January 03, 2013
I remember the days not so long ago when carrying a rangefinder was considered a novelty. If you did happen to have one, it was like hauling around one of those old school backpack radios from WWII — clunky, more than a little cumbersome to operate and heavy.
With the advent of products like the Bushnell G-Force 1300 rangefinder, however, those days are long gone. Now you've got a ridiculously lightweight optic that does, well, just about everything.
And because they go together like peas and carrots on any good hunt, I also got my hands on the 8x42 Legend Ultra HD binoculars, which are an equal measure of precision design and spectacular optical advantage.
First, the G-Force rangefinder. Compact in size and able to fit in the small chest pocket on most any jacket, it's about the equivalent of carrying a cell phone with you into the woods. With a rubberized grip surrounding a rigid metal frame, Rain Guard HD coating to protect the lenses from moisture and ergonomically designed push buttons, the G-Force 1300 is built for work.
I had it out on rainy days in a treestand in Kentucky and never so much as wiped the lenses. Didn't need to. The Rain Guard HD coating on the lenses causes moisture to bead up and disperse, leaving you with a glare-free, smear-free line of sight. The rubberized body is also designed to protect against moisture and does a great job. The other benefit of the specialized coating is that it keeps the glass from fogging up when the temperatures drop. My pair did just that.
One of the coolest features built into the G-Force is its ARC technology, a program that calculates real distance from various heights and angles. You can switch between rifle and bow mode, which adjusts for drop of shot, among other important factors. I used it with a rifle in Oklahoma on a whitetail hunt with Chain Ranch Outfitters, and from a tree in Kentucky during bow season. Both modes work exceptionally well. With a simple push of a button you can switch between bow/rifle settings, or in rifle mode to chose the MOA setting.
A problem on earlier model rangefinders was that the black visuals inside the eye piece were hard to spot in low light conditions. On the other hand, illuminated markers worked better or worse depending on how bright it was outside, which often meant the sight was either too bright or not bright enough. What's the solution? Make the illumination adjustable, which is exactly what Bushnell did on the G-Force. With multiple brightness settings, you can make adjustments for different times of day.
Along with 6x magnification and adjustable eye relief, the G-Force also utilizes Vivid Display Technology (VDT), which sharpens contrast and makes identifying your target a cinch. I always observe how long it takes to acquire a reading after pushing the button, and was amazed with how quickly and effectively the G-Force performs. Distances pop up almost immediately and very rarely do you have to take multiple readings on the same object. All that for a suggested retail of $399, which is a bargain given all the features you get in return.
Because the G-Force works so quickly, I was able to range out the various distances from my Oklahoma blind in about a minute, which is a big advantage when the sun comes up and you're ready for action. Not long after that I spotted a rut-crazed buck bounding through the brush, headed my way. After acquiring an accurate reading from my G-Force, I squeezed off a shot with my .308 at 125 yards — dead on — and the nice 10-point was dead right there.
Through the Looking Glass
What the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD series gives you a quality optic without consuming your entire gear budget (suggested retail is around $300), while performing up to par with its price point competitors. Like most hunters, my budget is a pie that can only be split so many ways. At the same time, the Legend HD gives you the whole package — Rain Guard HD coating, rubberized grip and amazing lens quality. Each pair also comes with a bino suspender — a practical necessity for a heavy set of optics — which saves your neck by dispersing carrying load to your back and shoulders.
I also found that the clarity of the lenses is as true in a wide open field as it is with heavy brush in densely forested areas. For a whitetail hunter, that matters. Gun season in Oklahoma overlooking a field and food plot is different than Kentucky in a treestand with a bow and dense woods. You need a quality bino that can handle both settings, and the Legend Ultra HD does just that.