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

Discussion in 'Equipment Discussions' started by phorwath, Jun 8, 2011.

  1. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  2. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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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
     

  3. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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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: Jun 8, 2011
  4. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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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
     
  5. Ernie

    Ernie SPONSOR

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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.
     
  6. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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

    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.
     
  7. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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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
     
  8. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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

    Jeff,
    If you could confirm that you're able to consistently range spruce trees, mountain hemlock, or other evergreen trees out to 1450 yards steadying the unit like I described, then that would be enough for me to know that my CRF 1600 isn't the creme of the crop. I got multiple readings on spruce trees with the Swaro out to 1600 to 1640 yards. The farthest reading I was able to get with the CRF 1600 was the 1531 yards - that one time.

    I've found that green vegetated hillsides and evergreen trees can be ranged at greater distances than snow patches, exposed bedrock, talus rock slides, brush covered ground, or alders. So I generally range evergreen trees when testing units to provide targets that are as consistent and comparable as possible when I'm out in the mountains. Up here, that means spruce trees or mountain hemlock trees. If I'm above treeline, then I range green vegetated hillsides.

    So some hand held test results on whatever kind of evergreen trees you have available in your locale would be helpful and appreciated. Thanks,


    Paul
     
  9. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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

    I will do this and record the results and conditions. It is raining now but I should have it done in a few days.

    Jeff
     
  10. SBruce

    SBruce Well-Known Member

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

    There are very few evergreens close to where I live, but the cottonwoods are getting their leaves now.

    I've found that my Leica 1600 will repeat range with much better consistancy if I have a steady rest. Offhand, mine will not go to the full distance on natural objects, especially in bright sunlight. Steady hold, I've gotten up to 1800 yd readings on clay cutbanks.

    Don't know if that helps any or not, but next time I get a chance; I'll try some cottonwoods freehand and see how far I can get.

    In bright sunlight, on small natural targets, I also felt that the 1600 gave me just a couple hundred more yards than the older 1200 did. But since I was only after another 200 yds or so, I feel it will do what I need for now. Deer at 1000 yds is further than I intend on shooting them at this time.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2011
  11. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

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

    Jeff,

    It would help Paul and surely help me (me being selfish and all:rolleyes:) It will be only 8 months until I will have use for an LRF (sold my 1200 to a newbie) and am having a sense of urgency. I'll be stepping up to the PLRF-10 but want to do it in steps (being cheap and all:rolleyes:) Will use the PLRF to stretch the 375 a bit.:)
     
  12. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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

    Paul, I have been playing with the Leica 1600 a little this weekend to get to know it better. Then I went out this afternoon and tried to get the test done the way you asked me to. Here is my summery.

    The farthest I got it to range was 1761 on a ever green tree in evening light. It did it 3 out of 5 times and this was off hand with an elbo rest.

    Today I went out in mid afternoon sun to do the test. I only ranged ceder bushes and small fur and pine trees (green). I also only tried 5 ranges per object. Here are the results.

    Conditions:

    Temp= 66*
    Baro 25.23
    Alt. = 4300
    Hum. 60%
    Full mid afternoon sun

    1047 yds. 5 out of 5 +/- 3 yrds.

    1367 yds. 5 out of 5 +/- 1 yrds.

    1380 yds. 2 out of 5 +/- 2 yrds.

    Distances of greater than 1380 were hit or miss. Some 1400+ out to maybe 1500 came in but reapeatability was very weak.



    Then I went to where I knew some elk would be feeding in a flat grain field in full sun.

    I could range elk on the flat to 947 yds 4 out of 5 times. There was nothing in range above or behind these elk. I was ranging elk. Elk at 6 , 7 , 800 yards were easy, unless I moved and missed.

    One thing I did notice in all the times I was using this RF. If I was way out there to where it would have misses. The misses were almost all the time after the 2nd or 3rd range. If I kept firing fast it seemed to want a rest. ( maybe battery not 100% or something needs to recharge in the unit?)

    I didnt take sand bags along as I would have been tempted to use them and I knew you wanted off hand readings. My opinion is with the smaller beam divergence of the Leica's a more steady rest would get you out there farther.

    There is no arguing the bigger beam of the Swaro will return more ranges and farther distances. But like I have stated many times before in certain terrain this will be a bad deal sooner or later as a 7' beam past 1000 can reflect off of something you simply dont realize you are ranging.

    Hope this helps you decide if yours needs to go back.

    Jeff
     
  13. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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

    Thanks so much Jeff.

    Mine is going back. The farthest mine ranged 1531 yds, even with cloud cover in the evening. That was about it.

    About the farthest reading I ever got in full sunshine was 1250 yds. The battery in mine was brand new.

    If mine would range like the one you tested, I'd be happy with it.


    Your buddy wanna sell his? :) :D
     
  14. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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

    In all honesty I was not by any means blown away by its performance. I guess I have been spoiled by the PLRF10. When you guys said the 1600 was about 200 yards better than the CRF1200 I was not convinced. But I took my 1200 along and on the elk this was about right. I have seen 1475 for a max range from my 200 in perfect evening light. The 1200 would go to the 900's on the elk but had to work at it and I feel my 1200 is a good one. The bottom line is I think all are not created equal. Also after owning 5 Swaro's I feel you have very very good one. None of mine would do what yours did in your test above.

    Jeff