With the Ballistic Precision Chronograph G2 from Caldwell, a division of Battenfeld Technologies, you will never have to take a power cord or notebook to the range again.
I’ve written about chronographs in this column a good bit. This is partly because a chronograph is the best tool at your disposal to help you evaluate ammunition, and partly because if you do not use a chronograph correctly, the information it gives you is not very helpful. I’m also interested in any new chronograph because I think all the current ones on the market are involved in a conspiracy to sabotage my range time.
It seems chronographs never want to cooperate with me when I only have limited time or ammunition at my disposal. On the other hand, it seems when I have a truckload of ammo, good weather, and all day to shoot, they work just fine. Another complaint I have with chronographs is how I must record or collect the information. The most-affordable chronographs require you to write down the results, so investing in one that prints is not a bad idea.
But here is the other thing with chronographs, they eat batteries like a fat man at a Vegas buffet and if you do lots of shooting, you’ll run through a roll of print paper as fast as that buffet-loving fat guy goes through antacid tablets. Few things are as frustrating as sitting down at the bench to test ammo to discover your chronograph battery is dead or that the printer is out of paper. This brings me to Caldwell’s G2 ballistic precision chronograph. I received one to test not too long ago. I’ve been impressed with how it performs, and (knock on wood) it has yet to fail me.
The Ballistic Precision Chronograph G2 comes with its own carry case and its own tripod. It is battery-powered, but the battery is integral and rechargeable. It also has its own illumination system in case you’re shooting in low light or indoors. And, this is sort of an upside down chronograph; the sensor device is on top instead of on the bottom. This is important because sometimes—yes I’ve done it more than once—where I end up putting a bullet through the smart part of the chronograph and not the hole I’m supposed to shoot through. Don’t laugh. If you shoot over chronographs enough, you’ll do it, too. And, when you do, it will be because you shot too low as opposed to too high. The upside-down configuration of the G2 adds in a little protection from this spectacle.
However, for me the most appealing feature of the G2 Ballistic Precision Chronograph is its Bluetooth capability. It can connect directly to an iOS or Android device. This is wonderful because you have all the data from your shooting session stored for later review. You can even e-mail the information from your smartphone to your computer or to a range buddy. Since your smartphone is also a camera, you can take a photo of your shot group and save it/send it with the data.
Given all these features, at a suggested retail price of $249.99 it might seem like the Ballistic Precision Chronograph G2 is underpriced, which can usually be translated to under performing. To get an idea of how well this unit would work, I tested it against two other chronographs, head to head by positioning all three adjacent to each other, in a line, for a series of 50 shots. The G2 failed to record 7 percent of the shots fired, the PACT registered only 77 percent. The Shooting Chrony recorded every shot, until its battery died, I assume due to the cold weather. (It was only 18 degrees outside.) Over the years I’ve learned that just because a 9-volt battery is new does not mean it will last very long in a chronograph.
Though the data from all three chronographs varied, they were all similarly consistent. The PACT showed the largest velocity variation and the Shooting Chrony the least. But, to put all of this in perspective, the maximum variation difference was only 27 fps. You would expect the chronographs to give identical readings, but there is more at play here than might meet the eye.
One thing you have to understand about chronographs is that they are a time/distance device. They establish a bullet’s speed by calculating how long it took the bullet to pass between the front and rear sensors, which are spaced a specific distance apart. When you set up your chronograph you need to set the screens so they’re perfectly parallel to the path of the bullet. Given a muzzle velocity of 3,000 fps and a 3-degree cant to the chronograph, you will see an increase in velocity of about 5 to 10 fps. Every degree the screens are off of this parallel line will cause the chronograph to record a higher velocity because you have essentially shortened the distance over which bullet travel is calculated. And, a 3-degree variation is difficult to detect by eye.
Every serious shooter should have a chronograph. The easier it is to use and set up, the more often you’ll use it, and the more information you’ll obtain about the ammunition you’re shooting. (I suggest you keep a backup chronograph on hand, too.) The G2 has worked great for me, but I’m sure—like with my other three chronographs—it’s just waiting to ruin my range day. At least with the Caldwell G2 Ballistic Precision Chronograph, it has its own power source, a tripod, and all of the data the unit generates will be right in your hand and you can save it or share it as you see fit. This means you won’t have to try and decipher the notes you made on the back of a target.