I have been using Oehler equipment for more than 20 years. For occasional shooters and where a reloader only loads for a couple of firearms, if three or four guys club together, the price of a good quality machine, split three or four ways, is reasonable and results are reliable. At major shooting events we used to set up two Oehler chronographs in tandem, to monitor competitor’s ammunition. Observation of thousands of shots fired in this manner and working with most makes, has convinced me that this is not the place to try and save money. Get a good quality chronograph.
Remember that anything that goes downrange sooner or later gets shot, if you have to get as close as is required with an optical chronograph. With better equipment, only the measuring screens go downrange, and they are easy and economical to repair when they are hit. The problem is that, with current chronographs, the machine measures the passing of the bullet optically and this limits the distance for shooting over it. The window through which one has to shoot is about 300mm high and about 300mm wide at the widest point. This has now changed with the advent of acoustic speed measurement.
A company in Norway, Steinert Sensing Systems, has developed an acoustic chronograph. I have tested this machine and the ease of use, accuracy and reliability makes it worth every cent spent on it.
See this page for more information.
This is a very promising development as it eliminates the possibility of hitting the chronograph when shooting over it. The window of application is huge, compared to any optical chronograph. It is not attached to the firearm in any way and does not interfere with the point of impact when used. Especially important is the elimination of the light dependancy of the machine. It does not matter whether there is cloud cover, whether the sun is up or set, or whether it is indoors or out. The major problem of misread shots has always been that the sensors cannot 'see' the bullet passing. With this chronograph it hears the bullet passing and this is a major step forwards. For air rifles, bows and anything subsonic, this system does not work and the measuring of such would still be dependent on old technology.