Range finders are one of the newest gadgets for sporting on the market today. A rangefinder simply tells you, to a certain accuracy, how far away an object is. The cost of rangefinders varies widely from as low as $60 to as high as $12,000. Their quality also varies just as widely as their cost. Although we will detail this out later, some of the factors you should consider when buying a range finder include; weight, size, ease of use, portability, range and accuracy.
How Are They Useful
At just a press of a button, a range finder bounces a laser off you target. Then, an inbuilt clock measures the times it takes for the laser to travel to and back and determines the distance of the targets to plus or minus 1 yard. The distance reading is then displayed on the LCD display within a second or less.
The maximum effective range change based on the target. In rifles, you will be looking for 600 to 1200 yards. Hunting range finders, like Bushnell Yardage Pro Scout Laser Rangefinder, go up to 800 yards. Reflective or hard objects, such as rocks, can be measured at great range than soft or dull objects such as deer. Most hunting rangefinders are designed to give high accurate readings out to 200 yards at accuracy of within fractions of a yard.
Ultrasonic range finders use various band frequencies generated by a transducer to send beams of sound waves which bounce off an object. The return signal is then picked by a hand-held receiver. With these ultrasonic gadgets, accuracy of the distance being measured is affected by noise in the environment, position of the receiver, and presence of other sound waves. It is also affected by noise generated by streams, crew conversations, rain, brush, or birds chirping. When using these gadgets to measure horizontal distances, the inclination of the target is vital, since an outgoing band signal will be spread, increasing the error, especially if the transducer is not positioned along the horizontal plane.
Optical range finders use the coincidence method of measuring distance, which applies a series of mirrors to produce two images. The images are then rotated by a double rotating dial until they overlap into one. Once this is done, the distance to the target is reflected on the dial and it can be read directly. We will give more details on this later.
Laser range finders measure distances by determining the amount of time it takes a pulse of infrared light to travel to an object and back. Since the speed of light is constant, the amount of time taken varies proportionately with the distance. To enhance the accuracy of each shot, many lasers send out lasers and an average distance is calculated. Laser range finders are narrow band and one needs to aim at the target accurately. The maximum range and accuracy of laser instruments is dependent on the reflectivity of the target.
Who Uses RangeFinders?
Range finders are useful in situations where one needs to measure the range to a distance target. They are popular among:
- Military and more
How do rangefinders work?
There are 2 types, mechanical and laser.
A mechanical range finder, which uses optical technology, uses an eyepiece that produce two images of the object being measured. When these images are brought into coincidence (overlapped into one), the distance is read off the scale on the adjustment lever or control. The scale is calibrated to read distance but in reality it is a measure of the amount of movement needed to turn a prism or mirror, mounted on the end of a fixed base, to overlap the two images. Mechanical rangefinders generally have poor accuracy (+/- 5 yards under 100 yards and +/- 10 yards at 500 yards) and they are mostly used to get an approximate number. They are not good enough if you are a bow hunter or a golfer.
How Laser rangefinders work
A laser range finder uses a pulse of light and a receiver that records the reflection time. Depending on the quality of the LRF, these units can be highly accurate. Commercially available range finders can measure up to 1500 yards within 1-3 yards. Close-up range finding is harder for the long-range units. Typically, the closer-in units, like the 400 yd models have better resolution on targets within 10-20 yards range.
A Laser Range Finder’s ability to get an accurate measurement of the distance to a specific target is largely based on the target’s reflective characteristics. Recall that the rangefinder is pulsing light to the target and timing its return. If the target is dark and not very reflective, the unit will not be as accurate or you will not get a reading at all. Further, presence of rain or fog in the air adversely affects the reading. Water droplets refract light, confusing the unit by sending varied return signals.
The good news, some laser rangefinders have an override system to sort through the various return signals to get the “true” measurement. However, this reading may be less accurate than when operating under normal, dry conditions.
Due to their high range determination capability, laser range finders can be used to find range to an animal when hunting, distance to the flag post when playing golf, or to determine distance in marine undertakings.
In any case, expect to pay under $100 for a mechanical range finder and anywhere from $111-$439 for a laser range finder depending on the brand and its capabilities.
A Little About Modern Rangefinders
The latest models of rangefinders have powerful 7x magnification monocular and better. Greater magnification is very useful in both enabling the laser to locate landing points and get accurate distance measurements to the target. For instance, it is impossible to accurately locate a ridge on a green that you should avoid from 180 yards using naked eyes. However, by using a range finder, you can spot it very easily and play successfully to the other side of the green, giving a simpler birdie putt. So, if you want to buy a rangefinder, make sure it has at least 7x magnification power.
Range. Maybe the most essential element of a rangefinder is the distance it can measure. These tools vary widely in their ability to measure range with high models that can measure from 5 to 1600 yards with precision plus or less one yard. Some models may only be useful from 800 yards.
Rangefinder Comparison Chart
You can use the chart below to compare the functions and features of various brands of rangefinders. The chart only outlines the most popular models; we encourage you to flip through our site to learn more.
Top 10 Best Selling Rangefinders
|Image||Rangefinder Model||Max. Range (yd)||Zoom||Slope||Battery|
|Bushnell Pro X7||1,600.00||7x||Yes||3-volt battery|
|Bushnell Tour Z6||1,300.00||6x||No||3-volt battery|
|Bushnell Pro 1600||1,600.00||7x||No||9-volt battery|
|Bushnell Medalist||1,000.00||4x||No||9-volt battery/10,000 ranges|
|Leupold GX4i Rangefinder||800.00||6x||No||Thousands of actuations|
|Leupold RX-1200i TBR||1,200.00||6x||No||Thousands of actuations|
|Nikon 8397 ACULON||550.00||6x||No||3-volt battery|
|Leica Rangemaster CRF 1600-B||1,600.00||7x||No||1 CR2 battery|
|Simmons 801405||600.00||4x||No||9-volt battery|
|Vortex Optics Ranger 1000||1,000.00||6x||No||1 CR2 battery|
How to Buy a Laser Rangefinder: The Ultimate Buying GuideIf you can’t find a suitable rangefinder in the above chart, all is not lost. Please use the following rangefinder buying guide to help you get a tool that is right for you.
Determining how your laser rangefinder will be used is the first step in ensuring that you choose the most useful model for your application. There are rangefinders designed for hunters, golfers and surveying. This post will major with golfing and hunting range finders.
Know the Concept of Priority Difference
When a range finder takes in to account the first object in its path of view and disregards possible targets behind it, it is said to operate under the first priority mode. However, if it disregards the first object and takes into account a target behind it, the unit is said to be operating under the second priority mode.
First priority rangefinders
This type of rangefinders is extremely useful on the golf course. Typically, there will be no objects along the plane to the flag. Almost all golfing range finders operate under the first priority mode. If your aim is to determine the distance to a flag that is 120 yards away, the unit will read 120, and not 150, which might be the range to the trees located behind the flag.
Second Priority Rangefinders
These are more useful to hunters. A second priority rangefinder used as in the previous paragraph would give the distance to the tree at 150 yards and disregard the flag which is located 20 yards nearer. In hunting scenarios, you will most often be blinded partially or screened by limbs or leaves in the path. A second priority tool, ignores the first objects in the line of view such as the branches, and read the most distant object, which may be the deer you want to shot.
Can I use golf rangefinders (first priority) for hunting? Yes! Can I utilize
Can I utilize hunting rangefinders (second priority) for golfing? Certainly yes! But the product most closely designed for your intended purpose would be more user-friendly and not require multiple readings to be taken or switching modes to give the correct distance.
Luckily, some laser rangefinders offer options to temporarily switch from second priority mode with a “pinpoint” or “bullseye” button (allowing you to conveniently switching from second to first priority mode) semi-permanently.
Consider the Distance the Rangefinder Can Measure.
Rangefinders are sold and marketed under names that imply the maximum readable distance capable with the particular unit. This result in one of commonest misconception consumers have with these units. A unit may be labeled as a 1500 yards rangefinder, and it may be, but only under ideal atmospheric conditions and with a highly reflective large surfaces!
For instance, without a lot of glare and with presence of air pollution and heat waves, and a cloudy sky, you may be able to range a smooth white metal pole barn at 1500 yards. Under ideal weather conditions, you might be able to see a pole barn 1600 yards away, a rocky hill at 1200 yards away, a large truck that is 800 yards away, a tree that is 700 yards away, and an animal (deer) at 450 yards from you. In most cases, a deer, since it not highly reflective, can be read at 33% of the maximum stated range of the range finder.
Take Power and Magnification into Account When Buying
The more power or maximum distance stated, the further you may range small objects. If you want to range a deer at 400 yards and buy a 400 yard rangefinder, you have most likely wasted your money.
Generally a 6x or 7x magnification levels is fine. 6x simply means that the object appears 6 times closer through the rangefinder than it would to the unaided eye. Keep in mind that distant objects are not necessarily easier to range on with more magnification, but more magnification means a darker picture and smaller fields of view. Practically, magnification levels are not something I would base much of my ultimate choice on.
A good picture means good glass and coatings. Good glass is expensive, and so are the coatings that cover it. A Swarovski rangefinder may offer the ultimate picture, but the additional dollars might not make a lot of sense for golfers. To me, as a hunter, it is very important.
Diopters and Battery Life
Diopters are used to adjust the view to your eye strength to ensure the cleanest, clearest picture possible. They are standard on most rangefinders. Don’t worry about battery life. Changing batteries once a year is plenty for most users. If you use your rangefinder extensively, keep a spare and always have it when hunting especially under extremely cold weather.
Size and Weight
Size and weight are very important in a hunting rangefinder. The best range finder for a hunter you can carry with you; handy. I normally keep my rangefinder in an easily accessible shirt or pants pocket or backpack. I normally don’t like stuff hanging off my belt, so I usually only use my carrying case when transporting it in my luggage or to keep dust off when I’m not using it. Almost all rangefinders come with a carrying case of some kind. Whereas small and light is crucial for hunting, it’s almost the opposite for golf. The Bushnell Pinseeker 1600, for example, is large and heavier compared to many hunting rangefinders, but golfers typically carry it in a golf cart or wheeled bags, and it doesn’t make a difference. In addition, the large size gives excellent purchase for both hands and is very easy to hold steady. To give a rough guide, if you want to go hunting, small is better. On the other hand, if you are a golfer, opt for cheaper; portability is not much of an issue.
The Best Models & Brands
“Halo range finder utilizes the best technology. All our products come packed with the standard AL tech, which aids in accounting for slope to your target and is powered by Optical logic technology.”
Some of Halos best-selling range finders come packed with scan mode which caters for constant ranging and 6x or 8x magnification. Whether you are on the golf course or out in the wood hunting, halo has something for you. The pinnacle of Halo rangefinder lineup is the Xtanium™ P1000X and M600X; both featuring durable metallic finish and top quality glass lens.
Reputed across the globe for superior optical technologies, Nikon takes pride in offering clients innovative products of the best quality. It offers a vast range of laser rangefinders and ample features for you to choose from. Each of their tools is perfectly tailored to suit its specific use. The firm CEO says,
“Our Laser rangefinder lineup is designed for hunting and golfing capabilities, each particularly suited for its purpose.”
All Leica’s range finders are built on the same reliable tech. This means they are dependable, precise, and they offer eye safe distance determination with just the press of a button. Further, Ballistic program determines all parameters required to offer a safe and ethically correct shot. Leica says,
“Our ranging equipments also stun for perfect viewing experience. They are fitted with the finest component for uncompromising performance. Our tools are compact and rugged, offering tight handling in all situations.”
Redfiled is fast re-establishing a name for itself in the hunting optics arena under the guidance of its holding company Leupold. Its first rangefinder series (the Raider 550 series) made for a big hit among hunters on budget. To add up on this success, their updates series, now called Raider 600 series, is a big win.
A customer who uses their product says,
“Redfiled rangefinders are excellent whether you are hunting or golfing. They give dynamic ranging capability and this is just great. You only need to press and hold the distance and as the target moves, the range is adjusted accordingly. Overall, Redfield range finders are great products, easy to use and works well.”
“Improving your performance by enhancing our technology is our crowning goal and the benchmark we set for ourselves since we released the first rangefinder 19 years ago.”
Leupold rangefinders are a vital aide for sportsmen and hunters. With their unique fusion of advanced electronics rugged engineering and quality optics, they give optimal results in range measurement. They enable you to measure distance with high precision allowing for accurate shots. Thanks to their compact size, Leupold rangefinders are highly portable
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