Sig Sauer Electro-Optics
SIG SAUER LASER RANGE FINDER
By John Herbert
"Sig Sauer claim that the Kilo 2000 will range trees out to 1500 yards, which would put it in the top tier of consumer grade range finders. The unit was able to pickup trees at 1790 yards on a dull, overcast day – so we were off to a good start. "
Sig Sauer Electro-Optics? Never heard of them! Well, that’s the answer I got when I asked a few colleagues what they knew about the company and the products they make. So, to clarify: they are the Electro-Optics division of well-known arms manufacturer Sig Sauer. Sig Sauer are one of Europe’s most respected handgun manufacturers, who also make a range of sporting rifles; and leveraging off their handgun business they make a number of high-end military rifles as well, some of them based on the AR/M16 platform. But Sig Sauer Electro-Optics?
Well, that’s new. The company came into being when Sig decided they wanted to get into the optics market. While they had no history in this field they knew where they wanted to be and they knew what type of products they wanted to sell. But to get there they needed some experts – and the first person they recruited was long-time Leupold executive Andy York. With Andy came a raft of Leupold staff, from product development, optical engineering, electronic engineering, design and manufacturing, program development and sales. Sig don’t have their own manufacturing facilities; like many other similar companies they contract the work to well-known optics factories in the US, Japan and the Philippines.
If you were paying attention you would have seen the term ‘Electro-Optics’, not just ‘Optics’ – why? The reason is that Sig believe that the future of mid- to high-end optics includes the integration of electronic features to enhance performance. This is obvious in the Kilo 2000 Range Finder but it will be seen soon in scopes as well, with a yet-to-be-released Tango 6 that will have a digital bubble level built into the reticle to help identify scope cant.
Sig Sauer Electro-Optics’ New Zealand distributors SR Marston Ltd sent Rod&Rifle a Kilo 2000 Digital Laser Range Finder and a Tango 6 3-18 x 44 scope for review. The scope and rangefinder literally came off the plane and straight to us.
The Kilo 2000 is a compact handheld laser range finder that boasts some impressive numbers. In the world of laser range finders it is however unfortunate that a lot of manufacturers’ claims fall short of the mark; to be honest I often take the advertised number on a range finder and halve it to get real-world figures. Admittedly this is not a set rule, but it often plays out this way, especially with cheaper units. So I was keen to see if the Sig-Sauer model could meet its claims – but before we evaluate the Kilo 2000 let’s have a closer look at it.
When new manufacturers come into a market they often repackage other manufacturers’ products, but it’s nice to find that Sig chose to build a new model rather than repackaging an off-the-shelf item. Its housing is magnesium alloy, which is a nice step up from the usual plastic bodies seen on lower cost units, and the top and bottom of the Kilo 2000 have pliable rubber panels to aid in grip. The design is conventional in that the top barrel has the 7 x 25 optic in it, while the lower barrel houses the laser and the battery to power it. On top of the unit is the ranging button, and the mode button is on the left side. The eye piece adjusts so that you can rest your brow on it to make it easier to hold still. I tried it with glasses on, and with the eye cup screwed in it allows a full sight picture. There is also dioptre adjustment to provide clear focus, a nice option that many cheaper range finders omit. Optically the 7 x 25 monocular is quite good, and while you wouldn’t use it to spot game it’s bright and sharp and comparable with other high quality monocular-based range finders.
The readout is sharp and clear and automatically senses how bright it should be; this worked well, but if you prefer you can set the brightness level to suit your own preferences.
The Laser has a beam divergence of 1.4 mils, which is OK, although many top level range finders have a figure close to this in one dimension and noticeably tighter in the other dimension; because the Sig gives a 1.4 mil divergence only we’ll have to assume it’s 1.4 x 1.4 mils.
Beam divergence can be thought of as a squared-off cone that gets bigger the further the range. So 1.4 mils is equivalent to a 3.6 x 3.6 inch (91mm x 91mm) square at 100 yards which at 1000 yards is 36 inches by 36 inches, or just short of 1m x 1m. Now it’s easy to get focussed on beam divergence causing false readings as the beam hits a target in front of what you are ranging, but some very powerful laser range finders have a bigger divergence than this and can still range out past 2000 yards on non-reflective targets like trees, etc. The point here is that the quality of the laser and the electronics that read it are equally important.
The Kilo 2000 has options for both yards and metres, and there is a meter to show you how much battery you have left. You also have the option of line-of-sight metering or angle-modified range. In LOS the distance is given, then a second later, the angle. Angle Modified Range or AMR uses a mathematical calculation to take into account what happens to a bullet when it’s fired at an up or down angle. The Kilo has an option of recording the Best or the Last reading; last can be handy when you’re ranging in bush as it will ignore reflections from bushes and trees that partially obscure the target.
Testing was done in some very mixed weather, and the Kilo 2000 proved initially that the laser is good enough to get readings at longer distances. First tests were on trees: Sig Sauer claim that the Kilo 2000 will range trees out to 1500 yards, which would put it in the top tier of consumer grade range finders. The unit was able to pickup trees at 1790 yards on a dull, overcast day – so we were off to a good start.
I ranged some cows in my bottom paddock out to 540 yards without issue and then I went for a walk and found one hind at 840 yards; the Kilo 2000 gave me an instant reading. The unit also worked reasonably well in the rain, giving consistent results out to around 600 yards on trees. To test the maximum range of the Kilo 2000 on animals I climbed my local hill and ranged on some cows at 1120 yards. The Kilo 2000 picked them up reasonably consistently, I couldn’t get back any further to test the 1200 yard claim but I am confident, based on how well it read just short of that range, that 1200 is not an overstatement.
The specs say the Kilo can range on reflective targets out to 3400 yards. In the field this is largely irrelevant, as deer don’t have reflective tape on their sides, but if you shoot steel plates as practice for long range hunting then you can attach a few old number plates to the target frames to give some reflection. I tested on a few road signs and got readings up to 2640 yards and it might have been able to range further, but I was limited in the amount of time I could spend driving round looking for long straight roads.
I tested the AMR calculations using the well-regarded Shooter Ballistics App, and compared the drop using a .308 150 grain bullet at 2800 FPS on a number of downhill and uphill angles. The results were accurate, with ½ MOA difference being the biggest disagreement between AMR and the same distance calculated using the Shooter app with angle included in the calculation.
The response time on the unit is fast; in the field this becomes quite valuable as it helps give more accurate readings, especially when there is a bit of shake in your hand. The circle reticle was a bit of a distraction as animals past about 500 yards are all well inside the circle while at 800 yards you have to make sure you centre them for accurate readings. Now to be clear, it’s beam divergence and the strength of the laser that have more influence here so I’m probably being a bit picky – but the option of a crosshair would be nice.
The beam divergence did not have too many negative affects when I tested it by ranging over the top of bushes and between trees. This came as a bit of a surprise as I thought a 1.4 mil-sized divergence might get a few false readings, but in real world situations between 500 and 1100 yards it was very consistent.
The Kilo 2000 is a very decent range finder, with the highlights for me being the magnesium alloy housing and the strong performance of the laser. I suspect, too, that the beam divergence figure could be actually tighter than 1.4 mil in one of the dimensions, as I got very few false readings when ranging through and over bushes and trees. The recommended price is $1049 and the money vs. ranging equation is pretty reasonable. The AMR feature is nice, but for real long-range work I would use the angle given and input that into my ballistics solver. The Kilo 2000 is very compact and combined with the fast scan times it’s easy to use in the field.
SIG SAUER KILO 2000 LASER RANGE FINDER
Eye relief: 15mm
Response time: .25 second
Beam Divergence: 1.4 Mil
Angle calculation: Yes
Weight: 215gms (With Battery)
Dimensions: 76H x 107L x 33W mm
Reflective, 3400 yards
Trees, 1500 (1790 tested)
Deer, 1200 (1120 tested on cattle, 820 on deer)
Accessories: Cordura pouch and lanyard included.