If you’re handloading your own ammo, you need to know how it’s going to perform in the real world, not just how it works on a spreadsheet. The best way of doing this is to use a ballistic chronograph. These devices measure the exact speed of your bullet, so you can make better calculations for determining ballistic drop, total kilojoules of energy, and other necessary information.
To help you out, we decided to find the best shooting chronograph available online. In making our selections, we looked for devices that can store information on several cartridges, determine the average speed of several shots, and provide other detailed statistics.
We also looked for a shooters’ chrony that’s easy to use, and has a clear, easy-to-read display. An innovative design is also important to some shooters, so we included a few non-standard options to mix things up.
Ready to find the best chronograph for shooting? Let’s begin!
Best Shooting Chronographs
- Use with barrels from ½ inch to 1 inch in diameter
- Accommodates muzzle brakes and flash hiders up to 2.7 inches in length
- Ideal for contoured rifle barrels and long-barreled revolvers
- Specialized Bayonet-style sensor
- Data logging and simple single button display
The MagnetoSpeed Sporter is magnetic, so you can use it in any light conditions.
- Barrel-mounted magnetic design
- Mounts on ½” to 1” barrels
- Sends data to your smartphone
- Takes a 9-volt battery (included)
The MagnetoSpeed Sporter Barrel-Mounted Ballistics Chronograph Kit is shaped like a bayonet, and mounts on any round barrel between ½ inch and 1 inch in diameter. The chronometer is magnetic, which means you can use it under any lighting conditions.
However, it won’t work with smaller rounds, like pellets or .22 caliber bullets. The mounting system also requires a round barrel, so it won’t work on most semi-automatic pistols.
This chronograph connects to a small display using a basic aux cable. If you want to save your data and perform calculations, simply connect the cable to your phone instead, and use MagnetoSpeed’s free app to do any work that needs to be done.
- Easy to use
- Includes a free smartphone app
- Requires no extra accessories
- Does not require you to go downrange for setup
- Works well in any lighting conditions
- Does not work on semi-automatic pistols, air guns, or rimfire rifles
You can use this bayonet-style chrono without ever having to go downrange.
Caldwell Ballistic Chronograph Premium Kit
$109.98 in stock
5 used from $102.87
- SPECS: Each unit is factory calibrated to within +/- 0.25% accuracy and measures from 5 to 9,999 FPS
- EASE OF USE: Extra wide sun screens for added shading while outdoors, a large LCD display for easy reading, ¼-20 threaded insert for tripod mounting and an included 15ft aux cord for transferring data to a smartphone or tablet
- VERSATILITY: Meters per Second (MPS) or Feet per Second (FPS) reading and is ideal for firearms, archery, airgun and paintball
- COMPATIBLE: App and Aux Data Transfer works with the following: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android 2.1 or newer smart phones and Kindle Fire Tablets. A lightening to 3.5mm adapter (sold separately) is needed for use with iPhone model 7 and newer
- INCLUDES: Chronograph with 2 sunshades, 25′ audio jack cable, carry case, tripod and light kit
The Caldwell Ballistic Chronograph is a sturdy, durable device that belies its low price point. A lot of firearm owners may not be willing to give it a try due to its low price point, however, they would miss out on a quality chronograph.
- Large LCD Display
- Factory Calibrated to +/- 0.25% Accuracy
- Included 15’ Aux Cord for Quick Data Transfer
- Companion App
- 25’ Audio Jack Cable
- ¼-20 Threaded Insert
While the Caldwell Ballistic Chronograph is a pretty basic setup, it has some convenient features worth mentioning. Most importantly, you don’t have to derive your data the old-school way since there is a companion app.
The sync option is via cable connection, but the readings are instantly available. The Caldwell measures velocity across a wide array of shooting conditions and it comes with a 48MHz microprocessor that handles shot string velocity data and transfers the information to your companion app.
- Easy to set up
- Features a companion app for quickly accessible data
- Excellent battery life
- Very low price
- Controls are underwhelming
You’re not going to get anything mind-blowing out of the Caldwell Ballistic Chronograph. It’s a simple yet workable approach to accurately measuring the speed of your rounds as they exit. However, with a low asking price for a very accurate instrument, it more than does the job.
Caldwell Ballistic Precision
$83.75 in stock
7 used from $77.04
- ACCURACY: Each unit is factory calibrated within +/- 0.25%
- EASE OF USE: Measures Meters per Second (MPS) and 5 to 9,999 Feet per Second (FPS)
- VERSATILITY: Ideal for firearms, archery, airgun and paintball rifles
- RELIABLE: Wide sun screens for increase readability in full sun and a large LCD display for easy readabilit
- COMPATIBLE: A lightening to 3.5mm adapter (sold separately) is needed for use with iPhone model 7 and newer
The Caldwell Ballistic Precision is well suited for use with any kind of projectile weapon.
- Standard infrared design
- Sends shot data directly to your smartphone
- 5-9,999 FPS reading range
- Takes 9-volt batteries (not included)
- Mounts on a standard tripod base
The Caldwell Ballistic Precision Chronograph is a standard infrared chronograph that’s designed to read bullet velocity across a wide range of speeds, from 5 to 7,000 FPS. This makes it useful for any type of gun, from high-powered hunting rifles to small pistols, to air rifles, to custom paintball guns.
This chronograph is easy to use, with a simple on/off switch on the side of the unit. It connects to your smartphone with a 15-foot audio cable, which sends all shot data to Caldwell’s free smartphone app. There, you can view average velocity, standard deviation, and high and low bullet speeds within a given group.
- Easy to use
- Includes a free smartphone app
- Works well in most lighting conditions
- Can also be used for archery, paintball, and pellet guns
- All controls and calculations are performed on your smartphone
This chronograph includes a smartphone app for doing all calculations and saving all of your data.
X-Radar Custom Chronograph Deluxe Handheld
Nothing beats portability, and the handheld chronograph from X-Radar checks all the boxes in terms of portability, which works great for paintball shooters.
- 0 to 24GHz Transceiver
- Auto-Reset Between Shots
- Microwave Doppler Technology
- Sturdy and Compact
- One-Button Operation
- LCD Readout
Ballistics aren’t just for bullets, pellets, and arrows. Paintball aficionados will appreciate what X-Radar’s Custom Chronograph has to offer. For everyone else, this chronograph is only for paintball, so you’re out of luck.
The device itself is very tiny, small enough to easily match a thick smartphone, and you can pocket it with ease. It’s more than efficient for reading the velocity of your paintballs between 4 and 30 balls per second. It also tracks speeds between 200 and 399 fps.
- Extremely portable
- Relatively inexpensive
- Reads accurately and fast
- Simple to use with one-button operation
- One 9-volt battery lasts through extensive uses
- For paintballs only
If you’re heavily into the paintball scene, this is the device for you. Not only will it provide you with plenty of accurate data points, but it also helps to keep the game safe.
- High accuracy measurement. As the device with high accuracy and clamp rail, and fixed equipment after the every time are the same, and with the guide rail can be made with the mining model in parallel, so the measurement result error is small, small fluctuation dynamic error.
- Design of the four sides of the air, effectively alleviate the impact of airflow test. Improved stability and accuracy. The display surface and the operation buttons are in front, and it is very convenient to operate and view the test data.
- Mini size is easy to carry. Simple and easy operation. Function is more abundant. Not only can measure the speed, but also can measure the energy, at the same time can record up to 40 groups of speed and the 40 group of the energy value.
- Multiple power management and protection. The cell has the function of over charging, over discharging and short circuit protect, and the integrated intelligent shutdown and low power shutdown function.
- The panel is mainly composed of digital display tube, function, key and LED indicator. The function key is the micro touching button.
If you’re looking for a good ballistic chronograph for your slingshot or bow and arrow, the Vikka is more than adequate for either.
- Front Display and Button Operation
- Accurate Velocity Measurements for arrow and shot
- Small and easy to transport
- Intelligent Shutdown
- Measures Energy and Speed
- Designed for Easy Setup
Another of the non-bullet chronographs on our list, the VIKKA Premium Precision Ballistic Chronograph is perfect for archery and slingshots. The device itself is fairly simple and easy to use. All you have to do is find a proper way to set it up so that you can get the proper alignment before you shoot.
The device is battery-powered, and it also has built-in protection from overcharging. Once the battery reaches 100%, it automatically shuts off the charging mechanism. The low-power shutdown is automatic.
- Records up to 40 speed groups
- Records and displays energy calculations
- Small, portable, and easy to carry
- Sets up quickly
- Easy to read
- Only for slingshots and bows
The VIKKA Ballistic Chronograph is not the most exciting device you’ll lay eyes on, but it does the trick adequately. The only issue is setting it up so that it’s in perfect alignment with your shot since the arrow or ball has to pass through the archway for a proper reading.
The V3 Ballistic Chronograph has a compact housing and is designed for hard use, yet it is still capable of measuring the velocity down to a simple air pellet.
- Overhauled Shooting Modes
- Rapid Fire Mode
- Capable of Downloading its Own Firmware Updates
- Dual/Redundant Data Connection Points
- Built-in Troubleshooting
- MagnetoSpeed Technology
It’s easy to like the bayonet feature of the MagnetoSpeed device. Not only does it look awesome, but it also attaches to the Picatinny rail or, if you happen to have a silencer, to the silencer itself.
The purpose of the design is to place a magnetic field just below the bullet as it exits the muzzle. The changes this causes to the magnetic field resonance are the part that’s measured and translated into understandable ballistics.
- Unique MagnetoSpeed measurement
- MicroSD card for easy saving
- Produces data instantly
- Exit velocity measurements are very accurate
- No downrange measurement device
What sets the MagnetoSpeed apart is its ability to attach directly to the firearm in a streamlined form, without all of the precise alignments necessary with traditional chronographs. It’s a heck of a selling point, and for good reason.
As you can see, there are plenty of chronograph shooting options available. Whether you’re looking for a traditional, infrared design or a high-end Doppler radar design with a bunch of bells and whistles, there’s something here to meet your needs.
One thing we didn’t mention earlier is the importance of setting your chronograph up properly. You’ll want to have your gun mounted in a bench rest, and ensure that it’s pointed directly through the middle of the chronograph.
This will ensure that even if a shot goes slightly wide or high, it’s not going to wreck a pricey piece of equipment. Use your sights if you’re 100 percent sure they’re properly zeroed in, or use a laser bore sight if you have any doubts whatsoever.
We hope that at least one shooting chronograph review has helped you find the tool you need. Even if you end up going in another direction, we hope you’ve learned something today.
Best Shooting Chronograph
Check out our ratings ofthe best shooting chronographs available.
- MagnetoSpeed Sporter
- Caldwell Ballistic Chronograph Premium Kit
- Caldwell Ballistic Precision
- X-Radar Custom Chronograph Deluxe Handheld
- VIKKA Premium
- MagnetoSpeed LLC V3