Some time back, Brownell’s sent me a chronograph to review. Since we have rimfires and centerfires in the house, in long and hand format, as well as a few shotguns, bows, and Nerf and airsoft guns, we felt like we could put it though its paces. The unit that I received is the Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital. Priced at $119.95, I was a little skeptical at first. When the unit arrived, I appreciatively noted the mark on the box reading, “Made in America with Pride.” The packaging is a box sturdy enough for persistent storage and transportation. The unit has a plastic housing with an LCD readout and five control buttons. On the side, it has the power switch and a jack for the optional PC interface (not included, and not reviewed here as of yet). There is a 1/4×20 threaded brass escutcheon in the base for mounting it on a camera tripod and the battery compartment is big enough for two 9v batteries (also not included), although it only plugs into one to function, giving you convenient storage for a spare. The unit also came with guide wires, diffuser hoods, and operating instructions.
Operation is very simple. Plug in the battery. Flip the power switch on. Shoot over the top of the unit. The diffuser hoods are required for sunny days. When I received the chronograph, it was raining heavily, so guns or archery were out of the question. So, we set it up on a camera tripod in the kitchen and shot Teen Bot’s Nerf gun over it. It is sensitive to speeds from 22 fps to 7000 fps, and the Nerf darts came in erratically between 30 and 60, with most of the readings coming in right around 40 fps. It had a little trouble with my airsoft pistol, but I have been told that these things typically don’t do so well with .22-cal pellets.
I have used this in my back yard to measure arrow velocities, and the readings seem in line with the claims of the bow manufacturer. It has no trouble with .22lr ammunition through handgun or rifle, and has done well with all centerfire ammo we’ve put across it. I have used this to fine-tune my bow, analyze hand loads, and compare velocities between ammo brands and between barrel lengths for a common ammunition. I don’t have much reference to compare it against, but the readings come out consistently enough per launcher and projectile that I’m inclined to believe that it is accurate enough for most purposes. The only times we have gotten erratic readings have been when we were standing too close to the unit. It will store up to 99 readings in each of nine separate strings, even with the battery unplugged.
Being such a relatively low-priced unit, I had assumed that there was something about it that lacked quality as compared to some of the more expensive ones. Because of this, I feared that it lacked durability, owing much to the plastic housing. I worried in vain. While set up at the farm, a sudden gust of wind violently toppled the tripod and the chronograph hit the ground hard. When we righted it, we found that it was still powered up, and still functioned normally. I wouldn’t recommend that you throw this unit around carelessly, but it is tougher than you might imagine. Here it is going down:
This chronograph is very competitively priced, U.S. made, accurate, durable, conveniently portable, and easy to use. It will measure velocity of just about anything that can travel over the sensors and will store data for recording later. It’s a really neat piece of kit, and I honestly can’t imagine not having it at this point. If something should happen to it, I would gladly pay the $120 that Brownell’s charges for it. If you have ever considered purchasing a chronograph for personal use, I would highly recommend that you take a look at the ProChrono Digital.
FTC – this product was provided free of charge from Brownell’s for the purpose of review. They didn’t pay me to say it was good, but sent it to me to wring out and talk about.