January 04, 2023
By Joe Kurtenbach
At last! Personally, I’ve been waiting years to get my hands on a range-finding binocular from Oregon-based Leupold. As a longtime customer of the company’s riflescopes and electro-optics – including its monocular rangefinders – I’ve been happy with the products available, but quietly hoping for a combined observation and laser-range-finding solution. Now, with the BX-4 Range HD TBR/W 10x42mm, they’ve finally done it.
So, what’s the big deal? As a hunter and shooter, range-finding binoculars provide two primary benefits compared to a more typical loadout consisting of both binoculars and a laser rangefinder, and they both have to do with simplicity. First, my kit gets a little simpler when two observation tools are combined into one. Second, the observation-to-engagement process is simplified. Consider a typical hunt in which binoculars are used to find and judge the game. Then, the binos are set aside in favor of the rangefinder to acquire the distance to target. Finally, dope can be dialed, and the shot taken. Combining the observation and range gathering capabilities into one tool means they can be completed together without losing sight of the target. Anyone who has logged long miles in tough terrain or attempted to set up on spooky game can appreciate this simpler, faster setup.
Before getting to the testing, let’s talk specs. To provide some additional context and information I rang up Leupold’s Eric Overstreet, the company’s product line manager for technology products. For those wondering, like other Leupold observation instruments, the BX-4 Range is manufactured abroad, specifically in China, to the company’s specifications. Leupold is a great American manufacturer, but in order to compete on price and capitalize on core competencies, sometimes you have to outsource. This is one of those times. In fact, almost every optics maker is importing parts and products from Asia, and the quality today is better and more consistent than ever before.
Overall, the binocular’s body is designed for durability and features lightweight magnesium housing surrounded by textured rubberized armor. The ocular housings include individual right and left diopter adjustment rings as well as telescoping eyecups. The central focus wheel exhibits very smooth action throughout its rotation, and two power buttons, one on each side, top the binoculars and feature raised diamond-like touch points. Lens covers, bino harness and a lens wipe are included. And, as you’d expect from Leupold, the unit is waterproof, fogproof and backed by the company’s lifetime guarantee for the binoculars, and its two-year electronics guarantee for the rangefinding engine.
Looking at the product’s designation, the new binos join the BX-4 series, which currently hosts the Pro Guide HD line of binoculars. These are “core” products, as Overstreet put it, which I take to mean mid- or “better”-tier offerings that provide a lot of value at their price point, and are a great solution for all but the most specialized users and pursuits. Like the VX-series riflescopes, the BX-4 binoculars are going to get the job done and offer great bang for the buck.
Like the Pro Guide units, the Range is tagged with Leupold’s “HD” or high definition label. This is a reference to the unit’s optical clarity which, according to Overstreet, is a class-leading feature among similarly priced options. Leupold is already known for lens design and coating technologies that provide excellent light transmission and image resolution. However, adding the rangefinder’s red OLED display adds more components to the binos’ internals, and more variables to the clarity equation. Per Overstreet, some competitive range-finding binoculars lose as much as 50 percent of their light transmission capability because of the filters required for illuminated displays. He reports that the BX-4 Range still offers light transmission in the 75- to 80-percent range, which is excellent in this category.
Leupold opted for 10X magnification paired with 42mm objective lenses which is a good all-purpose binocular configuration. The unit is a bit bigger than their Pro Guide stablemate, but that’s to be expected with the added technology. In terms of ranging capabilities, Overstreet described the BX-4 Range’s “engine” as somewhere between Leupold’s two top-tier range-finding monoculars, the RX-1600 and RX-2800. That tracks with the unit’s advertised ranging distance of 2,600 yards on reflective targets and 1,600 yards on trees. Importantly, though, the Range’s 42mm objective lens is a step up from the monoculars’ 22mm or 27mm lenses, respectively. The larger lens does a better job of receiving the laser’s reflected light, making the BX-4 Range faster and more reliable than a monocular in certain conditions.
Further improving the accuracy of its ranging, the BX-4 Range uses Leupold’s True Ballistic Range/Wind (TBR/W) technology. Especially helpful for angled shots, the system allows the user to select from one of 25 pre-programed ballistic profiles to achieve a more refined “flat ground” distance measurement. The system also offers additional feedback within the display, including a full-value 10-mph wind hold for the distance ranged in the shooter’s preferred unit of measure. It’s worth noting here that the two topside buttons enable either the power/ranging function or allow access to the menu. Using both together allows the various options to be accessed and selected, including which button will be set as the primary power switch. It’s a nice feature that allows the binos to be personalized for the user’s dominant hand.
Finally, the BX-4 Range is powered by a single CR2 battery housed within the hinge’s central column, and access by a cap within the central focus ring. Despite an initial rating of 3,000 hours of runtime, Overstreet mentioned that more recent testing suggests a runtime of around 4,500 hours can be expected.
Allow me an initial caveat here, my testing was conducted with a pre-production unit and on an abbreviated timeline in order to have a first impressions review in time for launch. Still, I squeezed in several hours of glassing, and I have confirmed that Leupold expects production units to be available during the first quarter of 2023.
My first question, and probably yours, was “How big are they?” To answer that, I grabbed my BX-4 Pro Guide HD 10x42s which I consider a trim, compact-to-midsize binocular. The BX-4 Range is definitely taller, wider and heavier than the Pro Guides, but not by as much as I suspected: about 1/2 inch, 3/16 inch, and 15 ounces, respectively. The BX-4 Range weighed 2 pounds, 7 ounces, total, which was still about 6 ounces heavier than the Pro Guides plus a RX-2800 monocular rangefinder, combined.
The added weight is the cost of convenience, I suppose, and it’s a price I’m happy to pay. Like I said, I’ve been waiting for a range-finding bino from Leupold and the BX-4 Range did not disappoint. The controls were easy and intuitive – once I realized my test unit was previously set up for a lefty, that is. As soon as I swapped the ignition switch back to the right-hand button, it was off to the races. Distance measurements were returned impressively fast, and the continuous scan offered a new reading two or three times per second. I used the binos at dusk and dawn and appreciated how bright the image was compared to my view with the naked eye, as well as the clarity of small details in all lighting conditions.
Testing the power of the rangefinder, I was able to clock a water tower at 2,198 yards, and I got a reading of 1,074 yards on one of the town deer grazing in a field. These are not representative of the unit’s maximum capabilities, rather they are examples based on my limited experience and immediate environment. Based on my history with Leupold’s rangefinders and recent testing with the BX-4 Range, I’d be willing to bet the company’s 2,600- and 1,600-yard specs are on point.
Weight aside, a cost that might be slightly harder to accept is the one on the price tag – MSRP is listed around $1,600. For comparison, the Pro Guide 10x42mm and RX-2800, together, come to around $1,200, so customers will have to decide if the simplicity and convenience of the BX-4 Range is worth $400 dollars. For those in the market for quality optics and tools, it likely won’t be issue. The price tag may postpone some upgrades, though, because $1,600 can buy a lot of bullets, or even a new rifle.
In my opinion, the BX-4 Range offers real value in terms of speed and simplicity. Remember my example hunt from earlier? Overstreet pointed out that combining the BX-4 Range’s capabilities with Leupold’s Custom Dial System (CDS) — available on many of the company’s riflescopes — further streamlines the shooting sequence. See the target, range the target, then simply dial the distance on the CDS elevation turret. Bang.
I can’t wait to get these in the field.
For more information, visit Leupold.com, and make sure your subscription to Guns & Ammo is up to date.
Leupold BX-4 Range HD TBR/W 10x42mm
- Tripod Compatible (1/4-20): Yes
- Rifle Angle Compensation: TBR/W
- Battery Type: CR2
- Display Type: OLED
- Length (in): 5.9
- Weight (oz): 39
- Magnification: 10
- Objective Lens Diameter (mm): 42
- Linear FOV (ft@1000 yd): 334
- Angular FOV (Degrees): 6.2
- Eye Relief (mm): 17
- Battery Life (Actuations): 3000
- Max Range - Deer (yd): 1100
- Max Range - Trees (yd): 1600
- Max Range - Reflective (yd): 2600
- Laser Classification: Class 1M
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