As with any sport, the more involved you get with it, the more gear and gizmos you invest in. Many competitors eventually start loading their own ammo and if you have ever worked up a new load for a new firearm, caliber, or powder you know that having a chronograph is a handy tool. But which gives the best readings?
When I started this sport and got to the point where I needed to purchase a chronograph, I was advised to get an optical chronograph because that is the type that major matches use. This made total sense because that is what I was loading the ammo for and I invested in a Competition Electronics ProChrono. It has served me well over the years and my readings are similar to what I get at major matches. At major matches, the brand of optical chronograph that is usually used is the CED M2 with a box and infrared sky screens. Different brand of chronograph, but still the same technology.
We now have radar based chronographs and have seen their increased use at the chronograph stage at major matches. I have worked several matches where the LabRadar units have been used. And now there is a new radar unit from Garmin called the Xero C1 Pro.
But how do these machines perform when tested at the same environmental conditions and the same ammo? Fortunately, I had the opportunity to do that! I tested with a Glock 17, 1911, and PCC. All the ammo is commercially available 9 mm: Eley USPSA Calibration, Eley Minor 9 147 gr Competition, and Blazer Brass 115 gr. Five shots were fired for each ammo type over each chronograph.
|120.9 ± 3.9 PF
|124.9 ± 4.2 PF
|119.8 ± 2.8 PF
|Eley Minor 9
|132.3 ± 7.4 PF
|137.2 ± 1.1 PF
|136.2 ± 1.4 PF
|133.2 ± 2.0 PF
|135.6 ± 1.0 PF
|133.9 ± 1.2 PF
|157.4 ± 0.7 PF
|158.0 ± 2.3 PF
|159.2 ± 0.9 PF
Overall, the results were similar across the different chronographs. And as with any chronograph reading, make sure you allow for variation between machines and environmental conditions. Basically don’t load ammo right on the minimum Power Factor floor.
I will be writing a full comparison of these chronographs for the USPSA magazine, but wanted to share some of this data on the blog in case someone is asking Santa for a chronograph for Christmas.
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