Note: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Update: The answer to the question in the heading above may have been “yes” at the time this article was written, but it is definitely “no” today. Much better and more powerful rangefinders (from Leupold and others) have since been produced. The Leupold RX-2800 is just one example.
Whether you’re a rifle hunter, an archer, or a golfer, there will come a time when you want to know precisely how far away your target – the elk, the deer, or the pin – is. Probably that time has already come. That’s why you’re here to find out more about the Leupold Rangefinder model RX-1200i.
Is this Leupold range finder that best one made? Are there better options available in laser rangefinders? What makes the RX-1200i special?
In this Leupold 1200i TBR DNA review, I will try to answer those questions and more.
If you see a question in the box below that looks like it will answer your main question, you can click it to jump to that section. Otherwise, just keep scrolling and reading about the Leupold RX-1200i.
Where Are Leupold Rangefinders Made?
There has been some confusion as to whether Leupold products are made in China or in the United States. The answer is that different parts of a rangefinder are made in each place.
Quoting Leupold in the question and answer section of their website,
“The Leupold RX1200i TBR/W DNA Rangefinder is an OEM product manufactured in China. The firmware and electronic design of the DNA ranging engine is developed here in Beaverton, OR USA.”
What that means is that most of the gadget you hold in your hand was made in China. The inner workings come from Beaverton, Oregon, on the west coast of the United States. If it matters to you, you could argue that the more important parts are made in the US.
What Should I Expect from a Rangefinder?
The distance ratings that you see produced by the manufacturer of a rangefinder are probably what you could expect under perfect atmospheric and geologic conditions. However, as you know, those conditions just don’t exist in the real world.
Leupold is wise enough to give three different maximums for the RX-1200i rangefinder. They claim a general (reflective) maximum distance of 1215 yards.
Spotting with trees involved lowers that to 900 yards.
Finally, ranging a deer (or other wildlife) they say you can go out to 800 yards.
Since that’s under the best of conditions, if you can get 600, 450, and 400 yards respectively, you’re doing pretty good.
You’ll be happy to hear then that at least one owner reports that the greatest distance he was able to range was about 980 yards. For pinpointing a deer, his best was over 500 yards.
Both of those measurements are well over the halfway point compared to the manufacturer’s stated distances.
One of the problems with ranging is that strong sunlight washes out the infrared laser and the detecting mechanism. That’s why you will often get better results ranging off of trees or other shaded areas than you do on an open prairie or desert area.
Fortunately, the Leupold RX-1200i laser rangefinder has what Leupold calls “advanced OLED technology”. An OLED is an Organic Light Emitting Diode display.
Traditionally, Leupold rangefinders (and those from other manufacturers) have used an LCD, a Liquid Crystal Display, which strips out light reducing image quality and resolution.
In the Leupold RX system, the OLED display is reflected into the light path, so you get a much clearer image. Even in low-light conditions (such as those you usually get in the early morning or late evening), the RX-1200i gives you 3 times greater light transmission. You’re simply going to get a better picture than you would with an LCD screen.
What Is All This about a Rangefinder with TBR and DNA?
The full name of this tool is the Leupold RX-1200i Rangefinder with TBR and DNA.
When you first hear DNA, you probably think of high school biology class. Leupold takes DNA as the acronym for Digitally eNhanced Accuracy. So technically this should be DEA, but DNA is obviously catchier, so I won’t argue with them.
What DNA really gives you is faster and more precise results than you’d get in a rangefinder without it. You get accuracy to with 1/10 of a yard – so roughly 3.5 inches. DNA by itself gives you only line of sight ranging. There is no angle compensation.
That’s where TBR comes in. The TBR acronym is a little more difficult to figure out on your own. It stands for True Ballistic Range.
Leupold rangefinders come in two RX-1200i varieties. Model 119359 has DNA only. Model 119360 has both DNA and TBR, so be careful when you finally make your purchase that you’re getting the features that you want.
If you need the Leupold rangefinder with angle compression, you want model 119360 with TBR.
Just below is a promotional video (about 2 minutes long) from Leupold about the TBR version. It briefly mentions that rifle users can use the TBR feature to get holdover readings in inches (HOLD setting), milliradians (MIL), or minutes of angle (MOA).
You can also use it in basic mode (BAS, also called Ballistic Aiming System) to find the horizontal range or in TRIG mode to see both horizontal and vertical distances based on trigonometric functions.
Bow hunters have access to Leupold rangefinder BOW mode which ranges accurately to 125 yards. Most of you bow hunters probably wouldn’t shoot at that distance, so this should work fine for you too.
Some owners of the TBR model say that the optics provide a bright, clear view. The numbers on the red OLED display were the sharpest and easiest to view, especially in bright sunlight and compared to rangefinders with black or grey digits.
What Are the Other Important Features of the RX-1200i?
If this were a pair of Leupold binoculars, you’d call them 6×22, meaning they magnify your target 6 times and have an objective lens size of 22 millimeters. You get all that in a compact package that weighs just 7.8 ounces.
This rangefinder measures 3.8 inches in length. It’s width is 1.4 inches, and it’s height is exactly 3 inches. It’s designed to fit nicely in the palm of one hand, as all good rangefinders should. The controls are placed so you can easily use them with that same hand, even if it’s sweaty or the weather is being uncooperative.
The lenses are fully multi-coated which is the best you can get. Every glass surface is letting in as much light as possible.
When looking through the lenses at your target, you can choose from two different reticles or use a combination of both. The Plus Point reticle is simply a small cross (like a mathematical plus sign) in the center of view. The other reticle is the Duplex which shows four thick, pointed lines coming in from the four main “compass points” and showing nothing in the center.
Don’t confuse the compass reference above to an actual compass. There is no magnetic compass included with the Leupold RX-1200i.
The eyepiece lens is surrounded by a rubber cup that folds down as needed. It helps block out ambient light so you can see the red display better.
This rangefinder has a scan mode to help you follow a moving target, such as a deer. The display will constantly update as long as you hold down the power button.
To conserve the power of the CR2 lithium battery, the RX-1200i will automatically shut down after 7 seconds of non-use. You activate it by pressing the power button once to turn it on and a second time to engage the rangefinding mechanism. That need for a second press is a minor gripe for some users.
If you ever need to reset the gadget, you first press the power button. Then you press and hold the mode button and finally press and hold the power button. After a 10-second countdown, your rangefinder will be set to factory settings.
It used to be that rangefinders (and other similar optics) would only give you distances in either yards or in meters. The RX-1200i lets you switch to whichever system you prefer.
What Do I Get in a Warranty and for Accessories?
The manufacturer gives you the Leupold Golden Ring Electronics Limited Two-Year Warranty.
On a related note, the rangefinder is classified as weatherproof, not waterproof or fog proof, so be careful when you’re near the wet stuff.
You get a sturdy case and lanyard with your purchase. Both are quite useful according to owners. If you have a backpack or similar case, you can easily attach the lanyard to one of the chest straps.
Conclusion: Is the Leupold RX-1200i the Best?
If you watched the video above, you heard a company representative claim that the RX-1200i is the most accurate in the market today.
That’s to be expected. It likely is an accurate statement though, or they shouldn’t be allowed to say it.
Does that make this rangefinder the best one available? Probably not. You should be able to find a more expensive model with more features that does just as well overall or maybe even a little better.
Also, this claim is likely to become outdated over time.
Is the Leupold RX-1200i Rangefinder worth the money (with or without TBR)?
It’s a very good (some might even call it great) laser rangefinder. You won’t regret your purchase.