When we hear the word ‘chronograph,’ we first associate it with wristwatches, don’t we? That’s precisely what we are going to discuss in this article—time, more specifically, elapsed time.
Shooting chronographs are immensely useful tools that help shooters measure the speed of the bullet. We have come across numerous marksmen and hunters who believe chronographs are only a waste of time and do no good in terms of accuracy. Is that true?
No, shooting chronographs are precious tools that are innovated to improve your shooting skills. These tools not only reveal the velocity of your shots but also measure how reliable your reloading skills are.
Interpreting the data produced by a shooting chronograph is not a complicated procedure. Still, it demands a little explanation, especially the beginners who need to understand how to extract all the benefits from this.
In this article, we’ll be presenting the reviews of the best shooting chronographs and providing a general explanation regarding their features and their impacts on your shooting experience.
Operating a shooting chronograph is not a challenging task. If you follow the short set of rules laid out in the last segment of this article, there’s no way you can’t get accurate or reliable results every time you use ammunition.
How Does A Shooting Chronograph Work?
We agree they seem somewhat complicated, but one should not always believe what they see, even salt looks like sugar. Keeping this philosophy in mind we urge you to not judge a chronograph solely through its looks. As they work in a pretty simple way, once you switch on the chronograph they will start a high-speed crystal oscillator. Instead of imagining some sort of complicated machine, process an oscillator as a clock or a stopwatch. The stopwatch will turn on and off when your rounds pass over the photoelectric cells.
Coming to the importance of photoelectric cells, these come in sets and they should be positioned at a certain distance from the shooter. Some chronographs provide instruction manuals that specify the distance. If the model you’re using doesn’t provide the guidelines and specifications, then you can assume a distance of 10 feet, that will suffice. When you’re about to fire a round or about to launch an arrow, it will form a shadow when it passes over the first electric cell. The momentary change in light will make the clock start. When the round or arrow passes over the second cell, the stopwatch will stop.
Since the chronograph knows the exact distance between the photoelectric cells and in exactly how much time the round covered the surface, it can easily calculate the speed of your round.
6 Best Shooting Chronograph Reviews
Listed below are some of the best shooting chronographs, consider these while picking one for yourself.
The Competition Electronics ProChrono shooting chronograph is one of the best shooting chronograph models available in the market today. This shooting chronograph can store around 99 shots in its internal system, and it provides a clear visual of the shot’s velocity, among the other data.
The best feature about the ProChrono is that it is highly user-friendly. The unit’s menu is easy to operate and straightforward; you won’t face any issues while using it. The majority of the chronograph’s settings can be accessed by pressing a simple button, and this one is the easiest of all the models available.
It is capable of keeping nine-shot strings that contain up to 99 shots each. Once you’re satisfied with the attained number of shots, you can check each shot’s velocity, the standard deviation, and even the string’s spread.
Apart from this, this shooting chronograph is compatible with a lot of load types. You can utilize it for good results to measure your pistol, shotgun shots, rifle. Not just that, you can also use it to measure the arrows’ data.
Overall, this is an amazing shooting chronograph that comes in a good range. For the features, it contains we can certainly claim that this is a high-value model.
- Reasonable price
- Easiest of all
- Less promising
The Magnetospeed Sporter Barrel Chronograph owns the potential to be mounted on any barrel with a diameter of ½ inch or 1inch. This barrel-mounted chronograph can accommodate flash hiders and barrel brakes, but as long as they are no longer more than 2.7 inches.
With its size, design, and perfect long-barrels, this shooting chronograph can be used for many types of firearms, making it one of the best shooting chronographs. It is ideal for long-barrel revolvers and sporter barrels.
A noticeable feature of this model is that it’s very accurate. Once you mount and adjust the chronograph, you can expect an accuracy of at least 99.5-99.9%. This will allow you to track your shots’ data with precision, so you’ll be able to accustom as per your requirements to improve them.
The sporter uses a 9-Volt battery for power, and gladly you can access the battery compartment without having to deal with a screwdriver or any other tools. You can change it on the field if the situation demands.
All things said, this model is very efficient and shall prove to be very accurate once you mount it on a rifle. Pick this one if you are obsessed with accuracy.
- Amazing design
- Very feasible
- Easy to operate
- Somewhat expensive
The Caldwell Ballistic Precision Shooting chronograph is a very structured and efficient model that comes at a decent range. This model can provide valuable feedback about your shots despite its affordable range, and it’s too convenient to use.
There is no doubt about entitling it as one of the best shooting chronographs as it’s very feasible to calibrate. In fact, all the units that reach the market have already been calibrated in the factory to an accuracy of up to 99.75%.
This model can provide the velocity of your shot in either feet or meters per second. The results are displayed on the unit’s large LCD and don’t worry, and they are not that hard to decipher.
A good thing about this shooting chronograph is that you can attach it with your smartphone using a simple 15 audio jack cable. You can download a free app on your phone to use this chronograph, and once you do, the velocity of each shot will be displayed directly on your phone screen.
Additionally, this app will record the load and give timely updates about the environmental conditions so you can have a clear record of your shots.
Overall, this is a marvelous shooting chronograph that is available in the market at a decent range. It makes the most valuable model in its price range.
- It can be attached to your smartphone.
- Provide the velocity of your shot in feet or meters.
- Displays the result on a large LCD display.
- Decent range.
- Gives timely updates about the surroundings.
- Less durable
The Competition Electronics Pro Pal is also one of the best shooting chronographs at an affordable range. This model can be used to track your pistol, rifle, or shotgun shots, but you can also use it to record how rapidly one can shoot an arrow with your bow.
One noticeable thing about this model is that it has a wide velocity range. The chronograph can record any velocity ranging from 22-7000 fps. Once you start using this model, it will display the velocity of your shots with appropriate accuracy. Not just this, it will also maintain a track of the number of shots as well as the high and low-velocity values and your shots average velocity.
This Pro-Pal uses a 9-Volt battery for power, and the battery is not included in the box/actual packaging. No need to worry about the battery; it can be changed with ease. You can do it out in the field if the situation demands.
Although this shooting chronograph is somewhat flashy, it’s too efficient, and you will never regret spending your money on this. This model is worthy of your time, energy, and money so shortlist this for sure.
- Too efficient
- Can record all types of shooting and various velocities
- Somewhat bulky
The Shooting Chrony Master Chronograph is too easy to use and too efficient. It is created out of 20-gauge steel, so it’s very durable, and even though it is made out of steel, it only weighs 2.5 lbs. It is easier to carry around and take it anywhere without clearing much room for it.
A great thing about this best shooting chronograph is that it’s appropriately versatile. It can track any round or arrow whose velocity ranges between 30-7000 feet per second. It will let you record a track of every kind of ammunition you use, from arrows to pistols, rifles, or shotgun rounds.
The Chrony Master comes with a remote read-out monitor that will portray the shot’s values. This chronograph will maintain track of your shot’s velocity, the highest and lowest velocities, the standard deviation, and even the string’s average velocity. Its monitor acts as a remote control, which will help you make the necessary adjustments without moving or leaving the initial position.
All things said, this is an accurate shooting chronograph that will record all kinds of ammunition you use with the needed accuracy.
- Easy to operate
- Can keep a track of all the ammunition used
- Light in weight
- Less affordable
The Caldwell Ballistic Precision Premium is one of the best shooting chronographs for what it comes with a kit that allows you to track all the rounds without making any amendments in its accessories.
The kit contained a dovetail plate, a carry bag, an adjustable tripod, and a chronograph itself. The height of the tripod ranges between 15-42, yes, it is adjustable. Coming to the chronograph, it is already calibrated in the factory to an accuracy of up to 99.70%. The best thing about this kit is that it also comes with 15 cables required to connect the smartphone with the chronograph.
The free app installed on your phone will depict the values of each individual round and the value of the strings. You will be able to keep track of the string’s highest and lowest velocity, the standard deviation, medium velocity, and even the record of the spread.
In addition to that, this can be used for every type of round you have in your mind. The chronograph will also track all the things with a velocity of 5-9,999 feet per second.
Overall, this is one amazing shooting chronograph that comes with a versatile kit and is not that expensive. This model is suitable for every kind of shooter, from beginners to professionals.
- Suitable for all kinds of shooters.
- Comes with 15 cables.
- Can connect with a smartphone.
- It comes with a kit.
- Less reliable
Post mentioning the general information regarding the best shooting chronographs. We hope you must have received some better insights regarding these. Using these devices, and you can improve the quality of your rounds and your reloading skills, so make sure to install these in your life.
Picking the best shooting chronograph might not be easy, but we’re sure that you have a clear picture of what you should look for while finding one for yourself after reading this.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What Kind of Data Is Provided by A Shooting Chronograph?
A shooting chronograph helps in providing some valuable data to the shooter. The following is the list of the data you’ll be able to attain from most models of the chronograph.
- Shot Velocity – All shooting chronographs will provide the shot velocity. Most models display the velocity in either meter per second or foot per second. It depends on your preference.
- Shot String Data – Most shooting chronographs can record the track of multiple shots; this is known as a string of shots. This can provide essential information about your shooting which can prove to be very helpful with time.
- Highest Velocity – This data indicates the value of the fastest shot in the string
- Lowest Velocity – This data shows the value of the slowest shot in the string
- Average Velocity – The speed average of all the shots combined
- Extreme Spread – The velocity difference between the fastest and the slowest round
- Standard Deviation – This data measures how close each shot was to the average value
- Power – Not all chronographs can measure the power factor, but some of them do. This data multiplies the shot’s velocity with the bullet’s grain (which you have to enter manually) to calculate the shot’s power.
Q: How to Interpret the Data in A Shooting Chronograph?
Post understanding the terms shot velocity and string’s velocity, let’s move ahead.
- Extreme Spread: You should know that the extreme spread of your rounds should be small. If your extreme spread is high, it’s an indication that you’re not reloading your rounds properly. If the spread is high, this means your fastest and slowest rounds were traveling at varying speeds, so you should try to work on your reloading skills.
- Standard Deviation: The data measures how close each of the rounds you fired touched the average shot. Standard deviation is a common criterion used in statistics, and it’s very beneficial when it comes to interpreting data.
The standard deviation is the most crucial piece of data you get from using a chronograph. This data can reveal how consistent your rounds are, and it’s the most accurate proof of how good your reloading skills are.
If you’re hoping to attain a reliable value for the standard deviation, then you should fire at least ten shots in a string. Less number of shots in a string will be unreliable when the chronograph is calculating the standard deviation. However, some units might actually produce an error instead of a value. If you wish to see a better value, then you should shoot more rounds.
- Power Factor: The power factor is a ranking system that’s commonly used in shooting competitions. This measures the rounds’ actual momentum and scales it to its weight. The power factor is calculated in Newton-seconds, and it determines the score. Some organizations do not grant permission to enter their competitions unless your handgun produces a minimum power factor.
Q: What Are the Features That You Must Look for In A Shooting Chronograph?
While all of the products mentioned above can help you in obtaining data about your shooting, they are not built in the same manner. It is essential to understand a shooting chronograph’s features and only then decide to make a purchase.
Let’s check out a few of the essential aspects you should consider when buying a shooting chronograph.
Accuracy plays a pivotal role in a shooting chronograph, so make sure to check this factor, if not all. All the chronographs mentioned in the list are highly accurate, but well, there are some differences that you’ll find out once you go for their trials. Owning an accurate chronograph is very important if you wish to determine your actual bullet velocity and the real standard deviation.
The most important aspect of a shooting chronograph is accuracy. Almost all chronographs are calibrated before they leave the factory. A chronograph needs to be correctly calibrated as otherwise, you will not determine the velocity of the bullet or the standard deviation.
Some chronographs are 99.5% accurate, while some 99.9%. Always remember you must have accuracy above 99.5% for your reading to be correct. Every time you collect data from the chronograph, it will explain how small changes in the quality or amount of powder can affect your reloading.
An accurate shooting chronograph will also calculate a reliable power factor, which will allow you to enter various competitions.
The design of a shooting chronograph has more to do with its performance than the outlook itself. Some chronographs can be really bulky, which affects their portability, which is primary for a chronograph.
Always look for a balance in a shooting chronograph such that it is lightweight but sturdy enough to hold up longer, but not too heavy that you can’t carry it along.
A few of the best chronographs that are lightweight and extremely useful are the Competition Electronics Pro and the Caldwell Ballistic Precision Chronograph.
3. Ease of Use
One of the essential qualities of a shooting chronograph is to be convenient. Some models come with large LCDs that show you the data they collected, while the rest use remote controls for the very purpose.
A user-needed solution used by more and more manufacturers is to allow the chronograph to connect directly with the smartphone. Instead of showing the data on an LCD, these chronographs will send it to your phone through the free application. The feature only allows you to read the data with convenience also maintain the records of each shooting session.
Performance is yet another feature that is a must for every chronograph; the unit’s performance will influence how it behaves when you truly use it.
Q: What Are the Factors That Can Impact the Readings of Your Chronograph?
The following factors will impact the readings of your shooting chronograph:
Temperature: the bullets’ powder burns a little more slowly when it’s cold, so it’s completely normal to record lower velocities as compared to the normal temperature. You should be careful not to top off your rounds in the cold weather, as they might produce harmful pressures when it’s warm outside.
Barrel and Ammunition Temperature: the first shot of the day will produce more results than your other shots because the firearm’s barrel is cold. This is the same for the ammunition.
Lights: be sure both light sensors receive a similar amount of light, do not allow the sensors to sit under direct sunlight.
Muzzle Blast: muzzle blast has the potential to mess up your results if it touches the sensors’ entire shot, so make sure to place the chronograph at an appropriate distance from the muzzle.
Reflections: if metal objects, bright concrete, or water reflect light onto the sensors, then these will lower the accuracy of the results, so be alert.
Q: How to Get the Most Reliable Results from A Shooting Chronograph?
Now that you have a basic idea about what a chronograph does and what features to look for let’s check how to set up a shooting chronograph and make the most out of it.
- Check the user manual – No matter what equipment or tool you buy, it is super essential to follow the instructions requested by the manufacturer. In case there are no instructions in the manual about the distance you should maintain from the chronograph, always place it at least 10 feet away from the muzzle of your gun.
- Shoot in Strings – Firing multiple rounds instead of single shots always helps get better and more accurate results.
- Multiple Batches – If you are one of those who believe in making your own rounds, try doing this in multiple batches as it is likely to provide more consistent data about your reloading skills.
- Battery Low – When the battery of the chronograph is running low, try not to use it. This is because it can yield bad or incorrect data.