5 Best Rangefinders for Hunting



The importance of rangefinders to seasoned hunters can never be understated. It doesn’t matter if you hunt with a bow or a rifle — you need a rangefinder to be good at hunting. I usually don’t go out hunting without my rangefinder, it has become a habit. I always like how the little mate hugs my chest out there in the fields and how its rope rests comfortably around my neck.

Apart from boosting my morale, the little device accurately measures the distance between me, the hunter and my prey, say a deer. How? The working mechanism is quite simple.

Most rangefinders calculate the distance between hunter and prey by sending a beam to the prey at the push of a button. This beam is bounced off the prey and then an internal clock measures the time for the whole process to happen. Then the distance is calculated and displayed in yards/meters on the internal screen of the device — all in the matter of a fraction of a second.

best rangefinders for hunting

Why is a rangefinder necessary for hunting?

Rangefinders used to be expensive but nowadays there are affordable ones all around. That’s probably one of the reasons it has become an indispensable companion to contemporary hunters and marksmen. Nevertheless, there are other reasons to get one. They are:

  • It eliminates guesswork. Good marksmen always want to get the prey with one clean shot, no misses. A rangefinder helps with that.
  • It helps one to get closer to your prey without being detected. Certain animals will hear a twig break under your feet when you’re close enough, and speed off in panic. Good luck finding that deer again. With a rangefinder, this risk is minimized.
  • Rangefinders help with scouting. You might want to do a little landscaping before hunting to note the location of your prey and how far you can be from them. A rangefinder comes in handy at this moment.
  • Practice makes perfect. By using a rangefinder frequently, your estimating skill improves. In time you’ll only need the little mate for confirmation.
  • It helps you to avoid shooting something else. Nowadays, there are innovative rangefinder technologies that can tell if you’ll hit your target or something else. A rock or branch might be in the way of your line of shot.
  • A rangefinder is affordable and easy to carry around.

Hunting rangefinders: Things to consider before buying

There are many rangefinders on the market nowadays and they differ from each other in many ways. Here are a few things you should consider before buying a particular one:

  • Range: What is its range? Rangefinders have different ranges for different objects. What range is comfortable with you? Rifle hunters tend to use rangefinders that can measure long distances than their bow counterparts.
  • Lens: This is quite important. Does the lens allow enough light to enter the eye? Does the lens provide good visibility?
  • Tech: You also have to check if the device sports a tech or mode that specially aids hunting. Does it provide continuous ranging or tell if your shot will actually hit the target?
  • Zoom: What is its magnifying power?
  • Battery type: What type of battery does it use? Rangefinders usually use 3 volt CR2 lithium ion batters which may not last as long as you’d want it to. You also have to think about how readily available these batteries are.
  • Cost: How much does it cost? Although rangefinders are quite affordable, some are more affordable than others. How much is your budget? You’d do well to spend a little bit more cash to get a rangefinder that meets your needs than to settle for something inferior and regret it later.

Best rangefinders for hunting: Our top 5 picks

Due to the increasing demand for rangefinders, new brands and models spring up by the day. This explains why making the right choice can be difficult.

But we’ve made things much easier for you. We scoured the online marketplaces for the rangefinders available and we compared those that are suitable for hunting based on the criteria discussed earlier. And here are the best five options you’ll find in the market at the moment.

1. Nikon 8397 ACULON AL11 Laser Rangefinder

It’s not surprising that one of the top rangefinders out there is manufactured by Nikon. They’re veterans!

The Nikon 8397 ACULON AL11 Laser Rangefinder is your basic rangefinder; sturdy, efficient, and handy. It fits snugly in the palm of the hand, measuring 3.6 x 2.9 x 1.5 inches. You can easily put it around your neck or slid it into your pocket. Due to its portability and lightness, it is very suitable for bow hunters.

It also has a smart tech design. It powers down after 8 seconds of inactivity and when you hold the ranging button down, gives you a continuous measurement of up to 20 seconds. Scouting is great this way.

Then lens on the device is engineered using Nikon’s multilayer coated optics and can magnify images up to 6 times. Hence, the visibility is great.  It delivers accurate readings from between 6 to 550 yards with the measurements displayed in 1 yard/meter increments and is powered by a CR2 battery.  You’ll get it for less than 150 bucks.

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What we like about it

  • Multilayer coated optics which is responsible for its fantastic visibility.
  • Ultra-compact size
  • Rainproof/water resistant
  • High magnification capabilities

What we don’t like about it

  • Low battery power. The CR2 battery isn’t strong enough to power the device for as long as you’d want.
  • It doesn’t display slope, angle and horizontal distance like some other rangefinders.

>>> Check Price on Amazon.com

2. Bushnell 202442 ARC 4x20mm Bowhunting Laser Rangefinder with Clear Shot

The Bushnell 202442 ARC 4x20mm Bowhunting Laser Rangefinder with Clear Shot comes with a pack of goodies. Light and compact, it comes with a Clearshot technology that provides instant feedback on your shot clearance for distances from 7 to 199 yards as well as the angle at which you’re taking the shot.

The lens provides 4X magnification and can range objects as far as 850 yards out.  It works with 3V CR123 batteries. It’s a little bit pricey though- it goes for a bit under 200 bucks.

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What we like about it

  • It is tailored for bow hunters. It has a bow mode which provides true horizontal distance from 5 to 99 yards.
  • Bulletproof
  • Waterproof

What we don’t like about it

  • It doesn’t spot targets easily
  • The visibility could be improved on. You may have difficulties seeing the numbers in low light conditions.

>>> Check Price on Amazon.com

3. Leupold 120464 RX-650 Micro Laser Rangefinder

The Leupold 120464 RX-650 Micro Laser Rangefinder is a classy rangefinder that sports a simple design. It costs the most out of the 5 rangefinders in this review, going for over 200 bucks.

The petite device is designed in such a way that the rubber grip allows you to hold it firmly in all weather conditions.

It doesn’t have an angular field of view but this is doesn’t limit it in any way. Equipped with a 6x magnification, the multicoated optics can range animals as far as 575 yards out. The maximum distance it can measure correctly is 650 yards although it has been touted to range objects 900 yards out, depending on the object’s reflectivity.

It has a scan mode which continuously ranges objects. You can use this to scout your surroundings. Finally, it works with a CR2 lithium ion battery.

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What we like about it

  • It has a great grip.
  • Simple and easy to use
  • It is lightweight and has very good visibility (a high contrast LCD display).

What we don’t like about it

  • It doesn’t display ranges in 1 foot increments

>>> Check Price on Amazon.com

4. Wildgame Innovations Halo XRT Laser Rangefinder

The Wildgame Innovations Halo XRT Laser Rangefinder is very appealing to the eyes. It is covered with rubber all around with dots around the grip so you can handle it firmly in all kinds of weathers. It’s a bit bigger than other rangefinders though, standing almost 5 inches tall.

Nevertheless, it offers good value for money. There is an anti-fog coating on the lens which allows for use in foggy weathers. It can measure distance up to 500 yards accurately with a 6x magnification capability.

It also comes with a scan mode, which helps when scouting. Like the previous rangefinders, you’ll need a CR2 battery to power it.

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What we like about it

  • It has a fantastic design which gives it its firm grip
  • It is water resistant
  • You can switch between meters and yards with one click
  • You can use it in foggy weather conditions

What we don’t like about it

  • Visibility in low light conditions is poor
  • It doesn’t provide slope measurements

>>> Check Price on Amazon.com

5. Simmons 801405 Rangefinder 4x20LRF 600

The Simmons 801405 Rangefinder 4x20LRF 600 is one of the most affordable rangefinders around, going for less than a hundred bucks in most stores.

The 3 inch tall mate is a great hunting companion, providing horizontal distance measurements at the push of a button (via its TILT technology). It is also weather-resistant and runs on one 9 volts battery which means it lasts longer than most rangefinders.

The lens ranges accurately to animals as far as 200 yards away and trees as far as 400 yards away. Reflective objects as far as 600 yards away can also be ranged with the Simmons 801405 Rangefinder 4x20LRF 600.

Furthermore it provides an optical 4x magnification with a bright liquid crystal display.

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What we like about it

  • It is cheap
  • It works with a 9 volts battery
  • Small and lightweight

What we don’t like about it

  • It is not rain or water proof

>>> Check Price on Amazon.com


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