Leica Rangemaster CRF 1600-B Rangefinder
A favorite of long range shooters and hunters, the Leica Rangemaster CRF 1600-B is one of the most advanced compact rangefinders available and also one of the farthest ranging. However these capabilities come with a relatively high price tag, so is this Leica rangefinder worth it?
The Leica CRF 1600-B is a compact vertical style rangefinder with 7x magnification and has a listed max range of 1600 yards on highly reflective targets. This rangefinder is capable of measuring the angle of the shot, temperature, and atmospheric pressure which it can combine with preprogrammed ballistic curves to report holdover information to the shooter. This data is reported on the unit’s red LED display whose intensity auto adjusts according to the amount of light available. Finally, the unit is powered by a CR2 battery which is included and also comes with a carrying case and is backed by a 2 year warranty.
The Leica 1600-B features a metal chassis with a carbon fiber reinforced plastic housing, and is controlled by two buttons mounted on the top of the unit. The battery compartment is located at the back of the unit, as is the eyepiece which can be folded down for user’s with glasses. The eyepiece also doubles as the diopter adjustment, and by twisting it left or right the user can focus the display to their eyes. Additionally on the back of the unit between the eyepiece and battery compartment is a small eyelet which the included carrying cord can be attached to.
The Leica CRF 1600-B is operated by two buttons both located on the top of the unit. The power/range button is the large raised button nearest the eyepiece while the mode button is the more flush mounted button located directly ahead of the power button. Like most rangefinders these two buttons are used in combination to get the unit setup; however unlike most rangefinders the mode button can also play a role when ranging targets. After a target is ranged the mode button can be tapped to access the angle, temperature, and atmospheric pressure individually. This Leica rangefinder is also equipped with a scan mode that can be activated by pressing and holding down the power button, then the user can move the reticle from target to target while the display automatically updates yardage.
Those wishing to take advantage of the Leica’s ballistic computing abilities will need to do a little additional programming. Because this rangefinder can measure in yards or meters, the user first needs to decide if they will use the US (imperial) ballistics groups or EU (metric) ballistic groups. Each unit of measure has 12 individual ballistic curves to choose from so you select the curve that most closely matches the trajectory of your cartridge. Next, a sight in range is selected, US mode users will select either 100, 200, or 300 yards; while EU users will select 100, 200 meters, or GEE. Finally, the output type is selected, here options include: the equivalent horizontal distance, holdover, or clicks of adjustments. It is important to note these ballistic output calculations are limited to between 100 - 875 yards; after which shooters can still access line of sight distance, angle of inclination, temperature, and atmospheric pressure but will need to use a separate device for ballistic calculations.
Output Data - US
So what is displayed after programming is finished and a target is actually ranged?. US mode users will get the line of sight distance in yards for two seconds then that number will be replaced by the ballistic calculated output selected; so either the equivalent horizontal distance in yards, or the holdover in inches, or the number of clicks in MOA depending on which click increment you selected during programming (¼moa, ⅓moa, or 1 moa). Also, while in US mode this rangefinder can report the temperature in Fahrenheit as well as the atmospheric pressure in InHg which is inches of mercury.
Output Data - EU
Leica 1600-B users opting for the EU settings will receive distances in meters, temperature in Celsius and atmospheric pressure in millibars. After programming a ballistic curve, EU users will receive the line of sight distance to the target briefly in meters and then this measurement will be replaced by the equivalent horizontal distance in meters, or the holdover in centimeters, or the number of clicks in .1 mil increments depending on which unit was selected during programming.
While many rangefinders have ballistic groups, the ability of the Leica CRF-1600-B to measure and take into account the angle, temperature, and atmospheric pressure put it in pretty elite company with the only other monocular rangefinder we are aware of that has this capability is the G7 rangefinder which sells for about $1800. We also like the fact, the shooter can access the angle, temp, and pressure readings individually after a measurement for those who use a separate ballistic device to do their calculations. Finally, the data is displayed in such away as to help avoid confusion while at the same time reducing screen clutter.
As with most things extra capabilities means extra cost, and the Leica sells for several hundred dollars more than most of its competition. However, our biggest gripe with this unit is the lack of a last target priority setting which could help the unit filter out branches, grass, and other obstacles when ranging. Finally, while this unit does have an equivalent horizontal range mode it does not start until 100 yards; so while the unit will read line of sight distances as close as ten yards it is not capable of providing angle compensated distances at typical archery hunting ranges, so that is something for those wishing to use this unit for archery hunting might want to consider.
As with all rangefinders, it is important to define what you want from the unit. If you want accurate holdover or click adjustment values that compensate for angle, temp, and pressure; then the Leica CRF 1600-B makes a lot of sense and the higher cost of this unit is justified. However, for those not utilizing the advanced ballistic calculations, or using the temperature and pressure readings, there are cheaper options with comparable ranging power. Those not planning on using these advanced features but who are fans of Leica should check out their newest offering; the Leica CRF 1600-R which still offers equivalent horizontal distance capability and 1600 yard ranging ability but sells for about $200 less. Furthermore, unlike the Leica 1600-B, this new model Leica 1600-R can make angle compensated distance readings down to 10 yards making it suitable for bowhunting as well. The bottom line is know what you info you need from your rangefinder and shop accordingly.
The Leica CRF 1600-B, while costing more than the competition, also offers more in capability by providing both temperature and atmospheric pressure readings and accounting for them in ballistic calculations which no other rangefinder in its class currently does. Also, this unit is versatile in that it can be used for hunting where its one touch ballistic solutions shine; or for long range shooting where the line of sight range, angle, temp, and pressure readings can be entered into a ballistics device. Currently the Leica CRF 1600-B is selling online for around $799.
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