Bushnell Laser Rangefinder Yardage Pro Legend
By Chuck Hawks
This trick new laser rangefinder from Bushnell should interest many hunters and sportsmen. It is compact, waterproof, and incorporates the most popular and useful features. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have a concise model designation. On the box in which it comes appears the following: "Bushnell Laser Rangefinder Yardage Pro Legend." The same mouthful is repeated on the instruction sheet.
So I guess that is what you will have to ask for at your local sporting goods store if you are inspired to take a look at one of these units after reading this review. Me, I'd have named it the "Legend" and left it at that. In fact, for simplicity (and to save myself some typing) that is how I am going to refer to the Bushnell Laser Rangefinder Yardage Pro Legend throughout the rest of this article.
This handy rangefinder has a lot of good points and only one real failing as far as I can tell. So, if you are in the market for a medium priced laser rangefinder, you may indeed want to memorize the lengthy oficial nomenclature.
Here are the Legend's basic specifications:
To address the unit's sole serious flaw up front, it is this: "PermaFocus." That translates to bad old fashioned "fixed focus" when you remove the fancy label. ("If you can't sell the product, wrap it in baloney and sell the baloney.") Meaning that there is no provision to focus the 6 power monocular to your eye for a sharp image. If your eyes don't happen to match the diopter correction built into the Legend, you are out of luck. There is no way to adjust this Bushnell's eyepiece, so put up with blurry views or start shopping for something else.
NO rangefinder, monocular, binocular, or telescope should ever be sold with a fixed focus eyepiece. You can skate by with a fixed focus eyepiece on a 1x optical system, such as the viewfinders of most cameras. But with a magnifying optical system (in other words a telescope), and you are looking through a small telescope when you use any laser rangefinder, a focusing eyepiece is simply a requirement. Everyone's eyes are different and few people actually have "20/20" vision, so a fixed focus eyepiece means that the majority of users are going to see an image that is out of focus to some extent.
A focusing eyepiece costs a little more to produce than a fixed focus eyepiece, but the Legend is not a bargain basement unit. It is a medium priced model, retailing for $349 at Midway U.S.A. as I write these words, and for that sort of money the consumer certainly deserves to see a sharp image of whatever he or she is trying to range.
A minor concern is the confusion over the warrantee. The instruction manual claims two years, but the included warrantee card specifies one year. Both state that a check to cover return shipping and handling must be enclosed with any Legend returned for service. The instruction manual states that this s&h charge is $10.00, but the warrantee card specifies $15.00. Nor were the addresses to which you are supposed to return the unit for warrantee repair the same! Fortunately, the unit reviewed here worked fine so we did not have to sort out this warrantee confusion.
Okay, now on to the Legend's good points, and there are several. Using advanced digital technology, the Legend 800 delivers accurate ranging performance on targets from 15 yards to 930 yards (depending on target reflectance) at the touch of a button. For example, it can range on a golf flag/pin as far as 275 yards, a big game animal at 450 yards, a tree at 800 yards, and a reflective target at up to 930 yards. Accuracy is +/- 1 yard. Illuminated indicators in the viewfinder warn when the laser is active and when the battery is low. The fixed focus eyepiece is provided with a rubber eyecup that can be rolled down to allow eyeglass wearers to get closer to the ocular lens.
The Legend is accurate to within one yard even if you're measuring through rain or snow, due to its built-in rain and reflective modes. In Western Oregon, where I reside, it often rains during deer season, so this is an important feature for hunters.
Distance can be measured in yards or meters. "YD" or "M" is always shown to the right of the range display as you use the Legend. To change from yards to meters, look through the monocular, press the mode button (left side of unit) and hold it down for 2 seconds. The display will change from yards to meters or vice-versa.
There are three modes of operation: "standard," "scan," and ">150" (greater than 150 yards). In the standard mode you just press the power button to turn the unit on. A LCD crosshair appears. Put the crosshair on whatever you want to range and press the power button again, holding it down until the range (in yards or meters) appears in the viewfinder. After the power button is released the range will continue to be displayed for 6 seconds. You can press the power button again at any time to measure the distance to a new target.
Hold the power button down for 3 seconds and the unit switches to scan mode, and the word "scan" will appear and blink at the left side of the LCD display. In this mode, the range is continually updated. I found the scan mode to be primarily useful for ranging moving targets.
The >150 mode allows ranging objects that are at least 150 yards (or 165 meters) away through brush or other foreground clutter. The unit simply ignores anything closer than 150 yards. In this mode ">150" appears in the LCD display. The >150 mode is selected by depressing the mode button once while looking through the monocular. Note that the Legend will return to the last setting selected each time that the unit is turned-on.
The ergonomics of the Legend are good. It is designed for convenient one hand operation. The Power button is at the rear of the upper surface, above the eyepiece, where the index finger naturally falls when the unit is held normally. The mode button is on the left side of the unit, where it can be thumb activated as required. All corners are rounded for comfortable holding.
It is a lightweight, compact unit that will fit in a jacket pocket. The handy (supplied) carrying case means that it can also be conveniently carried on a belt.
The Legend 800 is completely waterproof. It even floats, so it would be an excellent rangefinder for marine applications.
There are some points to remember that are common to all laser rangefinders. Don't look directly into the emitting laser for long periods, especially with a magnifying optical device. Also, the ambient lighting conditions can influence the Legend's range. Very strong sunlight decreases the maximum ranging capability, and dim ambient light increases the maximum ranging distance.
Guns and Shooting Online Technical Assistant Bob Fleck and I did most of the practical testing with the Legend. In use we found that the Legend worked exactly as described. It was easy to use and appeared to be quite accurate when we ranged the 100 and 200 yard target stands at our local rifle range. We also ranged a variety of other objects, including road signs, houses, trees, trees through intervening brush, fence posts, a couple of accommodating deer, and so on. We ranged in bright sunlight, under overcast conditions, and in the dim light 1/2 hour after sundown, when legal hunting ceases. All of the modes worked as advertised and no difficulties were encountered.
We were both impressed by all of the Legend's good features, especially its ease of use. The fixed focus monocular was blurry to my eyes, with or without my glasses, which are a recent prescription. It didn't prevent me from rangefinding accurately, but it was irritating. The eyepiece was fine for Bob's eyes. He loves the unit and refuses to give it back, so I guess that Guns and Shooting Online will end up having to purchase this Bushnell Yardage Pro Legend.
Copyright 2005, 2006 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.