Load Development with a chronograph is without a doubt the way to go, no matter which load development method you use. Knowing the muzzle velocity for each bullet or load is crucial in determining whether you are n a node, or to see which velocity loads group better or have a better average point of impact. The question now remains, which is the best shooting chronograph for the money? Or which shooting chronograph should you get?
We thoroughly used a variety of different chronographs and muzzle velocity measuring devices to see how they stack up, and which is the best. We only looked at rifle chronograph on Amazon to see which you can order for yourself and do not need to go through a lot of effort to get. We bought all of them ourselves and still own them (yes even the Chrony F1), just to ensure the review and testing is truly unbiased, so you the reader get the honest truth to make an informed decision as to what is the best shooting chronograph for the money for you.
- Best Shooting Chronograph
- Shooting Chronograph Buying Guide
- FAQs About Ballistic Chronographs
1. Best Shooting Chronograph
If you do not want to read through the entire write up, we can tell you now that the Magnetospeed V3 is the best shooting chronograph for 2022 of all the models we compared, whereas the Labradar was the best shooting chronograph 2018 before there was so many rifle chassis and stocks with Arca or Picatinny rails at the bottom.
After extensively using the other options below, and although we absolutely love the details and features of the Labradar, we still choose the Magnetospeed V3 as the best chronograph for shooting when it is paired with a off-barrel magnetospeed mount that mounts to the rifle stock or chassis.
With as accurate velocity readings as the Labradar, but much less finicky to get an accurate muzzle velocity reading, also saving shot strings on a memory card for later analysis, the Magnetospeed V3 is the best shooting chronograph for the money in 2022.
It is small to travel and very easy to use and mount once you get the hang of it. At the price point, it also nullifies the need for anybody to want to make a homemade ballistic chronograph.
Of all the chronograph reviews, this Magnetospeed V3 is tied with the Labradar as the most accurate shooting chronograph.
If you are looking for a chronograph for rifles as well as a chronograph for handguns, this is the model to get, as it has not chance of being in the course of fire accidentally, and it does not need to be barrel mounted.
Technically a radar doppler chrony, proving more accurate than most conventional chronographs and as accurate as the Magnetospeed V3 in our labradar vs chronograph test, once you get your Labradar dialed in, you will get accurate and precise muzzle velocity and bullet velocity information.
It was our choice for the best shooting chronograph 2018 before the off-barrel magnetospeed mounts were so popular.
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This very low-cost ballistic shooting chronograph will serve you well if you do not often use chronographs or change your loads often. Although low-cost and though by some not to be as accurate as the newer types, it is still more than accurate enough for even the most precise benchrest load development and tuning tasks.
Still used by record setting benchrest shooters, and although old technology, this ProChrono is proven and test. It may take some time to ensure it is set-up correctly for accurate consistent measurements, but once done, it will serve you well.
This strongly made, yest small folding chrony was my very first chronograph, and served me well to develop loads shooting sub 1/4moa groups, long before there were such fancy technologies like magnetic chronographs or doppler radars available commercially.
2. Shooting Chronograph Buying Guide
2.1 Labradar vs Magnetospeed V3
The best would be to have both, because they have different uses. There are three kinds of ballistic chronographs, light-sensor chronographs, magnetic sensor chronographs like the Magnetospeed and doppler radar chronographs like the Labradar. Each suited to different uses. I have each and use only two of them, the Labradar and the Magnetospeed V3.
A ballistic chronograph can be used to determine the muzzle velocity of bullets after being shot, this muzzle velocity is then used for various reasons like calibrating the Kestrel weather meter, or calculating bullet drop or general load development for different powder charge weights. A ballistic chronograph is excellent and give accurate readings within seconds if set-up correctly.
A Labradar can waste more ammunition and cause more frustration and time to get it set up correctly so it accurately reads the bullet velocities for different sized bullets, or different muzzle devices like muzzle brakes and suppressors.
A Magnetospeed, although much easier to set up, can not be mounted to rifles that have suppressors or muzzle brakes fitted unless a chassis mount for the Magnetospeed is used, it also cannot be used in the normal barrel-mounted configuration when shooting long-range shots or shooting groupings as it does affect the barrel-harmonics and changes the point of impact of the bullets, unless again it is mounted on the chassis instead.
With the Labradar, there are also additional accessories that help get it more consistent and easier to set-up, like an aiming device which attaches to it and helps you aim it more accurately and easier towards the target, a recoil activated trigger, which is a more consistent trigger for it, but also helps so you can use it on a busy shooting range and ensure that it only picks up your own bullet and not that of a shooter next to you, and a quad pod, so you can mount it above your barrel to get it better in line with the shot without putting it in the line of blast of a muzzle-brake.
Which one is better, well given the above information, it is up to you, personally after using both and a few others, I find myself using the Magnetospeed V3 mounted on a chassis-mounted Arca rail mount more often. Which one is more accurate, well that has been proven null as they are both almost identically accurate as per our test.
2.2 Is a normal Chronograph still accurate
With the invention and popularity of the Labradar and Magnetospeed, many shooters now do not even consider the traditional light-sensor measuring ballistic chronographs like the Chrony F1, the ProChrono and the Caldwell ballistic chronograph, but these however are still very much accurate and relevant with even the smallest official records group shooter Charles Greer still using such a chronograph for his own load development and tuning purposes. They also should be set-up correctly to avoid reading issues, like the sensors need to be the exact distance from each other and as horizontal as possible, the chronograph needs to measured to a exact distance from the muzzle to calculate muzzle velocity accurately, the bullet needs to travel over both sensors in the correct zone, and there needs to be sufficient light on the sensors for them to be able to pick up the bullet passing over them.
3. FAQs About Ballistic Chronographs
3.1 Most accurate shooting chronograph
3.2 Best Magnetospeed Mount
Getting an off-barrel Magnetospeed mount is highly recommended if you want to check grouping or shoot accurately long range whilst still measuring muzzle velocity with the Magnetospeed. This will ensure that the barrel harmonics and node is not altered by the Magnetospeed being mounted to it. The David Tubb Magnetospeed mount was one of the first off-barrel Magnetospeed mounts available, but there have since been many other brands on the market.
3.3 Load Development without Chronograph?
Thanks to using bullet drop at long range to determine muzzle velocity, or just doing load development based on grouping or average point of impact, it is possible to do load development without a chronograph but, you will know which charge you load, but you cannot use that in any ballistic drop calculators if you do not determine muzzle velocity afterwards either with a chronograph or through bullet drop calculation at long range. For hunting or only short range shooting where muzzle velocity is not needed, then you will not need to use a chronograph for load development.
3.4 How do I ensure consistent measurements?
- 1) Ensure the Labradar is pointed directly at the target and has the correct bullet and parameter settings when using a Labradar.
- 2) Ensure the Magnetospeed V3 is mounted directly next to the bullet flight path when using a magnetospeed.
- 3) Ensure the Ballistic chronograph is mounted in a brightly lit area when using that type of chronograph.
We hope you enjoyed our shooting chronograph reviews, and you find the best shooting chronograph for your needs, load development and ballistic calculations.