Vortex Ranger 1500 - Long Distance Hunting Rangefinder
Looking through Shot Show 2016 reports, the announcement of the new Vortex Ranger 1500 rangefinder caught our eye immediately. It has been a few years since Vortex introduced their first rangefinder, the Ranger 1000 which was a major success for them and we were excited to see what they had been up to.
The Vortex Ranger 1500 has a green housing and is shaped like most traditional vertical style rangefinders that are designed to be slipped into a pocket or worn on a belt. Speaking of which one thing that does immediately stand out on this rangefinder is the carry clip on the side of the housing. This clip can be moved to either side of the unit with an Allen wrench and be clipped onto a belt, or it can be removed completely as this rangefinder does also come with a carrying case. The rear of the unit also has two lanyard attachments points, one on either side of the unit if you want to attach the included neck lanyard. Also, at the rear of the unit underneath the eyepiece is the battery compartment which holds the one CR2 battery (included) that the provides power to the device. Other controls include two buttons on the top of the rangefinder, one a measure button and the other a menu button. Lastly, the eyepiece is adjustable and is used so that display can be focused to the user’s eye.
The Vortex Ranger 1500 uses a red OLED display; OLED displays are generally accepted as providing the best sight picture among the current rangefinder display options which include OLED (organic light emitting diode), LED (light emitting diode) and LCD (Liquid Crystal Display). Moving on to how this unit displays range info; when this rangefinder is in its HCD (horizontal component distance) mode the display shows a small “hcd” to the left of the distance to let the user know it is displaying the true horizontal range. Conversely, when in LOS (line of sight) mode, the unit displays the distance and then below the reticle gives the incline angle of the shot. Some long range shooters using ballistics software prefer to use line of sight distance and angle of the shot in their ballistic calculations.
The Ranger 1500 has three settings that can be adjusted. First, is the display setting which can be manually set to one of three brightness settings. Note, while a little counterintuitive you want the brightest setting when the most daylight is available so the display provides enough contrast against the background to be easily seen; and the lowest brightness setting in low light (usually early morning or late evening) so the display’s brightness doesn’t obscure the target you are aiming at. Next, you can choose whether you would like to have the unit return distances in LOS (line of sight) measurements or HCD which is Vortex’s version of angle compensation and gives the true horizontal distance to the target. The final option you can change is to have ranges displayed in either yards or meters.
This rangefinder is equipped with a scan feature that allows the user to hold down the measure button and move from target to target as the display continuously updates the range. Also, the scan mode can be used to rapidly double check distances to a target in case you are worried you might not have actually hit the target the first time. Unfortunately there still is no target priority modes on this rangefinder to aid in ranging through brush, tall grass, etc. Furthermore, there is no indication that appears when the unit has received a split reading. For example some rangefinders will bracket the reticle or place a circle around the reticle to let the user know two objects were ranged on the single press of the button. Some indicator like that would have been nice to at least let the user know to double check the target range.
Like its predecessor, the Vortex Ranger 1500 also has a tripod mount which is not all that common on these small vertical style rangefinders. However, as models like the Ranger 1500 have started pushing their max range capability out towards one mile, many people have started using them for long range shooting and target practice. However, holding these small rangefinders steady is key to getting good extreme range performance, but their small lightweight design can make this difficult. However, when attached to a tripod keeping these rangefinders still is a much easier proposition. So the simple addition of a tripod mount makes the Ranger 1500 more suitable for secondary duty as a long distance range finder for other shooting disciplines, and is a feature we would like to see other rangefinder makers start incorporating.
Ranger 1500 vs 1000
Of course the logical question would be how does the Ranger 1500 compare to the Ranger 1000 model. The first obvious difference is that the Ranger 1500 has max ranges of 1500 yards on reflective targets and 750 yards on deer; while the Ranger 1000 has max ranges of 1000 on reflective targets and 500 yards on deer. Also, of note is that in LOS (line of sight) mode the Ranger 1500 now displays distance and the incline angle in degrees, as opposed to the Ranger 1000 which displays the distance and an incline percentage number. Finally, other than the new Ranger 1500 now having a minimum ranging distance of 10 yards as opposed to the 11 yards of the previous version and a few other minor specification changes like this, the two units are pretty much the same.
We were really hoping for some sort of target priority feature on this new Vortex rangefinder as that seems to be the main feature missing on the Ranger 1500, although the scan mode provides somewhat of a workaround for double checking distances. Also, while this rangefinder got a major boost in ranging power it was otherwise basically a minor upgrade of the Ranger 1000, which to be fair is a very solid rangefinder that has found much success among hunters. One could also argue that a 50% boost in ranging power for a device whose job is primary job is to measure distance is pretty impressive, as this rangefinder is now rated out to 750 yards on deer. Still I guess we were hoping for more from Vortex who is known for their innovation in the hunting optics arena.
Ultimately the Vortex Ranger 1500 rangefinder got a few new tweaks and a relatively big boost in ranging power over the original Ranger 1000; but with a current online average price of around $475, the Ranger 1500 will be facing very tough competition from models like the new Sig Kilo 2000. One thing to consider for those that like the feature set of the Ranger 1500 is that the Ranger 1000 also has the belt clip, tripod mount, and red OLED display. Furthermore, since the introduction of the new 1500 model we have seen some pretty great deals on the original Ranger 1000.
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