Chrono really necessary to new pistol reloader?


January 21, 2007, 02:38 PM
I'm preparing to start reloading and am curious how necessary a Chronograph is in the process.

I'll be reloading pistol cartridges for IDPA, no big matches so I'm not concerned about missing PF (power factor) by a few FPS. All shooting is usually well within 25yds so accuracy isn't too big a concern either.

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January 21, 2007, 02:46 PM
After reading your question, I voted no. For your loading it won't make a difference, but if and when you load rifles, they are very usefull. Still not a nessessity, but very usefull.

The Bushmaster
January 21, 2007, 02:56 PM
Snuffy has it nailed. They are useful, but not necessary unless you are going for the utmost accuracy possible. They are handy for the causual reloader though. I have and use mine to work up loads for special jobs...And just for general curiosity and knowledge.:)

January 21, 2007, 04:58 PM
They are handy to gauge powders against each other for velocity vs recoil. Not a must. For accuracy all you need is to shoot loads on target and check them against each other. The Chrono will let you know what velocity you really have. Sometimes the books are not accurate. Different guns, temp, etc, etc.

January 21, 2007, 05:40 PM
I say buy one just to satisfy your curiosity as to what your loads are doing. For as cheap as they are now I don't know why not. I got mine for under $70 and it works great.

January 21, 2007, 06:41 PM
Not necessary, but really affordable these days. That said, I would base it on how much and what type I'm reloading. The more advanced reloading you do, the more you'd want such a device.


January 21, 2007, 06:48 PM
Put your money elsewhere until you've got some mastery of our great pastime. At some point (you'll know when) it becomes almost essential for load development. And, as has been mentioned, these days it's not like it's that expensive. My PACT 1, which I paid a whole $80 or so for, fills all my needs very well.

January 21, 2007, 07:17 PM
I voted yes because I was reloading for a sport that had a power factor that I had to meet. Another reason to have a chrony is to take the guesswork out of your load development. Just because the manuals say you'll get a certain velocity doesn't mean you will get the same results.

January 21, 2007, 07:25 PM
I voted no. Just because they're cheaper does not make them necessary. I've been reloading for years, but I'm not in a hurry to buy a chronograph. Like Rico says, put your money somewhere else.

January 21, 2007, 07:39 PM
Necessary??? No.

Would I be without one??? No.

January 21, 2007, 07:44 PM
It's not necessary when you're starting out as long as you've got powder measure, scale, good reloading data (and you use it!) and a good eye for signs of over pressure.

But at some point you're probably going to want one. Not only can it provide valuable data that makes your reloads better, it's also a fun tool to use and adds another level of enjoyment to reloading. At least that was true in my case.

Black Snowman
January 21, 2007, 07:49 PM
Unless you have a chrono there's a lot of things you're just guessing at, but if the ammo is for short range target shooting, all that really matters is that it's accurate and safe. The time I would recommend a chrono is if you ever want to work up near-max loads or very light loads.

I've hit the point where additional powder resulted in no more velocity before hitting max loads before. In those cases I was able to back off the powder charge and get the same performance and better accuracy while making my powder last longer. Admittedly, these are in large magnum rounds and some rifles. Also I've found points where just a small reduction in powder results in a huge drop-off in velocity. Sometimes to an unsafe level (possiblity of rounds stuck in the bore). When you're pushing the boundries either direction, you reall need all the info you can get.

For normal target ammo it's not critical, but still nice. It can wait, but when you feel like experimenting, then it's time to go shopping for one.

January 21, 2007, 08:30 PM
I voted yes because I feel I have an extra margin of safety by using one. And because it completes the circle of care, craftsmanship, caution, and curiosity that is involved in reloading.

I guess another thing that swayed me is that I load 10mm Auto for pistol. If I did just .38Spl and .45ACP and other low-pressure cartridges I might have voted no.

January 25, 2007, 09:20 PM
I'd say it's the only safety gauge you have.

January 26, 2007, 02:34 PM
For less than $100 you can get more piece of mind of what your loads are doing. If they're consistent. If you've got good groups on the target, but a few fliers, the Chrony might just tell you you've got a variation of velocities. Then it's up to you to figure the rest out.

It's a tool to make sure you're meeting are are below a specific power factor for competition shooting.

If you bought that magnum rifle to hunt Moose or Grizzley or Elk, if you're reloading, it's nice to know if you're getting that "Magnum" performance out of your reloads.

Put it this way...

How many Cresent wrenches are in my tool box? Several, of same and different size. Along with socket sets of deep, 12pt and 6pt, 3'8" and 1/2" drive. Some for the impact driver. Are they all Necessary? No, but they are most helpful when working in my shop.


January 26, 2007, 07:12 PM
When I put more LIL'GUN in a 357 mag case and it got louder and kicked harder, I thought I was getting more velocity.
The chrono said I was getting less.
So I stopped adding the extra LIL'GUN.

January 27, 2007, 08:50 AM
Not necessary, I reloaded for 17 years without one. Now I have two and one stays in the truck, so they are nice to have/use. They can give you info you can't get from a book (what is your load doing in your firearm). If you were thinking about one just for IDPA you could pass. Someone is bound to have a chrono you could use after a match.

January 27, 2007, 06:27 PM
Not necessary unless you are going to use it to hold your targets! :eek: :eek:

January 27, 2007, 06:40 PM
45crittergitter said:
I'd say it's the only safety gauge you have.

And all those over pressure signs you can observe from fired cartridges aren't safety gauges? What are you trying to say here? There are plenty of ways to gauge whether the load you've fired is safe to fire again.

February 7, 2007, 08:55 PM
Any visual or tactile sign of overpressure, from primer appearance to brass condition are useless. By the time you can see or measure "too much," the loads are likely to be far, far over SAAMI pressure. Velocity is a fair, but imperfect measure. However, chronographs are objective and far easier to use than strain gauges.

February 7, 2007, 11:09 PM
I have been reloading for more than 30 years now, have never seen a need for a chrono, and I don't intend to buy one.

I don't try to hotrod my loads, either rifle or pistol, and most of them end up mid-range in the loading manuals. Accuracy in my weapons is more important to me than extra velocity. All the speed in the world doesn't help you if you miss. As a result I load for the best groups, and that happens long before I notice any signs of overpressure. Additionally, the brass lasts much longer.

Any animal that I have ever shot has been just as dead as if he had been hit by the same round traveling 100-200 fps faster.

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