Caldwell Ballistic Precision Chronograph

By Dr. Jim and Mary Clary

Caldwell Ballistic Precision Chronograph.
Illustration courtesy of Caldwell Shooting Supplies.

Why should you consider buying a new chronograph when the one that you already have seems to work just fine? Putting aside the idea that it works fine and is still accurate, the answer is simple. Why did we trade in our old cell phones for one of the newer smart phones? Technology! We wanted the most up-to-date equipment with more versatility and convenience. The same line of reasoning applies to chronographs.

We have been using our chronograph for ten years. We have assumed that it's level of accuracy has remained the same and were satisfied with its performance. That was until we asked a friend to compare the results from his new chronograph with ours, side-by-side. Surprise, surprise, they were not the same. His machine has just been factory calibrated and ours, well, over ten years of use it had lost almost 15% in accuracy.

Because we do a lot of chronograph testing in preparing our target rounds, as well in testing new powder/bullet/rifle combinations, we determined that a new chronograph was in order. We wanted one that was accurate, but one that would not bust our budget. With that in mind, we ordered the new Caldwell Ballistic Precision chronograph.

The first thing that caught our attention with this machine is the use of a high speed 48 MHz processor that is coupled with a very sophisticated data interface. Translated, that means that the chronograph can be computer calibrated at the factory after assembly to guarantee an accuracy of +/- 0.25%. That by itself, was enough to convince us that we made the right decision.

However, it got better. Unlike some of the other chronographs on the market that required one to buy an extra piece of equipment to print out the results, the Caldwell chronograph comes with a 15 foot audio jack cord that plugs into an iPhone, iPad or Android 4G phone. With the free Caldwell App downloaded, the chronograph delivers the shot string velocity data directly to your phone. The App automatically calculates the average velocity, standard deviation, maximum and minimum velocity and spread. The App also allows you to add notes to the file after it is in your phone.

Oh yes, almost forgot: you can record in metric or standard units and add your zip code into the system. That is really cool! To get the App, go to either the Play Store on your phone or the Caldwell website ( and download: Caldwell Ballistic Precision Chronometer.

We also decided to test the claim that the Caldwell was capable of measuring velocities from 5 fps to 9,999 fps. Since we don't have access to a rail gun, we could not test the upper end, but we did want to find out if it would record slower speeds and smaller projectiles. The reason for that is when we were testing air guns a couple of years ago, our Chrony would not register any readings for the 5 grain pellets and it was very sporadic for arrows shot from our compound bow.

We set up the chronograph and fired a string of five pellets. Bingo, it worked!

We repeated our tests with a 55 pound draw weight compound bow and it recorded a consistent velocity of 242 fps (+/- 7.0 fps). We don't own any paintball guns, but feel confident that this machine will record their velocities, as well.

The Caldwell basic chronograph includes:

  • Operates on a 9 volt battery (not included)
  • Two wide sun screens for added shading in full sunlight
  • 2014 MSRP: $99.99

For an extra $50 you can buy the premium kit, which we highly recommend. This kit includes all of the above and:

  • 1/4-20 threaded insert on the bottom for tripod mounting
  • Two IR LED sun screens low light and indoor use
  • 36 IR LEDs in each strip with 1 red LED indicating power
  • 110 volt AC adaptor included for LED strips
  • 4-AA battery pack for LED strips
  • Tripod adjustable from 15" to 42"
  • Carrying case for the chronograph and all components

The supplied carrying case is really convenient and well made, with a dual zipper design. Caldwell recommends that if you intend to utilize the IR LED strips for an extended period, plug in the 110 volt adaptor, as the IR LED lights will rapidly suck AA batteries dry.

The only criticism that we have with the machine is that in order to record a shot string, you must hook it up to your iPhone, iPad or Android phone. Otherwise, it will simply record single shot velocities each time. It does not keep an internal record for recall via a button on the machine. However, that is a minor point, as most shooters who want a permanent record of their chronograph results will probably have current generation cell phones.

With an MSRP of $149.99, the Caldwell Ballistic Chronograph premium kit is an excellent buy. It appears to be well made and should provide years of accurate service.

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Copyright 2014 by Jim and Mary Clary and/or All rights reserved.