whatsnew By: Jim Matthews | September, 18
The first laser rangefinder binocular I ever used sold for $6,000 retail, and in addition to the distance, it gave your bearing in degrees. It wasn’t really designed for hunters, and its price point was way beyond most hunters’ budgets. It was an incredible optical device, however, and the range popped up at the touch of a button.
Going back to the two-step system most of us use – glass until we see something and then range the distance with a separate unit – was like using my Apple IIc again. I couldn’t believe I had to continue to use the two-step system for my hunting. The new technology had spoiled me instantly.
Since then, the number of laser rangefinder products on the market has blossomed, and the prices have continued to come down while the quality continues to improve – the trifecta of consumer demand. The new Nikon LaserForce waterproof ED binocular is one of the new, affordable rangefinder binoculars on the market. But this product adds a key element that many hunters will find extremely handy – especially those who shoot at long range in rugged terrain at varying, sometimes steep, angles.
It has the capability to compute the angle above or below level of the lasered target and provides the hunter a corrected yardage, or a “shoot-for” yardage. This has significance at extreme ranges for hunting with centerfire rifles and – most hunters don’t think about this – for rimfire shooting at the edges of a rimfire cartridge’s reasonable range.
I used the LaserForce 10x42 binocular for about three months during the late summer and early fall while scouting and hunting, and became quite comfortable again with having a single unit to handle both glassing and ranging. I also found myself using the rangefinder binocular a lot while shooting small game and varmints with my rimfires, and ended up taping a drop chart on the stock of my heavy-barrel Ruger 10/22 that showed how much drop I had in five-yard increments between 50 and 150 yards. Because of the rangefinder and angle correction, I made some shots on ground squirrels that would have required two, three or four “walk-them-in” shots in the past (assuming the critter didn’t move) because I knew the precise range and correct hold.
My favorite shot was in a canyon just above my house on national forest land. I was hunting cottontails along a firebreak on a ridgeline when I saw a ground squirrel in the top of some chemise deep in the bottom of a canyon below me. It was a long 119 yards, a far poke for the .22. Then I toggled over to the angle-
correction reading, and the corrected distance was only 101 yards. If I would have taken the shot as though it were 119 yards, I would have shot about 2 inches over the top of the squirrel. However, after consulting the handy-dandy chart on the side of my rifle’s buttstock, I took a steady rest, held over about 4 inches (instead of 6 inches for 120 yards), and squeezed the trigger. The squirrel slumped into the branches then tumbled out of the brush.
Without compensating for the steep angle, either uphill or downhill, hunters often shoot over game. While it seems counterintuitive, with either up or down shots the effective range is reduced, and the Nikon LaserForce binocular gives you that effective range to the target, compensating for the angle. After using it a while, I quit bothering to toggle back to the actual, straight-line distance reading. On level or nearly level ground, the two readings were identical, or nearly so, but in the steep mountains, I simply wanted to know the shooting range.
For most hunting, especially big-game hunting at normal distances, the differences between the two readings wouldn’t have much impact on real-world situations. I took a bunch of readings on both settings and wrote them down with various angles: 276 yards vs. 268 yards; 492 vs. 481, 330 vs. 312, etc. When the ranges became extreme, however, even relatively modest angles had significant changes, and steep angles made things pretty dramatic: 472 yards corrected to 418 yards, 1,114 yards corrected to 977 yards and 510 yards corrected to 432 yards.
The Nikon ranges out to 1,900 yards, although past 1,000 yards I sometimes had to make several attempts to get a reading. Switching the aiming point to a chunk of granite or tree stump provided the reflective surface needed to get readings, even at extreme ranges.
The binocular has a whole host of features that make it ideal for hunters. It has adjustable rubber eyecups with multiple click-stops for positing for an eyeglass wearer, and it has long eye relief. There are rubber rear lens covers that pop off easily, and a rubber front lens cover that slides up and down the carry strap, both offering quick, easy use when there’s a need to keep moisture or dirt off the lenses. The rubber armoring provides a firm grip and shock resistance, and the binocular is waterproof and fogproof. All the lenses and prisms are fully multicoated and use ED (extra low light dispersion) glass.
Suggested retail price for the Nikon LaserForce 10x42 ED binocular is $1,199.95. nikonusa.com
– Jim Matthews
Expedition Big Game Long Range Ammunition
Ramshot LRT Spherical Powder