March 13th, 2012

New Leica CRF 1600-B Shows Hold-Overs and Elevation Clicks

Leica just introduced its latest pocket-sized laser rangefinder, the CRF 1600-B Rangemaster. This unit features built-in angle compensation plus a ballistics solver that can give you either hold-over (in inches or cm) or clicks (from your zero) to put the shot on target at the ranged distance. At the heart of the CRF 1600-B is Leica’s Advanced Ballistic Compensation(ABC™) system, a precision integrated ballistics calculator that combines stored data with analysis of current ballistics parameters. To calculate projectile trajectory, the ABC™ system processes multiple ballistics variables, including measured distance, angle of incline, temperature, and absolute air pressure. The new 1600-B should be available in June, 2012. The “street price” should be the same as the current CRF 1600, $799.00.

Leica 1600-B Rangemaster

There’s a lot of marketing mumbo-jumbo in the product release info, but what you need to know is that the new CRF 1600-B offers three important functions, in addition to ranging distance to target. These functions are: Angle Compensation, Display of Hold-Over, and Click-Value Display.

Leica 1600-B Rangemaster1. Built-in Angle Compensation
If you are taking an angled shot (whether up-hill or downhill), the 1600-B tells you the true horizontal component distance to the target. Use this number (as opposed to the line-of-sight distance to the target) to set your elevation. The 1600-B figures out the angle through a built-in inclinometer. This is a handy feature for hunters and tactical shooters, but it’s not really that innovative — other rangefinders have have offered angle compensation for quite some time. Still this is a nice feature that allows hunters to dispense with an angle indicator on their rifles, and you won’t have to work out math equations in the field.

Leica 1600-B Rangemaster2. Hold-Over Values (Inches or CM)
When you range a target, the 1600-B can display the actual hold-over you need (at the ranged distance), either in inches or centimeters. Then you simply place your cross-hairs higher on the target, according to the hold-over value displayed in cm or inches. This works well — so long as you have some idea of the actual size of the target. If you don’t know if your prey is 4-feet tall or 6-feet tall then you can make mistakes. The hold-over display can read in either inches or cm. Holdover values, based on 12 pre-programmed ballistics curves, are given from 100 yards to 880 yards (compared to only 500 yards on the CRF 1600).

Leica 1600-B Rangemaster3. Elevation Click Values to Correct POI
One very handy feature of the new Leica 1600-B is that it automatically calculates the elevation clicks you need to correct your point of impact (POI) for the target range. First, you must select a matching ballistics curve (based on your muzzle velocity, bullet BC etc.). Then the 1600-B uses its built-in ballistics solver to calculate drop at the target distance, figuring in temperature and barometric pressure automatically. With a click of a button the 1600-B will displays the number of up-clicks you need to have the correct POI at the ranged distance. Available click values are: 1 MOA, 1/3 MOA, 1/4 MOA, 10 mm/100 m, 5 mm/100 m.

CRF 1600-B Rangemaster Specs (and Real-World Ranging Performance)
The new Leica 1600-B features a 7X monocular optic with 24mm objective and 3.4mm exit pupil. The external lenses have AquaDura® coatings. Though it’s packed with computing power, the 1600-B weighs just 8.1 ounces and, measuring 3″ x 1.63″ x 1.25″, it really does fit in a shirt pocket. Along with target distance, hold-over, and calculated clicks, the auto-adjusting red LED display can show Angle of Incline, Temperature, and Air Pressure.

Leica claims the 1600-B will range out to “approximately 1,600 yards”. Yes, in ideal conditions, the unit can nail a large, reflective object (such as a barn) at that distance, but you’ll find real-world performance on deer-sized targets to be quite different.

It is hard to hand-hold the tiny CRF 1600-B with sufficient stability to range small objects at extreme long distance. When testing the current CRF 1600 model we’ve found the practical max range for hand-holding on a deer to be about 800 yards, and even to do that you need very steady hands and a bit of practice. For long-distance ranging, we actually prefer a larger, flat-body design, such as the Zeiss Victory PRF, which can be rested more easily on a pack or sandbag. For the new 1600-B model, Leica claims measuring accuracy of +/- 1.1 yards to 400 yards, +/- 2.2 yards to 800 yards, and +/- 0.5% over 800 yards.

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September 17th, 2011

Bushnell Fusion 1600 ARC RangeFinder Binoculars

Bushnell 1600 ARCBushnell recently released its new Fusion 1600 ARC range-finding binoculars. With a “low street price” under $799.00, Bushnell’s 1600 ARC binoculars are less than one third the price of Leica Geovids (10×42, $2399.00) or Zeiss Victory RF Binoculars (10×45, $2,799.00).

That huge price advantage makes the Fusion very tempting — but can Bushnell’s 1600 ARC binos perform as advertised?

Forum Member Reviews Fusion 1600 ARC
Forum Member Stan (aka BigBamBoom) acquired the Fusion 1600 ARC RF binoculars and has posted a video review. Stan was favorably impressed with the quality of the glass and the exterior ruggedness of the unit. He was able to range very large objects (water-tower, trees) beyond 1200 yards. He also praised the speed of the unit, saying it ranged faster than his Leica CRF 1200. Consider however, that the very small CRF1200 is harder to aim precisely, simply because it is so small and light and held in a vertical orientation. Most people can aim the larger, heavier LRFs with more steadiness using a normal two-handed horizontal grip. In the real world, if you can hold the LRF more steady, you can get a true range on a small object more quickly.

YouTube Preview Image

Don’t Expect to Range a WhiteTail at 1600 yards
We also caution that, in our Laser rangefinder comparison tests, we learned that there is BIG difference between ranging a water tower, and ranging a deer-sized animal. We found that some units that could range a water tower at 1300+ yards could NOT reliably range an actual deer (stuffed by taxidermist) at 700 yards. Note that Bushnell lists three different effective ranging distances for the Fusion 1600, and Bushnell claims only 500-yard effectiveness on deer-sized objects. This is fairly consistent with our LRF comparison tests:

Bushnell Fusion 1600 ARC Ranging Ability (Factory Specs)

  • Reflective Ranging Performance: 1600 yards
  • Tree Ranging Performance: 1000 yards
  • Deer Ranging Performance: 500 yards

It can be fun to range buildings at a mile, but for the hunter, that may not have much practical utility. You want to be able to range deer-sized game at all practical distances. For the tactical shooter, you need a narrowly focused beam (with minimal beam divergence) that can range a gong or metallic silhouette reliably at 1000 yards. If an LRF can’t do that, it may not be all that useful, even if it the sales price is attractive.
Bushnell 1600 ARC
Fusion 1600 ARC Features
The 10×42 roof prism binoculars feature built-in battery life indicator, twist-up eye pieces, and multi-coated optics with RainGuard. The Fusion 1600 is fully waterproof and submersible, meeting IPX7 “waterproof” specification. As Stan observed, the Fusion 1600 has good glass, and the red readouts are easy to see. Bushnell employs Vivid Display Technology™ (with four display brightness settings) to enhance display readability in all lighting conditions.

The built-in laser rangefinder features ARC (Angle Range Compensating) technology, which calculates the angle to the target (-90 to +90 degrees). ARC also and gives the hold-over range for the rifle shooter, and true horizontal distance for bow hunters. We like the fact that you can choose between Inches and MOA for holdover. There is a brush mode for measuring distances in heavy cover and a bullseye mode for ranging in open areas. The brush mode can filter out false returns from closer objects. This IS a useful feature that actually does work.

The Fusion 1600 ARC laser rangefinder binoculars come with battery, neck-strap, and carrying case. MSRP is $899.00. It pays to shop around as we’ve seen advertised prices from $789.00 to $899.00. For more info, visit www.bushnell.com or call 800-423-3537 for consumer inquiries.

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September 6th, 2011

Swarovski Introduces New ‘EL Range’ Laser-Equipped Binoculars

Swarovski EL RangeSwarovski has released a new binocular product with built-in laser rangefinder, and angle compensation. Designed on the popular “open-bridge” EL binocular body, the EL Range comes in two configurations: 8x42mm and 10x42mm. Weighing just 910grams (32 ounces), both versions are lighter than other premium rangefinding binocs. The shape and size (6.5″L x 4.6″W) of the EL Range are basically the same as the non-laser EL Binocular — all the additional electronics are housed in two small belly extensions, one on each side (see photo). These curved extensions fit comfortably into your palms, so the the EL’s good ergonomics have been maintained.

Swarovski EL Range

Max Range is 1375 meters (1504 yards)
The EL Range is rated to 1375m or 1504 yards — that’s comparable with the latest Leica LRFs. Swarovski claims that its ranging laser can measure with an accuracy of +/- 1m over the entire measurement range (30–1375m). Ranging options (reticle brightness, angle compensation etc.) are controlled by a small button under the bridge. This can easily be accessed by your thumb while glassing. You don’t have to remove the EL away from you head to find or operate the digital controls. The EL Range is comfortable in the hand, and it is noticeably easier to hold the EL Range steady on a small target than the ultra-compact, pocket-sized rangefinders.

With the Swaro EL Range, you get great glass along with a very accurate laser. The transmission in both binocular halves is 91%. They are equipped with a 61° wide-angle eyepiece which supports a field of view of 137m (8×42) or 110m (10×42). The large eye relief offers four positions, to which the eyecup can be adjusted individually. This means that even spectacle wearers can enjoy the full benefit, with a crystal-clear vision and great comfort. Diopter compensation is an ample -7/+5. Interpupillary distance is 2.2 – 2.9 inches (that’s enough to fit all adults). The exit pupil on the 8X version is 5.3mm, while on the 10X version it is 4.2mm, still plenty big.

Swaro-Aim Angle Compensation Aids Hunters
The newest “SWARO-AIM” technology features an integrated gradometer to show the precise and correct shooting distance and angle. Designed with electronic readout of yards and meters, brightness levels and angle compensation, the display offers 5 individually adjustable brightness levels on an easy-to-read LCD screen with a simple and intuitive menu operation.

Swarovski EL Range

VIEW EL Range Techical Data | DOWNLOAD EL Range Specifications

Release Date and Price: MSRP on the EL Range laser-equipped binoculars is $3077.00 for the 8×42, and $3188.00 for the 10×42. We expect “street price” to settle around $2770.00 for the 8X and $2870.00 for the 10X. That’s quite a bit more than the 8×42 Leica Geovid Rangefinder binocular, which retails for $2349.00 (street price). On the other hand, Swarovski’s standard (no laser) EL 8.5×42 Swarovision binocular costs about $2350.00 (street price), so that means you’ll pay about $420.00 more for the ranging capability. For someone who can afford the standard (non-laser) EL binoculars, it probably makes sense to spend a few hundred more for the EL Range. Vendors expect to receive the Swarovski EL Range in late October, but Swarovski tells us that “quantities will be very limited before the end of the year”.

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March 25th, 2010

Zeiss Dropped from Patent Lawsuit But Leupold and Burris Patent Litigation Continues

Leupold Burris PatentLeupold & Stevens, Inc. has dropped its lawsuit against Carl Zeiss Optical, Inc. for patent infringement. The lawsuit originally alleged that Zeiss, Burris, and Bushnell infringed Leupold & Stevens’ patent for True Ballistic Range (TBR®) technology. With Zeiss out, the action will proceed against Burris and Bushnell only.

While Zeiss products do allow users to input ballistic groups and display holdover values at specific yardages, it has been determined that they do not incorporate an inclinometer to compensate for uphill/downhill shot angles. Therefore, they do not infringe on US Patent Number 7,654,029 owned by Leupold & Stevens, Inc.

Bushnell Sues Leupold Claiming Infringement of ARC Patents
Leupold’s patent infringement suit will continue against Bushnell and Burris. But Bushnell Inc. has its own patent infringement action against Leupold & Stevens. In February, Bushnell filed suit alleging that Leupold infringed on Bushnell’s U.S. patents for Angle Range Compensation (ARC) and Rain Mode laser-rangefinder technology. Bushnell’s ARC and Leupold’s True Ballistic Range (TBR) are competing technologies. The courts will have to resolve whether both ARC and TBR patents can co-exist.

Leupold Burris Patent

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