Hawke LRF 900 Professional Laser Rangefinder
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- Last updated: 28/02/2017
We all do grouping tests. Either just when we are zeroing or for many of us as a useful hunting accessory!
Social media is full of photos captioned ‘look at this 50 yards group, amazing!’ Well, real life groups or accuracy, when out hunting, are not like that. If you estimate a rabbit by eye to be 40 yards away, it is unlikely you are within +/- 10 yards. Rubbish I hear you say, OK let’s call it +/- 5 yards, though you are now ranking yourself up there with some of the best HFT shots in the country!
With a .177, there is nearly 1.5” of drop difference between 35 and 45 yards. And a 10mph wind will have pushed the pellet an extra two inches too! Far too large a margin of error to ensure a clean kill. We have now established the need for a more consistent and effective method of distance prediction, so you need a laser range finder (LRF), but which one?
Hawke’s range of LRFs is probably one of the most popular in the UK, within which the LRF900 Professional sits at the top, above the LRF400 Pro and the LFR600 Pro. All are almost identical from the outside; the difference however comes from their maximum, accurate ranging abilities.
The LRF900 on test here certainly comes well appointed. In addition to the range finder, you also get a wrist lanyard, a lens cloth, a very nicely shaped zip up padded case with karabiner and an easy to understand instruction booklet in five languages, with English at the front. Also included are the CR2 battery and details of the 10-year warranty. In my rangefinder roundup (Shooting Sports August 2016) I found the LRF900 to be slightly more accurate than its two siblings, particularly at the longer distances, and one of the best in its price range.
But like many in that test, the LRF900 has a few more tricks up its sleeve, than just a simple measurement of distance- so here’s a breakdown of just what you get for your money. Standard mode – measures the straight line distance to the target you are aiming at and was the mode used in the tests and is very simple to do. Press the ON/OFF button once, aim the clear crosshair at the target and momentarily push the button again. The Laser symbol flashes in the viewfinder whilst it’s calculating and then the signal strength (a volume bar type icon) and the distance are shown. It typically takes no longer than a second or two to display the read out. That distance can be changed from metres to yards by holding the mode button for a few seconds. It then stays in that mode until you choose to change it back.
The mode button, when pushed momentarily, cycles through the various measuring options and in all but standard mode, displays the setting in the screen. Beeline – measures the horizontal distance to the target. Aim the crosshairs at the top of a tree and press the button and the distance to the tree at the same height will be returned. Of course this is useful because as long as the angle to the top of the tree is not too big, then you use the hold over/hold under for the horizontal distance, not the straight line distance.
Height – measures how high the target is, don’t forget if you are holding the range finder to your eye then you are already a yard or two above the ground. Not such a useful feature for shooting but can make a hilly country walk more interesting! Of course if you want to measure the height of your house without lying on the ground then! Height difference – this is a little more complicated to use, but not much. H1 appears in the display and you aim at the bottom of your house and push the button. H2 appears in the display and you put the crosshairs on the top of your house and push the button again. The display then shows you the difference in height between the two measurements i.e. the height of your house; all clever stuff!
Angle – aim at the top of that tree we were using earlier and now the angle from the LRF to its top will be measured and displayed to the nearest 0.5°. It can also measure downhill, showing a minus symbol to the left of the angle shown in the display. Obviously the real use here is calculating for an angled shot up or down!
With all the modes, if you hold the on/off button down and move the aim point, the measurement will continually update. Also, the unit has an auto off after about 15 seconds. Just press the on/off button to turn on.
This is a comfortable range finder to use and although I would call it medium sized, it still fits comfortably in a jacket pocket.
Personally, I would find a neck lanyard more useful than the wrist one supplied. It is quick to measure distances and a lot more accurate than you are! The eye relief is a little short, which means I could never really see the entire screen without moving my eye position. (I wear glasses).
However this does not really detract from being able to use it, as all the information you need is clearly visible. Overall it would be a pleasure to own and use and provide critical information to improve your shooting or course laying or impressing your friends with; do you know how far that tree is!