Throughout my life, I've always learned more from failure than success.
This is a story of a recent and epic failure of mine and what I learned from it. It isn't the usual technical deep-dive I typically write about, but it's equally important -- it demonstrates learning lessons the hard way. More specifically, it's about attitudes during competition and their influence.
This was a moment that I'll never forget. That I hope no one else has to endure. That I hope everyone else can learn from, as I did.
Which chronograph should I buy?
Most likely, you've been asked this question, heard it asked, or have asked it yourself. I certainly have.
It's no wonder, with so many options to choose from, each using different techniques and offering greater accuracy and precision than the rest. Since high-quality chronographs are an essential tool for the work I do here at Ammolytics, I thought it would be helpful and interesting to provide a direct comparison of some modern options. I already own a MagnetoSpeed V3 and some friends loaned me their LabRadar and Two-Box Chrono, which created an excellent opportunity test them head-to-head and to satisfy my own curiosity.
In late June, I took all three chronographs to the range. Two rifles were used to fire a total of 75 rounds; 25 rounds of 6.5mm Creedmoor (bolt-action/suppressed) and 50 rounds of .223 Remington (semi-auto).
There are some aspects of the reloading process which tend to be significantly more time-consuming than others. Obtaining consistent, to-the-kernel precision on every round is one of those. I've tried a lot of different tools and techniques over the years to save time without sacrificing quality. Stop me if you've heard this one... RCBS Chargemaster, modified with straws and new programming, using an OHaus beam scale and manual trickler to measure the last few kernels, tweezers to add/remove single kernels, then ditching the beam scale for a lab-grade digital scale (e.g. A&D, Sartorius)... Sound familiar?
The inexpensive rifle accelerometer project was a huge hit. It was reshared and featured on other sites like Adafruit, Hackaday, ITS Tactical, and The Firearm Blog! Since then, many readers reached out to me with ideas and suggestions. I'd like to provide a quick update on the progress that's been made thanks to support from readers like you. Thank you!
One of the conclusions that I drew from my Recoil vs Muzzle Velocity experiment was that my reloading practices had some room for improvement. There were two slow rounds in one of the 10-round groups that disappointed me and I had suggested that it might relate to my bullet sorting method. I used this opportunity to create another experiment -- to measure the impact of bullet sorting by weight, bearing length, and by base-to-ogive. Specifically, I wanted to compare the effects of firing the extreme cases side-by-side: (e.g. lightest vs heaviest, longest vs shortest).
You may have already read about this little gizmo from my previous article, where I used it to measure the relationship between Recoil and Muzzle Velocity. Of all the feedback I received, the accelerometer definitely generated the most interest.
What you may not know is that it wasn't the first experiment I had intended to use it on. My original plan was to correlate rifle movement to my 600 yard scores. I wanted to detect if I was flinching or jerking the trigger, resulting in a hit in the 9-ring (or worse).
In this article, I've provided more detail about how I built it, how it works, and how I'd like to improve it.
Earlier this summer, one of the F-class shooters in our league was trying to diagnose an issue with his new rifle. He was using a reliable load that he had previous success with, but his chronograph was showing some pretty extreme muzzle velocity variation of around 35 ft/s. Remembering a SnipersHide article I had read about recoil management technique contributing to inconsistent muzzle velocity issues, I suggested that as a possible cause. I went home and found the article, intending to share -- but when I read it again, I noticed some things that made me question the results.