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Reviews of the Best Laser Rangefinders for Hunters

  • December 10, 2016 /

Rangefinders use laser technology to bounce a beam off of a target. The device then measures the amount of time it takes for the laser to bounce off of the target and return to the point of origin. The target range is then displayed, usually on an LCD screen, within 1 second or less.

Modern rangefinders are so accurate, compact and cheap that there is no reason a hunter should be without one. Whether you prefer hunting with a bow or rifle, rangefinders can be an invaluable tool. They can help you quickly survey your surroundings when hunting in a new area.

Rangefinders take out the guesswork. This not only aids you in hitting the target, but helps make sure you get a good, clean shot. The last thing a hunter should want is to end up tracking a wounded animal. A good rangefinder can eliminate unnecessary suffering of your prey. They also help you avoid getting too close to the target and accidentally alerting the prey to your presence.

A good rangefinder makes judging the distances on steep terrain a breeze. Some of the best rangefinders offer features that compensate for steep angles. When aiming from a decline or incline, it can be much more difficult to correctly judge the distance. Once you adjust your sights to match the rangefinder, you will never need to miss a shot again. This can be even more helpful for bow hunters when you need to ascertain the correct angle to fire that arrow from. You’ll be happy to lose a lot less of those arrows too. A good rangefinder will even help you to avoid accidentally hitting obstacles such as a tree branch instead of that prize buck.

The more you use a rangefinder, the better your natural ability to judge distances will become. This is an often overlooked benefit of using a rangefinder. Even with the best equipment, at some point, you will have prey unexpectedly wander into your field of view. You may not have time to pull out the rangefinder before getting off your shot. With time, using the precise measurements of a rangefinder will allow you to better judge distances by sight alone.

Most of the modern rangefinders are light and compact. They are very affordable and easy to carry with you on your hunting trips. They can even replace other hunting equipment, such as binoculars. You get the magnification and easier view that binoculars provide, but with the added bonus of seeing the exact distance of your prey. Most rangefinders are nice and rugged. They should hold up to years of abuse on all of your outdoor, hunting adventures. This makes them well worth the money spent.

What To Look For When Buying A Rangefinder

Elk Hunting EquipmentNow that we’ve established reasons for owning a rangefinder, let’s look at things to consider when choosing one to purchase. The first thing to consider is the price and quality. As the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” Though that is true of rangefinders, there is a point where the benefits of quality may not scale exactly with the price.

The most expensive models will certainly be better than a budget model. There are, however, mid-level rangefinders that represent great quality for the price. For example, a rangefinder in the $400 price range will be much nicer than one that costs $100. One that costs $1000 may not be enough of a leap in quality over the $400 model to justify the difference in price. This all depends on what you have available to spend and what features you prioritize for your specific needs.

Next, you should be aware of the accuracy and maximum range of the rangefinder you are considering. Look for rangefinders that are rated to be +/- 1 yard. Anything more will not be accurate enough for the device’s intended purpose. The maximum range should be at least 600 yards, though 800-1000 is ideal. The magnification on top-level models is usually in the 6X to 8X range. Bow rangefinders may have lower magnification and shorter maximum distances for effectiveness.

The next things to be mindful of are the various special features you can find on a rangefinder. Angle compensation features are a must for using a tree stand or hunting anywhere that has steep terrain. Many models have low-light or bright-light image stabilization. This is handy when hunting in areas with variable light conditions or at different times of the day. Some models have varying degrees of water resistance. Some are even completely waterproof. This is obviously useful since the device will be used outdoors for extended periods of time.

Always consider what type of hunting you will be primarily using the rangefinder for. There are all-purpose rangefinders, as well as ones made specifically with bow hunting in mind. Archery rangefinders frequently have a vertical design, as opposed to the horizontal design used for those made more for rifle or shotgun hunting.

More things to think about include the display, size, weight and simplicity of the rangefinder. A good display is vital for being able to read the information quickly. When hunting, every second is important. You want a display that is clear and easy to read. The display must not be too dim to see, nor too bright so that it interferes with the line of sight. Hunting requires a fair amount of equipment. You do not want a rangefinder that is heavy or bulky. It needs to be easy to carry with you alongside of all of your other equipment. Last of all, a good rangefinder should be easy to use. If it is overly complicated, it is likely you will start leaving it at home more than you take it with you.

The Best Budget Rangefinders Under $200

Here are some good choices for purchasing a rangefinder on a budget. All of these models are under $200. They represent great value for the money. The prices are listed in the title of each model for easy reference. Prices are based on the most commonly-listed price, or an approximation of price averages. Many of the models can be found for less during sales or due to overstocking by specific retailers.

Simmons Volt 600 Laser Rangefinder with Tilt Intelligence

This is a great entry-level rangefinder for the hunter on a budget. It is packed full of nice features to help you in the field. The Volt 600 model by Simmons features their patented, Tilt Intelligence. This technology calculates the true horizontal distance when firing from an incline or decline.

The Volt 600 features easy-to-use, one-button operation. It has a crisp LCD screen that is easy on the eyes. It can display the distance in yards or meters. It’s accuracy rating is +/- 1 yard. When it comes to accuracy, it is right up there with the top models. The only downside is the short maximum distance it is effective for. It has 4X magnification and is effective up to 600 yards for reflective targets and up to 400 yards for non-reflective targets.

The body of the model is very light and completely waterproof. This is a great feature to have in this price range. The lenses are fully multi-coated. This rangefinder comes with a carrying case and a lanyard. It is backed by a lifetime warranty.

Wildgame Halo Ballistix Z6X Rangefinder

This model features state of the art, Angle Intelligence technology. This is comparable to Simmons’ Tilt Intelligence. It gives you an accurate distance measurement while compensating for any type of terrain. It is extremely accurate with a precision rating of +/- 1 yard. The Ballistix Z6X is water resistant and has a great LCD display.

The Z6X features 6X magnification and has an effective range of up to 600 yards. The device uses a CR2 battery, which is unfortunately not included. It comes with a lanyard and a carrying case. It is protected by a 1 year warranty.

One of the best features of this model is its light weight and small size. The dimensions are; 4.1″x3.0″x1.6″. It weighs in at a mere 5.3 oz. You won’t even notice this rangefinder in your pocket or gear bag.

Nikon Aculon 8397 Laser Rangefinder

The Nikon Aculon is another compact model measuring a slim 3.6”x2.9”x1.5”. It only weighs 4.4 oz. This rangefinder easily fits in the palm of your hand. Its light weight and one-button operation make it easy to use. It is water resistant and completely rain-proof.

One of the model’s unique features is the Distant Target Priority Mode. It will give you the distance of the furthest target among a group of targets. This can be very helpful if you are trying to measure a target that is partially obscured by another object.

The rangefinder has 6X magnification and is good up to distances of 550 yards. It features Nikon’s multi-layer, coated optics. They minimize the effects of reflection to provide a clearer view. The display is clear and easy to read. This model powers off automatically after 8 seconds of no use.

Great Rangefinders Over $200

These rangefinders are a step up in quality and offer more features. They are also a step up in price. They represent some of the best the industry has to offer, in terms of both quality and overall value.

Nikon 16228 ARROW ID 5000

The Arrow ID 5000 has advanced ID technology to find the true shooting distance. The Tru-Target Priority System allows hunters to chose from two modes. The first selects the nearest target in the field, while the second selects the one that is furthest away. Multi-colored optics provide a clear, perfect view. The model is also fully waterproof and fog proof. Bad weather will not be an issue for the Arrow ID 5000 user.

This rangefinder compensates for shooting angles. It can give good readings even with inclines or declines that are as steep as 89 degrees. It has a great display that is easy to see in any light condition. The display is simple and uncluttered. You can get the info that you need with just a glance.

The device gives accurate readings for targets between 5-600 yards. It is good for use with a rifle or bow. It is accurate to within 1 yard and gives readings in measurements of 1/10 of a yard.

Vortex Optics Ranger 1000

The Vortex Ranger 1000 is built like a tank, with a tough rubber coating. Underneath the coating is an even tougher, aluminum casing. It’s rugged, but they still managed to make it light and compact. It is fully waterproof due to o-ring seals that block out water, moisture, dust and other debris.

The Ranger features full scan and line of sight modes. It has Horizontal Component Distance(HCD) mode for giving accurate readouts while at an incline or decline. It gives precise readings for targets up to 1000 yards away. It has 6X magnification.

Anti-reflective coatings provide the user with a clear view. Multi-coating provides perfect light transmission. The model is very accurate to within 1/2 of a yard at extreme distances. It runs on a common CR2 battery, which is included along with a strap and case.

Leupold RX-1200i TBR/W with DNA Laser

This rangefinder is amazing for the bow or rifle hunter. The Leupold RX-1200i TBR/W has a great OLED display, is weatherproof for use in the rain and comes in a variety of colors. The size of the rangefinder is 3.8″ x 1.3″ x 2.9″ and it weighs 7.8 oz. It has 6X magnification and is effective out to a distance of 1200 yards. Leupold stands by their products with a comprehensive, 2-year warranty.

This model is extremely accurate and gives precise readings in 1/10 of a yard increments. It features a sturdy, aluminum case with a tough rubber covering. It has bow and rifle modes to display information specific to those weapons.

The rangefinder compensates for angles in rough terrain. It also calculates windage corrections out to 800 yards. Further settings options even allow you to choose from 25 different ballistics groups. The RX-1200i calculates the hold over range and drift parameters of the different bullet calibers to give you even more information before you take that shot.

Nikon 8377 Riflehunter 1000

The Riflehunter 1000 has ocular contrast to adjust to light conditions automatically. This aids the hunter greatly in ease of use. It features Nikon’s Tru-Target Mode that gives the user two options. First Target Priority gives a reading for the nearest target in a field of targets. Distant Target Priority mode selects the target that is the furthest away. This helps you to get a good reading on an object when a branch or obstacle it partially in the way.

The model is built with a rugged case that should stand up to years of rough use. It has a no-slip finish to give you a good grip. It is water resistant and can even be used in heavy rain. Nikon’s multi-coated optics are excellent for multiple light conditions, humid conditions and for fog. The bright LCD screen adjusts its display automatically for easy viewing in all light conditions.

The Nikon 8377 Riflehunter 1000 has an effective range of 5-1000 yards. It gives readings in 1/10 yard increments and is accurate to within 1/2 yard. It has 6X magnification and a wide field of view to make targeting easy. The rangefinder is compact at 6.9 oz and 2.9″ by 1.6″ by 4.6″ in size. It comes with a battery, neoprene case and an adjustable strap.

Rangefinders For The Bow Hunter

We have taken a look at a number of rangefinders in different price ranges. So far, they have been all-purpose rangefinders or those built with rifle hunting in mind. Here are some great choices if you prefer to hunt with a bow.

Bushnell The Truth Bowhunting Rangefinder

This rangefinder has a special Bow Mode and features Bushnell’s Clearshot technology. It calculates the compensated distance of your shot based on the angle from 7-99 yards. It can pinpoint line of sight distances up to 850 yards. It offers 4X magnification and is extremely accurate.

Clearshot technology gives instant feedback on an archer’s shot clearance. This is a great feature that can help you avoid clipping branches or other obstructions. With a simple, three-step process, you can even calibrate the rangefinder to match the speed of your bow through the sight system. Once you complete this process, the rangefinder will display a dot to show the highest point your arrow will travel.

The casing has a nice, anti-slip finish. While it isn’t fully waterproof, it is water resistant and should hold up in the rain. It comes complete with a battery, neck strap and carrying case.

Bushnell Scout DX 1000 ARC

This rangefinder can be used for rifle hunting, but is also optimized for use with a bow. This versatility makes it a great option for the hunter who likes to use a variety of weapons while on the hunt. It features a hard-rubber armor that makes it rugged and completely waterproof. It is also fog proof to give you the clearest possible view in any weather condition.

The Scout DX 1000 ARC has VSI (Variable Sight-in) modes for rifle or bow. This will calculate the amount of bullet drop you experience over distances. It will also show you the arc of the arrow in bow mode to help your accuracy.

This model is super accurate to within 1/2 a yard. The information displayed is precise to within 1/10 of a yard. It has magnification up to 6X. It’s range of effectiveness is within 5-1000 yards. These impressive stats are thanks to the E.S.P. Turbo-processor. E.S.P. stands for Extreme, Speed, Precision. A carrying case, strap and battery are all included.

Nikon 8376 Archer’s Choice Max

The Archer’s Choice has a measurement range of 5-1000 yards and 6X magnification. It displays distances in 1/10 yards and is accurate to within 1/2 of a yard. It is 2.9″ by 1.6″ by 4.6″ and weighs in at 6.9 oz. It has 18.3-millimeter eye relief and 3.5-millimeter exit pupil.

This is one of the best rangefinders in any price range when it comes to dealing with tough lighting conditions. This is thanks to Nikon’s Active Brightness Control Viewfinder. This new technology allows the device to work quickly in any light condition imaginable.

This model has a wide field of view to help you acquire targets quickly. The LCD screen is easy to read in any light condition. It adjusts automatically according to the light level. The optics are multi-coated for better views in low or bright light, as well as in humid and foggy conditions. It also compensates for shooting from inclines or declines up to 89 degrees.

Final Thoughts

With all of the options available, everyone should be able to find a great rangefinder within their price range. Just be sure to keep all of the previously-discussed tips in mind if you consider something outside of the lists above. Even if you see a good deal on a model that offers all of your desired features, it can be helpful to do some research. Before you pull the trigger on that purchase, take the time to read some product reviews online. Ask your fellow hunters what they use and how happy they are with their own rangefinders.

Hunting, like any sport, requires the best equipment to be the most effective you can be. There is an old saying that goes, “the tools don’t make the carpenter.” I suppose that is true, but they do make the carpenter’s job easier. The same is true of the tools that a hunter uses. A good-quality rangefinder will make your life much easier. It will be an invaluable tool for your hunting trips for years to come.