Zeiss Victory PRF Rangefinder - Still Viable?
Once a dominate player in the long distance rangefinder category, the Zeiss Victory PRF rangefinder has weathered its fair share of competition over the years. But has it become an outdated design when compared to some of the more recent competition?
The Zeiss Victory PRF is a horizontal style rangefinder that is designed to be gripped with both hands which provides a stable sight picture for the unit’s 8x magnification. This rangefinder reports distances on its red LED display in either yards or meters and has a maximum range of 1300 yards on reflective targets. The Zeiss PRF is powered by one CR2 battery that should be good for a couple thousand measurements. Finally, this unit is covered by a 2 year limited warranty that starts on the day of purchase and covers the device for defects in material or workmanship.
The Zeiss Victory PRF rangefinder is currently the only monocular style rangefinder that we are aware of still in production that features 8x magnification. These units are equipped with a red LED display that automatically adjusts intensity depending on available light. This Zeiss rangefinder also features two lens coatings the T*, and LotuTec; the T* is a multi layer coating that helps improve light transmission, while LotuTec is a protective coating that helps the lenses stay free of water, dust, and debris. Note, the LotuTec coating appears to be something that was added to the unit a few years back as no mention of this was made on early literature from Zeiss regarding the PRF.
Perhaps showing its age a bit, the Zeiss Victory PRF, which stands for Pocket RangeFinder, is actually rather large when compared to many of the current field of ultra compact vertical style rangefinders. However, the Zeiss PRF is still about average sized when compared to most horizontal style rangefinders. The top of the unit features two buttons, the larger one with an arrow symbol is the power/fire button and the only one used during ranging; the smaller “set” button is used only during setup and helps the user select yards or meters, and choose a ballistic group if desired. The unit also has a twist out eyepiece which can be left in to accommodate users with eye glasses or twisted out for those not using eyewear. Between the twist out eyepiece and rangefinder body is a small dioptre adjustment ring used to focus the unit’s reticle to the user's eye.
While this rangefinder has a few unique features, the Zeiss PRF is really a pretty simple and straightforward rangefinder. Basically the unit can range in yards or meters, and you can select a ballistic group that can output holdover info (explained later). One unique feature the Zeiss PRF has is that the unit actually ranges the target upon the release of the fire button instead of ranging on the pressing of the fire button like most rangefinders. This range upon release feature helps the user hold the rangefinder steady when ranging. The unit is also equipped with a scan mode which can be accessed by simply holding down the fire button for about three seconds, this allows the user to move from target to target or follow a moving target while the rangefinder rapidly updates the range info on the display.
BIS - Ballistic Groups
The BIS, Ballistic Information System, is a set of ballistic groups that provide the user with holdover information but should not be confused with angle compensation which the unit does not have. The ballistic groups are divided into four tables, two for metric users designated by EU and two for American users designated by US. For example, the two US tables include one table with a 100 yard sight in range and one table with a 200 yard sight in distance with each table having six individual ballistic curves to choose from. So after selecting the table that matches your sight in distance, you select the ballistic curve that most closely matches the trajectory of your cartridge. If one of these groups is selected the rangefinder will display the holdover information after the distance has been displayed. This holdover information will be in inches for US users, and centimeters for EU users; however these reading are only calculated out to 500 yards/meters.
One of the biggest positives for this rangefinder is its 8x magnification, which provides more power than the other rangefinders in this category that are generally equipped with 7x magnification. Additional magnification can be beneficial when targets are small or ranges become extreme. Another positive about this rangefinder is that it ranges on the release of the fire button which aids in keeping the unit steady, a good feature to have when trying to hold a high magnification rangefinder as still as possible especially on long range targets. Next, the unit is simple and is not loaded down with a lot of modes, settings and options which will appeal to those who don’t like spending a lot of time setting up their rangefinders or who worry about getting the unit stuck in the wrong mode while in the field. Finally, the screen is uncluttered with very little to distract from the reticle or reported distance, unlike some other rangefinders that are filled with all sorts of icons, indicators, and unnecessary clutter.
One disappointment with this Zeiss rangefinder is its lack of tripod mount which should be standard on a rangefinder of this style because holding long distance rangefinders as still as possible is often necessary to get readings out toward the maximum end of their ranging capability. Also, as mentioned earlier while this unit can provide holdover information it does not account for the angle of the shot; how important this is to you will depend on what distances you are shooting at and if you are doing so in steep terrain. Finally, this unit isn’t equipped with any target priority modes which some of its competitors are; target priority modes allow the user to program how the rangefinder will report distance if two objects are ranged on the same push of the button and can come in handy when trying to range through cover like tall grass or tree branches.
Introduced back in the fall of 2008, the Zeiss PRF is starting to show its age. Although it was the long distance rangefinder to beat in for several years following its release; this unit, as best as we can tell, has only received the addition of the Lotutec lens coating in the past 8 or so years. So while the Zeiss PRF remains the quality rangefinder it always was, the competition has been improving and evolving while the Zeiss has remained largely unchanged. However, for certain shooting applications, prairie dog hunting comes to mind, its 8x magnification and fire upon release are beneficial while its lack of angle compensation and target priority modes don’t really come into play. So as always the intended application and what information you want to obtain from your rangefinder should factor heavily into your decision as to what rangefinder is right for you.
While the Zeiss PRF rangefinder is still a viable option for long distance use, it is no longer the dominate player in the space as it once was. Fortunately for Zeiss there are only a small handful of horizontal style shooting rangefinders currently being produced. So while the Zeiss PRF is not as feature rich as most current rangefinders, its simple design, and clean display still appeal to many; combine that with the fact it is the only 8x magnification rangefinder in this category and has a proven track record and this rangefinder still has a place among the new crop of long distance rangefinders. Currently the Zeiss PRF sells online for around $699.
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