Do I need a chrono?


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joatman66
March 12, 2013, 09:31 PM
I'm very close to having everything to begin reloading for my .45

I'm reloading mainly for target shooting.

I've received some conflicting advice on chronographing my loads. Necessary or not?

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NeuseRvrRat
March 12, 2013, 09:33 PM
necessary? definitely not

ranger335v
March 12, 2013, 09:37 PM
"Necessary or not?

If a chronograph was "necessary" there would have been maybe 20 reloaders in the U.S. prior to around the early 90s and there would still only be a small percentage of us that could get bullets out of our muzzles.

Walkalong
March 12, 2013, 09:38 PM
I reloaded 20+ years without one. I went by my Speer manual, and on target results.

A chrono has been fun, and it will surprise you sometimes, but you don't need one.

primalmu
March 12, 2013, 09:39 PM
The only reason I want one is to compile a ballistics chart so I know how much bullet drop to compensate for at a given range.

NeuseRvrRat
March 12, 2013, 09:43 PM
it'd be cheaper to just shoot a few rounds at various ranges

ktd
March 12, 2013, 10:03 PM
I put it off for decades then bought a little chrony. Actually use it a lot more than I thought I would, it is a lot of fun. Helps to have a system to set it up, I try to use the same bench and put some tape on the rods at the height I want my rounds to go through so I can bore sight easier. Interesting thing is on different days the same ammo can chrono quite differently. Don't know if it is the equipment or conditions. Makes me want to get another chrono to satisfy my curiosity. But I can plug the info into Nikon Spot-on and everything lines up nicely at different ranges.

exbrit49
March 12, 2013, 10:15 PM
Yes there will be differences on different days when using a chrono. The biggest factor is temperature. In general, the higher the temperature,the higher the pressure in the chamber and hence in most cases, an increase in velocity.
Do you need a chrono? no you don't but it sure is nice to have when you are working up new loads. I went over 20 years without one, then finally broke down and bought one. It made working up new loads, fast and fun. I could see so much more info, such as extreme spread, average velocities and high and lows etc, and it was nice to check the veloicties against the supposed velocity listed in the loading manuals.
Love mine and personally wouldn't want to be without one now.

chris in va
March 12, 2013, 10:37 PM
I just bought one three months ago.

All but one of my calibers was way off from what I expected. Only the Garand loads were spot on. I also discovered using a dipper caused really bad extreme spreads, sometimes 10%.

R00KIE
March 12, 2013, 10:40 PM
borrow a friends for a few times.... then decide if you need one.

bds
March 12, 2013, 10:58 PM
I'm very close to having everything to begin reloading for my .45

I'm reloading mainly for target shooting.
There are already many proven target loads for 45ACP from practice/plinking to serious match shooting. Unless you need to verify velocity for power factor calculations for shooting matches, I usually go by the accuracy trends I see during full powder work up.

Here are two of my favorites:

200 gr SWC and 5.0 gr W231/HP-38 - Very accurate match load

200 gr SWC and 4.0 gr Promo/Red Dot - Mild recoil practice/plinking load

cfullgraf
March 12, 2013, 11:02 PM
A chrono has been fun, and it will surprise you sometimes, but you don't need one.

i agree with Walkaglong, it is not necessary for the most part.

But, since I got a chronograph, I use it a fair amount, particularly to "calibrate" my fire arms relative to the published data.

If you are shooting at targets at fixed ranges, a chronograph is probably not needed. Just find the best load for the distance and shoot away.

But, if you plan to shoot at variable ranges, the muzzle velocity is nice to know for adjusting the windage and elevation at variable ranges. Actual data can vary greatly from published data.

ktd
March 12, 2013, 11:38 PM
In general, the higher the temperature,the higher the pressure in the chamber and hence in most cases, an increase in velocity.

Prob should have mentioned on a really cold day the velocity can be higher. I figure maybe with the cold the bore shrinks and pressures are higher. Or maybe the chrono calibrates differently in cold. Like I said part of the fun.

At any rate a Chrony can be had for under a hundred and they seem to work well. You find all sorts of interesting and sometimes conflicting or unexpected trends but velocities tend to be in the right ballpark so my confidence is good. Definitely optional but if you want to push your reloads it is good to have recognizing the limits of the equipment. My handgun rounds tend to be all starting loads so I don't bother chornographing but it is neat to see my 22-250 read 3600 fps without trying hard at all.

I think the most useful thing is that if your spreads are low you know your reloading technique is good and consistent. Helps with knowing how much crimp is good and other such adjustments, it really helps with your confdence in your loads.

greyling22
March 13, 2013, 01:30 AM
if you are going to experiment, particularly with cast bullets, or plan on using pistol caiibers in a rifle, or plan on using very old, or surplus pull down powders, then a chrono is very handy. If you're going to stick or proven powders and loads you don't really need one at all. It's just a tool, like a sledgehammer. and not everybody needs every tool. A 10lb sledge is handy to have, but your average person has limited need for one.

gamestalker
March 13, 2013, 03:36 AM
I also reloaded for a number of years before buying a chrono, I relied on my Speer charts, seemed to work just fine. As long as you determine where your bullets zero at various distances and watch your brass for pressure signs, you can easily get by without one.

But I have used one now for about 20 yrs. and it does help make my life a bit easier, actually simpler would be the correct analogy. I did get spoiled fast though cause now you can determine trajectories much quicker than the old fashioned way of shoot @ 200 yds., then @ 300 yds., so on, so forth. I was just taking the average fps and calculating the drop using a ballistic chart. But I haven't even had to do that since getting a Leupold RX-IV R.F. with the TBR program. I set it on the program that corresponds to the specifics of the bullets B.C., and velocity, and it provides me with the MOA +/- compensation on the elevation turret, it also compensates angle. I've had the TBR RF for about 3 or 4 yrs. now and it is very reliable.

GS

Reloadron
March 13, 2013, 03:56 AM
The need for a chronograph comes up quite often as a topic of discussion. The general consensus, which I agree with, is that it is a nice to have tool when used. Not a must have or essential for the average shooter but a nice to have.

Ron

Ehtereon11B
March 13, 2013, 05:18 AM
Eventually? Probably would be a good idea to see how fast your recipes are. But right off? I would say no. Play with some loads, find what works best for accuracy and get one if you start doing some more high volume practice.

readyeddy
March 13, 2013, 05:34 AM
It's handy for rifle loads where you want to calculate drop.

StrawHat
March 13, 2013, 06:14 AM
If you want to determine drop at various ranges, shoot at those ranges. Lots of shooters will tell you the drop figures so carefully calculated to show this bullet or load is better than that bullet or load are not even close.

A couple of the guys I know have chronies and they spend more time shooting over the screens than they do in the field. I prefer the field. The choice is yours, where do you like to spend you time (and money)?

Cranky CJ
March 13, 2013, 07:47 AM
Just one more tool to play with, handy and IMO, fun. Having said that, I got one because I wanted to see how the rounds I was making stacked up against what the book says. $99, cheap enough.

Elkins45
March 13, 2013, 10:32 AM
I have one and it's a good one by PACT. I rarely use it because it's a hassle to set it up and get it aligned when shooting from a bench at a range while others are trying to shoot.

It's nice, but not necessary. When it becomes necessary is when you start venturing into completely unknown territory. I used mine last year for the first time in at least seven years because I was trying to see if I could shoot cast lead bullets from a 300 Blackout using AA 2200 data powder. There was absolutely NO data out there, so I did some cautious extrapolation and carefully verified my predictions over the chrono. In that case it was absolutely worth the trouble.

You don't NEED it as long as you aren't pushing the bleeding edge.

Searcher4851
March 13, 2013, 11:45 AM
The short answer would be no, especially for handgun loads unless you're looking to impress someone with super muzzle velocities. I've always found the holes in the target to be a much better indicator of accuracy of any given load, as opposed to knowing how long it took the bullet to get there to make the hole.
I have used friend's chrono on occasion, mostly just for curiosity's sake, when working up loads for long range rifle, but the holes in the paper are still the defining data for me.
I've never owned one in over thirty years of reloading, but that doesn't mean at some point I won't. If I buy one, it'll be more for curiosity than need.

mljdeckard
March 13, 2013, 11:48 AM
Not on my list.

I honestly scratch my head a little at this obsession with maximum velocity. I worry about safety, if my gun functions correctly with a given load, and how accurate my loads are. (Really for certain rifles, not so much for pistols.) It really doesn't affect me much if my 22-250 loads are 300 fps slower as long as they are still sub-MOA.

robowo
March 13, 2013, 10:21 PM
I reloaded for years without one but got one last year for several reasons.

-- I've found that there are sometimes significant differences between published velocities and what you actually get over the chrono. One reason for this is some manufacturers use proof barrels which have little resemblance to what we actually use. Also the loads are almost always listed for one barrel length. In 357 Magnum caliber alone I have 4 different barrel lengths from just under 2" to 6". Some identical loads will vary well over 200 fps between these barrels. For all of my handloads, I label them with the specifics of that load to include fps, muzzle energy, the recoil in ft lbs with each revolver, and the drop at 50, 75 and 100 yards. For some of my heavier loads I list the drop out to 200 yards as I often shoot steel targets from 50-200 yards.

-- We also have a range on our property. I often work with new shooters, about 15 in just the past year. I always start them off at self-defense distances. Many of them are interested in longer range shooting after seeing me shoot at the longer distances. It really builds their confidence when you can quickly guide them onto a steel target at 100 yards.

-- I've found another advantage not yet mentioned in this thread. I had 2 target loads using 125 LRNFP bullets and 2 different loads of the same powder, one using 4.0 grains and the other using 4.6 grains. Both loads were very accurate but I found that with the 2" and 3" barrels there was no increase in velocity from the 4.6 grain load over the 4.0 grain load. I was just wasting powder. So now I use the 4.0 grain load in the 2 and 3" barrels and the 4.6 grain load in the 4 and 6" barrels.

Below is an example of a label used to mark my handloads. Note the significant difference in the bullet drop at the longer ranges between the 3 revolvers listed. You'll also notice the difference in the recoil using the same rounds. This is due to the significant difference in weights of these 3 revolvers. With new shooters, especially those that are a little recoil shy, I start them on light target loads and work up the recoil ladder. They can then tell me when they get up to a load they are not comfortable shooting, then we back off to one they do like. I think it does a disservice to new shooters to surprise them with a heavy recoiling handgun. It tends to induce flinching and they are harder to convert to shooting if they are afraid of the gun. I have had 2 friends who were afraid of guns because their first experience was shooting something that had objectionable recoil. I showed them the recoil differences and had my wife shoot the guns first. They both now own and shoot their own handguns.

cfullgraf
March 13, 2013, 11:12 PM
-- I've found that there are sometimes significant differences between published velocities and what you actually get over the chrono.

Yes. My rifles rarely match the published data in velocity for any number of reasons. I would not know where they are if I did not have a chronograph.

I have two 20" AR-15's that with the same load differ in velocity by about 10%. I would not have known that if i did not have a chronograph.

I do not use a chronograph to know when I am approaching maximum velocities but to make sure I am no where near maximum velocities.

I like to shoot some factory ammunition in my rifles over a chronograph. It gives me a data point for my rifle with ammunition that is safe to shoot (at at least assumed to be safe).

Does one need a chronograph, no. Accurate loads can be developed for a firearm without a chronograph. But I like the extra information and data that I get from the chronograph.

readyeddy
March 14, 2013, 07:56 PM
Yeah, it's not really about max speed. More about verifying your velocities (different barrels shoot differently) and calculating your drop. Not everyone has access to a range where you can put your targets wherever you want.

Here's a ballistic calculator. http://handloads.com/calc/

Too bad biggameinfo.com is not up anymore. They had an outstanding calculator that would give you your MPBR based on a recommended zero range.

Walkalong
March 14, 2013, 08:54 PM
I have never used trajectory charts. I have always just shot the load at different yardages to see what it does.

readyeddy
March 14, 2013, 10:09 PM
Where I live there is only one public range where you can place paper targets only at 50, 100 and 200 yards. So figuring out your drop beyond 200 is guesswork without a chrono, unless there's some way to calculate the drop at ranges beyond 200 based on the drops at 50, 100 and 200.

Trent
March 14, 2013, 10:14 PM
I have never used trajectory charts. I have always just shot the load at different yardages to see what it does.

I do that at 100-200-300. Then compare my results to get a ballistic chart worked up for ranges I do not have the ability to shoot at (400+).

Ballistic charts and chronographs come in handy if you ONLY have access to shorter ranges. There are VERY few long range rifle clubs in Illinois and they are all 3+ hours from where I live.

crummyshooter
March 23, 2013, 03:26 PM
I don't have one but have used a few. I was surprised how much help it is in working up shotgun (Trap ) loads. As most have said, It adds more fun to loading and tuning gun/load.

dirtykid
March 23, 2013, 03:52 PM
good thing I saw this thread,
I just decided to purchase a newer graph,something that wasn't sensitive to anything but perfect lighting conditions,wind gusts, or was built like a chimpanze fit the pieces together, But now since I DO have access to an area where I can shoot up to 800 yards,
Maybe I will just spend the money in worked-up loads,instead of on another gadget you have to haul into the field with you,and spend a bunch of time screwing around getting everything perfect,

joatman66
March 29, 2013, 03:32 PM
So... If I am interested in working up and documenting loads to match factory specs as part of selling reloads (working on 07 FFL), what chrony would you recommend. Mostly looking at pistol ammo. Is it overkill?

Reloadron
March 29, 2013, 04:52 PM
So... If I am interested in working up and documenting loads to match factory specs as part of selling reloads (working on 07 FFL), what chrony would you recommend. Mostly looking at pistol ammo. Is it overkill?
If I were to consider manufacturing ammunition and wanted or saw a need for a commercial grade chronograph I would look towards something along the lines of an Oehler 35P. (http://www.accurateshooter.com/gear-reviews/oehler-35p-chronograph-is-back/) That and the help of a notable ballistics expert.

If I could find good sensors I would also think about building my own.

Ron

Crashbox
March 29, 2013, 07:25 PM
I just ordered a chronograph today because I am really curious as to exactly what my loads are doing in different firearms.

For example, I have both a GP100 and an SP101 with 4" and 3" barrels, respectively. My standard target load for these could be classified as somewhat of a legacy load since AFAIK, no one is currently publishing .357 Magnum loads using Herco. I'm using 7.5 grains pushing a MBC 140 TCFP, lit with Fed 200 primers. I really want to see what this load is doing FPS-wise along with the SD. I'd additionally like to find out how the hotties (using 2400/H110) perform with the MG 125 JHP's.

It should also be interesting to see what my .405 Winchester loads are doing, among other rifles.

For the record, I decided to go with an Oehler 35P.

Reloadron
March 29, 2013, 08:29 PM
I just ordered a chronograph today because I am really curious as to exactly what my loads are doing in different firearms.

For example, I have both a GP100 and an SP101 with 4" and 3" barrels, respectively. My standard target load for these could be classified as somewhat of a legacy load since AFAIK, no one is currently publishing .357 Magnum loads using Herco. I'm using 7.5 grains pushing a MBC 140 TCFP, lit with Fed 200 primers. I really want to see what this load is doing FPS-wise along with the SD. I'd additionally like to find out how the hotties (using 2400/H110) perform with the MG 125 JHP's.

It should also be interesting to see what my .405 Winchester loads are doing, among other rifles.

For the record, I decided to go with an Oehler 35P.


Who still sells them? I have one my wife gave me as a gift about 15 or more years ago. Then Oehler quit making them, then they began making them again. Now, if I look at Midway they show the 35P as discontinued by manufacturer?

A few years ago I called Oehler and bought an extra print head for mine and some extra sky screen parts (yes, I shot one of my plastic screen parts). They were great and I had my parts within a week.

Ron

Crashbox
March 29, 2013, 08:33 PM
I ordered it directly from Oehler.

Hondo 60
March 29, 2013, 11:41 PM
Do you NEED a chronograph?
No, but I REALLY like having one.

I look at it as just another tool that can help keep me safe.

Reloadron
March 30, 2013, 08:13 AM
I ordered it directly from Oehler.
Thanks and good to know as I would have no reservation suggesting a 35P. They are great units. Not exactly budget but great units.

Ron

j1
March 30, 2013, 08:19 AM
It could be nice to have. If you borrow one be careful not to shoot it.

Crashbox
March 30, 2013, 09:48 AM
Thanks and good to know as I would have no reservation suggesting a 35P. They are great units. Not exactly budget but great units.

You're welcome, glad I could help.

I did a fair amount of research on various brands and it seems that although each has their own idiosyncrasies, almost no one grumbled about the Oehler other than cost. Other brands were certainly less expensive but they seemingly had a pronounced tendency to encourage the use of profanity amongst their owners. Granted, a chronograph is a specialized tool that I won't be using daily but there are certain aspects about load development and monitoring that- in my opinion- cannot be done any other way. And since my house is paid off and I'm old enough to want what I perceive to be the best, I figured the Oehler was well worth the investment.

I'm in the process of compiling a list of uses for my new toy in addition to baseline load behavior, but I may Google it some more. I can think of several, e.g., season-to-season variations, powder lot-to-lot differences, etc.

Reloadron
March 30, 2013, 08:04 PM
I can think of several, e.g., season-to-season variations, powder lot-to-lot differences, etc.

Once the weather up here improves I hope to run some over the chronograph that are from different temperatures. For example some in a cooler with measured temperature and some at air ambient. Same loads just different temperatures. Additionally some .308 loaded in military brass versus commercial brass with the cases weights noted. The list goes on.... :)

Ron

ltcboy
March 31, 2013, 03:04 PM
I really dont use the chrony for handgun reloading, however, I do find it very helpful for rifle. I like to reload for the M1 and I like to work up the loads from a very conservative level til I get just around 2700 fps. I like to see what different powders will do and how they will perform. Is it necessary? No, but it is a valuable tool to have.


MIke

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