The Oehler 35P Chronograph

The Oehler 35P Chronograph

As a "gunwriter", I find myself using a chronograph all the time, probably more often than anybody who isn't involved in the manufacture of ammunition.

For those of you unclear on the term, a chronograph is a tool which measures the speed of the bullets exiting your firearm.  This information is very useful, not only to find out if the velocities claimed by an ammunition manufacturer reflect reality but to find out what kind of performance you can expect out of a specific firearm.  Generally, the shorter the barrel of a pistol, the less velocity you can expect from your ammo, but just how much of a drop you'll see (if at all) is sometimes a mystery until you actually start shooting.

Anyone who handloads, whether for competition, hunting or recreation, should be chronographing their ammo—it's the only way to find out for sure if it's doing what the loading manual says.  Chronographs are easy to use—once you set up the sensors, you simply shoot over them (through the "skyscreens").  The chrono sees the bullet, measures the time it took to travel between the front sensor and the back, and translates that into a velocity readout of feet per second.

For well over a decade I have been using a chrono that was an inexpensive model to begin with.  It worked, but I had to increasingly baby it.  Unless lighting was perfect, I sometimes had to fire half a dozen shots to get one good velocity reading, and batteries died for no apparent reason.  And then I got an Oehler 35P Chronograph.


The difference was like moving from a horse-drawn wagon to an automobile.  Wow.


Maybe all modern chronographs are as advanced as the Oehler 35P, and I've just been behind the curve.  Maybe I've (ironically) been too busy chronographing to look at chronographs, but the fact of the matter is the Oehler 35P chronograph is a great tool if you ever have a need or desire to chronograph your ammunition.

Oehler stopped production for a while, but as of late 2010 the 35P has been back in production and on sale.  Current models are conveniently shipped in a rifle case.  Not only is the case big enough to fit all the smaller parts, the three skyscreens mount on a (provided) four foot long rod, and putting everything in a rifle case is very convenient.

Setup only takes about five minutes.  The skycreeen sensors are mounted on the rod, which is secured to two tripods (included).  Each of the screens has its own cable, which are plugged into the chronograph which comes complete with a printer.  Plug the cable from the closest screen into the Start socket, the cable from the furthest screen into the Stop socket (if you need me to tell you where to plug the middle one you probably shouldn't be around loaded guns), and you are ready to go.

After every shot you will get a digital readout and a print readout.  After three, or five, or however many shots you want, you can hit the Summary button, and there's where the magic happens.  You will get a printout which will show you the fastest velocity of the string, and the slowest, as well as give you the mean (average) velocity as well as the Standard Deviation.  The darn thing does everything but shoot the gun for you.


I have used my Oehler now for a number of different guns (rifles, pistols, and pistol caliber carbines), in a variety of different lighting conditions, and have yet to get an erroneous reading or a round not register when passing through the skyscreens.  That in itself has saved me a huge amount of time.

While the Oehler is not cheap, everything I've read and heard from other writers with more experience than me is that the Oehler 35P is the chronograph against which all others should be judged for quality and accuracy.  Just about the only place I can seem to find them in stock is direct from Oehler (www.oehler-research.com), because they are in such high demand, and held in such high regard.  The complete system is $575, which includes everything you need including a 9-volt battery already installed and a spare roll of paper for the printer.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Performance Center M&P Shield M2.0

Performance Center M&P Shield M2.0

From Smith & Wesson, the M&P Shield M2.0 is a great option for a carry gun with optics option.

All About Handgun Ammo

All About Handgun Ammo

Rich and Jim get into the nitty gritty of the FBI ammo protocol, firing into various barriers to illustrate what can happen to a bullet.

Handgun Basics

Handgun Basics

SIG Academy's Hana Bilodeau joins Rich and Jim to discuss the essential skills all handgunners should master.

Dealing with Subcompacts

Dealing with Subcompacts

Jim and Rich cover the benefits and the challenges presented by very small pistols.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

As you will learn in this detailed review, the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 (manufacturer SKU # 180023) is an easy-racking, soft-shooting pistol. Compact

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 Review

James Tarr - November 06, 2018

As you will learn in this detailed review, the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 (manufacturer...

Eliphalet Remington's world initially revolved around flintlock rifles at the time, and while early 1911

Remington Timeline: 2011 - R1 Pistol Is Introduced

Handguns Online Staff - September 09, 2016

Eliphalet Remington's world initially revolved around flintlock rifles at the time, and while...

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all others will be judged. Compact

SIG P365 Review

James Tarr - October 31, 2018

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all...

In 1858 Beals invented and patented a spur-trigger, single-action, percussion revolver. The unique Revolvers

Remington Timeline: 1858 - Beals Revolver

Handguns Online Staff - September 09, 2016

In 1858 Beals invented and patented a spur-trigger, single-action, percussion revolver. The...

See More Trending Articles

More Ammo

Olin Winchester, LLC is recalling three (3) lots of 38 Special 130 Grain Full Metal Jacket centerfire ammunition. Ammo

Product Warning and Recall Notice for Winchester .38 Special 130 Grain Full Metal Jacket

Handguns Online Editors - February 28, 2019

Olin Winchester, LLC is recalling three (3) lots of 38 Special 130 Grain Full Metal Jacket...



Federal Premium has introduced what could be a game-changer in range ammo with its new Syntech, Ammo

Red Hot: American Eagle Syntech Review

J. Scott Rupp - August 16, 2016

Federal Premium has introduced what could be a game-changer in range ammo with its new...

Richard Nance and James Tarr discuss the value of using gelatin when testing ammunition. Ammo

Gelatin Testing for Hornady Ammo

Handguns TV - May 30, 2016

Richard Nance and James Tarr discuss the value of using gelatin when testing ammunition.

The Syntech Defense bullet utilizes a hollowpoint design with three nose segments and a one-piece core designed for deep straight-line penetration and maximum energy transfer. Ammo

Federal Syntech Defense Ammo

Brad Fitzpatrick - December 18, 2019

The Syntech Defense bullet utilizes a hollowpoint design with three nose segments and a...

See More Ammo

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Handguns subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now