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I haven't loaded too many .223/5.56 because i don't have a chronograph. I looked at several models, and don't have the funds for one at the moment. The wife is planning a 4th of July trip to JBLM to see the kid, and that has soaked up all the petty cash for the next two months. I loaded a few "middle of the road" 5.56 loads with 2230, and they seem to function in both my 20" and 16" rifles.

So, do you really need one?
 
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The chrono will not tell you what load is most accurate. A piece of paper will.
If you are loading within published data then just shoot the load giving the best groups.

Chrono's are eye opening. Most loads are not as advertised. The extra data, SD, ES, Average FPS are useful in sorting out suitable (for specific purposes) powder burn rates.
For example: does less of a slower powder produce better / worse consistency than more of a mid-range powder if they are producing similar Vel's. In cases where two different powders are yielding similar groups then the one with smaller SD's would be a better choice.

If you get one you will enjoy having one extra tool to help with reloading. If you do not then you'll never know the difference.
My suggestion is get one if you can.
 

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Spot on Preacher! :hail:
 

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If you shoot pistol or rifle in competition — IDPA, USPSA, Steel, 3-Gun etc. there will be power factors to meet to be legal in a class or for major/minor scoring.

This is figured by bullet weight x speed (FPS). A chrono is a must - especially if you are downloading rounds for quicker follow up etc. that said — Tier 1 ( Club) matches do not generally chrono your rounds ( my experience).

Also so if you are trying to mimick a commercial round (say, SD) and want to save $$ hand loading them. You get the bullets and match the FPS of the round for that 12” of penetration or whatever it is you like about it. The savings can be significant.

It’s a good tool & some folks just like knowing as well! ;)
 

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No. I've never owned one. I'm not saying they aren't useful, especially under the circumstances Minga lists, but it's another complication added to your shooting routine. More crap to haul, and not that much fun. Interesting, but not fun....for me.
 

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Do I need a Chronograph? Yes. I own several older foreign and domestic battle rifles, several of them are without current/published load data. Trying to duplicate oddball cartridge loads for these antiques reminds me of early rocket science. Had I not had a clock to guide me along, trial and error would've been heavily taxed just to find a sweet load for these boat oars.

The big plus with reloading is that you are able to assemble a round as good as or better than a factory load and hopefully at less expense. A chrony is nice to have, but not absolutely necessary. With the tons of .223/5.56 load data available for this cartridge, all you need to add to the mix are consistent reloading components and a lot of paper to shoot at, as you work up your loads searching for that sweet group. I'd rather spend the money on something else.
 

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:unsure:...I thought a chronograph was for listening to speed records.
 

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Necessary? No. Handy for the reasons mentioned above? You bet. The book velocities are not a true indicator of what your gun will produce. They are gnerated with test barrels ( unless otherwise specified in the manuals) that don't give the same kind of results we get out here in the real world.
 
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Why YES, YES YOU DO! You can get one now days for a piddlin' hundred bucks. Might have to save for that, but shouldn't take that long. /enabler...

Now, I loaded for years without a chronograph, stayed within published specs as I do now, for that matter. BUT, I had NO idea what my loads were doing. Now, if all I loaded for were handguns, I could live without one if I just HAD to, but with rifles, I think I'd miss that chrony if you took it away from me. I'd have no clue about down range ballistics. I could shoot at a 1000 yard range, but I don't have one. Most I can shoot out here is 100 yards and I like to know what my rifle is doing somewhat beyond that, not necessarily 1000 yards, but out to 4 or 500 yards I wanna know hold over, ballistics tables. I went so far, in the 80s, as to write my own ballistics program for a tiny little 16 K Timex/Sinclair toy computer, later converted that to run on a 125K Tandy Color 3. It was a whole new world of understanding. I would run those ballistics, go to our club range on a weekday when nobody was there, back off to 300 yards on the 200 yard range (longest we had) and test off the hood of my truck. It was fun and informative. I have my load ballistics data taped to the top of my .308's 2x10 Weaver scope so's I won't forget 'em. I've made shots out to just under 400 yards with that rifle on coyotes. It does work to be an informed rifleman. Now days, I have a free internet download for exterior ballistics, though I prefer my own as I wrote in statistics calculations for it. I didn't have to get on the net and get a standard deviation calculator or sit down at the dining table and hand calculate it all which takes a while and reminds me too much of college stat class, "analysis of variance". :rofl:

Now, I could justify NOT bothering to know anything out here in the woods, but all that chronographing and calculating back over the last 3 decades has made me a more informed rifleman, methinks. I may never take another shot beyond 50 yards out here, but it's in my head if I need it. So, just to load rounds for the range in a 9x19 or something, no, you don't NEED a chronograph, but it sure helps to understand what's going on. Even with pistol loads, it's a good thing to know velocities of your rounds to make sure they coincide with published ballistics so you know you're safe. The chrony is as much a safety tool for the handloader as anything else when it comes to handgun loads, not so much downrange ballistics. But, to me, any tool I can have that gives me info on a load is a good thing. I flew blind for years, but no more.

I'd dearly LOVE to have an Ohler with a strain gauge and all the neat gismos like the triangulated microphone thing they have for putting up around your 100 yard target, senses the sound of the bullet as it passes and you can sit there at your shooting bench after 5 shots and see your group without ever getting up and going down to check. That'd save gas in my ATV is nothing else. :rofl: It also calculates the actual ballistic coefficient for you sense the time to distance from the chonograph screens to the target. The strain gauge gives actual chamber pressures so you KNOW if you're within SAAMI, don't have to take the book's word for it. But, I compromise and live without that. I ain't got the cash outlay for an Ohler, but the little Chronys are affordable and they give me enough data, I suppose.

So, you see, this sport is never ending, always something you want to spend money on, but you don't absolutely HAVE to. :laugh: I think the best thing about having my chronograph over the years is how it has expanded my knowledge of ballistics and loading, not necessarily that I NEEDED it to handload. I have my press, components, and my Speer manuals. :D
 

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Oh - yes - test barrels. The length is often listed but also - often not.

Those great results may be coming fro a 20” Rifle or a 4” pistol barrel. If you want to know what YOUR gun is doing ( be it 16” or 5.32”) the chrono it great.

You will know if you meet a power factor OR possibly why your 3-4-500 yd shots are just not working out. ;)
 

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Do I nee a chronograph?
No.
What I do need is another guitar, a bigger lawnmower,
a free lifetime supply of chocolate chip cookies.
It's all relative.
If I can live without it I don't really "need" it.
 

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Depends!
on just how deep that you want to get into reloading and testing rounds.
For the average or slightly above shooter/ reloader then In my opinion NO you do not need one.
in regards to published data, well lots of variable in that even the temperature at which the test was done as well as elevation above Sea level.
so no published data are general statements.
the reasons mentioned for needing one are there, the reasons for not needing one are as well.
depends on what you are trying to accomplish with reloads.
I personally never try to match a factory load, if I was trying to do that then I would just buy the factory load, I try to load the most accurate load which very likely is not the factory load.
 

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There is one caliber rifle I've owned and have loaded for since the age of 10. It was my grandpa's and he taught me reloading on this rifle. I killed my very first deer with a handload from this rifle. It's chambered in .257 Roberts. I've been working with loads in this rifle so long, I have one that's tailored for it that shoots 1/2 MOA, that's five shots into a half inch at 100 yards, and the rifle is still bone stock, not floated, nothing except the trigger set by a good gunsmith at 3 crisp lbs.

I've read every article I could find on .257 Roberts and loading for it and it's been traditionally set at very low pressure levels by SAAMI, supposedly in difference to old guns that might be out there. But, in modern bolt guns, it can be loaded to modern pressures. You simply cannot do this caliber justice with factory loads, not even the newish (1980s) +P loads for it. I get 3150 fps out of a 100 grain Sierra game king with this gun. Factory +P winchester silvertips clock 2900 fps. THAT is significant! Also, that game king bullet has significantly better ballistic coefficients than the Winchester factory load.

Add to this the scarcity of the caliber on new ammo shelves now days and reloading is the only answer to make this old rifle breath fire and kill game a long ways off. :D I don't use it much more, but I have GREAT handloads for it and I would have no clue HOW great those loads are without a chronograph. Oh, I could compare drop at long ranges, but that's at best an educated guess. The chrony tells the REAL story on things. :D

Yep, it all depends on what you do with handloading. If all you do is shoot mild cast loads at steel targets out of a handgun, you won't use a chrony much. Me, I'm SO glad they got affordable back in the 80s. I bought my first one from Gander Mountain's catalog for 60 bucks. I used that one up until I moved out here. I could no longer get those cardboard screens it took, so I just bought a new one from my new loading/shooting room off the back porch. It's got the new plastic screens. My old one still works if I had new screens for it, but I've retired it. Mostly use it now days for new handguns and loads as all my rifles have developed loads. I did, however, work up a load for my .223 Bushmaster when I got it and got the chronographed velocities. As I don't intend to use that gun at any longish ranges, I haven't worked up drop tables for it. I did take a deer with it last season, range about 30 yards. :laugh: I just did it to be doing it. I haven't retired my REAL hunting rifles and love my little Remington M7 in .308 for deer hunting.
 

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Oh, yes, and Mingaa has a good point about making "major". You've got no way to know what your guns are doing without a chrony. When I was shooting IDPA, I had to load to a minimum power factor. I was shooting 9mm and loaded it to the lowest power level in which would make minimum. The club had a chronograph and would test loads from time to time, so you didn't wanna get disqualified, but I wanted to keep recoil as low as possible to allow me to get back on target as quick as possible. So, if you compete seriously in any speed shooting type event that has minimum power factors, you'll need a chronograph.
 

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That right there is funny.
I wonder how many times that has happened?
My ex SIL did it to his. I never let him borrow mine for that reason. He had this uncontrollable flinch with handguns. :rolleyes:
 
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