We always hear how binoculars, riflescopes, and spotting scopes are the premier optics to be taken into the outdoors, regardless if you’re hunting or backpacking. You may not know it, but the rangefinder has proven to be a trustworthy device integral to the success of outdoor adventures. The good thing is, rangefinders don’t add much to your overall weight, so you can take them with you just about anywhere for any trip duration.
You can see rangefinders being used in golf, hunting, and birding among other activities. They’ll give you the range to a specific target in either feet, meters, or even miles. For hunters and birders specifically, this is extremely important in identifying animals and species.
Let’s take a look at the best rangefinders on the market today:
If you’re looking for a trusty rangefinder that will get you exact measurements with no questions asked, then consider the Upland Optics Perception 1000. This laser rangefinder is as simple as it gets yet has many satisfied customers.
We are accustomed to seeing rangefinders take unusual and complex shapes that just seem unnecessary. The Perception 1000 has checkered grips that are easy to hold. Two buttons along the top control power and distance measurement. It’s as simple as that.
As an added bonus, it has 6x zoom and its two different measurements allow you to get accurate ranges on different terrain and vegetation.
The Forestry Pro is small but innovative device that can prove useful to hunters tracking game on rough or uneven terrain. When the terrain isn’t flat, every meter matters when factoring in the drop of a bullet. Thankfully, the Forestry Pro has you covered no matter what your position is.
The noticeable difference between the Forestry Pro and other rangefinders is an LCD display on the side showing you horizontal distance, height, angle, and vertical separation. When looking through the eyepiece, you’ll get the usual range to the target.
The Bushnell Elite outclasses many rangefinders on the market with its 1760 yard range. Most rangefinders’ lasers only extend out to about 1000 yards or less.
The Elite also has a couple of minor modes that factor in wind (separate wind meter adapter needed) or the arc of a bullet. The latter feature you can coordinate with an iOS or android app to analyze up to three different types of bullet curves. For the hardcore and determined hunter tracking elusive game, this feature is pretty much a necessity.
For Bow Hunting
The Halo XL450-7 is an odd looking rangefinder, the design of which allows you to grip the optic comfortably. The XL450-7 is equipped with a couple of different modes to compensate for emerging or fading light. You can hold down the ranging button to get a constant readout. The big advantage is that the XL450-7 is far cheaper than most long-range devices. The XL450-7 itself has a maximum range of 450 yards and has angle compensation, so you can be sure your shorter range shots are going to be on target.
When it comes to bow hunting, you may not need the optic with the most powerful optic that extends beyond a thousand yards. The Volt 600 is accurate to less than or equal to a yard and can switch between yards or meters mode.
The Volt 600 is a very simple laser rangefinder that is ideal for pinpoint the range of closer targets, hence why its preferable for bow hunting. It also has a 4x magnification for an even closer look at game.
You’re likely to see the TecTecTec VPRO500 on just about every rangefinder buying guide on the web. Why is the VPRO500 so popular? As a laser range finder, it has a constant ranging function over a 540-yard maximum range.
When looking through the lens display, you’ll get the distance, measurement, and even battery level. The VPRO500 keeps the interface simple and doesn’t try to overload your eyes with too much information. Its outer shell is built to last and resist water.
The Nikon Coolshot is as simple as it gets for a golf rangefinder. While other devices are high priced, the Coolshot remains stagnant at just below $200. It’s small and easy to use, with the power button allowing for an 8-second interval where you can range multiple targets.
The Coolshot is so small it can fit in your pocket or any other holster around your body. If you’re looking to take this on any outdoor excursion besides golfing, it certainly holds it out with superior laser ranging.
The NX7 by Precision Pro Golf is one of the most activity focused rangefinders we’ve seen. It’s one of the smaller rangefinders we’ve seen thus far and comes with its equally compact carrying case.
The first feature is pulse vibration which makes shakes the device when you’re locked onto your target. This technology also prevents the rangefinder from scanning what’s behind the target. It also compensates for slopes on the course. when viewing a target.
The 600s by Fnova is a popular and lesser-known rangefinder that has the same abilities as some of the other bigger brand names. It is a laser device that calculates distance in meters and speed in kilometers per hour for constant ranging.
This device is ideal for archery because it has a maximum range of 600 yards and a 6x magnification. That power should be enough to put you in good shooting range with any sort of bow. On another note, it’s remarkably cheap compared to other brands.
This rangefinder LaserWorks has certainly flown under the radar and is certainly worth taking note of. First and foremost, its initial customers are appreciative of its low price despite the versatility of its laser. It can lock on to flagpoles on a golf course, take note of speeds, and even penetrate light fog.
Perhaps its most notable feature is that it has a solar power option on top of the backup battery. This feature can be of great use if you’re planning to go on a long trip in harsh conditions. Furthermore, the rangefinder will turn itself off after 15-seconds of inactivity to conserve power.
The RX-850i by Leupold is an elongated rangefinder with a single button for power and ranging functions. Despite its shape and size, the RX-850i is surprisingly waterproof and durable with a tough outer shell.
This rangefinder has an inclinometer that calculates ballistic range to your target in MOA or mil adjustment. This function works for both firearms and bows/crossbows. You can also hold down the function button to scan over time. Overall, the laser is accurate is accurate to within 1/10th of a yard. Especially for arrows, that small of a measurement is crucial. Best for the Money
Despite the price, the Ranger is one of the most popular rangefinders on the market. With a maximum range of about 1800 yards, it’s the most powerful on our list. Apart from the constant ranging feature, the Ranger compensates for targets at the very edge of its range and at high angles.
The internal display is red can has a couple of different brightness level to compensate for your surroundings and light level. The Ranger also comes with a belt clip for easy attachments to your gear or clothing.
What to look for in a Rangefinder
Perhaps the first thing you should make note of is the maximum range of a rangefinder’s laser. If it’s in the 500-600 yard mark, it would probably be good for bow hunting and archery, while more powerful devices are preferable for firearm hunting.
Does your optic have angle compensations? Sometimes some companies classify this ability under certain names, but anything that displays the angle or possible curve of a ballistic object is close enough.
Some rangefinders have smart features such as lock on and constant ranging will enable you to keep track of your target regardless if you move or it moves.