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There is no doubt that every hunter needs a good range finder. The reasons are valid because hunting is a game of advantage. Picture yourself lying sprawled on the ground waiting for hours to get the perfect shot. Your chance finally comes, and you miss it because you got the distance wrong.
A range finder helps you get the accurate distance so that you can know if you should close the gap before taking the shot that will land you your hunting prize. The moment you fire your rifle or bow, the bullet or arrow starts to drop down its projectile.
Knowing the ballistics of your rifle or bow will help you determine the drop and the consistency of the fall it goes through at specific distances. It makes it easy to estimate range and increases your chances of becoming accurate.
Over the years, manufacturers have developed different types of rangefinders, and there have also been different uses besides hunting. One thing remains clear, though. If you love the outdoors and want more success in hunting and other activities, only the best range finder will help. In this article, we cover everything you need to know about the perfect range finder.
How Does a Rangefinder Work?
Most types of rangefinders you will find today work the same way in many ways. The process is relatively simple. At the control of a button, the range finder will release a beam aimed at the object in focus. When the beam reaches the objects in aim, they bounce back, and the rangefinder clock measures the time taken.
The emitted beam travels as fast as the speed of light, which is pretty fast, and the unit of the range finder will use the time taken by the beam to calculate distance accurately. Different range finders will give various performances. It is because there is more involved than calculating the speed and distance between objects and the user.
The Ability to Spot an Object
If you cannot see whatever you are aiming at, then it will never calculate the distance between objects. Most users will resort to a higher magnification like the x8 or the x10.
It is primarily the concentration of the beam on each range finder, and it will differ from one model to another. The more beam divergence a range finder has, the faster it will bounce off an object even at longer distances.
Aperture Size of the Receiver
It is the opening on the range finders receiver that detects the signals from the returning beam. The wider the specter is, the faster information from the incoming data will be processed. Another function of the aperture size is the larger it is, the better resolution you will have at shorter distances as well.
Types of Rangefinders
There are many types of rangefinders, and some of the difference lies in how you will use them and the features they have. They include
They are also known as the true range finders as they are the first models and concept of finding the range. Coincidence rangefinders belong to old naval ships where they accompanied the artillery. The idea is simple, as well. You adjust the prism on the end of each device, making it coincide with the viewfinder. When this happens, you will be able to find the accurate distance between your rangefinder and the object.
However, it is not a viable method of calculating distance since it is time-consuming and bulky as well.
These are popular for use by the military. The optical range finder also goes by the name Stadiametric, and they do not need any source of power. It uses a magnified optic that estimates object size alongside a scale with measurements.
Snipers still favor it to this date because of its versatility and reliability of function without the need to power it. However, because of their complex nature, it is not a popular design by hobbyists as there are lots of calculations to get the estimate right. For the skilled hunter, it is a breeze, and you can measure range accurately down to the last inch.
UltraSonic Range Finders
These are not as common for hunters but are popular with contractors and cartographers. They are expensive and are the best for measuring the dimensions of surfaces which are flat. Another advantage is that they can also measure short distances better than other rangefinders with the smallest margin of error.
Ultrasonic range finders are like sonar and use a high pitch sound to find the range between an object and the user. Its most significant disadvantage besides being expensive it’s the sheer size compared to other range finders in the market.
Laser Range Finders
They are modern range finders that are popular in almost all professions. They are easy to use and readily available as well. Though they are an evolving technology, they still rank as the universal default for range finders for most hobbyists.
Powerful models cover far distances, and this gives any hunter an advantage when hunting big game from a range. Some are known to cover distances of up to 10-miles.
When to Use a Range Finder
The hunting community is the greatest user of modern-day rangefinders. They dictate the market, and hence most designs are suited for the avid hunter. Earlier versions of range finders were for telling distance accurately, whereas new models have more detailed features.
Hunting range finders can be very specific to the hunter. For example, you can find a range finder that can calculate the arrow drop for the bowhunter. Other vital features include target differentiation. Here, the range finder can run through obstacles like bushes and leaves and still give an accurate measurement of the distance of the object in aim.
As for rifle hunters, there are range finders that can calculate the drop of a bullet. The range finder’s design allows it to give accurate measurements pre programmed for different calibers and a specific rifle. Modern versions match your rifle scope to provide accurate distance. You can make adjustments on your rifle scope instead of doing math before you fire.
The game of golf thrives on telling distances accurately. Modern golfers, both pro and hobbyists, find range finders to be useful when taking shots from long distances. Similar hunting range finders, there are designs suited only for the golfer.
The Pinseeker feature is one of the modern improvements that target the flag and not the ground around it. Most golfers find that the measurement is accurate to within a meter of the flag. Some include information on the type of club to use and different elevations on slopes.
The military is a long time consumer of range finders. It goes back to the time of the coincidence of rangefinders for the navy. Modern range finders for the military have many functions that aid in the war. Optical range finders are a preference for the military. Nowadays, laser range finders are more advanced, hence quite useful.
Most military rangefinders are programmed for a particular weapon and purpose. For example, a rangefinder in a tank gives information based on the artillery it fires. In today’s modern warfare advancements, even hand held rocket launchers have rangefinders.
The downside for the military rangefinders is that the budget may exceed what an average hunter or hobbyist may afford.
Cartographers, Mapmakers, and Surveyors
There are specific range finders that civil engineers and map makers use when determining distance. Usually, you will see these range finders on a mounting tripod elated above the ground. Some may use a rangefinder with optical abilities, but the laser range finder is accepted universally to be standard.
The most important feature for a range finder used in cartography or map-making is accuracy. It should drop down to inches or not the correct estimate. These range finders are specific to give tree length and brush over leaves when in a forest area. The filtering ability is also among its superior features.
While such range finders are entirely accurate, they are not the best for hobbyists as they are bulky and expensive as well.
A Review of the Best Range Finders
Many brands have become popular among hunters and hobbyists. They include Nikon, Simmons, Vortex, Leupold, and Bushnell, among others. These are the top 10 rangefinders you can find for every need when hunting for game.
Topping the list is the Vortex Ranger Laser Rangefinder. It is among the most simple and easy to use for most hunters. It comes with a lifetime warranty, which shows how confident the manufacturers are with their product.
The Vortex Laser Range gives a perfect balance and high performance. It can provide targets with accurate measurements up to 1800 yards, with 900 yards for a game that is too deer-sized.
The quality of the Vortex Optics .1800 range finder is unquestionable as it comes with a rubber exterior that makes it armored to rough terrain. It is also weatherproof, and you can enjoy its use consistently throughout the year without any hiccups.
The mode for the line of sight also displays the actual line of the sight range. The scan feature is the most useful when aiming at a moving object and has three levels of brightness for different light zones. Other features include an adjustable diopter, an easily removable utility cap, and comes with tripod compatibility.
- Weather Proof
- Covers long-range distances accurately
- Lifetime warranty
- Some find the price to be on the higher end
Most people consider the price when going for a range finder; however, the Sig Sauer Kilo BDX 2400 Rangefinder might not be affordable for most hunters. It is not a downside as people who use it say it is the most technologically advanced range finder you can find today.
For example, the Ballistic Data Exchange-BDX will allow the riflescope to give an automatic illuminated dot holdover through means of a Bluetooth pairing. It comes with a downloadable app and also uses a LightWave DSP Technology that acts as the ultra-long-distance range finder engine.
A Lightwave Digital Signal Processing also provides up to four range updates each second while in scan mode. It also automatically senses the brightness levels and adjusts according to your scoping area. Similar to the Vortex, it also has a lifetime warranty.
- It has the Ballistics Data Xchange- BDX feature
- It is weatherproof
- It comes with a lifetime warranty
The TecTecTec RangeFinder doesn’t have the range like other rangefinders have as they rely on laser-guided targeting. It is the kind of technology that allows this range finder to track targets within an accurate distance of one yard. Along with scan, Speed, Scan, and Hunt technology, it is also waterproof and suitable for all-weather use.
The advantage both novice and expert hunters will enjoy is the continuous tracking feature. It holds up lots of accuracy. You will also be getting the best features a rangefinder should have at a reasonable price.
If you are a bowhunter, then the Tec Tec Tec rangefinder is your ideal hunting accessory. You can get reliable measurements and use it on harsh terrains. It is durable, affordable, and high functioning. You will also find extra accessories on the kit that makes it more versatile. These include add ons like a lanyard cleaning kit, an extra pair of batteries (non-rechargeable), and a one year warranty.
- It uses laser-guided target technology
- It has a one year warranty
- Add ons include a cleaning kit and a pair of extra batteries
- Batteries are non-rechargeable
The Leupold RX-1600i has its design and looks taken after the chainmail. It makes lots of sense since it is all about durability and versatility. With this kind of range finder, you can traverse any terrain because it has outstanding weather protection features that include fog proof, waterproof, and the most important being shockproof.
Hunters who use this model enjoy the continuous scan, and True Ballistic technology that will take both the distance and wind slope into account. After you locate your target, you can lock it down with either of the three reticle options: Plus point, duplex, or the duplex with the plus point. The plus point will give you specific targets, while duplex offers a more emphasized crosshairs.
The Leupold Rx 1600i uses OLED high-contrast technology, to operate regardless of the time of day and cloud conditions. Hunters will enjoy a two-year warranty that you may never need to use as the product is durable.
- Uses true ballistic technology
- It has OLED advanced technology
- Some people complain of defective units.
Nіkоn is among the leading manufacturers of the most advanced technology for range finders. The Niko Аrrоw ІD VR 7000 ranks as one of the best rangefinders your money can get you. It features the Vibration Reduction technology that most range finders are starting to adopt as well.
It is an excellent model designed for both bowhunters and rifle hunters to ensure a steady image. It is a big deal, especially in situations where you have a 10-роіntеr in ѕіght. Getting steady is difficult and finding your range, then holding it still with all the adrenaline that kicks in.
Іt hаѕ the Nіkоn’ѕ popular НYРЕR RЕАD tесhnоlоgу that produces іnѕtаntаnеоuѕ rеаdіngѕ. It is the best rangefinder for long range hunting as it is accurate up to 1000yards. It is also waterproof and weatherproof, which makes it the best for use in rough terrains.
- It uses the Hyper Head technology
- Waterproof and weatherproof
- Vibration Reduction technology
- It doesn’t have LED display like other models
The Halo XL450 is among the best for both rifle hunting and bowhunting. However, despite this cunning ability, it has some limitations when using it for rifle hunting because of the range. The reason hunters favor it is because it has an accuracy that gets down within a yard. It also uses Angle Intelligence Technology, which gives you a precise reading of your target.
The model also comes with a scan mode, which most hunters find useful in ranging at multiple targets at the same time. It has some limitations, which include the inability to read small objects at greater distances. You cannot also brush over leaves or bushes; hence you must pick a high point for glassing. The lack of autofocus is also frustrating to some hunters, while others cope well with this simple design.
- Excellent range for bow hunting
- It has Angle Intelligence Technology
- Does not have an autofocus
- Will not read through leaves and bushes
Bushnell is known for producing a variety of products that have durability, stability, lightweight, and compact. It is not any different from the Bushnell BoneCollector 202208 as it weighs only 10 oz. and will slide in your pocket.
It eliminates the frustrations accompanied by carrying heavy hunting gears and covering long distances when hunting. It is a professional hunters’ equipment that novices might find a little bit challenging to understand. However, a straightforward tutorial is available that will help you get the most from this model.
The Bushnell 202208 comes with an in-view LCD, which will provide you with the exact distance to your object ranging from 10 to 600 yards. It has bright optics that gives easy reading together with a 4x magnification feature. It has a single button for all functions, which makes it easy to use.
- Lightweight and compact
- Uses the single button function
- It is waterproof and weatherproof
- It does not calculate slopes.
Hunters who want reliability will often go for the Simmons’ Volt rangefinder. It is because they are durable and come with features that are very supportive of hunting. The new Simmons Volt 600 also lives to this reputation as it comes with a unique vertical layout. The design makes it easily portable for you to carry anywhere.
It also has a 4x magnification power with an excellent field of view to allow you to track targets that are closer to you. If you want better results, you can combine it with a 20 mm objective lens, as this will improve the quality of the hunt.
Another advantage is that it uses the single function button and therefore has a simple navigation system. The button is also aligned to your index finger, and that makes it easy to operate and handle at the same time.
The LCD screen is exceptional and gives out clear images because of the high-quality optics technology. It also has accurate measurements and offers a range of between 10 to 600 yards with a distance accuracy variation of +/- one yard.
- The design is perfect and simple to handle
- Uses the single button function
- It is compact and lightweight
- It is weatherproof and water-resistant as well.
- Not suitable for places with low lighting
- Compared to other models, it has far fewer features.
Leica is among the trusted brands and leading manufacturers that provide quality and high functioning Range Finders. The gem rangefinder CRF 1000-R is one that has many features necessary for all kinds of hunting.
It is compact and lightweight and will comfortably fit in your pockets. Besides size, it has a 7x magnification power, which is quite advanced and higher than most rangefinders offer. As the name implies, this range finder can give accurate readings within 1000 yards. With this kind of range, it is the perfect rangefinder for both rifle hunting and bow hunters.
It can also give you a super-fast line of sight when your objects are at a far distance. It will also give the hunter an advantage with its horizontal range that takes into account any decline or incline angle. The measurements are accurate from distances of between 10-1000 yards.
The objective lens is perfect and measures 24 mm, which, together with the 7x magnification, makes this range finder among the best in the market today. It comes with a waterproof feature that makes it suitable for use in wet weather conditions.
It requires a power source and uses the CR2 battery that has a long life span that will not need replacement anytime soon.
- It has an excellent range perfect for both rifle hunters and bow hunters
- It comes with a 24mm objective lens and a 7x magnification.
- It is both lightweight and compact
- CR2 batteries are kind of annoying to find.
Nikon cares so much about developing technologically advanced range finders. You will find so many features included in the Nikon Black Range laser rangefinder. These features include fog proof, waterproof, and a high-visibility OLED display.
The OLED has 4K, has high visibility, and comes in five stages of selectable and automatic brightness levels. The rangefinder also comes with a hyper read, true target technology, and the ID technology. Hunters enjoy the hyper read that gives fast and accurate distances within 0.3 seconds as the ID technology determines the best shot placement. When using the True Target Technology feature, you have the chance to choose between two modes of range based on your preference.
The Nikon Black Range rangefinder comes with a 6x magnification, which is more than other models offer. At only 6.2 ounces, it is both lightweight and compact.
- Lightweight and compact
- Uses the ID, Tru Target Technology, and the hyper head technology
- It has five levels of brightness
- OLED display
- Both fog proof and waterproof
- You cannot mount it on a tripod.
Ultimate Buying Guide to the Best RangeFinder
There are many range finders in the market, and each offers a different feature from the other. However, there are some features all hunters need in a range finder. These are what you should consider before buying one.
Depending on what you will use for hunting, there are some ranges you will never reach. A case in point is for a bowhunter to invest in a range finder that goes beyond 300 yards. Bowhunters do not need an extensive range.
Rifle hunters and golfers may need a rangefinder that has more range in it. Among the best ranges can cover distances between 10 yards to 1000 yards. You must give some leeway for your range when hunting in unclear weather. 20% is the minimum leeway you can consider because reaching the higher limits becomes unclear in poor weather as well.
It is the smallest unit of the display by a range finder. It is usually 1-yard or 1-meter, and some range finders are between 5-10 yards or 10 meters of accuracy. The measurements depend on the manufactures and the model.
Most rangefinders you will find today will have between 4x and 6x magnification, and only a few offer 7x magnification. The difference is quite minimal up until you reach beyond 400 yards. More magnification gives accurate and clear readings. However, if you have shaky hands, you will find it challenging to maintain a composed reading. When selecting a range finder, you should opt for the ones with a higher magnification.
Objective Lens of Your Range Finder
The larger the lens, the better the reticle, and the more light it will allow to get inside. It makes it easy to target objects in poor lighting conditions. Most range finders come with the objective lens that measures between 18mm to 22mm. Some offer up to 24mm of the objective lens. The size of the lens is not as vital as other features, but you should consider it all the same.
Aiming Point/ Reticles
Both of these features are the points you will use to line your target when you want to get the range. In previous models, reticles were the standard choice, but aiming points are slowly replacing them. Both have specific benefits that make one prefer one choice over the other.
Though reticles are harder to read in low light conditions, they can be paired with an internal backlight option. Reticles are also easy to read and provide you with so much information, including the optical range.
An aiming point functions the same as a reticle, but it comes powered with LED lighting for enhanced visibility. One disadvantage is that when the LED is too bright, it can be a bother to use in low light conditions.
Scan mode is among the modern features hunters prefer in their range finders as it allows them to pinpoint their targets accurately when they scan more extensive areas. It also gives good readings of a deer trail and comes in handy when hunting a variety of different games.
Rifle hunters need this the most as it helps them have the right range all the time when using different calibers. Getting the math right each time you change rifles and calibers is not easy as the bullet drop varies for each ammo you use.
Finding the best rangefinder depends on the use you have for it. Some range finders are the best for both bowhunters and rifle hunters while there are specific ones for each discipline. Affordability also limits the kind of rangefinder you will get as the more advanced they get, the more expensive they become.
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36 years old, been hunting and fishing my entire life – love the outdoors, family, and all kinds of hunting and fishing! I have spent thousands of hours hunting hogs and training hunting dogs, but I’m always learning new stuff and really happy to be sharing them with you! hit me up with an email in the contact form if you have any questions.