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Garmin Xero C1 Pro: The New Hotness in Chronographs

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Garmin is known for its GPS navigators, starting in 1989 with innovative GPS navigation products for aviation and expanding into the outdoor, sports, and wearable sectors. Today, however, they’re shaking up the chronograph world with the new Garmin Xero C1 Pro.

Barely larger than a GoPro, their new pocket-sized chronograph uses doppler radar to measure the velocity of everything from bullets to arrows — even paintball and airsoft pellets.

Why would you want to know how fast your bullets are traveling downrange? The velocity of a projectile is crucially important to its trajectory as it flies through the air.

Combining it with other factors, such as the coefficient of drag of your bullet and environmental considerations like ambient temperature and humidity, you can use ballistic solvers to pretty accurately predict how the point of impact will diverge from your point of aim at various distances and with differing amounts of wind.

At close range, this isn’t a big deal. But as distances begin to stretch out, it makes all the difference between a hit and a miss. For example, given good data, a ballistic solver might tell you to hold your crosshairs 2.7 mils high and 0.5 mil left to get your hits.

And the velocity numbers printed on a box of ammo don’t reflect exactly what you’re actually getting in your own gun. If you load your own ammo, you won't know how consistent your handiwork is without measuring its velocity.

Therefore, precision shooters, hunters, snipers, competitors, reloaders, civilian, military, and law enforcement alike all rely on accurate velocity data. Additionally, competitive venues may have various velocity requirements for participants.

Ballistic chronographs measure the velocity of projectiles, so you can collect this data for the exact weapon and ammunition that you’re using. Those who have used chronographs over the years have become accustomed to wrangling various attachments and carefully assembling components to get their velocity readings.

The new Garmin is totally self-contained and sits on a small tripod — or can be attached to your rifle — within 5 to 15 inches of the muzzle. Point it in the general direction of where you’re shooting, and it’ll pick up your shots without getting confused by others shooting nearby (make sure you're at least 5 feet away from other shooters). Note that your target needs to be at least 20 yards away.

Unlike other chronographs that use optical or magnetic technology to measure projectile speed, the Garmin Xero C1 Pro uses doppler radar, with continuous wave radar operating at 24 GHz. The microwave signals bounce off the projectile, whose motion causes a shift in frequency of the signal. This Doppler shift allows the chronograph to calculate the projectile's velocity. Think of those pesky radar guns that resulted in speeding tickets that drained your wallet in your misspent youth.

Garmin's algorithms provide flexibility in positioning while filtering out everything else. The Xero C1 Pro can measure velocities from 100 to 5,000 feet per second. Once you arm it, it'll automatically detect your shots, displaying projectile velocity and shot count. You can select three additional data fields to display from the following: average/min/max speed, deviation from average, standard deviation, extreme spread, kinetic energy, and power factor.

The Xero C1 Pro is just 3 by 2.8 by 1.4 inches, weighing 3.7 ounces. It has a small monochrome screen, 4 buttons on top, a USB-C port with rubber cover on the side, and a threaded 1/4-20 tripod socket on the bottom. The built-in lithium-ion battery is rechargeable and reportedly lasts for around six hours.

It's also rated IPX7, one of the highest IP (ingress protection) ratings, meaning that it can be completely submerged up to 1 meter in water for 30 minutes. If you need more than that, you should probably stop reading this article and report back to Coronado.

When preparing to use the Xero C1 Pro, first select the type of weapon you're measuring. You can choose between rifle, pistol, bow, air rifle, and other. Then select a velocity range; for firearms, that'll be 600 to 1,700 or 1,700 to 5,000 fps.

Point the Garmin at the target and make sure it's 5 to 15 inches from the muzzle. The device will then automatically detect your shots and display its measurements. You can also enter the weight of your projectiles to calculate kinetic energy.

Garmin supplies a charging cable and a small 4-inch tripod. They also released an accompanying app for iOS and Android, called ShotView. The app will sync with your Xero C1 Pro and download all the shot data. You can organize, review, and filter your data to analyze later.

The hard work that Garmin accomplished here is to make such a small doppler chronograph with sophisticated algorithms, ease of use, and accurate results — at a reasonable price.

Our sample unit just arrived, so we look forward to testing it. In our initial range session, it was very intuitive to operate, easy to position, and worked without a hitch. It didn't drop a single shot.

MSRP is $599. We hope Garmin has a bunch in the pipeline because we're confident the Xero C1 Pro will be very popular.

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