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Nikon has had a reputation for quality optics at fair prices for decades. Their Monarch series alone has sold thousands of scopes. When you combine good glass with full featured optics and offer them for sometimes as little as half what the competitors do, you are sure to be a favorite. The Arrow ID series does with rangefinders what the Monarch series did for rifle scopes.
All of Nikon’s rangefinders start with the solid foundation great optical quality. While there are companies that have glass that has more clarity or use coatings to improve light transfer, none provide that glass at the cost of a Nikon. There is no company that produces glass like the Arrow ID for anywhere near the price. While it isn’t the best it is very, very good.
The field of view is uncluttered with a clean look that makes ranging targets easy. There are no crazy numbers or settings to mess with. Its just a pure rangefinder that doesn’t fill your view with a mess that you don’t need anyway. This makes ranging so much easier than more complicated units.
The laser is a standard class 1 laser that does its job well. The receiver does a good job of picking up the reflections and making the necessary calculations. Once again, there is no mess. The whole process is quick to get you on your target as fast as possible. There is little worse than waiting for advanced calculations when you really don’t need them.
As far as assistance to the bow hunter, there are a few features on the Arrow ID that will help you out. The most notable is the ability to calculate slope and give you a shoot for distance rather than just the true range to the target. It also has Nikon’s True Target system that allows you to range through light brush and tall grass without getting the wrong range.
All of this is crammed into a unit weighing less than a pound that is water resistant and rainproof. Nikon has done a stellar job on this rangefinder. It stands up to units that cost more while being priced closer to many of those no-name units that have no durability.
What does it do?
As with all optics you really have to start with the glass. If you don’t have good glass you can’t see well enough to be sure you are even ranging the right target. The Arrow ID excels in the optics department with glass that is very clear and doesn’t suffer from issues with glare or mirage. You really should expect nothing less from Nikon, they have been doing this for decades.
For this particular rangefinder I have to give the next high point to the size and weight. I like to travel light and having something that weighs just a few ounces and fits in a jacket pocket is a true virtue. Especially when this weight doesn’t take away from the durability or function of the device. There are a few lighter rangefinders out there but they tend to cost quite a bit more.
I am also a big fan of how easy this rangefinder is to use. It has two buttons and that’s it. Sure, this limits the features but I am not interested in doing a lot more than ranging. One button fires the laser to give you your target range, be that straight line distance or angle compensated. The second button switches between the modes of the True Target system, allowing you to range first or last distance to targets.
That leads nicely into features. I do like having the True Target system. If you are a stand hunter, it can get really bad if your rangefinder can’t pick up anything but errant brush and limbs. This is a big problem with cheaper rangefinders and it’s nice that Nikon has given us a way around it. The stand hunter will also benefit from the angle compensated distance. If you have never practiced shots from your stand, it can be a huge challenge to overcome when your real shot pops up.
Since this is a tool meant to be used in the field it has to be able to handle field conditions. It doesn’t have the rubberized armor that many rangefinders do that prevent damage from light impacts but it does have weather protection. Being rainproof and at least water resistant is a must for a hunter that never knows if he will be out in the rain, snow, or just fog. Any of those can cause issues with sensitive gear.
I really think that Nikon has come up with a winning recipe for a budget rangefinder.
What doesn’t it do?
This isn’t a full featured unit so it doesn’t have the fine calculations that many long range hunters use. For what it is, it doesn’t need them. If you are the tech savvy type that wants all the bells and whistles, you could spend a bit more and get something better suited to your style of hunting. For a bowhunter, you don’t often need those features.
As you may have guessed, this is intended as a bow specific rangefinder. It will work well for rifle at close range if you don’t count on the ballistic calculations that often come with higher end rangefinders. It also doesn’t have the best range for longer rifle shots. There are a ton of rangefinders better suited for guns but if you hunt bows, this rangefinder should do about everything you need.
The Final Word
Ease of Use
I have been a fan of Nikon optics for a very long time. I am happy that that this rangefinder lives up to the expectations of those that have been lifelong Nikon users. In a market with a ton of different options, Nikon has really kept pace and done so with a rangefinder that is budget conscious and still very usable for the modern hunter.
This is a simple rangefinder that doesn’t do a lot or need to do a lot. It can get by with a few features that are at the core of what a bowhunter needs. Don’t load it down with crap just because you can, keep it usable and bare bones to do what counts in the field. This may not be the best rangefinder you can get but dollar for dollar, I would pick it over many of the other options.