Nikon Aculon - Affordable Hunting Rangefinder
Nikon has established itself as one of if not the premier hunting rangefinder manufactures, and continues to add new innovative models and retire outdated versions at a faster rate than most rangefinder makers. Nikon broke with the common industry practice of introducing new models at Shot Show, and introduced a new line of budget rangefinders called the Aculon mid year.
Aculon vs Prostaff 3
Nikon already has a pretty solid contender in the budget rangefinder class in their Prostaff 3 model; however, the Prostaff 3 was a relatively minor upgrade to their popular but now discontinued Prostaff 550 rangefinder. The new Aculon isn't just an improvement or update of a previous series but is a newly designed model that has a different housing and features than their previous entry level rangefinders.
Small or Micro?
The new Aculon is very small measuring 3.6" x 1.5" x 2.9"; these dimensions make it one of if not the smallest rangefinders available, not only in the budget rangefinder class but in any category. This unit uses a CR 2 lithium battery which is now common is almost all new rangefinder designs, this allows aids the Aculon in keeping its weight down to under 5oz.
Getting Priorities Right
Target Priority is the one big feature that has been missing on entry level rangefinder models, and even some higher end models, for years. The Aculon is equipped with a distant priority setting so when a rangefinder receives a split reading during a single push of the button it will report the distance to the further of the two objects ranged. For example, say the rangefinder detects a branch in front of you at 15 yards and a deer at 225 yards on a single range attempt; the Aculon will give you a reading of 225 yards.
The new Aculon series features a 6x power eyepiece; this magnification generally offers both a good field of view for quickly finding close targets as well as tracking moving targets. Also, 6x magnification allows for accurate reticle placement on a target out to several hundred yards on deer sized animals without covering the entire animal. So for someone that bow hunts and rifle hunts, or hunts both heavy wooded areas and open fields and countryside 6x magnification is often the best choice.
What it is Not
Like most budget rangefinders extra features and options are kept to a minimum to help keep the end cost down. Therefore, this unit does not have Nikon's ID angle compensation feature which calculates true horizontal distance. The Aculon also features a black LCD display screen, without the LED backlighting option found on many of Nikon's more advanced rangefinders. Finally, this unit is not listed as waterproof while many other models in the Nikon line up are; however, regardless of the rating it is always a good policy to keep your rangefinder away from water and dry as possible.
Nikon rangefinders are known for having an adjustable diopter with a wide range of adjustment which allows users plenty of room to focus the unit to their eyes. Fortunately, the Aculon series is no exception and features an adjustable +/-4 diopter; this is a feature that some entry level rangefinders leave out which is important for those with vision issues or who generally need to adjust optics significantly to focus to their eyes.
Of course maximum range is always a specification to check on a rangefinder and the Nikon Aculon with its max range of 550 yards falls right into the most common range of budget rangefinders which are generally either 550 yards or 600 yards. While some manufactures list expected range to highly reflective objects, trees, and deer; Nikon does not use this system and only list the maximum range as 550 yards, so expect less range when trying to range a non reflective target like a big game animal. However, I would expect the Aculon to perform similarly range wise to the other rangefinders in the budget entry level category.
The Nikon Aculon is available in black or camo finish and is has multi layer coatings applied to the lenses for improved light transmission. The Aculon is also capable of displaying yardage readouts in either meters or yards and displays results in 1 yard increments. Like most other Nikon's rangefinders, and probably even more so in the case of the Aculon; the display screen is not cluttered with multiple output numbers and icons allowing for a clear view of the target.
The Nikon Aculon is a much welcomed addition to the ever evolving and improving class of budget rangefinders. The Aculon's extremely small size and lightweight are what immediately standout; however, the distant target priority feature might be the real story with this new rangefinder. No matter what you are hunting the chances of having to range through grass or branches is high; and a feature that is missing on other budget rangefinders.
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