Rangefinders belong to an innovative class of technology that has been evolving over the last century. These handheld gadgets are useful in a variety of situations. The system itself arose almost one hundred years ago, and it was primarily adapted alongside cameras. In recent decades, these helpful tools have been utilized for solo performance in a variety of fields. They offer great benefits for hunting, archery and golf. This technical guide explores the vital specifications of these revolutionary devices. But before detailing the essential characteristics of a sound rangefinder, we analyze the best ones available on the current market. While the functional mechanics remain relatively identical, minor modifications allow these machines to be employed for a variety of different purposes.
Table of Contents
- The Best Rangefinders for Hunting
- The Best Rangefinders for Archery
- The Best Rangefinders for Bow Hunting
- The Best Rangefinders for Golf
- The Best Rangefinders for the Money
- The Best Rangefinders for Under $200
- The Best Rangefinders for Under $500
- History of Rangefinder Use
- The Components of Conventional Rangefinders
- Why Rangefinders are Useful
- Final Word
The Best Rangefinders for Hunting
Hunters use rangefinders to gauge the distance between them and their prey. Once they know how far away their prey is, they can make a more accurate shot. A rangefinder works exceptionally well when paired with a rifle scope. Here are the best gadgets to help them place accurate shots:
This bestselling device from Nikon tops our list for a variety of reasons. Priced well below the higher end rangefinders, the Aculon is perfect for someone who doesn’t need ultra high end features, but needs to get the job done.
With a range of 550 yards, others on this list have far more impressive stats. However, that is a much greater distance than most hunters can safely and ethically take shots at.
Another huge benefit of this device is how easy it is to use. It has a user friendly design, and you can get an accurate read with a push of a single button. It also is small and lightweight, making it perfect for a hunter to carry easily.
It is worth pointing out the reputation this device has. It has consistently been a top seller on Amazon, and has garnered hundreds of reviews with an average of 4.4 stars. That alone should speak to how well this device satisfies the needs of most hunters.
For an authentic hunting experience, experts choose this rugged rangefinder. Bushnell machines always carry a proud legacy, but this Collector’s Edition release is unique. The camouflage exterior lends itself to a gritty outdoor lifestyle. This tough appeal is not just for show either; in fact, this boisterous device is meant to handle extreme environmental conditions. One of the special attributes of this model is a rainproof shell. The compact design also makes it extra portable.
This gadget simplifies the hunting experience more than any other machine. All functions have been condensed to a single-button operation. With a magnification versus objective lens ratio of 4X21mm, this viewer can spot anything between 10 and 600 yards. Accuracy is always within three feet.
The primary asset of this rangefinder comes in the form of advanced low light abilities. It is known to deliver unprecedented levels of bright crystalline optics in near darkness.
Sometimes, the standard rangefinder is simply not extreme enough for the fiercest of hunters. These individuals need something a little more special in their artillery, and Carl Zeiss Optical Inc. has just the right equipment.
This model completely ditches the monocular design. They have the clearest image quality on the planet, and their resolution specifications are literally unparalleled. The exterior shell is practically invincible. It is constructed to totally nullify recoil. When the reticule is illuminated, it can view distances of 1,300 yards. Because it requires both eyes, this gadget staves off potential parallax errors. These optical illusions occur when distant objects seem to be moving slower than closer ones. This visual confusion can throw off a hunter’s judgment, but it can be preemptively prevented with Victory!
On the other hand, they are a bit pricier than the regular rangefinders. Part of the cost is sheer aesthetic grandeur. The sleek matte black finish is luxurious and entrancing. The bold appearance is accompanied by unbelievable functionality. With 56mm lenses, this machine employs a trademark coating to enhance light transmission during twilight use.
The Best Rangefinders for Archery
Archers use rangefinders to hone their accuracy while developing an understanding for environmental factors. To make every arrow count, look into one of the following machines:
Archery aficionados strictly abide by this premiere rangefinder from Nikon. All measurements are very specific. The increments are given for every 0.1 yards or meters. The gadget comes with First Target Priority Mode. This is the main selling point for it, mainly because it can be used to hone aim onto really small objects. It is designed to read thin fence posts 100 yards away. The mapping interface also does not falter with close range distances down to 5 yards. The objective diameter is an ideal 21mm.
This machine is durably suited for tough conditions including fog and rain. The 89 degree angular range is truly impressive, and it enables straight shots up and down. An 18.3mm eye relief zone enshrines true comfort. The CR2 lithium battery promises reliable use for extended periods of time.
To launch arrows a much greater distance than the usual hundred yards, archers flock to this notorious Bushnell creation. This is probably the most accurate design currently available in the field. It extends its reach up to 1,300 yards, and the precision is on the dot. The units are given for every 1/10 yards. For the nearest 475 feet, shots are guaranteed to land within 1/2 yard without human adjustments. Everything beyond that marker still promises a single yard range of accuracy.
The legendary 6x optics are brilliantly enlivened by Vivid Display Technology. This approach severely boosts clarity and contrast. Another specialized feature that has been built into this machine is Variable Sight-In (VSI).
There are three different modes available for the bow and arrow, and each one is sincerely advantageous. Bulls-Eye mode emphasizes sharpshooting, while Brush and Scan focus on panoramic aiming practices. Finally, the machine possesses a powerful protocol known as “Extreme. Speed. Precision.” This software is the most renowned rangefinder mainframe being offered to casual customers today.
This stylish piece of machinery can be further enhanced by a tripod, which can be linked into its factory-installed mounting chamber.
For archers that are just getting acquainted with the sport, it is impossible to go wrong with this Simmons model. It combines all of the essential basics at an astonishingly affordable price.
This release earns rave reviews non-stop, especially since this rangefinder brand has a name for swift precision. The magnification of 4x is more than enough for beginners. A tightly compacted vertical layout makes this gadget a breeze to bring anywhere.
With a capacity in between 5 and 600 yards, this bold device contains LCD visuals within the view itself. The optics are exceptionally bright and crystal clear, which is surprising for this price range. It is also housed with a superior casing that is resistant to poor weather situations. Overall, this machine boasts accessibility and efficiency.
The Best Rangefinders for Bow Hunting
When archery is applied in the field, all stakes are raised even higher. A dependable rangefinder must be on hand to guarantee a successful experience. This surveillance equipment instills safety through awareness, and it allows perfect opportunities for exact kills. Here are the most trustworthy tools for these rigorous hunters:
Here’s a go-to rangefinder for bow hunters in the middle ground. This dashing device is equipped with all of the necessary accessories for a successful wilderness excursion. Bushnell’s equipment is especially useful for handling targets in motion, and it tracks distances between 7 and 850 yards. The powerful 4x zoom extends 199 yards, and it grants pure horizontal perspectives. This forceful machine is pocket-sized, and it is equipped with a comfortable anti-slip surface for tight gripping all the time.
It has a truly complete angle range that touches 90 degrees on both positive and negative ends of the scale. The Clear Shot interface gives immediate data on every shot before and after it is taken. The precise angle of each arrow is instantaneously provided.
This brand always makes the best carrying cases, and the one that comes with this model is no exception to the rule. It also comes with a handy neck strap for rapid access.
For something a little more powerful than the previous entry, check out this upgrade, which is also from Bushnell. Angle displays are fully tackled by an automated inclinometer. The magnification reaches a whopping 6x, and MOA is fully integrated.
This release also contains Bulls-eye, Scan and Brush, but all specifications are extra detailed. The exterior also boasts the benefit of being handsomely decorated with symmetrical layouts, anti-slip grips and an iconic logo. A lithium ion battery is included, so this product can be used immediately. It is economically savvy and ergonomically sound.
This specific model also conveniently includes a dual purpose interface that properly accommodates most guns.
Here is perhaps the most extraordinary tool bow hunters have available. Once again, this rangefinder ditches the monocular approach to enshrine more accuracy, focus and distance. These benevolent binoculars can detect activity up to 1,760 feet away.
The rangefinder itself is an Angle Range Compensation (ARC). This revolutionary piece is attached alongside a 96×48 Pixel Matrix Display. Aesthetics blend with functionality, and the PC-3 Phase Corrective Coating is dazzling on both counts. This machine also contains state of the art BaK-4 Prisms to instill total sharpness and crispness for images.
Because the conjoined reader retains a minimum of 80% light, it can be used in several dim environments. This light retention rate leads the entire rangefinder industry!
The Best Rangefinders for Golf
To pick the right golf club before every stroke, wise players must take several conditions into account. Luckily, a rangefinder can do most of the measuring work! Here are our top recommendations:
For a truly well-rounded golfing experience, it is hard to top the state-of-the-art equipment that is featured in this mainstay from Bushnell. This is the most popular tool of choice for golfers around the world. Its stylish contour is outfitted with a stellar 24mm objective alongside 5x magnification.
This device can precisely calculate ranges up to 1,000 yards, and its minimum distance is a mere 10 yards. With the combo of PinSeeker with Jolt, players can estimate flags within a single yard of accuracy up to a total of 300.
The laser is top-notch and completely safe. A sturdy carrying case is provided, and the 3-Volt battery is a standard inclusion. This design features an ergonomic structure that has one of the most stable grips available. A generous two year warranty is granted, and it is legal for official tournaments.
If accuracy is your top concern, then check out Leupold’s signature rangefinder. With Prism Lock, it is possible to precisely locate any pin from a distance. Quickness is also a prominent feature of this brand. They often deliver measurements after the very first target return.
Anyone that plays golf in adverse environmental conditions will want to consider this rangefinder based on its trademark Fog Mode. This feature detects all vital surroundings regardless of environmental conditions are changes in topography.
This sleek device boasts refined technical specifications, and its interface is astonishingly accessible. The commands are all very intuitive; plus, it automatically beeps and freezes upon recognizing a properly outfitted flag stick. The grip is suited for intense conditions, and the laser is truly beyond comparison. It comes housed in a fine bag that is complete with a protective strap.
For a multi-pronged approach to golfing, it is difficult to beat the simplified technology of TecTecTec!. Crystal clear imagery is a focal point of this gadget, and it is embedded with 6x magnification. Every shot will be within a one-yard accuracy zone up to 540 yards.
This tool can completely replace the binoculars. Its optic system is a stand-out in today’s industry, especially since it showcases the most evolved digital circuit design currently possible. For golf amateurs, this may be the prime choice.
The key to this item’s innovative success lies in its three unique modes. The First Target Priority Mode simply measures distance in regards to the nearest object. Distant Target Priority does the opposite by seeking the farthest object. All of the essential visual data is streamlined immensely, and the view makes it possible to gauge exactly where all hazards are lurking with Scan Mode.
Once you have picked out a rangefinder to take with you on the golf course, check out this awesome tutorial on how to use it effectively:
The Best Rangefinders for the Money
On a financial scale, rangefinders can be costly. Luckily, their powers are available in several affordable variations. For the penny pinchers, this list of inexpensive devices will be invaluable:
Here is a nifty device that is the perfect mix of functional and affordable. It looks prototypical, but it actually is capable of viewing up to 1,000 yards. It has a field of view that cuts off at 325ft; however, the viewing angle is limited to 6 degrees.
This is a laser intended for use primarily by hunters. It aims to capture mobility with refined accuracy. At a mere 5 ounces, it is also one of the lightest rangefinders in production. It is also outfitted with single-button mechanics for immediate understanding and use. In terms of objective lens diameter, buyers can look forward to a respectable ratio of 23 mm / 0.91″.
On a side note, the cubic shape is exclusive to the Redfield line. These futuristic devices disguise themselves with retro appeal. Right now, it is going for only $185!
So, how did a $700 rangefinder end up on this list of economically oriented selections? Well, it is because the value is still out of this world. With limitless potential in a 1,600 yard range, this model receives flawless reviews from every purchaser.
The plastic exterior is reinforced with an advanced carbon treatment to ingrain and indestructible surface. This bold black finish is simultaneously suave and purposeful. It also comes with special lenses that received a rare AquaDura treatment. The product comes with several effective ballistic modes, and it can be applied in endless fields.
If you are still not convinced, you may just have to check it out for yourself. Afterwards, there will be no turning back. These are the kind of clear optics that you typically would have to spend thousands of dollars on.
The Best Rangefinders for Under $200
Here are some more affordable rangefinders. These condense all of the vital elements into a compact product that can be mass produced. The rangefinders listed here are suitable for curious hunters and first-timers.
For being sold at such a low price, this model is still a step up from the standard version. At just $123, this grand device flaunts intuitive Tilt Intelligence. This interface rapidly calculates True Horizontal Distance.
All modes of use can be simplified to one button. The carrying case is surprisingly slick for being an automatic add-on accessory. With 4x magnification and 600 yards of range, the LCD in-view picture is stunningly clear every time. It has the welcome bonus of being bright and weather-resistant.
While this model is ideal for golf, it has useful applications for archers and bow hunters. Those who need extra ballistic controls may need to look elsewhere.
This stellar Dragon Eyez release is currently being offered at $187. This price is unbelievable, especially considering the maximum range of 1,500 yards. Of course, this is with the implementation of an exclusive reflective surface, which can be subjected to shutter speeds. Luckily, it also has an uninterruptible standard field of view that extends to an even 1,000 yards.
Rifle owners will fall in love with this mighty machine. Its astute measurements can be used to line up the perfect shot time and time again. Prize caribou will have no chance escaping the hunter that confidently utilizes this tool.
The 25mm lens is pretty big, and it comes with a fine cloth for long-term preservation. A lanyard and case are also provided for customer convenience. Finally, the LCD display is cutting-edge!
This $120 model is already nicely affordable, but it comes with an additional rebate to make it doubly rewarding. The optics are fine-tuned for 6x magnification, and the feedback this system provides directly guides shot placement.
The current model is bold and gruff. It features nature imagery and a comfy grip. There are no complaints to be had about this manly version. It may seem somewhat run-of-the-mill, but the HALO rangefinder is a great starter pick.
The Best Rangefinders for Under $500
For a little more cash, you can get some serious bells and whistles. Here are some of the best rangefinders available at this reasonable limit without going overboard:
This is one superb piece of technology right here! Vortex has crammed a ton of special amenities into this $380 model. It has a regal rubber exterior that protects it from heavy impacts while simultaneously allowing for a seriously unrelenting grip. Each one of the lenses is coated to enshrine anti-reflective powers, which leads to a wonderfully high level of brightness during use.
The O-ring instills one of the best moisture prevention methods possible. This tight seal completely combats all interference from dust and debris. It is also programmed to fully prevent moisture contamination. These machines are known to emphasize a streamlined diopter, which refers to the curvature of its interior mirroring. Thus, focus is crystal clear no matter the occasion.
A slightly updated variation of this Leupold was listed above in a different section, but its predecessor is a bit cheaper. Here’s another little secret too: Not much has changed between the two models. Crafty consumers can pick the previous version for major savings. The “DNA” release is outfitted with an aluminum casing for pristine protection.
This one carries the same brilliant 1,000 yard range, OLED display and astonishing 1/10 yard precision. This product comes with three reticles for customized shooting experiences, and its magnification of 6x equates to a 4212.59″ field of viewing. Shooters can switch between Duplex and plus point, or they can simply combine the two approaches.
This is the rangefinder that professionals demand! At just under $400, it factors in every possible measurement of distance. It can keep track of complex elements including vertical separation, horizontal distance, angulations and elevation.
It has two distinct modes to toggle between priority detections. The striking yellow surface represents true industry savvy. The module contains three separate units, and users can freely switch between yards, meters and feet. In the end, this release trades extra calculations for a shorter overall range. The 6x magnification lends itself to an ample 999ft field.
History of Rangefinder Use
Rangefinder equipment for cameras originated in 1916. They were an exceedingly prevalent means of photography for several decades, but single lens reflex (SLR) cameras rendered them somewhat obsolete. Fortunately, the technology lingered on outside of the picture taking field.
Today, the rangefinder industry covers a lot of different ground. They are regularly used for land surveying purposes, and many navigation systems rely on them too. Digital cameras still sometimes use rangefinder technology to instill proper focus for their images. The military is also presumed to use high-tech variations of this hardware, but this information is presently classified.
The Components of Conventional Rangefinders
Most modern rangefinders involve some variation of an electronically outfitted monocular. The techniques they use to estimate space can vary widely. Laser rangefinders are becoming increasingly prominent, but other approaches include ultrasonic, radar and simple trigonometry.
Most of these machines are meant to be held, but they can be attached to tripods for maximum stability (similarly to a spotting scope). Angular mounts can be applied to uncover exact measurements of elevation. Spherical coordinates may be precisely deduced as well; for the non-layman, a proper term for these rounded measurements is “azimuth.”
Lasers work by calculating the exact time of flight for each burst of light. Their mathematical determinations are rapid and exact! Meanwhile, radar applies pre-determined numerical figures for quick estimations. For the most accuracy, rangefinder connoisseurs stick with the traditional means of triangulation. With the mere power of sine, cosine and tangent, this type of standard model can still trump all of its fancier competitors.
To convey useful data, a screen is usually mandated. These monitors can come in a variety of forms, but their most common incarnation is liquid crystal display (LCD). Lately, this high-tech inclusion has been structured into the viewing apparatus itself.
Why Rangefinders are Useful
These visual aids can be used to measure vast ranges of distance. The most advanced versions are equipped to detect distant objects. This prioritization over close objects commonly sets hunting rangefinders apart from their golfing counterparts.
These devices are equipped with ultra powerful lenses that can accurately capture an entire panorama at once. Sharpshooters often utilize these gadgets to figure out ideal ballistics before firing. This enshrines the zenith of accuracy for every shot. The same is true for archers and bow hunters. Basically, rangefinders are divine accessories for anyone who desires a fuller comprehension of their visual field.
This list may be detailed and comprehensive, but it is by no means complete. The truth is that everybody should conduct their own research to ensure that their rangefinder needs are met. Hopefully, this guide is able to help you make a decision in regards to your next rangefinder purchase!