I want to start out and say, I have a bunch of worthwhile chronographs. Everything from the Oehler 35P to the PVM–21, a CED-M2 and my personal favorite the MagnetoSpeed V3. I believe in using a chronograph as a precision rifle shooter. Especially when using ballistic software. So when I read about the LabRadar personal Doppler unit coming on the market, I signed up immediately. It was a long wait, but on April 5th I received my shipping notice.
The unit is not very big and it’s quite light. It’s well made and I like the orange and black coloring. On the back is a small B&W screen where you input and review your data. It takes 6 AA batteries or plugs into a computer via a USB port to power. I suspect you can use a USB Battery pack to power device also, but I have not tested that yet. I was too excited and just wanted to try it on the range. My initial thought was to compare it to the MagnetoSpeed V3.
This is my personal favorite chronograph. I hate setting up screens, and I don’t like having to manage light conditions. Every month I teach class at the Trigger Time Gun Club indoor range and being able to use the MagnetoSpeed indoors with very little effort is a great way of doing business. The fact the LabRadar does not have to worry about light is also a huge plus. If it works inside, it will make my job even easier.
The MagnetoSpeeds have their drawback, especially for reloaders because you have to attach it to the barrel. The V3 model will work with a suppressor, something the V1 did not do, so that is an added benefit as most of my students run suppressors. With some rifles when you attach the MagnetoSpeed you will see a change in impact, normally high if the unit is on straight. This is a point of contention with people doing load development because they feel the unit will also effect accuracy. I am not saying it can’t, it would depend on the rifle, barrel, etc… but I have not seen any adverse accuracy effects, only movement in the POI.
Accuracy wise I find the MagentoSpeed to be extremely accurate with no tweaking necessary. There are different settings under the hood, and the software is very straight forward. It gives you solid results with very little down time and effort. Also it’s great you don’t have to move out in front of the firing line to set the unit up, but you do have to get it on the muzzle.
In this comparison, I started out using the Wilson Combat Recon 308, initially the data port was blocked by my bipod and I had to turn the unit to work. This angle did move my impact, so it does happen. Groups were typical, and there were no ill effects when it comes to the readings. They just shifted left about 1".
The LabRadar - Personal Doppler
This unit does take a bit of time of set up, once you set it, there is not a lot you have to do, unless you change things like Bullet weight, or type of firearm. (Handgun vs Rifle) It’s also designed for things like Archery so some of the settings are geared towards that sport. I can foresee V2 of the LabRadar revolving around the precision rifle as long as the government let’s them up the power. The literature states that for a 7.62mm rifle it will read the Muzzle Velocity out to 100 yards. More on that later.
I went through the manual the night before and set up the up software trying to familiarize myself with the controls. It’s not very difficult, but does take a bit of time. About as much effort as setting up your Internet Ready TV. There is a well laid out preference menu and the hardest part was going from 32grs to 167r .1gr at a time. It was easily more than minute with my finger on the button, no big deal. I highly recommend reading the manual as my first impression was to set the “Trigger” to “Doppler” and after reading the manual it advises you not to do that. There is a internal microphone which triggers the device upon firing. It says the active Doppler setting is for big, slow objects, I am guessing it means arrows. The nice part of the software is the weapon icon, it let’s you know visually what you are set up for as this controls the MV range and sensitivity too.
You can easily rundown the preferences and using the manual set each one to best suit your needs. The manual does a good job explaining and recommending the proper settings.
What their website says you can expect:
What range performance can one expect with LabRadar??In general LabRadar will typically measure the velocity of a 7.62 mm projectile from muzzle up to 100 yards. After extensive testing of a variety of calibers you can expect to obtain velocities at these distances when in the Standard Power Mode. Low Power setting will have about 30% less tracking. .177 Pellet - 30 yards; .177 BB - 30 yards; 22 LR - 60 yards; 223 - 60 yards; 270 - 70 yards; 308 - 80 to 100 yards; 9mm - 130 yards; 40 S&W - 130 yards; 45 ACP - 130 yards; 500 S&W - 130 yards; 12 gauge Slug - 90 yards; Paint Ball - 50 yards; Arrows - 50 yards; * Since every bullet has a different profile your results may vary. In general, the larger the base (excluding the boat tail) the great the distance the projectile can be acquired*.
I note this for a reason which will be clear later.
Initial Testing on the Range
The first thing I did was use a new Wilson Combat Recon 308, 18” Barrel with Lapua 167gr Bullets. I would us the LabRadar and MagnetoSpeed together to compare the results. One programming note, the LabRadar gives you a place in the preferences to set multiple ranges where the unit will read. The first I set to 10 yards, then 20 yards, 30, 45, and 72 yards. According to the manual, it was supposed to be accurate from 80 to 100 yards depending on conditions so I felt 72 was a safe bet. It also has a place to set bullet weight, and I did set it for 167gr but I did not change it to 230r when I shot my GAP 300NM. I wanted to see what it said ?
When running the two units together, I found the results tracked spot on with each other. There was less than 10fps difference between the two and this load in this rifle had more than 10fps of deviation to begin with. Results showed 2577fps vs 2583fps as an example. Not enough to matter.
The nice thing with the LabRadar, especially if you reload, it’s off out of the way. You set the distance from the unit to the muzzle, closer being better, and then just hit the “Arm” button and shoot. You have to aim the device towards the target and it does appear the cone is pretty narrow, which I would hope will help guys on public ranges. But overall my initial experience was outstanding. Fire and forget it.
The Stats available are:
- Average Velocity
- Extreme Spread
- STD Deviation
Number of Shots
I still have to work through the Review process, it’s not as straight forward as it could be, but it works. I just need more time with it.In the Results Field you get the velocities read for each yard line you designated up front. There were several strings where the 72 yard line did not read. It was blank, so I will note that as one limitation. It was not consistent past 45 yards, which I plan on changing to 50 moving forward.
Triggering of the unit with the Wilson Combat was no problem. The unit is placed slightly behind the muzzle and just off the side. Under these conditions I had the power sensitivity on 2. There are 5 settings, with 1 being the highest and 5 being the lowest. This is designed to help you block out other shooters on the firing line.
GAP 300NM with AAC Suppressor
Next I shot my GAP 300NM which is suppressed. I must say this suppressor is very effective and turns this rifle in to a pussy cat. So now to see how the unit worked with a suppressed rifle.
I was set up with the unit about 18 inches from the muzzle, just slightly behind and when I fired my first two shots the unit did not register any readings. So I went into the preferences and moved the sensitivity to the highest settings, number 1. This worked and I was able to successfully register the shots on the LabRadar.
If you shoot a public range, and you plan on going suppressed, I would recommend getting as far away from everyone as possible. The unit can receive firmware updates so hopefully they can address the trigger via firmware because I would want a suppressor on a 300 Norma Magnum to at least read on the second from the highest setting.
I have to say I like this unit, I am not sure if I am sold on it as much as I am sold on the MagnetoSpeed considering the price difference, but for those guys who do a lot of load development, or don’t want anything on their rifles, this is the ticket. This unit was purchased with their padded case for $600. I have no idea if that is the final retail price. I purchased thinking it was, and based on one day at the range, it does perform as advertised. I can see some minor tweaks happening and hopefully they all (or most) happen via a Firmware update, I wouldn’t want to buy V1 and then have V2 knock it out the park. But the LabRadar will definitely lay the ground work to replace all Light Reading Chronographs moving forward. Why would you buy a unit that is light dependent when you have these two options available.
The read out is visible from behind the rifle. It wasn’t bright sun, more like Mostly Cloudy, but I could see the MV from behind the Rifle without moving. I did insert an SD Card but I don’t believe it was registering as I saw no way to format and in their video they had a format card preference so I will try a different one. Still there is an internal memory. The site also lists Bluetooth and iPhone / iPad connectivity but nothing about that was found ? The nice thing, you can place the unit off to your support side, arm it before you start and it’s out of the way. Just let it do it thing and review after.
I don’t believe those who want to put it downrange to get readings at 500+ yards will be able too. I see no way to trigger it and the triggering is on a timer once it is armed. So you cannot remotely control it, or remotely get it to fire the radar out. It’s not actively sending out a signal.
The MagnetoSpeed is nearly 1/2 the cost, so you have to decide which unit is for you. The LabRadar definitely has a Cool Factor, and time will certainly tell the tale better than I can. This was after just one morning, so take it for it is, an initial impression. I did find it easy to use, and enjoyed not having to do much more beyond hitting the arm button.
I plan on using it at my next class indoors to see how it works there ? As this was far from the end, and just the beginning of my relationship with this personal radar unit.
The MagnetoSpeed is available through dealer like Mile High Shooting Accessories, MagnetoSpeed At Mile High Shooting