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Best chronograph for pistols?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by jski, Aug 16, 2018.

  1. jski

    jski Member

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    I shoot a variety of pistols and need a new chronograph. Heard a lot of positive things about the Magnetaspeed but has that strap on attachment for the barrel. Seems appropriate for rifles but no so much for pistols?

    Suggestions?
     
  2. Jack B.

    Jack B. Member

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    I think that mostly depends on your budget. I've had good results with a Shooting Chrony but if you want the best and your budget can handle it. The hot item now is the LabRadar Ballistic Velocity Doppler Radar Chronograph . The Alpha Master Chorny works fine for me and I pretty much only shoot pistols. Works for my rifles too. There are a lot of options out so you can pretty much tailor one to your needs and budget. I can't say anything much about Magnetospeed as I've only ever seen them used with rifle's. They do appear to be the easiest to set up.


    http://www.shootingchrony.com/introduction.htm


    https://mylabradar.com/
     
  3. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    I really like my Labradar. It's an expensive item though. I also bought a nice tripod for it.

    Got the Labradar on sale for $500 from Midway.

    Got a Slik brand tripod for $180 on Amazon.

    You also would want a USB battery pack for it. They can be had pretty cheap but you want a larger high capacity one.

    A memory card would be a good thing too.

    It will calculate Ave, SD, ES and give you your highs and lows right there on the spot for each series. There's a new smartphone app out for it too but I haven't used it. @Doublehelix has used it though and seems to like it. Something I really like as well is you can choose what distances you want velocity data for out to 100 yards I believe. For measuring pistol rounds that's useful for knowing impact velocities as well as muzzle velocities. If measuring pistol carbine velocities it can help you choose an appropriate bullet for the application and avoid bullet failure at higher velocities.

    Like I said, it's expensive but if it holds up it's a really nice piece of equipment.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018
  4. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    I believe the current version of the Magnetospeed works with some hand guns but not all. My Version 2 Magnetospeed can be used on long barreled handguns but is not really hand gun friendly otherwise. I found it worked great, but the attachment and alignment of the bayonet can be a pain.

    I've had Shooting Chronys and a CED M2. Both worked fine, both had idiosyncrasies. I bought the infrared lights for the M2 and many of the idiosyncrasies went away and operation became much more reliable. Any of the optical sensor chronographs would probably serve you well. Some of them can be linked with your cell phone and could be a useful feature.

    Currently, I have a Labradar. It has many great features but it is expensive. You do not have to set up the unit down range which is handy at public ranges. The unit saves the data on a mini SD card in .CSV format which makes transferring the data to a spreadsheet program a breeze. Some folks have trouble getting the Labradar to "see" their bullets but I have not had any of these problems. The Labradar is expensive though.
     
  5. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

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    Another vote for labradar.

    Really makes chronographing easy due to the set-up. For rifles we've gone to chronographing while practicing prone at distance, then I just email the guys their .CSV spreadsheets later. We manually record which series is who's and the temperature. It would/could work just as well for handgun. Big plus is you can run it from a tablet or smart phone and never have to actually touch the unit.

    The .CSV format is a huge time saver as I just import sheet tabs into a larger spreadsheet per weapon.
     
    Jack B. likes this.
  6. climbnjump

    climbnjump Member

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    I use my LabRadar mostly for rifle, but have also used it for handgun. The unit itself works fine for that, just remember about cylinder gap gasses from a revolver when positioning the unit.

    Also, the first time I used it for handgun at my local range, I got some very strange and weird velocity numbers and the unit actually rebooted itself in the middle of some strings of fire. Neither of those things had happened when I used it for rifle shooting. I thought about it for a minute and realized the problem - my targets were hung on chicken wire at 10 yards. Yeah, that chicken wire royally confused the unit which isn't too surprising. I moved over to the 25 yard range and the issues went away and everything worked as expected.

    So just beware the close range chicken wire!
     
    Chuck R. likes this.
  7. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    I have been through a handful of others, but what I have now are a ProChrono Digital, a Magnetospeed Sporter, and a LabRadar. Out of all of them I have used, I would buy these again if I lost everything in a fire, with the exception of upgrading to a V3 instead of the Sporter from Magnetospeed. The ProChrono Digital does what it should at a bargain price. Want more features and refinement, and can’t do firearm mount for the V3, then the Labradar is the only one I’d recommend.
     
  8. Toprudder

    Toprudder Member

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    I started with a F1 Shooting Chrony, then bought the Caldwell when it first came out, now I have use of a Labradar. (A friend has loaned it to me, I don't own one - yet).

    If money is no object, then get the Labradar.

    I've shot over 1000 shot strings over my Caldwell, and about the only problem I've had with it is when the sun is positioned so it can shine down into the sensors - a common problem with any optical chrono. I have found that I can usually tilt the unit left or right, or shade the chrono from the sun, and that fixes the problem. The Caldwell will operate standalone but will only give you the last shot velocity. The smartphone app that goes along with it is what gives the statistics, and I really love the app for being able to save the data and text/email the results.

    The Shooting Chrony I have does not have the remote display. If you buy that brand, get the "Master" version that has the remote display. I bought the optional printer that goes with it, which essentially gives me the functionality of a remote display, but the printer is rather cumbersome to use.

    I like the fact that the Labradar operates from the shooting bench and does not have to be downrange. This makes it useful at public ranges that do not allow anything in front of the firing line. (Same can be said for the Magnetospeed).

    While the Labradar allows up to 5 distances to be chosen for downrange velocity recording, I have noticed that an additional .CSV file it creates for each shot group lists the velocities all the way to the target, with an additional "SN" metric that I assume is signal-to-noise ratio. I know that it can see a .223 bullet out to around 75 yards, but I want to set it up on a range farther than 100 yards just to see how far larger bullets can be seen by the radar.

    I have used the app with the Labradar, and it is basically a remote control for the Labradar. Anything that can be done with the front panel on the Labradar can be done in the app, but MUCH more easily. I just wish the app could store/email the data, but all the data still have to be accessed through the USB interface, or from the memory card directly.
     
  9. brutus51

    brutus51 Member

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    Does the Labradar work in indoor ranges?
     
  10. alfsauve

    alfsauve Member

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    That's one of the big advantages. When you're at a place you can't go down range to set up a sky screen the Lab Radar just sets up on the bench and you're in business. It's possible, I guess, if the people on either side of you fire at just the right time they could confuse the Lab Radar. I haven't experienced it. I've shot it in my basement (close concrete walls) with both centerfire and pellet guns, no problem. I've shot it at at least 3 indoor ranges and haven't had a hiccup yet.

    Another advantage of the LabRadar is it tracks your round downrange, giving you not only muzzle velocity but velocity at various distances downrange as well. And it doesn't care about what gun you're using. I'll test a revolver load and fire one group with a 4" barrel, another group with a 5" barrel and another with a 6" barrel without changing a thing (other than the statistics collection group#).
     
  11. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I have a CED Millennium I and a CE Pro Chrono Digital with wired remote.
    The CED has more bells and whistles and the IR illuminators are good. Lots of cables, though.
    The CE is simpler to set up and has a wide window. When I shot mine, they replaced it for half price. But a sensor housing for the CED would have been lots less.

    I don't chronograph enough these days to justify a Labradar.
    The one used for power factoring at the IDPA match Saturday seemed to take some button pushing to ensure good readings. He had a battery pack about the size of a shoebox.
     
  12. Toprudder

    Toprudder Member

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    Yes, it does. The only problem I ever noticed was when I was shooting a S&W 460, the concussion from the muzzle brake was causing the unit to reboot. I am sure that with proper placement it would have worked.
     
  13. Shed

    Shed Member

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    I use a Competition Electronics 538002-SSI ProChrono that I got off Amazon. Works well for me. Sub $100, USA made. You can get different diffuser hoods for indoor use. Supposedly they'll fix or replace it if you shoot it; don't know if that's true though.

    LabRadar looks great from what I've seen; but for that price I'd just use the money to get a new gun. Guns are more fun than chronos.
     
  14. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    They will fix or replace it for not more than half the retail price of a new one. Did mine. By the time I paid shipping for the dead one in and the new one back, I was saving less than half but still a help, considering that it was my fault.
     
  15. mokin

    mokin Member

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    Having recently shot mine, I recommend one you can afford to replace.

    A wiser man than me supposedly said "Don't put anything downrange that you don't want to get shot."
     
    cfullgraf, Shed and Toprudder like this.
  16. Toprudder

    Toprudder Member

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    Somehow I have luckily avoided shooting mine. One day I was working on pistol loads, shooting offhand. I pulled a shot, and was afraid that I had hit my chrono. Luckily, somehow I missed it. After that, any gun that I am using with the chrono, rifle or pistol, will be bench rested (with front rest) to hopefully prevent me pulling a shot. I've got well over 1000 groups across my Caldwell, and a few hundred groups before that across my F1 Shooting Chrony, and have not hit them yet. (Knock on wood).
     
  17. bullseye308

    bullseye308 Member

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    I had a shooting chrony for a bit and winged one of the aluminum rods holding the sun screens and immediately replaced the aluminum rods with wooden dowels. That worked fine till a friend missed the dowel and hit the box. Killed it dead and haven’t replaced it yet. When I do it will be something fairly inexpensive with WiFi and an iPhone app.

    If you get one for down range, wooden dowels can be your friend, and extras may come in handy.
     
  18. GarrettJ

    GarrettJ Member

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    I started playing with a borrowed Chrony back in the Dark Ages, when phones were used to call people, and texting was done (painfully) on the number pad. No such thing as apps that’s would talk with our other gadgets.

    So I would just copy the velocities into a notebook after each shot. When I got home I would transfer them manually into a spreadsheet to generate useful statistics.

    Having gotten used to that mode, I still use the notebook/spreadsheet method. It works for me.

    I still use a Shooting Chrony, but one with the remote display. I’ve considered a Magnetospeed for rifles. The Labradar looks like the ultimate option available at the moment. Maybe one of these days...
     
  19. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    I've had two that expired from "lead poisoning". Both as a result of getting into much of a hurry to beat some rain.

    Silver lining though, it gave me an excuse to upgrade to a better model.:)
     
  20. Reeferman

    Reeferman Member

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    Majority of my pistol shooting is done indoors. Chronograph can’t be used so my kids bought me a LabRadar for Father’s Day. Setup in minutes and wouldn’t be without it now.
     
    alfsauve and Toprudder like this.
  21. 22250Rem

    22250Rem Member

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    Still using the basic Shooting Chrony I got in 1997..... Sent it in for an upgrade about 10 years later so I could have the readout and controls right there on the bench with me. Still works great and its been checked against another chronograph a couple times. Only real complaint about it is that the sensors are sometimes a bit fussy about lighting conditions. Coincidentally; mine also employs some wooden dowels for the sky screens due to bullet nicks. If I had to replace it I'd sure be looking at a LabRadar. Heard lots of good things about them.
     
  22. cheygriz

    cheygriz Member

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    Save up your money and get the Labradar. As long as you're getting a new toy, why not get the best??
     
    Toprudder likes this.
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