New toy! (Tool, I mean! Tool!)

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.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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5 Responses to New toy! (Tool, I mean! Tool!)

  1. MJR says:

    Old doesn’t mean obsolete so long as it does the job it was designed to do. It will be nice to see how well it works so please post how it goes.

  2. coloradohermit says:

    “I’ll endeavor not to shoot it.”
    Good luck. DH has shot 2. 🙂

  3. Howard says:

    I don’t have a chronograph either but if you are thinking about changing powder try titegroup. 5 grains of titegroup with a 200 grain laser cast led bullet seems to work ok.

  4. Peter says:

    The sensor is separate from the computer unit, so you might be OK. It’s a well known fact amongst folks who use chronographs that the metal housing of a combined sensor/computer chrono attracts lead, to the extent that there are people who have shot their chronograph and there are people who lie about it.

  5. Ian says:

    Glad it works! I forgot to include the AK optic; will do that next time.

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