It is a hunter’s duty to comply with the aspects of ethical hunting. One of the important aspects is associated with confidence that the bullet is going to hit the animal in the vital area. It is thus important to be aware of your marksmanship skills and stand back if you are not 100 % self-confident about the shot. Long-range shooting is getting more popular by the day, but to practice it you need appropriate equipment. To carefully inspect the game and aim for a clear shot, you need a big magnification. But it does not stop there – keep in mind that when shooting at long distances, you need to think about the ballistics. One of the most important pieces of information used in ballistic curve calculation is the distance to the target.
This is where a rangefinder comes into play. Look towards the target, press the button, and the distance is here. The more advanced models provide you with the equivalent horizontal range, and the best models on the market are equipped with an advanced ballistics calculator – they calculate the bullet drop correction on their own, saving your time.
Since rangefinders are such useful gadgets, let us take a look at the ones introduced in 2020. Most major hunting fairs (except for Shot Show) have been cancelled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Even so, there have been some interesting releases in the field of rangefinders throughout the last year that we should highlight.
Leica Geovid 3200.COM and Rangemaster CRF 3500.COM
Leica unveiled their .COM series of rangefinders in 2019, entering the world of Bluetooth connectivity. They implemented the software into the famous Geovid series at the beginning of 2020, saying farewell to the HD-B models where the ballistic information was transferred to the binoculars via a microSD memory card. Mechanically and optically, the binoculars remain the same – the chassis is made of magnesium, the bridge is of the open type, and there is still a combination of Perger-Porro prisms, high-quality glass and advanced coatings inside. You do not have to contend with difficulties associated with microSD cards any longer; simply download the Leica hunting app on your smartphone and you are ready to go. Transfer the ballistic information of the used ammunition to the binoculars via the app, and after measuring the distance, the binoculars will display the bullet drop correction, either in form of a holdover or click adjustment. The maximum measuring range is 2900 m (3200 yards). The device can be paired with Kestrel Elite.
CRF 3500.COM is an upgrade from CRF 2800.COM which was released last year. Both these rangefinding monoculars have the same software as the Geovid 3200.COM binoculars described above. The only difference between the two is in the range of measurement – 3500.COM can measure a distance up to 3200 m (3500 yards), whereas the maximum measurement range of 2800.COM is 2560 m (2800 yards). For now, the 3500.COM is only available in the US market.
Kahles Helia RF-M
Kahles has a tradition of more than 100 years in the manufacturing of optics. Even though they have been around for over a century, Helia RF-M is their first-ever rangefinding monocular. The company underwent a complete makeover a few years ago – they changed their logotype and swapped their signature blue colour with orange. In the years to follow, they released plenty of new products with a revamped look. One of them is Helia RF-M, a modern-looking rangefinding monocular with a vibrant-orange-coloured line on its housing. It operates at 7x magnification and measures distances up to 2000 m. The brightness of the LED can be set to 5 intensity levels. It can display the equivalent horizontal range, which is extremely useful for inclined shots. Temperature and air pressure can be measured, and a single CR2 battery should be enough for approx. measurements. A handy gadget indeed!
Minox X-range 10x42
Introduced in Minox's signature black colour, the X-range represent this company's entry into the world of rangefinding devices. The body is made of magnesium, adding to the durability and robustness. With a price around 1500 €, its main competitors are Vortex Fury, SigSauer KILO3000BDX, Kahles Helia RF, and GPO Rangeguide. They measure distances up to 2800 meters. The optical quality is impressive for the price, and the illumination intensity of the OLED-display can be set to match the ambient lighting. To help you with the inclined shots, the device can be set to provide the equivalent horizontal range of the measured distance. For now, only the 10x magnification model is available. These run on a CR2 battery which should last for 4000 measurements.
Delta Optical T 9x45 HD RF
In the last years, Delta Optical has established themselves as a reputable optics manufacturer. They keep on expanding their offer with interesting, affordable products. 9x45 HD RF are Delta’s first rangefinding binoculars. With a unique magnification of 9x and an unusual lens diameter of 45 mm, they stand out of the crowd. 9x45 HD RF binoculars sport an interesting design with a unique combination of colours which some like and some do not. We like the two buttons which are well hidden on the surface of the bridge. These roof-prism binoculars measure the distance up to around 2400 m. On top of that, they can display the equivalent horizontal range. The binoculars provide decent optical quality and an adjustable display brightness (5 levels). At the price of 1300 €, they compete against Vortex Fury, Kahles Helia RF, and some others.
Several years ago, only a few optics manufacturers dealt with LRF technology. Since 2017, the LRF market has been blooming. With long-range hunting getting more popular, several manufacturers have recognized the potential of these devices. Owning one is a must when you are planning on harvesting an animal at a distance greater than usual. If you are looking for a premium model with a ballistics calculator, do not skip on the models with Bluetooth connectivity.