Sometimes, sighting a deer and delivering a killing shot at a distance is a tricky proposition. That's where your rangefinder enters into the equation.
Rangefinders are great for helping you to gauge the distance between you and your target, estimate bullet drop, and compensate for angle so that you can make your one shot count.
Of course, not all rangefinders are created equal. On the contrary, different products will run a huge range of prices, offer a slew of different features, and even be capable of measuring entirely different distances. Choosing the right rangefinder, then, is a decision based primarily on budget and hunting applications. If you are a hunter who likes to shoot mostly at short ranges, less expensive rangefinders will do the trick. If you are someone who wants to take a shot anytime a deer rears its head - regardless of the distance - you might want to invest in a more expensive option.
Either way, we've compiled a list of seven different rangefinders that we think are worth buying, from budget conscious consumer models to luxury expense products and everything in between.
View the slideshow to see the rangefinder recommendations.
If you are going after bucks with a compound bow instead of a rifle, this particular rangefinder absolutely needs to be in your collection. Built specifically for archery hunters, this Bushnell Bowhunter rangefinder - endorsed by legendary bowhunter Chuck Adams - is a sleek, lightweight, affordable, and effective gadget to add to any archery arsenal. The device comes with ARC technology (or Angle Range Compensation), meaning that it can help you to adjust your shooting angles based on shot distance, incline, and other factors. At under $200, the Bushness Bowhunter Chuck Adams Edition is a bargain, but that doesn't mean it's cheap, a fact reflected by the product's glowing reviews.
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If you want a premium rangefinder, but don't wish to venture into the $600 or $700 range, the Leupold RX 1000i could end up being your perfect product. The RX 1000i is still an investment, but hunters love this Leupold rangefinder for its beautiful yet rugged design, its adjustable display (so you can use it in high sunlight), its inclinometer (which serves the same role as the Bushness's ARC technology), and most of all, its inclusion of TBR (True Ballistic Range). With TBR technology, you can get personalized shooting information based on your specific weapon, meaning that the Leupold RX 1000i can help you make the best aiming decisions in a wide range of shooting scenarios.
A trusted maker of cameras, Nikon is also a brand that can be commended for its high quality hunting rangefinders. We would consider any number of Nikon rangefinders as "worth buying." However, one of our personal favorites is the ProStaff 3 Rangefinder, which - like the Leupold RX 1000i - provides premium performance in a consumer oriented price range. Cheaper than the Leupold - at a price tag of $180 - the Nikon ProStaff 3 Rangefinder might be the perfect balance of budget and brilliance. The crisp and clear optics allow for use in differing light levels.
The Zeiss Victory HT 8x42 glasses will be a bit out of reach for some hunters. After all, not everyone is into the idea of spending more money on their binoculars than any other one item in their hunting arsenal. However, if you are willing to splurge on the Victory 8x42, you will be compensated with the performance of a high-tech piece of equipment. The defining features of the Victory are its 95% light transmission and Abbe König prism system, which deliver unleveled brightness and contrast.
Another pricy rangefinder with the ability to track targets a 1,000 yards, the Rangemaster CRF-1000 proves that Leica is still undisputed as one of the best names in rangefinders. With incredibly crisp LED optics that allow for seamless readability in all lighting conditions, not to mention the device's 7x monocular magnification and its revered inclinometer, the Leica CRF Rangemaster 1000 is a force to be reckoned with.
Forget 1,000 yards; this feat of engineering from Swarovski claims to provide reliably accurate distance readings at up to 1,600 yards. With binocular lenses and 8x magnification, the Swarovski Laser Guide Rangefinder might well be the finest optics product on the market for long-ranged hunters. At just under $900, you will pay for the extra distance and quality. However, an intuitive scan mode, which allows you to instantly switch between a variety of different targets, and an LED brightness control function, for ease of use in any weather or lighting conditions, might well make this rangefinder worth it if you are hoping to push the boundaries of shooting distance.
For hunters on a budget, things don't get much better than the Simmons LRF 600, which is a decent and competent rangefinder at an incredibly reasonable price of just over $100. As you might expect, you will lose a few features in the price drop, including angle compensation technology and scan mode. However, the Simmons LRF 600 provides good optical quality for a range of lighting conditions and can offer sound shooting advice for shorter ranged shots. If you plan on shooting at targets that are 200 or 300 yards away, this isn't in the rangefinder for you. But if you expect most of your targets to be within a 150-yard radius, there's no reason that the Simmons LRF 600 can't get the job done.