Range-Finding Binoculars

Range-finding binoculars aren’t exactly new; they’ve been around for at least 15 years. It seems like an obvious marriage—a magnifying binocular combined with a laser rangefinder. But like many ideas, it’s a lot more tough to implement it cleanly than one might think.

I believe Leica was the first one on the sporting market with its 7x50 Geovid. Over the years I have played with a couple of them. Great glass and the rangefinder worked pretty well, but it weighed a ton and wore a groove in my neck.

Last season I used a Zeiss 10x45 T* Victory RF binocular for all of my big-game hunting. Through the use of composites and ultralight alloys, Zeiss has pared the weight of the binocular down to 2 pounds, 9 ounces. That’s only about 3/4 of a pound more than my Swarovski 10x42 EL binocular. Given that you have two tools in a single package available for simultaneous use, I’d call that a great improvement.

Like all Zeiss products, the optics are superb. I am a self-confessed optic snob, but unlike other optic snobs I am not all wrapped up in the nuances of every lens coating that allows a fraction of 1 percent more of light to pass through the glass. What matters to me is what I can see in low-light conditions. I found that I could easily see down into my dark creek bottom even after legal shooting time. It wasn’t bright enough to accurately judge a head, but I could tell bucks from does.

The rangefinder was accurate and easily visible in low light. Being a persnickety snob, the only shortcoming I could find is that in bright daylight the numbers washed out. This makes a difference to pronghorn hunters. If Zeiss included the capability of adjusting the brightness of the numbers it would be difficult to find anything to whine about.

Yep, they’re astronomically expensive—the better part of $3,000, depending upon which website you choose. Like the weight, the price will eventually come down some. But to have the latest, best and coolest will always cost important money. Besides, it’s not so bad if you say it fast!

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1 Response to Range-Finding Binoculars

Lloyd wrote:
March 06, 2012

Leupold made a great combination bino - range finder, but have discontinued it. I've had mine for 4 years and wish it was still available.