Over the course of the last few months we have covered a variety of rangefinders. For this review we decided to take a look at Leica's laser rangefinder offerings. Leica's current rangefinders have been on the market for about two years, but their compact rangefinder (CRF) offerings are still relevant and current. The Rangemaster CRF is manufactured in two variations; the 900 and the 1200. The 900 ranges to approximately 900 yards, while the 1200 ranges to roughly 1200 yards. For this review, we will take a closer look at the 1200 Rangemaster.
Leica Rangemaster 1200 CRF. The power/scan button is located on the top of the device.
The CRF 1200 is a compact (4.4" x 2.9" x 1.3") lightweight (7.8 oz) unit and is among the lightest and smallest of all commercially available rangefinders. The Rangemaster will take measurement out to 1200 yards, beyond 800 yards the precision is +/- 0.5% (6 yards at 1200 yards) and under 800 yards the precision is approximately +/- 0.5 yards. The CRF is also water tight, being able to be submersed in water up to 1 meter in depth for up to 30 minutes. Currently the Rangemaster CRF 1200 is selling at around $700 retail.
The unit operates on a single CR2 battery like most rangefinders. However the Rangemaster is particularly efficient, capable of taking as many as 2000 scans per battery. Plus the Rangemaster has a low battery warning, where the distance readout will blink, meaning the unit has 100 or fewer scans left before shutdown. The ocular is seven power and Leica offers a 3 year warranty on the Rangemaster.
The CRF 1200 can take both simple measurements which is point and click, but the power button can also be depressed in order to scan targets with a continual readout. The display is a bright red LED readout that sets it apart from the black on clear reticles that are common on most rangefinders. The bright red makes it particularly easy to read under low light conditions such as dusk and dawn. Under very bright sunlight conditions the red display may be harder to see than a black on clear display.
When scanning a bright background, the red LED can be hard to see sometimes.
On a darker background the red LED stands out very clearly.
When taking the Rangemaster afield it is a pleasure to use, lightweight, compact, and fast to range targets. Indeed, perhaps one of the most impressive features of the Rangemaster is its seven power ocular piece. A hunter wanting to reduce equipment weight, might want to consider the Rangemaster. Its optics are clear and the seven power allows you to reach out farther than the five and four power that is becoming popular on other mid range rangefinders. While the seven power will not replace a good set of 10x42 binoculars, the Rangemaster can be adequate when going as light as possible with your equipment. Furthermore the eye piece has a full 3.5 diopters of adjustment that is more generous than 1 or 2 diopters of other manufacturers; this allows you to better adjust the optics magnification to your vision.
Ranging is fast and accurate. In fact the Rangemaster is so fast the measurements sometimes seem instantaneous, noticeably faster than models like the Bushnell Scout 1000. The laser beam used in the Leica has a particularly thin divergence, which contributes to the quick response when scanning a range. However the precision beam also causes distant objects to be more difficult to range. Combine the small divergence with a very lightweight unit, which amplifies hand jitter and ranging past 900 yards becomes troublesome. If you are ranging past 900 yards, it would be best to set the Rangemaster on a rest. Unfortunately it has no tripod adapter, which would have greatly helped the Rangemaster. One can get around the divergence issue by taking some time to range objects around or near the target. This will usually highlight whether or not you're hitting the intended target or hitting near it.
On the downside the Rangemaster does not have any inclinometer function that is starting to appear on competing rangefinders. This means the unit will only measure line of sight and it is up to the shooter to correct for any shooting angle. The lack of a inclinometer is not a show stopping issue since some will prefer the simplicity of point and click operation, but the convenience of even a simple angle readout can be handy.
In conclusion the Leica Rangemaster 1200 CRF is a well designed and simple to use rangefinder. The higher price puts it in an above average price bracket, but the trade off is consistent ranging past 600 yards and a bright red LED display that is easy to see under low light. Furthermore the seven power ocular allows the Rangemaster to stand in for binoculars in a pinch.
For more information about the Leica Rangemaster visit: