Over the last several years, Chronographs have become accessible to your average shooter by being readily available at an affordable price. In the years before hand though, we had to rely on the exaggerated velocity figures quoted by ammunition manufacturers.
As Chrony’s became popular, companies were forced to start listing realistic data and I’m sure that a lot of shooters were surprised to find that their favourite cartridge was averaging well below what they had been led to believe. So, it’s not only hand loaders that have benefitted from Chronographs but your average shooter can now somewhat really on the quoted velocities of factory ammunition.
Like many hand loaders, I purchased my first Chrony with the idea of using it to assist me with developing my reloads. I’ve got to admit that it’s been a fantastic asset over the years but lately I’ve been discovering a few discrepancies which has made me look more closely at the readings I’m getting.
When I purchased my Chrony I paid around $150 for it so it’s by no means a top end model. My father in law also purchased the same model a year or so earlier so I’ve been lucky enough to be able to compare results. What I’ve been finding lately is an increase in “error” messages which seems erratic but fairly common. Usually another shot fired will reset the error and give me a reading.
However, the real issue I’m having is that some velocity readings seem just a touch unbelievable. Some factory loads are over 200fps faster than advertised and several hand loads will give me exactly the same reading! I’m used to seeing similar readings, but never exactly the same and absolutely not several times in a row.
Obviously something is amiss with my Chrony because when using my father in laws I get totally different (and more acceptable) readings.
These inconsistencies got me thinking about a few fellow shooters that use their Chrony’s to work up to their maximum loads. They increase charge weights until they either reach a maximum listed velocity or until they no longer see a distinct velocity increase to powder charge ratio. Both of these methods could cause troublesome if other pressure signs are ignored and particularly if they have a Chrony related to mine.
Perhaps if I hadn’t been reviewing and analysing ammunition I wouldn’t have noticed much out of the ordinary, but I’m glad I did because now I’m aware that too much faith can’t be put into what my Chrony is telling me. Perhaps it’s what I should have expected for purchasing a budget model! In any case, I have no use for a Chrony that can’t be relied on and as such, I now use a different one.
If you’ve been having similar issues to me, before assuming your Chrony may be faulty make sure you re-read the instructions to ensure that it’s not a setup issue. 9 times out of 10 it probably will be. Replacing the battery may be all that’s needed. I’d also encourage transferring your readings to a computer software format such as Microsoft Excel. It’s much easier dissecting information via your computer than it is flipping through your range notebook.
As always, be safe and never rely solely on Chrony readings when working out your maximum loads!