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Is it necessary to know your velocity for big-game hunting?

  • Yes

    Votes: 16 32.7%
  • No

    Votes: 33 67.3%
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Discussion Starter #1
I'm curious how many of us who hunt big-game with our rifles (not varmint or target guns) worry about knowing how fast their bullets are going? Do you feel it is truly necessary for hunters to know the velocity they are getting from a given cartridge/bullet combination, or is it just an extra piece of information that is not at all required for 95% of big-game hunting?
 

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Ball park is all you need for hunting. That will be given with a particular load for the test barrel used. In rifles you can add and subtract approx. 100 fps per inch and have a ball park velocity. On game different bullets perform in different ways so knowing the velocity of your round would just be one variable in projectile performance that you would have hard data on. Since lots of testing has been done to do this for you, other variables tested would provide info you don't have already.

That made no sense to me either. But I said it and I'm sticking to it. I am 200 fps second off with my chrony numbers right now on my hunting loads. I bet it is the way I have my crony set up or something else and not my round. I bet the bullets perform the same but I can't wait to see. Old rounds and new shoot to same point of aim at 100 yds., in two different rifles. I have been blowing screens off regular so I am too close and this is probably my problem. It's time to go hunting now, so forget it for now. Problems are for the off season.
 

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Necessary? No. Among the folks at the hunting club where I hunt, I highly doubt any of them owns a chonograph. Most of them are old timers. They know more or less how much drop their bullet has at various distances, and they have learned what "hold over" to use at different ranges. Of course, 300 yards is a long shot to them.

Also, as has been said earlier, knowing the approximate velocity is good enough for calculating trajectories at normal hunting ranges. A couple hundred fps difference does not effect the results greatly.

On the other hand, if you are hunting at longer ranges, say 500 yards and beyond, it becomes critical.
 

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I have no idea why you would. Accuracy is all that matters. Whether a .30-06 slug is going 2800fps, or 2750fps, or 2700fps at the muzzle is totally irrelevant for hunting. The game will notice no difference. Consistency is the key. Your groups will tell you whether they are consistent or not. As far as trajectory at long range, you need to practice at long range if you intend to take long range shots on game. The results of this practice will tell you all you need to know about the trajectory - more than any computer or ballistic chart will.

I think chronys are fun and interesting, but totally unnecessary for hunting applications.
 

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I have wondered the same thing and posted last year on the necessity of a chronograph. I still don;t own one :D

Isn;t generated energy at a given distance calculated from the velocity at that distance (along with bullet design and weight, of course)? I don;t know - I'm asking. Even so, I think I have to agree with those who say a chrony is not critical. Accuracy, in my opinion and as others said, seems the more important issue as the velocity and energy should only vary by a 100fps or fp, more or less.

Now, using a chronograph to develop a hunting load that has the highest velocity (and thusly the highest energy) is ideal, I would think, as long as the load is consistently accurate. But what bad might come of it if you never knew where it would impact.....consistently?
 

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Not necessary.

Shooting your rifle and load at 100, 150, 200, 250, 300 yards will tell you more about what you really need to know. Once you obtain precision you can then obtain accuracy. They are fun but I can tell you 1st hand trying to squeeze an extra 100fps or less out of a round vs focusing on precision for 99% of all practical hunting distances is just more fluff that you can enjoy doing but not required.

good luck
GF

p.s. Millions of hunters every year prove it is not necessary
 

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Matching the bullet to the game, minor range time to check the sights and verify the +/- at the expected target distance, then jot down or commit to memory the manufacturer's bullet drop at the max distance that might unexpectedly present itself at your hunting destination.
 

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Not really NECESSARY, but.............

Sure is fun to know just how the cartridge, either factory or handloaded, is performing in your individual rifle. Have owned 5 chronographs in my time and still set it up when trying out a new load or wanting to verify an older one. Takes a lot of doubt and second guessing out of the hunting process when you know what's going on with the rifle/cartridge combination.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I've had a chronograph for the last 20 years, or so, and have enjoyed knowing more about the rounds I handload. Oddly, I have discovered that while most loads with a low standard deviation are typically very accurate, I've found other accurate loads where the SD was not terribly impressive.

There are many modern, high-velocity cartridges that will drive bullets from ~100-300 grains, to velocities between 2700 and 3200 feet per second. Examples include everything from the 243 Winchester up to 375 magnums. When hunting with cartridges like these, all you really need to do is choose a well-constructed bullet and sight in 3 inches high at 100 yards. If your shot opportunity comes at 300 yards, or less, the exact velocity of your round just doesn't matter. Furthermore, all the chronograph data in the world doesn't mean much if you don't actually SHOOT your gun at longer yardages. If you practice at those yardages, such that you know how your bullets will drop when sighted in 3" high at 100, velocity of those rounds makes no difference. All you really need to know is where they actually hit at various yardages, because you've already practiced those shots.

If you are hunting something other than big-game, at more than 300 yards, it becomes almost essential to have a chronograph, in addition to practicing those long-range shots.
 

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If you don't use a Chronograph you are most likely handloading substandard ammo. The holy grail for Handloading is accuracy with the best optimal velocity at a cheaper price then factory ammo. Without a chronograph you are only guessing at the velocity, and you can not go by loading manual velocity numbers, as every rifle is a law unto itself. Chronos are cheap, anyone who handloads needs to have one, if for no other reason then to make sure there loads are within reason of public load data. I also use it to see if there is any difference in a new batch of powder/different lot numbers, you would be surprised how much difference there can be between different lot numbers, today it is better then it was 10 years ago for lot to lot consistency.
 

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I just had to get a chronograph when the electronic ones came out. It worked ok and I used it. I have bought a couple more since then and now I have an Oehler. I don't use it much anymore. Its a bother to set up and while some find the extra data useful I don't.

Years ago (I started handloading in 1953), I made one using the ballistic pendulum principle. You hang a log from a rope, shoot into it and measure how much it moves!

 

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If you don't use a Chronograph you are most likely handloading substandard ammo...
Manufacturers go to great pains with powder, bullets, brass, primers, and published data to present accurate information -- it should and must be trusted. Manufactured ammo will perform very close to its published data, and handloaded ammo, using published data, will perform close to published if all the components are either new or well maintained and protected from deterioration. What should always be considered as substandard ammo, is any ammo you might be tempted to shoot that was handloaded by someone else, whether they used a chronograph or not.
 

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Manufacturers go to great pains with powder, bullets, brass, primers, and published data to present accurate information -- it should and must be trusted. .
You should get a chronograph.

Manufacturer's ammo can be trusted to be safe, but it often does not live up to the published data. The only way you can find out what it actually does in any specific gun, is to chronograph it. Often I have found that new gun owners will be very disappointed when they run their GeeWhizBang caliber over a chronograph and find it is really not nearly as whizbang as they thought.
 

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Using a chonograph tells you what your trajectory SHOULD be. The balistic coefficient changes some with velocity. Actually shooting at various yardage will tell you exactly what your trajectory is. A chronograph is nice to have, but by no means a must.
 

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I don't shoot other peoples handloaded ammo, I very, very seldom shoot factory ammo, I have a 243 that I do not load for yet, it's not shot all that much and when I bought ammo, I bought ten box's and have 8 left.

You don't need a chrono to make handloads to hunt big game, But! if you want the best you can be with the handloaded cartridge and rifle you choose to hunt with, then a chrono is a must have.

A Chronograph has made many a man cry about there whizbangmagnum, I had a man come up to me at a Colorado shooting range (Mile High, Now theres million dollars houses there) with his 300weatherby shooting 180gr bullets, he told me tails of raygun trajectory, and hammer of thor death from his 300WBY, I was working up loads for my 350RM, he just had to show me how fast (per his loading manual) his raygun was moving, the poor guy found out his 300WBY was nothiing more then a 3006. He was convinced my chronograph was in error! denile is bliss!
 

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Guys Broom's poll was is it necessary. Had he said is it optimal the poll may show a different response. I surely could argue that my chronograph is a good tool, and fun. I also agree that from practical experience most factory loads as listed in the manuals come in under what they are published. If you really want to do yourself a favor go read the sticky on pressure signs in the handloading forum before using a chronograph.

I know a lot of very good big game hunters that open a box of 06 or 270 shells every year that have no clue how fast the bullet is really traveling, or care. They know what their tool does and only that it is a required part of their passion to hunt big game. So if I read nothing into the poll question the answer from my view point is pretty straight forward.

Good luck
GF
 

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I don't think it's necessary, but I've had fun with mine.

I got by just fine without one for many years. When I started handloading I borrowed one. I found out that my handloads from a 22" barrel (270) were getting very near the published velocity, so I didn't feel I needed to own one. When I bought a 16.5" barrelled gun, I decided I needed to know how much velocity I was losing. It helped for that, and also now that I'm working up a load for my grand kids, it's very helpful in developing loads that both don't kick much, but also have enough velocity to be effective on deer down range.

And as someone above mentioned, I found that the loads with the smallest SD of velocity weren't always the most accurate. Not sure why, except that velocity isn't the end-all in accuracy. Bullet seating depth, quality of bullets, whatever.
 

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I voted no. A chronograph is definately not nessecary for hujnting I have as well as millions of other taken game without a hitch long before I ever bought my first chronograph. For the average hunter the only thing that is needed is to know how to shoot your weapon of choice accurately and this comes from practice, not a chronograph
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
If you don't use a Chronograph you are most likely handloading substandard ammo. The holy grail for Handloading is accuracy with the best optimal velocity at a cheaper price then factory ammo. Without a chronograph you are only guessing at the velocity, and you can not go by loading manual velocity numbers, as every rifle is a law unto itself. Chronos are cheap, anyone who handloads needs to have one, if for no other reason then to make sure there loads are within reason of public load data. I also use it to see if there is any difference in a new batch of powder/different lot numbers, you would be surprised how much difference there can be between different lot numbers, today it is better then it was 10 years ago for lot to lot consistency.
I would agree with you pretty strongly, if the standard of accuracy was bench-rest competition, or long-range varmint hunting. However, you make three assertions that I find false, or at least highly subjective:

1) Not having a chronograph results in substandard ammo. I disagree, wholeheartedly. If a guy is shooting sub-MOA groups at 300 yards with his 300 WM and 180gr handloads, the fact that he has no idea exactly how fast they're going is immaterial...to him OR the elk!

2) "best optimal velocity" is part of an ideal handload. I don't think this is true for most hunters, varminters or competition shooters, although some folks simply aren't happy with a load unless it is going as fast as possible. For most, the ideal is one-hole accuracy, at any reasonable velocity. Keep in mind that you cannot attain this kind of accuracy, at hunting ranges, with squib loads and that the kind of guns we're talking about will kill big game very well with velocities far lower than most people realize. (Consider the difference between a 7 WBY MAG and a 7-30 Waters...yet both kill big game consistently.)

3) Chronographs can help you determine if your "loads are within reason of ...load data". I feel this is a dangerous misconception. You stated yourself, each gun is a law unto itself. There are far too many variables, as you alluded to, in components, chambers, throats, rifling, barrel length, etc, etc, to draw ANY conclusions on load safety, simply by looking at the velocity your gun is getting. I have a 44 carbine that gets ~1400fps out of loads that are published by Winchester as 1100fps. This is because the bullets are .427" instead of .429" and they're coming out of a 20" barrel, instead of one that is 5" long. Should I conclude these loads are not safe, because my velocity is 300fps too high?

The guy who uses factory or load book handloads, and practices at the ranges he is most likely to encounter game at, has no real need to know his exact velocity. He just needs to be confident that he can place the bullet well, at those ranges. If the gun and shooter are accurate, the bullet will do its job.
 
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