The combination of a laser rangefinder and a binocular is one of the most practical and useful innovations to appear in the field of hunting and shooting optics. It is safer, faster, and less expensive than other options. Zeiss recently entered the fray with the Victory 10X45mm T* RF binocular.
Several companies, including Zeiss, produced riflescopes with integral rangefinders, and this leads to the discussion of which is better, a rangefinding binocular or a rangefinding riflescope. Any optic with an integral rangefinder will be expensive, and while I have quite a few rifles, I can get by with one binocular. Equipping every rifle in the safe with a rangefinding scope will be exponentially more expensive than buying one high-quality rangefinding binocular. Plus, the binocular is never loaded and is much more compact, allowing a stealthy, safe scan of the field.
The new Victory RFs are, from a performance point of view, everything you would expect from Zeiss. T* multi-coated, achromatic lenses and Abbe-Konig prisms deliver a sharp, brilliant image and perform spectacularly in low light. In addition to being nitrogen-filled and waterproof, external glass surfaces have a LotuTec coating that causes raindrops to bead up and roll off the lenses.
Except for the two operating buttons, it is nearly impossible to tell that the binocular contains a rangefinder capable of dialing up targets out to 1,300 yards. Engineers were able to fit the entire system inside the frame, making it inherently more durable.
After focusing the aiming mark and each barrel with the individual lens diopters, simply place the aiming mark on the target, press the rangefinder button, and the LED display below the aiming mark shows you a distance in about a half-second. The self-adjusting display can be set to read in meters or yards with the SET button–the only other button. Zeiss promises in excess of 10,000 measurements from a single CR2 lithium battery at 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
The unit is also equipped with a Ballistic Information System (BIS). The BIS uses six preprogrammed ballistic tables to provide the amount of holdover–in inches or centimeters–that it takes to hit the target out to 500 yards, based on a 100-yard zero. If your favorite rifle/cartridge/bullet combination doesn’t match up to one of the ballistic curves, you can download the BIS Calculator from the Zeiss website to find the closest match for your equipment.
During a recent deer hunt in Montana, the Victory RF’s field performance was exceptional. I was able to range mule deer out to 700 yards and a metal barn at 1,279 yards. The only other rangefinding binocular currently on the market that compares is the Leica Geovid BRF. The Zeiss bino is 3 ounces heavier but has larger objective lenses, 3mm to be exact. The all-important ranging button is mounted on the Geovid’s left-hand barrel, whereas the Victory’s is on the right-hand barrel. If you are a right-handed hunter, the Zeiss is easier to operate one-handed. The extra glass, BIS, and ergonomic handling will run right at $3,000.
Zeiss, in business since 1846, has a long string of optical accomplishments under its belt, and the Victory RF binocular is another example. The unit is a fast, accurate way to observe and range targets.