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Author: Mike Schoby
Finally a laser rangefinder with excellent options.
About half a dozen years ago I used my first laser rangefinder. It was extremely large, weighed what seemed like five pounds, had the visual clarity of a dirty soda bottle and featured pretty blasé range-finding performance. But nevertheless, it was love at first sight. For the first time, accurate yardage was just a click away - no more uneducated guesses, fitting an animal between set lines or aligning two images to get a general impression of distance.
Never mind the unit was like carrying a brick around my neck and it only ranged effectively under ideal conditions; I was still amazed by it. But that was half a dozen years ago, and in the world of electronics, six years is an absolute eternity.
Since my first experience with a laser rangefinder, they have come down in price, and have shaved off inches as well as pounds. They now range farther, faster and more accurately. But compact rangefinders have always been pretty much just that - a rangefinder - a tool for measuring distance. If you wanted to see better as well as know the distance, quality binoculars were also needed.
I knew it was only a matter of time before someone would introduce a high-performance, compact rangefinder paired with high-quality optics for a reasonable price.
At 2004 SHOT (Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade) Show, I was not disappointed. Swarovski unveiled their new rangefinder, the Laser Guide 8x30 and it was everything I hoped an optic/rangefinder could be.
The first thing I noticed about the Laser Guide is the absolute clarity of the optics - everything you would expect from one of the top optical companies in the world. It utilizes a high-quality 8x30 SWAROBRIGHT coated monocular and it shows; the image is distortion-free, crystal clear, and extremely bright.
The next step for Swarovski was meshing their superb optics with a top-of-the-line class-1, eye-safe laser rangefinder. Capable of range out to 1,500 yards within +/- 1 yard, this unit is perfect for bowhunters and rifle hunters alike.
After the optical and laser quality standards were met, the next challenge was to wrap it all up in a small, durable package. In this third endeavor, Swarovski succeeded as well. The unit measures only 4.7" x 3.5" x 1.6" putting in the same size class as most other compact rangefinders. Wrapped in a dark green rubber coating to protect the unit from bumps and dings, the Laser Guide is also fully waterproof to a depth of 13 feet.
I tested this unit on deer-sized targets from 50 yards to over 500. Ranges were extremely accurate and best of all instantaneous. The performance impressed me because some rangefinders that claim to have 500-yard plus performance will not deliver on game-sized, non-reflective targets and even when they do, many are very slow and often require the added stability of a tripod. But for a true test to their ranging claims, myself and fellow writer Mark Nelsen started picking out objects on the distant horizon. The results were startling. We obtained instantaneous readings on large truck to building-sized objects out to almost 1,400 yards!
In addition to the great performance, small size and excellent optics, there is a host of other niceties that set this unit apart from the competition, such as: an adjustable (as well as removable) twist-in eyecups, dioptric eye correction, and measurements in yards or meters.
While there are many reasons to praise this unit, what I found the most desireable is its versatility. Regardless if I was hunting from a treestand for whitetails or chasing elk in the Rockies, I can see myself carrying the Laser Guide and nothing else. It would work great as an optical instrument in lieu of binoculars and is the best rangefinder I have used to date. Should a particular hunt require extensive glassing, these rangefinders used in conjunction with a high-quality, variable-powered spotting scope is all that would be needed for success.
After reviewing the Laser Guide I realized how far laser rangefinders have come since I picked up that large, heavy model years ago. Superb optics, excellent performance, all wrapped up in one easy to carry unit - if you are looking for a do-it-all laser rangefinder with excellent optics, look no further than the Swarovski Laser Guide.
Click this link for more information, or to purchase the Swarovski Laser Guide 8x30 Rangefinder.