This review on the Leica Geovid HD-B 10×42 rangefinder binoculars is based on a 3 month long field test. It reflects the thoughts of 3 different precision rifle shooters as they used the product to observe and range targets from 25 to 2,000 yards hundreds of times. The full field test consisted of 8 different rangefinders, so we have a very wide view of what to expect in a good pair of rangefinder binoculars. This post is compiled from our notes of what we specifically liked or didn’t like about the Leica Geovid HD-B compared to the rest of the models out there.
- Best of class optical quality with HD fluoride glass and cutting-edge Perger-Porro prism system
- True one mile ranging performance on 2 MOA targets, and it can range beyond 2,000 on larger targets in ideal conditions.
- Extremely wide field of view for 10x binocular
- Ergonomics are absolutely 1st class
- Allows you to customize ballistics curve for your load via micro-SD card (with some limitations)
- Can display atmospheric conditions (temp, pressure, incline) for input into an external ballistics app
- Expensive – Premium glass always comes at a premium price.
- Secondary/menu button is right next to the main ranging button and the same size, causing confusion on which one to press.
- Objective lens covers slip off the end easily.
If you are looking for accurate ranging out to one mile combined with premium optical quality … look no further. These are what I personally bought after the extensive field tests with virtually every rangefinder binocular on the market.
A Word On The Price
Before I dive into the review, I did want to mention something about the price of Leica Geovid HD-B. Leica actually let me borrow a test unit for my field test comparison, but because of the insane demand for these binoculars the rep for Leica U.S. didn’t have any on-hand he could ship me. He actually had to call the headquarters of Leica International in Germany and talk them into drop-shipping me a pair directly. However, the guys in Germany included the invoice for Leica U.S. in the package accidentally, which itemized the direct cost of the unit (i.e. what Leica U.S. owes the Germany plant to cover the manufacturing costs of the product). While I’ve agreed to never share what that hard cost of the HD-B actually is, I will say I was shocked at how expensive these are to build. I expected Leica to have much higher margins than they actually do. The fact is, there is just a lot of advanced technology and high-end parts that go into these units. And unlike a lot of brands, Leica doesn’t outsource the manufacturing of the units to China or India where they have lower-cost (and lower-skill) workers. They are built in Germany, by experts, in small batches, and each unit is subjected to a rigorous quality assurance process. There is a great article that gives specifics on Leica’s pursuit of perfection with lenses if you want to dive in deeper. Ultimately, I just wanted to say that although the $3,000 price tag might have some sticker shock and definitely prices out some part of the market … it isn’t unjustified. I believe Leica is making a reasonable profit on the product, and nothing more. In fact, I consider them a value. And just as a disclaimer, they aren’t a sponsor of this website and didn’t pay me to say this (in fact, I hope they aren’t mad at me for publishing it).
Optical Performance Review
The Leica Geovid HD-B is a complete redesign, with Leica changing from the roof prism design used in the original Geovid HD to their new “Perger-Porro” prism in the HD-B. It is commonly believed that roof prism binoculars are superior to porro prism binoculars, but that is simply not the case. There is a great article by American Hunter that explains demystifies the roof vs. porro prism argument. Here is the summary of their article:
“If a company put all its resources into a Porro prism binocular, it would be at least as good as a roof prism, if not better. But it would be bulkier. With components and labor efforts being equal, Porro prisms are superior. But like most things in life, the reality is all things aren’t equal. Companies do not put all their resources into Porros, because the public wants compact roof prism binos.”
Well, “Companies do not put all their resources into Porros” was true … until the Leica HD-B. Now Leica is obviously pouring lots of money and research in to porro prisms, just like John Barsness was suggesting would produce the best optical performance possible. And the empirical testing I did for optical performance showed that they did. They also found a way to make it work in a form factor that is similar in size as the other models on the market. It must be magic … or really great engineering.
For the field tests, I tried to come up with an objective, data-driven approach for testing optical clarity and what I ended up doing was placing eye exam charts from 600 to 1,400 yards and then recording what size of letters two different people could accurately read. These were virtually identical to the eye charts doctors use to assess visual acuity by determining how much detail and definition a patient can make out at a particular distance. I combined all that data into a single score for each model so they can be ranked in terms of how much detail my two testers could make out. I provide a lot more detail about how the test was conducted, and compare other optical specs in The Optical Performance Results post.
Here are the overall optical results, and you can clearly see that the Leica Geovid HD-B was the clear winner in terms of optical performance.
The Leica HD-B also offered the widest field of view available in any 10x rangefinder binocular, at 342 feet at 1,000 yards. Note: Some of Leica’s marketing material has a higher number, but that is actually an error. When calculating it, the engineer didn’t properly convert from metric to imperial units. I’ve confirmed with Leica that the real field of view is 342 ft.
Ranging Performance Review
The ranging performance is also a dramatic upgrade from the original Leica Geovid HD. In fact, in my tests they were able to accurately range twice the distance of the original Leica Geovid HD. All of my testing was on 2 MOA targets, which are relatively small, and the Leica Geovid HD-B was able to get accurate readings out to 1950 yards in the ideal conditions on those small targets. When ranging larger objects like the side of a hill, I was able to get readings beyond 2,200 yards a few times.
Here are the results of ranging a 2 MOA reflective target in ideal, low-light conditions from a tripod at various ranges from 600 to 2,000 yards. The exact size and shape of the targets, as well as the surroundings varied, but details of each target along with more details of the test are given in the ranging performance test results post. Each target was ranged 10 times under the same conditions.
You can see that it was very rare for the Leica HD-B to give a reading that was incorrect, and very rare for it to give a “no read” in low-light conditions (i.e. sunset). The test unit displayed an accurate reading 9 times out of 10 on the small, 1 mile target.
In bright light conditions, radiation from the sun can cause interference and limit the range and resolution of readings a rangefinder is able to gather. This obviously has a negative effect on performance. The chart below shows how the Leica HD-B performed at sunset, and how it performed ranging those same targets 3 hours before sunset. Once again, this testing was done from a tripod, with visibility of 10+ miles on 2 MOA, reflective targets.
In bright lighting conditions, the Leica Geovid HD-B could still occasionally give accurate readings out to one mile, but it might take a few attempts. Althought it could occasionally reach further, it was more reliable at ranging targets 1,200 yards or less in bright, daylight conditions. And keep in mind that this was all done from a tripod. If you tried to run these same tests offhand, you wouldn’t get anyway near the distances shown here.
I also tested the rangefinders offhand, but did that on larger targets. Here are the results for ranging 3 foot by 2 foot bright, white rectangles from 600 and 800 yards. The 600 yard target had brush 30 yards in front of the target, which appeared just below the bottom edge from the ranging position. The full target face was visible and unobscured, but just barely. So many rangefinders had a hard time ranging the intended target, and would occasionally show the distance for the brush instead. The 800 yard target was exactly the opposite, with nothing in front of the targets. But there was brush in the background that a lot of rangefinders would get readings off. It was difficult for some rangefinders to get adequate energy off the targets compared to the brush in the background, causing incorrect distance readings. So although these were relatively large targets, the surroundings played into the offhand results and some rangefinders handled it much better than others.
Once again, the Leica Geovid HD-B gave a very low number of “no reads” offhand, which was a major problem with other rangefinders. It would occasionally display a reading for an object in front of or behind the intended target, but overall the standard deviation of the readings from the HD-B’s was one of the best.
Equivalent Horizontal Distance
The Leica Geovid HD-B does allow you to set whether you want it to display the line of sight distance, or the equivalent horizontal distance. This can be an important feature for a long-range shooter (and bowhunter), because it’s that second distance that you should plug into the ballistic calculator. Equivalent horizontal distance is the horizontal component of the distance, which is the distance gravity is going to act over. Honestly, it takes a steep angle to make a huge difference in the ballistic calculation. In fact, Todd Hodnett from Accuracy First has made the comment that there are really just a few locations in the United States that provide the terrain for a true long-range, steep-angle shot. That is why they have facilities in the Texas panhandle where they train on how to shoot in windy conditions, AND facilities in Utah where they train on how to shoot in high-angle conditions (like those found in some parts of Afgahnastan).
The Leica Geovid HD-B provides the most robust ballistic functions available on any rangefinder I’m aware of. Most rangefinders simply allow you to select from 6 to 8 preset ballistic curves, and you just choose the one that best resembles the curve of your load. This is not a great approach, and is completely unacceptable for precision rifle shooters. It just isn’t precise enough to get on target at long-range. In fact, Zeiss limits their ballistic functions so that it will only work out to 500 yards. Past that, it won’t give you anything … because they know the results it gives you wouldn’t be accurate enough to make that shot. Bushnell and Leupold limit their ballistic functions to 800 yards.
The Leica Geovid HD-B also have integrated sensors for temperature, atmospheric pressure, and angle of incline that they use as inputs to the ballistics engine. That means it will automatically adjust your dope on the fly, with respect to those environmental parameters. So if you shoot at sea level, or at high altitude … it will automatically sense that and display the adjustment you need to make for a first round hit (theoretically at least). It also means if you are in a full day long-range competition, and the temp starts at 50 degrees in the morning and gets to 90 in the afternoon it should take that into account as well. However, if you are using a temperature sensitive powder it won’t be able to do that as perfectly as you’d probably need it to in order to get first round hits on small, long-distance targets.
The HD-B’s took a major leap forward by giving you a way to customize the ballistic curve it uses for your load. They do that by providing a web-based ballistic calculator where you can either select the factory load you are using or enter a “custom load” as shown in the diagram below.
While this is a big advancement, it still has some huge limitations for precision rifle shooters:
- It only supports G1 BC (i.e. ballistic coefficient). While the G1 BC works well for shorter, flat-based bullets, a G7 BC works better for longer, boat-tailed bullets. If you are calculating the ballistics curve for a modern, long-range bullet, then using the standard G1 projectile to do that simply can’t give you an accurate curve beyond about 800 yards. I ran the ballistics in JBM for the load I shoot using a G1 BC and a G7 BC will give you a difference over 1 minute at 1,200 yards. That means the trajectory adjustment it suggests would be off by 14″. That’s enough to miss a shot. Then at 1 mile, it’s exaggerated even more with a difference of 2.5 MOA, which means your impact would be off by 46 inches! I have to believe one of those manufacturers will do it at some point. My bet is on Bushnell or Leica.
- The rangefinder only displays adjustments in whole numbers, without decimal places like what is shown in the screenshot.
- It only supports displaying the adjustment in either inches or MOA … not MIL.
- It doesn’t allow you to set the sight height for the ballistic calculations. That is hard-coded to a constant value of 1.9685 inches. This probably isn’t a big deal, but it’s kind of lame. Why?
Ergonomics & Design Review
The open bridge design feels great in your hand, and is a lot more streamlined than the more blocky designs on most rangefinder binoculars. The curved design provides a natural grip, and encourages good support technique, which can reduce fatigue when using them to glass for hours at a time. The optical quality also reduces eye fatigue, so if you are a guide or someone who will be using binoculars continuously for extended periods of time … these are the ones you should get.
It seems like they could have come up with a better button layout if they did about 1 minute of user testing. There are two buttons that are side-by-side, and the same exact size … which do you push to range? I’ve never handed the pair to someone and they got it right the first time. Why put the menu/mode button that is rarely used, right beside the ranging button … which you are constantly using? I’m not saying you don’t get used to it, but I just don’t understand how they could overlook that in the design process. In my opinion, Zeiss got the button right. It is large, light, and has a positive click. It is also a little difficult to reach the ranging button if you are wearing a baseball cap on the HD-B’s.
One thing I do like about them is the diopter adjustments are pretty stiff, which means you won’t accidentally move them. The eye cups have 5 click-stop settings, which are nice. I actually wear glasses, and the eye relief is really long. I actually screw out the eye cups one click even with my glasses on. These are the only binoculars I’ve ever done that on.
And lastly, we noticed the objective lens covers are constantly falling off. This happens because there is no lip on the edge of the tube body to keep them in place, as you can see in the photo above. They even fall off occasionally when removing them from the included case. I’m shocked we didn’t lose the covers during testing. I did end up purchasing a pair of these personally, and I’m sure I will lose them at some point … which means I’ll get to buy replacements from Leica. So although this is a small thing, its not nothing.
Most manufactures make it very tough to compare their product to others out there, but honestly Leica isn’t one of those. They do a better job of publishing complete specs than any other manufacturer out there. I did end up calling them for a few that weren’t listed, and read through user manuals to compile a complete set of detailed specifications. 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.
|Manufacturer Part #||40049|
|Measured Weight in Use²||39.4 oz|
|Measured Dimensions³||7.1 × 5.7 × 3.0 inches|
|Housing||Magnesium with rubber armored exterior|
|Included Strap||Contoured Neoprene|
|Limited Warranty||5 yr, Non-Transferrable|
|Beam Divergence||2.7 × 1.5 mrad|
|Tested Max Range⁴||1,950 yd
|Tested Min Range||10 yd
Claimed: 10 yd
|Claimed Accuracy||± 1 to 550 yd,
± 2 to 1100 yd,
|Tested Repetition Rate||24 ranges/min|
|Receiver Optic (Rx) Aperture Size (mm)||MFR refused to specify|
|Laser Type||904 nm|
|Pulse Duration||50 nanoseconds|
|Battery Type||1 CR2 Lithium|
|Battery Life||2,000 measurements|
|Equivalent Horizontal Range Function||Yes|
|Display Multiple Object Distances Function||No|
|Advanced Ranging Modes||Scan,
Equivalent Horizontal Range
Allows custom ballistics curves & takes temp, angle of incline, and atmospheric pressure into consideration, provides variety of output
|Objective Lens Diameter||42 mm|
|Exit pupil||4.2 mm|
|Eye Relief||20 mm|
|Field of view at 1000 yards||342 ft|
|Objective Angle of View||6.5°|
|Glass||HD Fluoride Glass|
|Coatings||HDC multi-layer coating, Anti-Reflective coating, hydrophobic Aqua-Dura coating, P40 Phase Corrective coating|
|Relative Brightness (RE)||17.6|
|Measured Focus Rotations||1.7|
¹This reflects the price each model was available for online through a major, reputable distributor as of Nov 2013.
²Includes batteries, lens covers, and included carrying strap
³Measured with lens covers attached
⁴All ranges were on reflective targets approximately 2 MOA in size in 200 yard increments in ideal atmospheric conditions (i.e. low light, great visibility).
Leica’s five year limited warranty is one of the longest offered by optics manufacturers. Zeiss offers a lifetime limited warranty, that is also transferrable. Leica’s warranty is not transferable, which means it only covers it if you’re the original owner that purchased it from an authorized Leica dealer. So essentially if you buy a used pair (even if it is just a few weeks old), you have no warranty coverage.
These are NOT made in Germany. If you look very carefully at the underside of the binoculars, in close to the hinges, you will see some black print (very hard to read). It says “Made by Leica Portugal.” Even the box clearly states “Made in Portugal.”
Wow, John. I definitely had not heard that, but it could be the true. I ended up buying a pair personally, so I will try to remember to check next time I have them out. I wanted to go ahead and approve your comment, just so other people might know to question this.
I did notice on Leica’s facebook page someone asked them directly if the HD-B’s were made in Germany, and they said yes. In fact, I had a pair shipped to me for testing directly from Germany. The address the package shipped from is Oskar-Barnack-Straße 11, 35606 Solms, Germany. That is just north of Frankfort, and definitely in Germany. If you look on Google Maps there seems to be a large factory there labeled “Leica Camera”. I’m not saying that proves they’re made there … I just wanted to provide whatever insight I could on this. Thanks for the feedback.
Is there a limit on the angle compensation/distant
The only limitation is the distance it can get a reading to. Essentially the rangefinder has a gyroscope or similar device built into it that tells it the angle it is currently at. So when you take a range measurement, it can use the angle and measured line-of-sight distance to calculate the equivalent horizontal distance to the target. It’s a simple calculation if you have those two inputs. So essentially there is no limit to the angle measurement, but there is a limit to the distance measurement … so that is your bottleneck. Essentially if you can range the target, it should be able to display a calculated readout for equivalent horizontal distance.
I am on my second pair because my first pair was replaced by Leica for poor optical performance with a green tint over everything. Now, the new pair is at leica because it would just stop working and would require me to remove the battery and place it back in to get it to work again. I am looking at waiting a “number of weeks” before getting them back. For a $3K plus binocular, this just is not acceptable.
Hey Paul, I appreciate your comments. It’s certainly good to hear what other people are experiencing. Hopefully they’ll get you squared away, and you’ll end up with the same performance I found here. Thanks!
The reason there is no MIL adjustments is because you set the unit into the U.S. function,try EU and it will show 10mm at 100 etc! I’m sure
Thanks for the tip, Bobby. I’ll try that out.
Any word if they will be updating/upgrading to G7 support for compensation?
No sir. I’ll definitely ask when I see them at SHOT in a couple months.
While a builtin ballistics engine may be fine for mid-range shots, I’m not holding my breath on them ever having one that is dead on out to 1000+ yards. A very well-written engine using point mass physics is what it takes to do that, and I’m not sure anyone is trying to run that on a tiny integrated chip that is battery powered. I just use my rangefinder to get the true horizontal distance and I plug that into my iPhone, Applied Ballistics Kestrel, or dope card. I don’t see that changing for long-range shots anytime soon, but I’ve been surprised before.
Great question! Thanks.
How this binos stands against the SWARO EL RANGE óptically & ranging with ballistic calcs ??
Wish I could tell you, Mario. Unfortunately, Swarovski didn’t want to be part of the comparison I conducted. I contacted them multiple times, told them all the details of how I was going to test the equipment, answered all their questions … and they didn’t want to be part of it. I really wish they would’ve. It’s hard for me to drop that much money on something without knowing what kind of performance I can expect, or how it compares to similar products in the market. In fact, I just won’t do it. It’s just too much risk for me. I’m a data-driven guy, so I want to see the data before I commit.
Sorry I can’t be more help.
Dear Cal thank you so much for your kind reply ! I am looking for purchasing a bino like your selection and I was a fun of ZEISS glass for my camera and rifle scopes until I purchased my first SWAROVSKI Z6i for my BLASER and I was shocked by the image that produces this glass so I want to check the users experiences with the EL RANGE before decides. As far as I read on the web people say that the SWARO is superior glass and the LEICA is the best on ballistics features. Hard decisión to made. I wish you best luck in getting the SWARO to test and give you my best regards. Mario.
I’m sure the Swaros have amazing glass, and I don’t actually use the ballistic features in my Leica HD-B’s … so I can’t speak to that. But I’d bet the Leica glass was as good as the Swaro’s. I’ve looked through a lot of great glass, and I own a lot of great glass. The Leica HD-B’s are top-drawer. If the Swaro’s are better, it is marginal at best. They’re at least in the same class of glass. For me, it just comes down to knowing what I’m going to get. I wish I had the data on the Swaro’s, but that is too much money for me to risk being disappointed in terms of performance.
Was the G7 BR2 considered ?
I limited the test to only rangefinding binoculars. Honestly, that is a piece of gear that can really help with speed in competitions and hunting. I love having one device that can do both, even more than I thought I would. Makes the pack lighter, more compact, and it’s faster and more convenient to use.
I’ve had a lot of readers ask about the G7 BR2, and it looks like a great product on the GunWerks TV show. I’ve tried to watch a lot of long-range shows, but most of the time it’s too painful for me to watch … but those guys are legit. They know what they’re doing.
Again, stellar review on rangefinders.
Any hints from Leica that they will revise their offering on the Geovid HD-B to include a G7 BC & hence match the BC range of the G7BR2 of 1500 yards.
I received a notice this morning from a retailer announcing and taking orders for the new 2015 G7BR2 which FINALLY offer a MIL option (& a few other refinements)
No, sir. I don’t know of any plans to include a G7 BC. I’m so hesitant to believe any ballistic engine outside of JBM & Applied Ballistics. I have a degree in Computer Science and have actually written my own ballistic engine, and it’s HARD!!! That’s why most of them suck, including the one I wrote! There are a million ways to do it. It’s tempting to take shortcuts that have little to no consequence at mid ranges, but will result in a miss at long range. The best ones use point mass physics engines and that is complicated stuff. Plus, I want the ability to true my readings either manually on a dope card or like the Applied Ballistics Kestrel allows you to do.
So as for me, I just want my rangefinder to tell me the horizontal distance to the target (not the line of sight distance). I’ll take it from there.
Cal: Thank you for the response on the Leica Geovid HD-B status (as best as you know). Hey, you have the science & I am riding your coattails. You have already educated me enough to accept that currently the combo of the Leica & the AB on a Kestrel is going to yield some of the best results possible for precision shooting.
It’s just so appealing to have a system in place that calls the shot “quickly” for a hunting (which is not the emphasis for your blog) scenario where the target is likely to walk away before the data is computed with multiple devices. So, I am hoping you will be able develop a “data-driven approach” (quoted respectfully) to the G7BR2 (& not rely on the manufacturers data) so we can quantify its capabilities against the Leica on a head-to-head & line-item basis, and from that make a purchasing decision based on balancing the speed of target data computation and the precision of the data produced (for the benefit of the hunters that follow your blog).
Yep, I totally get it. The only reason I got into the long-range game was to extend my ethical range for hunting. It might work for most of the ranges I would take a shot at (mostly under 600 yards). I have a dope card taped to my rifle, so it doesn’t add a lot of time for me to reference it … but it could be the few seconds for a trophy animal to walk back into the brush. So I get it. Lots of people have asked me to test the G7BR2, I just haven’t got to it yet. I bet I do at some point.
I’m actually a big fan of Gunwerks, although I don’t know of any of those guys. They are legit. I actually just finished watching their long-range hunting show a few minutes ago. I honestly can’t watch many long-range shots on TV. Most are painful to watch, but the Gunwerks guys know what they’re talking about. Just watching from a consumer perspective, they seem to execute at a high-level. I’d be shocked if they’d put their name on anything that wasn’t top drawer. But, like you mentioned … I’d prefer to see the hard data, and not just trust that they make good products. Maybe I’ll get to it at some point.
Thanks for the comments.
As you might surmise, I not only read your new posts, but also go back over the old posts simply because as I learn more, older posts have new relevance. So, here is an earlier exchange you had with ‘Bobby’ that I would appreciate your feedback on re: the MIL reading capability (or not) of the Leica HD-B 10×42 (I don’t think it was favored with a response):
Bobby October 25, 2014 at 9:49 pm
The reason there is no MIL adjustments is because you set the unit into the U.S. function, try EU and it will show 10mm at 100 etc! I’m sure
Cal October 25, 2014 at 11:01 pm
Thanks for the tip, Bobby. I’ll try that out.
Also some other “news” that is likely not news to you, but something we have corresponded on in the past: Gunwerks has finally come through with a Mil capability with the new 2015 rev of the G7 BR2 Rangefinder offering new these new features:
– Drop solutions in MRAD (MIL) & MOA
– improved ranging algorithms
– smaller beam divergence
Supposed to ship in June (it’s slipping I think) street price #1,799.00
Thx as always,
Hey, Ranger. Thanks for the updates. I still haven’t tried the Leica mil readings. I actually am very particular about the ballistic software I use, because I’ve learned the hard way … they aren’t all created equal. There are only two ballistics engines I trust at this point: JBM and Applied Ballistics. Both of those use point mass physics engines, and seem to align with my hits in the field better than anything else I’ve tried. So I’m more than a little skeptical that the engine in the Leica binoculars would be accurate enough for the type of shooting I do. I may try it out at some point, but I don’t see myself using that for serious long-range, precision shooting were first round hits have to count.
But … I might be over the top on that, and just a crabby old man on that topic. I’ve actually written my own ballistics software before, and it is hard to get it right. There are a million ways to do everything, and there are a lot of compromises you could make that have no consequence at short or mid-ranged, but will result in a miss at long-range. So I’m just hesitant to trust predictive ballistics that haven’t been vetted as much as those other two. The fact that the Leica’s only allow you to input a G1 BC tells me they aren’t as serious about ballistics as I am. It seems like an add-on feature to a product, and it probably didn’t get the attention it deserved. But I could be wrong. Haven’t spent any time in the field checking it. Hope this makes sense.
Thanks for your very informative reviews!!
I get what you say about rather trusting the Kestrel AB than the built in ballistics in the HD-B.
Would you then recommend simply going for the HD-R version?
Lastly, 8x or 10x magnification…??
Very interested to hear your thoughts on this…
Thanks, Ash. Glad you found the approach helpful. I know it’s what I’d prefer to find if I were doing research on a product. Who has some hard data on the performance, and then leave it up to me to make an informed decision for my application.
Both of your questions depend on the application. The HD-R doesn’t have the ranging distance the HD-B does. It has a published max range of 1400 yards, and that is probably slightly optimistic and only in ideal conditions (like the HD-B was able to range at their published max range of 2000 yards). So I bet you can count on it ranging 1/2 that distance in bright, mid-day conditions. So are you okay with 600-800 yards in those conditions? If so, go HD-R … if not, go HD-B. That’s what it comes down to for me.
Now, I haven’t tested them, so they may give better performance. I’m basing all this on what I measured the HD-B’s performance to be compared to the published specs.
And the 8x vs 10x decision is also very application dependent. I use mine for hunting, and don’t always carry a spotting scope … so I went 10x. I want to see more detail about the animal through the binos, and not just know that its there. If I only used them for competitions, I’d probably go 8x. I just need to be able to find and range the targets. I don’t need to know how many bullet impacts the target has on it. So it just comes down to how much detail are you wanting to see. I wouldn’t use a 12x bino for hunting, even if it was available. I feel like I’d rather give up a little field of view, but not too much. That is the balance you need to think about … is wide field of view or seeing more detail important.
Hopefully this makes sense. Sorry there aren’t easy answers on this, but hopefully this gives you enough context to make an informed decision for your application. 😉
These are premium quality. I have used mine under several field engagements at long-range, precision rifle courses out to 1065 yards (known distances), and hunting. Great clarity, color, and no eye strain. You can see mirage and trace if you use a tripod and are good at it. Several things to be aware of:
1. They WILL spit out MIL, if you realize that the ’10’ setting when you set up the bino to give you data (when you are programming the binocular) is METRIC. For example, if you range a target and the bino tells you “500” (meters or yards depending on how you programmed that function), then next data you see would be “36” (for example purposes only). That “36” is almost equivalent to 3.6 mil. When I used them in this manner the firing solution that the binos were almost dead on at 200, 250, 300, 350, 400, 450 . . . and so on all the way out to 900 (yards – this rifle range was in yards – but this would apply also to meters – my zero was set at 100.
2. At 900 yards the binos were giving numbers that were off or not displaying. For example, I know my gun and scope require 10.8 MIL at 900 yards (.308 – .496 BC – MV of 2720 fps – G7 – firing out of a Sako TRG22 w/26 inch barrel/suppressed). Firing on a day with almost the same density altitude as my original DOPE (1150 ft), the binos worked great out to 900 yards, and then at 900 gave a firing solution of 10 (mil). So you have lost that third decimal place at 9. At 1000 they would only display a —. Since you are in the ’10’ setting, you can’t get data higher than this to display. Perhaps if I switched to an MOA setting they would have given some two digit data I could have converted to MIL.
3. Ranging small targets at great distance (i.e. a coyote head at 700 yards), you will find it VERY difficult to get a read. Your best bet is to use the binos to ‘pre-range’ your sectors off big objects in the field, and update a card to reflect this data – then you will have reference dope and be ready. The laser needs a very good surface quality and size to give you a reading.
4. The Leica software for your desktop PC WILL allow a G7 ballistic curve. Repeating, the G7 curve IS available on these.
* The ballistic data these provided on my last range day was far more accurate than my Kestrel 4500NV (Applied Ballistics model). The Kestrel was set up with the SAME data inputs and was putting out mil solutions that were off by 2 to 6 MILS (depending on the range).
* Everyone that sees and uses these for the first time is speechless. When they realize the firing solutions are accurate they are either blown away and/or jealous. When they find out how much they cost they are either resolved to go get a pair, or pissed off that you are somehow ‘cheating.’
Ways to improve these babies:
* Allow the user to upgrade the firmware so we can get more precise ballistic curves.
* LEICA – please put this technology INSIDE a scope, and then provide a remote switch that can be placed on the side of the frame/stock above the trigger guard. That way the shooter can stay behind the gun, laze the target through the scope, see the solution in the scope, and then hold (if the shooter knows his or her hold conversions). Better yet, let the shooter enter his or her own hold-conversion equation in advance, and that way the ballistic calc will spit out a good reference hold number. Add the upcoming wind calculating technology that is on the horizon, and it is almost “bye-bye” spotter. Well, you still may want a spotter.
Hey, thanks for the very thoughtful input. I appreciate you being willing to share your experience, and the time you put into organizing your thoughts.
Leica must have made an update to their ballistic software to include the G7 drag model, which is very cool for those of us using those really high-BC bullets with long boattails.
And yeah, they are spectacular glass. I was at a match with a friend, and he was looking through his set of Leica binos and one of the other competitors asked if he could try them out. Before he could lift them to his eyes, another guy told him, “Dude, don’t do it! You’ll regret it.” He was right. The competitor that tried them out owned a set of Leicas within a couple weeks. He said he couldn’t get out of his head how much better they were than anything he’d ever experienced. I think it’s one of the best tools in a hunter’s pack. It may be as important as the rifle. Think about it, you use your binos ALL DAY LONG … and you can’t shoot something if you never noticed it was there. When you see the target, you can have a good range to it with the push of a button. No need to transition to a monocular and waste time trying to find the target again. Bryan Litz says that he thinks the #1 cause of misses at long range are due to range error … people just didn’t know how far the target really was. These pretty much solve that problem for 99% of the scenarios you’ll run into. Awesome tool.
I’m hesitant to believe the Leica ballistic engine could be as accurate as the point-mass physics engine that Applied Ballistics uses in all their ballistics calculators. But, you’ve sparked my interest! I may do a test at some point to see whether that is true or not. So thanks for the thought-provoking feedback!
Is there an awesome pair of rangefinder/binos that have an unconditional lifetime warranty? Looked through the Licas at SW and the are awesome warranty wasn’t impressive.
Not that I know of. Bushnell typically has a pretty solid warranty, but I believe they only cover the electronics on the rangefinders for a few years. Electronics just don’t last forever, so I don’t know if you’ll find anyone with an unconditional lifetime guarantee on rangefinders. I could be wrong though. Vortex and Steiner typically have the most solid warranties in the business, so you might look at them. I haven’t used either of their rangefinders, so I couldn’t tell you how good they are.