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Leupold's New BX-4 Range HD: Best Affordable Rangefinding Binos?

Rangefinding binoculars have always been expensive, but Leupold's new BX-4 Range HD binos offer great optical quality and rangefinder abilities at a great price.

Leupold's New BX-4 Range HD: Best Affordable Rangefinding Binos?
Need a rangefinding bino for hunting or long-range target shooting? The BX-4 Range HD binoculars register deer-size targets to 1,100 yards and reflective targets out to 2,600.

When I was seven, my dad bought me a Swiss army knife, and he explained to me that with all those various tools at my disposal—even a toothpick!—I would be prepared for any situation I might encounter. I was ready to take on the world. The new Leupold BX-4 Range HD rangefinding binoculars are the shooter’s equivalent of a Swiss Army knife. They combine superb optical clarity with the convenience of an onboard laser rangefinder and ballistic data, which means when you’re hunting or heading to the range there’s no need to bring along separate binoculars and rangefinders. There's also no need to plug the range data into your phone or reference a ballistic table on your rifle stock or wrist. The BX-4 Pro Guide line of binoculars have been in Leupold’s lineup for a while—long enough that I’ve had a chance to use and abuse these optics in the worst climates and conditions imaginable. In fact, the BX-4 Range HD promises performance in temps from minus 40 to 160 degrees.

Like their BX-4 Pro Guide cousins, these binoculars have an easy-to-use open bridge design that allows you to find just the right interpupillary distance quickly. The eyecups are field replaceable on both models, and the smooth focusing system makes it easy to see images clearly. They feature Leupold’s Elite Optical System, which offers coatings that cut glare and improve image fidelity in all light conditions by properly managing that light. The smudge-resistant lenses prevent dust and debris from interfering with image quality, and there's no color distortion on the edges of the image. They're waterproof to 3 feet and fogproof. The BX-4 Range HD binos incorporate Leupold’s True Ballistic Range/Wind technology, which will seem familiar to most shooters who have used Leupold’s rangefinders. TBR/W combines an infrared laser transmitter and receiver and ballistic programming that furnishes true value elevation holds based on the angle to the target.

Traditional rangefinders provide line-of-sight readings based on the Rifleman's Rule, but Leupold’s BX-4 Range HDs compensate for the angle of the shot and how that angle will impact bullet performance. This takes the guesswork out of making long shots. However, if you prefer you can use the Leupold’s in LOS (line of sight) mode. The BX-4 Range HD binos come with 25 different ballistic groups so you can program the binoculars to your load. The TBR/W system also provides 10 mph wind holds, which makes it much easier to compensate for crosswinds. Leupold promises that the BX-4 Range HD binoculars will range deer-size game to 1,100 yards, trees to 1,600 yards, and reflective objects to 2,600 yards with a minimum range distance of seven yards and 1/2 MOA accuracy to 600 yards. Those are truly impressive numbers.

“The TBR/W system is our ballistic solution based on groups providing hunters with a variety of solutions for a variety of hunting conditions,” says Eric Overstreet, Leupold’s technology department line manager. He notes that the 16-year-old system has evolved from seven ballistic groups to 25, which accommodates 200 and 300 yard zeros and facilitates wind holds out to 800 yards. “While TBR/W does work to 800 yards, I would want to validate my bullet past 750 to the max of 800,” says Overstreet. “Depending on the bullet, 725 to 750 yards is where environmental conditions really start to have an impact on flight trajectory.” I know some hunters and shooters are already starting to sweat the thought of having to deal with all the technology that powers this excellent ballistic operating system. Thankfully, though, Leupold has made the process relatively painless. If you can run through subscription channels on your TV or use a Kestrel, you’ve almost certainly got the tech skills required to program these binos.

leupold-bino-bx4-range-hd-02
Two buttons operate the binoculars, and easy-to-follow prompts allow you to set the binoculars to meet your needs. The texturing on the buttons makes them easy to find without taking your eyes off the target.

To activate the rangefinder and range a target, press the right button on the bridge on the binos. You’ll have no issues finding it because Leupold has made the left and right buttons—which can be reprogrammed so the left button powers it up and ranges and the right runs the menus—the only textured items on the otherwise smooth bridge, and that makes it easy to hit the button without looking up from the binos. Once the unit is powered on, holding the left button down for two seconds allows you to access the control menu. Output is the first screen that appears, and this tells whether the binos are in TBR/W, Bow or LOS mode. Pressing the right button toggles through the three settings and allows you to choose the one that’s right for you, and once the correct mode for your application is displayed simply press the left button to continue through the menu. With the TBW/R setting selected, the next option you’ll have to choose involves readout options. There’s BAS, which displays equivalent horizontal range and shot angle. The MIL, HOLD and MOA settings provide holdover in MILs, inches and MOA respectively based on the ballistic group you choose. The last readout option is TRIG, which gives true horizontal and vertical measurements to the target.

Bright red OLED display prevents the readout numbers from disappearing into a dark background, and the readout time is very short. Simply press the button and, almost instantaneously, the ballistic info is provided. Leupold lists these binos as weighing 39 ounces, but the pair I had must have been dieting because they weighed just 38.4 ounces on my postal scale. Most importantly, Leupold hasn’t overlooked the importance of light management and low light performance for the segment of buyers who plan to take these binos both to the range and the field. Match shooters might not be overly concerned with a binocular’s low-light performance and color fidelity, but as a hunter, I can tell you that a slight edge in field performance might make the difference between success and tag soup. The point of this is that Leupold makes these binoculars field-practical. They are precise enough to range an eight-inch wide fence post accurately at 445 yards, but they’re also light enough to carry in the field—while offering instant readouts at targets at the outer limits of practical shooting distances.

For all that, I’m very impressed with the price. The Leupolds carry a suggested retail price of $1,600, considerably less than the $4,000 or so you’ll pay for Zeiss Victory RF or Swarovski EL Range binoculars and right on par with Vortex’s Fury HD 5000 ranging binos. The Fury binos are slightly lighter, but the Leupold binos have a simpler button layout in my opinion. Leupold offers a lifetime warranty on the optical system and will repair or replace it whether you are the original owner or not. The electronics carry a two-year limited warranty. Leupold keeps making equipment that hunters and shooters love, and the BX-4 Range HD binoculars are no exception. The preliminary results have impressed me, but autumn was approaching as I wrote this, and I plan on having a chance to wring out these binos in the field. Based on what I’ve seen at the range, there shouldn’t be any issues.




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