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When it came time to set up the M2 at the range, the one thing I noticed during
assembly was that the sensors and mounting bracket were a little "lighter
weight" than the same components on my old PACT chronograph. This doesn't
mean they are lower quality....but it was just something that I picked up on.
The proof will be in how well the sensors pick up the bullets when I start
I used the same quick release tripod adapter that I had used on the PACT sky
screen assembly. This makes it easy to mount/attach the sensor mounting
bracket to the tripod with no need to play around with a thumb screw.
Sensor #1 (start) was positioned just under 15' from the edge of the shooting
bench. Before I forget, I found this distance to be more than sufficient
regarding any muzzle blast causing sensor errors (using my FNAR .308 Win).
On my next range trip, I'll try it set at a 10' distance to see how that works.
I was running 10' on my old chronograph.
A view from the shooter's perspective.....setup and ready to go. If you
are a new chronograph user, be sure you verify the sensor height/position in
regards to the bullet's travel path. If using an optic, what you see
in the scope isn't the real height where the bullet is going to pass through the
chronograph. The barrel is an inch or two lower than the centerline of the
scope. To insure I have proper alignment, I set the rifle on my sand bags,
put my rear bag under the stock, and aligh the rifle on the target. I then
move off about 20' to the either side and verify the bullet's path (when it
leaves the barrel) is above the sensors. I prefer to put my bullets about
4 to 5 inches above the sensors and this has worked well for me. One can
use a bit of blue painters tape to make a couple of stripes on the first pair of
side rails. Make the tape appropriately high on the rails, so it allows
one to align the cross hairs (with the scope on its lowest power) with the blue
tape when the scope is pointed in on the target's bullseye. By raising or
lowering the tripod, the tape can be easily aligned with the crosshairs which
puts the sensors in their proper position....safely below the bullet's path.
With the tripod properly positioned (to ensure a long and happy sensor life), the only thing left is to plug the sensor cables into the rear panel of the main unit. Here is where a little bit of blue painter's tape works nicely too. Mark the start sensor cable at the sensor end and at the main unit end. It will save you a wasted shot from having the start and stop cables plugged into the wrong rear panel jacks.
Once everything is setup and plugged in, the power on/off button brings the main
unit to life. The screen powers up and it's time to send rounds down range
(through the sky screens of course). There are no other buttons to press
at that point in time. Pull the trigger, the velocity appears on the
screen. In my case, I was shooting some 5 shot groups (trying out a load
and as well as the M2). After each 5 shot group, I pressed the STO button
on the keypad. This caused the 5 shot string to be stored in memory and
given a numerical string designator (1, 2, 3, etc.) This string can then
be recalled and reviewed.
After getting back home, I plugged the main unit into my laptop after I loaded the Chronograph Data Collector software. Using the supplied cable, the main unit immediately powered up once both ends of the cable were connected. The only thing to do then was to click the "Download Chron Data" button.
In the above screen capture, you can see a couple of 5 shot strings from two different rifles. String #9 is for a .223 Rem load and string #9 was for a .308 Win load. The software supports exporting the data in a couple of different formats. One will work pretty good in an Excel spreadsheet....and once there, it is easy enough to move around if necessary.
While my first impressions with the mounting bracket weren't so good, I must admit that the CED M2 does exactly what it is suppose to do.....measure bullet velocity. During its first range trip, I ran six groups of 5 shots each across the sensors. It never failed to catch each bullet. I might add that a .223 40 gr bullet doesn't make for a very big footprint, especially when moving along at 3200+ FPS. 30 velocities out of 30 shots is likely not an amazing record, but it was my first trip with a new chronograph which certainly increases the chances of operator error and thus a missed shot.
The sun's track this time of year (November) is lower in the sky and so there isn't optimum sun position compared to summer time shooting. None the less, no missed shots. It was bright and sunny....a typical Arizona day except that the temps were a nice 60F, perfect for shooting now that summer is gone. I shot from about 9:00 AM until about 12:30 PM.
Compared to my PACT chrono, several things are apparent. The M2 doesn't seem to have a big appetite for 9V batteries like my PACT chronograph did. The M2's display is much larger and so is easier to read.....and if you need reading glasses, leave them at home. If you don't want to read the display, hit the speak button.....1.5 seconds after the velocity is recorded, it will announce it for you so you don't have to break a cheek weld to look at your last velocity.
The M2 will also calculate Power Factor for those of you that compete in matches were that makes a difference. It is my understanding that a number of groups use these at their higher end matches to determine PF of your load. That says something in itself.
There is a 2 year parts and labor warranty and a 30 day money back guarantee
should be buy it and then find it not to your liking. As with anything,
time will tell how good it is....but right now, it's off to a pretty good start.
I look forward to more range sessions.