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Do you trust your chronograph

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by atblis, Oct 26, 2009.

  1. atblis

    atblis Well-Known Member

    Just wondering if you guys have any insight as to how accurate chronographs are.

    Specifically, have you ever done a comparison, like line up three different chronographs, one after the other?

    I am not entirely sure I trust mine. It definitely "shifts" after it has warmed up. But that's reasonable for electronics, digital scales are the same way.

    I have one of these.

    Sometimes I wonder.
  2. Ed Harris

    Ed Harris Well-Known Member

    Normal industrial procedure is to fire a calibration check with reference ammunition on each setup to be sure that everything is working normally. I fire a few shots of Eley Tenex through my .22 rifle and if it is averaging 1080 +/- 15 f.p.s. sample average, as corrected for the ambient temperature, all is well.
  3. Shoney

    Shoney Well-Known Member

    Some time ago, I thought my velocities were getting much higher than book data, yet showing no pressure signs at max loads. Since I didn't understand what was going on, I called the chrono factory.

    The chrono company asked what elevation I was shooting at, because at higher elevations the air is less dense and higher velocities could be expected. Since I wasn't at high elevation, they told me to calibrate my chrono using high quality .22 LR, where the expected velocity is on the box (Federal 900B for example).

    The quality ammo was to be fired out of a 24" bolt action or lever action .22, and should achieve the stated velocity within 50 fps or closely thereabout. The .22's usually vary less from the stated velocity than most commercial and handloaded centerfire cartridges. I was also told that the escaping gasses with unburned powder and residue particles of the cenerfire ammo crossing the chrono can give false high readings.

    I run 10 shot strings of high quality 22 ammo across my chrono about twice a season, and that reasures me I am in a very good ball park!:)
  4. ole farmerbuck

    ole farmerbuck Well-Known Member

    I have a Shooting Chrony Alpha Master Chronograph and my neighbor has about the same thing. We lined them up and got different readings. I dont remember what the numbers were though.
  5. snuffy

    snuffy Well-Known Member

    Yes I do! Mines a Pact standard chrono, I've had it for 12 years. If I ever wonder if it's accurate, I run a few rem. standard velocity 22 rimfire rounds over it. IIRC those should be right at 1250 FPS., they usually are right on.
  6. helg

    helg Well-Known Member

    I prefer not to rely on anything, even on forum advices, if I have not verified the claim myself.

    My digital scale is accurate, and shows the same weight right after opening, and after a while, when it, like you said, "warms up". I have tested and verified this. I do understand how digital scale works. This helps me to get confidence in the scale.

    Same with chrony. Before relying on its data, I used to conduct tests on it. Airsoft rifle with a simple homemade ballistic pendulum. Shooting at close distances, shooting aside of the sensors, or not straight over the sensors. Time stability of the device. A lot of things to play with. It adds some fun to the boring process of just punching targets.

    Chrony relies on time measurement. Accuracy of the time measurement is far superior to the 4 digits that chrony gives you. Your watch does not drift when you wear it on your warm wrist or keep in a cold place. Non-straight shot is the first factor of discrepancy, straight cosine calculation gives a perfect estimate for that. Device vibration also can be estimated, but not that straight.

    Muzzle flash, or sky, which is not clear, causes the device not to catch bullet at all, or to give unrealistic data. Different loads and guns distinct in the flashes, this may require some time to get confidence.

    Try to make feel of your chrony, test it, and you can rely on it.
  7. Asherdan

    Asherdan Well-Known Member

    Yes, kinda. Was out at the club one day and some other members had their chrony's out. I had my .22 bolt rifle and talked them into letting me put a couple of reference shots over each one, mine included. All shots came out within 30 fps or so of each other across the 2 shooting chronys and the one guy's Pact. I keep the (now <) 100 count box of ammo separate in the range box and fire a check shot or two before a chrony session, same as I was doing before and as the other posters have recommended. Having checked mine against a couple other chronographs does quiet the mind on the matter, though.
  8. Steve C

    Steve C Well-Known Member

    I shoot some factory ammo, usually .22lr over mine to check readings and its always been at expected velocities. There are some things that can throw the readings off like any light flashes, powder passing over the chrono but in general the velocity reading appear accurate with few surprises.
  9. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Well-Known Member

    Yes...I sure do trust my 20+ year old Pact 1 chronograph. It has never varied more then 30 to 50 fps (1160 to 1190 from a 20" barrel) when tested with CCI Mini-Mags.
  10. ~z

    ~z Well-Known Member

    I trust mine, it's a Oehler P35. How could I not trust it?
  11. NCsmitty

    NCsmitty Well-Known Member

    IMO, many chronographs are setup too close and often get errors or erratic readings because of that. I setup at a minimum of 15ft. Obviously the folks shooting howitzers can benefit from the extra distance to the screens because muzzle blast and spewed aggregate can give errors and variations in the readout.

  12. qajaq59

    qajaq59 Well-Known Member

    If they are all so trustworthy, how come people keep shooting them? :evil:
  13. Ol` Joe

    Ol` Joe Well-Known Member

    I`ve both a Pact M1 and a old Shooting Chrony. I once taped the shooting chrony on top of the Pact screens and shot over both at the same time. The results were within ~2% max of each other. I feel this is fairly good accuracy from both units.

  14. MCMXI

    MCMXI Well-Known Member

    A couple of weeks ago I was using my chronograph and a friend showed up with his. After I'd finished shooting for the day, I let him use my rifle and my reloads and he shot five rounds over his chrono. I don't have the data in front of me but the average velocity that he got was close to the average I got but so what. Chronograph results are validated or corrected with field data.

    You need to validate measured average velocities by shooting targets at known distances. Chronographs are good for load development, but you simply can't beat getting real data in the field. I've shot close to 250 rounds of the same 178gr .308 Win load at 25, 100, 150, 200, 300, 400 and 600 yards over the past two weekends and that gives me a much better idea as to the average muzzle velocity. Field validated MV will be more useful (and more accurate) to calculate comeups out to 1000 yards since the local range only goes out to 600 yards. If you have access to a ballistics program, you can make small changes to the MV until the calculated comeups match up with actual comeups. Density altitude is important too and you should know what temperature, elevation and barometer values to input to get the same DA value.

    Last edited: Oct 26, 2009
  15. ants

    ants Well-Known Member

    Do you trust your chronograph?

    I trust it not to shoot me.

    How many chronographs can say the same about us? :neener:
  16. jbkebert

    jbkebert Well-Known Member

    Not mine:D My chrono seems a little bitter with me since I stuck a arrow in it.
  17. bluetopper

    bluetopper Well-Known Member

    My chrony is bad about not displaying a reading at all.

    I use it under an awning in the shade. Is this OK?
  18. 1SOW

    1SOW Well-Known Member

    ants +1

    I started loading last year and borrowed a Chrony from a friend. I set it up carefully and it was a bright clear Texas day.

    I wanted aload that gave my 124 gr FMJ 9mm a 130ish Power Factor (speed x weight / 1000). I was meticulous. I was shooting from a good rest through the Chrony at a 25 yd bullseye target. After trying three different loads I was right in the ballpark! (big grin here)

    I later found competitive shooters who have their (same bullet) ammo checked regularly at major matches. Their load was NOT my load (similar guns/bbls). I had to be shooting light compared to their load. (big frown here)

    I need another chronograph to compare with my last results. I upped my charge on faith---I know, I know.

    I'm still trying to figure out how this is going to affect what chronograph I need to buy and how to check it. I need to be cost-effective as I don't load many variations.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2009
  19. MCMXI

    MCMXI Well-Known Member

    What sort of error messages are you getting? During my last session, the chronograph worked great when the sun was out and bright. Once the chronograph was in shade I started to get more errors. I probably should have removed the screens at that point but didn't. The sensors work off contrast i.e. a dark bullet moving across a light background. If the background is too dark, the sensor isn't going to detect enough of a difference and will give you errors.

  20. atblis

    atblis Well-Known Member

    Also make sure the sensors are clean. That helps.

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