It surprises a lot of airsoft newbies when more experienced experts tell them that they ought to get the best airsoft chronograph they can. With most airsoft beginners, it’s understandable that most of their focus is on the weapons themselves. But the best airsoft chronograph can help you find the best weapons, and also help you determine how to use them most effectively.
A chronograph, to put it simply, measures the velocity of your pellets. That makes the airsoft chronograph just as important to you as an airsoft player as a radar gun is to a serious baseball pitcher.
You have to know the actual fps capacity (pellet velocity in feet per second) as opposed to what the brand marketing officials tell you. Advertising copy isn’t always accurate—even kids today know that!
Of course, not all airsoft chronographs are great. But with this guide, you’ll know all you need about airsoft chronographs, including how to get the best airsoft chronograph for your money.
Top 3 Airsoft Chronograph: Comparison Chart
|XCORTECH X3200 MK3
Best Picks of Airsoft Chronograph
Now let’s get to the heart of the matter and limit your choices to these 3 airsoft chronographs. Are these the models with the most advanced features? No. But then these have the features which matter most, and you get the best value for your money.
#1: ACETECH AC6000 Airsoft Gun Speed Tester BBS Chronograph
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- Measures velocity, rate of fire, energy, and energy per unit area
- 5 memory slots for BB weight and caliber settings
- 25 memory shots for memory data
- Records current maximum and minimum values, along with ongoing average value
- Works with an app
- Auto shutoff (while 5 to 60-minute setting)
- 12 detecting sensors
- Large tube diameter at 36mm
If you’re new to airsoft chronographs, then this little gadget has just about everything you need in one. It’s simple and easy to use, and it’s quite affordable. This gives you 4 types of data.
First, of all, it can give you the initial velocity of your pellet, given in either feet per second or meters per second. Then it also gives you the rate of fire, either in rounds per minute or rounds per second.
It also lets you input the ammo you’re using, so you get 2 types of Energy data. You either get the overall energy reading in joules or in joules per cm2 (energy per unit area). You don’t have to keep entering the ammo information, either. You have 5 memory slots for setting specific BB weights and calibers.
It’s recommended that you fire a number of rounds to really gauge the velocity and rate of fire data. You won’t have to write the results down yourself. The chronograph records up to 25 shots data regarding the velocity and rate of fire.
It keeps track of the number of shots you’ve tested, and then also keeps track of the current maximum and minimum values. You even get the average value.
You also get a ton of helpful extra features that make things so much easier. There’s an app that works with the gadget. If you run out of battery juice, you can plug the gadget in via the micro-USB power output. You can even adjust the contrast level in the 128×128 OLED display.
#2: XCORTECH Airsoft Shooting Chrono Chronograph X3200 Original MK3 @ TOMTAC
- Muzzle velocity range: 30-400+ m/s (90 – 1200+ fps)
- R.O.F. range: 100-5000 RPM
- Muzzle energy range: 0.01~999 Joule
- Power: 2x AA Battery, External Micro USB
- Weight: 200g
- 14 internal sensors
- Measures velocity, rate of fire, and energy
- Display can invert, and adjust for brightness and contrast
- Auto off feature
Let’s now take a look at the Xcortech brand, which is quite famous in the airsoft chronograph industry. We actually went with the X3200 Original MK3, which is definitely not their most advanced model. But we went with this because you get all that you really need, at a very reasonable price.
Besides, it’s a 2016 model—it’s not as if it’s obsolete technology. It serves its purpose, and it’s tough and accurate to boot. It only has a 24mm tube diameter, but that’s rather common. As long as you only use this with airsoft pellets like 6mm BBs, you’re good to go.
In fact, for newbies it can seem quite advanced. It gives you the velocity and rate of fire, with 25 memory slots for your shots data. The velocity can be in feet or meters per second while the rate of fire can be rounds per minute or second. It gives you joules calculations as well, though only for weights 0.20g 0.25g, and 0.46g.
The display is also adjustable for optimal readability and you can even invert the LCD display. You’re able to adjust the brightness and the contrast level.
This only uses 2 AA batteries as well. There’s an auto off feature, letting you set it after 5, 10, 30, or 60 minutes. You also get external power via micro-USB.
#3: ACETECH AC5000 Airsoft Gun Speed Tester BBS Chronograph
- Muzzle Velocity: 30/ms ~ 400/ms
- Material: Polymer
- Panel Cover: 1mm Thick PC Plastic
- Screen: 128*64 LCD
- Battery: AA Alkaline Battery*2
- Measures velocity, rate of fire, energy, energy per unit area
- 14 internal sensors
- 25 memory slots for shots data
- 5 memory slots for ammo settings
- Easy to control
- Has low battery auto shutoff
- Tripod-ready mounting hole
The ACETECH AC6000 we listed first on this list is a deliberate improvement on the AC5000. With the AC6000, you get a larger tube diameter, more sensors, and a clearer screen. But this AC5000 is a lot more inexpensive, and yet you still get most of the fantastic features.
Okay, so it’s true that the tube diameter here is smaller at just 24mm instead 36mm. But that’s not really all that bad if you shoot straight through. It works for BB pellets measuring up to 18mm.
Here, there aren’t as many sensors at just 7 whereas there are 12 IR sensors in the AC6000. But it’s still reasonably accurate.
The main reason why we still regard this as one of the best is that the AC6000 didn’t really change the main feature. That is, the AC5000 here already has the 25 memory slots for recorded shots data, including the velocity, rate of fire, energy, and energy per unit area. You still get the 5 memory slots for the ammo settings.
You also already get a readable LCD display, that also gives you the battery status. You only need 2 AA batteries, and you still have the micro-USB power input as backup.
What is an Airsoft Chronograph?
The airsoft chronograph is basically like the radar gun is for pitchers. It’s an instrument that measures the actual speed of the pellets as it leaves the airsoft gun barrel.
That makes it one of your most valuable accessories, because it gives you hard information. It verifies the fps claims of the brand that made your airsoft weapons, so that you know exactly what kind of performance to expect.
It’s also a safety tool, because there is such a thing as too high fps. That’s why local airsoft arenas limit the maximum fps allowed.
It’s not shaped like a radar gun, however. It’s basically a box with an entry and exit hole. This box isn’t really big, as it measures about 5 by 4.25 by about 2.5 inches.
You place the gun barrel directly over the hole and fire. The LCD display on the airsoft chronograph then displays the measurement information.
What Can a Chronograph Measure?
This depends on which chronograph model you pick. But it’s a basic truth that all airsoft chronographs can measure the muzzle velocity. In other words, it measures the speed of the pellet as it leaves the gun barrel. Usually, you get the velocity in either feet per second (fps) or meters per second.
When you know the speed and then the weight of the pellet, you can then calculate the energy of the pellet. After all, if you have a pellet travelling at a certain speed and you have another pellet weighing twice as much travelling at the same speed, the heavier pellet will have a greater force upon impact. The force will be expressed in joules.
In some models, you can even get the rate of fire. You’ll know how many rounds per minute you can fire from a weapon. In some cases, this is expressed in rounds per second.
How Does an Airsoft Chronograph Work?
Inside the box, you have plenty of sensors that measure the velocity of the pellet. There are photoelectric cells inside to measure the distance traveled, along with a high-speed crystal oscillator that functions as the clock to measure the time.
The chronograph basically measures the distance traveled by the pellet for each 0.25 seconds. There are plenty of sensors inside to really measure the distance. With the distance and time measured as the pellet flies through the tube, you’re able to then get the pellet velocity.
Why Get a Chronograph for Your Airsoft Gun?
There are plenty of very good reasons to get a chronograph among your airsoft accessories.
Verifying FPS Claims
Marketing people aren’t always honest. They’re not like the supposedly honest journalists who are duty-bound to only report the truth. Sometimes they may exaggerate the capabilities of their products. This is a fact in all industries, and it’s certainly true in the airsoft community.
So, just because the advertising copy or the manual of your airsoft weapons says that the weapon will give you 380 fps for your 0.20g pellets doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. Maybe they tested 10 guns and found one with that velocity, and decided to go with it.
By having a chronograph, you can test the fps for yourself and see what kind of performance you can actually get from your airsoft gun.
In some localities and countries, all airsoft weapons may be limited in their fps capacity. There may laws about this so that these weapons are kept safe to use. After all, pellets that fly at more than 1,000 fps can do serious injury at point-blank range.
Many arenas also insist on setting their own fps limits. They may test your weapon with their own chronograph, and it can be very inconvenient if you only then find out that your weapon is more powerful than you realized. Some brands may even understate their fps capabilities, to encourage sales even when these fps velocities may not be too safe and exceed legal limits.
Discovering the Best Pressure Level
You’ll want to know this if you use pre-charged air rifles. The airsoft chronograph can then tell you the pressure level that gives you the best fps performance.
You can start your tests by going with 3,000 psi when you fill the gun. Then keep on firing the weapon and noting the fps levels at each psi level to discover the optimal pressure level.
Once you know this level, you can then top off your refill devices with the same optimal pressure level.
How Many Pump Strokes?
Some weapons need to be pumped a number of times, and this can determine the fps level. For example, you may get a higher fps level with 7 pumps than with 8 pumps. So, stick to 7 pumps, and you save yourself the effort.
Finding Things Out
You can certainly find out how your airsoft weapon really performs by trying out different pellets. You may start with 0.20g pellets, and then go with 0.25g or even heavier pellets. You can then discover the fps performance along with the power generated.
Things to Consider Before Buying Airsoft Chronograph
Not all airsoft chronographs are the same. And you can’t just go with the price either. You don’t save money when you pick the cheapest, since the quality may be cheap and substandard as well.
But the most expensive isn’t necessarily the best, either. It may have extra features, but you may not really need all those bells and whistles.
Here are some factors you should keep in mind:
Granted, the chronograph should be able to determine the pellet velocity as it leaves the airsoft gun barrel. But is that all you want to know?
You may want to also find out how many rounds you can fire per minute on full automatic. It may also be helpful if the chronograph can automatically compute the energy level in joules for you when you fire a pellet.
Controls and Screen
How clear and easy is it to read the screen? It’s great if it’s very readable, and you may want something that you can adjust so you can read the screen more easily. Then you’d have to consider the controls as well. Some chronographs even come with a free app, which is really a lot of help.
It’s good if the needed battery for the chronograph is common and not hard to find (though with online shopping, “hard to find” is virtually rare). It’s also great if the battery lasts long. One nice feature is if there’s an auto shut-off if the chronograph isn’t used for a certain amount of time.
It’s also quite convenient if the chronograph indicates the battery power left. That way, you can get backup batteries ready. You won’t be there without battery power when you need to use the chronograph.
A tool that measures isn’t really helpful if it doesn’t give you the right measurements. So, you’ll need to be sure that it’s accurate. But how can you know?
One way is to check the number of sensors it uses. Having more sensors means greater accuracy.
You may also want a bigger inner tube for the pellets to go through. That way, you’re surer you won’t accidentally hit the sides of the inner tube.
First thing you may want is a battery to go with the chronograph. While a battery isn’t really all that expensive, it saves you the trouble of buying one first. With the battery, the chronograph is ready right out of the box. Also, you’ll then know what kind of battery to buy as a replacement.
It’s also good if the chronograph also comes with a free tripod. A tripod is essential, since you don’t really want to hold the chronograph when you use it. You may like it if it comes with a case as well.
How wide is the tube that measures the speed of the pellet? You’ll want something wide. With a narrow tube, you run the risk of hitting the side of the tube with the pellet when you fire the pellet through.
Obviously, you’ll want a tool that won’t break down too soon after you’ve bought it
How to Use Airsoft Chronograph
The first thing you need to do is to power it, generally with a few batteries. Then it’s best to set it up with a tripod, so it remains steady and stable while you’re able to use 2 hands to fire your airsoft weapon.
The box has a tube that goes through it, and that’s where you point your airsoft gun barrel. You fire your weapon, and your pellet then goes straight through the tube.
Checking the Speed
Check the LCD display, and the speed will then be displayed. This may be expressed in feet per second, though the chronograph may offer the option of putting this in meters per second.
It’s best if you try out several shots, as the velocity of the shots may change. If you’re using a gas-powered weapon, the velocity may slow down when you start running low on gas. The velocity may also differ depending on how many pumps you do with your weapon.
Checking the Energy
Obviously, changing the weight of the pellet will alter the amount of force the pellet sets upon impact. You don’t want too much energy as it’s dangerous. It can be too powerful that the pellet may even penetrate the skin and cause serious energy. This is why local arenas limit the fps in the first place.
If your chronograph measures the energy, then you will first need to enter some pellet data. Generally, you have to enter the weight and caliber of the pellet. The pellet may weigh just 0.20 grams, or it may be heavier at 0.25 grams. The caliber refers to the diameter of the pellet.
Checking the Rate of Fire
For this, you certainly have to fire a lot more pellets. Usually, you’re required to fire perhaps at least 10 pellets. The chronograph then measures how many pellets you’re able to fire in a given amount of time.
You can then get a reasonable estimate as your rate of fire. This is generally expressed in rounds per minute. But in some cases that involve rapid-fire full automatics, you may want it expressed in rounds per second.
Who Makes the Best Airsoft Chronograph?
While we can play it safe and say that it’s up to the airsoft player, for most people the really trusted brand is Xcortech. It’s the brand name that most people who know about airsoft chronographs are familiar with.
It’s so famous that there are lots of fake Xcortech products out there, just as there are plenty of fake Rolex watches and fake Levi’s jeans. In fact, Xcortech often discontinues certain models simply because there are too many fakes. They then develop newer models to distinguish their own products.
Xcortech is so famous that Acetech, the other brand we listed, makes it a point to brag that their company was founded by former Xcortech team members. That’s why Acetech is a viable alternative to Xcortech, since they all have the same training and expertise.
Sure, you get the basic data reliably and accurately with the more basic models. These basic models are also easy to use and can last you a while.
But the AC6000 has the bells and whistles that can really make your life a lot easier. The running tally of the max, minimum, and average values is a great help. It works for a wider range of BB pellets. Plus, the screen is super-easy to read. Add the app, and you get just about everything you need with the AC6000, the best airsoft chronograph for your money.