• Leupold RX-III Laser Range Finder Review

    When I first read about Leupoldís new line of laser rangefinders I knew right away that I wanted to get my hands on one. The feature that drew me in the most was the True Ballistic Range feature which all but eliminates the need to mentally account for uphill and downhill shots with either a gun or bow. Rest assured Iíve missed more than one deer due to not taking into account the angle of the shot in the heat of the moment.

    The RX-III combines laser rangefinding with digital electronics, an inclinometer, and the ability to deliver both True Ballistic Range - the ballistically equivalent range to the target - and the conventional line of sight distance measurement. Additional features include a built-in thermometer, scan mode, low battery indicator, and Leupold's Match 13 Reticle System. To top it all off the RX-III is rated as being fully waterproof rather than just water resistant like many others on the market.

    Maximum range measurement is rated at 1200 yards on a reflective target, 800 yards on trees, and 700 yards on deer. Accuracy is +/- one yard (or meter).

    The RX-III is a mid-size rangefinder and generally too large to fit in most shirt pockets. Fortunately Leupold includes a very nice carrying case that can easily be attached to a belt or webbing. Leupold specs the RX-III out at 4.6 inches by 3.5 inches by 2 inches and weighing in at 12 ounces. Like most laser rangefinders, the RX-III is produced in China to Leupold's specifications.

    The RX-III comes packages with the main unit, a high quality black nylon carrying case, neck strap, instruction manual, product registration card, and a quick reference card which is very handy and small enough to keep in the nylon carrying case for use in the field. The aforementioned case is a nice one, with a good-sized belt loop, a snap swivel, and a small accessory pouch on the side thatís perfect for storing spare batteries.

    The quick reference card summarizes the unit's operation and fits in a pocket in the back of the carrying case so that it is easy to keep it handy. Given the sophistication of this particular rangefinder, the quick reference card will soon become your best friend in the field.

    All functions of the RX-III are accessed via three buttons located on the top of itís shell. These buttons consist of a larger Power button and two smaller buttons labeled Mode and Set. The buttons are placed so that they conveniently fall under the index, middle, and ring fingers of the right hand.

    On the bottom of the RX-III is the compartment for the CR2 battery that powers the unit and a 1/4"x20 threaded tripod mounting socket. There is also a very brief summary of the operating instructions printed on the bottom of the unit.

    The 8x23mm viewing monocular has an adjustable eyepiece that can be focused to the user's eye. This optic will never be mistaken for top end glass, but itís more than suitable for its purpose and provides a better view than other rangefinders I have used in the past.

    The RX-III's various modes and programs are arranged in what Leupold calls a ďrotary menu,Ē or a circle around the edge of the field of view. The actual range information is displayed within the field of view, with TBR range above the reticle and line-of-sight range below and to the right of the reticle. According to Pat Mundy at Leupold, this arrangement was adopted to reduce the clutter in the central field of view as much as possible.

    The rotary menu around the perimeter consist of the following options:

    TBR - selects among the three true ballistic range readout modes; also shows angle of inclination at the five 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 seven rifle ballistic programs
    >150 - long range mode--only ranges objects beyond 150 yards
    RAIN - for ranging in rain or snow
    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 - displays line of sight distance to target at the four 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--disables LOS range display

    The Mode button is used to select any of the 13 reticles in Leupold's Match 13 Reticle System as the aiming point for the RX-III rangefinder. To change reticles, simply scroll through them using the Mode button and press the Set button to select the reticle of your choice. To illuminate the display for optimum readability in low-light situations, hold down the Set button.

    There is also a Clear Field function, which allows you clear all the icons from the field of view without deactivating the various modes or the reticle you have selected. To clear the field of view, simply press and hold the Power button and then depress the Mode button for longer than one second. To restore the icons press the Power and Mode buttons simultaneously.

    The RX-III is one sophisticated rangefinder. It not only measures the line of sight distance like other rangefinders, but also the True Ballistic Range if you are shooting up or down hill. And it will give you the firing solution as either the correct distance to hold for in yards, meters, or feet; or the number of inches or MOA to hold over or under your target. The latter is based on one of the seven user selected ballistic profiles in the RX-III's memory representing common groups of rifle cartridges. For the bow hunter there are 3 bow groups.

    While the RX-III includes almost every conceivable feature other than GPS and a radio, itís much easier to use than it is to describe its features and functions. Once you have set the RX-III with your preferred options and modes, it operates just like any other rangefinder. To take a range measurement simply depress the power button once to turn the unit on, and a second time to measure the distance to the object centered in the reticle. Thatís it!

    The RX-III proved to be a very accurate unit and matched Leupoldís specifications pretty closely. I ranged numerous objects of varying size and reflectivity at pre-measured distances of 25, 50, 100 and 200 yards, and all ranged measurements fell within 2 yards. I also did some informal testing at longer distances, but not having another rangefinder on hand to compare results with I canít say how accurately the RX-III performed. In any event, the RX-III will be more reliable and accurate than even the most well calibrated eyeball ranging system.

    Dollar for dollar one would have a very hard time finding a more feature laden rangefinder with comparable ranging capabilities for the cost of the RX-III. Leupold has definitely raised the bar in the small to midsized rangefinder market, and it will be interesting to see what the other makers come out with in the next year to match Leupoldís offerings.

    Leupold & Stevens, Inc
    P.O. Box 688
    Beaverton, OR 97075

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