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Old October 5, 2002, 08:42 AM   #1
Join Date: May 13, 2002
Location: Colorado
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reloading without a chronograph?

I'm considering starting to reload to help feed my habit. I would most likely go with a turret press from Lee. However, I'm trying to understand how one would load up ammo without knowing what the result was as far as velocity. Is it safe to start reloading without access to a Chronograph?

I wouldn't mind paying for one (they aren't that expensive) but I really don't have anywhere that would allow me to set one up. I practice at a public range where there would not be a way to set one up in front of the firing line. I live in Denver and there are not a lot of places to shoot that would allow use of a chronograph.

Are there any suggestions or thoughts on this?

I would start by loading .45acp and maybe if I buy that Vaquero I have my eye on, . 45 Colt also. I don't think reloading 9mm seems to be cost effective given that I buy 9mm at wally world for about 5.50/50.

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Old October 5, 2002, 09:44 AM   #2
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I've been reloading for about a year now with out one, plan on purchasing one next year. I reload alot of 45 ACP, 40s&w, and 10mm I have not found a need to absolutely know velocity yet. I just watch for the signs of pressure and the accuracy of the rounds. If there not accurate who cares how fast it doesn't get to your point of aim. The real concern is with pressure as this is the determining factor as to where to stop when working up loads. I hope this helps and good shooting.
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Old October 5, 2002, 10:17 AM   #3
Steve Smith
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I think you might be surprised at all the places around you that you CAN use a chrono.
That being said, you don't need one for .45 acp. As long as you are not trying to push the envelope at all, you'll be fine. It is an easy caliber to load for, and definitely on the "safer" side of things. If you are shooting IPSC or IDPA, find a load that the load books say will give you the speed you need, and go with not go over. The Midway loadbook for .45 acp would be a good way to go for this. (this will NOT preclude you reading several books about reloading first"

If you go to an IPSC "big dance" you will find out quick whether your loads are really up to snuff, as you'll probably meet a good frind of mine, "Chronoman" (real name withheld to protect the innocent). Infortunately, he might tell you that your loads are weak and you should go to a corner and cry because you won't be shooting the match. Hopefully, you can meet up with someone who has a chrono before then and get things squared away. I'm not real close to you, or I'd offer mine...I'm sure there's a Denverite that would help.

Again, just for your purposes (.45 acp) you don't need to go out and buy one.
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Old October 5, 2002, 10:35 AM   #4
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True enough, you don't really need one if you're just loading for pistols. You can estimate your velocity by comparing your load to the loadbooks, while noticing for high pressure signs, and differences in recoil etc..

Buy the Chrono. Head west. You'll find a place to use it.

Always put some rounds on paper first before shooting over the chrono, to see where they print or you'll be like me and used to have a chrono...
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Old October 5, 2002, 10:58 AM   #5
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I bought a chrony just to satisfy my "velocity-curiousity", after about 15 yrs of reloading. It really isnt "needed", but is nice for load development, and figuring BC`s, trajectory projections, etc.,
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Old October 5, 2002, 11:41 AM   #6
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To put it in another perspective, have you ever felt the need to chronograph factory loads? If so, you probably need one (because of competition or something like that).

When you first start reloading, it's like learning to cook. You do exactly what the manual (cookbook) says in order to have safe loads (not burn the cake). When you feel like you have a grip on things, you can risk "experimenting" a little. I have been reloading for a few years, and I have never felt the need for a chronograph (again, for pistol). I am pretty conservative. If Speer or Lyman says its a MAX load, I treat it that way. There are some other manuals that have been watered down. DO NOT take that attitude or worry about that at this point! Follow the procedures/guidelines in a reputable, well-known manual, and your loads will be safe.
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Old October 5, 2002, 12:55 PM   #7
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Funny thing is, the more books you have , the less those books agree, and soon you'll just want a chronograph for your sanity.
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Old October 5, 2002, 08:34 PM   #8
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caz223 makes a good point. Its exasperating to find a starting load in one book to be listed as a max load in another book. It can make a guy a little nervous to work up a load for his rifle out of one book to near/max and find data in another book that says oh, you're 2.5 grs over max according to us!

With pistols it usually is not a big deal but with HP rifle cartridges even too light of starting loads can getcha into trouble.

I use 5 different books presently...
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Old October 5, 2002, 09:54 PM   #9
Zak Smith
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You can buy a good chrony for around $100. I have a hard time leaving Sportsmans' Warehouse without spending that much on reloading junk...

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Old October 5, 2002, 11:23 PM   #10
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Find a range that hosts CASS or IPSC events. Most of the ranges will have a chronograph, or know the phone number of a member that has one. Maybe you can get some help that way.
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Old October 6, 2002, 04:26 AM   #11
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I loaded for nearly 20 years before I bought my first chrony...and lived through it.

I only use them now because they are fun to play with.

I load for accuracy and not for maximum velocity.
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Old October 6, 2002, 04:40 AM   #12
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I have a friend who shoots the 600-1000yd games with his Rem 700 in 308. He doesn't have any idea what his muzzle velocity is. He can guess, within + or - 100fps, but that's based on other shooters' values for their loads. He just brings his load to the range and shoots his sight-in shots and adjusts his come-ups. With that method, there's no real reason to buy a chrony unless you absolutely have to know the MV. I agree with the majority; knowing the MV for your 45acp load is not really necessary for good accuracy as long as you're not going out to 100 and 200yd (god forbid!).
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Old October 6, 2002, 08:32 AM   #13
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I did not have a chronograph for the first few years of my reloading career. It was not until the advent of the Shooting Chrony that I could afford such a luxury. I found that if I read and followed the reloading manual's advice and watched for signs of over pressure that I could do just fine. I still watch closely for signs of pressure, the Chrony is just for making sure that I am in the velocity range that I desire for a given load. My goals for reloaded ammunition are as follows; safety, accuracy and desired velocity; in that order.
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Old October 7, 2002, 11:21 AM   #14
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I've been reloading for 9mm for two years without a chrono and have not had any problems. I would judge seat-of-the-pants accuracy to develop my loads.

I just bought a chrono because I want to work up some high velocity loads with light bullets. I also bought it to do load development with .308 when I get into that next year.

The chrono gives you something quantitative to help you evaluate your loads. You can play with the crimp in a series of loads to see what it does to the velocity. OAL, too. What may have seemed like no difference at all by looking at the target may mean a smaller standard deviation in velocity.
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Old October 8, 2002, 02:24 PM   #15
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Reloading without a chronograph, when there is a need for speed (hunting, long range rifle, or combat handguns) is, to borrow Cee-Zed's analogy, like cooking without having anyone taste your food.
A piece of real world anecdotal evidence: Over the weekend, I chronographed a load of 4.5-5.2grs of Titegroup (4.8 is listed as max-don't exceed in your gun unless carefully tested first!). The max load specified about 800fps with a 230gr bullet. I got 600fps with that listed max load! I had to go up nearly 10% above max before I reached the velocity that the book listed.
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