So you missed a buck or two last hunting season and you swear you don’t want a repeat performance this year.
If only you guessed its distance right by using one of the hunting rangefinders below, you wouldn’t have driven home with an empty truck bed.
Whether you’re a newbie to sports optics or you’re upgrading your old pal for a new one, a range finder is a must-have.
Thinking it’s an unnecessary splurge? Once you incorporate optics into your hunt, you won’t ever think that again.
But, where do you start and which is the best rangefinder for hunting? That really depends on the type of hunting you are planning on doing and the budget you have to spend.
How to Choose a Rangefinder for Hunting
Your choice of range finder should be greatly influenced by the type of activity you plan to use it for. Are you a bow hunter, rifle hunter, or a bit of both? Do you see it getting the most use at the shooting range, archery range or out in the wilderness?
Once you answer these questions, you can begin to narrow down your options a lot – and we are here to help.
We have hunted the sports optics realm to find the best distance finding devices for a range of hunting/shooting activities, and those are the lists you see below. This is a great place to start as you will see the devices that are the top-rated rangefinders for your activity of choice.
The Best Rangefinder for the Money
Being a clever shopper means making the most of your budget to get the best of what you can possibly afford. But what can you afford? Every hunter’s budget is different so we have focused on a few price categories to provide options that will suit most budgets.
From low-cost champs to higher-priced prince’s, there is a rangefinder to suit your hunting needs in the groups below.
A-Z of The Best Rangefinder Brands
Are you loyal to a particular optics brand? Perhaps you already use a Redfield spotting scope, Nikon rifle scope or Bushnell binocular and want to shop with in that same brand for your rangefinder.
If so, you are in luck. Below is a list of optics companies that all have one thing in common – the quality of their products. Some may be known as the ‘budget brands’ of the hunting world, others are right up there among the best in the world.
Whichever the case may be, all of them produce top-notch rangefinders that are the best in their budget category and those are the devices we have reviewed below.
This German-founded company has been around since the ’50s, so they definitely know what they’re doing. And, what they’re doing is, providing you with affordable, high quality rangefinders for you to hit your mark every single time.
In fact, they’re so good at what they do, their rangefinders are frequently sold out because they’re just so darn popular.
But, if you have an “in” like us, we’ll make sure you can get your sticky mitts on one, or two, or three!
Thanks to Bresser’s low prices, there’s no range finder out of your reach.
This all-time American brand needs little introduction. Everybody knows who Bushnell is. While we don’t exactly know why they’re called Bushnell, it could be after the love story, a famous Colonial inventor, or a USS submarine, but we like to think it’s because it can range through brush, scrub, and bush. And, cutting through the bush to lase the deer grazing behind it is exactly what Bushnell rangefinders are more than capable of doing.
Their laser range finder line happens to be one of the largest categories of hunting optics that they offer. From the Fusion and Elite to the Truth and Bone Collector, there’s a device for every type of hunter there is.
Keep the bucks in your wallet and the bucks in your truck. That’s the name of the game when it comes to the Halo.
Halo Optics has made the perfect, easy-to-use, and accurate rangefinders for the shooter and the bowman. They are also priced well below what competing products are listed for, but that doesn’t mean it’s a cheapo unit. Don’t believe us? Check it out!
You don’t need bionic eyesight to measure the distance, you just need a Halo rangefinder.
Leica is a world-class brand for hunters across the globe who lust after unparalleled distance measurement with pristine and crisp image quality.
You can be guaranteed that you won’t have to buy another one for eons after you’ve spent your hard-earned dough on a Leica rangefinder. They’re made to last, equipped with the latest, advanced technology, and of course, to go the distance. What more do you need with a Leica? Zilch! Get your big boy hunting gear on and wield a superior hunting optic – get a Leica! Got it?
For over a century, Leupold has done it, and they do it best. But, what is “it?” Dish out high quality hunting optics is their expertise. The brand is known all across America. The family-owned German roots has a lot to do with their success since we all know German glass is highly revered. Even better, Leupold means brave in German.
When it comes to Leupold’s laser rangefinders, you won’t find better quality for the value. If you want to brave it in intimidating hunting scenarios with a very successful family business, Leupold is your best bet. That is, if you’re brave enough to tread moose and bear country!
We’re not talking about cameras here, but instead something else that Nikon does extremely well – laser rangefinders. Just as clear cut as their renowned camera lenses are, so are their laser units.
Their entire line is made to be compact and unobtrusive to pack with you on your next hunt. Their prices are more than fair, and they’re just as competitive in the game as any other well-known brand across the globe. Don’t be sorry by going cheap. You won’t have any buyer’s remorse when you go with a Nikon.
You’ve already maxed out your credit cards on your rifle scope, binoculars, and other hunting gear. But, now you’re out of luck when looking for a new laser range finder.
If you don’t need a ton of bells and whistles, and all you’re after is a trustworthy, reliable, and accurate device, don’t worry, Leupold & Stevens have a sibling brand – Redfield.
Expect the same quality for a much friendlier price.
Don’t settle for dollar-store or off-brand units, you’ll be sorry you ever spent a penny on them. Let Redfield have your back in the field, they’re a brand worth trusting.
The two things you need from your rangefinder is readability and functionality.
Simmons does it, and does it well. You don’t need all the extra tidbits that makes using a rangefinder similar to fidgeting with a computerized electronic. Just aim, shoot, and bam – you have your distance.
That’s what you can expect with a Simmons under your belt.
Even better, this brand is known for their unbelievable low prices. Why should you have to pay more? They concur! Pull out your dollar bills because that’s all you’re going to need.
Don’t expect anything mediocre when it comes to this first-class brand. You’ll be in for a hell of a surprise since Zeiss products are anything but ordinary. On top of their highly advanced construction, their lasing units are outfitted with the best coatings, customizable ballistic info, and super long yardages.
With all the tech jam-packed into one unit, you might be surprised by how compact and snug these rangefinders are to wield and stow. Can it get any better? You’ll have to check out our reviews to find out. We promise there’s more!
6 Things to Consider When Buying a Rangefinder
While many shoppers might not like to admit they have a budget, it’s a given. While it might not be said aloud, a budget sets the limits of what you can buy, and sadly, what you can’t buy.
Discerning your budget will help you to filter out what’s a realistic buy and what needs to be on your wish list. Extra features often have a lot to do with price jumps. You can filter out what features are necessary and what features are luxury perks. For example, you can skimp out on maximum yardage if it means you can have quality glass. Perhaps you’d rather forgo the ballistic info and opt for ruggedness and waterproofness instead.
If you truly don’t have a budget limit, we’re definitely jealous. You can explore the realms of pimped-out rangefinder-binos and all the glory the extra perks offer. However, for those with a budget, keeping readability and functionality at the core of your shopping list is a must. It’s all about measuring accuracy and less about how many extra features you can brag about, although, we have to admit, it would be pretty cool to boast. We’re guilty of that too!
This is a feature that will truly give you accurate measurements when you’re in unpredictable or steep terrain. Have you ever tried lasing from a tree blind only to miss your hog by 20 yards? That’s an epic fail that hopefully no one else witnessed.
Angle compensation is highly underrated. It’s an absolute must if you want to avoid injuring a target when killing them is the goal, and it could also mean a complete miss. The true horizontal distance allows you to know the right distance to aim for that gravity will have an effect over your shot. For very detailed info on this important feature, check out our Angle Compensation & Beginners Guide to decide whether you need it or if you can go without it.
LCD VS LED Displays
You might not give this feature very much thought, but we can guarantee that you will come sunset and you can’t see a thing. There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing that deer 250 yards away, but you can’t for the life of you, read the distance on your laser. So, which is better?
LCD is excellent for day time use, especially when it’s bright. The sharp, black reticle and distance display won’t fail you. But, if you’re hunting in the early morning or the evenings, an LCD display will cower next to a red LED one. For more on how displays and light affect your hunting optic, check out this article to ensure you’re not left blind.
Figure out what your most common hunting hours are before you decide on a device. Some of the best optics are ones with LCD displays with a backlight, like the Nikon Realtree 1200 rangefinder. LED displays with adjustable brightness settings or self-illuminating LED displays, like the Zeiss rangefinders, won’t destroy your nighttime vision.
If you’re hunting for a separate range finder and a binocular, you might want to consider combing the two optics into one. No, we don’t recommend duck tape in any of these scenarios, but what we do recommend is a binocular-rangefinder.
While the prices are typically hefty for the advanced optic, you’re getting two units in one. You can save yourself some spotting time by using the one optic for both sighting needs. However, combining this technology isn’t easy. You want a high quality device from a trusted brand to ensure it’ll perform as expected. Take the Zeiss Victory RF and the Swarovski El Range combos for example. Top notch brands with top notch technology!
For more information on rangefinding-binoculars, check out this article.
While longer seems better, that’s not always the case for every hunter. Who needs a mile measuring distance when you’re only hunting up to 400 yards max? On the flip side, having those longer distances can save you trekking time. If you know how far your targets are, you’ll know how close you should get before they spot you.
Most distance measuring devices go out to about 500 yards. The longer the distance, the more important it is that you have quality glass to keep up with the image. This is also where magnification comes in.
Higher magnification devices can be difficult to hold steady to actually see what you’re looking at. Rangefinders typically land in the 4-6X power range. If you’re ranging further, make sure you have higher magnification power. This would be considered extreme for hunters and bowmen who don’t need those distances. You can save yourself a few bucks by sticking with a 4-5X unit with 400-800 yard distances.
Game doesn’t care if it’s raining or sweltering hot outside. They still graze, eat, and hunt. You need an optic that can keep up with your prey while enduring whatever Mother Nature has to throw at you. Think along the lines of waterproofness, ruggedness, and shock-proof features.
When you’re standing in a tree blind, an accidental drop of your optic can render it useless. When you’re hiding out from the herd and an unexpected storm rolls up on you, do you call it a day?
It would be a shame to miss out on the trophy of your life because some gnarly clouds said it’s time to go home. Are you in the game or are you a wuss? Get an optic that’s practically indestructible! Kapeesh?
What Makes the Best Hunting Rangefinders?
No one we know has bionic eyesight or distance estimating skills like Superman. That’s why you need a rangefinder, and the best hunting ones are definitely going to be the ones that last. On top of enduring a lifetime of abuse, the ideal rangefinders are going to be readable and functional, with or without the luxury perks.
Outdoor sports require outdoor optics. What say you? Are you an outdoor man or an indoor one? Outdoor life is only for the adventurous, and the best optics will bring the adventure to you.