Nikon 8397 ACULON AL11 Reviews

When it comes to optics, few companies have managed the quality and affordability of Nikon.  Their Monarch series of optics have dominated the world of mid-range shooting scopes for decades.  Robust and known for accuracy, Nikon’s move into the world of high quality rangefinders is nothing less than stellar!

Optical Quality

9

Range

6

Accuracy

9

Weigh

8

Ease of Use

8

Features

6

Overall Rating

7.6

While not the most high-tech rangefinder on the market, the ACULON makes up for it with amazing optical quality in a small, ultra-portable size.  For those hunters and shooters who aren’t interested in over complication and paying for features they will never use, you may be looking at the best option on the market.

That isn’t to say that there is no technology involved in this rangefinder.  It may not have an internal ballistic computer, angle calculation, or any of the other tech-savvy features but it does have a great piece of ranging software that will help you dial in and fine tune your shot down to +/-1 meter.  After that you will have to do the calculations on your own but that is the mark of a true distance shooter.

So, if it doesn’t offer all the tech, what does it offer?  Some of the finest glass in a rangefinder on any rangefinder you care to compare it to.  The view is bright and clear and even with only 6x magnification you can max out the range on this rangefinder long before you lose sight of your target.

Like most rangefinders, the ATN uses a class 1 laser that has plenty of power and can reach out a lot farther than the 600 yard maximum range.  It may seem a little underpowered but I can assure it is not.  Many rangefinders claim accuracy at ranges they can’t possibly manage but Nikon has provided an honest assessment of the ACULON’s accuracy.

In seconds, you can get an accurate range and be on target.

What does it do?

Since it’s a Nikon, you have to start with the optics which have become world renown in spotting scopes, rifle scopes, cameras and most any other device that uses high quality glass.  If you want the best in optical quality in any weather condition from noon-day sun to the lowest light of overcast days, you will get that with the uniquely multilayered glass on the ACULON.

Not only does the coating keep things bright but it preserves color so picking out that deer at the far edge of the field during the last rays of the evening sun is a lot less challenging.  Unlike a lot of rangefinders, there are no dark spots or shadows in the ACULON.  Just edge to edge crisp imagery that makes more of a difference than most people realize.

This clarity is preserved by Nikon’s super simple interface featuring an unobstructed and uncluttered view.  You get all you need and nothing more presented in a tight format in 1 meter increments.  No need to spend time sorting out mils or MOA, just take a range, dial it in and you are ready to fire.  It is quick and easy to use even if you have never touched a rangefinder before.

The simplicity carries over well to the ACULON’s single button operation.  No need to mess with modes or deal with programming in load data.  You push a single button to turn on the rangefinder and take a range reading.  A few seconds later the unit will power down, saving you money on batteries from the first day you own one.

Because of the single button operation, Nikon’s modes have been simplified, as in there aren’t any.  From the factory, the ACULON is programmed to read the farthest target in its beam pulse.  This can be an asset in the thicker undergrowth of the eastern woodlands but may be less than optimal for the wide open spaces.  For deer hunting, the far-target mode tends to be the best compromise.

One of my favorite things about the ACULON is actually the size.  Some people don’t seem to care but I hate dragging a ton of weight into my deer stand.  Not only is it inconvenient but it can also be noisy.  The ACULON weights right at a quarter of a pound.  A measly 4.4 ounces.  Whether you keep it on a lanyard or in your pocket, you can almost forget it’s there.

What doesn’t it do?

If you are a shooter who likes to have load calculations and ballistic data, choose a higher-end model of rangefinder.  While this unit is very accurate at what it does, it lacks and of the bells and whistles of those spotting scopes that truly tailored for long range shooters.  For a hunter in the close confines of the woodlands, this is a great scope but will fall short of expectations for open country.

While it will work for either archery or rifle, you would be better served as a bow hunter with a scope that uses angle calculations and can accurately measure true distance from your tree stand.  There are numerous options available from Nikon and other companies that will be better suited to a bow.  If you are on a budget, this is a good option but not the best.

The Final Word

If you are a hunter of a more simplistic nature who only needs the slightest edge from technology and don’t want to pay a fortune for it, the Nikon ACULON is perfectly suited to your needs.  It is high quality, simple to use, and outstandingly accurate and with a little practice you can be sure you have nailed the range down to as close as humanly possible.

If you hunt the woodlands and won’t be shooting farther than a few hundred yards, there are few scopes that are this affordable, compact and light weight.  None of those are quite as good or easy to use.  The ACULON has been frequently pushed aside in our world of high tech devices where everyone wants more but we are hunters!  Why do we need the most high tech if we have invested the time to be good with our tools?  The small edge a simple rangefinder can give is often just enough.

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