CED – Millennium 2 Chronograph
There is an essential tool for any serious reloader and that tool is the chronograph. Read up on the Competitive Edge Dynamics Millennium 2 Chronograph review here at AccuracyTech and decide whether or not you think this is a tool that's worth the coin. Before we get into the features of the CED Millennium 2 in our Chronograph Review we need to talk about why this is a necessary tool in the first place. For the casual handloader/reloader it may not be essential. For anyone who loads their own ammo for competition purposes, this is a critical tool. Whether loading for a pistol and you need to determine if you will make the power factor limits for USPSA or 3 Gun competitions, or if you load for rifle and want to make sure you have the most consistent ammo possible, you need information that the Chronograph gathers.
Chronographs will vary in price and features. The basic CED Millennium 2 with a standard screen set will run you right at $199.00 USD. However, there are some additional features that we have installed on our CED M2 that we need to discuss as part of the chronograph review. The major difference, and a completely worthwhile upgrade, is the screen set. The screen set is the triangular assembly that sits above the chronograph's start and end sensors. These screens have two functions; to shield the sensors from varying light, and to provide light of their own. The other upgrade we have on our review unit is a portable battery pack. This is also a completely worthwhile upgrade if you find yourself at a range without power close by.
The construction of the CED Millennium 2 is about average for what you would expect. The sensors are in plastic housings, the screens are plastic, the bar that sets the screens apart is made from aluminum. Throughout the time we have owned the chronograph, and during the chronograph review, we never had any issue with the construction of the unit not being adequate. It functions well and there are not many areas where the CED Millennium 2 feels weak.
The CED M2 chronograph follows the traditional chronograph design. The chronograph is set up on a tripod and the sensors affixed to both ends. The screens are set up over both sensors and the entire unit is placed at a set distance down range. Rounds are then fired from the firearm of choice so the bullet passes over one sensor through the first set of screens and then over the second sensor and through the second set of screens. The computer then records and computes the speed of the projectile by measuring the time it takes the projectile to pass through both sets of screens and over both sensors. The basic screens don't provide any light, they just block direct overhead sunlight from hitting the sensors. Note the lack of any electrical wiring or connectors on the standard screen set.
The infrared screens actually provide light to the sensors which enable you to use the chronograph in low light or no light situations. Not that you would be out doing chronograph work at night, but what this allows you to do is build a chronograph box and place the entire unit inside it and completely eliminate outside light sources from the equation. You then shoot through an opening in the box and you have a very sterile and pure environment to acquire your chronograph readings. We have never felt the need to do so and get very consistent results with the infrared screen set even on sunny days.
While this is a tried and trusted design, it is also aging. These days we are seeing more people switch to barrel mounted options like the Magnetospeed Chronograph, or acoustic chronograph options like the SuperChrono. These options offer advantages in that you don't have to spend time in front of the muzzle, which can be problematic at public ranges, and offer the ability to place the chronograph downrange for speed measurements during flight and not just in the first few feet from the muzzle.
There are some features worth noting with the CED M2 Chronograph that make it a pretty inclusive unit. The CED M2 will record velocities from 50fps to 7000fps. The memory of the unit is quite extensive and it can record up to 500 different shot strings and up to 1000 different shots before filling up. I've never even come close to scratching that kind of memory capacity. It has a built in calculator that CED is very proud of and mentions as one of its big features, I've never used it. There is the ability to edit and omit shots, which is useful if you have an errant shot or you grab a round from the wrong powder weight. For the precision shooting crowd, the CED M2 Chronograph will display the ever important SD/ES/AV numbers of your shot strings. The average speed of the string is important for obvious reasons, but more important are the Standard Deviation and Extreme Spread of the shot string. You want to know the standard deviation because it is the best measure of consistency of that particular load, how many FPS from the average do the shots tend to deviate. The extreme spread is also important because it tells you the maximum spread in FPS between the fastest and slowest shot. Even small velocity inconsistencies can begin to have large effects on your projectile's drop at extended ranges beyond 600 Yards, even more so for the Extreme Long Range shooters that shoot beyond 1000 Yards and as far as a Mile.
For the USPSA/IPSC shooters out there, the CED M2 has a power factor function that you can use to perform a power factor calculation on a shot string you have recorded. So if you are checking your handloads before a big competition and you don't want to get dropped out of your classification you can run a few rounds through the CED M2 and hit the PF button and it will give you the power factor for your handload. That's a worthy feature for the competitive pistol shooters among our readers.
As stated earlier, we encountered no issues at all with the durability of the CED M2 during the chronograph review, or during any time we had it in our possession prior to the review. The arms that hold the screen above the sensor are not terribly robust, but that is not a bad thing, for a change, in terms of the durability of the unit. The pieces placed down range are meant to be modular and replaceable. If you happen to shoot one of the sensors, it will set you back approximately $36.95. If you destroy a set of arms holding the screens up, you can purchase a whole new set for $21.95 for regular screens, or the infrared arms for $14.95. The pieces are available for resale and the prices are reasonable. This is an important long term use consideration since as the saying goes, "If you don't want holes in it, don't put it downrange." We have not had an issue with our own unit and it has yet to be shot, but accidents do happen and it's nice knowing that if you do have one, it won't cost you an entirely new unit.
The price for the unit is pretty good, and even a bit lower than some of the competition, at $199.00 for the base unit. However, the Infrared Screen set is what we would consider a necessary upgrade. Errors on the unit from light issues with the regular screens are pretty common and switching to the infrared screens really cuts down on sensor issues. However, the infrared screens come at an added price of $89.00. If you opt to use a set of screens that need power, like the infrared set, you now almost assuredly will need a portable power source, and hence the expense of the portable battery pack accessory adding another $48.00 USD. So to close in on your true cost of a smoothly operating unit, you are looking at about $336.00 USD. Keep in mind that this is still right in the same range as the competitive front runners vying for the same business. All in all, after our chronograph review of the CED M2 we can say this is a solid, proven, and reliable system that will give you accurate readings in the configuration described. However, it may be worthwhile to examine some of the available options depending on what your needs are.
As always, we welcome comments and questions, if you have any feel free to leave a comment below the review or post a question in the forums and we will try to get it answered for you real quick!