I had been looking for a new rangefinder for a while, and had pretty much decided between the Leica CRF 1600 or the Bushnell 1600 ARC...
I did quite a bit of online browsing, perusing the forums for feedback about these two options. The Bushnell could be had for about 200 dollars less than the Leica... but the Leica was smaller, with better glass... and possibly (possibly) better ranging capabilities.
It didn't take long to find out that some of Leica's new 1600's were not up to par, perhaps needing some sort of modification to work well at closer ranges... and others seemed to be getting shipped out without good collimation of the laser and lens, so they wouldn't get you much past 800 yards on a good day. To Leica's credit, it seems they fixed these units quickly, no questions asked, and apparently have much better customer service than Bushnell does--of whom I did read at least one report of a dissatisfied customer who Bushnell didn't seem to want to help. Of course we didn't get Bushnell's side of that story...
Leica seems to have made a change to their 1600's, calling them 1600b models... so that's a tacit admission that something wasn't just right with all of the original run of 1600's. I think the b models are doing well, from all I've read.
Most folks who have the Leica 1200 rangefinder (I think it's a CRF designation too, for "compact range finder", I believe) are very satisfied with that model, and I've seen my friend's Leica 1200 range to 1350 yards on a bare spot on a hillside.
In the end, I decided that one guy's bad experience with Bushnell's customer service group wasn't enough to dissuade me from saving 200 dollars and "pulling the trigger" on the Elite 1600 ARC. I figured I'd try it and if I didn't like it I would return it and get the Leica.
"ARC" stands for "angle range compensation", which not only gives you the angle of the target you're ranging, but the unit computes the amount of drop the bullet will endure at that range and angle (from a 100 yard zero), and it displays the amount of drop you need to allow for in centimeters, MOA, or inches. There are about 7 different trajectories you can choose from which are programmed in the ARC 1600's memory. I guess if your rifle doesn't duplicate one of those pre-programmed trajectories, you're just out of luck... you'll have to use a drop chart (which I would probably recommend anyway)...
The Elite 1600 ARC uses a cr123 battery, which is a larger battery than the Leica uses (a CR2), and will probably last longer, it would seem. The Bushnell also has a screw port for a tripod, so you can tripod mount it for longer ranges if you're having trouble holding it still.
Negatives on the Bushnell Elite ARC 1600 are first of all... and get this... IT IS MADE IN CHINA~~!! No kidding, I almost packed it up and sent it right back to the seller when I saw where it was made. I don't mind cheap stuff coming from China, you expect that... but for the money these things cost, you'd at least expect a Japanese origin, where QC is much more consitent. Oh well. :(
The other negative is that the LED readout is indeed, as practically everyone reports, very dim. There are four brightness settings, but even at 4, it's still kind of faint, and you find yourself pointing the rangefinder toward a darker background after it gets a hit on your target, just so you can see the numbers clearly. This isn't always the case, of course, but it's something to expect if you decide to try one of these.
I did notice that you can sort of "get used to" picking up the readout, even though it's faint... but if you're used to the bright readout of the Leica, you'll not be a happy camper with this Bushnell's "light pinkish" numbers... :o
I took the unit out to the field at mid-day, with bright sunlight on pretty much everything in the field of view. I found it hard to believe, but it didn't stutter a bit when I pointed it at a tree line in the extreme distance... it quickly returned a reading of 1348 yards. I shot it again, and got the same reading. WOW!
I wasn't really expecting it to do so well in bright sunlight.
Later in the evening, I went back into the same area and began testing different targets at various ranges. It had no problems at close range whatsoever--an issue that I did see some folks complain about with regards to the Leica. I was actually able to range something only 6 yards (18 feet) away... and 10 yards, and 15 yards... and pretty much every distance in between there and the the extreme reading for the evening, which I'll tell you about in a bit...
The same tree line that read 1348 yards earlier, in the sunlight, read the same in the evening with the sun going down. A good thing, of course.
In the great distance, I saw a barn roof with a shallow angle, and I began to try to get a reading on that roof. As I suspected might be the case, it would not return a reading, the angle of the roof was just too shallow at that range to get enough laser reflection to get a reading. I decided to give up on that area, but then I noticed a farm tractor sitting next to the barn... so I targeted it. Bingo, without hesitation the reading came back... 1658 yards. I took the same reading 3 times, and it reported that same 1658 yard reading each time. Amazing... (to me anyway).
This unit seems like it's going to be a keeper. If it will continue to do as well as it is doing now, I'll never complain. The glass is very good (though not as good as Leica glass), and the controls are easy to operate. It's presumably water resistant, but I'm not going to test that theory on purpose. ;)
Bruno's got me this one for 446 dollars, which is a lot cheaper than other sources online. That beats pretty much everyone else's price I could find. I don't know if all of these units work as well as mine seems to, but hopefully they do. Reviews I've read seem almost unanimously positive, so I think these things are pretty consistent in their quality.
I did see some reports where users complained about how long the ARC 1600 took to return a reading... and I guess that could be considered the case, but I didn't find it bothersome at all. Maybe those guys were just used to the Leica units, which I believe report a reading immediately, whereas the Bushnell can take about 2 seconds before it gives you the yardage number.
All in all, the Bushnell Elite ARC 1600 is a good value, I believe... it actually works so well I can *just* get past that China thing.