting it in the middle of the text. Feeding paper in is not extremely difficult but it isn't very easy either. Lastly, the paper roll is completely usupported along its axis and is free to rattle around and make the unit sound as if it has a broken part in it.

4) Their brochures are innaccurate when it comes to the sky screens

If you look at their brochures, they show these very nice looking skyscreens. The sky screens have a nice curved top with a sort of filter in them for the light. What you actually get is this piece of opaque white plastic with notches cut out to assemble with the black side guides. I've seen about 3 different pictures of different setups and none of them were exactly what I received. I was told the white plastic was the latest revision.

5) The instructions are adequete but poorly put together

I'm not asking for the moon, but the instructions looked like they had been copied on a memiogrpah machine. They contained all the information you needed to use the device but were simply not professional at all. In addition there was no mention of the non-existent download cable or possible upgrades to firmware.

6) The ballistic computer

No comments except you better have the instructions because the tiny screen doesn't leave much room for full length prompts

7) The tiny screen

First, it isn't backlit which is ridiculous. You can get very low power LCD screens that are backlit these days for cheap. It makes reading it hard when you are under cover and there are any shadows.

Take my criticism with an open mind, this chronograph rarely misses a shot and only if the light is low or if it is late afternoon with clouds (bad angle). They warn you about that and give instructions to work around it. The unit is very nice looking and hasn't given me any trouble yet.

I should mention that I am a EE myself and spent time designing small systems like this and have fairly high standards. However, considering how many awesome uC options are out now with integrated LCD controllers, flash memory, and comm units I think they could have done a better job. I haven't taken it apart to see what they used but if I don't get a cable soon it might get hooked up to a logic analyzer and mapped! :D

January 19, 2005, 06:34 AM
I bought a Shooting Chrony F1 a very long time ago. Only thing I can say is the old ones had a pretty small area through which you had to shoot and I did shoot the sky screens once. I have found that mine does not really like sky screens and seems more reliable without them. And don't use an old battery as the voltage drop wreaks havok with a chrony.

January 19, 2005, 12:17 PM
You don't HAVE to use the skyscreens on Chronys, though they do make recording more consistent. If you shoot without skyscreens on a cloudy, overcast day, the chrony will give results just as good as it does with the skyscreens attached. That's also the only option for using a firearms chrony with arrows.
Whatever you buy, make sure that the electronics are NOT in the line of fire. Chrony Master models are what I use. They fall in the low end of the price spectrum.

January 20, 2005, 07:16 AM
I have used the Pact PC2, Oehler 35, and the Chrony Beta that someone gave me for christmas. Of them all, I probably dislike the Oehler the most. Yea, yea, I know- all of the gun rags use them. Maybe they are supposed to do a better job measuring bullet velocity but I sure as heck haven't had a problem with the other two. The skyscreen bracket is really cheezy to the point I have already broken one. I guess this is why they sell replacements at Midway. Also, It won't measure small, fast bullets such as a 22/250 or even the 257 Roberts. I called Oehler and they said to paint the bullets black with a magic marker. You mean I have to do that with the "best" chronograph out there? It didn't work. It is very difficult to transport due to the width of the skyscreen brackets. Like I said before, I have already broken one. It is also the hardest to set up becuse of the three cables from the skyscreens getting all jumbled up.

The jury is still out on the Chrony Beta. It is really compact but the instructions certainly leave something to be desired. Also, much like the Oehler, there are only one or two buttons you use to look at all of the data. This is something I really dislike. The Chrony uses a telephone-type connection from the skyscreens to the actual chronograph itself. It loves to come out which turns everything off because the battery is under the first skyscreen. I haven't measured the skyscreens but they seem like they may be the smallest of the three. The skyscreens themselves are three piece and snap together prior to use. Looks like they will wear out over time.

As far as the Pact PC2 goes- well it is (was) my favorite until some jerkwad stole it when I was loading my stuff into my truck at the range. Guess I just take too much stuff. Not sure if they still make it. Anyway, it had a great mounting system for the skyscreens and it attaches positively to the tripod. It was really user friendly and never missed a shot. I mean never. It was my first chronograph I and I didn't realize how nice it was until I got the Oehler and the Chrony. I kept everything in a 30 inch or so Doskocil case so it travelled well. Easy to set up also. Guess I need to get another one. I just hope the Professional is as good.

My advice is I don't care who touts the Oehler- don't get one. Bring on the flames...


January 20, 2005, 09:01 AM
I have the Shooting Chrony F1 on my wish list at MidwayUSA. :)

Anyone got a good copy of the Pointblank program? I tried downloading it off the website but Winzip showed a file missing from the download and it wouldnt install it.

January 20, 2005, 12:49 PM
All this talk about crummy chronys, especially my own rant, has convinced me to build my own. Beta testers, sign-up now! :neener:

January 20, 2005, 01:15 PM
Beta tester here! :p

Must say - my F1 and printer have done all I want.

January 23, 2005, 05:03 AM
You don't HAVE to use the skyscreens on Chronys, though they do make recording more consistent.

HUH?!?!?! :confused:

Did you mean to say you don't have to use the DIFFUSERS?

Skyscreens are what senses the bullet.
Back in the old days we actually used screens that the bullet had to penetrate to start and stop the chrono.
You had to replace them after so many shots and they were expensive.
In the 1970s Skyscreens became affordable and reliable enough for us poor folk to use. And unless you shot them or burned them out with direct sun they'd last almost forever.

January 23, 2005, 11:09 AM
Sorry, light diffuser is the correct terminology for the bullet magnet that is placed a few inches over the sensors. :D

Fortunately, light diffusers are usually the cheapest parts to replace.

January 28, 2005, 01:46 PM
I use a Chrony with the read-out at the end of the cord. I keep it behind the seat of the truck along with a couple of pencils and several notebooks. I write down the velocity data and the load being tested. When time permits, or curiousity dictates, I will enter the data into a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet program will give me the high and low velocity, the spread, the average velocity, a couple of Standard of Deviation numbers, and any other formula I want it to calculate.

Easy to keep track of loads this way. And, the spreadsheet program will sort them any way I want so this is helpful in getting all of one powder grouped together or all of a particular bullet weight.

January 29, 2005, 12:13 AM
I bought a Chrony F-1 in 1988 due to the low price and it used photo cells. It didn't work well except on sunny days from 10am-2pm and had a small 2"x4" rectangle shooting window. Cloudy days or in the shade of a covered shooting bench was pretty much a waste of time. Spent just as much time walking down range to flip the reset switch as I did shooting. I used it for 4 years till a buddy shot it and ruined the cpu. So I bought a new F-1 and it worked 100% better than the first one. It was not as sensitive to the sun's position and would work on bright cloudy days. The shooting window was a V shaped 3" wide at the bottom,6" tall and wide at the top.
In 1998 getting a computer I found on the Chrony website that you could trade in shot up units. So I sent my shot up one to them and for half price got a new Master F-1. It was 100% better than the 1992 model F-1. It worked well as long as it was daylight outside. Even when it was sitting in the shade of the covered shooting bench. The shooting widow was almost double the size too.
The Master model was really the deal for the public shooting range. The reset button is on the readout that sits on the bench. This is a must have if the guy next to your is shooting a magnum with muzzle brake or you are down wind from anyone shooing a muzzle loader.

January 29, 2005, 11:30 AM
I have the Shooting Chrony that has the "works" on the bench (Master model I think). I haven't compared to others, but it seems to work OK, is very compact, and easy to set up. I'd strongly suggest a camera tri-pod to hold the screens.

Instructions are a little goofy, but it's easy enough to figure out.

If you get ahold of the factory number listed in their ads, they sell factory rebuilds at discounted prices..HTH

The Bushmaster
January 29, 2005, 03:40 PM
Pact 1 and a camera tri-pod. Been using mine for years and when I finally had a problem I sent it in and recieved a new one at no cost. Well. I had to pay the postage one way.

February 1, 2005, 05:09 PM
Got one. Found it at Sportsmans Warehouse. Its the F-1 Master chrony. Was on sale for $69 so I snatched it up and got an additional 5% discount when I flashed the military ID.

Now to find a printer.

February 4, 2005, 06:47 AM
I've been very happy with the Oehler 35 model. I did a write up on it here: http://www.dirtydeedsdonedirtcheap.net/shooting/oehler35review.html

Otherguy Overby
February 10, 2005, 04:40 PM
I'd sure like to sign up for Deavis' beta test program.

You still serious?

My preference would be waterproof, an easily readable display in a bright outdoor environment and, say a USB cableing interface for computer and printer, maybe even a parallel port for legacy printers.

Oh, and programmable via port for software updates.

February 12, 2005, 01:01 AM
I wasted my time going to Sportsman's Warehouse this afternoon. I ended up wasting my time and fuel.

I don't like having my time wasted and am also posting this in the Transactions Forum.

I sent the following email to info@sportsmanswarehouse.com :

Sir or Madam:

This very afternoon I visited your new Lewisville, Texas, store. I wish I could relate good experience, but that was not the case.

Earlier this day, I read this thread:
on "The High Road" message board, about a customer purchasing a F-1 Master Chrony at one of your stores for $69.99. (See below for description)

Then I called your Lewisville, Texas, store to confirm the availability of this item and spoke with Fred at the firearms counter. I put it to him directly, "Do you sell the F-1 Master Chrony for $70?" Fred answered in the affirmative, that the price was $69.99. I asked him to make SURE he had some in stock, as I was going to make a 30 mile drive in DFW traffic if he did and buy one. He responded, "I am looking at them right now."

I took this as confirmation that your Lewisville store had the F-1 Master Chrony in stock selling at $69.99 before sales tax.

Work has been hectic lately. Nonetheless, I took off early from work to make the trip and resolved to check out the reloading section in detail. I do like to see & touch what I buy before paying for it, even though it might cost a few more dollars than buying online.

At roughly 2:45PM, I arrived at the Lewisville store and walked back to the firearms counter and found the chronographs. I spied a F-1 Shooting Chrony (NOT the F-1 Master Chrony with remote control) priced at $69.99 and did not see any F-1 Master Chronys, the model I was interested in and had confirmed by telephone. I asked for a salesman to help me and explained the situation. He asked me who I had spoken with. I had forgotten, but told him my notes were in the car and that I would return with all the information.

Upon my return, I sought out Fred (the man I who had given my confirmation) and found him behind the firearms counter. I introduced myself and explained the situation. Fred dissembled a bit but eventually acknowledged he was mistaken by saying, "Well, sorry," and turning to another customer and blowing me off.

[I used to be in business to business sales. If I worked an order for a customer and I had personally laid eyes and hands on the product they desired, that product existed. Period.]

What makes me sore is not the lost opportunity to save a few dollars on a product or having someone give me their word that something is true and it turns out to be fiction. What makes me sore is the time I spent on the whole deal. About the only time DFW traffic lets up is between the hours of 2AM-5AM. I spent in excess of 90 wasted minutes on the road when I could have just ordered a unit online from the manufacturer or a reseller. My employer pays a lot for my time and I consider time my most valuable commodity. I don't take kindly to having it wasted.

I doubt I will go to the effort of driving to your store again, despite all the reloading supplies and the spotting scope I plan to purchase in the near future.

What a disappointment.

*F-1 Master Chrony*
This particular product is a chronograph used to measure bullet velocity and is useful to reloaders. It is made by Shooting Chrony, Inc. They have two main lines with several models: *Shooting Chrony* and *Master Chrony*. The main difference is that the Master Chrony line has a wired remote control that encompasses the computer and takes it out of harm's way while the Shooting Chrony line has all the parts in one unit, which is placed downrange of the firing line.


Jason Ruser

"We despise and abhor the bully, the brawler, the oppressor, whether in private or public life; but we despise no less the coward and the voluptuary. No man is worth calling a man who will not fight rather than submit to infamy or see those that are dear to him [suffer] wrong."
----Theodore Roosevelt
(Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Christiania, Norway, May 5, 1910)

February 12, 2005, 08:02 PM
Deavis, it'll be tough, but I could probably run a few hundred rounds through a beta chronograph for the sake of all those sufferers out there. :rolleyes:

Anybody know anything about the RSI CED Millennium? :confused:

February 12, 2005, 11:43 PM
I just picked up a Beta Chrony for $120 + remote for another $20. So far I'm happy with it. I got the remote for it, but I'm not real thrilled with that piece. It's really cheezy and has been a bit finicky so far - sometimes it doesn't want to acknowledge that I've pushed a button.

But all in all, this has got to rank as one of the best bang-for-the-buck puchases I've made in a while... Sure was an eye-opener to see what some of my loads were really doing... :what:

February 12, 2005, 11:48 PM
heh, high or low, rbernie?

February 13, 2005, 05:22 PM
If a .452" 250 gr. XTP hits a Chrony display at 1200 fps, there is not one part of the whole chronograph that is salvagable, but Chrony will still give a trade in:)

February 16, 2005, 04:52 PM
In response to the email I sent (pasted in my post above), Don Thomas responded with the following email:

Dear Jason,
After reading your e-mail about the experience you had in our Lewisville location I was floored by the poor service that you received. Not to make excuses for our service, we as a company try to train our employees that customer service is priority number 1, period. I have talked to our hunting manager in Lewisville, as well as Fred in sales about this major service error. Trust me, they understand now exactly what our company means when we say "customer service is our #1 priority."
I would like to go out on a limb here and ask you to please give us another chance to earn your business. If you would be willing to give us another chance, I would like to give you a $50.00 gift card to use in our store at your convince. Please let me know if this would be of interest to you.

Don Thomas
Sportsmans Warehouse
District Manager

I'm going to mosey on out there again and examine their reloading gear/supplies in greater detail.

I gotta say I appreciate the fact that SW responded. A lot of companies woulod have just blown off a customer's emailed complaint.

February 16, 2005, 06:15 PM
I'm thinking about it but am holding off any commitment to putting together hardware until I found out about a job opportunity in the next month or so. I've done some research on the side and have rounded up a few resources. Reverse engineering is always fun :)

February 20, 2005, 09:58 PM
I've been using Oehler chronographs for over 25 years, and I wouldn't even consider anything else. (I have used others that belonged to friends, and they just don't cut it, IMHO)

Virtually ALL ballistic laboratories and commercial loading outfdits use the Oehler exclusively. When ALL of the professionals agree on a product, there's got to be a good reason.

February 20, 2005, 10:10 PM
heh, high or low, rbernie? Low - doing 'Da Limbo' low...<sigh>

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