Review: Leupold RX-1400i TBR/W Gen 2 Rangefinder

by
posted on October 5, 2023
Review Leupold RX 1400I Lead

I have spent the majority of my life—since age 11—measuring land and distances as a land surveyor, and always I have tried to correlate things to hunting. Whether it be a bow shot on the longer side of things (when I was an archer as a younger man) or a rifle shot across the hay lots and orchards of the Hudson Valley, my mind always wandering to hunting deer. Our Topcon total station offered accurate measurements down to 1/16-inch but we would always play the “how far do you think that is” game. More often than not, we were grossly in error.

The first—and very crude—handheld rangefinder I ever used relied on differing focal points to establish distances, but it wasn’t very reliable, and while trying to check it, we found it wasn’t very accurate. It was good enough to measure the widths of streams and creeks which were impossible to ford, but which were required to be shown on a boundary map, but it surely wasn't the kind of thing which I would say could help make a rifle shot at 400 yards.

Leupold RX-1400i TBR/W Gen 2 Rangefinder with case and instruction booklet.

As we know, all of that has changed, and modern rangefinders are utterly reliable; while not all rangefinders are created equal, today’s inexpensive models are more accurate and reliable than the top-of-the-line models of thirty years ago. The higher end models are impressive, and if you practice with one, you will be surprised how accurate they are. I'm still a surveyor, and use a rangefinder almost on a nearly basis, whether looking for a property line marker or locating the edge of crop fields. Checking the little handheld units against the precision equipment we use, I find that many are good within a yard or two. Some brands and models are bulkier or heavier than others, and some offer wonderful blend of features and prolonged battery life in a light and compact package. At the head of the latter group, you’ll find the new Leupold RX-1400i TBR/W Gen 2.

For the hunter, the need to know the distance to your quarry is paramount, especially for the bowhunter whose arrow needs to take a more drastically arched path, or for those using the slower cartridges, like the newer developments for the Midwestern states. A 350 Legend or 360 Buckhammer is surely an effective cartridge, but the difference in trajectory between 200 and 225 yards can be more than appreciable. The Leupold RX-1400i TBR/W Gen 2 is a simple, affordable and effective solution to the vast majority of hunting trajectory problems, no matter what you’ve got in hand. Loaded with the TBR/W (True Ballistic Range with Wind) ballistic compensation technology, the RX-1400i offers the same ballistic solutions that the first generation model did, with 25 trajectory curves which will surely match your chosen rifle load. The unit stays off until the top-mounted power button is pressed, and a second press of the button will range your target. It is powered by a single Lithium CR2 battery; which is provided with the unit.

Leupold RX-1400i TBR/W Gen 2 and RX-2800 rangefinders.

While I have been an unabashed devotee of the RX-2800 TBR/W—which is amazing at ranging truly long distances—the RX-1400i is noticeably lighter and smaller, not to mention considerably more affordable. Weighing 5.1 ounces (compared to the RX-2800’s 7.9 ounces), and measuring 4 x 1.4 x 3 inches, the unit fits nicely in a short pocket, and isn’t a burden to carry at all. The archery crowd will be happy to see the bow mode, as it will display a horizontal bar at the arrow’s highest point of trajectory, so the user can quickly get a visual determination of any possible obstruction in the flight path. Handy tool, if you ask me.

Putting the unit into practical application, I took the 1400i into the August woods of Upstate New York, in thick terrain with the beeches, striped maples and other large-leafed trees in full regalia, and used my dear father as my “deer,” with the unit in Last Target mode, using only the last target reflected. We were actually roughly laying out a very old survey from the late 1800s, and I was using the 1400i to keep track of distances. I was extremely impressed how the unit measured to Deer Dad without catching the vegetation; in fact only twice during the course of nearly fifty measurements did I catch a branch or clump of leaves.

Leupold RX-1400i TBR/W Gen 2 laser rangefinder front view.

Using the side mounted Mode button to scroll through the options, you can easily switch between measuring in yards or meters, change the intensity of the red display (even the low setting was easily visible in bright sunlight), or even choose between one of three crosshairs. You may toggle between bow mode and rifle mode, or choose the innovative Last Target mode, which helps establish a proper reading in rain, snow or foggy conditions. You may choose between Line of Sight mode—measuring in a straight line without compensation for incline or decline—or allow the unit to make the adjustment for uphill/downhill shots. The 5x magnification is enough to ensure you’re ranging what you’re aiming at, yet not so high-powered as to pose an issue finding a deer or bear in thicker vegetation at closer ranges.

The RX-1400i Gen 2 will give accurate readings out to 1,400 yards on highly reflective objects such as road signs or buildings (knowing you’re more than the legal minimum distance from a dwelling is reassuring when hunting in more populated areas). On vegetation, such as trees to hedge rows, it’ll read out to 1,200 yards, and on deer and similar-sized game the unit will give readings out 900 yards, making it an absolutely perfect choice for the hunter. Oh, did I mention the price point of $199.99? For the price of a nice dinner out, you can range your deer in perfect confidence, with a unit packed with features, which is impervious to the elements. Good job, Leupold; you’ve got a winner here.

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