Leica Binocular Range finder
Geovid HD-B 10×42 3000
Intro to the Leica binocular rangefinder.
What could possibly be better than a pair of Leica binoculars? Pretty simple, Leica binocular rangefinder – That is exactly what the Geovid HD-B 3000 is – a pair of binoculars with integrated rangefinder, weather meter and ballistics calculator capable of returning a firing solution at the click of a button. Why do we care about all this? Let’s find out.
Above: Leica Geovid HD-B 10×42 3000 with Kestrel 4500 elite ballistics and a 300Norma mag. round for comparison
Stalking with Leica binocular rangefinders and Swarovski ATS 65 Spotter in the French Pyrenees.
Leica needs very little introduction, the brand is synonymous with outstanding German quality optics and highest-grade lenses which are highly valued by users from various walks of life, from bird watchers to hunters, civilian competitive shooters to military. Everyone wants to acquire the best view of his intended subject. If you can’t see it you can’t hit it. I would add, “and if you can’t range it, you can’t hit it”. This is where Leica Geovid HD-B 3000 10×42 comes in.
Two months prior to our mouflon hunting trip in the Pyrenees, I had a few weeks to play with the Leica binocular rangefinders- the Geovid 10×42 HD-B 3000. My good friend Mario had acquired a pair. The consideration was simple, do we really need to carry a pair of Leica Binoculars as well as a separate Leica range finding unit? Cost-wise probably yes, you can get a very decent pair of Leica’s for about a £1250-£1500 from a reputable dealer.
Add a solid laser range finder and we’re somewhere in the ballpark of £2000 all in. For hunting purposes you won’t need the same range finding abilities that some of the ultra-modern lasers needed for very long range work but it’s always nice to have especially if like me, you like to use the same kit for target shooting as well as hunting. At this price point, dual use is definitely a plus.
Above, we test out the Leica binoculars with range finder in conjunction with our spotter. Here we range a cliff edge past a mile. Notice that we were ranging the soil patch between the rocks and garigue. The laser still returned a reading at just over a mile. This was the distance our 60cm target would be placed at cold bore range in Denmark for ELR shooting as well as Ko1mile competition in France.
My first laser range finder was a leica lrf 800, it was simple and solid and could do anything my 308win could. Since then I had a few, a Swarovski laser guide 8×30 monocular which I used on some European military ranges with UKD targets, a leica 1200 and now I’m in the market for another one preferably to use both in hunting as well as unknown distance shooting on open fields.
Leica Geovid Hd-b 10×42 country – far away peaks and steep angles. Which piece of kit do you trust in this environment?
Before our mountain hunt, I was advised that we shall be doing a lot of glassing on the next trip in order to locate suitably sized game. I carried with me my trusted Swarovski spotting scope which is light enough to carry and provides me with 20-50x mag. However, on the move nothing beats a good pair of binoculars with range finder, easy to deploy and if need be, bring out the spotter. You can also spot your impacts and misses with one if you lay it on a bag or small tripod.
Spotting Moufflon through a Swarovski ATS 20-50×65 – We used the spotter to help us stabilise our position and lay the binos on it to achieve greater stability when ranging. Photo made on 25x magnification at a hair over 700m. link to entire hunting story further down…
What does the Leica Geovid HD-B 3000 bring to the table?
Placed on a portable Manfrotto tripod, it enabled us to range items more accurately. Here we’re taking it through it’s paces before our trip to France.
Convenience is the first thing that comes to mind, you don’t have to reach out for your range finder after spending time glassing with your binos wasting time trying to locate game again with your rangefinder through a monocular view. The binocular rangefinders are not light but given that they are doubling for a range finder as well you must take that into consideration. Not having two items dangling off your neck keeps things simple especially when you’re walking through brush or trees like the one below. They reminded me of Scar’s share of the kingdom in the Lion King, don’t they? 😊 The mouflon easily camouflage themselves in this environment, top optics are not an option but a must. They truly enable you to enjoy being in the outdoors and spotting minute details.
Among these branches, it pays to have less items hanging off your neck and getting caught while trying to work your way to a suitable position.
You may almost leave your kestrel at home, I said almost because I believe you should always be carrying two devices just in case something fails you when you must make that shot you have worked for so arduously! Always carry a printed ballistic data card for the conditions you will be finding yourself in.
I’ve ranged numerous items with Leica Geovid HD-B 3000 from trees to rocks, floating buoys to bushes, shrubs, rocks, mouflon, chamois and WWII gunposts and everything else in between. Presenting all the data on one screen at the click of a button within the binocular display is truly awesome. Easy to read and in all weather conditions. It will also provide you with the temperature, angle to target and barometric pressure. I have checked this against my trusted Kestrel and they match – no issues there. Following your intended subject and getting the data right in front of your eyes without a flinch must be experienced to be appreciated.
Leica binocular rangefinder beam divergence – What’s that?
The beam divergence is basically the size of the beam of the laser just like a scope reticle has its dimensions in mrads or MOA. The smaller it is, the easier it is to target a specific object. Ideally the beam is smaller than your intended target. In practice, they usually are not so keep in mind that your laser may be hitting behind your target. With practice you will understand better. Leica lists the Beam divergence in mrad: Vertical: 2.03, Horizontal: 1.13 meaning it will cover just over a 2m x1.13m target at 1000m – a barn door in other words.
It is important to remember, not only to help you skim through the marketing ad copy we’re presented with from manufacturers but also in practical usage. If you range a deer at say 700m and you’re actually hitting the rock behind it at 711m, there could be a further 7inch bullet drop in those 11meters depending on cartridge if you’re dialed for 711m and not 700m. That could cause you to hit above the boiler room or miss it completely. Remember at 700m, your groups are probably around 3-8inches depending on the rifle/load. So your real world impact point could be up to 4 inches above or below your point of aim – that’s your group – over and above that 7inch error you have already induced when you ranged incorrectly. Tricky isn’t it?
Here are a few pictures of items I have ranged with it, it’s not failed me on anything (except one) and bright Mediterranean sunlight is not friendly to laser range finders so if it ranges here, it will range anywhere.
What does the rangefinder display look like?
Below you can see some of the pictures I’ve made, they speak better than words do. I also compared the range readings to a Vectronix plrf-10 laser range finder – a mil spec range finder that for years has been the gold standard and priced accordingly.
Above: Leica Geovid HD-B 3000 laser range finder compared to PLRF 10. Display seemed easier to read with the Leica. The reticle on the plrf10 however was easier to place on the object you intended ranging.
More range testing with the Leica Geovid HD-B 3000 laser range finder – anything and everything to find out if it will fail. Against the backdrop of a Mediterranean landscape and sunlight with tens of crickets whistling in the background, we headed out for the coastline. This throws the unit into a challenge from the get go. We also tested it at sea in case you’re thinking of carrying your Leica’s on the next maritime security patrol. You will be pleased with them and here’s why.
Here I set it up on my portable Manfrotto looking over at the coast below and started selecting various size objects. Remember, at sea, you will not get a reading when you hit the water, so you’re really testing how easy/hard it is to hit that object with that laser beam.
Yacht – moving, drifting, anchored, no problem – easy as 1,2,3… 1130m then we tried 60 cm buoys at sea at 1182m – no problem instant distance readout.
Is there anything the Leica could not range? Well yes, only one object –
This buoy/marker was past 1400m – it’s the only thing I could not get a reading on, I tried over 10x. the laser was bouncing around it but could not get the laser to bounce off it.
Below: Sandy patch across the peninsula at over 2.7km – no problem. This is at the very far spectrum of what this laser range finder can read.
Ranging objects past 2500m with the Leica rangefinder binoculars
Here I tried to get a reading off the building between the trees at over 2.5km. It still returned a reading even though trees are not the best items to bounce a laser off. Yet leica HD-B 3000 still delivers. If you were going to use it for ELR, this will work given there are enough surfaces to bounce the laser off.
I also tried a small rocky contraption in a field made of rubble wall.
Below: Leica returns the ballistic correction for drop at 7.6Mils for a 65creedmoor preloaded in the sd card.
The Geovid will return a ballistic output up to 800m.
Above: Ballistic computation can be given in .1 Mils or MOA, hold over in cm or in clicks. Switching between the two is easy if you need to although I recommend you set it and check it before you head out. I checked this against my kestrel and it was within 0.1Mrad.
The I tried ranging small items at night, no problem whatsoever ranging this free standing bulb on a pole with ultra-precise distance in decimals.
Limitations of the Leica HD-B 3000 10×42 range finder binoculars.
Yes, there are a few it’s not the perfect marriage but close and I can work towards a long-term relationship with one.
- Leica will only display a ballistic output to 800 m/ 875 yds. I believe Leica did this so that hunters would not take wild shots with their newly acquired data. As a target shooter with such an expensive piece of kit (circa €2400 current market price), I would prefer to get all the data for all distances on my bino rather than having to resort back to my kestrel 4500.
- If you have multiple rifles, you will have to remove the SD card and insert another with the ballistics of your other cartridge then check the settings again to see they are correct.
- I couldn’t input the velocity of my round again once I inserted that data in the SD card. This is not the best way to get the most accurate ballistic solution. Normally when I travel, I will fire one or 2 rounds to check my velocity in those environmental conditions and update my kestrel with the muzzle velocity real time. This wasn’t possible with Leica binos. I would need my laptop with me.
- The biggest draw back for me however is WINDAGE output. Leica does not provide you with the ballistic output for a 10mph wind 90Deg which is pretty much standard for all ballistic data cards/ kestrel you name it. With the Leica Hd-B 3000, even after you drop €2400, you still have to dig into your pockets to find your data card or pull out your kestrel to figure out the windage dope at least for a 10mph wind so you can then workout the dope for your shot according to wind speed and direction. In my opinion this is the biggest drawback.
- Without knowing your windage, you have no business shooting longer distances especially on game. At 400 or 500m, even my laser-like 300Norma Mag still needs 2.2 MOA of wind in a 10mph full value wind. Leica assumes all hunters are making shots in no wind conditions or else expects you to carry your wind dope values on a paper in your pocket or resort back to kestrel which begs the question, why have a ballistic output for elevation without providing me wind? The other assumption I believe is that hunters are not trained in how to dial or hold for windage. I hope that the intended user investing this sort of money in his kit with the intention or interest to make longer shots is at least provided with the full data to make that shot. I rarely get shots without having to input windage. This is especially true when some popular hunting scopes like the Zeiss V8 come with a simple cross hair reticle which does not provide for accurate windage holds unless you dial your wind.
- Leica’s ballistic app uses G1 BC not G7 BC in its calculations. G7 is more accurate especially further out past 700m. I would have expected that nowadays, I would be inputting G7 BC. Again I believe they could do this because the bino was not made to provide ballistic solutions for shots past 800m but at this price point, I expect more.
How did the mountain hunting trip in Europe go? Read about the Pyrenees hunting adventure here
Conclusion on the Leica binocular rangefinder
All in all, it’s a great piece of kit and its current owner is happy with it. Built to last and can take a beating, it’s unlikely to fail you on the hunt of a lifetime. I already use other units to work out my ballistic solution so for me it’s not a real deal breaker but for other users that may not have a kestrel unit with integrated ballistics, remember to have your windage dope printed out.
Keep a record of the muzzle velocity of your ammo in the temperatures you are expecting to hunt in so you can plug it in before you go there. Simply take note of your ammo velocity during different range sessions/weather conditions so you can get that muzzle velocity adjusted for temperature.
As a bino, the image quality is superb, everybody that picks one up loves the image, easy on the eyes and tough on your pockets – like all quality items nice things come at a price. The laser is very good, it never failed us during the hunt and will range anywhere and anything. If you can shoot, Leica Geovid Hd-B 10×42 3000 will be a useful complimentary asset in your quest for the ultimate hunt. It’s a joy to use one even if you just sit down and watch the world go by through one.
Here are a few more pictures from further range testing we had with the Leica geovid HD-B 3000. It’s thirsty on your batteries so keep another pair in your pockets if you’re heading out of town into the mountains.
Probably the most beautiful shot during this review was this guard tower from the 16th century looking over the Mediterranean sea taken just before sunset. you could actually count how many bricks were used.
Below we can also see the ballistic output for this rock hut at 608m
Below: Gallon drum at 699m
Cliff edge tip at almost 1.8km – instant readout no issues
Are you an ELR shooter? Here I ranged a tree at just over 2.2km away. Leica returned a reading without an issue. The large reservoir is just under 915m away.
GOT Questions? Join the discussion and leave your comment below.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, the unit in this review was purchased by its owner.