Leica CRF 1600-B Laser Rangefinder
I’ve had a lot of requests to do a review on the Leica 1600-B. With three seasons of using it for long range hunting and rifle competitions, I still recommend it for its high quality and overall value.
This online review of the 1600-B is a supplement to our video review and field demo below. As always, my videos are done spontaneously, without scripts or story boards. Because of that, I tend to forget to include some details that are better brought out with a keyboard. Be sure to watch the video at the end to pick up the stuff I forget to type!
My first look through a Leica 1600-B rangefinder came while high on a mountain in the Cascades of Washington state.
I’d borrowed it from a fellow long range hunter to see how it stacked up against my Swarovski Laser Guide. The Leica’s speed, optical clarity, and feel in my hand instantly hooked me. Two weeks later, my own Leica 1600-B showed up on the front porch.
Over the course of three seasons, I’ve ranged thousands of targets with the 1600-B. It’s endured heat, cold, rain, snow, and dust. It’s been dropped, left out for weeks at a time in a frozen pack, and baked in the sun during summertime practice sessions. If you watch our videos, know that every shot taken in them was ranged with this rangefinder. Its performance and reliability has been stellar. I’ve had zero issues with it.
I’ve used it with good results for both long range hunting and precision rifle competitions.
The 1600-B uses Leica’s High Durable Coating(HDC) and Aqua-Dura coatings on the lenses.
These are the same coatings used on Leica’s top notch optics such as the Ultravid HD binoculars. These coatings flat out work, and make it easy to find a target for ranging in any conditions you can shoot in. They’ve also proven to be durable and easy to clean. It has 7x magnification.
It’s powered by a single CR2 lithium battery. The battery cover is easy to remove, and can be done without special tools if necessary. Leica claims 2000 measurements on a battery, depending on temperature. I think that’s probably accurate. I’ve only had to replace the battery once. The display started flashing, letting me know I was down to 100 measurements left. I carry a spare, but I typically replace the battery twice a year as maintenance. The forced replacement came just before a scheduled one, during a busy summer of scope testing. I would rate battery life as excellent.
The Leica 1600-B is truly a compact rangefinder. It weighs 6.5 ounces and measures approximately 4-1/8” x 2-7/8” x 1-1/4”. It comes with a padded nylon case.
It’s rated as waterproof for 30 minutes in one meter of water. I’ve had mine wet for days without a problem.
When measuring laser rangefinder performance, the beam divergence of the laser used is an important factor. Leica advertises a .5 x 1.5 mrad beam divergence for the 1600-B.
Simply put, beam divergence is how much the beam spreads out on its way to the target. The smaller the beam, the more accurate the measurement. The beam divergence on the Leica 1600-B rivals that of much more expensive units, such as the Vectronix Terrapin or PLRF series.
Another thing I like about the Leica is its aiming square. When I superimpose it on a Leupold 100-yard grid target, the square sits right on the outer edges of the black 2 MOA squares. The outside edges of those black squares are 6” x6”. I have to assume that the aiming square is approximately the width and height of the laser’s horizontal measurement (1.5 mrads = 5.4 MOA). The laser sits neatly within the width of that square, and a lot of testing has shown that the .5 mrad vertical measurement of the laser in my unit is in the center or slightly below center of the aiming square.
Like most laser rangefinders, the 1600-B has a scan mode. That’s how a lot of rangefinders make up for low quality lasers, but with the tight beam divergence and small aiming square on the Leica, I don’t use it. I illuminate the aiming square, get it on the target, and hit the button. One shot is usually all it takes.
The 1600-B is rated at a maximum range of 1600 yards and a minimum range of 10 yards.
I’ve ranged highly reflective targets, such as large steel plates and rock faces at distances much further than 1600 yards. On occasion, I’ve also bounced it off animals at close to 2000 yards. Using a tripod mount, I ranged a cow elk this spring at 1950 yards, using a rock face for a reference to make sure it was the elk I was ranging. That’s an extreme example of course, but at the rated maximum range or below, ranging animals isn’t a problem.
The only time I remember it not giving me a range was on a late November deer hunt. I was set up on a bluff overlooking a broad river bottom. I couldn’t see anything yet because of lighting and heavy fog. Hoping to get some general ranges, I aimed the Leica at the bottom. It wouldn’t do it. It kept bouncing off the moisture in the fog. Keep in mind that I couldn’t even see the bottom yet. As soon as I could pick out patches of marsh grass through the fog, the 1600-B started giving me distances, clear out to 1740 yards. Otherwise, rain and snow hasn’t affected readings. Neither has fog, as long as I could see the target.
Another example of its performance came during a fall bear hunt. North idaho had several forest fires burning that year, causing heavy smoke to settle into just about every drainage I hunt. The Leica had no problem cutting through the particulates in the smoke, even when we had problems seeing clearly through our optics.
Operation is simple and fast.
It has two buttons on top. The main button operates the ranging feature, the secondary button is for measuring atmospheric conditions and angle of fire.
To range a target, you depress the main button once to illuminate the aiming square. Once the target is in the square, hit the button again. The 1600-B can be configured to read in yards or meters.
The secondary button is used to display station pressure, air temperature, and angle of fire measurements. I’ve compared the atmospheric readings on the Leica to three different Kestrel meters and found it to be accurate. Care has to be taken when getting temp readings, as handling the Leica or leaving it in the sun can cause false readings. Since I’ve been using a Kestrel 5700 Elite as my primary ballistic solver, I’ve only used this feature to check angle of fire when needed.
The 1600-B also features a built-in ballistic solver called Advanced Ballistic Compensation(ABC) that uses generic ballistic curves.
Using predetermined zero ranges, it gives 12 different holdover corrections in centimeters or inches. You pick the correction that best matches your ammunition and the expected conditions. It will give corrections for ranges up to 875 yards, or 800 meters. I prefer a dedicated ballistic solver, so I’ve never used this function.
When in ABC mode, the 1600-B will also display Equivalent Horizontal Compensation(EHC). This is for shooting at steep angles, and gives you a compensated holdover for the calculated angle and distance. I’ve never used this function either.
For long range hunting, precision rifle competitions, and all but the most extreme long range target shooting, the Leica 1600-B has done everything I’ve needed it to do.
From t-posts and ground squirrels at 600 yards, to rock faces and elk at over a mile, the 1600-B has never disappointed me. It’s been accurate and dependable. If the new Leica 2000-B is the same rangefinder with more capability, I wouldn’t hesitate to try it. If you can still find a 1600-B for sale, I would highly recommend it. Be sure to check out the video below for more information.