German Precision Optics (GPO) have been on the New Zealand market for a year or so now; they offer premium optics at a price that’s a little easier on the wallet than the established brands. GPO was started by former executives of Zeiss and other optics companies like Schmidt & Bender. Having tested a couple of GPO products, I think the price-to-performance ratio is pretty good and the range of scopes and binoculars seem to fit well with what Kiwi hunters want.
NZ GPO distributors the New Zealand Ammunition Company were eager to get the new RANGEGUIDE out for testing as they believe the $3000 RRP and powerful laser will appeal to long-range hunters. The RANGEGUIDE 10×50 specifications keep it true to the GPO goal of taking on the big boys – a goal they seem to be achieving – with their Passion HD binoculars especially receiving positive praise in a number of reviews.
For the long-range hunting game, you need both a binocular and a rangefinder, so for many hunters, combining the two makes a lot of sense, and while some prefer two physically smaller units, the lure of having everything in one package is certainly compelling.
The GPO RANGEGUIDE uses a roof prism design and looks like a traditional 10×50 binocular; there are no protrusions and the only giveaways are two buttons on the right-hand side of the hinge. The RANGEGUIDEs are finished with a black armour coating over a lightweight magnesium chassis. GPO state that the chassis is actually a 10×42 chassis that’s been modified to make a smaller 10×50 binocular. The ocular lens has very smooth-to operate wind-out eye cups and I note there’s an extra detent close to ‘fully in’ that gives a bit of flexibility for people who wear glasses.
The display is a typical LED unit with a red/orange readout. The aiming reticle is a circle, and below the circle are the distance measure and the angle and temperature readouts.
The RANGEGUIDEs come in a nice semi-hard case that has straps for both the binoculars and the case. The case is more for recreational use than hunting but GPO does include a decent set of front and rear lens covers, and the unit is waterproof to 500 millibars so a rainy day, or even a quick dunking in a stream, will cause no issues.
My first look through the RANGEGUIDE was as dusk approached, and I have to say, if your main priority in a binocular is good low-light ability, then this is a unit you should look at. Comparing them with some mid-range and high-end binoculars, what became clear very quickly is that the coatings and 50mm objective lens allow a higher level of light transmission than the stated 87% would indicate. Clarity-wise, GPO is obviously using a premium optics package as clarity is very good. I do find most rangefinder binoculars are a little bit compromised because of the internal laser and also the coatings that can be biased towards maximizing laser performance, but the only real compromise I could find was the image degrading slightly at the edge of the field of view. This isn’t a big deal to most hunters as we generally put the animal in the centre of the image, especially when ranging it. Overall, the image was very sharp, and after glassing a variety of field’s hills and gullies for nearly an hour, I felt no eye strain and was more than happy with what I could see. There was no apparent barrel misalignment, and both barrels resolved identically on test targets.
Laser performance is, in a word, impressive; readings in good light conditions can easily pass 3000 yards with 3445 (3150m) the longest distance I got during the test. I would note that testing in dusk and dawn conditions will always give you a bit more range than doing the same in bright sunlight; when I targeted the same trees at midday, I couldn’t get a reading at 3445 yards but could read to just over 3000 yards (2743m) – still pretty impressive! This distance will drop when ranging animals, and sadly, I couldn’t find any deer at longer distances, so I had to substitute a horse which, after finding a decent rest to get stable, gave me a 1365 (1248m) reading. Now, horses usually have slightly more reflective coats than deer, but this one still had his shaggy winter coat, so I’d say it was a pretty fair test. Getting a solid reading off trees out past 2000 yards (1828m) was bread and butter for the RANGEGUIDE, so I’ve no doubt the long-range hunters and shooters would be satisfied with the capability. GPO post no figures for beam divergence so it’s hard to say what the ability of the unit to single out an animal at distance will be, but I take comfort in the fact that I could get a solid reading past 1000 yards. It’s that distance ability that Kiwi hunters need; sure, being able to see how far it is to the next ridge is useful but clear consistent reading out to 1500 yards will satisfy all but a tiny minority of hunters in New Zealand.
In scan mode, the response was pretty fast, and GPO state that when holding the scan button down, it’ll measure 3 times per second. The readout in the right-hand barrel was able to be read in bright light but only at maximum brightness.
The RANGEGUIDE is a closed unit in that it doesn’t have Bluetooth to communicate with an app or other external devices like a GPS. Some of the newer ranging devices use this option and it can make calculating your elevation and wind adjustments quicker; that said, it does have an inclinometer to give you an angle for your ballistics app. Also included are a temperature readout and a line-of-sight calculation for up/down angled shots. This is a pretty useable package but many of the latest rangefinders have either a set of selectable ballistics tables or the aforementioned Bluetooth connection.
With an RRP of just over $3000, the RANGEGUIDEs aren’t cheap, but they’re definitely more affordable than premium offerings from the big European players. The 50mm objective lens gave a noticeably bright image in low light, and as mentioned, the clarity and sharpness are pleasing. The icing on the cake has to be the laser – it really allows you to reach out; 1500 yards (1371m) is what most rangefinders in this price range could achieve at best a few years back – now we can double that. The build quality seems very good and the overall package is compact for a 10×50 binocular.
My only criticism is the lack of connectivity, and if I’m honest, this won’t matter to a large segment of the New Zealand hunting community. The upshot is that this is a quality binocular with a very good laser.