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Leupold & Stevens, Inc., is an American, family-owned, fifth-generation company that has been designing, machining, and assembling precision optical instruments and other products for 100 years. Founded in 1907, Leupold’s success has been built on their commitment customer satisfaction, and a commitment to building the best optics for the shooting sports, general and wildlife observation, and the military and law enforcement communities. Leupold products are renowned for their ruggedness, waterproof integrity, and their optical quality.
In 2006, Leupold introduced us to their RX digital laser rangefinder product line, which included the TBR (True Ballistic Range). The TBR takes the guesswork out of using a rangefinder on steep angles, more on this later in the evaluation. When I heard that I was going to evaluate the Leupold RX-II Rangefinder, I was more than excited to get my hands on one and put it to the test. I had been using a major competitor’s rangefinder for years, and felt it was time for a change, and the RX-II might just be the ticket. Let’s see how the Leupold RX-II performs.
Leupold RX-II Rangefinder.
– Initial Inspection and Features –
My test RX-II arrived well packaged in Leupold’s normally attractive fashion. The package contained the RX-II in black/gray, a black nylon case, a CR-2 battery, an RX Quick Reference Card (a very nice addition for in the field), a lanyard, and the operating instructions manual. Upon initial inspection of the RX-II, I found no visible external defects in workmanship or finish. I inspected the rangefinder and the case included in the package. Neither had any visible defects or blemishes.
The useful black carrying case features a bungee/hook closure for silent operation in the field, a spare battery pocket, a belt keeper, a swivel dog clip for attaching to your pack, and an internal pocket for carrying batteries, quick reference card, instructions and other items.
The RX Quick Reference Card contains basic operations instructions, including how to change settings using the Quick Set Rotary Menu? and True Ballistic Range for both bow and rifle applications. The backside of the card contains the TBR performance group selection table, which essentially provides the proper TBR group setting considering the rifle or bow, sight-in range, and cartridge type you are using with the RX-II.
There are numerous features on the RX-II, so I thought it best to simply list them here:
- Built-in inclinometer allows the RX-II to calculate the ballistics range to your target, and then displays it as a holdover aim point, an MOA adjustment, or the equivalent horizontal distance.
- 6x magnification gives you plenty of power, with a wide field of view to track movement.
- Weatherproof construction
- Scan mode continuously updates the range as you track a target or scan an area.
- Precision thermometer gives you digital readings in Celsius or Fahrenheit.
- Accurate to 750 yards, with measurements in feet, yards, or meters.
- The Quick Set Rotary Menu is easy to use, for fast customization of your RX-II.
- Quick Start Mode.
- Battery power indicator for battery level checks.
- The CR-2 lithium battery is easy to change in the field.
- Multiple Ballistics Settings – RX rangefinders with True Ballistic Range (TBR) provide accurate aiming information matched to the performance of your rifle or bow. By calculating the incline, line of sight range to the target, and a projectile’s ballistics, the RX provides rifle hunters using Leupold Ballistics Aiming System reticles as well as bow hunters the correct equivalent horizontal distance for precise shooting on an incline. In other words, aim using the True Ballistic Range, not the line of sight range. Rifle hunters can also get this data as an MOA adjustment or a holdover point. With practice, long distance/steep angle shooting will become second nature. Dial in the RX to one of seven TBR ballistics settings for the rifle and three for the bow. TBR is effective to 800 yards for most rifle cartridges.
- Multiple modes?with the RX Series, you can use multiple modes at once to tailor your readings to the conditions. For example: scouting a whitetail in the rain? Use Rain Mode and 1st Target Mode at the same time to achieve the most accurate range possible. Leupold’s exclusive Quick Set Rotary Menu is intuitive and easy to use, giving you fast access to all the performance modes of the RX-II rangefinder.
- Match 13 Reticle System provides fast access to each of the 13 reticles, so you choose the right reticle for any situation. Each reticle is available with the Leupold Plus Point, for an added level of accuracy in pinpointing a target.
- Tripod thread included on the bottom of the unit, allowing steady mounting for accurate target acquisition.
The Leupold RX Series Rangefinders fit nicely in the palm of your hand.
– Testing –
Now that I have covered the features, I will now provide an evaluation of the RX-II for functionality and ease of use. I would consider the RX-II a sophisticated rangefinder, loaded with features. It is essential to read the directions thoroughly prior to using your RX-II for the first time?otherwise you will become frustrated. On the top of the matte gray/black RX-II is a larger gray “power” button and another smaller gray “mode” button located on the left side of the unit (as holding it to range). These two buttons provide the programming and operation of the RX-II. The “power” button is placed so that it falls naturally under the index finger of the right hand. On the right hand side of the unit is the compartment for the CR-2 lithium battery (good for about 2000 actuations), which opens with a quick twist using a coin or likewise. There is a brief summary of the operating instructions located on the under-side of the RX-II, but I recommend that you keep the Quick Reference Card with you at all times. This card should suffice in the field.
The 6x23mm viewing monocular has an adjustable eyepiece that can be focused to the user’s eye?a very important feature. This optic is sufficient for its purpose and provides a better view than the competitors’ rangefinders that I had on hand for comparison purposes.
The RX-II’s various modes and programs are arranged in a circle around the edge of the monocular field-of-view, while the actual range information is displayed in the field-of-view. Leupold calls this a “rotary menu.” This arrangement was adopted to reduce the clutter in the central field of view as much as possible.
Leupold RX-II rotary menu showing some of the selections.
– Illustration courtesy of Leupold & Stevens, Inc.
Various settings arranged around the edge (clockwise from left) of the RX-II viewfinder are as follows: TBR (selects among the three true ballistic range readout modes–also shows angle of inclination at the “5 o’clock” position in viewfinder when activated); BOW (for selecting the bow hunting ballistic group of three programs); A, B, C (used in combination for selecting one of the three bow or seven rifle ballistic programs); >150 (long range mode?only ranges objects beyond 150 yards); RAIN (for ranging in rain or fog); 1st TGT (select to display range to nearest target when beam hits more than one object); LAST TGT (select to display range to most distant target when beam hits more than one object); M, FT, YD (read TBR and line of sight distances in meters, yards, or feet?select one); LOS (when activated displays line of sight distance to target at the “4 o’clock” position in the field-of-view); F (displays the temperature in Fahrenheit degrees when selected?disables LOS range display); C (displays the temperature in Celsius degrees when selected?also disables LOS range display).
The “Mode” button is used to select each of the 13 preloaded reticles as the aiming point for the RX-II rangefinder. Scroll through the reticles using the “Mode” button and press the “Power” button to select the reticle of your choice. I preferred the “Bracket Circle with Plus Point” reticle for most ranging, as it quickly trains the eye to the target and it occupies less of the field-of-view than many of the other reticles.
Leupold Match 13 Reticle System showing the available reticles
– Illustration courtesy of Leupold & Stevens, Inc.
The RX-II allows measurement of the line of sight distance to the target like an ordinary rangefinder, and it also provides the “true ballistic range” (equivalent horizontal distance) if you are shooting up or down elevations. The RX series rangefinders will return the shooting solution as either the correct distance to hold for (in yards, meters, or feet), or the number of inches (minute of angle) to hold over or under your target. The latter is based on one of the three bow ballistic groups or the seven rifle ballistic groups programmed into the RX-II.
For example, in terms of true ballistic range for bowhunting, a target 40 line of sight yards distant down a 40-degree slope from your treestand is actually 34 horizontal (true ballistic) yards away. To hit your target with the arrow, hold for 34 yards, not 40 yards. When in TBR mode the RX-II would display “34” at the top center of the field-of-view and “40” in smaller numbers at the bottom right (4 o’clock) position. Just below “40” will appear a display showing the angle of inclination, “40 degrees” in this case (see illustration below).
Leupold RX-II TBR display for example above.
– Illustration courtesy of Leupold & Stevens,Inc.
Trying to describe the numerous features on the Leupold RX-II rangefinder is much more difficult that actually using the RX-II. Once the RX-II has been programmed with the features and modes you prefer, it operates in the field as any other laser rangefinder would. Press the power button once to turn the unit on, and a second time to measure the distance to the object centered in the reticle. Simple?huh? The key is the use the proper settings based upon your hunting situation (elevation, distance, obstructions, weather conditions, etc).
Leupold RX-II Rangefinder comes with a well-designed case.
To test for accuracy, I took the RX-II to my local archery and rifle range and proceeded to range various distances, elevations, lighting, and weather conditions. I used the RAIN mode during my evaluation in the rain conditions. This mode is used during rainy or foggy conditions and screens out false returns from raindrops or other interference to provide an accurate range. I used the LONG RANGE mode when I was ranging distances beyond 150 yards. This mode automatically limits returns to targets of distances greater than 150 yards/meters.
Upon evaluating for accuracy, the RX-II performed very well and was consistent with Leupold’s range and accuracy specifications. It proved to be accurate for each of the measured 25, 50, 100, 200, and 400-yard distances at our local archery and rifle range, and was consistent regardless of lighting and weather conditions, including rain. I ranged several distances from a twenty-foot high tree stand, and when I shot for the true ballistic yardage, I was spot on. I suppose this is the ultimate test of a rangefinder for the bowhunter. I no longer have to think about the distance in terms of angle of the shot and adjust my aiming point; I can simply shoot for the true ballistic range provided by the RX-II.
The RX-II is light-weight and compact, but packed with features.
Specifications as Tested:
- Magnification: 6x
- Maximum range:
- Reflective – 750 yds.
- Tree – 600 yds.
- Deer – 500 yds.
- Minimum range: 3 yds.
- Object Aperture: 23 mm
- Linear Field of View: 325 ft/1000 yd
- Angular Field of View: 6.0 degrees
- Twilight Factor: 11.7
- Exit Pupil: 3.8 mm
- Eye Relief: 21.0 mm
- Close Focus Distance: 18.0 ft
- Accuracy: +/- one yard/meter
- Dimensions: 4″ x 2.75″ x 1.5″
- Weight: 6.8 oz.
- Reticles: selectable Match 13 Reticle System
- Finish/Camo Pattern: available in black/gray, Mossy Oak Obsession, and Mossy Oak Treestand
- Warranty: one year for defects in materials and workmanship
Quality: A no defects or blemishes
Function: A great features and multiple settings
Ease of Use: B+ requires a thorough review of the operating instructions
Durability: A+ what you would expect from Leupold
Accuracy: A+ works as advertised
Value: A+ great product, good value for the price