Kahles Helis RF Binoculars
- By Pete Moore
- 1 Comments
- Last updated: 22/05/2018
Kahles are probably the world’s oldest optical manufacturer and with a huge reputation for innovation and quality have done it again. Their products are known worldwide, and they offer a range of both telescopic sights and binoculars, but their new Helia RF (rangefinding) BRF is a first for them and one that’s is well overdue in their portfolio too!
BRFs offer the ideal, one-stop solution to two things essential to the hunter; identifying the quarry correctly and ascertaining its range accurately. Compared to a monocular system, the BRF is far more stable and easier to use accurately. However, they were not so prolific as the monoculars and are also bulkier and heavier, two aspects I am more than happy to put up with, given the superior returns they offer!
The Helia RF’s are well sized at 148 x 131 x 71 cms and weigh 880 grams and sit nicely in the hand. There are two options, an 8x42 and 10x42, which are physically identical as is most of the spec. Exceptions (8x42 first, then 10x42) are eye relief 18.5 – 16.5mm, exit pupil distance 5.25 – 4.2mm and field of view 125 – 107m. And of course, the magnification, which is down to personal choice; these days, I’d go with the larger mag! Visually, they are covered in an attractive brown rubber armour, the build shows Kahles’ single bridge hinge they use on their binos only longer, plus the usual deep and wide focus wheel. Barrels shows individual primary focus dioptres with rotary eye cups, so servicing those with and without the need for glasses.
Visually, they put me in mind a little of the Swarovski EL Range BRFs, as they have bellies under each tube, but they are not as exaggerated and fit into the palms nicely. The battery compartment in the underside of the right-hand barrel holds a single CR2 Lithium 3V DC cell. Quite a shock for me was the fact that moulded into the armour are the words ‘MADE IN CHINA’!
Investigation revealed that yes, they are made in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), but at a selected factory and to a standard of materials and workmanship comparable with their Austrian-made products. Well, they could do nothing else, doubtless this contributes to their price that puts them well under the top, European competition! Since the PRC has learned to make near European-type quality optics I don’t judge anymore!
Unusually, the Helia RFs don’t come with a carry case, which is something I have but never use on my Swarovski 10-x42 EL Range BRFs, as they hang around my neck on the hunt, ready for use; and never on a tree! However, they have also done away with their excellent front and rear, rubber lens caps in favour of a soft cover. Made of brown, Waldkauz Loden material, this bikini-like cover just slips on top and bottom. To be honest, I don’t like it; the neck strap is a leather/Loden combination and is wide and comfortable.
Given we hunters mainly use BRFs to determine practical ranges for target ID and shooting distances, Kahles are to be congratulated for keeping the electronics package on the Helia RF simple and practical. Quoted effective range is 1500m (more than enough) with quoted accuracy levels of +/- 1m @ 100m, +/- 2m @ 1000m and a 5% variation after that. Given average, real time deer hunting ranges are from 50 – 350/400m; practical!
Controls are simple and consist of two buttons on the right-hand bridge – top PWR on MEASURE (firing button) so simply press to lase and ping the target; below, MODE selection. This allows you to switch between yards and meters, adjust brightness to five levels and measure target angle/slant distance or actual compensated range to target EAC-function (Enhanced Angle Compensation). This is since the direct slant range does not take into account the effects of gravity on the bullet, which is always less, so you will need less holdover. So, as long as you know your rifle/calibre ballistics, EAC will be on top of those tricky angled shots!
EAC is based on the basic rifleman’s rule but is more precise and can account for even steep angles over 30° more accurately. EG: The distance to the target is 400m, assume an angle of 40°, the rifleman’s rule solution is 306m, EAC plots this as 321m. There’s also a SCAN mode that gives continuous readings as long as the firing button is held down; useful for multiple targets! A new battery should give around 3000 measurements
The view is uncluttered, with a central red aiming square of good size, the read out is below with the yards (Y) or meters (M) symbol on the right and an angle symbol ( ) and the angle in degrees (top right). There’s also a low battery indicator. In use, the Helia RFs worked well, using as a control my Swarovski EL Range BRFs, with the numbers coming in close enough for comfort. However, and as with any laser measuring device; variables like colour, shape of target, range and weather conditions will have an adverse effect on accuracy.
Equally, you need to be as still as possible (supported is always best) as it’s all too easy to over or under range the target unknowingly. Here, I’d recommend multiple pings, which will give an average figure and also; keep the actual shooting ranges sensible, as the further out you push the shot the more the variables will have possible, negative effects. This holds for all types of laser rangefinder, regardless of type and build quality! But overall, I’m I impressed with what Kahles is offering!
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