Finding the best hunting rangefinder might not be the easiest task with so many options to choose from. This is why you will be smart to choose a model which is right for you. As you may already know, not all rangefinders are made the same. As any electronic device, you can start with an entry-level option and move up to the high-end rangefinders which are packed with features.
What is a hunting rangefinder?
A hunting rangefinder`s main purpose is to measure the distance to your subject or subjects. This objective also comes with additional features which may be found in some premium designs. You will notice that the basic rangefinders usually only offer distance readings without any advanced features such as the Scan Mode for multiple simultaneous readings.
A hunting rangefinder might be used to locate and measure the distance to multiple animals such as deer. Many rangefinders can even measure the distance to multiple subjects which is why you will see the advanced users looking for these models as they are able to offer a clear picture of the surroundings.
Who can use a rangefinder?
This is one of the popular questions with new hunters or with users that have eye problems and need contact lenses or glasses. The good news is that rangefinders came a long way and can now be used be an increased group of people. This means that most hunters will be able to use the devices and even those which are not technically inclined.
This is possible through one-button designs which are easy to operate and can be user-friendly. People with eye conditions also don`t need to worry too much. This is due to the fact that many manufacturers offer diopter adjustments which will prove very comfortable in these situations. Eye-relief designs are another great alternative for people who wear glasses. There are thus an increasing number of people who will use these devices.
How long does a rangefinder last?
The rangefinder can last for years. Many manufacturers offer extended warranty and rainproof designs which will ensure the device will work in any weather conditions. In terms of actual battery life, this will depend on the quality of the battery and on the features the rangefinder comes with. This means that the more advanced features you will have the more battery power will be required. This means that the rangefinder will perform to its fullest potential with a quality battery.
What to look for in a rangefinder?
When you are looking to buy your first rangefinder you might feel confused by all the features you may find with modern designs. It is always a good idea to start with the basic features like range and then go up to the advanced software features to ease your choice. The most popular features include:
- Viewfinder display metrics
- Scan Mode
- Multiple targets measurements
- Vibration reduction
- Rainproof construction
- Battery life
- Shot suggestions
Range is one of the most important features of a rangefinder. It will dictate the results you can expect and the good news is that it has the ability to set a high standard which will be one of the main marketed features. This is why many manufacturers start their advertisements mentioning the range as this is one of the most important features hunters look for. Actually, even if a device comes with many advanced features, if the range is not up to what the users expect it can permanently influence the purchasing decision.
The range of a modern device starts at around the 400 yards mark and can go up to or higher than 1500 yards. This doesn`t mean that the higher the range the better suited the device will be for you. This will only mean that you will need to realistically establish what range you need. This can also save you money. For example, if you hunt in a dense forest with no clearing, it could be a good idea to purchase a rangefinder with a shorter range. If you are hunting in large open space, choosing a long-range device becomes crucial. This is due to the fact that not only will you need to cover a larger distance but you will also need to maintain good camouflage while hunting and getting too close can hinder this.
You will also want to consider the range in strict connection to accuracy. This topic is not discussed enough in the hunting community but it plays a crucial role in your experience. In order to understand this connection you will need to see that accuracy plays an important role, especially with long-range devices where an added extra yard can lead to a totally missed shot. Usually, accuracy varies between 1 and 3 yards with most rangefinders.
But you will be able to find device which can even go below the 1 yard mark for accuracy. It will all depend on your needs and how you interpret the long-range results. Accuracy can, in certain situations, become less important with shorter ranges where you can compensate with your weapon of choice. However, since you don`t want to replace you rangefinder every other year as you improve your skills, it might be a good idea to get the best solution in terms of range and accuracy.
Viewfinder Display Metrics
This small characteristic can make a huge impact on your predictability and on how you will use the rangefinder. This feature usually comes in yard readings and you should avoid those in meters, especially if you live in the US where you might not be used to these types of readings. Some products only offer readings in meters which cannot be used to their fullest potential by a hunter who`s always estimated distances in yards. However, you will be able to find rangefinders which combine both the metric and the imperial readings which can represent a great choice if you decide to share the rangefinder with your friends or if you decide to travel abroad.
The weight of a rangefinder plays an important role which will establish the usability of the device. If you plan to purchase a rangefinder you may not consider the weight as an important characteristic. But dedicated hunters who use such devices for hours and hours can tell you that weight does play an important role which is why you will have to find the perfect combination of performance, build quality and weight. Usually, sealed products or those which come with a metal housing will be heavier.
This is why many manufacturers prefer to stay away from heavy materials and use lightweight plastic solutions instead. If you are unsure on which type of device to choose you will have to compare a few products` weights before making a final decision. The good news is that if you really like a certain model and you mind its heavier weight you can use a strap to take some of that weight from your hands. The good news is that there are some ways you can work with heavier weight. And as with all rangefinders, if you lose some versatility on weight you will probably get a better build quality which is made for the long-term use.
The display has an important role in the way the user interacts with the rangefinder. This is why it is important to consider some new technologies which are easier on the eyes and which are made for clear and crisp readings.
LCD displays are very popular with modern rangefinders. But you will also be able to find OLED display which is also easier on the eyes. Some rangefinders even combine internal and external LCD display. But why would you want such a rangefinder? This has to do with the space capacity to show complete readings and data interpretation. While external LCD displays are harder to find, they still represent a good option for users who need the extra versatility and who appreciate complete readings which come with some advanced features.
The days of straight measurements are long gone. Modern rangefinders come with height, angle and vertical separation. You will thus be able to measure the distance between two heights or two targets. These additional measurements can be used in highly challenging terrains and can be a great addition to any top rangefinder.
Angle compensation seems to be the biggest measurement influencer on the market. Its ability to work with uneven terrains can actually bring you the real distance to your subject. This feature is so popular that it is applied to other uses of rangefinders as well. Not all rangefinders come with all this feature and you will need to establish if you need it by assessing the terrains you are going to use the device on. If you will need the feature, then you will have to look for a design which is capable of angle compensation. You will soon find out that the feature has many names as every manufacturer comes with an own approach. But the good news is that all the features will be listed in the product description and you will be able to find out if it is built-in with the rangefinder.
One of the most interesting features comes with the Scan Mode. This function is adopted by all manufacturers and it has been implemented in the top of the range products. This means that you will be able to use the function to measure the distance to multiple targets. This feature will function differently with every manufacturer. This is why it is important to find the right solution for you. The good news is that you can quickly establish which Scan Mode is right for you. With so many products on the market, the actual time to complete a reading can vary greatly. This can be frustrating when out in the wilderness and this is why it is important to find a Scan Mode which works fast. Of course, this is if you value the function above everything else as you might be losing on other features if you focus on this mode excessively.
Multiple targets measurement
This function is not yet standard with many rangefinders. This is why you will need to ensure you find in listed in the product description if you value its ability to give you the distance to multiple targets. Unlike the Scan Mode which can actually measure multiple subjects, the multiple targets measurements need to work with overlapping subjects as well. This is why it is important to find the best rangefinder which can clearly distinguish between these subjects.
The good news is that the technology has actually evolved and there is an increasing number of such rangefinders. It will also be worth to consider that these devices will prove useful in certain specific situations. For example, when making readings against dense backgrounds with plenty of trees and vegetation while out hunting, you will find that some device will struggle to clearly identify each subject. If this is your case, you will want to look for a device which comes with this feature.
Vibration reduction is one of the characteristics which not many manufacturers talk about. This is because not all products come with this feature and at the same time, many rangefinders that include it just don`t deliver a good result.
There are a very limited number of manufacturers which offer good optic stabilization which is able to improve the sharpness of the results. You will want to find a good solution to your rangefinder`s needs especially if you are looking for a device which covers impressive distances. Long range device usually have a difficult time reducing the vibrations to an acceptable level. This is why you should consider this feature as a priority if you are looking for a long range device.
The operation of the rangefinder is an interesting design characteristic of user experience. Although many devices now come with a single-button operation there are some rangefinders which come with complex designs. But which one is right for you? This is where you will need to establish your needs beyond the obvious characteristics. Usually, one-button operation rangefinders are preferred by most users, even by professionals. This is due to the fact that they are so easy to use while out in the wild and they can be operated with a single hand.
Another design characteristic which is often overlooked comes with the size of the rangefinder. This is where you can find all types of designs made for all types of situations. If you have smaller hands, a compact design might suit you better, especially if you plan to use it extensively.
But the size of the rangefinder can also be influenced by the chosen materials and the protection which come with the device. Thus, a rangefinder which comes with an extra rubberized layer to minimize slippage will be bigger and it may thus be more difficult to fit into a pocket. The good news is that there are solutions even for these larger designs. You may even receive a strap or a case to use with your rangefinder and this is why it is important to find the best solution for your own needs as not all users will agree on the best size of a rangefinder.
It must be said that not all users need a rainproof construction. While you might be wondering if you will need this feature, it will be up to you to decide if you will be really hunting in the rain. This is where you can find that many hunters don`t actually need the feature and might end up paying more for a rangefinder which will not be used at its maximum potential.
But the rangefinder will also work for a number of occasions which will prove to be the difference between a good device and a premium device. This is why so many hunters look for at least a rainproof design which can save the device from moisture with proper sealing. If you are truly looking for a durable design which is easy to maintain and which will not fog on the inside of the device and which will not stop at the first sight of rain, then one of the rainproof options becomes mandatory. You may even find that these designs will also work great for traveling hunters which will encounter a number of weather conditions and situations which will require the most durable rangefinders.
Batteries become increasingly important with modern devices which always use more and more power. This is needed to power the advanced software features of the rangefinders and this is why it will be important to always carry good batteries with you. Most rangefinders come with included Li-Ion batteries in the pack and this is why it will be important to consider these rangefinders simply because the manufacturer understands what it takes to power their device. But battery life will be significantly influenced by the features and equipment which comes with the rangefinder.
Thus, you will start to notice that the biggest influencers of battery life are the display, the laser and the San Mode which works for a few seconds to make complete readings on the surrounding area. This is why it can be a good tip to avoid some models which come with multiple displays if you fear battery life. Some other tips might include limiting the use of the Scan Mode which will drain the battery faster. But usually speaking, you should be able to get a use of at least a few hours with a single battery. This is why using quality batteries is important to power such complex devices.
This advanced feature is not easy to find on most rangefinders. This is why you might struggle to find the best solution for your shot indications. But when can you use the feature and is it for everybody? You will need to know that the feature may be a great addition for bow hunting. Since you will need to stay clear from vegetation such as branches, this feature has the capability of indicating the timing of the shot and it you are clear to perform an unobstructed shot. This advanced feature will work to establish some of the most interesting approaches to modern rangefinders. It may also be an indication of what the future holds for hunters. Since the feature is not widely used at the moment, it may be a good solution to look for it if you are trying to future-proof your device.
The last characteristic you need to worry about comes with a design. The good news is that this is not as important as many people think it is. Surprisingly, many hunters actually start from this characteristic. And although it is important to a certain degree as it can improve your hunting motivation and experience, it is not nearly as important as some other features. Modern designs come with a rugged look or a futuristic approach which will largely be influenced by the chose materials. The good news is that most rangefinders are low profile and can be used to improve camouflage. Some futuristic models don`t rely on this fact too much and can be a staple to the manufacturer`s series and how other products look like. Every manufacturer is different and this is why you will need to find a device which will work for you and for your hunting equipment.
Choosing a hunting rangefinder can be complicated if you don`t know what to look for. The good news is that you will be able to find most or all of these features in some premium rangefinders. Even more, you will be able to consider these features as a good starting point as there are other functionalities which might come with modern rangefinders. And since it will make a huge difference in terms of usability and durability, you should choose a device which is capable to serve your needs in the present and even a few years from now when new technologies might make your device look outdated.