How to Pick the Right Rangefinder

Here are critical qualities to consider if you're in the market for a rangefinder.

How to Pick the Right Rangefinder
Shutterstock graphic

Knowing the specific distance to a target is one of the best ways to improve your rifle accuracy. But the instrument to do that—a laser rangefinder—is a significant investment, costing $500 or more depending on the brand and the capabilities of a specific model. Here are some things to consider before buying.

RANGE

Most units highlight their ability to range targets at extreme distances, but those distances are generally maximum yardage on highly reflective targets, like billboards or metal roofs. When you test a laser rangefinder at a retail counter, ask to take a test unit outdoors and range various targets in all light conditions. See how far you can get range readings on a deer-sized object with various surfaces. Try ranging a moving car or a deer-sized bush. Range targets in full sunlight but also those obscured by shade.

Find the best day and time to hunt in your zip code

TARGETING OPTIONS

Most hunting rangefinders are calibrated to find the second-priority image in any given targeting situation. That’s different from golf rangefinders, which use a first-priority image system. What’s the difference? First-target systems are used for very evident targets that aren’t obscured by laser-reflecting debris. Think of a golf flag on a green. But hunters are often trying to find targets obscured by limbs or grass. That’s why you want a unit that sends the distance to the second targets it reads.

DIGITAL DISPLAY

In addition to the glass inside the unit, the type and performance of the display is also a point of differentiation between brands. Some units display range and other information in liquid crystal display (LCD). Others use light-emitting displays (LED) that adjust for brightness. Also consider eye relief, field of view and the ergonomics of the unit, as well as the style and design of the reticle, or the specific aiming point that you use to range objects.


Click to subscribe to Game & Fish Magazine

ANGLE-COMPENSATING FEATURES

Many rangefinders are built to display line-of-sight distances but also angle-compensating distances, the difference being that when it comes to ballistics, a bullet (or arrow) can be closer depending on the steepness of the angle from the gun or bow. Many rangefinders use what’s called the “Rifleman’s Rule,” or simple Pythagorean geometry, to determine the angle-adjusted difference. But it’s worth paying more for angle compensation based on ballistics data, which has a much higher degree of precision and can be matched to the specific weight and velocity of your projectile, which are loaded into the on-board processor.


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

Multiple time FLW Costa winner Jessi Mizell is no stranger to catching big Florida bass on a popping frog. As he tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, with the new 13 Fishing Omen Black baitcasting rod, the job just got easier.

Mustad

Mustad's Saltwater Jig Lineup

Russ Whisler shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the innovative features and great color schemes in Mustad's voluminous lineup of saltwater jigs introduced at ICAST 2019.

Simms

Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor Hoody

John Frazier of Simms Fishing Products helps OSG's Lynn Burkhead understand the new features of the new Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor sun protection hoody.

Berkley

Berkley's New Terminal Tackle

OSG's Lynn Burkhead and Chad LaChance, host of World Fishing Network's Fishful Thinker television show, talk about Berkley's new innovative terminal tackle being introduced at ICAST 2019.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix them. Fishing How-To

10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix...

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find the Garden State's hottest bass fishing. Destinations

7 Best Bets for New Jersey Bass

J.B. Kasper - October 04, 2010

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find the...

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing. Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing.

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies. Panfish

Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

See More Trending Articles

More Optics

Styrka S5 Binoculars are full of features designed to enhance hunting experience. ATA Show

Styrka S5 Series Binoculars – Updated for 2020

Game & Fish Digital Staff - January 10, 2020

Styrka S5 Binoculars are full of features designed to enhance hunting experience.

With numerous riflescopes at various price points sporting different features and benefits, it can be a difficult task finding the perfect optic at the best value; this list will help narrow your search. Optics

7 Best Riflescopes for the Money Available Today

Lynn Burkhead

With numerous riflescopes at various price points sporting different features and benefits, it...

The Trijicon SRO is a red-dot style sight specifically designed for pistols and optimized for target and competition shooting. NRA Show

Trijicon's New Pistol Optic

G&F Staff - April 26, 2019

The Trijicon SRO is a red-dot style sight specifically designed for pistols and optimized for...

German Precision Optics' 10x50 RangeGuide and Rangetracker 1800 are new for 2020. Optics

New GPO Rangefinders Available Soon

April 08, 2020

German Precision Optics' 10x50 RangeGuide and Rangetracker 1800 are new for 2020.

See More Optics

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now