Laser range finders have come a long way since the last time I used one in the military. In those days, laser range finders were so big and heavy that it required a tripod for support. Nowadays, the previously military-only technology is widely available on the commercial market. Commercially available range finders are also much smaller and simpler to use. One of the best personal laser range finders on the market is the Zeiss Victory 8×26 PRF.
The Zeiss PRF has excellent ergonomics. From the two sides that are rounded to fit the palm of the hands and the anti-slip rubber armor that covers the exterior, to the two small axial ridges along the top for the fingers to rest on. The eyepiece is depth-adjustable and it has four lockable height settings. At just over 10 ounces, the Zeiss PRF is about the perfect weight for a small laser range finder. It’s not so light that it won’t hold steady and it’s not so heavy as to make carrying it a hassle. Zeiss also provided a nice nylon belt carry case and a carrying strap. The Zeiss PRF is sealed against dust and it’s waterproof.
To operate the Zeiss PRF, the user holds it up in a horizontal orientation just like using a binocular. There are only two buttons on the Zeiss. The large Range Finder button can be reached by the index fingers on either hand. The smaller SET button allows the user to access the more advanced functions of the Zeiss PRF such as the yard-to-meter switching and a build-in programmable bullet drop compensation table—for both the US mod in yards and EU mod in meters. The Set button can also activate the Zeiss PRF in the Scan mode, which is great for measuring and tracking a moving object. When in the Scan mode the PRF automatically takes a measure every 1.5 seconds.
Unlike many hand-held laser range finders on the market, the Zeiss’s build-in 8x magnification monoscope is actually quite good. Usually, the optical component of laser range finders, especially budget models, is an afterthought. Those typically suffer from poor light transmission, lens distortion or have a severe tunnel-effect. The 8x26mm optic in the Zeiss PRF is bright and has accurate color rendition that is neither warm nor cold. Only on the extreme edge of the view does some minor reduction of resolution and light transmission show up. When I tested the Zeiss PRF’s optic with the Zeiss Test Pattern (ZTP) chart at 10 meters (32.8 ft), it had clear resolution down to the #6 block. That shows the lens on the Zeiss PRF is very sharp. Both the objective and the ocular lens have Zeiss’ special LotuTec water repellent coating and the Zeiss T* multi-layer optic-enhancing coating. The PRF’s optic uses a porro prism design and has a very wide 6.3-degree field-of-view.
Also standing out from the cheaper laser range finders is the PRF’s daylight reticle and display. When the button is pressed, the red LED-lit reticle appears. When the button is released a four-digit range value will instantly display under the reticle. There’s virtually no lag between them. After a few seconds, both the reticle and the digits will disappear, leaveing a clear view. The single CR2 lithium battery will last for over 2000 measurements. I found the laser works on a wide variety of object and background colors. I was able to measure a black silhouette target at 1000 yards, reliably.
The Zeiss Victory PRF offers probably the best laser range finder performance in its class and the optic is great. It’s waterproof and it features a daylight display with long battery life. The Zeiss Victory PRF’s $600 street price is actually a good deal for a premium Euro-brand laser range finder, considering that the Leica 1600 is $800 and the Swarovski Swarvo is $1000. However, Zeiss had recently discontinued the Victory PRF, and it’s now available in few online places with a clearance price as low as $350 here.
|Model||Zeiss Victory PRF 8×26 T*|
|Measuring Range||10-1300 yards, 10-1200 meters|
|Accuracy||1 yard under 650 yard and 0.5% over 650 yard|
|Measuring time||1.5-second average|
|Power Source||Lithium 3V CR2|
|Battery Life||2000 measuring shots|
|Reticle||Red, daylight visible|
|Price||MSRP $600, clearance price $350|
|Objective Lens size||26mm|
|Field of View||6.3 degrees, 330 feet at 1000 yards|
|Eye Relief||17.5mm/0.7 inch|