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Montana X-treme
Rifle Magazine
March - April 2005
Volume 37, Number 2
ISSN: 0162-3583
Number 218
On the cover...
The Remington Model 504 is chambered in 17 Mach 2 and topped off with a Kahles scope. The Weatherby Vanguard Outfitter Custom rifle features Teflon coatings and special order stocks. Photo by Stan Trzoniec.
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Product Tests

Bushnell’s Yardage Pro Quest

Marrying a laser rangefinder to a binocular must have seemed like a great idea to an ungodly number of people simultaneously because just about every leading optical firm around came out with such a product in 2003. Apparently, the idea appealed to bow hunters because a large number of them, I’m told, immediately equipped themselves with one of the state-of-the-art units as soon as they appeared.

On the other hand, among my personal acquaintances, most of whom are fairly experienced hunters, reaction to these – let’s call them “laser-glasses” – has been fairly cool. Although all were intrigued by the concept and the majority have given at least one of the new models a thorough going-over, not one of those guys has acquired one. Nor do any of them intend to. When asked why, none of them could come up with anything like a definitive answer. Nobody criticized any of the laser-glasses they had examined or tested, but not one of them had any desire to buy one. Odd.

Stranger still – after spending several weeks trying to get used to one of Bushnell’s Yardage Pro Quest models, I’m forced to confess the same reaction: It’s a very impressive piece of equipment; performs exactly as advertised – but there’s more to the story, depending on hunting conditions.

Basically, I don’t think Bushnell’s Quest was created with hunters like me in mind. They should prove useful to bow hunters, muzzleloaders, antelope hunters and perhaps, handgun hunters. Let me describe how Bushnell’s Quest works, go over its pluses and minuses, and see if you don’t agree.

For starters, the binocular is 8x. That degree of magnification allows a binocular to be hand-held without any need for additional bracing, as a rule; something a more powerful glass would demand. Objective lenses are 36mm in diameter, large enough to draw in plenty of light and give a clear, bright and detailed picture of whatever shows up in the field of view. There’s no hint of distortion, even when peering sideways through the lens perimeters. As usual, Bushnell’s optical quality is first-class.

Diopter adjustments are made with the right eyepiece, which can be rotated to synchronize the right eye’s focus with that of the left.

There’s a small lever on the left eyepiece that can be moved to adjust the spacing between the two eyepieces so they’ll match the distance between the viewer’s eyes. That’s necessary because the Quest body is rigid; it isn’t hinged and can’t be folded like bodies of traditionally designed binoculars.

A focusing knob is nestled between the two ocular housings on top of the Quest body above the eyepieces. Although the knob is serrated, an inch long and almost .75 inch in diameter, I found it very difficult to turn and control. My fingers are on the short, stubby side, however. Someone with longer, stronger digits might not find rotating the knob as much of a problem as I did.

The entire Quest body is rubber-armored and waterproof. It’s 6.2 inches tall, 6.6 inches wide, almost 3 inches thick and weighs 34 ounces. There’s a small, solid insert in its underside that is drilled and tapped so the Quest body can be mounted on a tripod if prolonged viewing and long-distance ranging is anticipated. A carrying case plus a comfortable neck  strap is included with each Quest unit.

The laser’s “eye” is located on the left side of the Quest’s body, adjacent to the binocular’s left objective lens. The laser can measure distances in either yards or meters, as close as 15 yards or as far away as 1,300, under absolutely ideal conditions (more about that later).

Operating the laser is simplicity itself. There are only two controls to deal with, two buttons, both located an inch apart from one another on top of the Quest’s right ocular housing. One is marked POWER; the other, MODE.

When the POWER button is depressed, the rangefinder is turned on. Pressing the MODE button lets the viewer choose yards or meters as the unit of measurement. Once that choice is made, it need never be repeated unless a change is desired.

Pushing against the MODE button again sets the rangefinder on SCAN, permitting a continuing series of measurements to be made and reflected on the bottom of the lens as the viewer pans the glasses across the landscape.

Looking through the binocular, the viewer sees a small black circle in the center of the lens. Centering his target inside that reticle, he merely presses the POWER button again and the distance to the target, in his choice of yards or meters, flashes to life in the bottom section of the lens. After a hunter is finished using it, the rangefinder will turn itself off in about 15 seconds.

Like all laser rangefinders, Bushnell’s has its limitations. For one thing its range and accuracy depends on the reflectivity of each particular target – and that, in turn, often depends on existing lighting conditions.

Most of the tests conducted with the Quest laser took place between 6,000 to 6,500 feet above sea level. At these altitudes, the air is thin and the sun is very bright. Anyone who doesn’t wear sunglasses here soon develops a permanent squint. How Bushnell’s laser will react in the thicker atmosphere down nearer sea level, I can’t say, but here in the dry, drought-stricken Southwest, it proved very sensitive to its relation to the sun, the source of light.

When the sun was behind the rangefinder and shining down on a given target, range distances, even when they extended beyond 1,000 yards, appeared on the lens bottom the instant the POWER button was touched. When that same target was selected in the morning, at the same distance, with the sun toward the front of the rangefinder, there was often no response at all – and when there was, the reported range differed considerably from that previously recorded.

For example, just yesterday, I picked up a bicyclist making his way up a trail on a hillside some 885 yards (measured) away from my location when the sun was low near the horizon, well behind me and the rangefinder but making the cyclist’s sky-blue jersey stand out vividly against the background of dull gray boulders.

The day before, a jogger, wearing a white T-shirt, coming down the same trail, failed to register at all when I tried to target him at the same spot, from the same distance, but with the sun shining slightly into the front of the rangefinder – not into the laser’s “eye,” mind you – but shining down from a spot almost directly overhead but not quite yet. That white T-shirt, by the way, stood out like a flag of truce to the naked eye even at that distance.

Unfortunately, we haven’t had any overcast days, so I don’t know how or if dull light affects the rangefinder’s performance; but it won’t come as a surprise to discover some change.

From my experience, I’d say laser rangefinders are pretty reliable most of the time, but their measurements can be influenced by climactic conditions as well as the color of a target and existing light. To put it another way: They’re like people; they just aren’t 100 percent dependable 100 percent of the time. Nevertheless, when measuring ranges at which most game animals are seen, laser rangefinders are much more trustworthy than the average hunter’s guesstimates.

The Quest rangefinder’s powered by a 9-volt battery. When its power begins to wane, a warning silhouette appears on the viewing panel.

It should be ideal for bow hunters and muzzleloading fans. Knowledge of exact range is critical to both types of hunters if they are to be successful, so having a combination fieldglass and rangefinder at their fingertips sounds like a good idea.

So there you have Bushnell’s Quest: simple to operate, excellent optics, obviously well made and rugged – all in all, a useful tool for some hunters but probably not all. – Al Miller

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