My short review... Bushnell Elite ARC 1600 rangefinder

Discussion in 'Long Range Scopes and Other Optics' started by green 788, May 18, 2012.

  1. green 788

    green 788 Well-Known Member

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    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. :)

    [​IMG]

    "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... :eek:

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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. :)

    Dan
     
  2. gjk5

    gjk5 Well-Known Member

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    Great write up. I just got rid of a Bushnell ARC 1000 today because it was not very good (512 max range on reflective targets in my experience) but all of the Bushnell Elite line are much better products than the standard Bushnells. And it just so happens that the Leica 1600 CRF and the Zeiss Victory 1200 are what I am looking at for replacements.

    Did you do any testing for the width of the beam at distance? I have heard this is an issue with some RF's and particularly with the Zeiss.
     

  3. green 788

    green 788 Well-Known Member

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    I didn't check beam width at long range... I have to admit I don't know how to go about doing that... :eek:
     
  4. mtnwrunner

    mtnwrunner Well-Known Member

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    Yes, great review. As far as Bushnell's customer service goes, well, I have had nothing but great luck. I had an issue with a loose part on a pair of binos and they fixed it (fast) and sent me a 40 percent off coupon for any bushnell product.
    And I gotta tell ya, especially for the price, you cannot beat their rangefinders.

    Randy
     
  5. Chopaka81

    Chopaka81 Well-Known Member

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    Does this range finder have a threaded tri-pod mount?
    Thanks, Don
     
  6. green 788

    green 788 Well-Known Member

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    yes, it's got a tripod mount, threaded standard...
     
  7. Browninglover1

    Browninglover1 Well-Known Member

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    Hopefully yours lasts.... my Elite worked great for two years and then has degraded extremely quickly. When I bought it, it would easily range trees to 1000 yards and reflective objects to 1500 with no problems. 4 years later, it wouldn't read past 400 yards on anything. It seems a lot of people have had the same problem with the units degrading over time.
     
  8. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

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    Bushnell range finders have the largest beam divergence of any rangefinder I've been able to get specs on, 2x4 mil. I do use the 1000 ARC for bow hunting, absolutely love it under 500 yards!!
     
  9. green 788

    green 788 Well-Known Member

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    the Bushnell Elite 1500's are pretty substandard, from what I've seen. My cousin bought one of them and it wouldn't even outperform my YP1000... but these new ARC's seem good, so far. I do hope mine will hold up. :)
     
  10. SidecarFlip

    SidecarFlip Well-Known Member

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    I have one as well (ARC). Got it when they first came out and I have no issues except the readout, which I've gotten used to. I've found you can 'speed' up the acquisition by activating the unit 2 times quickly, the second time, it displays yardage right away.,

    I use mine much more for non-hunting business. I custom run forage for contract customers and calculating acerage on odd shaped fields and calculating fertilizer tonnage is where I use it most.

    I use my vehicle as a reference point and the Bushy has been within a yard, consistently. I need an accurate rangefinder because I charge according to acerage.

    My neighbor borrows it to run his row crop fields. He can calculate how much seed he needs to buy for rental plots and fertilizer, again on odd shaped and rectangular fields.

    Sure ir a whole lot easier and quicker than the old split image transit method.

    I'm still on the original battery if that says anything about battery life.

    Far as China goes, in today's world economy, it don't matter much. Even 'Made in America' probably has Chinese perts inside.:)

    I believe about the only thing totally 'made in America' today is babies.
     
  11. green 788

    green 788 Well-Known Member

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    Sidecar... that's encouraging to see that yours is doing well, after a good bit of use.

    I'll post back if I do have an issue with mine. If it keeps working like it's working now, I know I'll be more than satisfied. :)
     
  12. Chopaka81

    Chopaka81 Well-Known Member

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    Interesting, did you use yours a lot? Or did it sit idle between seasons?
     
  13. green 788

    green 788 Well-Known Member

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    If he's had it for two years (as he mentioned), it's one of the Elite 1500's, and very different from the Elite ARC 1600's which have come out in the last 12 months...

    still, though, his Elite 1500 should have worked better. My cousin bought one of those also, paid around 350 dollars for it 3 years back, IIRC. And it just wasn't even close to the rangefinder my Bushnell YP1000 was... it seemed more like an 800 yard unit with a "1500" label on it.
     
  14. Browninglover1

    Browninglover1 Well-Known Member

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    It got used at least once a month. It started going downhill in the wintertime, but I figured it was just hard for it to get a reading in the snow. As of 3 or 4 months ago I could still get reading out to 5 or 600 on trees but the last two times I've taken it out, it won't range anything past 400. Also, it is the older Elite 1500 ARC model but I have a hard time believing they made any serious changes when they went to the 1600 version.