Welcome to the largest and most comprehensive field test & review of laser rangefinder binoculars ever conducted. I tested almost every pair 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.
I shoot in long-range rifle competitions, and some have known distance targets and some are unknown distance. For example, in the Steel Safari competitors have to locate, range, and engage 6 targets within 5 minutes on each station. They take pride in the difficulty of the course and that includes locating the targets, with some painted green and hidden in trees. In competitions like that, rangefinding binoculars can make or break you quick. You have extremely demanding optical performance to be able to even locate the targets, then you encounter a lot of tough ranging scenarios with brush in front of and around targets over 900 yards out. These same rigorous requirements are also true for long-range hunting, and these scenarios are what I had in mind when devising the field tests.
The Rangefinders Tested
I thoroughly tested 8 different models, from Bushnell to Vectronix and everything in between. 6 of the models tested were binoculars, and the other 2 were monoculars. I included a Leupold monocular for reference because a lot of shooters have a 1,000 yard monocular rangefinder similar to that model, and including it allows those people to see how a model like that compares to these binocular models. I also included the Vectronix Terrapin model as my control for ranging performance, because it is known to be an extremely accurate rangefinder (more on this later). Here’s the line-up:
*These prices reflect what each model was available for online through a major, reputable distributor as of Nov 2013.
Side-By-Side Spec Comparison
Most manufactures make it very tough to compare their product to others out there. So, I spent days searching websites, user manuals, and calling/emailing manufacturers (several times each) to gather a complete set of detailed specifications and put them in a format that allows easy side-by-side comparison. There are almost 40 different specs, including actual measured weights, dimensions, and the max ranges found in my field tests for each model (which can be very different from what the manufacturer claims). Some manufacturers list this specs in metric units and others are in U.S. standard units … I’ve converted everything to the same units to make comparison easy. I also read through each of the manuals to see exactly what each one does or doesn’t have in terms of advanced features like equivalent horizontal range, and ballistics functions. Some of the specs I even measured or calculated myself, because they weren’t available anywhere or were specs manufacturers are notorious for exaggerating.
Swarovski EL Range: The Missing Pair
The Swarovski EL Range is the only pair of rangefinding binoculars I’m aware of that wasn’t included in my field tests … but it wasn’t for lack of effort. I talked to people at Swarovski multiple times trying to convince them to be part of this. I spent hours explaining the comprehensive line-up I’d compiled, and even detailed the field tests I was planning to run through with each pair. I answered every question they asked, and they still declined to be part of it. I’ll let you decide what that means.
The Control: Accuracy of the Vectronix Terrapin
At this year’s NRA Whittington Center’s Donor Appreciation Weekend, we met Earl Clark at the High Power Silhouette Range. We had several rangefinders out, and Earl asked what we were doing. After a little conversation, it turns out that Earl was one of the original surveyors for the NRA’s High Power Silhouette Range. He told us about how he and a group of experts used “transit equipment” to determine the range to the white buffalo, which is 1,123 yards. In fact, Earl showed us the exact spot they surveyed that distance from … a small X in the concrete near the center of the firing line that is still there.
What a find. Now we could see how accurate these rangefinders really were … the buffalo was not only a large target, and 1000+ yards is a good distance … we now knew the exact distance from an exact spot. I spent the next few minutes testing the rangefinders I had with me to see how close to the known 1,123 yards they would actually get. Here are the results from ranging the white buffalo several times with each rangefinder.
|Model||Avg Yardage Measured||Range of Yardages Measured*|
|Zeiss Victory RF||1,122||1,121 – 1,123|
|Leica Geovid HD-B||1,122||1,120 – 1,123|
|Leica Geovid HD||1,121||1,120 – 1,125|
|Actual Surveyed Distance||1,123||1,123|
*The range of yardages measures represents the “extreme spread” of the distances displayed for each model. For example, the Leica Geovid HD showed distance measurements from 1,120 yards to 1,125 yards and everything in between. The amazing thing is the Vectronix Terrapin would only display one distance no matter how many times we tried … the correct one (exactly 1,123 yards).
Other Posts in this Series
This is just one of a whole series of posts related to this rangefinder field test. Here are links to the others:
- How Do Rangefinders Work? From Basics To Advanced Features
- The Models & Specs
- Optical Performance Test Results
- Ranging Performance Test Results
- Overall Results Summary
While performing the field tests I used each model to range 500 times on average … so I used them a lot. I also asked two of my close friends to use them, and I took notes on what we did or didn’t like about each of them. I transformed those notes and the test results for each model into comprehensive reviews for each model. I also took a bunch of high-res pictures of each model and have a photo gallery of each posted along with the review. Check them out:
- Vectronix Vector 23 Review
- Vectronix Terrapin Review
- Leica Geovid HD-B Review
- Zeiss Victory RF Review
- Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile Review