|Leica 1200 Remains Price/Performance Leader
We've sampled various laser range-finders, including Leica, Newcon Optik, and Bushnell, and the Leica is still the best among those. It has the most accurate and reliable laser, the best display, and the best glass. It is the most compact, and it carries the best factory warranty--3 years on electronics, 5 years on optics.
There may be a new champ, however, the new Swarovski Laser Guide 8x30. At $850 street price, it's nearly double the cost of the Leica, but user reports are saying it will range small objects farther than the Leica 1200, and the Swaro is more comfortable in the hand. However, the Leica still is our top choice, when price is a consideration.
With street prices around $600.00 for the new 1200SM scan model, the Leica remains affordable even when compared to a NewCon Optik at $299. The Newcon's display is difficult if not impossible to see at night. Newcon's warranty is only 1 year unless you pay $35 for a warranty extension. However, the Newcon 1500 can sometimes out-perform the Leica in challenging light conditions, such as when ranging into a sunset, and the Newcon 1500 can, without question, be used beyond 1200 yards, the Leica's effective limit.
Still, we think the 1200-yard "reach" of the Leica is more than good enough for 99% of sport-shooting and varminting applications. Our field tests showed the Leica was able to range objects at 800 yards and beyond that were giving the cheaper Bushnell unit fits.
When you're shopping make sure you get the current "Scan Mode" model. Replacing its non-scan predecessor, Leica's Rangemaster 1200SM has an additional scan function that updates measurements when the release button is pressed down continuously. The scan function is good for moving targets and very distant targets--so you can re-check the reading quickly.
What Leica 1200 Owners Say
John, who runs the Varmints For Fun website, puts it succinctly:
"Go with the Leica and don't look back. I have the 1200 yd model and it ranges as far as I can shoot!"
Here are comments from other Leica Owners:
"I had a Bushnell 1000, used the Bushnell 800 for a while, but the best investment was the Leica 1200 scan. More accurate, smaller, better illumination on screen." KDiver, LA.
"I'm going to [recommend] the Leica 1200,... had mine out today in the fog/rain, if I could see it... the Leica would range it." S. Morgan, AL
"I have both an early model Bushnell Ranging 400 and a newer Leica 1200. I purchased the Leica 1200 because I was not happy with the performance of the Bushnell. E.G., it could not range small targets. I have not looked for another rangefinder since purchasing the Leica 1200. Save a little longer, you won't have to replace it." B. Scott
Where to Buy
Unfortunately, the Leica has increased substantially in price over the last year or so. We checked with a number of online sources (B&H Photo, Bass Pro, Adorama), and did a "Froogle" search. It seems like everybody is selling the 1200sm for right around $599.00. But things can change, so you should do your own price search. 6BR shooter and world-record holder James Phillips offers both the Leica 1200 and the Newcon Optik 1500 rangefinders at very competitive pricing through his Reloaders Nest store. You can also call James at (931) 723-4468. He might even give you a few tips on how he shot a 1.190" group at 600 yards.
If you need a "no questions asked return policy" or are buying the Leica as a gift for someone who might exchange it, you may want to spend the extra money ($60) and buy your Leica 1200SM from Cabela's.