On the sixth day, God created man and the animals … and the Leica Geovid laser-rangefinding binocular.
For years, the superb Geovid was the only game in town that combined these two pieces of equipment. God truly must have had a part in its birth, because using one borders on a spiritual experience—with the excellent optical performance and delicious color saturation expected from an optic that costs a couple of thousand dollars. Alas, the Geovid was not part of the equipment equations of most shooters and hunters because of the expense. Nevertheless, not having to carry around an extra piece of equipment is extremely desirable for most of us.
Using both devices generally means you have two straps around your neck—one for your binocular and one for your rangefinder. I often put my rangefinder in an accessible coat, shirt or pants pocket and sometimes in the waist pocket of my backpack. However, it regularly has to be plucked out at a moment’s notice. In a deer stand with a rifle, it’s not too much of a concern, but rangefinders around your neck are no friends of bowstrings. One less piece of equipment with no reduced capabilities is, indeed, quite satisfying.
There have been some newcomers to the binocular/rangefinder game in the past few years. Off the top of my head, I know of about 10 established manufacturers that make them and offer options for various sizes, magnifi cations, capabilities and prices. Nikon’s LaserForce is a late entry to the game, and it’s priced low enough so that many average shooter/hunters can purchase one.
The pre-production LaserForce used for this article was the same sample used at the January 2017 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, where it was fondled by thousands for a week and then shipped to me for a few days of testing before having to go back to Japan.
The LaserForce is a 10×42 binocular with the same ED glass as the Monarch 7 line of glass, but the design is completely new. It’s noticeably heavier, having the components necessary to also act as a laser rangefinder. It easily read over a mile on large reflective targets as easily as it read 25 yards. To crudely test more of its ranging capabilities, I draped a deer hide over a target frame and placed it at various distances.
TESTING THE LASERFORCE
It was hit or miss past 700 yards, simply because a deer presents a very small target so far away. The LaserForce read the distance fine, but the question was if I was targeting the deer hide or something behind it. Just because a rangefinder has a specified capability, it doesn’t mean you will always be capable of using it to its stated potential. Nevertheless, in most cases, you can get very close true readings from immediate surrounding areas near the actual target.
Holding the activation button puts the binocular in “scan” mode, and the changing yardage readings as you move the optic make it easier to determine if the laser pulse returning to the binocular actually pinged on what you wanted it to. The unit is tripod adaptable, but for long distances on small targets, it’s really necessary to hold it still.
The activation buttons are well placed but felt almost nonexistent to my cold fingers, and I couldn’t fi nd the buttons at all with gloves on. The menu is simple to navigate. The OLED display is excellent and has four intensity levels, fed by a single CR2 battery—good for around 4,000 activations. It displays in .1-yard increments to 100 yards and 1-yard increments over 100 yards.
Auto power shut-off after eight seconds helps save power. Measurement range is listed from 10 to 1,900 yards; of course, it might vary because of size, reflectivity, type of surface and environmental conditions.
The LaserForce is waterproof, so you can feel confident using it in heavy rain or snow. However, this could result in a false reading. Rangefinders require a straight shot to the target for the laser to shoot out and return, counting the time it takes to compute distance, and precipitation often skews this time.
This rangefinder also has Nikon’s ID Technology, which allows you to read horizontal distances as well as line-of-sight. Projectiles are affected by gravity on a horizontal plane only, not by elevation. As a result, in some instances—including mountain hunting—this can be a crucial feature. Eyecups are standard multi-click twist-out, and there’s a generous 15.5mm eye relief that eyeglass wearers will appreciate.
The Nikon LaserForce has a lot going for it. The binocular has the same optical performance as the respected Monarch 7 series binoculars, and the powerful laser rangefinder offers enough technology to be eminently useable. Not having ballistic programs embedded into the unit keeps the price down and allows it to sit within the financial grasp of many hunters who appreciate combining two important pieces of hunting equipment into one.
The LaserForce is also covered by Nikon’s No-Fault Repair/ Replacement policy. This includes the optic and the rangefinder. This is extraordinary, because most companies in the industry do not include electronics in their lifetime warranties.
OBJECTIVE DIAMETER: 42mm
FIELD OF VIEW @ 100 YARDS: 320 feet
EXIT PUPIL: 4.2mm
EYE RELIEF: 15.5mm SIZE (LXWXD): 5.8×5.2×2.8 inches
INTERPUPILLARY DISTANCE: 58–72mm
WEIGHT: 30.9 ounces
ED GLASS: Yes
OPERATING TEMPERATURE: -4 to +140° (F)/mechanical; +14 to +122° (F)/electronic
MEASUREMENT RANGE: 10–1,900 yards
MAX MEASUREMENT DISTANCE: Reflective: 1,900 yards; tree: 1,400 yards; deer: 1,100 yards
POWER SOURCE: 1 CR2 battery
BATTERY LIFE: Approx. 4,000 activations at 68° (F)
WARRANTY: Lifetime on optic and electronics
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the June 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine.