Working in an industry where new gadgets and guns continuously find their way to the forefront of people’s web browsers or laid out in front of us in magazines aka ” our radars” regularly, this piece of gear could not have been stood out more. We are a few who are constantly on the lookout for cool products that fit our way of life while proving to be hyper efficient in how we carry out the “rigors” [sarcasm] of testing guns. For the better part of a decade, we have concreted our method of testing firearms almost to a point of automation. We have what we consider nonnegotiables when writing about such products; ballistics, accuracy and practical use courses of fire…in that order are what we feel bring the best information forward for honest and straight up reviews. We have a specific way of recording data, measured through specific equipment. Yes, admittedly we have been shooting through very restrictive windows, pen and inking our results and on a few occasions straight up murdered the equipment we were using by rookie mistakes of failing to compensate for barrel sight offset and relationship. We achieved this ultimate display of Darwinism partly by having our heads inserted up our own butts, and partly because we were trying to do too many things at once [gather ballistic information while shooting for accuracy]. Until a few weeks ago, we expended more ammo than we needed by compartmentalizing ballistics and accuracy. During a conversation with Sean, he suggested that we put LabRadar to the test and record how functional it was and determine whether or not it could be used in our day to day testing procedures. Well, we did, and there are no plans of looking back anytime soon!
Ballistics and Accuracy
Tied into one iteration of fire. LabRadar has paved the way for shooters, reloaders and writers alike, to gather accurate data while expending less ammo. Yes, that means the difference can be used for other articles, accommodating for tweaks to hand loads, or used for crucial training.
With the more traditional chronographs, gathering ballistic data should only take 5 rounds, however, the sun, the reflection of the bullet and optical sensors are key factors in achieving your desired end state. More times than not; 5 rounds quickly turns into 10 and 15 because lighting conditions were not optimal given your location or weather.
LabRadar brought to market a digital chronograph that can literally be employed in any weather condition with virtually any weapon system…ballistic or not; archery included. The LabRader chronograph uses Doppler technology to detect the projectiles standard external ballistics. All standard velocities and spreads with a deviation are recorded at which ever distance the user chooses. Professionals require different data for different loads, guns or application. The LabRadar can record data from the muzzle to target [up to 100 yards] with ease.
LabRadar In Use
We would be doing you a disservice by saying out of the box our experience with the system did not come with some frustrations. That said, the frustrations we experienced were completely self-imposed by not reading the detailed user manual and taking the time to fully understand the unit’s capabilities.
Before we started recording data, the system required some input from our end to establish a baseline. We quickly learned that aligning the units [what WE call] aiming stake or notch at your target is priority number one. It is imperative that you correctly line up your unit with your target, using your dominant eye. Next, the system needs to know what type of firearm you will be shooting so it knows how quickly to track projectiles. This should be an assumed statement but we all know what happens when we assume…If you’re shooting a rifle, select the option that says rifle. In turn, the unit will display a rifle at the very top of the screen. The only caveat to this is if you’re testing a pistol caliber carbine such as an MP5 or MPX. Though you are shooting from the shoulder, the bullet going down range is a pistol caliber round; select the appropriate weapon type. Yes, the system uses doppler radar, however, there is an option for trigger source. Basically, how the system starts tracking…Some popular [or not so popular] YouTubers had the unit set to “doppler” while shooting, and quickly slammed the unit for not working properly…if you’re shooting Sub or Supersonic ammo, set your trigger to “trigger”. Transonic projectiles [anything slower] should be used with the doppler setting.
Next, select the target distance and you are virtually set up. The mistake we made initially was going in and “fat fingering” buttons for the sake of pressing them. The information we require starts and stops with velocities, deviations, and spreads. The system comes out of the box ready to record shots if you stick with those standards. Should you be interested in Kinetic energy [Ke] readings, this is where you input the bullet weight, again, this would be information [for our end use] that is pertinent to testing ammo but for the reviews we used the LabRadar for, Ke was more good to have rather than need to have information. Last, by selecting the target distance; you are virtually set up and ready to shoot. Now is a good time to ensure that the unit is still aligned with the target you are engaging.
Once you have the unit lined up with your target and distance(s) set, once you press the reticle button below the power, ensure that the blue light turns amber and you’re ready to collect data. We squeezed off the first round through the Rock River LAR-8 and the LabRadar lit up but displayed an error code, that read “unable to track projectile”. We selected enter by pressing the check marked button and squeezed off another round…only to depict the same error code. By process of elimination, we checked the alignment of the unit only to discover that it shifted. We were set up, prone and on flat concrete so the only reasonable explanation was that the unit was too close to the muzzle of the .308 so when we discharged the rifle the pressure shifted the unit. We removed the unit from the bench stand and installed it to a tripod, realigned the unit and squeezed off 5 rounds which resulted in our desired response from the radar; 5 accurate readings while recording shot placement. Should you experience similar readings, make sure that the muzzle blast is not throwing the alignment of the unit off during or after shooting. This is no different than shooting too high or low through the optical sensor chronographs.
Again, we cannot be more blatant in saying that proper alignment of the radar to the target is imperative to accurate data. Save yourself the frustration in sifting through youtube channels blistered with conjecture and personal opinion and go straight to the source and watch a couple very short videos on setting up and using the system.
We purchased our LabRadar with a bench stand that included a tilting ball head. From our initial set up hiccups, our advice would be to spend an additional 20 bucks at check out and buy the Weifang tripod, it will save on set up times and virtually eliminates the potential for shooting too close to the unit per our experience. Should you wish to use the unit for transonic projectiles, the bench stand is about as optimal as you can get. We immediately removed the unit from the base and fixed it to the top of our Manfroto tripod to alleviate any chance for more error codes. Dabbling in photography, we have tripods laying around that are not being used…otherwise we would have purhcased one from Labradar.
Powering the lab radar is 100% cordless. The device uses smart technology like that of a cell phone. It will only pull as much power from 6 AA batteries as it needs to run the device. If you are skeptical on alkaline batteries as we are, the device is compatible with lithium batteries as well. If you’re a tin foil hat guy…or gal, the system can be powered from an external battery source too. In any case, we had about 4 hours of continuous life from regular [off brand] alkaline batteries and 9 ½ hours of continuous life with Energizer lithium batteries. Another misconception we heard on one of these YouTuber channels is that the unit sucks the life out of batteries…well, during this “review” there was snow on the ground. IF you dont know [not insulting intelligence] cold weather greatly effects battery life, if you are in the dead of winter, pack some additional batteries.
We did not test the external source simply because we are notorious for having great intentions with them, but after an initial charge, they don’t get used and end up in a junk drawer!
One of the most time consuming and redundant aspects of traditional chronographs are the copying of information in real time. In our case, with the window and optical sensor driven chronys, we would shoot five rounds, then go through the strings and copy the info down into our notebook…THREE times…The LabRadar stores its data on an SD memory card. We purchased an 8GB card with the unit which has proven to be efficient. Depending on how frequently you shoot, larger sized cards are available upon check out from LabRadar. No matter the card size, brand or other vaiables All data stored is in a .csv file so not only is the system cordless it’s also paperless. If you have an excel program on your computer, simply insert the SD card, and drag the file onto your computer for future use. We like to see what we are doing. The LabRadar unit is equipped with a 3.5″ LED display screen that is bright and as clear as a bell!
There are plenty of negative reviews on this product out there, We have not read and watched them all, but having used this product, and having experienced issues that were brought on by a flippant/overzealous ambition to use the product, these reviews were simply done by those who made the same mistakes we did, going too fast and not taking heed to the very informative instruction manual which is included. By employing this system, it has made a huge difference in time and money [for ammunition] as it pertains to our testing methods. Yes, it is pricey, compared to other optically functioned chronographs. The return may not be immediate but depending on how much you shoot the money will be made up in saved ammunition. Remember, we are just one catastrophe away from another “Great ammo shortage of 2012/2013”.
By employing this system, it has made a huge difference in time and money [for ammunition] as it pertains to our testing methods. Yes, it is more expensive, compared to optically functioned chronographs. The return may not be immediate but depending on how much you shoot, your time is money and the money will be made up in saved ammunition. Remember, we are just one catastrophe away from another “Great ammo shortage of 2012/2013”.
If you’re in the market for a more efficient way to test, evaluate and gather data in the shooting sports, LabRadar was the system for us, and it may be for you too. This unit may not be for everyone, and we are by no means suggesting so. We are attesting to the fact that the system changed our gun testing lives!
LabRadar Chronograph Vital Data
|Range||Muzzle – 100 yards|
|Firearm||Pistol, Rifle, Archery|
|Power||6 AA Alkaline/Lithium Batteries|
|Memory||Removable SD storage|
|Mounting||Swivel ball head compatible|