I’ve been collecting and making my own chronographs for a few years trying to find one that does what I need when I need. In doing so I’ve collected and used extensively quite a number of them. Of those 3 seem to come to the front of most people’s decision tree. Here we’ll cover one of the more expensive options.
Pros: Easy to slip on, when it works it just works, stores large number of shots, attached to the gun, easy to use, aluminum cam-lock strap.
Cons: Muzzle breaks and magnums = unreliable operation, POI change, bayo slip-off problems, cables (what no bluetooth), no display weapon mount, standard plastic cam-lock sucks, bayo pitting.
For the most part this thing is fantastic. I really love the ability to change where I’m pointing and still gather data. It works without regard to the lighting which is excellent. The low end cam-lock setup is junk. Broke out of the box. The aluminum upgrade dealie they offer for about 20 bucks is money well spent and apart from a ridiculous strap routing complexity it’s pretty easy to use.
I’ve found I get more shots before it tries to work itself off the barrel if I use both rubber adapters, one on either side. I’ve found that I’d really like a weapon mount for the display as well. On my .223 it works perfectly with no brake. On my .308 it didn’t like working with the brake on it but was just fine without it. On my 7-mag it hasn’t been totally reliable even without the brake on the gun and was completely non-functional with the brake on. My brakes are shorties, only about an inch and a quarter longer than the barrel and they’re barrel diameter or less with tight exit ports so blast shouldn’t be an issue however it seems to be (I’ll update on this as I shoot the big gun more). With my 7br it was 100% reliable.
No weapon mount seems like they missed a logical next step. So does the lack of bluetooth (or iRDA or 2.4GHz or whatever not fucking wired) connection between bayo and display. They really missed the boat on those two bits. Not everyone sits down or lays down with their rifles. Some of us like to shoot standing up too. Some of us have spotters that are taking down data for us or want to put the display somewhere else than on or next to the rifle. First, it’s a little awkward when you have your display unit gallivanting around the bench top as it gets jerked around by the cord or to have it dangling from the end of your rifle. Long cables are a treatment but not a solution. It’s more awkward to have only just a little flexibility about where I can put the display. Weapon mount makes it so cables are still ok (if primitive) and un-cabled makes it so weapon mount or not is irrelevant.
The display on my V1 is old school LCD. For 300-400 bucks or more a little better display could have been used. Backlighting in blue (or white) is nutty for sure though. Red would have been the appropriate choice if only one color were to be offered. Battery life is so far pretty good but I’m not sure exactly how good yet. I haven’t replaced the battery so far after a couple hundred rounds of data gathering and powered on lag time in the many hours range.
The bayo unit has started to pit and while that’s only cosmetic for now I’ll need to periodically hit it with a coat of epoxy to fill in the holes so it doesn’t get worse. I think this is actually a great selling point for the choice of the plastic they are using. It’s durable and tough up to a point and it’s still repairable by most people that can figure out how to open a tube of epoxy. The epoxy treatments so far are done just like bondo. You don’t want a lot, just enough to smooth the surface. I find a good 2-part steel epoxy works great as an ablative layer there.
The way the bayo mounts is a little nerve tickling for a bit until you get used to it and realize you’d have to have a massive taper rate on your barrel in order to get the bullet to strike the bayo. It’s still something to verify each time but it’s not something to be pissing your pants over unlike the possibility of a guest shooter pushing a rifle bullet right through your optically activated chronograph. If you let other people shoot through your conventional rabbit eared chronograph, eventually one of them is going to drop a round in the unit itself and kill it. Either that or you will. In any event the Magnetospeed does a solid job of alleviating this hazard if even the tiniest amount of sense is used in installing it onto the barrel.
Finally is the price. It’s a bit gouge-y if you know what you’re getting. A couple hall effect sensors, some injection molded plastic and a very limited bit of software, an relatively primitive display, and a small amount of inexpensive microelectronics. They’re certainly making their profit on the hardware bits in spades.
Competitors are basically optically activated setups like ProChrony, ShootingChrony, Oehler and other similar more traditional chronographs and not much of a damned thing else. Labradar is a radar based bit of vaporware that has been due out shortly for two years. In the meantime if lighting is something you can’t always control or you’d like to have aimpoint flexibility then for now Magnetospeed is the only game in town and it’s not bad at all. It’s a bit expensive and some of the hardware is a little janky but it’s worked so far.