If you work on airsoft or paintball guns, one of the most important tools you can have on your workbench is a chronograph. A chronograph is an instrument which measures the velocity of a projectile. It is critical to know the velocity of an airsoft bb or paintball in order to determine if the gun is shooting too slow or too fast. A gun that shoots too fast will be dangerous on the field, while a gun that shoots too slow will place the player at a tactical disadvantage.
There are different types of chronographs that will work for airsoft or paintball. Some chronographs which are made for measuring firearms will also work for airsoft and paintball guns.
How a chronograph works
There are two basic technologies used in shooting chronographs: distance/time devices and radar devices.
A radar based shooting chronograph uses radio waves and the doppler effect to determine velocity. There are only a few brands of radar type shooting chronographs available.
A distance/time chronograph is able to measure the velocity of a projectile as the projectile passes through the sensor area of the chronograph. The distance/time chronograph is the more popular style of shooting chronograph. Since this type is more popular, we will discuss it in more detail.
The sensor area of a distance/time chronograph may be a tube that goes through the device, a space above the device or an area between a pair of strong wires shaped like a V on top of the device. In each case, there are two sensors. The first sensor that the projectile crosses is the entry sensor and the next sensor is the exit sensor.
Regardless of the design, the chronograph uses a precision timer and sensitive electronics to determine when the projectile enters the sensor area and when the projectile exits the sensor area. The distance between the entry sensor and the exit sensor is constant and pre-programmed into the devices internal computer. When the projectile crosses the entry sensor, the device begins a timer which counts how long it takes for the projectile to cross the exit sensor. Once the projectile crosses the exit sensor, a little computer in the chronograph determines the transit time and uses the distance between the entry and exit sensors to calculate the velocity of the projectile.
After the projectile velocity has been determined, the chronograph can then display it to the user.
The XCORTECH X3200 chronograph
The XCORTECH X3200 is a versatile shooting chronograph for airsoft bb’s. While you might be able to use it for paintballs, the sensor tube might be a bit tight. The X3200 offers a number of advanced features in a very small package.
The X3200 is a sensor tube style shooting chronograph which includes a screw on, aluminum flash-hider tube. The flash-hider adapter allows the user to accurately position the gun muzzle even when using a flash-hider or silencer.
One of the best features of the X3200 is the large, backlit, multi-function LCD display. The display shows Velocity, Rate of Fire and Energy at the same time.
Here is a list of the features:
- Velocity range from 0-450 feet per second (or meters per second)
- Rate of fire calculation (Rounds per second)
- Delivered energy calculation (Joules)
- Large backlit, multi-function LCD screen
- Memory for 6 bb weights
- Very compact
- Powered by 4 AAA batteries. Works fine with NiMH rechargeable batteries
- Not affected by ambient light (unlike some other chronographs)
- Auto power off (to save battery power)
- Standard camera mount hole on the bottom (allows mounting on a camera tripod)
If you work on airsoft guns, facilitate airsoft games or just want to know how well your airsoft gun is firing, this chronograph is the perfect unit for you. While it is not the cheapest chronograph out there, it is also not the most expensive. The feature set is more than adequate and the performance of the unit is great.
As a comparison, I have rounded up links to other shooting chronographs. I purchased my X3200 from Amazon.com about 3 months ago and have had no problems with it.