It seems like there’s a pair of binoculars for just about every situation and sometimes with intricate pieces of technology infused within. We’ve seen rangefinder binoculars among other things, but an even lesser known form of binos is image-stabilization binoculars.
Image stabilization is a very sought after quality among camera fanatics, including those who own DSLR and SLR cameras. For more information and guides on DSLRs and SLRs, visit Bokeh Hub. We all want our binoculars to transmit the best quality images to us regardless of weather conditions. While most binos do a pretty good job on their own, these particular binos are specialized to produce some of the best non-shaky images in the world.
Let’s take a look at each of them:
Fujinon is widely known for producing polaroid film and polaroid cameras. Their entries into the IS-camera market have been met with near-universal acclaim, so let’s explore why.
This 14x40mm pair of binos is more rectangular than your average pair of binos, but does have some hand grip on the left side so you can handle them with ease. These particular binos come with 5 degrees of stabilization. Degrees of stabilization, in the simplest terms, refers to the level of which the lenses operate in order to stabilize the image.
Advanced cameras utilize degrees of stabilization with the utmost importance, especially when filming. The Fujinon 14x40mm has received rave reviews because of its ability to display images in the far distance but with maximum stability and image quality.
Fujinon also manufactures a 12x32mm version with 3 degrees of stabilization.
The 10x30mm model is Canon’s most popular model of IS-binoculars. It differs from other binos like Fujinon’s because it has elongated eyepieces. The eyepieces also flatten images on the edges of your vision, eliminating blurriness that commonly occurs with other binos.
The 30mm lenses utilize the same image stabilization technology that you’ll find on Canon’s line of EF lenses that go on SLR and digital cameras. This technology is battery powered and in ideal conditions can last over 8 hours. We don’t recommend taking these in extreme conditions like below freezing temperatures, but they can operate for about an hour.
Canon really went all out with these binoculars, and its no wonder they’re so popular. Check out some of the other sizes of image stabilization binos by Canon:
The 20x60mm pair of binos is the biggest on our list and certainly the most powerful. These 60mm lenses and long eyepieces ensure that you’re seeing objects and a
nimals in the distance and to the edges of your lenses.
These binos also give you the ability to “lock in” an image while you’re looking through the lenses. This feature will really appeal to
outdoorsmen like birders who really need their binos to be stable as they analyze features of avians.
The high magnification of the 20x60mm makes them a good candidate for nighttime viewing as well. Some users have even used the 20x60mm to spot stars at night before getting a closer look with a telescope.
Due to the construction process of these lenses, the overall design of the binos is a little different than your average pair of 10x42mm or 8x42mm. They look a bit like rangefinder binos but in the end built with image quality and stabilization in mind. The lens sizes are also not the usual size you’d find browsing for normal binoculars, but the kick is getting even better images.
Because the technology for these binoculars is still very new, you’ll see that there is not many of them currently on the market and the ones that are are going to be a bit of an investment.
Besides above average image stabilization, these binos share many of the same characteristics that apply to all binos:
The bigger the lens, the more light that is gathered
The higher the zoom, the more focused an image will be
When it comes to binoculars, 8x42mm and 10x42mm are pretty much the standard measurements for the best overall views. There are smaller and larger pairs of binoculars that would be ideal for certain situations, but 8×42’s and 10×42’s are certainly the most popular and widespread among manufacturers.
So what makes these two sets of binos similar and dissimilar? At first glance, you might not notice the difference between the two. Design-wise, they’re very similar to each other unless we factor in wide-angle binos as well. More on those later.
In case measurements are unclear to beginners, let’s clear some things up. In an 8x42mm model, for example, the 8 refers to the level of zoom the binoculars can reach. The 10mm refers to the diameter of the objective lens within the binos. The wider the diameter of the objective lenses are, the more light the binos gather and the brighter the overall image. The larger the zoom, the closer you can focus in on a specific object.
Given what we know, this doesn’t mean that the binos with the largest measurements out there are going to be the best on the market. The reason we have different measurements is that different measurements are better in different situations.
The difference between the two may seem small at first, but once you get a feel for the detail provided by both, you’ll see what we mean.
Let’s look at both models individually.
The 8x42mm model is a pretty average size for binoculars, making them some of the best all-around binos in the industry. Despite similar measurements, not all 8x42mm models are exactly the same. Some companies use specific manufacturing techniques to allow just the tiniest bit more of light to pass through the lenses.
8×42 models provide ample zoom and field of view (FOV) for their user without trying to add too much flare.
Here are a couple of examples of situations where 8x42mm models would be ideal:
Opera-for a smaller field of view
Stadium Events-you may not need to track high-speed objects, but see many things at once
Hunting-for ideal target acquisition in ideal conditions, normally shorter range
8×42’s also have slightly larger exit pupils, eye reliefs, and field of views, making them more ideal overall for low light conditions
The 10x42mm offers the same or similar level of light transmission as 8x42mm models but offers a small boost in the zoom factor. For a more powerful zoom, you’ll get clearer images so you can identify objects and animals at long range.
Here are a couple of examples of situations where 10x42mm models would be ideal:
Birding-for fast moving animals
Hunting-for target acquisition of animals in the distance, usually at maximum range
Twilight Factor-while the 8×42’s model can acquire targets in low light, its the clarity and resolution of the object/animal that matters. This is where the 10×42’s excel
Wide Angled Binos
Wide angled binos offer an even larger field of view with the same measurements. For activities such as birding which require fast movement and a wide field of view as much as detail acquisition, wide angled binos are the preference. For birding in particular, you may prefer one model over the other depending on what environment you are glassing.
As we mentioned, these optics come in the same 8×42 and 10×42 models, but their design is noticeably different, (see image on the right).
8×42’s are generally more stable than 10×42’s, meaning you’re not shaking as much at maximum range. Seeing an object in the distance doesn’t mean necessarily mean you’re going to get unreal image quality. On the other hand, 10×42’s are going to pick up more detail each time you glass a certain area.
Both models of binos have their advantages and disadvantages. This means you’ll want to conduct your research carefully and plan out what you want to use a particular pair of binos for before you buy them.
Click hereto browse our picks for the best binoculars of 2018. You can also find many individual reviews of specific binos in our binoculars category.
The question to bring one set of optics on an outdoor excursion over the other will always be tricky. It depends on the situation and the power and versatility of your optics. In this article, we’ll narrow down some areas where you should prefer one over the other. On the other hand, you might be inclined to bring both.
On average, spotting scopes are going to have more powerful focus and longer range than your basic set of 8x42mm or 10x42mm binoculars. If you recently purchased a spotting scope or are looking to get one, here are a couple of situations you should consider:
Hunting-For long distance hunts where the terrain is variable. Spotting scopes will help you determine key details about the environment. When you are sitting in a location where you can observe the terrain around you for miles, the scope will be preferable to a set of binos.
Birding-In order to have a successful birding experience, acquiring the most intricate details of birds is the priority. It’s no surprise that two different bird species may only be separated by a small and hard to see color scheme. With powerful zoom and light transmission, the spotting scope is going to be your best friend.
The inconvenience with spotting scopes is that the larger ones (that are usually the best), require tripods for the best stabilization. Depending on where you’re going, tripods add a lot of excess weight. If you’re planning on walking long distances or going up steep terrain, you might want to think twice about bringing a spotting scope. Despite the excess weight, there are ways to bring a spotting scope and tripod and still get the job done:
Travel with a friend
Bring a larger backpack
Use a pack animal
There are some spotting scopes that you can freehand. This means less overall weight but smaller and less powerful lenses.
Click here for our picks for the best spotting scopes of 2018.
While not as powerful as spotting scopes, binoculars are certainly the most widespread and versatile optics in the outdoor adventuring world. They weigh less than spotting scopes but some models do produce impressive power, focus, and light transmission.
With binos, you can place them in pouches on your body for easy access. You don’t have to take off your backpack every time you need to glass terrain. Compared to spotting scopes, they’re a whole lot more convenient.
So, where should you be using binos? Rather, the question should be where shouldn’t you be using binoculars? Binos can be and are usually used in just about every outdoor excursion there is. They are also commonly used in indoor events such as opera or theater, where people sitting far away may not be able to see the stage that well.
The key thing to do before you purchase a new pair of binos is to check the product description carefully. This description should give you the correct measurements, and how well they hold up during low light conditions (morning and evening).
For a reliable viewing experience, binos are pretty much a necessity when venturing into the wilderness, especially when dealing with shorter ranges. You would never want to travel with just a spotting scope.
Click here to see our choices for the best binoculars of 2018.
Click here to see our picks for the best rangefinder binoculars of 2018.
There isn’t a primary set of criteria that dictates which optics are better than others. Sure, spotting scopes on average sport more powerful and longer reaching lenses. However as we’ve discovered, the most power doesn’t equate to the best experience.
In our opinion, what you should be judging binoculars and spotting scopes on is the excursion you are about to embark on.
What’s the terrain like?
What will the weather be like?
What time of day will you be out there and for how long?
Are the animals/objects are want to see well camouflaged or reclusive?
There is no set answer to each of these questions. In the end, the answer will come down to how quickly you want to spot what you’re looking for. In that case, it’ll be a good idea to bring both sets of optics on a trip so you can get the best of both worlds.
Do you have a preference for one type of optic over the other? Leave a comment and let us know!
At the crossroads of the long-range optics industry are the rare products called Rangefinder Binoculars. While still available to the general public, the rarity comes at an increased price. Basically, these optics combine the basic mechanics of binoculars with the acquisition abilities of rangefinders.
As with normal rangefinders, these types of binos do require batteries. They may not be the large CR2 batteries that most rangefinders run on but you will still have to spend some money every now and then to replace them.
The process to hybridize rangefinders and binoculars is very tricky, hence the larger than normal price jumps. These binoculars are fine-tuned during manufacturing to make sure that the rangefinding system is accurate and compatible with each size of objective lenses.
Laser rangefinders usually don’t use the x and y-axis markers that appear within the lenses. They use a laser acquisition system and a pointer reticle that simply tells you how far away each object is.
The Hooway 7x50mm model is sort of your all-around tough and reliable set of rangefinder binos. The large, 50mm objective lenses are encased in non-slip rubber armor-making them shock-proof and water-proof. On the underside of the binos is a tripod adapter. A tripod may be ideal in situations where you are planning to remain in one spot for a long time.
The rangefinder on this pair of binos uses a y-axis to determine distance. In this case, distance is approximate and measured in kilometers to as opposed to laser rangefinders which are usually dead on. The calculation is as follows:
If you can approximate object height or width, you’ll get the object distance. Aside from the rangefinder itself, the binos are equipped with an internal compass for navigation and direction.
We like that the Hooway’s objective lenses provide a wide FOV and appropriate level of zoom all for a very affordable price. The rangefinder may not be the best in the world, but it gets the job done and saves you the hassle of having to carry two different pairs of optics.
Aomekie’s set of 7x50mm binos are very similar to the Hooway model. They are a durable pair built to handle tough conditions whether it be rain, fog, or humidity.
The rangefinder with these binos is nearly identical to the Hooway and the same goes for the compass. The downside is that you won’t get the exact distance of an object to the “T” but it will be very close. The tricky part is knowing or guestimating an object’s height or width.
One thing to note is that the product description is misleading-these binos do not come with night vision but do better in low-light conditions than the average pair. Aomekie has a couple of different colors available, but make sure that you remain on the 7x50mm pair.
The 10x50mm by USCAMEL increases the zoom by a factor of three. This gives it a little bit of an advantage over the Aomekie and Hooway models in terms of close up detail and target acquisition. The more chance of appropriately identifying the target, the more exact your rangefinder calculation is going to be.
We like that these pair of 10x50mm uses folding eyecups. This design makes viewing for users with glasses much easier. Especially when conditions aren’t great, this pair of 10x50mm is durable and reliable for users of all ages and experience levels.
The FOV at 1000 yards with these binos is 396 feet, which is about the same as the Aomekie and Hooway models. The level of zoom on this pair of binos will be key in identifying objects and animals on the water, where vision can be blurry and unfocused.
The Snypex Knight is an 8x42mm model of binoculars with a laser range finder. This simplifies the overall process with the push of a button. Speaking of which, the buttons are conveniently located across the top of the binos-one for power acquisition and one for changing the distance measurement.
With a hard rubber exterior, the Knight is built to handle tough conditions and the occasional high drop. A common laser rangefinder problem is inaccuracies when the laser is pointed at or through glass. You can rest assured that the Knight has solved this problem and even allows for continuous ranging with moving targets.
The inclusion of the rangefinder and its batteries barely alters the overall weight of the Knight. In the end, it’s still covered protective armor, so you almost wouldn’t notice the difference until you actually used them.
The Bushnell Fusion 10x42mm pair of binos give a good introduction to higher-end rangefinder binos. Its powerful laser extends in a one-mile arc in front of the binos.
The internal display is actually pretty intuitive. Not only will the Fusion give you the distance to the target, you can switch between rifle or bow hunting focus and get the angle of elevation. For the hunter or outdoor enthusiast who is nitpicky with detail, these measurements are hard to pass up.
At maximum range, the rangefinder can acquire targets up to 1760 yards away. In particular with the rifle mode, the Fusion has different settings that allow you to sight-in the binos at 100, 200, 300, and 400 yards.
While people may initially be wary of picking up a pair of rangefinder binos, Bushnell really sets the tone for the industry by including multiple ways get the correct distance. It does this, all while providing the user with great light transmission through the lenses.
Nikon’s 10x42mm laser force binoculars are a sight to behold. Most rangefinder binos of this price range and above use lasers to get the distance to an object. They are more accurate than the cheaper pairs of binos that require you to do some slight calculations to get the approximate distance.
The laser force has a range of 1900 yards and can also factor in inclines and declines. This small but noticeable addition to the laser rangefinder will ensure that you are getting near precise measurements. In low light conditions, you can also adjust the intensity of the display within the lenses.
Like most rangefinders, the laser force can acquire the range of a target as it moves, but only up to 8 seconds. Overall, the laser force is one of the best all-around rangefinder binos despite the price.
We all know how popular Vortex can be and they really knock the ball out of the park with the Fury’s. Their 10x42mm measurements give you ideal FOV at 1000 yards and provide ample light transmission so you can study an object or animal closely.
The Fury’s rangefinder reticle is similar to the one you’ll find in a normal rangefinder. Like the Laser Force and Fusion, these binos utilize a laser to acquire distance. If your target is at an odd angle away from you, the Fury employs the Horizontal Component Distance (HCD) to compensate for those angles and ensure you are getting precise distances.
Aside from being a reliable pair, they are waterproof, fog proof, and built to withstand the occasional drop or scratch.
The 10x42mm Leica Geovid’s look like some oddly designed optics, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re a lackluster pair of binos. The orientation of the binos has no effect on your overall viewing experience, it’s just how the lenses are constructed.
While the Geovid indeed uses a laser to calculate distance, it also factors in ballistic trajectory. For example, the actual distance to an object might differ with a bullet as opposed to a laser. If you were holding a gun instead of the Geovid, the binos will factor in a bullet’s drop to give you perhaps the most accurate information on our list up to 1200 yards.
What makes the Geovid worth the price? It’s quality optics. The Geovid’s wide FOV at 10x42mm makes it nearly unmatched in wide area scanning and target acquisition. The ability to combine a lot of perks like detail and zoom in addition to a rangefinder is what gives the Geovid an advantage over its competitors.
The price doesn’t get much larger and the quality not any better than the Carl Zeiss Victory 10x56mm models. Despite their price, they’re more than capable of handling rain and fog. They’re encased in thick but grip-friendly rubber to protect against scratches.
So what makes the Victory’s the cream of the crop? They do sport the largest objective lenses on our list with about the same level of zoom. You’re going to notice a difference in zoom quality between the Victory’s and a pair of 10x42mm’s. Zeiss ensures that with this pair of binos, in particular, you’re getting unparalleled quality through carefully coated lenses.
The rangefinder on this set of binos is a simple but incredibly accurate laser that can acquire targets up to 1300 yards away. Another factor you’ll appreciate is the Victory’s performance during twilight and evening. With enhanced optics and larger lenses, the Victory is going to be soaking up more light compared to any other pair of binos on our list. With the appropriate light transmission and zoom, you’ll still be able to see in detail in low light.
Are you considering Rangefinder Binos?
One thing is for sure, Rangefinder Binos definitely cut down on the space and weight given by carrying two items at once, even if it is minuscule. Despite the couple thousand dollar difference between the cheapest and most expensive pair, each of these binos has proven its worth in the field and picked up some satisfied customers along the way.
Personally, we like the laser-equipped rangefinder binos, but the ones that you use an old-fashioned x and y-axis do a throwback to the old ways of calculating distance. We imagine that the laser-equipped binos are going to more suitable for hunting and other tracking activities, while the others will be suitable for sight-seeing and birding.
Night vision goggles are the perfect tool for after dark use because they can be lightweight, versatile, comfortable and hands free all while providing you with the power of improved vision in the dark. This makes them ideal to use in a wide range of low light operations. Your experiences will widen as you take on the low light with the power of a good pair of night vision goggles.
This guide will show you why you should get night vision goggles, what you should look for, and then help you determine the best pair of goggles to suit your needs. Use the table of contents to jump to the section that interests you.
Human eyes are powerful tools. Thousands of years of achievements speak to the power of the human eye as is seen from the many wonders created and achievements made over the generations. From the age of the hunter-gatherer to the modern man the human eye has been a vital part to humanity, but as strong as your eyes are there are certain times where natural eye power is not enough. After nightfall your eyesight drastically diminishes leaving you in the dark. This can be detrimental to your enjoyment if you are wanting to see the less illuminated side of nature. It can also be fatal if you are take a misguided step due to your lack of proper vision.
If you have ever tried to hunt in the dark, hike a trail through the mountains in the evening hours or attempted to capture delicate photographs of nocturnal creatures such as owls, bats or lemurs in their natural dark habitat then you know that the human eye has its limits. It operates at its most effective level when there is ample light present.
That is why it is important to consider adding a pair of night vision goggles to your list of outdoor gear if you plan to engage in any kind of nighttime outdoor activity that requires clear and high definition sight without the sun or other sources of light.
Generations of Goggles
Nigh vision goggles come in three generations, shortened to Gen 1, Gen 2 and Gen 3. Gen 1 goggles are the most affordable, have minimal but quality features and tend to last about 1500 of hard use. Gen 2 costs a little more and has a longer overall life at 5000 hours. Gen 2 usually has a higher resolution image and wider field of view. Gen 3 is very expensive, lasts for about 10,000+ hours and are used by special forces around the world.
You can expect to spend anywhere from $400 all the way up to over $5,000, but there are more than enough options that fall somewhere in the middle of the price range. Educate yourself with what is out there on the night vision goggle market before you make a purchase.
Below you will find the best choices for under $500, under $1000, for the money and the overall best choice for all around functionality. All are either Gen 1 or Gen 2 goggles, but the brands listed do offer Gen 3 units if that is what you are seeking.
You can use the recommended models below as a starting point on your path to obtaining your first pair of night vision goggles. All four are top of the line items that will fill many different roles. They all keep your budget and preferred uses in mind.
Affordability meets versatility in this particular product, as the Ghost Hunter features a range of options for night vision use, as well as simple and comfortable hands-free operation. It includes a built-in IR illuminator for better range in total darkness. It has a smart shut off to automatically power down when the device is exposed to light. Sightmark offers a limited lifetime warranty (plus three year warranty on the dual tube system).
The Edge GS features an IR Illuminator with adjustable power and dual tubes for depth perception. The construction is durable and built to allow for use in any weather or harsh conditions. These goggles are made of of quality optics, CF-Super Image Intensifier Tube, and wide-angled five-lens eyepiece which provides lack of distortion and the highest edge-to-edge resolution performance.
Armasight Spark-G, our runner up in the under $1000 category
Best Night Vision Goggles For The Money
The most expensive item on the list but one that will grant you the most power for the money is the Nyx7-ID Gen 2+ Night Vision Goggles by Armasight. It runs just under $2k, but is hands down the best pair you will find for a little more money.
The Nyx7-ID weighs in at only 1 pound, making it a super lightweight model. The headset and chinstrap can be adjusted to fit a wide range of head shapes and sizes. This model is great for the serious user of all ages but should not be considered a toy. It is a no-nonsense pair of goggles that is known for being a professional level product.
One special feature that this model includes is a water resistant design. If you ever hunt, fish or explore the outdoors you know that the weather can change in an instant. In those moments this pair of night vision goggles is perfect because you can continue to use it while making your way to safety without fearing that your goggles will be rendered useless and destroyed by the rain. Being water resistant also makes this model ideal for search and rescue situations where you are looking for someone who is lost and the weather has prevented him or her from being found. You can rest with confidence knowing that these goggles will perform when you need to them to no matter the weather.
The built in IR light in the Nyx7-ID helps keep this unit working for many close range situations whether you need to check your GPS device, a map or read a sign in the dark. Depth perception and high definition vision are guaranteed.
Unlike other night vision goggles you can shop from a wide range of accessories. For longer range magnification you have a large option of accessories for 3X, 5X and 8X optional lenses. These are attached with ease and can be stored when they are not in use. The Nyx7-ID is a great modular device because of this. If you enjoy customizing your device this one is perfect.
Armasight has made sure with this model that you will not be left stranded in the dark. The stock battery is a lithium CR123A. You can also use an alkaline AA battery, and changing the battery is easy and can be done on the fly. A power adapter is included for quick and efficient charging so that you can stay on the go.
As a Gen 2+ pair of goggles the Armasight Nyx7-ID has a stronger power than most Gen 1+ goggles and is a great pair if you have the money. For overall money versus functions the Nyx7-ID is the first choice for all of your night vision needs.
Night vision goggles were developed for military use in the 1940s during World War Two. Soldiers uses them to their advantage and turned the tides of key engagements because of the obvious advantage that the night vision goggles provided them.
Night vision received much wider use in the dense and dangerous jungles of Vietnam as snipers and other special military personnel used them to have an edge against their enemies under the cover of darkness.
Over the years many types of night vision goggles have since spread into the civilian market and carry the same strengths as their military cousins at a fraction of the price. You do not need to be a military or hunting buff to know why these goggles have been loved by many since their inception. Night vision goggles continue to be popular among outdoor enthusiasts, from the casual user to the most dedicated disciple of night activity.
Modern technology has made low light vision devices available for almost any price and for a large range of uses. It is not uncommon to see night vision goggles being used for nighttime photography, hunting, fishing, gaming and personal security. The affordability and reliability of most night vision goggles has given rise to a large following of loyal users who can not imagine life before night vision.
Features to look for on a new pair of night vision goggles should fall in line with your needs. If you are into night photography it might be important for you to have a zoom magnification option and a pair that will not interfere with your camera.
If you are hunting in low light perhaps you will want to consider a pair of goggles that has the option to flip up and down for when you do not need to use them. They should not weigh much because you never know how long you will be sitting waiting for your game to appear.
Battery life is another factor to think about as you will not want to lose sight in the middle of use. If you plan to hike in the dark for long stretches consider units that offer an easy way to exchange or charge batteries.
When you are looking for a new pair of goggles it is important to consider how you plan to use them and weigh that against the options available. Explore the different manufacturers and see what is offered.
There are many companies to choose from. Each one offers something similar but with varying features. Popular brands include, but are not limited to, Armasight, Firefield, ATN, Night Optics and EyeClops. Each of these can be trusted for producing high quality and affordable night vision goggles.
When you are shopping for a new pair of night vision goggles that are hands free and compact you need to consider your needs as well as what is offered in your price range. Features to look for include:
long battery life
You might be a hunter who would like to take on beasts that are more prominent during the night, you could be a wildlife photographer who wishes to see those rare animals in their moonlight environment or you could be a neighborhood watchman who wants to ensure maximum safety in his neighborhood. By using night vision goggles in your nighttime activities you are furthering your operating capabilities in low light conditions. This will prove you with even more freedom to do what needs to be done no matter the lighting.
Night vision goggles also make exciting gadgets for your kids, and with affordable options available you can provide them with hours upon hours of fun without the sun. Give your kids supervision and that competitive edge while playing hide-and-seek in the dark with their friends.
Your reasons for needing a pair of night vision goggles may vary but what remains is that you need the best options for what you can afford. Research what is out there and find something that fits into your lifestyle without ruining your budget. You do not have to spend an entire life’s savings in order to own a powerful, reliable and awesome set of night vision headgear.
Technology is at a point in time where a person from any walk of life can own night vision goggles. There are dozens of brands and models that are always pushing the limits of what these goggles can do. Headsets are getting smaller and lighter while magnification is getting smarter and higher powered. Night vision goggles of today are not entirely different from what was used 60 years ago, but there are noticeable improvements on what can be considered a basic utility device.
Whether you are a nighttime hobbyist or a professional hunter you will find plenty of use with the right device, and owning the right pair of goggles will take your adventurous lifestyle to the next level. You will smile when you are seeing the world of the night in new light for the first time. Few have seen what you will see as you step into the dark with the power of light behind you.
Holographic sights are part of the primary trio of gun sights with red dots and reflexes. They are also the most advanced type of reticle sight, utilizing internal lasers to craft the image of a reticle in the sight’s viewing panel.
They come in a variety of shapes, but the holographic fabrication process is pretty much the same across all holographic sights. These are not to be confused with authentic laser sights, which produce a laser dot on target that almost everyone can see.
It’s not uncommon to see tube and open circle versions of the holographic sight. A tube version looks sort of like a dedicated scope but providesbetter sighting at close range.
It’s commonly thought that reflex and holographic sights are constructed differently but solve the same problems. Zeroing and focusing issues are common across all sights, even iron sights. A holographic doesn’t entirely eliminate those problems, but like reflex sights, they eliminate the need for eye relief with a more accurate optic.
Why Were They Developed?
The first holographic sight was developed by EOTech in 1998. These sights are the first to use true lasers in order to craft the reticle you see in the sight. The thought was that these sights would even further increase target acquisition speeds and reduce sighting problems that one may still encounter when using reflex or red dot sights.
EOTech remains the largest manufacturer of holographic sights in the country and due to their price, you’re not likely to see holographic sights as widespread as red dot or reflex sights. Regardless, those that have them are in for an entirely new shooting experience.
Note: You’ll definitely come across some sights that say “holographic” in their name. Upon closer inspection, you’ll see the word “reflex” in their title as well. These are not pure holographic sights, they are reflex. Holographic and reflex sights may look similar but their construction and use is different.
How Do They Work?
Reflex sights and holographic sights work in similar ways. If you move your head left, right, up, or down, the reticle will always remain pointed forward or down the barrel of a gun its mounted on. The concept is different than if you were to move the sight around freehandedly.
It’s astonishing to think that so much goes on inside these little sights in order to correct zeroing and parallax problems. The basic concept of a holographic sight is that a laser bounces light off a collimating reflector.
A collimating reflector straightens light.
The light then travels to a holographic grating panel which produces the holographic image you see in the sight. Light is technically reflected three times, but no two sights are completely identical to each other.
The XPS2-0 is EOTech’s lightest and easiest to use holographic sight. When you set the illumination factor to its basic level, you can get nearly 600 hours worth of use out of the XPS2. Considering the battery life of holographic sights is relatively short, this is a huge plus.
This sight is similar to the XPS3 sight, also sold by EOTech, but the XPS2 does not have night vision capability.
The Vortex UH-1 is one of the more unique sights we’ve seen, even if it is holographic. It’s housing definitely makes it stand out compared to tube or open constructions. Despite this construction, the UH-1 is popular for its larger than normal viewing panel and 15 levels of brightness settings.
You also have the option of using a rechargeable battery and using the UH-1’s onboard USB port to charge it. Otherwise, it runs on a standard CR2 battery.
The 552 model is one of EOTech’s smallest holographic sights. The reason for its elongated structure is that it is actually powered by two AA batteries instead of a single CR2 battery. It can also support Lithium or rechargeable batters, the former allowing for nearly a thousand hours of use.
This model is night vision equipped, which explains part of the price jump but gives hunters and other handlers an edge in nighttime shooting.
What to Consider When Buying A Holographic Sight
A holographic sight is pretty neat, but you shouldn’t consider just because it is a holographic sight. It’s designed to give you better target acquisition compared to normal red dot sights. You should be considering a holographic sight if speed of handling and acquisition are integral to your job.
There are few “cheap” holographic sights on the market. As we explained earlier, they are still a relatively new technology and more likely to be seen in the hands of law enforcement and the military than civilians.
Regardless, each of the holographic sights has proved its worth with a happy fanbase. While the EOTech XR308 may be the most expensive and versatile sight on our list, it shouldn’t have to be your first choice. Remember, a high price doesn’t always mean the best sight for your gun.
One of the noticeable drawbacks is battery life. The power used to illuminate the laser diode in a holographic sight is considerably larger than a reflex or red dot sight. As such, the battery life is shorter.
Red dot and reflex sights have noticeably longer lives with their batteries. If you don’t want to pour money into AA and CR2 batteries, consider getting a rechargable battery or USB cable if a sight has the correct port.
Holographic sights are pretty rare and relatively new, the first only being developed by EOTech in 1998. Even now, it’s still pretty hard to find holographic sights because the process of manufacturing them is very particular. Not to mention working with lasers is always expensive.
In the end, a holographic sight is constructed for a better user experience and target acquisition. Target acquisition is defined as how fast the reticle gets on target, and how much space it takes up on the target. Using different reticles will probably change the experience for you.
Click here to see our picks for the best red dot sights of 2018.
Click here to see our picks for the best reflex sights of 2018.
When you’re hunting with a shotgun, common sense clearly tells you not to expect any sniper-style shooting feats. For many hunters, the need for a shotgun scope seems laughable. “I’m just shooting a turkey, and not that far away. Why would I need a scope?”
Believe it or not, the addition of a scope to your shotgun can dramatically improve your chances of bagging that trophy Tom. And that isn’t to mention those who hunt larger game with slugs, which requires even greater accuracy with your favorite shotgun. While it’s true that you can get a bead on your target using iron sights, the assistance of a scope is like the difference between reading in fine print and reading in large print. With a quality scope, your time is much better spent and frustration is reduced to a minimum.
In this guide, you’ll find the reasons that you should consider purchasing a shotgun scope, what to look for when making a decision, and finally the four scopes we most highly recommend.
Crosshairs allow you to pinpoint your target without playing guessing games.
With a scope, you aren’t tempted to raise up to check the movement of the bird or other game animal. As many hunters have learned, this is a major reason for losing that bird that seemed a sure thing.
It never hurts to have a clearer view of your target.
Whether you’re hunting turkeys or whitetail, a scope can improve your game to the point that you’ll wonder how you ever got along without one. Although the addition of a scope to your gun may add a small amount of weight, it more than makes up for it by making your trek into the woods so much more profitable.
What to Look for in your Scope
When you decide it’s time to begin shopping for a shotgun scope, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are some important tips to help you make your decision when a world of choices make settling on the right scope a victory in itself:
Durability conquers all.
When you’re choosing a shotgun scope, the most important thing to keep in mind is that in order get your money’s worth, your scope will need to be tough. When you’re crashing through the thick brush or your gun slides down from the tree stand and lands against the trunk with a crack, once you’ve given thanks for the fact that it didn’t go off and kill anyone, you’ll be thankful you chose a scope that could stand up to anything your shotgun can handle.
Clarity is a must.
Another top priority for choosing a shotgun scope is clarity. Although it isn’t necessary to buy the priciest scope to achieve maximum resolution – more about that later – there’s no point buying a scope that makes discerning the difference between your target and the background a mystery. Make sure the scope you choose provides a sharp view of whatever you point it at so your eyes get the break they’ll need when you’ve been peering so hard for so long.
Keep it simple.
As you begin shopping around, you’ll find that different scopes offer different features. While many of these may seem tempting and like downright must-haves, keep in mind that anything that adds complication to your scope is one more thing that can break and render your scope useless. Unless you know that your scope would still work if a certain feature became inoperable, keep it simple and forego the fancy features.
Pricier doesn’t mean better.
Although it’s true that you get what you pay for, when it comes to shotgun scopes, there’s really no need to spend an arm and a leg. As long as a scope fulfills these other requirements, don’t be afraid to settle for a scope that just gets the job done without an exorbitant price tag. Unless you plan to make your living hunting, a cheap yet adequate scope should be all you need.
Slight magnification is plenty.
Obviously, with a shotgun, you don’t have much need for long-distance reconnaissance. As long as the scope provides slight magnification, you should be pleased with the results.
Shiny scopes are easily spotted.
It would be a shame to head out with your Mossy Oak gun stock and RealTree head-to-toe camo, just to have the deer turn tail and run at the flash of morning sun glinting off your gun scope. When looking for your shotgun scope, keep in mind that camouflage is just as important for scopes as it is for gunstocks. If you can’t find a suitable camo-colored scope, a matte-finished scope will prevent sunlight from giving away your presence to any vigilant wildlife you’re trying to evade.
Brighter isn’t always necessary.
Sure, it’s true that the brightness feature can be helpful for hunters out in the wee hours of the morning. Still, there’s no need to worry about making your scope too bright since you’ll be hunting when it’s somewhat light anyway. Why tempt yourself with ultra-bright technology when bagging that deer at night while it’s not legal to do so can get you in serious hot water. Although laws differ from state to state, good sportsmanship alone would dictate that too much technology can take the sporting chance out of the equation and cheapen the experience for everybody.
Reviews of the Four Best Shotgun Scopes on the Market
With each of these things in mind, here are four top examples of shotgun scopes that should provide what you need to make your hunting experience that much more profitable.
Color: Matte Black Weight: 12.7 ounces Magnification: 1.75x to 4x
The Bushnell shotgun scope is an all-around winner. The matte black, lightweight scope isn’t crazy expensive, but its durability makes it a favorite and one that many hunters will buy again – after their first one finally gives out after fifteen years.
Top features of the Bushnell Circle-X Reticle Shotgun Scope:
Wide view field allows minimal movement
100% waterproof, shockproof and fogproof
Rain guard HD lens coating
91% light transmission
1/4 MOA fingertip windage and elevation adjustments
Multi-coated optics allow for excellent contrast and clarity
Perfect for multiple hunting applications
Backed by Bushnell “no questions asked” lifetime warranty
Color: Black Matte Weight: 8.6 ounces Magnification: 4x
The affordable Simmons ProHunter ProDiamond shotgun scope offers advanced technology at an easy-to-swallow price. The sharp focus is made possible by the use of high-quality optical glass so that you can see your target clearly, regardless of the weather.
Top features of the Simmons ProHunter ProDiamond Reticle Shotgun Scope:
TrueZero windage and elevation adjustment keeps your focus fixed
Durable construction can resist 1,000 rounds from a 12-gauge slug gun firing 3.5-inch shells
The Truglo Compact Strut N Rut Scope is an excellent choice for hunters targeting turkey and deer. It’s made of aircraft quality aluminum to provide a durable, scratch-resistant, and non-reflective matte finish that is optimal for use while hunting.
Top features of the Truglo Compact Strut N Rut Scope:
Fully-coated lenses providing maximum brightness, clarity, and contrast
Fingertip windage and elevation adjustments
100% waterproof and fogproof
Nitrogen gas filled
Finish is durable and scratch resistant
Regardless whether you choose one of these fine scopes or another one not listed here, be assured that the addition of clarified sighting will improve your hunting results dramatically. Happy hunting!
Night vision binoculars are becoming increasingly popular for hunting. They’ve been around for several years as the military has relied on them for one mission after another. With hunting, it gives the hunter a real advantage with allowing them to see their target through the blackened forest. Sometimes, the moonlight just isn’t enough to supply the hunter with needed light. Since many hog and varmint hunts are performed at night, the technology of night vision binoculars is a helpful accessory. Continue Reading →
The Upland Optics Perception 1000 is our favorite rangefinder. Click the picture above to learn more.
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, 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. Before detailing the essential characteristics of a sound rangefinder, we will present 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.
Hunters use rangefinders to gauge the distance between themselves and their prey. Once they know how far away the 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 for an accurate shot:
Upland Optics is the brand we recommend the most for hunters, and their all new rangefinder is a perfect example of why. Simple and effective, this device is built to be rugged enough to handle the extreme conditions that hunters often face.
With an effective range of 1000 yards, this rangefinder will be dialed in on distances well outside the effective range of most hunters. You will always know exactly how far of a shot you are taking or how much distance you have to cover to get within range.
Lightweight and portable, the device isn’t even noticeable when added to your other heavy gear. I personally carry it on my chest attached to my binocular harness, making it very easy to access quickly. Click here to see the current price.
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 still wants to get the job done.
With a range of just 550 yards, others on this list have far more impressive stats. However, 550 yards is a much greater distance than most hunters can safely and ethically take shots.
Another huge benefit of this device is how easy it is to use. The user friendly design allows for an accurate read with a push of a single button. It also is small and lightweight, making it easily portable. Available in gray or Xtra Green, this compact range finder is an excellent option. Click here to see the current price.
For an authentic hunting experience, experts recommend this rugged rangefinder. Bushnell machines always carry a proud legacy, but this Collector’s Edition release is especially 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 its 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. Click here to see the current price.
Sometimes, the standard rangefinder is simply not enough for the fiercest of hunters. These individuals need something a little more powerful 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; 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 enticing. The bold appearance is accompanied by unbelievable functionality. With 56mm lenses, this machine employs a trademark coating to enhance light transmission during twilight use. If these are in your budget, it’s well worth it to pick up a pair of these incredible RF binos. Click here to check the current price.
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 swear 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, mainly because it can be used to 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. It is water resistant and rainproof, so you don’t have to worry about the elements. Click here to see the current price.
To launch arrows a 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. Click here to see the current price.
For archers just getting acquainted with the sport, it is impossible to go wrong with this Simmons model. It combines all of the 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 harsh weather situations. Overall, this machine boasts accessibility and efficiency. Click here to check the current price.
The Best Rangefinders for Bow Hunting
When archery is applied in the field, the 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. Click here to check the current price.
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.
Here is perhaps the most extraordinary tool bow hunters have available. Once again, this rangefinder ditches the traditional 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! Click here to check the current price.
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. Click here to check the current price.
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 who 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 or 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. Click here to check the current price.
For a dynamic 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 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 is actually 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 comprehension and use. In terms of objective lens diameter, buyers can look forward to a respectable ratio of 23 mm / 0.91″.
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 2,00 yard range, this model receives flawless reviews from plenty of customers and critics alike.
The plastic exterior is reinforced with an advanced carbon treatment to ingrain as well as an indestructible surface. The bold black finish is simultaneously suave and purposeful. It also comes with special lenses that received a rare AquaDura treatment. This 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 for which you typically would have to spend thousands of dollars. Click here to check the current price.
The Best Rangefinders for Under $200
Here are some more affordable rangefinders. These products 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. Priced under $150, 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 can also be useful for archers and bow hunters. Those who need extra ballistic controls may need to look elsewhere. Click here to check the current price.
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 subject 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! Click here to check the current price.
This $120 model is already affordable, but it comes with an additional rebate to make it doubly rewarding. The optics are fine-tuned for 6x magnification and the feedback system 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. Click here to check the current price.
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 within a more reasonable price limit:
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 from heavy impact 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. Click here to check the current price.
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. Click here to see the current price.
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. Many navigation systems rely on them as well. 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 (similar 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 distances. 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!
Thermal imaging rifle scopes have been used with great effectiveness in military and tactical situations, and these scopes have also proven to be an advantageous asset for hunters, especially when hunting boar. The following guide will go over everything you need to know to purchase a thermal scope on the civilian market.
Thermal imaging is a lucrative tool for hunters because it allows the observer to not just see their target in the dark of night, but to actually witness the ambient heat that targets give off at any moment in time. This ambient heat can be fluorescently colored or simply display as a brighter animal-shaped figure on a dark background. In any situation, this technology makes hunting live prey exceptionally easier.
Detailed below is a variety of our top thermal imaging scope recommendations. Each of these quality scopes provide a diverse set of features to fit a variety of needs, depending on what is most important when making your purchase.
ATN’s ThOR series of thermal hunting rifle scopes has made a firm reputation for its reliability, strong features, and overall versatility. The ATN ThOR HD 640lives up to the great reputation that the ThOR line brings to bear. As this is a thermal scope that is rated for combat, ATN utilizes mil-spec germanium ballistic lenses for the eyepieces on this unit. This model is also very lightweight and fits well within the palm while weighing only two pounds.
This scope also has a plethora of menu options available by simply operating the directional pad positioned directly on the body of the scope itself. Some of the options that are included are the ability to change the color of the reticle, adjust the display’s brightness level, a full-color overlay mode that features rich tones that vary depending on the environment, and in the menus you can also adjust the reticle type. This device also starts up very fast; it takes less than three seconds from power up to sighting. Also, you can expect twenty-two hours of continuous use from the 20000mAh battery pack.
This scope also has great range; its full 5X optical zoom is essential when you need to visually get closer to a target. Since the ThOR 640 has no springs or screws and utilizes a fully digital system to hold zero, the ThOR will never let the reticle move off of base. ATN has also included video-out connectivity so that you can capture your thermal imaging excursions on video.
With a thick set of features, great levels of image quality, resolution, and additional functions, the ATN ThOR HD 640 is one of the most versatile thermal rifle scopes on the market, and the winner of our best overall pick. Click here to check the current price.
Very light and portable, this thermal scope measures in at 3 x 7.6 x 3.2 x 2.8 inches and weighs only 1.4 pounds. The Predator utilizes solid state, un-cooled, long-wave infrared magnification technology to provide a reliable experience not just to the sportsman, but to law enforcement and military users as well. The targeting display is of a LED type and can display a resolution of 640 x 480. This is a great resolution, so the images are crisp and detailed.
This FLIR detector utilizing thermal scope has several features that make it one of the most competitive on the market. The Predator makes use of a drop down menu system to help users navigate through the thermal scope’s features. This ensures that the user experience is both intuitive and simple. This software is upgradeable and allows you to pick from six digitally controlled reticle patterns, access the thermal scope’s recording feature, access the digital E-zoom (up to 4x magnification), and adjust the contrast of the image. Overlay color modes include, white hot, black hot, and rainbow.
In addition to the digital E-zoom, this scope also has a optical 1.6x zoom for resolution loss-free sighted magnification. For the recording feature, there is a SD card slot where you can save your hunting videos for later viewing through the TV-out functionality. This sight is a great option with a rich feature-set and costs less than $3,000. It provides well-rounded design and customizability without breaking the bank. Click here to check the current price.
Our best thermal scope for under the $5,000 is another in the Armasight line of products, which is theirZeus 336 3-12×42. This scope employs a mid-sized 42mm lens to provide great resolution and vivid thermally enhanced images to the user. Its most noteworthy features include build quality, great drop down menu, and the inclusion of the exceptional FLIR TAU 2 un-cooled micro-bolometer thermal imaging system.
This is one durable scope. The Armasight Zeus is comprised of aircraft quality aluminum that can take several tumbles without compromising the chassis of this quality scope. Despite this sturdy construction, this scope is still almost feather light and compact. Measuring in at 10 x 3.2 x 2.8 inches and 1.5 pounds this scope will add minimal weight to your weapon, and will fit comfortably in your hands. As mentioned previously, Armasight created this scope to be 42mm; this is quite larger than the industry standard 35mm. This extra size ensures that the thermal imaging that this scope creates has larger pixels and is thus more detailed. The screen is a color organic LED screen that has a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels.
From a features perspective, this scope has more than enough. The keypad for the menu is durable and blends in very well with the body of the scope. The drop-down itself has features that allow you to access the six different reticle types, reticle patterns, color, polarity, and overlay colorization. The E-zoom feature allows you to utilize the digital zooming system without losing as much of the details as typical digital magnification systems. A really neat feature available in the drop-down is the ‘scenarios’ selection. This lets you cycle through high-value target, hog hunting, coyote hunting, deer hunting, bear hunting, mountain lion hunting, and elk hunting scenarios. Click here to see the current price.
When utilizing a thermal scope for clearing varmints or hunting for game, you’ll find no better scope than the Flir ThermoSight RS64 2-16X.
Hunting takes patience and a scope primarily used for hunting needs to have measured versatility for all of the types of hunting usage that it will encounter and the RS64 doesn’t disappoint in this regard. This scope is around two pounds, and while that adds a little heft to your weapon, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This unit comes packaged with an active matrix LCD display that displays a resolution of 640 x 480 and is capable of providing 16x magnification. The focal length of the lens is 60mm.
While the included internal lithium-ion battery pack guarantees more than four hours of life, it’s the fact that this pack is rechargeable through a USB connection that makes this scope great for hunting. You don’t have to replace your pack at all if you keep the cable wired into a local power source, so there’s no need to necessarily enter standby mode.
Insofar as internal features, the RS64 has a simplified scope interface that utilizes a four-button control system. You can access batter charge info from the display, adjust the reticle colors from white, black, red, or green, choose between three distinct reticle types, adjust the color palettes, or establish the included E-zoom magnification. When using the digitally-based E-zoom the targeted object’s resolution is automatically corrected for the extended zoom which helps for high magnification shots. Finally, like many of the scopes present on our list, this thermal imaging scope has video out capability, so that you can keep a record of your hunts. Click here to see current price.
As the AR-15 is a great precision rifle, utilizing a thermal scope that is designed to give as much precision at the potential higher moving speeds that you might need to hunt active, larger game is just what the doctor ordered. With its 640 x 480 high-resolution sensor, the ATN ThOR 640 5-50x is exactly what you need.
Simply put, this ATN ThOR scope has built-in technology called the Smart Shooting Solution that allows you to forgo hassling with charts, reticles, and calculators to acquire your perfect shot. After you range in on your target and enter wind readings, your scope will adjust your point of impact as necessary for you. Furthermore, the scope’s Recoil Activated Video feature records a video that starts right before you take a shot, the moment itself, and whatever amount of footage you would like to have after the shot is taken; you don’t have to worry about forgetting to record the perfect kill shot or losing your target when trying to mess with video recording. Overall, the HD imaging provides a crisp and beautiful video recording experience to perfectly capture the best moments of your excursions.
This compact instrument weighs just a little more than typical ThOR scopes at about 2.75 pounds, and it is 10.67″ x 3.97″ x 3.47″ in dimension. On board are a bevy of features that make this scope perfect for utilization with an AR-15, including a built-in smooth zoom feature with the ability to reach 50x magnification. The scope’s built-in E-Compass and weather resistance make this the ideal tool to have on long hunting trips in a variety of conditions and locations, and you can record where your excursions lead you using the geotagging capabilities. If you plan to use this scope for more than one rifle due to its vast number of technologically advanced capabilities, you can make use of the scope’s profile manager to customize a series of settings specific to each of your rifles. Only 4 AA lithium batteries are required to operate the scope, and it comes with a 3-year warranty. Click here to see the current price.
Top Brands of Thermal Rifle Scopes
When looking for a great thermal imaging rifle scope there are a few strong brands that always release products that are functional, last for years, and are feature-rich. The recommended scopes listed above are all manufactured by one of the following top global thermal imaging rifle scope brands:
In operation for two decades, ATN has made its specialty the creation of quality night vision and thermal imaging scopes. According to their site, “Our R&D Department has consistently allowed us to launch cutting edge and innovative products and technologies. The new Thermal Line ThOR Series Weapon Scopes, launched in 2011, have been universally recognized as the best line of Thermal Scopes on the market today.” Check out all the ATN products here.
Armasight creates quality thermal imaging scopes for a myriad of sectors. Their mission statement encompasses their desire to provide functional, versatile thermal imaging: “The primary goal of Armasight is to create a meaningful presence in the night vision and electro-optical arena by supporting elite military units, law enforcement professionals, first responder agencies and commercial consumers worldwide with the highest value price-to-performance goods and services that are delivered on time combined with the best after-sales support in the industry.” Check out all the Armasight products here.
FLIR took its name from the detector system that is most vital to thermal imaging and is responsible for many of the thermal technology that is used today. FLIR is also one of the oldest producers of scopes and thermal imaging technologies. From their site, “An industry pioneer for over 60 years, FLIR is the most vertically-integrated thermal imaging company in the world. We control the technology that’s key to our products’ thermal performance. In producing the R-Series, we leveraged our vast experience designing military-grade thermal imagers that have to be durable, precise, and reliable. The top shots around the world depend on FLIR. So should you.” Check out all the FLIR products here.
In addition to considering the brand of scope that you’re interested in, there are multiple factors to consider before making your purchase, especially when trying to identify the features that are most important to you. If you are still unsure about which scope to purchase solely based on the information above, here are some other points to consider:
Even the un-cooled types of thermal imaging scopes can get expensive. Models go from around $1,500 to more than $8,000. As a rule, the more costly thermal imaging scopes have a richer feature set and greater magnification. When searching for a great scope, try to keep your budget in mind, but also remember that you might not want to sacrifice functionality for a cheaper scope. This is a device that you’ll use for years to come and hopefully it’ll bring you success in use, so be sure to balance your need with your wallet judiciously. Also, thermal imaging technology is becoming more mainstream, so while today’s scopes might seem to be more on the expensive side, prices are sure to come down a bit in the near future. Even today, prices for these types of devices are a fraction of what they were even a few years ago.
Like many modern devices, thermal rifle scopes require power to function. Typically, you can use lithium batteries to power your scope and charge will vary greatly based on model. If you can find a thermal imaging scope that lasts around eight hours on a charge, then you’ve found one that lasts fairly well.
Just like in today’s graphical processor and television systems, refresh rate has great value in thermal imaging. Most scopes on the market today come in 30 or 60 hertz varieties. Hertz, when it comes to digital images represents cycles per second or how often a presented image is refreshed. The more refreshes the more lifelike the displayed image will appear. As a rule, when it comes to refresh rate, shoot for a thermal imaging rifle scope that has a rate over 30 hertz, this will ensure that if whatever you’re tracking starts to move it won’t appear like a slideshow. Some find that a larger 60 hertz display isn’t really that important as that level of cycles per second won’t make a noticeable difference unless the target is moving at a fairly rapid pace. Others have noted that if trying to target something from a moving platform, such as the bed of a truck, 30 hertz tends to lag too much, so this is a situation where 60 hertz shines.
Thermal imaging scopes aren’t like standard mechanical scopes; their image is relayed using technology not unlike what is found in many of our current crop of digital devices. Just like in any other digital display, resolution is the primary means to providing a crisp, reliable image while using a thermal imaging scope. The reasoning for this is simple; too much pixilation distorts the edges of the target which can then cause misses. When it comes to resolution, your best bet is to purchase the highest resolution that fits within your scope budget. Thermal imaging doesn’t always provide as high detail as standard night vision imaging as its power is in detection, so having extra resolution for clearer image finding can really help you out on a hunt.
Zoom typically goes hand-in-hand with resolution. There are two types of zoom, optical and digital. As a rule, optical zoom will allow you to magnify in on a target without losing quite as much of its resolution. Digital on the other hand, utilizes software to get closer to the target and zooming too far with this, at least without the help of other tech, will result in a lower resolution image. Thermal scopes with a combination of these types are a great way to get the extended zoom of the digital, with the image quality of the optical. When you’re thinking about making a purchase of a scope, definitely take a look at what the scope has to offer for zoom.
The reticle, also known as a crosshair or reticule, helps provide accurate target sighting on a thermal scope. Some scopes feature a fine reticle while others feature one with thicker lines. Some scopes have a wide selection of reticles which you can select and can range from a standard crosshair to a simple central dot. Some manufacturers don’t provide a reticle in their thermal scopes, so be sure to do some research on the scope you intend to buy so that you know what to expect when you use it to target.
Glass is a great insulator; and as a result, it isn’t a material that can be used very well in thermal optics. The reason why glass is transparent is because visible short wavelengths pass freely through the material, but since infrared is heat energy and the glass blocks these wavelengths as an insulator, it’s impossible for the infrared detector elements to pick up the thermal information as the glass is blocking its reception. Germanium, a chemical rare element, can be made transparent and allow for the transmission of light on the infrared spectrum so the lenses on thermal imaging scopes tend to be made of this material. One caveat though, germanium is very expensive, especially compared to standard glass. As a matter of fact, a sizeable reason that these scopes costs so much compared to standard scopes is because of this lens material. You can safely assume that the larger the lens, the more you can expect to pay for the rifle scope.
Color or Monochrome
When many think of thermal imaging, they think of the bright oranges, reds, and yellows portrayed in the 1987 film Predator. While with the current crop of thermal scopes, you can get a great approximation of this effect, it’s not the only option for thermal imagery. For a little less you can get a monochromatic option that provides a great gradation level when observing an option. For monochrome thermal scopes, warm targets are simply brighter on the grayscale and still stand out very well from their cooler environments.
Clip-on versus Standard
For rifle sights, there are two types of scope systems that can help you utilize thermal imaging on your next hunt. These types are:
Clip-on – Clip-on sights employ a thermal imager that you attach via rails to your current scope. These work very well, and many of the scopes in this category can be used independently but typically have slightly reduced zoom capability, so they are better when used in conjunction with another scope. Since your standard scope is view finding through the screen of your thermal imaging scope, at high magnifications some loss in resolution can occur.
Standard – This is the type that utilizes standard scope technology and works in conjunction with an internal thermal imaging sensor. The images that this type produces provide great heat detail by using a myriad of colors, or it can present the thermogram display in a more monochrome readout. This typically depends on the manufacturer and the imaging system’s components.
Some scopes have extra bells and whistles on them like a DVR to record everything that the scope sees. This allows you to take a look at the days hunting after it’s done. Some models even feature an RCA out setup that will allow you to hook a monitor directly to the scope. Another extra feature on some scopes is the addition of a standby mode. Since most scopes incorporate a battery as a power source, this type of feature allows you to save the battery during times when you are relaxing or when the scope is not in active use. Many thermal scopes utilize a menu system that allows you to select your reticle, adjust brightness, or wind and elevation settings. Having extra features can make your thermal scope seem more versatile, which adds value to your purchase.
Selecting a great thermal imaging scope is a process that requires a lot of due diligence but is ultimately a very rewarding experience. Take the time to establish a budget, get to know the technology intimately, and learn the feature sets of some of the best units on the market. This guide, hopefully, will help you through the process and help to educate you on some of the features of the tech, the brands available on the market today, and some of the best units for sport shooting and beyond.
How Does Thermal Imaging Work?
How does this technology work? Initially developed in the military sector, thermal imaging allows those who utilize it to see the seemingly invisible. As a rule, all animals emit infrared energy as heat during the natural processes of life; it is that thermal energy that is visible to an observer using an thermal imaging scope. Since the majority of objects in the natural world emit heat in one form or another, the majority of scopes capture the differences in heat between the target and its immediate environment.
Forward looking infrared (FLIR) systems are the types of infrared detectors that many rifle scopes utilize to pick up infrared light. The lens in the scope focuses all of the incoming infrared light; this light is then scanned by infrared detector elements in the array, and these elements create a thermogram. It only takes about one-thirteenth of a second to create a thermogram, so to the observer it appears to happen in real-time. The thermogram is then processed and projected to the display for the observer to use. The images that are delivered can tell you when a target is under a bush or even hunkered down to avoid a strong rain shower. The majority of external elements such as weather or poor lighting do not decrease the reliability of this type of imaging.
Types of Thermal Imaging Systems
When it comes to thermal imaging, there are typically two systems that are used on the market: cryogenically cooled and un-cooled. Here is how these two unique systems work to provide sharp thermal imaging:
Un-cooled thermal imaging – This type of thermal imaging is what the majority of thermal imaging devices utilize. The elements that detect infrared energy operate at standard temperatures; and as a result, they don’t need additional materials to keep the key thermal elements below 32 degrees fahrenheit. Since extra machinery isn’t needed, this system is very quiet, which can be beneficial for hunters. These types of sights provide great temperature differential information but aren’t quite as sensitive as the other type.
Cryogenically cooled thermal imaging – This is typically the more expensive option. The system employs internals that are sealed and mechanically cooled to freezing temperatures or below. These types of devices can have a slight hum to them though that is typically only noticeable in close proximity to the assembly. Despite the additional cost, this system provides a great advantage as they have heightened sensitivity compared to un-cooled systems of thermal imaging. These types of scopes can observe very minute temperature differentials from more than 1,000 feet away from the target. The only negative aspect of this type of thermal imager outside of the cost is the fact that with all of the extra components for cooling, this type of device is not quite as rugged as the un-cooled variety.
For the most part, the majority of weapon targeting thermal imaging scopes are un-cooled and the weapons scopes that we’ll be covering in this guide are of this type as well. As mentioned before, cryogenically cooled devices offer more temperature detail and this type is perfect for many civilian applications, but as these can get to be very expensive they are mostly limited to thermal imaging cameras.
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