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OPTIC OF THE WEEK: SWISS ARTILLERY RANGEFINDER

The optic for this week is not a gun sight but a range finding device. It’s probably something you may or may not have seen before on the internet but its not something younger shooters are familiar with. While it looks large and not at all handy, it was at one time one of the must have items for series precision long range shooters. I first became familiar with them via the ultra long range varmint shooters who demanded precise ranging to hit prairie dogs at extreme ranges. This was in the 80s into the 90s.


Back then there was no laser range finders. Well, other than military models which essentially means none for the rest of us. To get long ranging capability some one got the idea to start using these babies. They don’t use batteries or lasers and they don’t fit in your pocket but man do they work. And they are old world superb quality.

You don’t look through one in and out the other like a scope but through this eye piece on the right. You Just to the far right eye piece you can see what looks like a set of scaled down rifle iron sights. You use those to aim at what you want to range. Then you look through the eye piece at some landmark or structure that is hopefully 90 degrees to the ground. Say it is a phone pole. In the viewer it will look broken. You turn the wheel by the hand holds until the pole lines up and looks unbroken. Then you look into the left side eye piece and it gives you the range in meters. If memory serves the range finder is accurate to within 1 meter when used right and will range out to 10,000 meters. It works very well and we used it for years for accurate ranging.

The artillery range finder comes with a small tripod for obvious reasons like needing to lay prone and be low profile. These small tripods lock onto the optic and can be inserted into a larger set of tripods like seen in the photos.

The optic has a leather strap attached for carrying since it was intended to be man portable. It comes in a tubular water proof sealed carrier that has side pockets and straps for attaching the two tripods and a cleaning set with it. A very nice set up even if it is bulky.

Back in the day these were sold by a company called Deutsche Optik for $399. Be nice if you could get them for that now. A company that has that name still exists with a website but they ran out of the range finders many moons ago and do not sell them anymore.

I don’t know how practical or useful one of these would be to long range shooters anymore. We have GPS, laser range finders and all manner of things to make a long range shot easier. It is definitely a tool adapted by long range shooters from a time that now seems like the dark ages now a days. But it still works and we still use it sometimes.


4 thoughts on “OPTIC OF THE WEEK: SWISS ARTILLERY RANGEFINDER”

  1. It’s WWII era cousin can be scene in the German beach bunker in “The Longest Day.”

    It’s an interesting piece of esoterica that definitely had its place. It’s benefit that it doesn’t require batteries nor produces an active signature could be desirable in some situations but it’s crazy big and bulky to lug around.
    I don’t know that the American military used anything similar for rangefinding during the same era now that I think of it?

  2. Deutsche Optik used to sell some very nice surplus glass out of Europe, including some very nice binoc’s out of the Zeiss-Jena shop in the DDR.

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