If you are a shooting lover, you would have probably done some shooting for hunting or long-range purposes. Hence, you've probably been to the counter at the sporting goods store to check for your ideal rangefinder.
However, you might face a difficult task selecting the right rangefinder because there it seems like every product has at least 4 options! So, how can you possibly pick the right one among the numerous brands out there?
I quite agree that you will find some known brands within the price range of little over $100 and a little over $1,000. Is it worth it to buy the expensive one? What do you get for the extra bucks? There are so many questions that need to be answered.
You will get answers to all of the questions you may have in this article as we extensively review 8 best rangefinders within a price range of $140 to $800.
Buying a rangefinder is a worthy investment; however, there are certain factors to consider when you want to buy the best rangefinder for you. These days, you don't have to break the bank to get a suitable rangefinder for you as there are good products at affordable prices.
Irrespective of what your desires and specifications are, you'll find a rangefinder suitable for you. These rangefinders cut across various prices, ranges, optics, build, and design, among other factors. You can't go wrong with one of these.
To help you in your purchase decision, we have put together a comprehensive buying guide to help you choose the product that works best. The rangefinders displayed here are a compilation of some of the best rangefinders from different categories.
We have put together recommendations from various people who have used this product at one time or the other.
All the rangefinders reviewed were carefully selected using criteria such as accuracy, range, speed, build, and quality. It all depends on your preference and budget. We aim to discuss the range finders that won't let you down in the field. These 8 best rangefinders for hunting and shooting reviews take into consideration different buyer’s preferences. We considered buyers such as the super price-conscious (those who want low price), hunter, long-range shooter, and we will help you make an informed purchase decision. Read on!
The Price Conscious ($200 and under)
The first category we'll talk about is price-conscious. In the price-conscious category for buyers within a shoestring budget but want value for their money, we will recommend these three rangefinders:
- Nikon Prostaff 1000
- Bushnell Prime 1300
- Pursuit XR 700
Of these three products, the Nikon Prostaff 1000 is the cheapest, and it is often a preferred choice for most people. However, the only difference in the price between this Nikon product and the other two is about 20 dollars. These recommendations are based on experience and the comparison between two to three different rangefinders. Let's take a look at the features of these products.
1 Nikon Prostaff 1000
Nikon Prostaff 1000 is the best rangefinder on budget. If you desire a cheap rangefinder that will do an excellent job within 600 yards, you should consider the Nikon Prostaff 1000. The maximum distance of the Nikon Prostaff 1000 is 875 yards in good lighting conditions, so you should consider this when using this rangefinder. In low light, the highest distance achieved with this rangefinder is 640 yards. In addition to that, on sagebrush, it has an 875 yards range as its maximum distance. Anything exceeding this may not be as efficient. The Nikon Company has a good warranty in its products, with a sturdy battery, which lasts as long as 5 minutes before the lighting quality reduces. The readings with this rangefinder are very accurate.
It possesses excellent accuracy when compared to Bushnell Prime 1300 and Pursuit XR 700. It is made of plastic compared to the high-end rangefinders, but it gets the job done. Furthermore, it is waterproof and helpful for shooting, even as an amateur. So, if you're looking for something cheap yet efficient, this is the best product for you. It is a sturdy choice, with a strong build made of quality plastic.
2 Bushnell Prime 1300
With our experience using these amazing rangefinders, we realized that the Bushnell Prime 1300 had the most inconsistent reading. The Bushnell is compact and lightweight, and it picks up targets very quickly. This Bushnell rangefinder has similar attributes to that of the Nikon Prostaff. It also guarantees optimum readings, even with poor lighting. The Bushnell rangefinder achieves a reasonable distance when used for hunting or sporting activities. It is efficient and solid.
3 Pursuit XR 700
Pursuit XR 700 is the cheapest rangefinder among our top 8 rangefinder reviews. It is about $20 cheaper than the other two prices conscious rangefinder.
However, the Pursuit XR 700 has an awful battery door that breaks so easily. It also has the low image quality and inconsistent reading. With the Pursuit XR 700, you're not losing any accuracy as your distance does not exceed two yards. It is very affordable and is made of quality plastic, with a sturdy build. As one who is price conscious, this is a good option for you. It is guaranteed to help you in your shooting or hunting as it won't get shaky.
Verdict: My top pick in this category is the Nikon Prostaff 1000.
The mid-range shooters are those that desire to hunt without spending so much. Here we will review two remarkable rangefinders and help you make an informed choice.
4 Sig Sauer Kilo BDX 1200
Sig Sauer Kilo BDX 1200 is an excellent rangefinder with a good range regardless of the surface (soft or hard). It is also noteworthy that this product is not waterproof. In terms of distance, this rangefinder’s highest distance can achieve is 1100 yards, making it effective for long-range shooting. Also, the sagebrush can attain a distance of 1100 yards at most. In a situation where there is poor lighting, the maximum distance that can be attained is 1025 yards. Shooting with this rangefinder is easy for mid-range purposes, irrespective of your exposure to handling a rangefinder.
5 Nikon Monarch 2000
The Nikon Monarch 2000 is waterproof, has good build quality, and ideal for long-range shooters. The downside is that it takes longer to get a reading, sr long-range shooting will take more time than other high-end rangefinders. Another downside is that it shows a dark haze, which we feel is a bit awful. The maximum distance for the Nikon Monarch rangefinder is 1570 yards. This distance is an amazing feat for a mid-range finder. When using this rangefinder in low light, the distance it can detect is 1621 yards, making it one of the best to use in low light. The highest distance in sagebrush is similar to the maximum distance, which is 1570 yards.
If you want to step up your shooting game, the Nikon Monarch mm is a mid-range product that is waterproof and is a great option for hunting. It is made of solid, quality materials, and it is also affordable. It gives an accurate reading and makes your hunting game easy. When you carry this to field hunting as a mid-range shooter, you can shoot up to one mile. Nikon glass can be hazy, but it is very efficient.
Professional hunters will invest more in getting the best rangefinder for their hunting expedition. Here are two excellent rangefinders you should consider as a pro hunter.
6 Vortex Ranger 1800
Vortex Ranger 1800 is one of the few waterproof rangefinders on our list. It has awesome quality, lifetime warranty, and a tripod socket. However, you might not need the tripod socket because it is lightweight. The lifetime warranty is cool as you can get a replacement if it stopped working after purchase. Other features of this rangefinder include its ability to detect distances as long as 950 yards. For professional hunters who have been a long while in shooting, this distance is good enough. The distance in sagebrush is estimated at 800 yards for shooting. However, in areas with dim light, the distance is 649 yards.
The distance is ideal for hunting but not great for long-range shooters. It has a great build quality, but it is a bit poky to get the desired shooting range.
The vortex Ranger is a popular rangefinder, and it is good for hunting, as well as sporting activities. The vortex has a good build and is made of great quality materials. The optics have a full lifetime warranty, and when you buy it new, it works efficiently for a long while. If you buy it and it stops working, you can send it back to the company, and they will give you a new one. It has a waterproof tripod socket at the base. It is easy to hold and handle. It is a top-notch rangefinder, and it can reach a long-range farther than most rangefinders. It can achieve as long as 1800 yards on a reflective surface, and for a non-reflective surface, it is about 950 yards, and this was the best reading we got.
The vortex is waterproof with a good warranty from the company; thus, it is a guaranteed hunting option. It has a unique build. This rangefinder comes with a belt clip, which makes it neat, and you can attach ballistics to it while shooting, rather than having them hang on your neck.
7 Leupold RX-1600i
The Leupold RX-1600i is a fast, reliable rangefinder for long-range. One of the best you can get in the market. It gives a more consistent quick reading than most of the previously mentioned rangefinder. It tells you how far a target is so that you can aim well. The maximum distance obtained when this rangefinder was used on the field is 1570 yards, and this is often subject to alterations. Likewise, in sagebrush, the highest distance obtainable is 1570 yards. If the lighting is low or is late at night, this rangefinder can achieve a distance as far as 1 yard.
This is a list of rangefinders that will be beneficial for veteran shooters who love shooting in the long-range. Long-range shooters will find this product handy as it offers the longest scope in our eight best rangefinder reviews.
8 Sig Sauer Kilo 2400 BDX
As we have rightly said, this product is the best for long distances. It has the biggest frame overall and comes with a plastic frame. It is also worthy to note that this product does not have extra features for the added expenses, and it is a bit bulky.
The special feature of the Sig Sauer Kilo 2400 BDX is that it can range long distances. The Sig Sauer Kilo 2400 BDX also has built-in ballistics. It has an excellent magnification of 7x25mm. With the Sig Sauer Kilo 2400, the maximum distance obtainable when shooting or hunting is 2121 yards. In sagebrush, you can attain a distance of 1400 yards effectively. On the other hand, with dim light, one can only achieve a maximum distance of 1700 yards. Long-range shooting is not often comfortable, but with this rangefinder, you can reach maximum performance.
The Sig 2400 is great for long-range shooting, although the price is on the high side. The magnification is 7 times more, making it outstanding. Although it is a bit pokey, it is organised and can reach long distances. For practical shooting, the loop hold is more than most rangefinders in this category. It is also larger and a bit heavier.
Now that we understand the very basics of the parts of a rangefinder, we can look at a very elementary example of how it works.
The process begins when we have spotted a target, let’s say 1000 yards away, through the optics and press the button to send the laser down range. We will assume we are using a quality modern rangefinder that emits a pulse of laser beams.
We will also assume a commercial rangefinder as professional or military rangefinders may work with an entirely different technology. Most commercial rangefinders use ‘Time in Flight’ to calculate range. The longer the beam takes, the farther away it is.
FROM THE UNIT TO THE TARGET
While it’s easy to assume the laser will fly perfectly straight, that would be incorrect. There are several factors that can affect the way the beam travels.
The most devastating of those would be anything between you and your target. This could be anything from leaves, weeds, brush, or any other visible barrier. It could also be water vapor, dust particles, smoke or other things that you can’t see with the naked eye.
The second factor is vibration of the unit either by shaking of the hand, your pulse, or anything in the environment around you that is emitting sound. Generally, the amount of deflection caused by these are very small.
The fact that our example rangefinder emits a pulse is a bonus, even with some of the light being deflected, a few will hit our target a thousand yards down range and begin their return journey. Since light could travel around the earth 7 ½ times in one second, the amount of time this took is incalculably small.
Speaking of incalculably small, most of the deflections you will experience could be fractions of a millimeter over 1000 yards. Just a point to keep in mind.
FROM THE TARGET TO THE RECEIVER
Since we have a laser pulse and some of the light was deflected away from the target or was interrupted and reflected back before hitting the target, we will get different results back from each beam of that pulse that hits our receiver.
All of the same factors that affect the beam on its way to the target will also affect its return trip. Additionally, the angle of the surface and how reflective it is will affect the return of the light. A target that is less reflective will return a weaker signal. A target that is angled will send the beam off at a different angle. The pulse may have sent out hundreds of small beams. Some of them will hit the receiver.
CALCULATING THE RESULTS
This will be a very simplified explanation of the way calculations occur. There are a variety of methods used to calculate results and many companies have a variety of different ways of handling those results. Understanding every possible method would be a massive undertaking.
In short, the computer will look for trends in the results to try to determine what reflected values came from your target and what ones can be discarded as errant beams. The predominant two methods used in a pulse rangefinder are clusters and spikes.
A cluster reading will look for the most returned beams in very close range to each other to try to identify what you were pointing the rangefinder at. If you range a target and the rangefinder gets 7 readings back that are very close together, it may assume that is the target. Sometimes this can be the most accurate, especially at closer ranges.
Spikes are measured by the number of returned values at the same range. If you were to get back 6 readings that were in the same range or VERY close to the same range, it would be a spike. At longer ranges or when there are a lot of various surfaces throwing off beams, this is typically more accurate.
Some of the most advanced units may use both methods and even some proprietary methods between. When the calculations are complete, the range to the target will be displayed. Considering the speed of light and the speed of modern processors, the time elapsed should still be well under a second.
While this is a very simplified explanation it should be sufficient to allow you to become more proficient with a rangefinder. Understanding the mechanics of a laser, the limitations of the receiver, and the incredible complexity of the calculations would take a book or more. Things have come a long way since those early models.
This explanation leaves out some of the finer details of rangefinders used in hunting which may have additional calculations to help you with a rifle or bow. If you want to know more about hunting rangefinders, check out our article here.
The important points to take away from this are:
- Time in Flight = Distance
- Rangefinders use a pulse and not a single beam
- Any obstruction from leaves to water vapor cause issues
- The computer is smart enough to get around most issues with obstruction
To avoid most issues with a rangefinder, buy a high-quality unit, use a tripod, and practice like you would with anything else. Head to the firing range and use pre-marked targets with known range to make sure you are getting a good reading.
If you are a serious hunter, it's pretty likely that you already own a rangefinder. If not, I am sure you have considered one at least once and need to go ahead and bite the bullet. Having and knowing how to use a rangefinder will be one of the biggest steps you take to increase your odds.
In hunting, there are a lot of things that have to come together to get that perfect shot. There is a lot of timing, luck, and preparation involved. You have put a lot of effort and money toward having that opportunity. We owe it to ourselves not to miss because we failed to accurately account for range.
With any new device, this starts with understanding how it works and its limitations.
At its most basic level, a rangefinder is simply a laser, a light meter, and a clock. When you shine the laser at an object, a part of the beam will bounce back and register with the light meter. The time it takes to make its round trip is measured by the clock and can be used to accurately estimate the distance between you and the target.
All things reflect light, it's just a matter of how much so anything you shine the laser on will reflect it back. Some objects, like harder objects, will return a more powerful beam where softer objects tend to diffuse the beams more.
A rock will return a sold beam and therefore can be ranged accurately farther away. A deer is soft and its fur will diffuse the laser light and the reading may not be as accurate, depending on the distance. While many rangefinders boast of ranges near or over a thousand yards, they may not be effective against an animal that far, the best ones at maybe half that distance.
Understanding those limitations, we can then look at best practices.
This section is what I would call basic operations of a rangefinder. How I use one from the time I identify my hunting location all the way up to the time I take my shot. Accurately planning and practicing these steps will help you get the most out of the investment you made in your rangefinder.
CARRY IT SCOUTING
Always carry your rangefinder when you go into the woods. If are a rifle hunter, being able to gauge ground distance to locations that show deer activity gives a good idea of where we can set up our blind or hide. At this point, I don’t need to be dead on accurate, I just need to know the difference between 150 yards and 300 yards.
For a bowhunter, knowing the distance from the base of the tree you may use to locations where deer sightings are likely will help you assess how good your location is or if you would benefit from moving your stand to a different tree. Either hunter can use the rangefinder to effectively locate where he will hunt from.
ON THE HUNT
Once the season starts and you are in the woods for real, range early and often. You don’t have to have an animal in front of you. It's good to know the location of ‘landmarks’ in your hunting area. This can help you decide what shot to take and when to wait a little longer.
For a bowhunter, get points on trees around your area that are in locations you could take a clean shot. Sometimes a deer won’t stop and wait for you to get a bead on him and KNOWING, not guessing, the rage to his location could be the difference in a kill and a missed opportunity.
Similarly, with a rifle, I want to take notes on landmarks around where I hunt. I don’t restrict myself to areas that I think are likely for deer but any location around that I might be able to make a clean shot. Deer don’t follow plans and may pop up where you don’t expect them.
As a rifle hunter, you usually have more time to make your shot so don’t rush it. You may know the distance to the wood line but it pays to get a second reading to make sure, especially if you are an extreme range hunter.
DEER IN SIGHT
When you actually have an animal that you can get a shot at or that will likely move to a position where you can get that shot, the rangefinder will really pay for itself. The key here is slow, steady movements to not alert the animal, this is especially true for bow hunters.
Having a rangefinder with scan mode really shines if you are tracking an animal and waiting for him to get in a good position. With a bow, I don’t like to be ranging when he stops in a clearing. By that time, I want to have my bow drawn and ready.
I range as the animal moves and stop a few yards before I would want to shoot. If I ranged my area well, I should have a solid number in my head for that range.
If you have the time or it’s a farther rifle shot, don’t settle on just ranging the animal, remember they don’t read as well on a rangefinder as hard targets. Range the tree or rock he is near. Anything you can to get a more solid range. If you are out at 300 yards, the difference between a hit and a miss can be very small.
Remember, slow and steady. You want your movements so clean and silent that your prey never knows you are there.
THREE PIECES OF ADVICE
- Get the best one you can afford. Buy once, cry once
The differences between a good range finder and a bad one are huge, don’t make that mistake.
- Get a rangefinder suited to your chosen hunting tool
One for either bow or rifle will have features better suited to that tool, you may not think you need them now but it’s better to have them up front than to pay for them twice.
- Buy more than you need
Because of the limitations on range, get a rangefinder that has the longest range you can afford. Very few people hunt at 1000+ yards but a rangefinder that will read well past that will likely be more accurate at shorter ranges than one that is near its limits.
For general shooting, hunting, and some long-range shooting, our top pick is Leupold RX-1600i. I hope now you have eight new rangefinders to choose from depending on your budget, hunting needs, and professional level.
If you need a rangefinder for hunting, you know the best to choose, and if it is for long-range shooting, you clearly have a choice. I will choose the Leupold RX-1600i for the reasons mentioned above. I hope this article was helpful in your purchasing decision for a rangefinder. Let me know your choice in the comment section below and go ahead to make your purchase.