For those of us that reload for competitive shooting, knowing a round’s velocity is critical. In USPSA the all-important Power Factor is determined by multiplying velocity and bullet weight then dividing by 1000. Example: 124gr bullets traveling at 1050 fps yield a PF of 130.2 (124 x 1050 = 130,200 / 1000 = 130.2). With USPSA Production having a minimum Minor PF of 125, the above results would comfortably make the necessary minimum PF. In order to determine whether our rounds make the grade we must reliably measure velocity. We do that with a chronograph. While there are many fine units on the market, one company’s offering stands out: the CED M2.
Competitive Edge Dynamics has been providing competitive shooters with electronics for many years, including the CED7000 shot timer that I have mentioned previously. Their commitment to excellence is extraordinary and the M2 is no exception. The basic kit includes the Main CPU, a boom, two sensors and associated sunlight diffusers, USB cable, PC software and manual. You probably want a tripod on which to mount the sensor boom. Then you are ready to go. The chrono is incredibly feature-rich. It can store a ridiculously large number of shots and strings. It has a very large display and is just great for quickly getting the round data that you need. After firing a string you can get Average, Standard Deviation, Extreme Spread, High, Low and “High Average” with just the push of a button for each. You can then either clear the memory or keep the string and start another. If you want a permanent record or if you want to further slice and dice the numbers, you can connect to your PC via USB and collect the data using the provided software. I’ve never used the software so I can’t speak to its utility but given everything I know about CED I would wager it works well.
My friend Glyn told me before I bought the M2 that I should get the infrared sensor kit. I’ve learned enough to listen to good advice. The normal setup uses “sunlight diffusers” across the top to provide the needed light source so that the sensors at the bottom can detect the shadow of the bullet as it passes between the two. The only trouble is that if the sunlight isn’t even or gets obscured by some shadow the chrono will usually show an error message on the display. The infrared kit replaces the diffusers with infrared-emitting panels. This requires either A/C power or an optional NiMH battery pack. With the battery fully charged the IR unit can run up to eight hours. The beauty is that with the IR unit you don’t have to think about the light at all. I’ve used this setup quite a lot for many different rifle and pistol rounds and even airsoft and pellet guns. It has worked perfectly every time, even in the dark.
I added their nice padded carrying case to hold all the parts, which is very handy and protects the investment. Speaking of investment, this solution is not cheap. The kit is $200, the IR system is $89, the IR battery is $48 and the case is $38.95. Add a cheap tripod and you are right at $400 but like most things in life, you get what you pay for. In this case, that would be the best chrono on the market.