Best chronograph for the $$$?


November 10, 2007, 05:17 PM
I'd really like to pick up a chronograph, but I'm not sure which one to get. I believe in spending a bit more to get quality if the cheap stuff is just... well, cheap. On the other hand, there are plenty of stories of people accidentally blasting their first chronograph, so I'm not opposed to getting the entry-level stuff if it still works well enough.

Which chrony would you recommend getting? The ones I've heard of before are:

Shooting Chrony F1/F1 Master, Alpha/Alpha Master, Beta/Beta Master, Gamma/Gamma Master
Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital, PAL
Oehler Model 35 Proof Chronograph
Pact XP Model 1, MKIV Championship, Professional
CED Millenium M2

But feel free to recommend any that I have failed to list...

Which ones are overpriced and which ones are the best values? Thanks!

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Ol` Joe
November 10, 2007, 06:10 PM
Any of the units you list will serve. The main difference in in bells and whistles, although the Ohler is likely a bit more accurate due to the proof channel. I do believe the Ohler isn`t avilable anymore as they have stopped selling to the individual reloader.
I prefer my pact due to being able to read it on the bench, but the others likely work as well. Although I have never seen too much difference in the accuracy of one over the other with a Pact and Shooting Chrony. Here is a post I made on this at another board..
BTW it is not clear but the numbers are the average of 5 shots with each of 4 loads.

November 10, 2007, 07:37 PM
I have this Competition Electronics Digital ( chrono and it works just fine. It is relatively inexpensive and new rods and diffusers ( are cheap if you miss.

I have had good luck with mine.

November 10, 2007, 08:17 PM
My only experience is with the Shooting Chrony F-1. It works great IMO and you won't find anything cheaper (around $70-80). No plans to "upgrade" here. I managed to shoot one of the rods with my snubbie but it keeps working. I replaced the metal rods with wooden dowels which stay together better and they'll sheer off if I pull another dumb one.

November 10, 2007, 08:28 PM
Every now and again you hear about people that couldn't get a reading from some of the cheaper ones. I'm sure you could probably find problems with any brand though.

It's nice to get peoples opinions about them though. Especially those who have owned multiple brands.

November 10, 2007, 11:31 PM
The Pact XP gets you a lot more than just a chronograph; it’s a ballistic computer and printer. The shooting chrony at $60 will get you just speed and works fine. What do you want and/or need, FWIW I never had a chronograph until I shot gun games, a dead deer is a dead deer (they don’t care about #’s).

BTW: If you have a resource for an Oehler I'll be glad to get another, as they are A+ as well.

November 10, 2007, 11:37 PM
PACT - I have bought and tried all of the others, except for the Ohler.

November 11, 2007, 06:29 AM
I have shot a hole through a Shooting Chrony
I have shot another hole through a another Shooting Chrony
I shot a 9mm hole through a PROCHRONO.
I am on my 4th chrono right now and it is another PROCHRONO.

I think they are better than the Shooting Chrony, in that they have a more reliable trigger.

Now when I go to the range, I get my rifle data first, in case I destroy the chrono with my poor handgun marksmanship.

November 11, 2007, 02:39 PM
i put a hole in a shooting chrony and they replaced it for free (didn't even charge me shipping)
i put another hole in my CED and i had to pay for replacement parts.

edit read this thread:

November 11, 2007, 05:16 PM
The clock speed on all the chronograph electronics is the same so the only difference in accuracy should be the distance between skyscreens. Its' pretty easy to mis-align a Shooting Crony enough to affect accuracy and still trigger both screens. I believe the Ohler allows you to choose skyscreen distance (at least on their older models) and further apart is always going to yield better accuracy. Ohler also wins by keeping all your electronics save the screens behind the gun and their triggering area is larger than the others. I suspect you will eventually shoot your Chronograph. I killed my Shooting Crony by flinging gas checks into it. Still, you can buy two Chronys for the price of a Pact and then you'd be able to set up a proof channel!

November 11, 2007, 07:34 PM
Very happy with my Chrony Gamma. I really like the printer - call me lazy. Got it from Midway with my birthday discount when it was on sale - pretty great deal when all was said and done.

November 11, 2007, 07:41 PM
ced also allows you to select from several distances between screens

how can you misalign it to affect accuracy?

November 11, 2007, 10:06 PM
If I had to do it over I'ld get one with a remote readout and controls so that I could operate everything from the bench. It's a pain to call a cease fire just so I can reset the thing. When I shot mine it was when another member asked me to chrony his 357sig, he was worried about hitting the thing and had me shoot his gun. I had the chrony on a camera tripod so when the bullet hit the sky screen rod it must have spun around 3 times before it hit the ground with parts flying every which way. The silence was only broken by the stifled laughter coming from the other lanes. Found all the parts and it still works. BTW the 357sig's FPS, really really fast.

Oh yea, it's the F1

November 14, 2007, 02:38 PM
Thanks for the advice everyone. I like the idea of having the electronics separate from the unit itself. That way, if I do (or maybe -when- I do) shoot the thing, I just have to replace that part. So, the Pact was looking good there. Not too unreasonably priced, about $130, and much cheaper than the CED Millenium 2. On Pact's webpage it claims:

"The advantage of using skyscreens over the little throw away down-range-box chronographs is that the chronograph itself sits safely next to you, where you can easily read the display and operate the controls. And of course when your buddy (never you) misses and hits a skyscreen, it can be repaired for a few dollars by simply replacing the damaged plastic pieces."

But a replacement skyscreen from MidwayUSA costs $70! That's the price of a new Shooting Chrony F1! Are there other repair parts, maybe individual pieces, that I could order from them? Because if I have to pay $70 for an entire new set of skyscreens I'm not sure it's worth the extra money or not...

Don't Tread On Me
November 14, 2007, 04:17 PM
Alpha Master.

Watch for sales on Midway and elsewhere. It can be had for $99 and sometimes $89. It has a remote (which is a must-have imo). Cheapest, yet good quality chrono for the lowest price with a remote.

When you're on the line and the chrono needs a reset or you can't read the fps because of the angle of the sun, you'll wish you had the remote.

November 14, 2007, 10:04 PM
I just purchased a Chronograph myself.

Of the above listed I have tried all exept the Pact (For some reason nobody has one here where I live, wich is Northern Sweden.) Even tried a couple not mentioned above.

The Prochrono is very easy to deal with, but I thought like you and decided to put in the difference to the better choice.
I got the CED M2, and I am very very happy with my choice. But it was very expensive.

It can be hooked up to my computer and I can download the entire strings I have shot. It has many calculations and a big fat screen that is clearly visible. On top of that the little sucker even speaks out loud telling the readings onscreen.
Also I can purchase several add-ons that sounds interesting.

Yes I am very happy with my CED M2. (And it costs double up here in Sweden, and I am still happy...)

If I would have taken another of the above, I would have taken the ProChrono. It is very easy to use as you have it up in a jiffy, easier than the CED M2 to assemble and use. That would be why id choose that as second choice and not due to the cheap pricetag.
But if you have the dough without starving like me if you get the CED M2, I still think, after I bought mine and tried it, that it is the best choice.

Hope that was to some help, and that my poor english was understandable.

Stay loaded mates,


PS. Is it humanly possible to hit the scyscreens from 2-3 yards??? The last +100.000 rounds I did in PPC the worst hit traveled 30centimeters from the center of the 50 yard target and that was a real freak shot. Put up a beansack and take real good aim, and unless god strikes your bald spot with the bolt of lightning just in the moment that trigger breaks, you should be fine... Dont worry

November 14, 2007, 10:11 PM
I have a Pro Crono and a CED. Both are nice chronographs but I prefer the CED even considering the additional expense.

November 15, 2007, 12:03 AM
I think right now it's a toss up between two; the Pact Model 1 XP and the Shooting Chrony Alpha Master (although I haven't eliminated the Beta Master quite yet either). The Alpha Master records one shot string from 2 to 32 shots, so it's a bit limited in that respect (the Beta Master up to 6 strings of 10 shots each). But Pact's webpage doesn't say what how many strings, or what size of strings it can record.

Can someone who has a recent model Pact Model 1 XP tell me it's capabilities in recording shot strings? Also, is there a printer available for the Pact or do you have to purchase the Pact Professional instead if you want printing capabilities?

November 15, 2007, 12:15 AM
I have the CED M2 and like it just fine. It breaks down easily and comes in parts and the computer is separated by a long cord so you won't shoot the expensive part. If you do shoot the supports, they're easily replacable. There are plenty of options on the computer you'll probably never use but for basic fps and power factor checking, it works fine. Easy to set up too. I like it.

November 15, 2007, 12:44 AM
I recently bought a PACT Model 1 XP ( and I'm very happy with it. It's accurate, works under a wide range of conditions and it's very easy to use. It comes with their Glint Guard2 Bullet Detection System which is the same system used on their very expensive units. I feel it's real advantage is that the electronics are on the bench with you so when you shoot it all you need to do is replace the sensors, not the Chrono itself!! :p It's list price is $129.95 but I bought it on sale from Midway for $109.95. Unfortunately the sale is over so it's back to $130.

November 15, 2007, 11:12 PM
For those of you who have the Pact, which model do you have? The basic Model 1, the Championship, or the Pro?
Can you attach a printer to the basic Model 1 or is only available on the Pro?

November 16, 2007, 05:39 PM
Yo Azar, about those strings up to 32 shots youre impressed with...

The "CED M2" takes strings from 1 up to 500 shots,
it also records more than 1000 velocities.
Thats far superior to all the other together!

And Printer???

You just plug the cable in your USB port when you get home,
then you can print it on a real printer instead.
And of course you can edit and fix a printout in whatever way you prefer, and you can calculate and edit freely online,
copy and paste for your mates etc...
As you have it all in text instead on a small piece of printout-roll that you have to write by hand letter by letter.

Of course it is expensive, but nothing beats it either in functionality nor accuracy...

Thats were I put my buck!


Don't Tread On Me
November 16, 2007, 07:17 PM
The Alpha is one string up to 32 shots. The higher models allow more strings as well as memory so you can take it home and recall the strings.

I don't bother with that. I shoot the string, and while the gun is cooling down, I write down the string on a piece of paper. I have it organized. A small paper pad with sections for bullet and powder type.charge then I just write in the individual velocities. I have an Excel spreadsheet that does ES, AV, SD and all the other goodies. I keep all my data on my private website so I can pull it up from anywhere. At the range, I just want the velocity. I'll deal with trajectories, SD's and other info later when I have more time to think about trends in my load development.

The only thing I'll look at usually is Average on the chrono (just hit the button and it brings it up) when I am getting close to max to determine if I should go ahead and shoot the next string up.

If you want to save money, that's the way to go. If you want more convenience, there are a lot of options. Chrono's with printers that give you all the stats on a string as well as trajectory for a given zero. You can print it out and sight in right there at the range once you've found your pet load.

Spending more money on a chrono gets you more features, not more accuracy. Their sensors are all pretty much equal in their ability to determine velocity.

November 16, 2007, 08:45 PM

I think you misunderstood my post. I wasn't impressed with the fact it could record up to 32 shots. In fact, quite the opposite.

The Alpha Master records one shot string from 2 to 32 shots, so it's a bit limited in that respect.

Besides, as nice as the CED M2 is, it's not the only one that can record that many velocities. The Shooting Chrony Gamma has a 500 shot memory (divided into 50 numbered strings of 2 to 10 shots each). The Shooting Chrony Beta can be upgraded to 1000 shot memory for U.S. $15.00 plus S & H ( I'm just not sure I can justify that much money right now. Reloading can get quite expensive if you let it. :D But I do appreciate your feedback.


Thanks, that is something to consider too. It's nice to have those extra features, but when it comes down to it a computer is pretty good at calculating things like average velocity, extreme spread, standard deviation, etc... :) The only thing it can't do is record those velocities for me. Good point.

November 18, 2007, 02:43 AM
I bought the PACT XP Professional that has the built in printer. At first, I was getting alot of erroneous readings. Wasn't sure what was going on. On another day, it worked great. I think its a little picky about the lighting conditions. I've never owned any other chrono so I can't give you a comparison. I love the features of the unit though. Gives about every stat you would want. Up to 20 shots in a string plus it will calculate ballistics. Having the display and printer right there at the bench with you is a definite plus.

Ol` Joe
November 18, 2007, 10:18 AM
I think its a little picky about the lighting conditions.

All of them are funny in some lighting conditions. Try placing a piece of "Scotch brand" frosted tape over the screen slots and see if it helps. I`ve seen it straighten out a chrony that was acting up a time or two. I don`t claim it to be a cure all though, just a band aid.
Shading the screen sensors also fixes the problem if you have a piece of cardboard or something to keep the direct sun off them. Don`t set up under a tree. The sun peeking through the swaying leaves from the breeze sometimes causes the reading to be eratic.
Enjoy your new toy. You are often going to be shocked at what your loads are really doing ........;<)

November 18, 2007, 07:15 PM
I have a Chrony Gamma Master. It has issues on bluebird days. If I were to do it all over I would go with a CED.

November 19, 2007, 12:33 AM
The PACT 1 XP has a 24 shot memory. You can edit the strings to eliminate any error if it happens and it won't effect the other readings. You are provided High, Low AV, ES, SD and AD readings as well as being able to review all shot readings.

I don't think it has a printer feature.

November 19, 2007, 07:49 PM
Thanks ArchAngel. The model you are talking about is the basic Model 1 correct?

If that's so, a 24 shot memory really isn't a lot to crow about. The nicest benefit is the electronics are not next to the screens like the Shooting Chronys.

November 19, 2007, 10:02 PM
The shooting chrony gamma master I have brings the screen back to the shooter. Everything other than the bluebird day issue mentioned above is good.

I like the printer, as I can rip off the tape and throw it in with the exact brass I used for any particular load.

November 20, 2007, 03:05 AM
I know a 24 shot memory isn't a lot but it's way more than I need. I'm using it to check velocities on my load work-ups so all I really need is 10 or so rounds to get a good test on speed.

PACT currently has only 3 models in production, the Model 1 XP (which I own), the Professional XP and MKIV Championship Timer & Chronograph.

I wasn't looking for a lot of the things you seem to want. I was only looking for a dependable Chronograph that would be easy to use and give me accurate readings. I got exactly what I wanted with the Model 1 XP. I was lucky it was on sale and it cost me only $110 instead of $130. I'm happy since it does what I need it to do and it does it very well.

November 20, 2007, 02:27 PM

You know, that's all I thought I wanted when I started this thread. But I wanted others input to be sure I'd be happy with my purchase and not buy something that was missing that "killer feature". The pact was my first choice for a while but it's the current $130 price tag that's keeping it from being the clear winner. As long as what people say here is true and that more-or-less all chronys have similar internals and each of them will do a decent job of it, then I don't see the need for me to spend more on a CED or Pact. I can see the draw of them and given a bigger budget I'm pretty sure I'd bring home the CED M2 or Pact XP Pro without too much thought.

I don't currently reload for pistols, nor do I plan to start in the near future, so the fear of hitting the chrony with an errant shot is probably unfounded and not worth weighing too much of my decision. The "extras" like average velocity, high and low, etc are again nice to have but not necessities. Same goes for the printer.

I'm leaning towards the Beta Master or Alpha Master, although a bit more towards the Beta. I can currently get the Beta Master for $108.44 at Mid-South Shooters Supply ( and the Alpha Master for $95.19 ( The Beta Master can record 60 shots (10 strings of 2 to 10) and can be upgraded for 1000 shot memory for a small fee. An add-on printer can be attached as well. With the master models the display and a good portion of the electronics are on the bench with me as well. Not 100% what I want, but it's getting there. And the price tag is definitely more Christmas list friendly.

I'm still open to more suggestions and personal experiences if you'd like to share.

November 20, 2007, 05:36 PM
Let me throw this a different way...

Additional memory, features and add on printers are all extra cost and complexity when you're out on the range trying to focus on shooting straight. The less crud you have to muck around and set up and trouble shoot the more time and mind you free up for the fun part. I have a simple Shooting Chrony F-1 Master. It puts the display and the expensive part of the unit on the bench with you and is generally simple and accurate.

Now, the fact that we're all putting up our opinions here shows we have or have access to a computer of some sort. What I do is run up and excel template for each test session with load and data categories tied to all the good stuff I want to know about. I leave the muzzle velocity cells blank and print it out on the way to the range. I sit the piece of paper under the F-1 head unit on the bench and fill in the shot velocity cells as I run them off. Then I take my hard copy and type up the data and let the spreadsheet do the calculations for me and display the data I want to know. I make my notes on the same page and save the file as well as printing it off for the three ring binder I keep with my load dev workups with my reloading gear. I figure why invest money in duplicate equipment? If I get all ansty I'll throw my laptop in with the reloding gear and take a sammich break at the range and put in my data to see what's working out.

I'm probably nuts but here's a sample from my last range session anyways...

Range Dat w/ Chrony - 071110
Rifle Bullet Type Weight Diameter COL Powder Primer MAX Chg MAX MV
1895G Laser Cast FP 350 .459" 2.525 Re 7 CCI 200 47 1850
1895G Laser Cast FP 350 .459" 2.525 2400 CCI 200 25 1350
1894 Hornady XTP 240 .430" 1.6" 2400 CCI 300 21.5 1700

Charge MV1 MV2 MV3 MV4 MV5
GG 45g 1742 1743 1706 1686 1729
GG 25g 1401 1349 1426 1430 1350
94 19.5g 1592 1589 1566 1583 1578
94 20g 1669 1662 1660 1680 1655
94 20.5g 1771 1762 1760 1766 1749

Charge Hi - V Lo - V Avg - V E Spread Std Dev
GG 45g 1743 1686 1721 57 22.09
GG 25g 1430 1349 1391 81 35.47
94 19.5g 1592 1566 1582 26 9.18
94 20g 1680 1655 1665 25 8.66
94 20.5g 1771 1749 1762 22 7.34

November 20, 2007, 08:01 PM

It looks like you have everything well put together and I must say that I like your ideas and your setup. You've reiterated what some other people have said as well, although quite a bit more in depth. Your line of though was how I was leaning before starting this thread. I told my wife "If you want to get me a chronograph for Christmas just get me the F1 Master. It's also currently on sale for $80." But once I have a chronograph, If I decided I liked some of the extra features, purchasing a new one would probably be seriously frowned upon by the wife. :)

I think I got wowed by features and the "gee-whiz" factor of some of the other more expensive chronographs. The biggest one was having all the important electronics on bench (CED, Pact). While I do agree with everything you say, I think that it would be nice to have some of those extras at the range with me. Plus, I don't mind a little extra cost for some of those features if it helps "future-proof" it in my mind. So, I still lean towards the Beta Master and Alpha Master as my #1 and #2 pick.

But thank you for your input!

P.S. Are you willing to share your excel spreadsheet with the rest of us? :D

November 20, 2007, 09:11 PM
P.S. Are you willing to share your excel spreadsheet with the rest of us?

Yeah, what he said! ^

November 21, 2007, 11:47 AM
Open offer, PM me with an email contact and I will send any member an excel file with 5 shot and 10 shot string templates on separate tabs ready to go.

I'll probably have to get 'em out after the holidays, just to inform.

I'm really not knocking the extra chrony gear like the printers and such. Using Excel to display data specifically the way I want it as part of a data archive system that works for me was a no brainer 'cause I do that type of stuff for a living anyways. YMMV.

January 12, 2008, 01:33 PM
Santa was kind enough to bring me a chronograph for Christmas. The Shooting Chrony Beta Master if you are interested. I gave my a list of three (Pact XP, Beta Master, Alpha Master) and let her pick one. Although I did say that the Beta Master was my first choice. Unfortunately, it has snowed every single weekend since Thanksgiving until this one! While great for those who ski or snowboard, not so great for shooting. So I'm ready to get out and finally break in the new chrony.

One thing I forgot to ask for Christmas was a tripod, not remembering that you really need one to mount the chrony on. How tall does it need to be? Any particular recommendations or best places to get one on short notice?

January 12, 2008, 02:23 PM
Out of curiosity, has anyone tried putting a piece of cardboard with a 5" hole in it between the screens to look through to help avoid hitting the unit?

If you can't see the target beyond - might want to adjust aim - if you can, it seems it'd take quite a flinch to tag the unit.

January 12, 2008, 04:38 PM
Azar, I was able to find a nice old tripod on Ebay for about $15. I detest Ebay but this one was all steel and aluminum, not like most of the junk you buy today.
GaryL, I wonder if that wouldn't mess up the sensors.

January 12, 2008, 06:08 PM
Thankfully for todays range session I was able to borrow my fathers tripod which I gave him for Fathers Day last year. There was about 2 feet of snow on the ground which meant I had to kick up a nice little patch to clear the way for the tripod. With all the snow, I couldn't see which target holder lined up with my bench at 100 yards and I ended up placing it too far left. So I had to wait 15 minutes for the next cease fire. At the next cease fire the range officer said that no other people had signed up to run the range that day (the RO's are volunteers who get free memberships and keys to come anytime they want), so the range would be closing after the next round. :cuss:

So, with all the setup to get everything going I only got to shoot one group (6 shots) but the Chrony seemed to work fine! :D I was surprised at the velocities recorded. They came in probably about 100fps slower than I would have expected. Although the sun was a bit to the side of the chrony and the chrony was tilted slightly forward due to unevenness of the snow (something I hadn't noticed until the cease fire had ended), so the readings could have been off due to that. But at least I didn't get any shots that the chrony was unable to read at all.

Reloading just got a good deal more fun...

January 12, 2008, 06:09 PM
Eagle303 - the sensors are about a foot apart. Should be fine to put something in between. The sensors are looking at the sky screen (or the sky).

January 12, 2008, 07:01 PM
I've bought a couple of decent lightweight tripods on e*ay for <$10 (before shipping). Hard to go wrong at that price...

January 12, 2008, 09:26 PM
I now have a Pact chrono and I love it. However I am an ACE on Chrony's. (5 of them.) My son's won't let me use theirs.

Nom de Guerre
January 12, 2008, 10:35 PM
I have an Oehler 35P. It took a while to find a good used one. Several came and went very quickly before I was able to jump on them. It took me about 3 months to find mine.

I love it. A buddy of mine and I went to the range today to chronograph some test loads that we are working up. He has an almost new PACT Mark IV XP, that he has only used once before. He won it in a competition match. Today it wouldn't work. It seemed to have a short or something, and he kept getting an error message saying the screens triggered simultaneously. This was without trying any shots yet. He tried unplugging everything, and setting it up again, but the same error message came up. It would alternate between the "ready" readout and the error message every few seconds even when just sitting there. He was pretty frustrated, but we both ended up using my 35P, and he was pretty happy with the results.

It's pretty nice to have the built in printer. We would shoot a string, and press the summary button to get the evaluation of the string. You just rip off the printed info, and stick it in your book (after notating the powder charge on it). It makes for easy record keeping, and minimal work at the range.

The standard distance between the primary screens is 4 ft. Then there is a proofing screen that goes between the two primary screens. You can stretch the two primary screens to 8 ft and beyond I believe by just changing some dip switches inside the unit. I don't have the manual close at hand, so I can't lookup the maximum distance between primary screens. I am just using it with the 4 ft spread, and it seems to work very well, and it's not too bulky. I notice that many chronographs use a 2' spread, and no proof channel.

In any case, if you can find a good used Oehler 35P for a not too unreasonable price, I give it a high recommendation. I don't think there is a better one made for the individual shooter (not commercial) market.

Winger Ed.
January 13, 2008, 03:07 AM
Ya don't hear much about the Oehler chronos.
But I sure like mine.
I just put it up & use it.
So far, it hasn't acted goofy or done anything crazy.


January 13, 2008, 05:03 AM
I now have a Pact chrono and I love it. However I am an ACE on Chrony's. (5 of them.) My son's won't let me use theirs.
That's why I like the PACT 1 XP, you shoot at inexpensive plastic while the expensive works are on the bench next to you.

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