Ultimate Range-Finding Binocular Test by PrecisionRifleBlog.com
PrecisionRifleBlog.com recently published results from the most comprehensive field test of rangefinder binoculars ever conducted. It included virtually every product available in a variety of real-world scenarios, to see which had the best performance in the field in terms of both optical clarity and ranging capabilities. The results are based on over 10,000 data points collected from the field over 3 months of testing. Cal Zant, author of PrecisionRifleBlog.com, published a series of posts with exhaustive details about his optical and ranging tests and results, but we’ll hit the highlights here.
Six of the models tested were binoculars, and the other two were monoculars. The Leupold monocular was included for reference, because many shooters have a 1,000-yard rangefinder similar to the RX-1000. The Vectronix Terrapin model was included as the control for ranging performance, because it is known to be an extremely accurate rangefinder (spoiler alert: it is). Cal provides a very detailed side-by-side spec comparison for these models in one of his posts.
Ranging Test Results
Each model was used to range 500+ times in a variety of scenarios from 25 to over 30,000 yards. The tests showed these models had similar performance at close and mid-range targets, but at 600 yards their performance started to diverge … so that is where most of the testing was focused.
The chart below summarizes the ranging performance found on the test targets in ideal conditions, which was from a sturdy tripod, at sunset, with 10+ mile visibility. The exact target shape and surroundings varied, but the targets were all approximately 2 MOA wide, highly reflective, and perpendicular to the rangefinder. Specifics on target dimensions, view from the ranging position, and target surroundings are given in the detailed ranging performance results post.
Vectronix is the leader of the rangefinder world, and that was proved once again in these tests. The new Leica Geovid HD-B wasn’t far behind them, with accurate ranging beyond 1 mile. The Zeiss Victory RF also had surgical precision off a tripod, although it had a reduced range compared to the Vectronix and Leica. The Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile also proved to be able to range targets out to their claimed max range of 1,760 yards.
PrecisionRifleBlog.com also tested the ranging performance of each model in bright lighting conditions, and offhand as well. The data from those tests also contained a few surprises. To determine how accurate each model really was, Cal Zant carefully analyzed the results from each model when aimed at precisely positioned, “known distance” targets. To see how those tests turned out, or learn more details about specific models, GO TO full results.
Optical Test Results
For the optics tests, Cal’s goal was to find an objective, data-driven approach to testing optical performance. What he came up with was placing eye exam charts from 600 to 1,400 yards with different size letters, and then recording what two different people could accurately read with each model. The data for each unit was summed into a single score so they could be ranked relative to how much detail the testers could make out. More specifics are provided regarding how the test was conducted and how scores were calculated in the optical performance results post. Here are the results from Cal’s data-driven approach:
The Leica Geovid HD-B edged out the other models for the top spot, with its completely new, Perger-Porro prism design. The original Leica Geovid HD, and Zeiss Victory RF also showed great optical clarity.
The Rest of the Story
Cal’s full series of posts is very informative. He’s done tons of analysis on the data, and summarizes it in several charts that provide a lot of insight. Cal is also in the process of publishing detailed reviews on each model, including notes he and the other testers compiled for each unit. They used them all — a lot, so they have a unique perspective on what’s good or bad about each. Find out more at the link below:
- U.S. Army Orders Bushnell Laser Rangefinders
- Steiner Introduces New 10×50 Binoculars with Laser Rangefinder
- WIN Leica Laser RangeFinder in Optic Zone Contest
- Zeiss Range-Finding Binoculars (with Ballistic Compensation)
- SHOT Show Report: Leica's Impressive APO Spotting Scopes