If you are a hunter, long-range shooter, or even an avid golfer, you already understand that a rangefinder is a key piece of outdoor equipment. While some people have a talent for estimating range, knowing the exact distance between you and your target is best managed with a dependable rangefinder.
Even minor miscalculations can throw off your accuracy by a wide margin. The best rangefinder will help stack the odds of hitting your target (or the golf green) in your favor.
There are plenty of rangefinder models to choose from. The sheer number of options is staggering, and can leave the consumer wondering where to begin. We’re going to walk you through rangefinder technology, explain some key features to look for, and even share a few of our favorite models.
If you don’t have time for the details, check out the list below for the best rated rangefinders:
- Maven RF.1 – Editor’s Pick
- Sig Sauer Kilo1800 BDX – Best Overall Laser Rangefinder
- Bushnell Bone Collector – Best for Hunting
- Vortex Optics Razor HD 4000 – Best for Long Range Shooting
- Bushnell Pro XE – Best Golf Rangefinder
- Nikon Archer’s Choice – Best for Bowhunting
- AOFAR H3 – Best Pocket Rangefinder
- Leica Geovid 10×42 HD-B 3000 – Best Rangefinder Binoculars
- TecTecTec ProWild – Best Budget Rangefinder
- Vortex Optics Ranger 1800 – Best for under $500
- Donzy Laser Rangefinder – Best for under $100
Table of Contents
- How a Rangefinder Works?
- Things to Consider Before Buying a Rangefinder
- Best Rangefinder Brands
- Best Rangefinders on the Market Review
- 1 Maven RF.1 – Editor’s Pick
- 2 Sig Sauer Kilo1800 BDX – Best Overall Laser Rangefinder
- 3 Bushnell Bone Collector – Best for Hunting
- 4 Vortex Optics Razor HD 4000 – Best for Long Range Shooting
- 5 Bushnell Pro XE – Best Golf Rangefinder
- 6 Nikon Archer’s Choice – Best for Bowhunting
- 7 AOFAR H3 – Best Pocket Rangefinder
- 8 Leica Geovid 10×42 HD-B 3000 – Best Rangefinder Binoculars
- 9 TecTecTec ProWild – Best Budget Rangefinder
- 10 Vortex Optics Ranger 1800 – Best for under $500
- 11 Donzy Laser Rangefinder – Best for under $100
- Summing It Up
How a Rangefinder Works?
All rangefinders, whether designed for bowhunting, rifle shooting, golf, or some other outdoor sport, work basically the same way.
Once you “aim” the rangefinder at your intended target, you push a button on the device. The rangefinder then emits a narrow laser beam. That beam travels downrange, bounces off the targeted object, and then travels back to a special sensor located on the front of the device.
The rangefinder uses the amount of time it took the laser to return to the sensor to calculate the distance to the object. Since lasers travel incredibly fast, the amount of time it takes for the beam to be reflected back to the sensor is infinitesimally small.
Thankfully, the rangefinder does all of the math, so there’s no computation required by you. All the necessary information is displayed through an LCD or OLCD screen on the device.
Depending on how sophisticated your rangefinder is, the displayed information may include the target’s speed, degree of inclination, outdoor temperature, time, and the direction you are facing, as well as the distance to the target.
How accurately does a rangefinder measure distance? That depends on how sophisticated your device is. Although all laser rangefinders employ the same basic technology to calculate distance, individual models perform differently depending on the size of the receiver aperture and how the laser results are analyzed.
Even the cheapest and least accurate rangefinders can accurately calculate distances to +/- one yard. More expensive high-tech models can be trusted to deliver accurate readings to within fractions of an inch.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Rangefinder
While all rangefinders calculate distance, some are better suited for particular applications. For example, a bowhunter requires very different performance from his rangefinder than a long-range rifle shooter needs from his.
It is important to match your rangefinder’s abilities and features to your outdoor activity.
Here are some key factors to consider when shopping for a rangefinder.
A rangefinder’s maximum range is particularly important if you plan to use it in one of the shooting sports. Although archers rarely take shots beyond 40 yards, rifle shooters may need to regularly range 1000 yard targets or beyond. You want to choose a rangefinder that can adequately and reliably reach the range you will be shooting.
Not all rangefinders calculate distance as precisely as others. Most read distance in one yard increments. More precise models may measure to the nearest tenth of a yard (0.1 yards).
For most applications, measurements in one-yard increments are close enough to accurate for you to make adjustments for accurate shot placement. However, if you need a rangefinder for precision measurements, you’ll need a model that offers the smallest increment readings possible.
Most rangefinders offer some level of magnification (usually between 4x and 8x). Magnification is helpful when ranging your target, because it helps you place the rangefinder reticle precisely on your target.
Powerful magnification does have drawbacks. Higher magnification narrows your field of view (FOV). This can actually make it harder to locate your target through the rangefinder, especially when your target is relatively close.
Just like the optical components in a high-quality riflescope, the lenses of your rangefinder will have special chemical coatings applied to the surfaces. The purpose of these coatings is to reduce glare and maximize light transmission.
Typically, more coatings result in better image quality, especially in low light. Multiple lens coatings also generally result in a higher price tag. For the best image quality, look for a rangefinder that features fully multi-coated lenses.
There are highly accurate military grade rangefinders for tactical applications that come with pretty hefty price tags. However, most rangefinders are much more affordable. You can expect to pay anywhere between $200 and $800 for a quality rangefinder.
Although it is usually true that you get what you pay for, in the world of rangefinders, more expensive doesn’t always mean better. A complicated, high-tech, overly heavy rangefinder may work feats of ranging accuracy, but it isn’t going to be very useful to a bowhunter who needs something simple, lightweight, compact, and durable. Instead of fancy, most hunters need quick measurements from a model that is rugged enough for outdoor use. That probably doesn’t describe the most expensive rangefinder on the market.
Best Rangefinder Brands
With so many rangefinders on the market, narrowing down your options can feel completely impossible. One proven strategy is to stick with a reputable brand.
Well-respected companies work long and hard to build a reputation of excellence. Since they don’t want to introduce a product that could harm that hard-earned recognition, choosing a product from their line-up is likely to deliver worthwhile results.
Here are a few prominent rangefinder brands. Any of the rangefinders in their product line are worth a closer look.
What started out as a small mail-order binocular company has grown into an industry leader in outdoor optics. Today, Bushnell products are some of the best-selling optics on the planet, especially among outdoorsmen like hunters, fishermen, and backcountry hikers.
Bushnell produces a full line of rangefinders, and every single one is top-notch.
This veteran-owned American company designs and manufactures optical equipment for hunting, bird and wildlife watching, outdoor recreational sports, and law enforcement. They back all their products with an unlimited, unconditional, lifetime warranty, so you know when you buy Vortex, you’re buying quality. They have a full line of practical rangefinders suitable for every outdoor pursuit.
Nikon Sport Optics
Although the company is best known for its camera equipment, Nikon has been making premium quality outdoor optics for more than 90 years. Nikon offers a full line of rangefinders that includes models for just about every budget.
Best Rangefinders on the Market Review
Here are our top rangefinder picks. You’ll find something suitable for every budget and outdoor activity.
1 Maven RF.1 – Editor’s Pick
Maven is a relative newcomer to the optic’s scene, but they are causing quite a stir with their eye-popping optical quality and affordable products. The RF.1 is their first rangefinder, and it is a serious rock star.
This lightweight, compact unit is packed with tons of high-performance features, including angle compensation, Field and Forest modes, and selectable reticles.
It also ranges reflective targets out to 4500 yards and deer out to 2700 yards, making this a great option for long-range shooters. However, bowhunters will appreciate how accurately it ranges close-up targets (as close as 5 yards), measuring accurately to within ½ a yard.
What really sets the RF.1 apart from the competition is its optical quality. With a 25mm objective, fully multi-coated optics, and 7x magnification, you can easily acquire targets, even in low light conditions. In fact, the images are so crisp and clear, you can probably leave your binos at home.
The RF.1 is built for rough use and tough conditions. It features a high-grade aluminum housing and a durable magnesium chassis. Maven also backs all of their products with an unconditional lifetime warranty.
You can read my full review of the Maven RF.1 here.
2 Sig Sauer Kilo1800 BDX – Best Overall Laser Rangefinder
We absolutely love this rangefinder from firearms superstar Sig Sauer. The optics are clear, the controls are simple, and the ranging display couldn’t be easier to read. Plus, it has a fantastic ergonomic design and a grippy, non-slip coating that make it easy to hold onto, even in wet weather.
This Sig Sauer rangefinder uses patented HyperScan Technology for lightning fast ranging. In scan mode, it provides four range updates per second!
It has a pretty impressive range, too. Expect accurate readings on deer-sized targets out to 1000 yards. However, its max reflective range is a jaw-dropping 2000 yards.
Perhaps the Kilo1800’s best-selling point is that the device interfaces with the Sig Sauer BDX app. You can pair it with a Sig Sauer Sierra BDX scope to set up a basic ballistic profile for the ammunition you’re shooting. The app takes your load data and your target range, and does all the complex math for you. The app also stores all your DOPE (Data Observed from Previous Engagements for the non-snipers in the room), so there’s no more long-range windage or elevation guesswork. This rangefinder is perfect for long-range shooters.
3 Bushnell Bone Collector – Best for Hunting
This definitely isn’t the fanciest laser rangefinder on our list, but hunters will love it for its simplicity. It does one thing, but it does that one thing well. You simply point the rangefinder, push a button, and you get almost instantaneous precision range data on an easy-to-read LCD display.
There’s nothing complicated about it, but you don’t need fancy readings in a treestand, you just need them to be accurate.
It’s sturdy, yet lightweight, and durable enough to survive a drop from a treestand. It’s also weather resistant, so it’s capable of enduring some pretty harsh hunting conditions.
It also features the popular RealTree Xtra camo pattern to help you stay completely hidden in the woods.
Most importantly, the Bushnell Bone Collector is accurate. This thing ranges out to 600 yards, which isn’t impressive by modern rangefinder standards, yet is well within the average shooting ranges for most whitetail deer. It also ranges in 1-yard increments, so you get precise measurements suitable for both archery and rifle hunting.
4 Vortex Optics Razor HD 4000 – Best for Long Range Shooting
With bright, ultra-clear images and the ability to range far away targets, there’s a lot to love about the Razor HD 4000 from Vortex Optics. When we say far, we mean REALLY far. This device has an impressive 4,000 yard reflective ranging capability. It even accurately ranges deer out to a remarkable 2200 yards.
The device features four different target modes – normal, first, last and extended laser range. In normal mode, the strongest ranging result is displayed. First mode locks on the closest result, while last mode locks on the furthest. Finally, Extended Laser Range (ELR) provides precision ranging at the most extreme distances.
The Razor HD 4000 also has three separate scanning modes – one that measures distance along the actual line of sight, one that measures the angle compensated distance, and a scan mode that displays continuous readings as you scan terrain.
With a unique digital HD Optical System, you’ll experience exceptional image resolution, brightness, and color fidelity. You also get 7x magnification, so you can feel like you’re getting up close and personal with the targets you’re ranging.
A great option for hunting and other outdoor pursuits, the Vortex Razor HD 4000 is built to withstand the elements. This rangefinder has a special Armorer coating to protect the lenses, as well as a rubber exterior coating on the housing to provide a secure, non-slip grip. The Razor HD 4000 is also o-ring sealed for dependable waterproof performance, and it features weather capable ranging, so you can trust readings even in adverse weather conditions.
5 Bushnell Pro XE – Best Golf Rangefinder
The Bushnell Pro XE is the high-end sports car of golf rangefinders. Not only does it have a sleek, sporty design, and lightning fast ranging speed, it also comes with a ton of other cool on-board features.
The Pro XE comes with slope function (which can be disabled during tournament play). In addition to calculating distance with slope, this feature also figures compensation for temperature and barometric pressure.
The most exciting feature of this top of the line rangefinder is the PinSeeker with Visual Jolt. This award-winning feature produces a visual jarring of the image when it is locked on the flag, providing greater confidence in the ranging feedback the device delivers.
The Bushnell Pro XE is the only golf rangefinder on the market with 7x magnification. With a durable, waterproof design and a built-in magnetic cart mount, you can take this rangefinder with you all over the course, no matter what weather you encounter.
You also get a PlayBetter Pitchfix divot tool, a magnetic ball marker, a lens cloth, and a stylish carrying case. The only thing this golf rangefinder doesn’t do, is make the shots for you.
6 Nikon Archer’s Choice – Best for Bowhunting
Perfect for bowhunting and archery, this laser rangefinder features Nikon’s proprietary ID Incline/Decline technology that compensates for the severe shooting angles archers often encounter in the field. This pocket-sized device actually calculates the true horizontal distance to the target, even when encountering a near vertical angle (+/- 89 degrees).
Simple to use and extremely precise, the Nikon Archer’s Choice displays the distance to your target with the simple push of a button. Distance is calculated in 0.1-yard increments for serious precision. The Nikon Archer’s Choice has a ranging distance of 99.5 yards.
Fully capable of taking on tough conditions in the woods, the Archer’s Choice is rugged, waterproof, and fogproof. It also comes with a Silent Technology Neoprene Case in Realtree camo to help you stay undetected in the woods.
7 AOFAR H3 – Best Pocket Rangefinder
The most compact rangefinder on our list, the AOFAR H3 measures only 4 inches long and 3 inches wide, allowing you to easily slip it into your pants pocket.
But don’t let its tiny size fool you. The AOFAR H3 ranges distances out to 800 yards, offers 6x magnification, and displays straight-line distance, angle, and horizontal distance to your target.
You get fast, accurate readings that hunters and golfers will definitely appreciate. This surprisingly affordable rangefinder is built with a rugged design, and it is completely dustproof, waterproof, and fogproof.
Your AOFAR H3 hunting rangefinder comes as a complete package and includes a carrying pouch, Panasonic CR2 battery, strap, carabiner, cleaning cloth, user manual, a two-year VIP warranty, and lifetime customer support.
8 Leica Geovid 10×42 HD-B 3000 – Best Rangefinder Binoculars
Having ranging binoculars is like having a device that kills two birds with one stone. Leica Geovid binoculars allow you to carry just one piece of equipment for both ranging and observation, minimizing the amount of gear you need in the field. It also saves you the trouble of having to fumble back and forth between two devices.
These Leica Geovid ranging binos really provide the best of both worlds. The image clarity is some of the best in the industry. The Perger Porro prisms and cutting-edge fluoride lenses produce sharp, high-contrast images with vibrant color and bright light transmission. Meanwhile, the on-board laser rangefinder delivers rapid and precise range measurements.
These rangefinder binos are perfect for elk hunting in the backcountry, where keeping gear light and portable is a necessity. The Geovid HD-B 3000 is compact, lightweight, completely waterproof, and nitrogen filled to prevent fogging. They also feature a rugged, rubber-armored magnesium body that makes them perfectly capable of standing up to rough conditions on the trail.
9 TecTecTec ProWild – Best Budget Rangefinder
This is a pretty cool name for a pretty cool device. The TecTecTec ProWild is lightweight, portable, and accurately measures both the distance and speed of your target.
The device ranges distances up to 540 yards and is accurate to +/- one yard. It also displays the speed of a moving target in meters per second.
The TecTecTec ProWild has pretty decent image quality due to the premium multi-layered optics, and the device offers ample 6x magnification. Both water and dust resistant, and featuring a durable housing, this compact, lightweight rangefinder is well-suited for hunting, caping, hiking, and other rugged outdoor adventures.
Best of all, the ProWild is also priced well under $200. It also comes with a two-year guarantee, making this rangefinder a great value for the money.
10 Vortex Optics Ranger 1800 – Best for under $500
The Ranger 1800 is another excellent laser rangefinder from Vortex Optics. This one ranges deer from 9 to 900 yards, and reflective targets out to an impressive 1800 yards. Ideal for rifle hunters, target shooters, and bowhunters, the Ranger 1800 is o-ring sealed for waterproof, fogproof performance. It also features 6x magnification and fully multi-coated optics for incredibly bright, clear, vividly colored images.
The Ranger 1800 features two unique ranging displays. The first is the HCD (Horizontal Component Distance), which displays a yardage measurement compensated for shot angle.
The device also displays LOS (Line of Sight) readings, intended for rifle shooters engaging targets beyond 500 yards. You can use the LOS range when referencing ballistic drop cards or programs with slope correction.
The Vortex Ranger 1800 also has a scan feature, which is useful for ranging moving targets. With so many awesome features and a durable design, we’re honestly surprised this one is priced under $500.
11 Donzy Laser Rangefinder – Best for under $100
It’s almost impossible to find a decent rangefinder priced under $100. Almost.
Although you’ve probably never heard of Donzy, their rangefinder is more than competent. It provides fast and stable measurements out to 800 yards, and can measure distance, height, and angle. This definitely isn’t the fanciest, most high-tech rangefinder on our list, but it is the cheapest.
Designed to slip right into the pocket of your golf pants, the Donzy Laser Rangefinder works reliably in almost any environment. It is completely waterproof and offers accurate distancing. It’s so reliable, it’s guaranteed to work flawlessly in temperatures ranging from 14 degrees to 122 degrees Fanrenheit.
Outdoor enthusiasts will definitely appreciate the special energy saving feature that automatically shuts down the device after 10 seconds. This one feature will allow you to use your rangefinder for years before you have to swap out the CR2 battery.
Summing It Up
Since there are a ton of different rangefinders on the market, finding one isn’t all that hard. However, finding the right rangefinder can be a lot more difficult.
Which rangefinder is right for you depends mostly on how you intend to use it. Before you pull out your credit card, be sure the model you’re considering will do exactly what you need it to do in the woods or on the fairway. Sometimes you may need your rangefinder to have fancy features beyond ranging. Other users may just need a lightweight pocket device that ranges distance quickly and accurately. That’s fine, too.
The best rangefinder for your outdoor adventures is out there waiting for you. The information and reviews in this article should help you find it.