My first impression of the Leica HDB 2200 rangefinding binoculars is simple, wow! These are an impressive set of binoculars and an equally impressive rangefinder. The idea behind this gear switch up was simple, carry less stuff. By investing in a set of Leica HDB 2200 binoculars I’ve got a rangefinder and an observation device packed into one unit. To this point I’d been carrying a rangefinder and a separate monocular or spotting scope for observation. You might think a precision rifle competition is all about shooting. In reality you spend a lot more time watching than you do shooting. So it pays to have a rangefinder that allows you to watch as well as range!
Leica HDB 2200 Binoculars
My first encounter with a set of Leica HDB was at the 2015 Sniper’s Hide Cup. My buddy, Nick, had a set of the Leica HDB 2000s with him. I was really blown away at how well they worked. We’re talking about a field match with no ranges given. Everybody was ranging everything at every stage all day in natural terrain. That tends to be a rough testing ground for rangefinders. Urban environments make easy targets for lasers. Grassy hills and far away rocks, not as much. I had my Terrapin with me for that match. The Leica HDB binos that Nick brought were getting the same ranges as the Terrapin. Impressive!
Leica has long been known for making top tier glass. Their reputation among the camera lens and optics community is well established and deserved. Which brings me to my next point. The glass in the Leica HDB 2200 binoculars is really good. The resolution and depth of view is amazing. You can look at distant objects with very good clarity and you can still get your depth perception. It’s had to describe but with good glass you can really see different depths of terrain pop out at you. It’s definitely a good thing.
Leica HDB 2200 Ranging
This is the part everybody usually asks about. What I can say is that the Leica HDB binoculars range closer to their specifications than any rangefinder I’ve ever played with. What I mean is most manufacturers rate a rangefinder based on it’s performance out to where the performance suffers. For example a SilencerCo Radius is rated on reflective targets to a mile. That’s optimal conditions on a reflective target. In reality you’re likely to experience less when you throw in non reflective targets and sunlight that interferes with the infrared beam.
The Leica is very accurately rated to 2200 yards on reflective targets. I did a lot of playing around with the Leica HDB rangefinder and continue to do so. I’ve found that even in daylight I can range reflective targets at 2000+ yards. I’ve ranged out to 2200 and barely farther in daylight and dusk and night. Rarely do I get much in the way of returns past 2200 yards. That’s what I mean by accurate ratings. It does exactly what Leica says it will and not much more. That’s not a bad thing at all. It’s certainly better than the alternative. Don’t over promise and under deliver. I don’t want a rangefinder that’s rated to 1200 yards and won’t range a building at 450 yards. I’ve seen it, it sucks bad, and that LRF was sold long ago.
The Leica HDB System
This particular model of binocular has a ballistics program built into it as well. I’ll tell you right now that this is still a new toy. I’ve read up and looked at the software but I’ve yet to test the accuracy of the ballistics unit. I’ll play with it and see how it does for giggles but to be honest I already own a better mousetrap, the Kestrel 5700 Elite with Applied Ballistics software. You’re hard pressed to find a better ballistics unit out into the teens, around 1500 yards or so. The Leica system is limited to 1000 yards distance. So they’ve already self imposed a limit that takes them out of the running for competition shooting. That’s okay, though.
The real draw of the Leica HDB system for me was the combination of the two essential tools. An observation device with good glass and an excellent rangefinder. Before I even drove away I tried these out on the roof of a building in Boulder, Colorado. I ranged other rooftops and buildings. I even lased a house up on a mountain outside of town at just shy of 2000 yards. In the sunlight, resting the binoculars on a ledge. That’s pretty excellent performance. Your ranging ability and accuracy only increases with the addition of a tripod. I’ll be purchasing the Leica binocular adapter for my tripod shortly. I’m also going to run these hard for a few weeks before writing up a review, but you can expect one in the not distant future.
That was my initial impression of the Leica HDB system. I had initially planned to buy the Leica HDR which is the same set of binoculars without the ballistics software included. However, I got a killer deal on the Leica HDB 10x binoculars and just couldn’t say no. So while I don’t plan to use the ballistics for matches I’ll still give it a whirl out to 1000 for casual shooting. It’s never bad to have multiple ways to get your DOPE handy, especially if out shooting for fun with friends and family. It’s easy to forget stuff and having one device that provides multiple uses is a good thing. Stay tuned for the review and if you have any questions or comments, drop them below!