Chronograph Comparison

Discussion in 'Hunting Equipment, Gear & Optics' started by meigsbucks, Jul 12, 2019.

  1. meigsbucks

    meigsbucks AH Fanatic

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    For years I've used chronographs in developing loads. I had one where you shot one shot thru a pair of wire mesh screens. The bullet broke one circuit to start the clock and the second to stop it. Then you had to replace the screens. I then had, I actually still have, an early Shooting Chrony. You shot thru cardboard panels with holes in them. Below those were photo sensors that once again started and stopped the clock. The readout was on the front of the unit. Then, a number of years ago, I upgraded to a Shooting Chrony Beta Master. The readout is connected by a cable to the unit and sits on the bench. In all cases these units were positioned about 15' in front of the bench. These units served me well but they have their down sides. First and foremost, you have to align the rifle, the chronograph and the target. this takes time and at a public range can tick some people off. Secondly, they are lighting sensitive. They do come with light diffusers but even with those, even a passing cloud can make a difference in the accuracy and consistency of the readout. Sometimes they will miss a reading or give a reading that is way out of line.
    Like everything else, new technology comes along. About four years ago, I purchased a Magnetospeed. This unit straps to barrel of the rifle and a wire runs to the readout with is right there on the bench. When a shot is fired, the blast starts the unit and it tracks the speed of the bullet as it passes over the "bayonet". As I shoot at a public, state operated range, the idea of not having to delay people while aligning the rifle, chronograph and target was a plus. However, this too has it's quirks. First is that after a few shots, you have to reposition the bayonet on the barrel as it has a tendency to slide. This is accentuated with heavy recoiling rifles. Often these create the need to reposition after every shot, and in some cases I've had it slide off the end of the barrel. Additionally, it can't readily be used on my mannlicher stocked .30/06. Another downside is that it can effect the point of impact. With the having to constantly reposition the bayonet, I found myself using the Chrony and only using the Magnetospeed if the range was extremely busy.
    Like I said, technology is always changing. Last year a few of the Lab Radar units started to show up at the range. Of course I had to try this out. So over this past winter I purchased one, along with a mounting base and rechargeable battery backup (A must, as this thing will eat AA batteries like candy!)
    Prior to my purchasing the Lab Radar, I read the reviews and everything I could about it. One issue people were complaining about was aiming the unit. They recommended taping a deprived .223 case in the top sighting groove. I've found this wholly unnecessary.
    I did find a few idiosyncrasies that must be dealt with. The first being that there is a setting for how far to the side of the unit the muzzle is. No matter what, I have to have the muzzle within 4-6". Also, the sensitivity setting needs to be se to the most sensitive. It took me about three trips to the range and a call to Lab Radar to get things right. Now it works like a charm. I've fired about 700 rounds past this thing and I've only had a few missed readings. It doesn't like the .17 Hornet. It only picked up four of ten shots. Muzzle brakes can cause some issues. Last week, I was shooting my .45/70 Contender handgun with a brake and it only recorded two out of twelve. Other than that, after the learning curve of the first two weeks, I show it only missing two readings due to the unit. I've missed a few because of my forgetting to rearm the unit after the unit timed out and unarmed itself. USER ERROR!
    Well I was at the range this week, working up a load for my .280 and just practicing with my .30/06, .223 and .416 Ruger and I got to thinking (It's very scary when I start to think): I wonder how the different chronographs would compare shot to shot. So I set everything up.
    upload_2019-7-12_22-7-41.png
    I then proceeded to fire six rounds from each rifle across all three units simultaneously. There were a couple of glitches. First, the Chrony failed to measure one of the .416's and one .223. Additionally, one reading for the .30/06 was way out there (3452 fps... with a 180 gr bullet). Fortunately I had enough of the same ammo with me, that I just fired substitute rounds. The other was that, as I mentioned, the '06 has a mannlicher stock and due to the taper of the stock, I couldn't properly attach the Magnetospeed, so there was no data recorded.
    Below are the velocities recorded. Something of note is the .30/06 data. The Chony data is in line with what I obtained last year, prior to my Namibian safari. As I had a fair amount of loaded ammo, I used this during my first week with the Lab Radar. I got readings about 100 fps slower than the last year's Chrony readings. A second session with this load and this week's session confirmed the disparity between the Chrony and the Lab Radar.

    .280 REMINGTON / 160 GR SIERRA SBT HANDLOAD
    SHOT # CHRONY MAGNETOSPEED LAB RADAR

    1 2602 2627 2624
    2 2654 2648 2659
    3 2662 2656 2644
    4 2628 2648 2637
    5 2640 2649 2636
    6 2643 2640 2651
    AVG 2638 2644 2641

    .416 RUGER / 400 GR HORNADY DGX FACTORY LOAD
    SHOT# CHRONY MAGNETOSPEED LAB RADAR

    1 2366 2385 2390
    2 2354 2386 2391
    3 2342 2411 2388
    4 2358 2403 2383
    5 2362 2392 2377
    6 2356 2386 2386
    AVG 2356 2393 2385

    .223 REMINGTON / 60 GR NOSLER BT HANDLOAD
    SHOT# CHRONY MAGNETOSPEED LAB RADAR

    1 3097 3103 3106
    2 3073 3025 3068
    3 3047 2999 3099
    4 3079 3019 3078
    5 3056 3011 3059
    6 3088 3092 3071
    AVG 3073 3041 3080

    .30/06 / 180 GR BARNES TSX HANDLOAD
    SHOT # CHRONY MAGNETOSPEED LAB RADAR

    1 2697 2587
    2 2701 2572
    3 2714 2556
    4 2673 2571
    5 2674 2568
    6 2668 2584
    AVG 2687 2573

    With the exception of the .30/06, all three units were in relatively the same vicinity, velocity wise.
    I hope this info helps you make a more informed decision when choosing a chronograph.
     
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  2. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Thanks for sharing your efforts.
     
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  3. Witold Krzyżanowski

    Witold Krzyżanowski AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Thanks for sharing.
     
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  4. bruce moulds

    bruce moulds AH Elite

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    the labradar is reported to give very true velocities in comparison to others.
    it also does not alter p.o.i. as mentioned.
    and is easy to set up.
    while being expensive it is a good unit.
    bruce.
     
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  5. Bos Javanicus

    Bos Javanicus AH Senior Member

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    Thanks.
    I used to own one of the old Chrony's and it was a clumsy thing to set up etc. But done it's job. I have a Magneto speed now and love it. I don't care about any POI changes as I'm shooting for speeds not groups. It's quick and easy to use. I recommend it.
     

  6. Opposite Pole

    Opposite Pole AH Fanatic

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    Intresting results. You seem to have quite a large velocity spread with the Magnetospeed. Nearly 100fps on a 223 handload is unlikely. Are you sure you’re mounting your device correctly? Are your batteries fresh and your software up to date? The reason I’m asking this is my ES is never that high when shooting with Magnetospeed. I have never tried other chronos so can’t compare. I’m planning to get the Lab Radar next time I’m in OZ as the versions sold outside of US and OZ are restricted in power due to local regulations. It will not happen before Christmas so I won’t get a chance to compare the two till some time next year though.

    For me the annoying thing with Magnetospeed is the shift in POI. As mounting it affects barrel harmonics I’m not comfortable using it for load development and only measure my final loads. I use Quickload for velocity estimates during development. I find that when you fill in all the details including case capacity the QL is within 10-15fps of the actual results which is rather accurate.
     

  7. meigsbucks

    meigsbucks AH Fanatic

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    I actually changed the battery Wednesday. It was mounted as I have on the other rifles. I don’t know why the disparity. Just like, why the 100+ fps difference between the Chrony and the LR on the .30/06?
     

  8. shootist~

    shootist~ AH Senior Member

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    I was running my V3 Magneto Speed last year and another shooter brought his Lab Radar over and set it on my bench. Nothing special done to align the LR or get it really close to the muzzle, that I could see.

    3 rounds of 6.5 Creedmoor essentially tested the same. Average of the two units was off one fps with one shot showing exactly the same, one at 1fps under and one at 2fps over.
     

  9. The Engineer

    The Engineer AH Member

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    The thing I like best about the LabRadar is when shooting big bores offhand or off sticks you do not need to worry about hitting the screens. With the LabRadar on a tripod it sets up very quickly.
     
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  10. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    The .30-06 data is quite peculiar. But ignoring that data the other results show the averages of the three machines to be within +/- 2% of each other. This is about the same when comparing the shot to shot differences on the same machine. I can see some advantages to the LabRadar unit, but I think I'll just save my money and stick with my Chrony.

    Back to the .30-06, the sub 2600fps results are a little suspect to me, those velocities seem a bit low.
     

  11. meigsbucks

    meigsbucks AH Fanatic

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    This rifle has a 21” barrel. The load is 55gr IMR 4350.
     

  12. Rob404

    Rob404 AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I use a Magneto Speed V3 and it works pretty good with the exception of having to re position it, I abandon the factory system for attaching it to the barrel and went to a Velcro fastening set up , another thing to worry about is barrel taper Replacement wands are 170.00 so after putting a few marks on the wand I bought some tapered shims from Magneto speed which solves the problem. You would have thought the parent company would have supplied them for the money they get for those units
     
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  13. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Thanks! Interesting results. I’ve had a Pact 3 screen chrono for many years and it has worked well. A couple of years ago I purchased a Magneetospeed, but I will only use it at the indoor range where I cannot set up my Pact. I too have noticed a change in POI using the Magneetospeed. Several of my rifles are thin barreled models (Kimber Montanas, Tikkas). They don’t seem to like the Magneetospeed hanging on the barrels, so I have to do one series for accuracy and another for speed. Pain in the rear!
    JMO&E
     

  14. Mike Van Horn

    Mike Van Horn AH Veteran

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    I have had a chrony for years, developed a load for long range and loaded info into a Kestel. It wasn't lining up at 700 and behind. Shot the loads though a Magneto and the velocity was 120 fps faster. That came very close to the Kestel.
    For hunting loads l don't think this would matter within 300 yards
     

  15. tarbe

    tarbe AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Being the Luddite that I am, I still use the Oehler M33 I purchased in early 1978.

    But if and when the Oehler goes belly-up, I believe I'll be chasing down one of those Labradors/LabRadars (inside joke!).

    Thanks for taking the time to document and share your findings!


    Tim
     
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  16. IdaRam

    IdaRam SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Just how long do you plan on living!? :A Wheelchair: My money is on the Oehler :D
    Still got mine from the early ‘80’s, although it has been retired for a while now.
     
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  17. tarbe

    tarbe AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Well now...I may just need to center-punch that CPU with an "errant" 45/70 slug!
     
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  18. rnovi

    rnovi AH Enthusiast

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    I have both a Chrony and a Magnetospeed.

    What I've found out that has helped me the most is to find a load that works and THEN chrono it. 3-5 rounds downrange is enough to let me know the basics of the load.

    Then I put it away. easy peasy, no point of impact issues at all.
     
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  19. Inline6

    Inline6 AH Veteran

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    The Chrony is going to be a little slower due to being 15' out.

    Between my Lab Radar and Magneto they are usually within 1-2 fps of one another.

    I have also never had a problem with the Magneto moving much less slipping off. Do you use the thin rubber spacer? I also tighten it down really well. Even on my 338LM I have never had an issue.
     
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  20. meigsbucks

    meigsbucks AH Fanatic

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    The interlocking plastic shims with the rubber on top. Cinch the cam strap tight and tighten the adjustment knob. Check the bore clearance with the rod. Hook it up and go. The slippage usually only occurs with higher recoiling rifles: .338 RUM, .416 Ruger, .375, etc. This is to various degrees. Some need to be repositioned more often than others.
     

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