Two weekends ago I was having a snack with Ian, talking about guns of course, and told him I was trying to work up a minimal .44 Special load with a new powder I’d gotten from Wideners but was handicapped by the lack of a chronograph. Chronographs seem to be one of those electronic gadgets that missed the complete arc from “so expensive only professionals have them” to “there’s an app for that on your smartphone.” Several decades ago there was a quantum leap in chronograph technology that radically increased the ease of use and reduced the price of the machine, but the technology seems to have stopped right there. The cheapest chrono I ever priced on-line was well over $100 and out of my reach for something I don’t really need. So although I’ve reloaded on and off for 40-odd years, I’ve never owned a chronograph. Only once in a blue moon, such as with this low-load project, did I hit a wall where I really can’t do a good job without one.
See, I loaded a bunch of .44 cartridges with a really light load of Bullseye, and they started blowing unburned powder all over the place. This is just never a good thing; your muzzle velocity and thus point of impact will obviously be slightly inconsistent, plus in bigger cases (normally rifle-size cases, but .44 is getting kinda big) you can get dangerous pressure spikes. It was really time to stop and re-think this business, preferably with a different powder, but this is where you really want a chronograph and, as I lamented to Ian, I didn’t have one and wasn’t going to get one soon.
And Ian said, “Hell, I’ve got an old chrono laying around. I’ll send it up with [Landlady.]”
And damned if he didn’t promptly do that very thing!
And people, this is an old chronograph. Not quite ‘shoot through the metal mesh’ old, but pretty old. I don’t know when it was built but the software version is 1992 and the whole thing has an early-nineties-electronics vibe to it. I’m not sure the ballistic computer is any use, the keypad is awfully cryptic and the stored bullet ballistic coefficients are bound to be of limited value at best. But all I really care about right now is velocity spreads and it will surely work for that. I bought it a new battery while in town this morning, set it up on my laundry table and put ten rounds over it, and it does work.
Very cool! Now I need to take the time to actually do the project. Thanks, Ian! I’ll endeavor not to shoot it.