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Laser rangefinders are indispensable for the modern hunter.
Not only can they help you find the distance between you and your target, modern ones can provide information such as target speed and direction.
Since there are many products on the market today, and many of them are low quality, we put together a list of reliable rangefinders.
Vortex Optics Ranger Laser Rangefinder
Vortex—they’re the masters of optics, and they just always have to outdo themselves. With this laser rangefinder, you’re granted over a mile of distance to pinpoint thanks to their powerful laser sighting system.
The lens is like the key to the lock. If you don’t have a good lens with protection, you can’t really use the rest of the unit. Thankfully, Vortex and their proprietary lens coating come to the rescue to keep this waterproof and fogproof, so you never have to worry about the elements ruining your hunting gear.
Snap on the LOS mode to accurately detect and calculate long distances, so you know how far to set your sight. If the elk in your crosshair is 500 yards away, you need that accurate information quickly so you can adjust your scope accordingly.
Includes in your purchase, you get a neck lanyard as well as a utility clip to keep it handy on your hunting backpack. The compact size and simple operation is excellent, but oddly enough, it’s a bit tricky to mount to a tripod, so keep that in mind.
- Multi coated lenses protect against water and fog damage
- 1,800 yards of distance—over a full mile away
- LOS mode for accurate long distance calculations
Sig Sauer 4x20 KILO1200 Laser Rangefinder
One of the big things that you need in a rangefinder is optical zoom. If you can’t zoom in properly, then how can you expect to accurately find the range of your target? Sig wanted to solve that problem, which is why they developed Lightwave DPS technology.
This allows you to zoom in up to four magnification levels per second, so you don’t miss those precious slivers of time before your prey decides to move on.
On top of that, this rangefinder gives you visibility up to 1,600 yards. Not as much as Vortex, but that’s still nearly a full mile away, and shooting anything around that distance is already going to prove to be tricky. It’s more than you’ll likely need.
Sig included a ballistic nylon case and a lens cap with the model I got, though I’ve seen that some buyers didn’t receive them. One quick email to Sig and it’s taken care of. Their customer service and warranty fulfilment are just more reasons to give them a shot.
- Lightwave DPS scan moves 4x magnification levels per second
- Visible up to 1,600 yards
- Includes ballistic nylon case and lens cap
TecTecTec ProWild Hunting Rangefinder
In all of the rangefinders that I tested, few were able to give information through the sight, and do it accurately without cluttering up your hud. TecTecTec displays everything through the lens, so you’ll be able to get real-time intel and make callouts to your hunting buddies in record time.
Their pricing had me a little concerned with all their claims, so I put it to the test. The waterproofing and fogproof lens works as advertised, but the total distance wasn’t what I was hoping for. This is accurate within one yard, but the maximum range is about 540 yards on average.
That’s good enough for most scenarios, but if you regularly hunt in a wide open space where prey will graze often, it might not be enough for those long-range shots.
On top of that, they also give you a two-year warranty that protects you from manufacturing defects. If that’s not enough, there’s also a thirty-day money-back guarantee to redeem. It should be noted that the thirty-day enacts the minute you purchase it, not when you receive it.
- Accurate within one yard
- Easy-to-read lens display gives you immediate intel
- Water resistant case and fogproof lens
Wosports Hunting Range Finder
Wosports actually advertises this as a golf rangefinder, but I’ll let you in on a secret: they all work the exact same. The only difference here is that they’re not rated for as long a distance as hunters sometimes need.
That, and you’ll have a flag pole locking feature that you don’t need to worry about. Thankfully, it can be disabled. You get everything fed to you on an LCD screen instead of through the lens, so you can share information with other hunters without having to call it out and startle your prey.
650 yards is what you would expect for this price range, so I can’t fault them for that. Overall, the design is fairly sturdy, but the rubber grips on the top and bottom feel a bit cheap. I would keep an eye on those throughout use.
They might not hold up to the rain, but the lens and remaining case will resist light rain and fog. That being said, since this is designed for golf over hunting, I wouldn’t bring this out on days with heavy rain if you can avoid it.
- Visible up to 650 yards
- Rainproof and fogproof lens
- LCD data display
AOFAR Hunting Archery Range Finder
AOFAR is arguably best budget brand of optics, and in this instance, their rangefinder really blew my expectations out of the water. The price is right, the size is compact, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
They have a four-way scan mode that allows you to find the average of a distance rather than just the pinpoint spot where the laser lands. At rangefinding, it provides a wider scope so you don’t have to manually check half-a-dozen spots before being happy with the results.
As with any optics, protection is required. AOFAR includes a coating on these lenses to grant them full waterproofing and fog proofing, so you won’t be left wondering if the conditions are too bad to go out in—you’re covered in all scenarios.
Distance is half the game. Anything over 300 yards is usually insanely difficult for the naked eye to differentiate. At some point, everything just looks far, and numbers escape you. AOFAR gives you up to 1,800 yards of distance with this rangefinder, which by all accounts is pretty impressive. That’s over a full mile away—think of all that you could do with that information.
- Different mode to scan the environment instead of just one areas
- Powerful enough to see up to 1,800 yards away
- Waterproof and fogproof lenses
Laser Rangefinder FAQ
What is the Purpose of a Rangefinder?
It’s the easiest way to tell how far away an object is from where you are standing, or rather, where the laser is being emitted from.
If you’re unaware as to how far you should be setting your rifle scope, you could use a laser rangefinder to determine the average distance between open areas at your favorite hunting ground.
So what does this do? It increases your accuracy. Your scope will be aimed properly. Some laser rangefinders are made for non-hunting purposes, meaning that they have more technical specifications such as in high volume construction or precision engineering.
Who Invented the Laser Rangefinder?
John D. Mysers created the first basic prototype of the modern day laser rangefinder in 1954. This was developed using a ruby laser.
Since then, it has been developed for civilian use for hunting, but more prominently, it is used in military grade technology that helps to determine the distance between a soldier or machinery (tank) and its target.
As you’re using it for accuracy for a single barrel of a gun, they use it for heavy artillery.
How Accurate are Laser Rangefinders?
It depends on the grade, but the United States military isn’t using them because they’re not reliable. Military use can be traced back to the 1970’s by both the United States as well as the Soviet Union. They’re pretty accurate.
But any machinery needs someone to operate it effectively. If you don’t know how to use a rangefinder, then you’re not going to get the desired results out of it.
Personally, I don’t think a user’s manual is going to contain everything you need. Toy around with it for about one or two hours before you decide to use it on a hunting trip.
It’s not the most difficult thing to use while hunting, but if you’re trying to adjust your scope to hit a 225 yard target on-the-fly, and your scope is preset to 100 yards, you can use the input from your rangefinder to figure out the difference on the spot.
How Does a Laser Rangefinder Work?
It measures the time it takes for the light emitted from the device to land on a target. If you put an object ten feet in front of your laser, it will tell you that the object is ten feet away based on the fraction of a second that the light took to reach it.
If it’s a target that’s set at a farther distance, it tells you. The basic science is light travel, the application is how you use your rangefinder. I would argue that it’s a simple process, but that understanding the mechanics behind it is definitely necessary.
Laser Rangefinder Information
What to Look for when Buying a Laser Rangefinder
Charging Time vs Battery Use
Lithium-ion batteries are basically what everybody is using now, and that’s a good thing. The only problem that comes into play is if the battery life is weak, and you’re going on a two-day hunting trip.
If you’re staying in a hotel during the nights, not a big deal, but if you’re roughing it in a tent, it’s kind of a pain. Weigh your time spent hunting versus how long the battery life lasts for in the model you’re choosing.
They’re here to find a range, so if they can only reach a certain distance that isn’t fully what you need (primarily if you hunt on large, open terrain) then it’s not worth your time or money.
Some laser rangefinders can’t go over a certain range because of the laser strength. You’ll get an error message on the display instead of an accurate measurement of the distance.
In order to know what you need a range on, you need to be able to see it first, you know?
Laser rangefinders have lenses for you to look through like a monocular, allowing you to spot your target—be it an animal or a mountain to simply determine distance—from a far away range.
This is how you’re going to actually get the intel that the rangefinder is creating. Some units have an LCD feedback screen where you can save the results.
Others will simply have a digital output, similar to the blocky numbering on your old AM/FM radio or car stereo. Just find something that works for you. The less impressive the screen is, the less expensive it will be.
How to Use a Rangefinder Properly
Step 1: Use a tripod. You’re going to look like a shaky Blair Witch Project cameraman if you just try to hold it like a camcorder.
Step 2: Use a leveler to make your tripod as level as possible. If you’re using this for hunting, which is the most common practice, you can use a rock or two to level off one of the tripod legs.
Step 3: Set the rangefinder up on the tripod. Use the leveler to make sure everything is all good once again.
Step 4: Look through the laser rangefinder lens to spot your target. If you’re just trying to keep an eye on a general area, you can pin the laser on a nearby tree, rock, or structure to get an idea of how far away it is.
Step 5: Use the measurements you received from the laser rangefinder to either adjust your scope, if you plan on camping it out in that spot at least. If not, use that information to adjust where you know your bullet will land based on your scope measurements.
Step 6: Turn the rangefinder off to save battery. Use it again whenever you switch spots or you’re hunting something very particular.
Laser Rangefinder Video
The technology behind laser rangefinders can be hard to understand. Here is a video explaining how they work:
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