The Labradar chrono­graph

An easy-to-use, but (slightly) finicky, chrono­graph

Outdoor Life - - CONTENTS - by JOHN B. SNOW

FOR ANY SHOOTER WHO HAS MESSED

with tra­di­tional chrono­graphs, the prom­ise of the Labradar is easy to see. It has no sun­screens to fool with, no wires to un­tan­gle, and no tripods to de­ploy, and there’s no need to cross the fir­ing line to set it up. (To say noth­ing of the fact that you’d have to be a next-level knuck­le­head to ac­ci­den­tally shoot it.)

The Labradar con­sists of two pieces: a main radar unit and a mount­ing plate ($540 and $60, re­spec­tively; my­labradar.com). At­tach the two, aim it at the tar­get you’ll be shoot­ing, hit the power but­ton, and you’re in busi­ness. Well, al­most. There’s some fid­dling re­quired to op­er­ate the unit smoothly, but be­fore we get into that, let’s an­swer a ba­sic ques­tion: How does it work?

Dop­pler radar bounces mi­crowaves off mov­ing ob­jects and then an­a­lyzes the shift in fre­quency of the re­turned sig­nal to fig­ure out the ob­ject’s ve­loc­ity. Al­though it’s more com­plex, it is sim­i­lar to the shift in fre­quency you hear as a siren ap­proaches and then passes you.

The Labradar tracks pro­jec­tiles to about 80 yards or so, giv­ing you ve­loc­ity read­ings at dis­tance in­ter­vals you in­put into the ma­chine. It also dis­plays muz­zle ve­loc­ity, ki­netic en­ergy, ex­treme spread (ES), stan­dard de­vi­a­tion (SD), and min­i­mum and max­i­mum ve­loc­i­ties. The data is saved on a USB card in a for­mat you can down­load into a spread­sheet.

PICKY, PICKY, PICKY

But it has some draw­backs. The unit is frag­ile, and un­less you take pre­cau­tions, it can over­turn eas­ily in the wind, and even a short fall will break it. It runs on six AA bat­ter­ies, but goes through them like a plate of na­chos on Su­per Bowl Sun­day. Plan on car­ry­ing ex­tras or run­ning it from an ex­ter­nal USB bat­tery.

The Labradar is also par­tic­u­lar about where it needs to be placed in re­la­tion to the muz­zle of the gun. If you shoot with a sup­pres­sor, you of­ten need to place the Labradar in front of it. With a muz­zle brake, you need to pro­tect the unit from the blast, us­ing ei­ther some kind of bar­rier or po­si­tion­ing it with the muz­zle well for­ward of the unit.

I’ve found that repo­si­tion­ing the unit in re­la­tion to the muz­zle dur­ing a shoot­ing string af­fects re­sults. For the best data, you need to keep your muz­zle po­si­tion con­sis­tent—oth­er­wise your ES and SD will open up. When I cross-checked the Labradar’s re­sults against those of my other chrono­graphs—an Oel­her 35P and a Mag­ne­tospeed—the read­ings var­ied by just a few fps, but the mea­sured ve­loc­i­ties were con­sis­tent with re­spect to each other.

In short, Labradar is a pow­er­ful tool for the tech­ni­cally minded shooter who wants to amass lots of good bal­lis­tic data with min­i­mal fuss.

The notch on the top of the Labradar is used to align the unit with the tar­get.

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