After reading every range-finder article I could find on the net, I decided to buy a Leica CRF 1200
The CRF is touted as being the smallest and lightest high quality range-finder on the market, and while its ranging may be somewhat limited compared to a Swarovski Laser Guide, it excels in enough areas to represent good value for money.
Having decided which LRF to buy, the next question was where to buy it.
Camera Land in New York USA has been advertising Leica-Certified used CRFs at $499 USD, claiming that the condition of the units is "as new". With Australian Customs not interested in articles worth less than $1,000 AUD, the Camera Land deal was looking promising, so I phoned the owner, Doug, to find out more. I was informed that the CRFs were:
"Demos from trade shows, demo day events and internally @ Leica, Salesmans Sample, Other dealers overstock inventory balance units, Refurbs, Damaged box goods.
They are all checked out to be sure that they are in operationally and optically perfect condition, certified, and made available for resale under a reduced warranty of 3 months Vs 2 years for brand new ."
Though somewhat apprehensive, I decided to take a punt and ordered one of Doug's "used" CRFs the next day. It arrived in Australia three days later, and was delivered soon after. Excellent service, I think you'll agree.
As promised, the CRF appeared brand new, not a mark or blemish anywhere. It came packaged in its original box complete with CR2 battery, padded belt-carry case, lanyard, manual and warranty. The total cost, including postage and handling, was $540 USD.
I then spent two days ranging on every target I could find in different environments - flat country, hills, mountains, midday full sun, dusk, but unfortunately no snow, rain or fog. The results are as follows:
<font class="small">Code:</font><hr /><pre>Conditions Target Range Comments
Bright sun Street Sign 2' x 2' 1,254 yds Ranged every time - could range further
" Reflector 2" x 2" 960 yds Ranged every time - could range further
" Bushes 950 yds Ranged most times - species dependent
" Cows 500 yds Ranged most times - color dependent
Dusk Bushes 1145 yds Ranged most times - species dependent
" Cows 720 yds Ranged sometimes - color dependent </pre><hr />
Scan Mode seemed more useful when ranging difficult targets at moderate ranges than when ranging at the limits. At the limits I could range a target with one ping that would not register on Scan Mode.
Ranging distant animals is best served by pinging a nearby bush, tree or even a light coloured rock as fur is a very poor reflector, especially dark fur.
A steady hold is absolutely essential for pinging small targets at long range.
CRF 1200 Summary:
Light weight (220g)
Small size (113mmx75mmx34mm)
Long battery life (2,000 ops)
Aiming reticle (small red LED square for precise aiming and high visability in low light)
Scan mode (for ranging difficult targets)
Simple to operate
Difficult to ping fur targets @ > 500yds in bright sun (use nearby bushes instead)
The usefulness of a laser range-finder when hunting, or field target shooting, can increase dramatically when it is used in conjunction with an inclinometer, a barometer, a thermometer, and a PDA loaded with ballistics software to bring it all together. Fortunately, most of these extras are available at reasonable cost.
The inclinometer on my CRF (see photo) cost $15 from a marine supplier.
Combo temp/barometers are available on ebay for under $15.
Palm Z22s are the cheapest PDAs I could find for under $100.
PSSF Ballistic Software for Palm PDAs is FREE from here http://www.freewarepalm.com/calculat...rfriend).shtml
For those who want to move onwards and upwards in range-finder performance, here is a quick comparison list of the Newcon Optik vs Swarovski vs CRF:
<font class="small">Code:</font><hr /><pre> Newcon Optik LRB 3000 Swarovski Laser Guide Leica CRF 1200
Range 3,000 m 1,600 yds + 1,200 yds +
Optics 7x40 8x30 7x24
Weight 970g (34.2oz) 386g (13.6oz) 220g (7.8oz)
LxWxH 158x145x69 (6.2"x5.7"x2.7") 120x99x46 (4.7"x3.9"x1.8") 113x75x34 (4.5"x2.75"x1.25")
Features Compass & Velocity Waterproof Waterproof
Batt. Life 2,000 ops. 1,000 ops. 2,000 ops.
Cost $1,600 USD $900 USD $600 USD</pre><hr />