For the last 15 years, there's been a race going on among optic manufacturers with range-finding technology. And, until recently, the race has been about measuring greater distance. Starting today, it goes to practical accuracy.
The distance we need a rangefinder to measure is arguable, but the technology to range 1,000 yards and beyond has been with us for 10 years. Still, there hasn't been a novel approach to rangefinding technology that made practical sense to hunters.
The new Monarch 7i VR laser rangefinder changes that. It's unique in that it features vibration reduction (VR) technology. If you've used any other laser rangefinder and struggled with holding the reticle still against a target, you'll likely be among those of us who consider Nikon's achievement to be a significant development.
Whether it's an animal that makes our hands tremble with excitement or the frigid cold that won't let us steady our fingers, the new Monarch 7i VR takes the shake out. VR technology reduces external vibrations caused by unnecessary hand movements while ranging distant objects.
However, the target mark in Nikon's new rangefinder remains stable, even when the body of the rangefinder is being moved slightly. Not only does this provide a steady image, it also stabilizes the activated laser to maintain alignment for enhanced measurement performance
VR technology also better enables us to take advantage of the unit's 1,000-yard ranging capability. Though many rangefinders have been heavily marketed to laze objects at great distances, the user's inability to hold the device steady has prevented them from fully realizing a unit's reach.
In order to evaluate a particular rangefinder's claimed distance, G&A had to mount the unit atop a tripod to simulate the stability now offered with Nikon's VR technology. The difficulty in ranging long distances in the field lies in finding something sturdy enough to brace against for the length of time necessary to obtain a reading.
Though it's new to rangefinders, Nikon has years of experience to draw from in engineering image-stabilizing technology. From its camera lens lineup to Nikon's top-tier spotting scopes, VR technology has been long championed by this brand. What's impressive is that none of us imagined it could be offered in such a small and handy unit.
The VR function begins immediately when the laser rangefinder is turned on. Holding down the ranging button on top allows you to continuously scan for eight seconds. The result only takes a half-second, regardless of distance. The Monarch 7i VR has an effective measurement range between 8 and 1,000 yards, and it displays measurements in .1-yard increments.
An unsung benefit to users of the Monarch 7i VR is the rangefinder's compensation for inclination and declination angles, or ID technology. Such angles are important to consider when making a high-angle shot because the bullet's trajectory is different. The Monarch 7i VR instantly compensates for shooting uphill or downhill and offers the equivalent horizontal distance without further calculations.
At the side of the unit is a mode button that cycles through the options of measuring in yards or meters, and switching priorities. The First Target Priority Mode provides a reading of the closest target among a group of objects. The Distant Target Priority Mode gives us the distance for the farthest target in a group. In the field, this translates to selecting the range for a target that may be in front of or behind a tree or patch of brush.
A fixed 6X magnification helps make precise target identification and ranging easy. The Monarch 7i VR is also lightweight, compact and waterproof. On the outside, the unit is protected with a tactile, shock-absorbing armor.
Inside, a single CR2 lithium battery powers the unit, which is secure within the battery's rainproof chamber. Perhaps most impressive is the price. Retailing a dollar less than $400, the Nikon Monarch 7i VR is about half the cost we would have guessed for a rangefinder that antiquates the technology within all other makes and models.
For more information, visit Nikon.com.