Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinder Field Test
By Anthony Montoya
I've been hunting big game in Colorado now for over 25 years. Over the years my hunting tactics have evolved. I used to still hunt in the woods, stalking the game, hoping to get close enough to get a shot. Today's tactics are much different. A good pair of trained eyes and a spotting scope are your friends. I hunt long range now. I’m not talking long range where anything beyond 100 yards is a long shot. I’m talking ranges of over 800 yards, the kind of ranges where a slight breeze, uncorrected, can drift your bullet 2 feet off target. With recent advancements in long range technology by companies like Gunwerks with their G7 BR2 Rangefinder, the average sportsman is capable of ethically taking game at these extreme ranges.
The Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinder
One thing I've learned about long range shooting is that even with the best skill and equipment, one can't make an ethical one shot kill without an accurate way to range the target. For the average sportsman like myself, the laser rangefinder is the best way to measure the distance. The problem with most rangefinders on the market today is that they are built for the hunter shooting at ranges of up to 500 yards. Most rangefinders have some sort of generic ballistic program with fixed trajectory profiles to help compensate for bullet drop. These programs are rarely accurate but will usually get you on paper at 500 yards. Another problem with most rangefinders is that they simply won’t range non-reflective targets at extended ranges.
I have tried many rangefinders from companies like Nikon, Leopold, Leica and Swarowski with price tags from $400 to over $1200. All of these rangefinders will range at distances of 800 yards in optimal conditions with reflective targets, but few will in field conditions. In fact even the upper priced rangefinders had a hard time ranging animals at 800 yards in the mid-day sunlight.
I became a G7 BR2 Rangefinder dealer after using my own G7 BR2 Rangefinder for one complete hunting season. I can own and use any rangefinder I want for personal use, but I chose the Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinder. -- Len Backus --
When Laser Technology Inc. gave me one of their new Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinders to field test I couldn't wait to get out and see what this baby would do. The first thing I noticed when they handed me the G7 BR2 was that it felt very light, weighing a little over 14 ounces. It wasn't as compact as some of the other rangefinders on the market, but still not too bulky. The Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinder is approximately 5" x 4.5" x 2" give or take. When looking through the viewfinder, you can’t help noticing how crisp and clear the optics are. It was like watching an HD TV. The operation buttons are comfortably located and easy to navigate. The G7 BR2 Rangefinder's illuminated display is easy to see in all lighting conditions, and there is an indicator on the left side that tells you when the laser is firing.
Like most new gadgets in a guy's hands, when one is done playing with all the buttons it's time to get the directions and actually learn how everything works. I found that the learning curve for the was fairly short, and after a few minutes I was able to navigate the functions fairly easily. I noticed quickly that the Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinder is different than most rangefinders.
The Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinder
The G7 BR2 Rangefinder has a complete ballistic calculator powered by a G7 ballistic engine built into it, not just generic ballistic profiles but an actual ballistic calculator that allows you to enter your specific bullet characteristics. The G7 BR2's ballistic calculator gives you shooting solutions in 3 modes out to 1400 yards: BDC mode (Bullet Drop Compensator), which is configured to work with custom BDC turrets, MOA mode, which gives shooting solutions in minutes of angle adjustments, and inches mode, which gives you inches of hold over.
The Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinder allows you to enter up to 5 different cartridge profiles and save them. Each profile allows you to enter muzzle velocity, sight height, and ballistic coefficient, and, in BDC mode, the turret's calibrated altitude and temperature. The rangefinder then measures air density, incline angle, temperature and range. Then, the G7 BR2 gives a true real time shooting solution in a BDC range for your custom turret or MOA adjustments. It can also calculate the inches of holdover if you select that mode. As if that wasn’t enough, the Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinder will also calculate wind compensation in MOA for up to a 50mph wind.
Now that I was familiar with what the G7 BR2 Rangefinder was capable of and how it worked, it was time to start testing this thing. First, I ranged everything I could find just to see if I could get a range. I live in the city and there is an endless supply of objects to range. I ranged cars, building, trees, birds, dogs, pretty much everything you can think of in a city. The Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinder ranged up everything. I was able to get ranges as close as 10 yards and as far away as a mind blowing 2500 yards. But the city is full of reflective targets. So, it was time to move on to other terrain.
Next, I took the G7 BR2 Rangefinder to the open plains, where most rangefinders rarely range objects beyond 400 yards. I was getting open prairie readings of 2000 yards on bushes and antelope. This is where I started to play with some of the rangefinder's other functions.
The Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinder has a nearest, farthest and continuous mode. Nearest mode allows you to range the object closest to you. For example, I ranged a lone antelope on the prairie at 1400 yards. The rangefinder is capable of ranging beyond the antelope but in closest mode it ranges all the targets in view and displays only the closest range. The G7 BR2 Rangefinder’s closest mode is perfect for this scenario with the antelope on the prairie, where there isn't much of a profile for the laser to reflect off of, and if you were ranging the wrong object it could be the difference between a hit or miss.
The G7 BR2 Rangefinder's farthest mode allows you to range the farthest object from you. For example, you see a deer standing through some bushes. You range the bush and it is at 500 yards, but you know the deer is farther back in the bush. You set the G7 BR2 to farthest mode and it will range the bushes, then range the deer in the bush. Then the G7 BR2 will determine that the deer is the farthest object and give you the range of the deer.
The Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinder's continuous mode allows you to scan the terrain and then the unit will give the various ranges of the terrain as you scan. I ranged a coyote as it was running away from me until it disappeared over a knoll. It’s easy to change modes on the G7 BR2 Rangefinder by pressing the mode button on the top.
While I was out on the prairie testing the Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinder, one of Colorado's wonderful afternoon thunderstorms rolled through. I thought I'd see how the G7 BR2 will range through heavy rain. Well, to my surprise, rain didn't affect the range finding capabilities much at all. I was still able to get readings of 1000 yards on antelope, fence posts and, bushes. While I was sitting in my truck, waiting out the rain, I thought I’d try ranging through the glass. I was amazed that the rangefinder would range objects out to about 800 yards through the side windows and about 500 through the front windshield. Not too shabby considering none of the other rangefinders I had with me would even range a target at 500 yards in optimal conditions on the prairie.
The Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinder
Next, I tested the Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinder at 9000 feet of elevation in the Colorado Rockies. The G7 BR2 ranged everything I pointed it at out to about 2000 yards. I ranged trees, elk, deer, rocks, snow, and dirt. This thing just would not fail under 2000 yards. 2000 yards seemed to be the point where the G7 BR2 started to fail on certain objects, but let’s face it, 2000 yards is too far for an ethical shot anyway. With most rangefinders you are lucky to get an 800 yard reading, let alone a 2000 yard reading.
Finally came the test that I couldn't wait to do, testing the Gunwerks G7 BR2's ballistic computer with 3 different rifles. The first rifle was a Browning A-bolt .300 win mag that was set up by Gunwerks with a Huskemaw optics scope. It that was fitted with a custom turret calibrated for 3500 feet elevation at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and I was firing a Berger 195 gr. bullet at 2925 fps, and a true BC of .574 and a sight height of 1.7 in. The second rifle was a browning BAR in 7mm mag with a standard Nikon Monarch Mildot scope. The bullets were 160 gr Accubond with a BC of .520, a muzzle velocity of 3050 fps and a sight height of 1.5 in. The last rifle was a Browning a-bolt .338 win mag with a standard mildot Nikon Monarch scope. The bullets were 225 gr Nosler Partitions with a BC of 454 and a muzzle velocity of 2850 fps and a sight height of 1.5 in.
The first thing I did was to verify that all 3 rifles were sighted in at 200 yards. Next, I shot all 3 rifles through the chronograph and verified the velocities. Finally, I set up 3 ballistic profiles in the rangefinder, one in BDC mode and the other two in MOA mode. After that was done, I set up a 14 inch steel target at 604 yards on an 18% incline at 9200 ft elevation and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
The first rifle I used was the .300 with the Huskemaw scope. After ranging the target at 604 yards and selecting the profile for that rifle, the Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinder told me to set my 3500 ft BDC turret to 554 yards. With a 3-5 mph wind I adjusted 2 moa. In 5 shots, I had a nice 4 inch group. With the G7 BR2 Rangefinder's built in ballistic computer, I was able to use my 3500 ft. turret at 9000ft. It compensated almost 6000 ft of actual elevation and was dead nuts. Next, I tried the 7mm in MOA mode and adjusted 8 MOA for elevation and 2.25 MOA for wind and had a nice little 6 ½ inch group. Again the G7 BR2's computer compensated perfectly. I did the same with the .338 and adjusted 9.5 MOA for elevation and 3 MOA for wind and had a perfect 6 inch group. Now my long range rifle became more versatile, and two average hunting rifles had become legitimate long range rifles just by knowing the bullet’s velocity and BC.
I figured that with results like this from the Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinder on a steep angle and with such drastic elevation differences, why not see how the rifles and the G7 BR2 would perform at over half a mile. I hiked as far as I could safely go and set up 3 more 14 inch steel targets at 954 yards. After the long walk back I tried the .338 first. At 954 yards, 82 degrees, 9200 feet elevation and 8.1% angle I adjusted 22.75 MOA for elevation and 5 ½ MOA for wind. For the 7mm I adjusted 18.5 MOA for elevation and 4 MOA for wind, and the results were the same for both rifles. 10 inch groups rang out across the valley. With the .300 and the Huskemaw I adjusted my turret for 879 yards and 4 moa of wind and I had a nice little 8 inch group at 954 yards. Can you believe it? Again, not shabby. I did notice that if I needed to shoot farther than my turret is built for I would have to set up another ballistic profile in MOA mode for the same bullet. The computer would calculate the distance, and give adjustments in MOA. Then I counted clicks. But that didn’t seem like too big of a deal to me since my turret can shoot to 975 yards with one revolution.
So overall the Gunwerks G7 BR2 Rangefinder works just like they said it would. With an MSRP of around $1,600, the ranging capabilities are second to none and far exceeded my expectations. For everything the G7 BR2 will do, it is very simple to use, light, compact and built to withstand the elements. The optics are top notch and very clear. The convenience and accuracy of the G7 BR2’s ballistic computer right there in the rangefinder makes getting on target quick and easy. A shooter using this rangefinder and a little practice can turn a good shooting rifle into a legitimate 600-700 yard gun. I think that with the G7 BR2 Rangefinder, Laser Technology Inc. and Gunwerks have pioneered the next evolution in laser rangefinders and long range shooting. Finally there's a reliable rangefinder that works in all field conditions and takes all the guesswork out of long range shooting for that shot of a lifetime.
Anthony Montoya resides in Denver, Colorado,where he is a union pipefitter welding on live gas pipe. He has been hunting in Colorado for 30 years and is a very avid sportsman. Elk hunting and long range shooting are his passions. He has managed to harvest and elk 19 out of 20 years. Recently married, he is introducing his new stepchildren to the addiction of long range hunting.