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Lab Radar ballistic chronograph

Discussion in 'Product reviews' started by SheepDog, Mar 24, 2018.

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  1. Mar 24, 2018 #1

    SheepDog

    SheepDog

    SheepDog

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    I got a chance to go to the range and fire some rounds to test my new chronograph today.
    First a little history:
    As you may, or may not, know a chronograph is a device that measures the velocity of a bullet once it is fired. If you are interested in predicting the exterior or terminal ballistics of the ammo you use a chronograph is a necessity.
    I bought my first chronograph some thirty or forty years ago and it served me well a couple of years ago. It was used almost exclusively in cloudy and overcast weather and provided me with repeatable results. It was a PACT model 1 optical chronograph. It was not the least expensive but it was a "low end" in the price range. I saw no need to spend $500 for the best on the market, which at that time was the Oehler, when I didn't know if I was going to use it much. Well I used it a lot. I wore out the little 6 volt wafer battery in under a year and was using it mostly at the range where I could use the AC adapter. Then I joined another range and often made trips to a third range neither of which had power out to the ranges. I modified the model 1 to accept an external battery and used a 6 volt lantern battery to power it. The big battery would last through months of use and I replaced it in a precautionary move each year. After moving to the sunny side of the state found it didn't like sunny skies and it gave obscene results that were double or half the actual velocity. I made a shade for it with translucent filters which did little to boost my failing trust. I decided I needed a new one.
    I started my research with Oehler as it was "the best" on the market the last time. I found that they had stopped making chronographs but were making a short run of their 35P model that used two sets of screens to ensure accuracy. The cost had increased a bit in the last 40 years but not at the same rate as inflation. The list price was $650 which was a lot for a married guy on a fixed income but doable. Then I found out that their technology hadn't changed and they were still using a 4MgHz clock which is extremely slow by todays standards. I also found out that there was one that cost half the price which was the standard in the competition arena for the last few years. This was looking better and better. Then I found out it had been replaced with a newer tech gadget. A Doppler radar unit that was being used because changes in light level, cloud cover, and even rain didn't affect its accuracy.
    Upon further research I found two other new chronographs that didn't use optics as triggers. The most popular was called the Magnetospeed and used a hall effect or magnetic resonance to measure the velocity. This was intriguing until I found it had to be attached to the muzzle of the gun. That meant that it would effect the point of impact of bullets on target and even worse it was not usable on semi-auto pistols or revolvers with full under lugs. The other is an obscure start-up called the "2 box chrono". It measures the velocity of bullets with sound detectors in each of two boxes that listen for the sonic "boom" of a bullet traveling some distance from the box. Right away this device was ruled out because it would only work if your bullets were traveling faster than the speed of sound. It could also pick up your neighbors shot at the range and provide you with a lot of junk information.
    I was back to a choice between a modern optical triggered chronograph at $300 or the new tech Doppler Lab Radar unit for $560. It came down to the pluses and minuses of each type. For the optical unit the pluses were that the technology was proven and with a few upgrades I could use slave lighting to eliminate the problems associated with varying light levels. On the minus side were:
    Setup time which stopped all shooting until I got setup. This is a big deal because people pay to shoot and they have little tolerance for anyone taking twenty minutes to set a chronograph to line up with the gun and the target at the same time. If that wasn't bad enough optical chronos are vulnerable to temperature which can change their accuracy levels along with humidity and to some extent even barometric pressure.
    For the lab radar it sets up next to the gun and not in front of it so the range doesn't have to be shut down. Then, because it is a radar, it is sealed from the atmosphere so light, humidity, and barometric pressure don't affect it at all. It is limited in the temperatures it can be operated in... It must be warmer than 17F and cooler than 105F. I think those temps are beyond my comfort level too so I don't fault the machine too much. Within those temps the Lab Radar has an accuracy of .1% or at 1000 feet per second it might say 1001 to 999 feet per second. My optical chronograph had a published accuracy of 1% which relates to the 1000fps as 1010 to 990 fps. The only true drawback is that it only has a 1 year warranty - like most all electronic devices. The Lab Radar unit is made by the same company that makes Doppler tracking, targeting and speed radars for police and military. They have an excellent history of making products that last. I bet my $560 on their reputation and today was the first test.
     
    hiwall, The Lazy L and TMT Tactical like this.
  2. Mar 24, 2018 #2

    SheepDog

    SheepDog

    SheepDog

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    I thought I should do this in a different post because I got a little long winded with the history.
    The Lab Radar set up quickly and easily and positioning it to align with the target took less time than it took my friend to unload his gun and get set up on the bench. He fired 34 rounds next to the chronograph and didn't miss a single shot. I fired 40 rounds to a different group of data without the chronograph missing any shot. There were other people shooting but nothing they did affected the chronograph at all. It was never falsely triggered by another shooter and no bullets fired into adjoining targets were registered. One guy was firing across the range with bullets traveling between my target and me and it never even showed up on the chronograph.

    This is only one session with two shooters but the results we got were great. I believe that this will be a superlative tool for as long as it runs. I am hoping that it will last at least 20 years, or more but only time will tell. It took me 14 months to save up for this tool but right now I feel it was worth every penny. The total cost for the chronograph, the memory card, the USB battery pack and the mount was $629. I recommend it to anyone who wants a good chronograph that they can use in any weather and under any lighting conditions. For more information go to the website to check out all the details I might have missed. the address is http://mylabradar.com/
    Happy trails y'all!
     
    hiwall, The Lazy L and TMT Tactical like this.
  3. Apr 6, 2018 #3

    SheepDog

    SheepDog

    SheepDog

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    Session two at the range:
    I fired 4 groups of five shots with my 257 Roberts to test out some trials at accurate ammo and found that with my 22 inch barrel I was getting velocities up to 3500 fps! I was still a full grain under the maximum listed loads and only expected about 3100 fps. The ammo was a bit on the hot side for my gun showing bright spots on the cartridge heads for the top two loads so I am going to drop the powder a full grain and do another work up. I also let a couple of guys shoot their guns next to it and one of the guns was fitted with a muffler. we had to move the Lab Radar out just two inches in front of the muzzle to trigger the chronograph but it picked up and tracked every bullet after that. The other rifle was a 375 magnum and it was firing loud enough that my chronograph was triggering each time he fired from the next bench. I just had to press enter to continue the string without disruption. The lab radar would not track the bullet from the next bench so it didn't interfere with the round count at all. When I set up for his bench we found that the bullets were traveling at only 2900 fps in spite of all the noise.
    After seeing how easily it set up and not having to stop the shooting for set up they want to get one too.
    The chronograph has been extremely easy to use, quick to set up, and provides so much information that it is well worth the cost. This is, in my mind, the BEST chrono on the market even though it is not the most expensive. The Oehler is still the most expensive and it doesn't compare at all to the Lab Radar.
     
    TMT Tactical, hiwall and The Lazy L like this.

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