Nikon Reinvents the Laser Rangefinder? The 2017 MONARCH 7i VR
First, the specifications as published by Nikon.
Measurement Range 8 - 1000 yards
Increment Reading .1 yard
Magnification 6 x
Viewfinder Display meters/yards
Eye Relief 18 mm
Power Source1 CR2 Lithium Battery
Size (Length x Width x Height)3.9 x 1.9 x 3.0 in
Weight w/o Batteries 7.1 oz
Objective Diameter 21 mm
Exit Pupil 3.5 mm
Angle Compensation Yes
Sunset today in Plainfield was 5:38 pm, with evening civil twilight from 5:37 - 6:05 pm. Civil twilight is often the end of legal hunting hours, and when the apparent brightness of optics matters most. It is the end of civil twilight when I conduct low-light optic comparisons.
The exit pupil of the Nikon unit is 3.5mm, smaller than the brighter (in low light) Vortex Ranger 1500's 3.66mm. The Leupold unit shares the same basic monocular spec and resultant exit pupil. Tested side by side, a very slight edge goes to the Vortex unit over the Leupold, with the Nikon clearly dimmer. The Monarch 7i VR does make a bit of noise when activated, apparently due to the image stabilization system, and this Monarch does not provide as bright an image as the Leupold, Vortex, and Leica units tested right alongside it. For end of the legal hunting hours use, or for night hunting of coyotes or hogs, this probably isn't the unit that will satisfy you.
However, the Nikon has a big lead in several other categories of performance. It is very, very easy to grip and use with one hand. The Nikon has image stabilization when activated, an industry first as far as I know. Nikon says, this unit has “optical VR (Vibration Reduction) system, designed to reduce vibrations of the image in the viewfinder caused by hand movements (by approx. 80%*).”
While I have no easy way to determine a percentage, it clearly does work and works very effectively. Unlike many units that use a bright red or reddish orange illuminated LED reticle, the Nikon uses a black LCD. Many LED reticles do not automatically adjust for ambient light, so they can blow your eyes out of the image if you do not manually dim them for lower light. Leica units, even my older LRF 900 unit, auto-dims the LED reticle for you. The Sig Kilo 2000 units do as well.
This Nikon comes in at about $350 or so street price, a bit less than similar rangefinders in this category that lack image stabilization. Whether this is the rangefinder for you or not depends on how much you value the image stabilization, how it fits in your hand, and the increased capability of its inclinometer which is plus/minus 89 degrees. Many rangefinders with shoot-to or “shoot as if” ranges based on incline limit out at 60 degrees.
Copyright 2017 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.