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What can $500 buy you? It can land you a rangefinder with every luxury perk that you'll ever need for your hunt.
With these prices and distance reaches, you'll be welcomed into the elite world of rangefinders.
With over 1,000 yards to cover, let's see how these top optic brands measure up to win your dollar!
QUICK LIST: 6 Best Rangefinders for Under $500 In 2023
- Maven RF.1 7x25
- Vortex Optics Ranger 1800
- Leupold RX-1600i TBR/W with DNA
- Bushnell Nitro 1800
- Athlon Midas 1 Mile
- Leupold RX FullDraw 4
Our 6 Top Rangefinders Less Than $500
|Maven RF.1 7x25||CHECK PRICE|
|Vortex Optics Ranger 1800||CHECK PRICE|
|Leupold RX-1600i TBR/W with DNA||CHECK PRICE|
|Bushnell Nitro 1800||CHECK PRICE|
|Athlon Midas 1 Mile||CHECK PRICE|
|Leupold RX Fulldraw 4||CHECK PRICE|
Spending this much on a rangefinder isn't the most popular option. It's obvious why - price. However, the quality glass that comes with being able to get distances out past 1,000 yards is something only the true, long-range hunter will appreciate.
On this note, don't be discouraged if you see piddling review numbers. They may be lacking because the units are most likely out of most people's budgets for a rangefinder.
However, if you find yourself in this range for a new unit, you've got to be experienced with how one works to comprehend and appreciate the quality. Golfers won't need this kind of distance reach, so it's up to you hunters to put the following lineup to the ultimate test!
The Best Rangefinder Under $500
1. Maven RF.1 7x25
The RF.1 has a high-performing ranging engine that has been tried and tested in the field. For the money, it is easily the best rangefinder for hunting, long-range, and ranging in adverse light and weather conditions.
- 4500 yards
- 5 Reticles
- Tripod mountable
- Navigation dial
The Maven RF.1 is a 7x25 rangefinder with excellent free-hand and stabilization benefits. While extremely easy to get ranges on distant targets up to advertised claims of 4500 yards, it can also be mounted to a tripod to achieve ultimate precision.
Total custom control is yours with five brightness levels and five reticles to choose from. The reticle is daylight bright and can be easily seen against bright skies.
We tested its IP67 water-resistant build and ascertained that it can handle extreme outdoor conditions for the hunt (check out the video above to see the test). Made with a magnesium and aluminium frame, the RF.1 is tough and built to withstand constant use.
Now the navigation knob/dial is something many will raise eyebrows at, but it was proven to be convenient, fast, and intuitive to use. As unusual as it may seem on a rangefinder, you must try it before you dismiss it.
Whether you’re in the forest or the field, you can activate the switch lever to move into first or second priority modes to range past stray limbs or stay in front of the tree line. With angle compensation and scan modes too, there’s not a lot that can’t be ranged.
With distance like this, the RF.1 sets the standard for long-range performance. It’s been tried, tested, and Target Tamers approved!
2. Vortex Optics Ranger 1800 Laser Rangefinder
This is the best you can get when it comes to the traditional-style of a rangefinder from Vortex Optics. The Ranger 1800 is the top-of-the-line unit for your distance needs, unless you want to spend about 3x the price for very sweet laser rangefinder binocular. But, we're not quite there yet, so the Ranger will have to do.
In fact, the Ranger 1800 is more than adequate for the job. You can range out to 1,800 yards with this lightweight and compact baby. Far-grazing deer will be within your reach at 900 yards. Enabling you to see all these details are the anti-reflective coatings, adjustable diopter, and LED display.
Furthermore, you have those luxury features in the palm of your hand like Horizontal Component Distance (HCD) for angle compensation. If you wanted to, you can increase stability and rangefinder performance by mounting this baby on a tripod - yeah, it's tripod adaptable! With the Ranger 1800 in your hand, you may as well be considered a professional - thanks Vortex.
3. Leupold RX-1600i TBR/W with DNA Rangefinder
- Model #173805: RX-1600i in Black with an easy to read red OLED display, 6x magnification and accuracy within 1/2 a yard from 5 yards to 1,600 yards with selectable bow or...
- True Ballistic Range with Wind (TBR-W) technology provides ballistically calculated ranges for extremely accurate shots at longer distances and steeper angles. Also...
Rangefinder technology is moving at drag race speeds, and the competition is tight. This budget class holds some of the best rangefinders you'll ever find in the current market, and the Leupold 1600i is right at home.
It tops the charts with its hefty price tag, and yet, it's a lot less than what you'd expect for the premium features it sports. TBR takes the cake with its angle compensated distances that ultimately churns out a holdover in MOA, MIL, or number of clicks. Seriously, what can't a rangefinder do these days?
We're not done. The RX 1600i continues to up its value with its ability to calculate for wind up to 800 yards. Pre-loaded reticle options are highlighted with the OLED display, and you max out target acquisition at 1600 yards with 1000 yards to deer.
The Leupold rangefinder has a lot to offer, and with it, you must make sure you understand how the high-tech features work to get the most out of your unit.
If you want to improve the odds of first-shot success, this RX rangefinder might be just what you need. Get every available feature there is today without paying over 500 bucks!
4. Bushnell Nitro 1800
If you’re in the market for an advanced rangefinder with Bluetooth for the lowest price possible, you are likely to run into the Bushnell Nitro 1800.
- 5-2000 yards
- LCD display
Whenever you have Bluetooth connectivity, you’ll know that dealing with apps and possibly other devices present their own set of issues. But when you figure it all out and have streamlined communication between them, it can be an effective tool in the field.
The Nitro 1800 aims to be one of those highly advanced units for hunters, long range shooters, bow hunters, and precision shooters. Sadly, without the benefits of an illuminated display.
It has long-ranging performance with max detection of deer up to 900 yards. But to acquire increased accuracy, do you know what wind drift is, what the decline is, or how far your bullet will drop over these distances?
The Ultralite ranging engine will do the math for you. If you have a Kestrel, pair that up with it and get even more real-time data for ultimate accuracy. If you want more from your unit with increased ranging performance, upgrade the ranging engine one or even two levels.
As it stands out of the box, the Nitro 1800 is an advantageous buy for its price point. When you want more out of your unit, the Nitro LRF offers it all. You can spend more if you want to – to each their own… but why?
5. Athlon Midas 1 Mile
The Midas 1 Mile LRF may hover between price points as it becomes available across the board. At retail cost, it falls here. At street prices, it’s definitely on the cheaper end of the scale. Does it still make it as a high-end rangefinder?
- 1 mile range
- LED display
- Circle reticle
- No tripod mounting
Obviously, the 1 Mile LRF can range to a mile, but that is on reflective targets. Its deer ranging capability is 800 yards. If you want the angle of the incline, it can do that. If you want the compensated distance, it can do that. If you want the vertical distance, it can do that too.
Use Scan in either Horizontal or Vertical distance modes right up to max distance, that is, if you’re steady enough. The Athlon rangefinder has no mounting point, and with 1760 yards of ranging capability that may be a legitimate issue.
Getting rid of the LCD display, the new unit features an illuminated one with manual brightness intensity settings. You also have a circle reticle that does not obstruct the target which is especially important to range small varmints and out to max distance.
The gray Midas 1 Mile predecessor wouldn’t have made the cut as a high-end unit. There were one too many outdated features about it. Fortunately, the new model saw some upgrades that should boost its popularity between both hunters and golfers.
6. Leupold RX-Fulldraw 4
What more do bow hunters want on a bow hunting rangefinder? Ballistics would be good start. Flight trajectory projections would be even better. But a solid price always wins out when it really comes down to it. Well, the RX-Fulldraw 4 has it all.
- 1200 yards
- Archer’s Advantage
- TRIG mode
- Battery life
3000 actuations aren’t bad for a souped-up, illuminated rangefinder on a single CR2 battery – it’s actually very good. But we were grasping at straws in finding a legitimate thumbs down design feature, so there it is.
The Archer’s Advantage software is a biggie as it allows you to put in specific data about your setup so that it can calculate precise ballistic solutions relative to your position. Nifty, right?
What else is convenient is that the new Flightpath technology takes that data and displays the highest point of the arrow path. What’s so great about that? Think along the lines of keeping clear of obstructions - it’s need-to-know information so that you can tag out instead of striking out.
Even if you’re not using the ballistic features 24/7, the Fulldraw 4 still has value. You have Scan, LOS, and TRIG (angle compensation without ballistics) to grab long-range distances. 1200 yards of ranging with up to 900 yards on deer will help to make critical decisions relative to the success of your hunt. At less than 4” in size and 8 oz in weight, it’s a non-issue when it comes to adding more bulk to your already heavy pack or hunting vest.
What more do bow hunters want on a bow hunting rangefinder? With the RX Fulldraw 4, zilch.
What to Look for in a $300-$500 Rangefinder
Luxury takes a new spin when you've got the extra cash to splurge. But, with the extra quality, you need to be specific about what features you want that will be realistically utilized in the hunt. It's all too easy to get every premium perk only to find yourself fiddling and farting around in the field - precious time wasted why your prey leaped away. Avoid the hype of unnecessary features and focus in on what 500 bucks should really get you.
Magnification & Features
The more expensive you go, the more likely you're going to purchase a higher-powered unit, around 6-7X magnification. It may be more difficult to use free-hand, so look for tripod compatibility or magnetic systems for mounting purposes to increase image stability.
Everything from angle compensation, various target selection modes, and display modes should be expected. You might also see other options such as multiple reticles, a tight beam divergence, and automatic display adjustments according to ambient light available.
|Maven RF.1||7x||Easy to use “knob”, LED display, 4500-yard range, angle compensation|
|Vortex Ranger 1800||6x||Angle compensation, tripod adaptable, included utility clip|
|Leupold RX-1600i TBR/W||6x||OLED display, Bow Mode, TBR w/Wind & DNA technology, Selectable reticles|
|Bushnell Nitro 1800||6x||Applied Ballistics out to 800 yards, Upgradeable solver, Bluetooth, Kestrel pairing|
|Athlon Midas 1 Mile||6x||1-mile ranging, LED display, Circle reticle, Fog/waterproof|
|Leupold RX Fulldraw 4||6x||Bow hunting, 3 modes, OLED display, Flightpath, TRIG mode|
In general, the more you spend, the more ranging distance you will get out of the rangefinder. In this price range, you’ll be getting around 1600-2000 yards of ranging, but some high-end models will over significantly more distance reach.
However, the longest ranging distances will always be that of highly reflective targets. But the longer the maximum range is, the likelihood that the ranging power of medium and soft targets will be much higher too.
|Product||Max Range||Tree Range||Deer Range|
|Maven RF.1||4500 yards||3000 yards||2700 yards|
|Vortex Ranger 1800||1800 yards||Not disclosed||900 yards|
|Leupold RX-1600i TBR/W||1600 yards||1400 yards||1000 yards|
|Bushnell Nitro 1800||2000 yards||1200 yards||800 yards|
|Athlon Midas 1 Mile||1760 yards||1200 yards*||800 yards|
|Leupold RX Fulldraw 4||1200 yards||1100 yards||900 yards|
*Not disclosed: guesstimate
Size, Weight & Tripod Adaptability
Though you’re paying for a rangefinder and for extra features, it doesn’t get any bigger. They’re still compact and lightweight units that can easily be stowed in a pocket or pouch. Some with slightly higher magnification can be tripod mounted at this point.
|Maven RF.1||4.7 x 3 x 1.9”||10 oz||Yes||Yes|
|Vortex Ranger 1800||3.9 x 3”||7.7 oz||Yes||Yes|
|Leupold RX-1600i TBR/W||3.8 x 1.4 x 3”||7.5 oz||No||Yes|
|Bushnell Nitro 1800||4.2 x 1.47 x 2.75”||5.7 oz||No||Yes|
|Athlon Midas 1 Mile||3.8 x 1.4”||4.75 oz||No||Yes|
|Leupold RX Fulldraw 4||3.8 x 1.4 x 3”||7.5 oz||No||Yes|
LCD VS LED Displays
For the money, everyone expects to get an illuminated LED at this price point. The benefit is that you can see the reticle in and against various terrains, conditions, and targets. With adjustable illumination and a highly visible reticle, LED displays are expected as a high-end feature.
Of course, with that said, a CR2 must power the rangefinder. Depending on the illumination settings and how often you use the unit, will depend on how often you’ll need to swap that battery out for a fresh one.
|Product||Display Type||Illuminated Reticle||Battery Life (actuations)|
|Vortex Ranger 1800||LED||Yes||2000|
|Leupold RX-1600i TBR/W||LED||Yes||3000|
|Bushnell Nitro 1800||LCD||No||2000*|
|Athlon Midas 1 Mile||LED||Yes||3000*|
|Leupold RX Fulldraw 4||LED||Yes||3000|
*Not disclosed: guesstimates
Not all warranties are equal, and this is ever true even with the same manufacturer. The electronic components in a rangefinder often put them in another category inside the warranty. While you may be accustomed to assuming it’s lifetime coverage, it might not be so.
|Maven RF.1||No-Fault Warranty||Unconditional, lifetime, fully transferable, no-fault warranty|
|Vortex Ranger 1800||VIP Warranty||Unconditional, fully transferable, lifetime warranty|
|Leupold RX-1600i TBR/W||Electronics Limited Guarantee||2-year limited guarantee from date of purchase, proof of purchase may be required|
|Bushnell Nitro 1800||1-year Limited Warranty||Laser rangefinders are limited to 1-year coverage with proof of dated purchase|
|Athlon Midas 1 Mile||Lifetime Warranty||No charge, no receipt, no registration required, transferable|
|Leupold RX Fulldraw 4||Electronics Limited Guarantee||2-year limited guarantee from date of purchase, proof of purchase may be required|
This price range offers the top-of-the-line rangefinders with the traditional design. You'll see practically every feature you can get for 500 bucks. Of course you can spend more than this and land an unparalleled optic, but this is quite practical for the intermediate and even pro hunter.
You might want to consider spending more than this on a rangefinder that will land you in the laser rangefinder binocular market. Mm, we wonder what that has in store for you?