While Rangefinders are great for a large number of outdoor activities, they are especially useful for hunters. The ability to determine one’s distance from what they are hunting is incredibly useful, and laser technology has provided a way to accurately gauge this with little fear of detection or harm. Today’s rangefinders are just just one of several modern hunting supplies that have changed how hunters go about their business, with many of them developing features to suit specific needs.
The problem now, though, is that there are just too many rangefinders out on the market! It can be difficult to determine what out there is right for your needs, but here we’ve tried to alleviate this somewhat. Listed here are a few factors you should consider when picking out a rangefinder. While we can’t guarantee you’ll immediately find the best one for your needs and hunting style, you will at least be able to make a more informed purchase.
Size & Weight
While it may not be the first factor to come to mind when deciding on what rangefinder to purchase, the size and weight of a rangefinder do play an important part in many hunters’ decision to buy one. The reason for this is simple: if a rangefinder’s large and bulky frame makes it difficult to quickly pull out and read the distance between you and your buck, it probably wasn’t worth the money to purchase. Today’s rangefinders are built to be easy to use and hold, and if a range finder is neither, then it is simply not a good rangefinder.
That doesn’t mean large rangefinders are inherently bad, however. People with larger hands may find the weight and heft of a larger rangefinder comfortable, rather than inconvenient. Similarly, larger rangefinders tend to be more sturdily built as well, withstanding elemental hazards like extreme cold, rain, and fog without any decrease in performance. While I would not suggest sacrificing ease-of-use for durability, you should most definitely invest in larger units if you can comfortably use them.
Of course, what good is a rangefinder without good range? Rangefinders will often run the gamut between 500 and 1550 yards, with some going out as far as 2500 yards. Is the extra yardage worth it, though? Are the readings just as accurate at those further lengths, though? These are questions you should be asking when presented with these figures. An advertisement for a rangefinder may pitch a max range of 1000 yards, but it might only be suitable for up to 600 yards when looking for soft targets.
In general, any rangefinder that can see as far as 1500 is good for most hunters’ needs. Any further than that would require an expensive, high-quality lens to read accurately, and you will need ideal visibility to be able to see a target from that far away anyway. Still, you know your visibility and needs better than anyone else, so consider your hunting style when picking out a rangefinder.
Like with trail cameras, the battery of a rangefinder can make or break their usefulness. After all, you would not want one to die on you out in the field, and you will need to know how to recharge or replace the battery once it exhausts its usefulness. Make it a point to look into what kind of battery rangefinders use, and don’t forget to look at user reviews to determine if that battery has a lifespan suited to your needs.
Most rangefinders nowadays use a CR2 battery for power. These batteries are not very expensive, with a pack of 6 non-rechargeable cells going for less than $15 in most cases. There are rechargeable versions of the CR2, but these will be more expensive and require a unique charger for them, given their uncommon size. A pack of Duracells will last you a couple of years with most rangefinders, though, so long as the energy consumption is decent.
A rangefinder’s “ballistic range” refers to its ability to calculate the ideal shooting angle from where the hunter is standing out towards a target at as far as 1000 yards away. This is a feature that is built for hunting rangefinders specifically, and is geared towards anyone looking to have their rangefinder improve on their shooting skills.
However, because of the exclusive usefulness of this feature, not many rangefinders have it. In fact, this is a feature relegated to the most expensive rangefinders on the market. Even as important as a rangefinder’s advertising may present it as, is “ballistic range” capability necessary?
There really isn’t an easy answer to this. Ballistic range is not strictly necessary for use, but the feature is incredibly useful to have, especially for more serious hunters. Plus, a rangefinder having ballistic range is often an indicator of quality; rangefinders with ballistic range will often be well-built for other purposes. In general, I would advise strongly towards buying a rangefinder with ballistic range, if you can afford it.
Indeed, the most important thing to consider is your own budget. Rangefinders can often be found between $200 and $2000 in price, with the most features and durability coming from the higher end of the spectrum. Of course, not everyone’s going to have the money or the willingness to drop a whole two grand on just a rangefinder, so it is important to make a balanced decision based on what you need the rangefinder to do, and what you have in your wallet.
These are just a few of the things you should consider when picking out a rangefinder for your hunting needs. The battery life, the size and durability, the comfort with which you can hold and use one, as well as the extra features and price range all factor into an informed rangefinder purchase. How fully-featured you want your rangefinder largely depends on how serious you are about hunting, but some of the devices on the lower end of the price range will work just as well if you don’t need a lot of features. Just consider your own needs before going out to buy a rangefinder.