SilencerCo Radius - The SWR Radius Rail Mounted Rangefinder
Update: the SilencerCo Radius rangefinder has been discontinued, unfortunately there are not any close alternatives for a independent weapons mounted rangefinder. However, there is the Burris Eliminator III which is a rangefinding rifle scope available in a 4-16x50 congfiguration which has the bonus ability of being able to integrate the rangefinder's reading directly onto the holdover reticle by way of an illuminated red dot. The Burris Eliminator III scope can often be found in stock at Amazon.com click here for pricing and availability.
The new SilencerCo Radius rangefinder, also known as the SWR Radius (the SWR stands for SilencerCo Weapons Research), is a rail mounted rangefinder that attaches to a firearm's Picatinny rail and is aimed with the riflescope instead of looked through like traditional rangefinders. Curious on how this all works keep reading.
The bottom of the SWR Radius in equipped with a quick release Picatinny rail mount, you simply pull a quick detach lever to remove the rangefinder, and reattaching is just as simple, place the rangefinder on the Picatinny rail and lock the lever down to hold in place. Because the unit can be mounted on any chunk of Picatinny rail and the faceplate can be rotated; the SilencerCo Radius can be mounted just about anywhere you want. Firearms with Picatinny rails on the side allow the unit to attach in a vertical orientation, while a top mount location has the rangefinder setting in a horizontal position. Those with hunting rifles and no Picatinny rails might consider a set of scope rings with Picatinny rails on top, these are fairly common as they are often used for mounting a small red dot sight or other accessory on top of a traditional scope but should work well for mounting the SilencerCo rangefinder.
The SWR Radius needs to be calibrated to the firearm it is mounted on. While I won’t go into detail, here is an overview of the process. Basically using the unit’s built in visible laser (used only for sighting in and not normal ranging) you calibrate the laser rangefinder to your scope. However, you don’t want the laser to match up exactly with the crosshairs because if the laser and scope’s crosshairs intersect at say 100 yards, the two will be on entirely different paths at 1000 yards. So the calibrating process isn’t about matching up the crosshair with the visible laser exactly but making sure they are running very close to parallel. This means that while the rangefinder will be a few inches off from your crosshairs it will be this small amount off at every distance and not out of sync at longer ranges as it would be if they matched exactly at one distance. This takes a little to get your mind around but remember the rangefinder is simply getting the distance to the target not aiming the shot so being an inch or two off exact dead center isn’t an issue.
Unlike traditional rangefinders that you look through, the SWR Radius is equipped with an LED readout mounted at the rear of the unit on a small removable faceplate. Because the Radius rangefinder can be mounted in numerous different positions, the small faceplate can be removed and rotated so the display is always right side up. The display is held in place by two thumb screws which can be loosened quickly, then the faceplate is completely removed and rotated to the desired position and reattached by replacing the faceplate on the mounting studs in the desired position and tightening the two thumb screws.
The SilencerCo Radius has a ranging capability up to 1 mile on reflective targets and 1000 yards on non reflective target. Operation is straight forward, press and hold the power/range button on the back of the unit for about 1 second to turn the unit on. Once the display is active just tap the button once to range, conversely tapping the button twice puts you in continuous ranging mode much like a scan mode on a traditional rangefinder. To turn the unit off press and hold the power/range button for three seconds. The unit is also equipped to auto shutoff after 30 minutes of inactivity which is nice and keeps the two CR123 batteries from draining if accidentally left on. Also, included with the Radius is a remote pressure pad that functions just like the power/range button on the back of the unit but can be mounted anywhere you want with the included velcro pads, within limitation of the cable that connects the pad to a port on the Radius rangefinder. When the remote pad is mounted you can still use the power/range button on the back unit as normal without any issues.
The LED display is unique in many ways besides being detachable. First, the range info is displayed in bright blue numbers against a black background. Next, the unit will display up to three distances per target ranged. The biggest number on the left is the strongest reading and sometimes the only reading. However, if the unit receives more than one distance on a target (split reading) it will report the 2nd and then 3rd strongest reading as well. The 2nd and 3rd readings are displayed one on top of the other just to the right of the primary reading but in a smaller size to avoid confusion. This is a unique way of handling split readings and gives you options should you decided the primary number didn’t hit the intended target. The SWR Radius can also be set to display distances in either yards or meters and a symbol on the far right of the display just above the battery life indicator lets you know what unit of measure you are using.
With a removable faceplate and port for plugging in the remote pressure pad I was surprised to see that the SWR Radius is rated as waterproof which is a good feature to have on any piece of gear especially anything electronic. Also, the SilencerCo Radius is 5.8” x 2.3” x 3” and weighs just over 18 oz with batteries. So while not big it isn’t exactly ultra compact, those looking to use this SWR Radius in the field might consider carrying the unit in a pouch and attaching it the firearm once ready to setup.
A thousand dollar rangefinder that mounts on your firearm isn’t for everyone; and as far as ranging capability goes you could probably do better for half the price with something like the Sig Kilo 2000. Also, there is no switching between guns without recalibrating for that specific firearm. Finally, for those dialing in windage and elevation corrections into your scopes, you have to remember to return the scope to zero to get accurate ranging data.
Who is it For?
Where I see the SWR Radius really finding a home is with those shooters who will be engaging multiple targets at various distances often in rapid succession. Here is where the SWR Radius in its continuous range mode can allow the shooter to do what traditional rangefinders can’t which is track targets while behind the scope and quickly glance over for updated range info before shooting. The shooter can then rapidly adjust to another target while still behind the scope in a shooting position and repeat the process over again as many times as necessary. While this would be handy for multiple uses in the law enforcement and the tactical world; I also see this gaining popularity with hunters especially those shooting prairie dogs or hunting coyotes.
The bottom line is that SilencerCo Radius isn’t for everyone. Basically a weapons mounted rangefinder comes with a complete different set of advantages and disadvantages when compared to traditional rangefinders. However, those looking for a rangefinder that keeps them behind the rifle while in a shooting position when engaging multiple targets at various ranges will undoubtedly see the advantages the SWR Radius offers over traditional rangefinders. Currently, these SilencerCo rangefinders are available online and are generally selling at around the $1000 mark.
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