rangefinder judges

2019 Optics Demo Results

testing the best rangefinder

S&S Archery lets YOU decide “What’s the best rangefinder”?

Our annual optics demo at the NW Mountain challenge @ Tamarack, Idaho is a perfect example of why you should consider S&S Archery when purchasing your backcountry hunting gear.  Where else can you get an opportunity to get behind all the best glass available, in a real world, high country environment? Binoculars, spotting scopes, and rangefinders lined up for head to head comparison, who else does that? We treat all of our gear this way. We test everything, and you won’t find anything on our website that we don’t use or would use ourselves.

This year we had glass from Kowa, Swarovski, Vortex, Leica and Nikon.  We had a HUGE line up of the worlds best hunting optics! Our focus was on rangefinders, and while we wished we could have many more brands represented, we did find a great mix of ranging bino’s as well as handhelds.  Which one was the best rangefinder according to our judges?

Leica Rangemaster 2400-R

Leica wins best rangefinder!

The overall winners in both classes, handheld and binos was no surprise at all. Leica was the first to market a consumer rangefinder in the 1970’s, so it was no surprise that our judges picked the Leica Geovid HD-R 10×42 as the best overall rangefinder, and the Leica Rangemaster 2400 R as the best handheld.

Leica Geovid HD - R 10x42

The rest of the results might surprise you.  But first, I want to talk about the Geovids. WOW! The glass is unbelievable.  Unmatched resolution and clarity in a pair of rangefinding binoculars. Although they look larger (they are), like they would be heavier (they are not), you wouldn’t know it when glassing. The balance in your hands is spot on.  Ranging is VERY fast and the reticle display is crisp and easy to see.

The Leica 2400R Rangemaster was also well deserving of top ranking of handhelds.  The glass is the best among rangefinders, and the speed to range regardless of the target is truly amazing. What ever Leica is doing to provide the crisp reticle is working, it was definitely the best we saw.

Both the Geovids and the 2400R did have one annoying trait.  Having the angle compensation on (EHR) turns the scan mode off.  Turning the scan mode on, turns off the EHR mode. Also the angle compensation range comes up after the line of sight reading. This can be the longest 1-2 seconds of your life depending on what you are ranging. 

Otherwise both Leica rangefinders felt more polished and easier to use than the others.

whats the best rangefinder

Results:

Build Quality Resolution Target Speed Total
Leica Geovid HD-R 2700 86 85 85 81 337
Swarovski EL Range 82 80 74 70 306
Vortex Fury 5000 81 72 75 76 304
Nikon 4K 63 58 66 74 261
Vortex Razor HD 4000 82 74 78 77 311
Leica Rangemaster 2400 R 80 84 79 78 321

 

Binoculars

As you can see the scores in blue denote the highest in each category.  The Geovid’s ran away with the highest score in every category. One interesting item to note was how close the Vortex Fury’s came in score to the EL Range binos.  I personally felt the Fury’s were better than the EL’s when you consider the product features and performance, not just glass. Can someone tell me why the ranging button is on the left side of the EL’s?

Handhelds

The Leica Rangemaster 2400R was the best in each category except for build quality.  There could be some brand loyalty here, as I felt the Leica was a little better than the Razor that won this category.  However I was very impressed with the new Vortex Razor HD 4000. It did everything you could ask, and did it well. From “target priority” (picking targets in front or behind grass/trees) to speed and max distance, I felt the Razors were by far the most powerful and versatile. Definitely the rangefinder to look at if you do both archery and rifle hunting.

rangefinder judges

Notes from the Judges

Geovid HD-R 2700

“Optics are warm and crystal clear. Ranges fast, but I do not like the delayed angle compensation”

Swarovski EL Range

“Good optics but not as good as regular EL’s”

“Ranging seemed slow”

“Dual display is confusing, and the button is on the wrong side”

Vortex Fury’s

“Slow to range, good glass, better than average display”

Nikon 4K

“Display is excellent, speed is fast, optics are dark”

Vortex Razor HD 4000

“Great display and quick ranging. Pretty dang impressive.”

These would be my purchase if I were to get one”

Leica Rangemaster 2400 R

“Light, slick, slim, great optics and display. Delayed angle comp is annoying”

“The best!”

 

comparing spotting scopes and binoculars

BONUS ROUND

We were also able to get a head to head look at spotting scopes and binoculars.  While we didn’t have time to sit down and get detailed comparisons for each piece, we did checkout some low light performance. We picked a level on the optics chart to compare them all. As it got too dark to make out the chart we pulled the glass out of the lineup.  

optics chart

Here is how they stacked up from best to last in regards to low light resolution. 

Binoculars

Swarovski SLC 10×42 (there was a point at the end of the night where you could see that the SLC’s were better in low light than the EL’s)

Swarovski EL 10×42

Kowa Genesis 10.5×44

Nikon HG 10×42

Vortex Razor 10×42

Spotting scopes

Kowa 88mm (the Kowa 88mm and the Leica 82mm seemed to outlast the rest of the field by a wide margin)

Leica 82mm (VERY close to the Kowa 88mm) 

Kowa 77mm

Swarovski 65mm 25-50x

Vortex Razor 85mm

Kowa 55mm

 

Thank you!!

I want to say thanks to all who came over to help judge the event, and as promised we were able to give away a pair of Vortex Viper HD 10x50s to one lucky judge! Thank you Vortex! Hopefully he’ll be sending us a pic to share!