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Laser Rangefinder Review

Old 09-26-2006, 10:26 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 3
Default Laser Rangefinder Review

I just finished my testing of 3 laser rangefinders. The units tested were:
[/align]Leupold RX-II
[/align]Opti-Logic 120 XTA
[/align]Nikon Buckmasters Laser 800
[/align]The test originally started out to see which unit was the most accurate. In a straight line test there wasn't any clear cut winner as they all performed admirably. As a result, I had to toughen up the standards and then some differences were apparent.
[/align]My archeryclub has a patio with a wooden slatted railing around it. The slats are roughly 8 inches apart and conveniently replicated the approx size of a whitetail's vitals.I placed my Rinehardt block target 5 yards beyond the slats to see which unit would send the narrowest beam and give the precise yardage. To increase the difficulty, I used the "1st target mode" setting and also tested the units holding them vertical and horizontal to the target. This gave me an indication of the shape of the beam that was sent out.
[/align]The Opti-Logic was the first unit to be tripped up and read the slats at approx.30 yards in the horizontal and 24 in the vertical positions. Not bad by any means. The Nikon read to approx 34 in each position and the Leupold was the winner, stretching out to the low 40's each way.
[/align]The next test was light transmission (I say next but in reality it was done before I even got to my club). the Nikon, with it's 8X optics is horrible in this department to the point where I wouldn't use them in the field. Too much game movement occurs at low lightwhere this unit just can't give you a picture of it. Objects that can easily be distinguished with the naked eyes are totally lost when looking through the unit. It will still range a distance but I had no idea what I was looking at.
[/align]The Opti-Logic was acceptable for low light use. While not great, it didn't disappoint, either. If you could see it with your eye then you could make it out with the unit as well. My one complaint was the distance readout itself. It's an LCD unit located on the back of the unit. Besides removing the unit from you eye so you cansee the distance, it isn't backlit and can pose some inconvenience.
[/align]The Leupold was the best of the bunch. It should be noted that the RX-II uses 6X multi-coated optics where the Opti-Logic is non-magnified. The Picture is crisp and rivals that of a mid-line monocular. If you can remotely make it out with your eyes, it can easily be seen and ranged with the Leupold. Of the three, this is the only unit that makes carrying binoculars less of a necessity as you can glass your area in low light as you approach your stand, and distinguish game in heavy cover.
[/align]For durability the Opti-Logic comes in 3rd place. It's not that it's bad. It just isn't constructed as ruggedly as the other 2. When handling them it's easily seen. The Nikon comes in second. The entire unit is solid except for a battery compartment cover that falls off at the slightest bump due to a lever that protrudes from the surface and catches easily on anything it brushes up against. The Leupold is solid in every aspect of it's design.
[/align]Target acquisition turned out to be a 2 phase competition. In normal light, 1st place went to the Opti-Logic unit. It's non-magnified design and red dot aiming pointwas a bit quicker than the magnified optics and LCD screens of the Nikon and the Leupold. In low light, the enhanced light transmission of the Leupold made up for this and both units ranged and read objects with the same speed. The Nikon couldn't be used in low light due to a failure to provide any reasonable picture.
[/align]The final part of this review is purely subjective on my part and deals with the ability of the Leupold and the Opti-Logic to read horizontal distance as well as line of sight.The Nikon doesn't have this capability.When hunting from an elevated platform (archery from a treestand) or aiming at game traveling at a different elevation this feature, in my opinion, makes other units obsolete. Archery is a game of inches. I want everything in my arsenal to be as exact and as fine tuned as I can get it. These 2 angle compensated units give me that advantage over that standard offerings. If you're in the market to purchase a rangefinder, why not go with the unit that reads both ways instead of just one.
[/align]For long gun hunting there is only one choice to consider. The Leupold wins hands down. The Opti has a maximum range of 120 yards compared to the Leupold's range of 750. Furthermore, the Leupold has incorporated a program called True Ballistic Range, and itwill make a huge impact on your accuracy, giving you a much more accurate measurement than the straight line distance to your target, and even other tilt compensated units as well.The RX uses an inclinometer to measure up and down hill shots, coupled with the ballistics of your projectile to give you the equivalent horizontal range, and for rifle hunters, a holdover/holdunder point or an MOA adjustment. Other rangefinders that currently compute the angle of the shot use a simple calculation based on the third leg of a triangle. The Leupold actually makes that third leg (the flight of the bullet or arrow) into an arc, as it should be, and thus, almost completely eliminates the aiming error. The third leg of the triangle method is not totally accurate because the bullet or arrow actually travels a different distance than a true straight line would predict. It usesa very complex algorithm that tookLeupold over a yearto develop.Without this feature, the 3rd leg distance error gets more severe with longer ranges and steeper angles. This feature is unique to Leupold.
[/align]I also like the Leupold Match-13 Reticle system. You can choose from a variety of brackets, duplexes and reticles to match the game you pursue and the terrain you're hunting.
[/align]There you have it. All 3 rangefinders will adequately fill the bill for ranging an object, but when looking closer into what makes one more effective than another in the field some major advantages and disadvantages begin to surface. Choose wisely and good luck in the pursuit of your quarry.
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