Hawke has earned a reputation for well-priced, good quality optics. The Laser Range Finder (LRF) 400 Hunter is a compact piece of kit which supports the brand’s mission of excellent value for money.

The Hunter is small and lightweight. It is 96mm long, 42mm wide and at only 141g it fits comfortably in your hand or the top pocket of your shirt. It has been ergonomically designed for easy use, and its simple two-button operating system complements this. It has a rubberised finish on its sides and base to help prevent slipping when your hands are wet, as well as a wrist-band. It also comes with a protective case which can be attached to your belt.

The CR2-V3 battery is included, and easily installed by way of a slotted screw on the right hand side of the range finder. This can be opened with a coin or a flat screw driver, although care should be taken, as it is plastic and could be damaged should you use an ill-fitting object. There is an auto shutoff feature to save battery life.

The Hunter features a fully multi-coated optical system, with BK-7 prisms. Range finding capabilities include distance, height, height difference and angle. It is manufactured with an eye safe CE-approved laser. The lenses have an anti-reflective coating. It has 6x magnification and an adjustable diopter.

Ranges can be read in both metres and yards. The effective range is between six and 400m, with accuracy to within a metre. The objective is 21mm and the field of view measured at 1 000m is 140m. It has an 8° field-of-view angle. Eye relief checks in at 12mm.

It has a waterproof rating of IPx4 (protection from water splashes from any direction) and an operating temperature of between -10°C and 40°C. The Hunter has also been ‘nitrogen purged’ to add to its water- and fog-resistance. A lens cleaning cloth is included.

The Hunter has three different modes, namely ‘Standard’, ‘Rain’ and ‘Hunt’. Standard mode measures the straight line distance to the target you are aiming at. Rain mode does the same but ignores interference from falling rain drops.

This mode requires the target to be at least 30m away. Hunt mode ignores any interference from long grass or bush between you and the target and is ideal for measuring the distance to an animal that’s walking through scrub.

Operating the Hunter is simple. You press the ON button once to turn it on, then press and hold the same button for a few seconds to get a range reading. Easy! The reticle is clear and easy to understand.

The distance readout is displayed at the top, with horizontal and vertical guides assisting the central aim point. The targeting modes are clearly displayed so that you know which setting you are on and there are indicators for battery life, laser emission and targeting quality.

To put the Hunter to the test, I took it to the golf course, a poor substitute for the bush I know, but it would have to do. The first thing I noticed was the quality of the ­reticle. It is very clear, with no discernable blurring around the edges.

The second and most important thing was the accuracy the Hunter achieved. I used the fairway range markers to give me an idea as to how far away my targets were (usually the flag pin or my playing partners) and the results were telling. The Hunter corroborated the markers to within a couple of metres.

Deviations of more than a metre can be explained by pin placement on the day, rather than inaccuracy on the part of the Hunter. These ranges were all taken at 100m or more.

When I got home I measured out some smaller distances around the garden. The Hunter registered targets at 10, 15 and 20m with perfect accuracy. I used soft-drink cans as targets, and even at the longer distances the Hunter had no problems picking them up.

For a range finder in its price bracket, the Hunter is an exceptional piece of equipment. Its lightweight build, coupled with its ease of use and accuracy make it an essential piece of equipment for hunters and shooters (or even golfers!).

The Hawke LRF Hunter 400 is available from Suburban Guns, telephone 021-797-8787 and the recommended retail price is R3 430.