Nikon offers a variety of rangefinders for hunters. The Laser 440 rangefinder, available in either Realtree camo or ProStaff green, is Nikon's entry level model and has a maximum ranging ability of up to 437 yards on a reflective target. The more expensive models in the Nikon lineup, such as the Laser 600, 800, or 1200 offer more features, but the biggest difference is their ability to range longer distances.
Nikon ProStaff Laser 440 (left) and Realtree Laser 440 (right) Rangefinders
The 440 can range in half meter/yard increments out to 100 yards and then has one meter resolution out to 440 yards. In testing, the 440 accurately ranged distances from 11 to 400 yards on a range that had known distances. One of the nicer features is that you do not have to change the mode in order to range close distances. Most other rangefinders on the market today require setting a special mode for ranging less than 150 yards or even less than 50 yards. This can be annoying when you quickly want to move from a close to a distant object seamlessly. Like other rangefinders, the maximum ranging distance will be less if the target is non-reflective.
Operating the Nikon 440, unlike our earlier review of the Leupold RX-II, is simple. There are two buttons: Power and Mode. Depressing and holding the mode button will switch the distance readout to yards or meters. The power button turns the rangefinder on and when you depress and hold the power button it will go into scan mode. In scan mode a continual distance readout is displayed, which is handy when moving quickly from target to target. When scanning, it is important to hold over the intended target for at least a few seconds in order for the processor to get an accurate reading. After about 8 seconds of no use, the 440 will power off automatically to conserve power. It would be nice to adjust the power off time to be a little longer, but it just takes a simple depress of the power button to start ranging again.
Top view showing power and mode buttons
The 8x ocular piece has a diopter adjustment on it that allows the user, like most binoculars, to adjust the focal plane to your eyes. The 8x is more powerful than the 6x or 4x that is common on entry level models from other manufacturers. However the eye piece is a little on the small side and a larger ocular would be nice, although it is not prohibitive.
Rear view, showing the adjustable diopter
Like most other rangefinders in its class, the ProStaff 440 comes with a standard set of accessories. A nylon carrying pouch with a belt loop, a single 3 volt CR2 battery, and a lanyard loop. While the CR2 is becoming common due to their use in some digital cameras and other portable electronics, it would be nice if the 440 operated on the standard AA or AAA format. However the unit will deliver roughly 6000 measurements on a single fresh battery, so its unlikely a user will have to change batteries often.
One measure of rangefinders is how much hand jitter the device can tolerate and still range accurately. Jitter becomes an issue if you have a hard time holding a focus for physical reasons or its just a cold windy day and your teeth are chattering. While we have no way to quantify this property, the Nikons in general seem to do a better job of tolerating jitter than comparable models from other manufacturers. Although jitter tolerance falls off rapidly as the range increases.
In conclusion if you are looking for a basic rangefinder it is tough to beat the Nikon 440. It is a simple point and click device that just works and comes in at a street price around $200. It does not offer any advanced modes of other rangefinders; however it excels at quickly and reliably measuring distances. Remember that if you are shooting on an angle, either incline or decline, that the 440 will only give you the line of sight distance to the target, which is not the same as ballistic distance. If you want to range in ballistic distance, you need to look to a more advanced model.
For more information about Nikon laser rangefinders visit www.nikon.com .