When you need a really good rangefinder, especially a rangefinder for hunting, you have a number of options to sort through. A Leica rangefinder is going to be among those options, since it is one of the best in the market.
Leica rangefinders offer many varieties, and I’ll look at some of the best Leica rangefinders here. One is the popular Leica Rangemaster CRF 1000-R (and its replacement – the Leica Rangemaster CRF 1600-R), and another is the newer, top-of-the-line Leica Rangemaster CRF 2000-B.
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As you can see in the box just below, I’ll examine the use of a Leica rangefinder, as well as the cost, and how they compare to some other common models.
You can click an item in the box to jump to that section. Otherwise you can just keep reading or scanning this entire article of Leica rangefinder reviews.
- 1 Rangemaster CRF 1000-R Review
- 2 How Good Is the Housing of These Rangefinders?
- 3 Rangemaster CRF 2000-B Review
- 4 Which Leica Rangefinder Should I Buy?
- 5 Why Should I Use a Leica Rangefinder?
- 6 How Do Leica Rangefinders Work?
- 7 How To Use a Leica Rangefinder
- 8 Leica Rangemaster vs Other Rangefinders
Rangemaster CRF 1000-R Review
Before getting into the heart of the review of the 1000-R, you should know that this model has been replaced by the Leica Rangemaster CRF 1600-R Rangefinder.
The 1000-R has been quite popular, so many of them are still available, but Leica no longer produces them. The 1600-R is essentially an upgrade of the 1000-R. It has many of the same features and functions and increased ranging capabilities.
Here is a quick overview of a few of the main features comparing all three models.
|Ballistics||EHR*||EHR||EHR, MIL, MOA|
*EHR = Equivalent Horizontal Range (see below)
How Far Do the 1000-R and 1600-R Range?
The Leica 1000-R can range from 10 to 1000 (or so) yards. The 1600-R expands that distance to about 1600 yards. The fact that both of these start at 10 yards is good news for bow hunters who often need to range close targets.
At those extreme distances, however, your target needs to be fairly large. The target box on the rangefinder screen can fit quite a bit inside it.
Both models magnify at 7x, which is more than the common 6x of many rangefinders.
How Accurate Is the 1000-R?
From 10 to 400 yards, the 1000-R is accurate to 1 yard. From 400 to 800 yards, it is accurate to 2 yards. Beyond that, it is accurate to .5% of the distance.
For example, at 1000 yards it should be accurate to 5 yards because 1000 x .005 = 5.
The 1000-R gives angle compensated distance (Leica calls it EHR, or Equivalent Horizontal Range) readings from 10 out to 600 yards (1200 yards on the 1600-R). The Rangemaster calculates a vertical component for uphill or downhill shooting and gives you the number of degrees.
As a hunter, when you are shooting down toward a target at a lower elevation, gravity seems to have less of an effect because the bullet is already headed downward. This effect appears greater when you have to shoot higher than your current location.
These rangefinders reportedly have no trouble in bright sunlight. In fact, it performs exceptionally well in those conditions. It doesn’t seem to care if your target has low reflectivity or is angled either. This can be a real boon to hunters who often have to deal with these situations.
What Does the Readout Look Like?
The Rangemaster has a red, auto-dimming LED that gives you a clear reading in virtually every light condition.
The CR2 battery will give you about 2000 readings before you need to replace it. If you plan on using more than that on a single outing, you would be wise to carry a spare battery.
When the battery life is waning, the LED will flash, indicating that you have about 100 activations left before you lose power completely.
As battery life ebbs, so will the rangefinders ranging ability. You might want to swap out for a fresh battery before your current one fails totally.
The 1600-R rangefinder is equipped with a both an angle compensation and a scan mode.
Whether you prefer to range in yards or meters, the 1600-R has a mode for you.
How Good Is the Housing of These Rangefinders?
The housing on all Leica rangefinders to date is bonded plastic reinforced by carbon fiber, making it extremely tough and durable. Add to that that it is waterproof (Leica calls it watertight), and you have a unit that will withstand just about anything you or nature can throw at it.
As compact rangefinders (CRF), these units are small enough to fit easily in a single hand. They feel very good to the touch too.
The buttons are well-placed for single hand use as well.
You can fold down the eyepiece cup if you prefer to range while wearing glasses. The eyepiece also functions as a diopter for focusing the display.
The 1600-R comes with a handy carrying case.
Rangemaster CRF 2000-B Review
The Leica Rangemaster CRF 2000-B is in many respects the same as the 1600-R with several perks.
The most obvious is that it ranges to 2000 yards (1830 meters). Like the 1600-R, you can range as close as 10 yards. That’s quite a range! It opens up all sorts of uses. Keep in mind that a mile is just 1760 yards, so we’re talking well over that distance here.
“R” vs “B” Models
The other main perk is also noted in the model name. It’s that dash-B at the end instead of the dash-R.
Note that the following applies to the 1600-R vs 1600-B rangefinders as well.
The R refers to the EHR feature (see above). The B refers to ballistics, meaning more options in this area than usual.
The Leica rangefinder’s high-accuracy ABC ballistics system gives you 3 ballistic outputs. One is the same EHR already mentioned. The other two are the standard MIL and MOA corrections, both of which are accurate to one decimal point.
Unfortunately, these calculations are only valid out to 1200 yards. Overall, the 2000-B is accurate to +/-1 yards up to 500 yards and +/-2 yards all the way out to 2000 yards.
The precision of the CRF 2000-B is enhanced by an on-board inclinometer, an air pressure sensor, and a temperature sensor. Combine all three of those and your readings should be good under all but the most severe conditions.
What Are the Specifications of the Leica CRF 2000-B Rangefinder?
The compact 2000-B weighs just 6.5 ounces and is waterproof to a depth of 3 feet. The unit is nitrogen-purged, so it may be fog proof as well. (I couldn’t find verification of this anywhere though.)
The Leica compact rangefinder measures only 4.5 inches in length and is 2.25 inches tall. It should easily fit into any of your pockets.
Like the 1600-R, it has 7x magnification. As some have noted elsewhere, this is the same power that many good binoculars have. Combining that with its 24mm objective lens, using it as such is entirely possible under the right circumstances.
The field of view is 347 feet which is nothing to sneeze at. An eye relief of 15mm (over half an inch) should be sufficient for all users, whether you wear glasses or not. It’s not like this is a rifle-mounted scope that is hard to get your eye close to.
It almost goes without saying, since this is a Leica product, but the fully multi-coated glass – the best you can get – gives you a crisp, clear picture of your target virtually all the time.
Which Leica Rangefinder Should I Buy?
If you have narrowed your choices to the Leica rangefinders described above, then I think there are two main factors that will determine which one is for you.
The first item to consider is cost. Since the 1000-R is being discontinued, you might be able to get it more cheaply than the others. That said, you usually want to get a unit that is the best you can afford.
The other consideration is ranging distance. We have here rangefinders that handle 1000, 1600, and 2000 yards. How far do you really need to see?
If your targets are usually under a mile away, I would recommend the 1600-R. If they are often over a mile (and you’re a good shot), then you need the 2000-B.
Why Should I Use a Leica Rangefinder?
The emphasis in the question above is on Leica. Why should you use a rangefinder made by the Leica company as opposed to one manufactured by Swarovski or Leupold or Zeiss or one of several others who also make quality optics?
Part of the answer is almost found in my question. It is the top quality materials and construction that puts Leica above the rest in many categories. I will look at some of those features below.
Another piece of the answer lies in simplicity. Ease of use, especially for a first time user, is an important selling point. Again, I’ll look at what makes the Leica rangefinders so simple and easy to use.
How Do Leica Rangefinders Work?
All laser rangefinders, the Leica included, work basically the same way.
When you push a button on the gadget, the rangefinder sends out a laser beam. The beam bounces off your target object and returns to the rangefinder’s sensor. The rangefinder’s internal clock measures the total time it took for the beam to travel out and back again.
Since we know that the beam was traveling at the speed of light, the software inside the rangefinder can calculate the distance using that number and the time the beam traveled. The rangefinder displays the distance to you on its (LED or LCD) screen.
All that said, there is still room for a significant amount of variation when you dig into the details.
For example, what if the opening (aperture) on the rangefinder that collects the returning beam and passes it to the sensor is larger on one unit than on another? How will that affect the calculated measurement?
What if your rangefinder has a hard time zeroing in on your target in the first place? You need one with good quality optics and sufficient magnification to perform this task.
What about the laser beam itself? As the beam travels, it spreads out – some more, some less. How will that affect what the sensor sees?
And what about that software inside that’s doing all the computations? Does it rely on just one laser beam shot? Most rangefinders today actually send out many beams (hundreds or even thousands) very quickly and calculate the best results based on those many trials. The better rangefinders also attempt to compensate for intermediate obstacles like fog or light rain.
As you can see, there is a lot more going on inside and outside a rangefinder than you might realize at first. It’s actually even a little more complicated than what I described here.
There are several factors affecting measurement range. Some of these are mentioned above: visibility, sunlight, shaking, beam divergence, as well as target size, reflectivity (albedo), orientation, and hardness.
The best rangefinders, Leica included, do their best to handle all these variables and give you the most accurate distance possible.
How To Use a Leica Rangefinder
The Rangemaster CRF 1000-R has two buttons. You press the main button to first get a red box on your target.
Press the same button again to see the actual linear distance followed about 2 seconds later by what Leica calls the EHR, or Equivalent Horizontal Range. Other makers usually refer to this as angle compensation.
You press the other button to see just the angle of incline or decline.
To access the menus to change settings, you use both buttons in combination as described in the manual.
Leica Rangemaster vs Other Rangefinders
I won’t go into an extreme amount of detail here in discussing the Rangemaster 1000-R and other comparable rangefinders, but I will give you a few important points to consider.
The Leupold RX-1000i TBR is just as fast as the Leica but is less expensive. However, it does have a smaller field of view. It only gives you the angle compensated (TBR) distance and not the actual linear distance. It reportedly doesn’t perform as well at distances near 1000 yards.
The Vortex Ranger 1000 is noticeably slower than both the Leica and the Leupold. It costs roughly the same as the Leupold, so you probably would take the Leupold, if this is your price range.
The Nikon Riflehunter 1000 only has 6x magnification (Leica has 7x), but it has a field of view that is almost 50 feet wider than the Leica Rangemaster.
The Zeiss Victory PRF can range a hard object out to 1300 yards but soft objects only to 1000. The Victory PRF is not the heaviest of the major players, but it weighs significantly more, at 10.93 ounces, than the Leica (7.8 ounces).
Swarovski makes a somewhat comparable rangefinder that costs and weighs more, is larger, and has a longer delay when taking a reading.
All things considered then, as long as you can afford it, I would recommend a Leica model over the others.