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Rangefinder Field Test: Swarovski 8x30 Laser Guide Vs. Leica CRF 1600 Rangemaster

 
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  #1  
Old 06-08-2011, 04:59 PM
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Rangefinder Field Test: Swarovski 8x30 Laser Guide Vs. Leica CRF 1600 Rangemaster

I ordered and received a Leica CRF 1600 Rangemaster last week.

Yesterday I took the CRF 1600 out on a day hunt for black bear in the Kenai Mountains to test its ranging capabilities. I also took my Swarovski 8x30 Laser Guide rangefinder. This is the same location I’ve hunted for years, and where I’ve also used a Leica 1200 Scan rangefinder and a Bushnell 1500 Arc rangefinder in prior years.

I was hoping the Leica 1600 would range substantially further distances than my prior Leica 1200 Scan model. If it would compare favorably to the Swarovski, I was going to switch over to the CRF 1600. The temperature, station pressure, and inclination/declination data provided by the CRF 1600 would mean I wouldn’t also have to pack the Kestrel weather meter with me on my backpack hunts.

In a nutshell: The Leica CRF 1600 didn’t range as far as I’d hoped and require. I don’t know if my unit is deficient compared to some of the other CRF 1600s or not. From what I’ve read from other owners posting here, their units seem to be ranging farther than the unit I tested yesterday.

All of the features I tested on the CRF 1600 Rangemaster worked. Temperature, atmospheric pressure, and angle of inclination or declination. The temperature and pressure data obtained were substantially the same as the Kestrel obtained data. I was ranging live spruce trees, which have provided good ranging ability on a variety of Bushnell, Leica, and Swarovski laser rangefinders in the past. The only problem I have with this CRF 1600 is the limited distances I was able to consistently read. Here’s the performance I obtained on 3 separate spruce trees, compared to the Swarovski 8x30 Laser Guide rangefinder performance on those same 3 trees. I ranged many other locations during this 5-hour hunt also, but here's the apples to apples comparison on these 3 specific targets:


At 1531 yards: The Swarovski ranged the object 9 out of 10 times. . The Leica ranged the object 1 out of 10 times.

At 1439 yards: The Swarovski ranged the object 10 out of 10 times. The Leica ranged the object 4 out of 10 times.

At 1252 yards: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Leica ranged the object 9 out of 10 times.


These three specific tests were performed towards evening, with moderate continuous cloud cover (not bright sunshine). When the sun was shining earlier in the day, the Leica CRF 1600 never ranged a tree more than 1250 yards, while the Swarovski was pretty consistently providing distance readings out to 1450 yards.

To summarize; my CRF 1600 seems to range about 200-250 yards farther than my prior Leica 1200 Scan model - from this same location in years gone by. My Swarovski 8x30 Laser Guide (which is rated by Swarovski to range about the same distance as Leica rates their CRF 1600 unit), consistently obtained yardage readings approximately 300 yards farther than this Leica CRF 1600.

Perhaps this CRF 1600 unit isn’t up to the norm of most other Leica CRF 1600 units? I can only go by what I’ve read on the forums, as posted by others.

I would have to say I prefer the CRF 1600 over the Swarovski in every other way. The readout is much easier to see on the CRF 1600. The readings are obtained much quicker on the CRF 1600. The CRF 1600 is smaller, lighter, has a push button that is better shielded and less apt to be activated and drain the battery when crammed into my backpack along with my other gear, and it comes with a carrying case that better protects the unit. The temperature, atmospheric pressure, and angle readings are very handy for entering into a ballistics program. However I find this unit deficient on the most important matter - providing accurate ranges to distant objects. That's the primary reason I purchase and carry a laser rangefinder. But my CRF 1600 isn’t ranging to the distances that the Swarovski will repeatedly and consistently range, and that I require.
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Old 06-08-2011, 05:21 PM
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Re: Rangefinder Field Test: Swarovski 8x30 Laser Guide Vs. Leica CRF 1600 Rangemaste

Phorwath, I think you might want to have it checked out or replaced. I personally have ranged a small evergreen tree in the same condition you described consecutivly at over 1700 yards with a CRF 1600. Hope you get it figured out. It sounds like you like the other features and I truely believe you will be better off with the smaller beam of the leica.

Jeff
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Old 06-08-2011, 06:26 PM
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Re: Rangefinder Field Test: Swarovski 8x30 Laser Guide Vs. Leica CRF 1600 Rangemaste

Jeff,
Excellent feedback. That helps me sort out whether or not my CRF 1600 performance is normal or abnormal. Hope to get additional feedback from other CRF 1600 forum member/owners also.

Thank you for sharing your experience with this relatively new Leica offering.


Edit: One addition to my initial post. When I stated I preferred the Leica in every way over the Swaro Laser Guide, I neglected to mention that the Swarovski does excel in providing the substantially better view, with respect to the field of view, resolution, and light transmission. The Swarovski glass is good enough that I have used the 8x30 Laser Guide as a monocular for general viewing and spotting of game, in the past. I'll sometimes leave the binoculars at the house and simply use the Swaro as my substitute for binoculars. I own a set of 8x30mm SLC Swarovski binoculars, and the Swaro Laser Guide rangefinder glass seems the equivalent of the 8x30 SLCs. Which is pretty darn good glass.

Last edited by phorwath; 06-08-2011 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 06-08-2011, 08:38 PM
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Re: Rangefinder Field Test: Swarovski 8x30 Laser Guide Vs. Leica CRF 1600 Rangemaste

I was thinking about this while working this afternoon. Here is something that I thought of. Often when we talk about testing a RF we look at how many consecutive hits we get at a given distance. My question is, if it hit 3 out of 6 why doesn't it hit 6 out of 6. What is changing? Could it be us? The unit obviously has the mechanics to do it or it would miss every time. Unless we are at the end of its capability. So in thinking about this I will suggest that maybe , even most likely, the smaller beams are going to be more subject to our movement. Like a rifle or shotgun thing. The larger beam will return more times but the farther we go out the more chance that it is not ranging what we think it is. Anyway, even my PLRF10 shows in the manual under "causes of errors or no returns" not to use it in a boat or while moving. So, I don't know what you had for a rest Phorwath, but it might be worth trying it again with a better rest on the farthest targets as the smaller beam may require this. Just a thought??

Jeff
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Old 06-08-2011, 10:28 PM
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Re: Rangefinder Field Test: Swarovski 8x30 Laser Guide Vs. Leica CRF 1600 Rangemaste

I use a tripod when distances get far.
Thanks for the review.
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Old 06-08-2011, 11:30 PM
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Re: Rangefinder Field Test: Swarovski 8x30 Laser Guide Vs. Leica CRF 1600 Rangemaste

Quote:
Originally Posted by Broz View Post
What is changing? Could it be us? The unit obviously has the mechanics to do it or it would miss every time...

...So, I don't know what you had for a rest Phorwath, but it might be worth trying it again with a better rest on the farthest targets as the smaller beam may require this. Just a thought??

Jeff
It's good that you asked, and I should have provided that information in my original post. Both units were hand held for this testing.

Unit stillness/steadiness was on my mind while I was testing the units. I was sitting on a hillside for about 5 hrs, watching for bears in openings on the alder covered mountainside. Both units were hand held with my elbows/arms resting on my knees. I was about as steady as I could ever be - similar to a prone position with both elbows rested on the ground surface. I couldn't tell any difference on the success of obtaining readings from my steadiest shots to the ones where a little extra visible motion was caused by depressing the 'shoot' buttons with either laser rangefinder.

From my perspective, I held the units about as still as I'll ever be able to in my hunting activities. I'm 99% backpack hunting, and much of the time above treeline. Sometimes I can rest the rangefinder on a branch or steady it on a rock. I don't carry a tripod. Not even for my spotting scope. I only have one packing rifle that exceeds 10 1/2 lbs in weight that ever gets employed on my backpack hunts. Relatively light weight rifles compared to most LRH rifles I read about on this Forum. I'm unwilling to pack the additional weight or volume of either a sturdy tripod or a 14 lb rifle. So with these self-imposed rangefinder use limitations in mind, the Swarovski substantially out-ranged this CRF 1600. I won't be packing the tripod, so I wanted to test them the same way they'll be used on my hunting trips.
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Old 06-09-2011, 08:28 AM
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Re: Rangefinder Field Test: Swarovski 8x30 Laser Guide Vs. Leica CRF 1600 Rangemaste

Hopefully some others on here that have the 1600 will offer their actual field exeriences and a conclusion can be made. How hard would it be to exchange it? I have seen this before with the 5 swaros I have owned, not all RF's are created equal. I have always felt from reading your posts you have the best Swaro ever built or at least one of the best and better than any of the 5 I had.

If it would be of any help to you I would be glad to go get the 1600 I used and do some more testing for you in what ever conditions you like. It lives just 3 miles down the road. There are many things here to test it on including elk so it would not be hard to do.

Let me know.

Jeff
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