What’s not new: affordable chronographs capable of accurately measuring the velocity of a pellet or slug.
What is new: a chronograph device that does all that, but is also the size of a pellet tin and weighs not much more than an empty one.
The engineers at Garmin have expanded their horizons from dominating anything GPS and entered the ballistic world. The new Garmin Xero C1 Pro is a shooting chronograph and, oh, so much more. Two design features will cause this one to shake up the airgun (and firearms) world.
The Power of Radar
It’s a Doppler radar-driven unit, so there is no need to place equipment down range. Just plop this unit on your shooting bench, aim it at the target, and fire away. It’ll take care of beaming out radar signals to find your moving pellet and track its velocity. This design decision alone is big, especially because the execution is outstanding.
While down range optical chronographs work pretty well, the very nature of tracking a tiny, fast-moving shadow leads to sometimes finicky operation and inconsistent readings. It’s up to the shooter to set up for the current light conditions (sun, clouds, and indoor use can all lead to different results) and ensure all shots follow the same path through the chronograph screens.
This radar device really doesn’t seem to care about all that. While the instructions (and the screen of the device itself) offer placement suggestions, I found the Xero to be shockingly forgiving regarding the placement of the unit and the airgun muzzle. In all the testing so far, I simply set it on the table, aimed it generally at the target, and placed the muzzle in the vicinity (within a foot or so of the Zero). And it just worked. With way too many hours invested in using chronographs for air and fire and brimstone guns, I’m accustomed to tinkering to get consistent readings. Not with this one—it has thus far recorded shots with perfection. In weeks of using this at the range and in my garage, I can’t recall a single missed or flawed reading.
The Power of Tiny
The second big deal is its size, or more accurately, lack thereof. Compare the dimensions to a deck of cards, an AirPods case or a standard .177 pellet tin—all are accurate. It is tiny, tiny, tiny and weighs next to nothing. Just toss the USB rechargeable Xero in your shooting bag and you’re good to go at any range outing. It is truly mind-boggling what Garmin had been able to pack into such a miniature package.
As You’d Expect…
All the standard chronograph features are there. It records shot strings and displays results on the integration screen. Enter the pellet or slug weight, and it’ll do all the power, extreme spread, and standard deviation math for you. A companion smartphone app not only handles software updates but offers a larger viewing screen and a way to share and archive your shot string results.
The Ralphie Challenge
As it’s the holiday season, I felt it appropriate to run the example usage scenario with an airgun Ralphie Parker would approve of: the Daisy 499B Championship Air Rifle. While not an actual Red Ryder (Ralphie’s wasn’t either!) I figured the accurate but slow single shot would offer a tracking challenge for the Xero.
I set the Garmin on a table, using its included mini-tripod to hold and orient it towards my target, and fired from a kneeling position next to the table. The five-shot string you see in the pictures here was representative of the session—the Garmin tracked each shot without missing a beat, and as I went, recalculated spread and consistency results.
So, the Xero had no trouble at the low end of the velocity scale and it’ll go even lower. You can use it to track arrows and airsoft projectiles at the low end of its velocity range as well as high-power rifle bullets moving at 4,000 fps or so. Versatile.
The Xero C1 Pro lists at $599.95.