Disclosure: Man Makes Fire is reader-supported. When you buy gear using retail links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission that helps pay for our work. Learn more.
The new Cabela’s Intensity 1600 Laser Rangefinder is an affordable rangefinder that’s fast and effective for most hunting situations.
To get Man Makes Fire a closer look, Cabela’s sent us a review unit. This is what we learned:
Cabela’s Intensity 1600 Laser Rangefinder
The best rangefinders can range distances quickly and calculate true horizontal distance vs line of sight. The Intensity 1600 does both, of course.
Knowing your true horizontal distance can be critical if you’re hunting steep ground. How does this work? Essentially, the effect of gravity on your bullet or arrow affects the horizontal distance that your bullet or arrow travels, not the line-of-sight distance.
For example, if you’re hunting on a hill and shooting downhill at a steep angle, a 450 yard line-of-sight distance would be “farther” than the true horizontal distance. At longer ranges, knowing your horizontal distance is critical. However, for most rifle hunters shooting at closer distances — like 200 yards — true horizontal distance won’t usually affect the placement of your shot. At longer distances and very steep angles, it’s important.
If you bow hunt, you know that most heavy big-game hunting arrows drop significantly when shot from 50 vs 60 yards. Knowing the real distance that gravity will affect your arrow is a huge benefit when you’re ranging deer and elk on steep ground.
Instead of guessing at your steep-angle adjustment in the heat of the moment, the Cabela’s Intensity 1600 Laser Rangefinder lets you know it.
The 5-point bull I harvested on public land this year came into just 22 yards with a small uphill angle. For that shot, I didn’t need to know the true horizontal distance. Before this bull, though, I was ranging two other bulls on very steep slopes. I very much appreciated the true horizontal distance readings on the Cabela’s Intensity 1600 . . . even though I did not end up taking shots on those bulls.
If you’re a bowhunter hunting steep ground or from high tree stands over uneven terrain, we always recommend rangefinders that calculate true horizontal distance. That way you don’t have to guess or estimate and risk a bad shot, especially when you’re shooting past 40 yards.
Intensity 1600 Rangefinder: The Specs
The Cabela’s Intensity 1600 Laser Rangefinder is fast, delivering up to .25-second response times. Of course, it ranges larger, more reflective targets faster than smaller, vague targets. A large tree trunk, for instance, might have a near instant reading while a small bush might take a bit longer. In addition, it’s hard to hold a rangefinder steady when you’re ranging farther out.
The Intensity 1600 ranges reflective targets up to 1600 yards away. For real-world hunting use, Cabela’s says you can expect to range deer up to 650 yards away. From my in-the-field experience so far, these specs seem pretty accurate.
The 6x 25mm lens system has antireflective coatings and provides very good clarity. Many other competing rangefinders have lenses that are 18-22mm. The larger 25mm lens lets in more light, resulting in brighter, crisper imaging.
You can choose from three reticle options: a + sign, a segmented circle or a crosshair.
The body is made from a durable magnesium alloy and has a rubberized coating for extra durability and grip. It weighs 6.75 ounces.
The Intensity 1600 takes a CR2-3V lithium battery that should last approximately for 10,000 readings (less in cold environments). When the battery runs down, the display will illuminate a “Low Battery” message, at which point you’ll get about 250 more readings.
The Cabela’s Intensity 1600 Laser Rangefinder first gives you an immediate line-of-sight reading at the top of the display then follows up with an angle-corrected true horizontal distance reading at the bottom of the display.
If you’re having trouble ranging an object, one nifty feature is the scan mode. The scan mode is great when you’re in a forest and you’re trying to look past errant brush or branches or capture a particular object. To enter scan mode, just hold the power button down for three seconds and pan the rangefinder. You’ll see four range readings per second.
Cabela’s ships the Intensity 1600 so that it calculates the true horizontal distance right out of the box. You, can however, change the settings so that it shows Line of Sight or an Angle mode that calculates your viewing angle.
Lost Rubber Eye Cup?
At some point over multiple days of hard hunting, I lost of the rubber eyecup on the Intensity 1600 Rangefinder. I have no idea how or when this happened. I can say a couple things, though. At one point I was in an all-out run that spit the rangefinder out of my Alaska Guide Creations Bino Pack (full AGC pack review here) rangefinder pocket, leaving the rangefinder to bounce around as it dangled from the tether. The rangefinder might have bounced off the ground or some bushes and tore off then.
In addition, I was shoving the rangefinder into the pocket horizontally, and pulling it out when the pocket was half-zipped without paying any attention to it. Yank it out, range, jam it in, repeat. I could have popped it off easily or through signifiant force.
On the other hand, if you use the included carry case you’ll likely not be dragging the eye cup over a pocket zipper.
So does the eye cup come off easily? I have no idea. I was rough on it and it came off. What I can tell you is that I didn’t notice the missing eye cup until I started taking photos of the rangefinder for this review. It still works great. No issues with use or comfort here.
Competitive Options & Alternatives
There are many great entry-level rangefinders available these days. We recommend rangefinders that deliver both line of sight ranges as well as true horizontal distance ranges for steep-angle ranging. If you’re interested in the Cabela’s Intensity 1600 Laser Rangefinder, we can also recommend these competitive options:
Vortex Impact 1000 Rangefinder — The Vortex Impact 1000 is a no-frills entry-level rangefinder that’s great for treestand hunters and shorter-range rifle shooters. The primary benefit is that it’s simple to use, but it also comes with an excellent lifetime repair/replacement warranty in case you break it.
Leupold RX-1400i TBR/W Rangefinder — The new Leupold RX-1400i packs a lot of mid-level range-finding features into an entry-level price point. It works great in Bow Mode for archery hunters, and for rifle hunters, it lets you get more accurate steep angle ranges by letting you choose a cartridge load group. (To learn more, check out our in-depth RX-1400i review.)
The Cabela’s Intensity 1600 Laser Rangefinder is an excellent entry-level-to-midrange rangefinder. For the price range, it’s fast, ranges as far or farther than competitive rangefinders, delivers crisp imaging, and it offers true horizontal distance ranging. Highly recommended.