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Do I need a chronograph ?

Sako Collectors Club Discussion Forum

Bucktote

Well-Known Member
I have been reloading for close to 45 years & never owned a chronograph & am waffling on buying one.
Do I need one & what one should I get? Greywolf used on for me & we could see consistency in my reloading.
Maybe I just need something to do before my wife thinks up something for me!! B/T
 
I have one & it helps a little in determining when you need to stop adding powder when velocity doesn't increase as powder charges go up. But, if you are not concerned about pushing loads to the max, save your money. After all, you have been loading for 45 years without one, so what's the need? If your loads are working to your satisfaction, what is the need? Just sayin'.
 
Thanks Mr, Paulson,
You just reinforced my thinking. The only load I am dealing with is my 25/06 & it is not too shabby. The chrono would be just "MO junk! I seldom load to max loads & following your advice, I have had good results loading heavier bullets for caliber with moderate powder charges. I like IMR 4350 Keep well! B/T
 
Well, yes and no. Even if I'm not striving for maximum velocity I am much more comfortable knowing what my loads are doing. I've owned a chronograph (starting with an Oehler Model 10) since 1971. I would feel rather lost without one, but that's just me. In practical terms, if a load is accurate in your rifle it will most likely yield a velocity within a hundred FPS of a similar load found in the abundant references, and 100 FPS is "close enough for government work".
 
Do you "need" one to develop a safe load? I'd say no but I won't be without one. I've owned many of them over the years and I like to know what my actual muzzle velocity is so I can zero my rifle using the maximum point blank range method.

The optical chronographs work okay and can be bought pretty inexpensively and you'll need a tripod of some sort. The magnetospeed version simply straps onto your barrel and records the velocity using a magnetic field. Having it strapped to your muzzle may change group size or location depending on your rifle but they work well. Lastly, the radar based chronographs are the most expensive and work pretty well too. Another useful toy for the handloader.
 
I've also been reloading shotgun, handgun, and rifle for about 55yrs now. Always wanted an Oehler cause Ken Waters and all my reloading "mentors" had one. But, for the cost of one, I bought primers, powders, and bullets instead. Then about 20yrs ago I got a good deal on a PACT. I used on/off just to see what kind of velocity I was getting compared to published data, and really to check consistency of reloads ie.. deviation. I also do not hotrod my handloads, I'm looking for accuracy not velocity. I've got enough rifles that if I want a particular bullet to travel faster I probably have a larger cartridge to load. For example going from a 308 to a 30/06 to a 300H&H.
Anyway after finally shooting my PACT, I bought a Shooters Chrony for $100 a few years back, but have not used it yet.
Excuse my ramblings and don't know if I helped your decision or not, but they are nice to just get a better idea of whats going on.
 
One of the things that I like most of SCC and surprised me for the best is the great friendliness among its members.

May be I am missing something and most members are good friends who know each other outside the internet.

But it can not be that for I have seen the same kindness and good vibes with new members, myself included, and I can attest that I know no one here in person nor had I had any contact with any member before joining.

May be it is the Sako spirit that summons here truly good people. Who knows.

In any case, after the disputes, arguments, bad tones if not pure vulgarity that plague many internet forums it is very recomforting (besides informative) to read the SCC forum. A community of true gentlemen.

Just saying.
 
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May be I am missing something and most members are good friends who know each other outside the internet.
On the contrary, few of us know one another outside of this forum -- and we're mostly scattered around the world. Although some of us have had occasion to meet in person, it is the collegiality of having a common interest largely in fine hunting rifles that promotes respect and civil discourse. That's perhaps something that might be less apparent in, say, a forum featuring firearms designed primarily for shooting at people, or made to mimic the appearance of such arms.

By the way, the rare participants who are prone to annoying or insulting posts usually find somewhere else to go on their own, but we have had occasion to proactively ban a handful of those who insist on inappropriate comments.
 
Thank you my kind friend,
Maybe we can get together at the farm shooting range when it is convenient
to you. All the beat to you & family & Happy Easter! B/T
Buck, I am officially fully retired. I'll be at my property later this week, so next week we can get together and shoot yours over my chrono.
 
Just to clarify: Buck and I live in the same town. He had an issue with a rifle/scope that I straightened out for him. We've hunted together a few times.
 
My opinion (everyone's got one) is that if you are going to shoot at longer distances you must know the muzzle velocity of the bullet. You need it to make a drop chart or if you shoot by dialing in the scope. Also, it is said that the most accurate load for a given cartridge should be on one that produces the lowest standard deviation in velocity. This isn't always true, but it can be used as a leading indictor to developing accurate loads.

In general, a chronograph is a refinement to reloading. It helps to eliminate some of the variables that hurt accuracy. in reloading, and eliminating variables is the name of the game when it comes to accuracy.

Hope you all had a good Easter.
 
My opinion (everyone's got one) is that if you are going to shoot at longer distances you must know the muzzle velocity of the bullet. You need it to make a drop chart or if you shoot by dialing in the scope. Also, it is said that the most accurate load for a given cartridge should be on one that produces the lowest standard deviation in velocity. This isn't always true, but it can be used as a leading indictor to developing accurate loads.

In general, a chronograph is a refinement to reloading. It helps to eliminate some of the variables that hurt accuracy. in reloading, and eliminating variables is the name of the game when it comes to accuracy.

Hope you all had a good Easter.
Another opinion: To me the reloading manuals are (what's the word??) Optimistic!! I am diligent in my hand loading and I've not gotten the velocities the manuals are quoting. I'm come close on a few and not so close on a few more,

If you KNOW the velocity, BC and range, the rest is easy.

Don't assume because a book says X FPS with a certain powder and bullet, that you'll get those velocities.
 
If and when you decide to get a chrono, the New Garmin Xero C1Pro is a very very small compact unit that is so easy to use a caveman can do it. It is expensive but being able to put the unit next to the weapon on the table or ground is worth the cost. It is reliable and gets updates over the internet.
 
Another opinion: To me the reloading manuals are (what's the word??) Optimistic!! I am diligent in my hand loading and I've not gotten the velocities the manuals are quoting. I'm come close on a few and not so close on a few more,

If you KNOW the velocity, BC and range, the rest is easy.

Don't assume because a book says X FPS with a certain powder and bullet, that you'll get those velocities.
Good point!! I have some old manuals that actually list the rifle model & barrel length that was used to develop the data. However, one has to keep in mind that the data listed is for THAT rifle & barrel. All the newer manuals use a "test" barrel & all that data will be "optimistic" with regard to velocity.
 
Some manuals use pressure guns with interchangeable barrels and those barrels are typically 26" long. Most frequently, non-magnum factory rifles use 22" barrels and magnum chamberings typically use 24" barrels. In either case velocity will likely be less than with the 26" pressure gun barrels.

The chambers of pressure barrels are also cut to SAAMI minimums, so the pressure vessel is smaller than most commercial rifle chambers (which are usually nearer to SAAMI maximum). The result is that the same load in a minimum chamber produces more pressure, and therefore velocity, than when fired in a maximum chamber.

However, a longer barrel doesn't always yield higher velocity. I own two .221 Fireballs, one with a 26" barrel and one with a 22" barrel. The velocity from either is essentially the same with identical loads. Of course, smaller case capacity like the .221 and faster burning powder both show less (or no) gain from a longer barrel. If you compared, say, a 7mm STW in 22 and 26 inch barrels I'm sure the difference would be notable.

Of course, individual barrels and chambers can produce greatly varying results due to the actual diameter of the barrel and how "slick" its internal surface is finished.

In the end, its a bit of an academic subject important only to rifle nerds. Very few deer survive a strike in the thorax with a 150 grain 30 caliber bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2850 fps rather than the 2950 fps that the handloading manual showed for that particular load.
 
Chronograph data is really helpful. When I load for my long range competition rifles using Lapua brass, Berger bullets etc I get standard deviations of 10 or less and I get info on best load to use and when more powder does not produce higher velocity. When I load once fired brass from range to shoot in my old milsurplus rifles and I get standard deviations in the 30s and 40s I know what kind of grouping to expect. Likewise when a "flyer" corresponds with a wonky velocity I know the problem is the load, not the rifle or shooting technique. In my case at least being able to chrono saves me money and time. It depends on how much you shoot and what quality level you want to achieve with your reloads.
 
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Some manuals use pressure guns with interchangeable barrels and those barrels are typically 26" long. Most frequently, non-magnum factory rifles use 22" barrels and magnum chamberings typically use 24" barrels. In either case velocity will likely be less than with the 26" pressure gun barrels.

The chambers of pressure barrels are also cut to SAAMI minimums, so the pressure vessel is smaller than most commercial rifle chambers (which are usually nearer to SAAMI maximum). The result is that the same load in a minimum chamber produces more pressure, and therefore velocity, than when fired in a maximum chamber.

However, a longer barrel doesn't always yield higher velocity. I own two .221 Fireballs, one with a 26" barrel and one with a 22" barrel. The velocity from either is essentially the same with identical loads. Of course, smaller case capacity like the .221 and faster burning powder both show less (or no) gain from a longer barrel. If you compared, say, a 7mm STW in 22 and 26 inch barrels I'm sure the difference would be notable.

Of course, individual barrels and chambers can produce greatly varying results due to the actual diameter of the barrel and how "slick" its internal surface is finished.

In the end, its a bit of an academic subject important only to rifle nerds. Very few deer survive a strike in the thorax with a 150 grain 30 caliber bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2850 fps rather than the 2950 fps that the handloading manual showed for that particular load.
Interesting, I have a couple of 308s with different barrel lengths. Shooting 130s, there's no appreciable difference; with 165s there a slight advantage (faster velocity) with the longer tubes. I also own a couple of 243s and with 100 grain bullets, the shorter barrel is slightly faster than the longer barrel.

My 7 mag HAD a 21 inch tube, and another had a 24 in. The longer barrel was faster by only about 25 fps, Not the 100 - 150 fps decrease I was expecting.
 

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