If you’re an avid hunter, you might be in the market for a new rangefinder. If you’re new to hunting, or just need an extra boost, a rangefinder could be your new best friend. Maybe you already have a rifle-mounted scope, but want to take your hunts to the next level and are looking for a scope with a built-in rangefinder. With a number of models that will fit most budgets, you should be able to find the perfect rangefinder to meet your needs once you understand how they work and what separates one model from the next.
Rangefinders generally have advertised ranges of 500 to 1,500 feet. As you might expect, the longer range models typically cost more than the shorter range versions. The range you’ll need will depend on what type of hunting you do. No need to pay extra for a longer range if you don’t need that kind of distance.
When looking for a distance that suits you, don’t make the mistake of thinking that all models will work equally well at their max ranges. Be sure to look at each model’s accuracy, too. Some models, especially longer-range ones, are actually only guaranteed accurate to about 2/3 of their advertised distance. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to see a target at max distance, but it does mean that readings you get will be less accurate the farther away your target is. It really doesn’t make a lot of sense to pay more for a longer range if lesser accuracy means you really don’t stand a better chance of hitting your target.
Another major factor to consider is a rangefinder clarity. Some models offer a clearer view than others. Being able to rely on your rangefinder to accurately tell you the distance between you and your target is great, but being able to see your target with the greatest clarity is even better.
Next, be sure to find a rangefinder that will be able to adequately handle your lighting situations. Some models work better in bright sunlight, whiteout-type conditions, low light (such as at dusk or dawn), or darkness. Higher-quality versions will be able to handle multiple ambient light levels well. Again, you’ll need to decide whether your hunting trips require a more expensive model that will work well in any light.
Rangefinders come in a number of different sizes and weights. Some larger ones require a tripod, which isn’t convenient for many. While other larger models might seem to be too bulky or cumbersome at first glance, a model that’s too small can be just as tedious. If you do much hunting in cold weather, with or without gloves on, fishing a too-small rangefinder out of a pocket or gear bag can be difficult. Some rangefinders are combined with scopes that can be mounted to your rifle. Just be sure to look for a combo that will work with your gun. Some rangefinder/scopes come with mounting kits, but others do not. If you don’t feel comfortable mounting the scope yourself, you can find a local gunsmith who’ll do it for you.
Aside from the basic functions that all rangefinders have, there are some that offer additional features. Since you’re often higher or lower than your intended target, you might consider a rangefinder that can calculate and compensate for the angle (also called slope) between you and your prey. Additionally, some models are able to make adjustments based on wind direction and speed. Another feature that many hunters find useful is ballistics compensation. You input basic info about your ammo, and the rangefinder uses that info to adjust calculations, giving you an even better chance at lining up the perfect shot. If you know you’ll be doing a good deal of hunting in rain or snow, be sure to look for a model that is waterproof, or at least water resistant.
Finding the right rangefinder can definitely help make your next hunting expedition the best one yet!
To help you find the best model to meet your needs, check out best rangefinder for hunting to see reviews, comparisons, and pros and cons of several top models.