Simple and reliable velocity measurement
As I’ve mentioned a few times before in these pages, a consistent, accurate chronograph is one of the most critical tools that a tech can have in his or her toolbox. Being able to quickly and easily monitor your gun’s performance, especially when doing tech work is what tells you whether you’re doing any good or not. For that reason, having one handy should be a priority for any budding tech. If you’re part of an airsoft group that hosts games, having one in your pack is pretty much essential for keeping things safe and fair.
Most airsoft chronographs use an optical sensor system to figure out how fast your BB is going. Unfortunately, these systems require you to shoot through a little hole most of the time, and can have results that vary wildly in different lighting conditions. For decades, the preferred version for the paintball industry has been a doppler radar based system which alleviates many of these concerns, and X-Radar, the leading producer of compact and field based units has developed a version optimized for airsoft use. Let’s dive into this simple and compact chrono and see how it works!
PRODUCT: X-RADAR Airsoft Chronograph
WHAT IS IT: Chronograph
WHO IT’S FOR: Field Owners, techs, bat enthusiasts
HOW MUCH: $89
WHAT IS THE X-RADAR CHRONOGRAPH?
As mentioned before, the X-Radar chrono uses 24 GHz doppler radar technology instead of optical sensors to determine how fast your BB is flying. The original, “Red Button” model is designed for paintball use, and as such, is optimized for velocities between 150-399 FPS. Since most airsoft replicas are shooting over that speed, they put together this “Yellow Button” model that is designed for velocity range of 150-698 FPS, well within the range that most airsoft players will need.
It’s a simple unit that doesn’t have a heck of a lot of features; capable of measuring velocity in FPS and rate of fire in BPS, or “BBs Per Second”. No Joule calculations, no memory, no “potential velocity” calculations with other BB weights, just basic functionality. That data is shown on a simple 3 digit LCD readout which is amazingly easy to read and interpret. For that reason, it’s probably going to be my new chrono for video production.
The only real requirement for the chronograph is that you have to use .20g BBs or heavier. The reason provided to me by X-Radar is that lighter BBs are made purely out of plastic with no Barium filler to give it weight. The radar picks up on this filler in the BBs to give you your measurements. Since basically everyone is (or should be) using .20g BBs as a baseline for velocity measurement, this is kind of a moot point. I honestly can’t remember the last time I even saw .12g BBs.
To use the chronograph, simply rest the unit on the barrel of your gun about an inch away from the muzzle, press the button, and shoot your gun. It’ll update the velocity with each subsequent shot and give you accurate and consistent info regardless of lighting conditions. No need to line up the muzzle with a small hole, no worries about shooting your finger (I’ve had that happen when holding a Madbull chrono), just put it on the barrel and fire away. Easy stuff!
Since the X-Radar unit doesn’t rely on light conditions, you get much more consistent readings. I’ve seen optical based chronographs give me drastic differences in readings depending on if it’s in light or in the shadow, and that can be a pain when you’re trying to get legit readings for field legality. The screen is easy to see in all conditions as well and doesn’t have a lot of other data cluttering it up. It really is a video production dream. It’s powered off of a single 9v battery, so spares can be easily kept in your gear bag if needed.
There’s not a lot of data to clutter up that screen! While I prefer a chrono that tells me super basic info, there are a lot of guys that like their chrono to be a complete ballistic calculator, or to store that info for hours. Honestly, for me, I don’t need all that stuff, so this is precisely what I need it to be.
If you need a chronograph that uses technology proven over decades in all lighting and shooting conditions, the X-Radar unit is right up your alley. With simple, one button operation, it’s hard to screw this thing up. If you run a field and need a higher traffic solution, they have several models available with programmable alarm beepers for velocity overages. While it’s not the sexiest chrono available (although it does come in a sexy black velvet bag) it gets the job done very well without any mess or fuss. Plus, you can probably use it to keep bats away (I cannot verify whether you can keep bats away with it, please do not write me a letter if you get attacked by a bat)!