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When it comes to taking a precise shot, especially at long-range distances, having a quality rangefinder can’t be too much. This hunting tool can spare you a huge amount of effort in calculating a distance to your target taking into consideration the landscape and weather conditions. Equipped with such a device, your odds of having a great fruitful hunting trip sure increase.
So, how does a rangefinder work? While it may look serious and complex, the basic working principle behind it is pretty simple. A large majority of modern rangefinders use laser technology. The rangefinder sends a laser beam towards the target, the target reflects it, and then the reflected beam hits the device. The rangefinder calculates the elapsed time, and here you go.
Though the working principle is simple, prices differ from $100 to $1500. It’s not only greater working ranges that add up to the cost, but also optics quality, housing materials, and various features that allow you to use a rangefinder most effectively in real-life environments.
Before we touch upon these features, here is something to be mindful of when choosing a hunting rangefinder. It’s the term “reflective range”.
The reflective range is measured in yards and can be indicated in the name of a specific rangefinder model, for instance, XXX 1500 rangefinder. Different surfaces vary in their ability to reflect light. So in our case, a 1500 yard reflective range is a maximum working range valid only for high-reflective surfaces. With trees and animals which are non-reflective targets, the ranges will be smaller, 1300 and 1000 yards respectively.
What bow and rifle hunters should consider
When pursuing something outstanding and being unconscious of your needs, you may end up opting for an item that provides a large reflective range at a reasonable price, and that’s it. That’s not how you want to choose a device to use for years. The rangefinder should meet your specific needs.
Actually, a bowhunter can go along pretty well with a rangefinder with a 1000 reflective range at max. It’s short-distance accuracy and close-target sensitivity that is a top priority. It is also essential for a quality archery rangefinder to feature angle-compensating software to calculate the horizontal distance to your target.
Rifle hunters and long-distance shooters, on the other hand, might not be completely satisfied with smaller-range devices. So for them, having a rangefinder that has at least a 1500 yard reflective range could make more sense. Premium rangefinders for rifle-hunting also have ballistics software that computes data based on the caliber and other entry information.
So now when you possess more information based on which you can make a well-considered decision, let’s talk about the best laser rangefinders for hunting 2022.
NIKON Prostaff 1000i TrueTimber Kanati Rangefinder (16690)
Let’s start with the best 1000 yard hunting rangefinder. It features 6x magnification which is enough to spot an animal at a long distance. A deer can be ranged with this device at a distance of up to 600 yards.
The first thing that impresses you when you take it out of the case is how compact and lightweight it is. Due to the size and rubberized plastic, it fits nicely in the hand and doesn’t slip.
Both rifle and bow hunters will be happy to know that this little guy features Incline/Decline angle-compensating technology. You can switch between the horizontal and actual distance modes whenever you want. The maximum shooting incline/decline angle is +/- 89 degrees. Impressive.
With Prostaff 1000i rangefinder you can also choose between distant target and first target priority modes. In Distant Target Priority mode, the rangefinder will ignore obstacles blocking the view of an animal, such as brunches and bushes. First Target Priority mode helps to spot a small animal against a noisy background.
Prostaff 1000i has a nice optical system with lens and prism multilayer coating, yet it employs an objective diameter of 20mm and a black LCD which makes this unit a bit hard to use in low-light conditions. Still, it has plenty to offer at a price of nearly $170.
BUSHNELL Engage 1300 LRF 6×24 Rangefinder (LE1300SBL)
Bushnell’s Engage 1300 rangefinder costs the same as Prostaff 1000i but offers a greater effective range of 7-1300 yards within which a deer can be ranged at 700 yards.
Fully multi-coated optics features a 6x24mm monocular which allows more light to the lenses making a bright and clear image in low-light conditions. However, the device employs a black LCD.
The exterior measurements of Engage 1300 are close to Prostaff 1000i and the housing features grippy molding making it easy to handle.
Its angle-compensation software includes three modes of operation: regular, bow, and rifle. Regular mode calculates only line-of-sight distance and is not meant for hunting. Bow mode displays the degree of incline and calculates the horizontal distance. Rifle mode shows the amount of bullet drop. In this mode, the user can select a ballistic group.
Engage 1300 also features targeting modes named BullsEye and Brush modes. BullsEye mode works the same way as First Target Priority mode in Nikon products, preventing background objects having a stronger signal from getting acquired by the rangefinder. Brush mode ignores forwarding objects and focuses on the background.
NIKON Laser 50 Rangefinder (16754)
Our next recommendation will also be Nikon’s rangefinder, Laser 50. It costs nearly $450 and provides 10-2000 yards of effective range. The maximum distance for ranging a deer is 1100 yards.
With this item, you won’t be stuck in low-light conditions as Laser 50 features a red OLED display with brightness adjustment. For accurate ranging, the display employs a crosshair reticle with a long horizontal line.
Unlike the previous two rangefinders with 4 seconds of continuous scanning, this one provides 8 seconds. And for a quick one-time measurement, it takes this model 0.3 seconds to display results. So it will save you some time to prepare for a precise shot.
Laser 50’s optical system features 6x magnification, lenses with multilayer coating, and a wide field of view (7.5 degrees) for easy object spotting. The system also is purged by nitrogen gas to protect the device from thermal shock and fogging.
As for the software, there are four measurement modes. The device can display both horizontal distance and actual distance either in angle mode or in height mode which is very convenient if you want to possess as much information as possible.
The rangefinder also features the target priority mode discussed above.
LEICA CRF Rangemaster 3500.COM Rangefinder (40508)
Well, our last device is an absolute beast in the shooting rangefinder world. It’s Leica’s premium class target rangefinder with an effective range of 3500 yards. A deer can be ranged within 2500 yards in sunny conditions.
Rangemaster 3500.COM has a 7x24mm monocular with an angle of view of 6.6 degrees. The image is clear and crisp. That’s when you realize how Leica earned a reputation as a high-quality lens manufacturer.
The rangefinder features a red display with automatic or manual brightness adjustment. When you’re looking into it, you see nothing but a target mark and the measured value. Very minimalistic.
Such conditions as temperature and atmospheric pressure can also be measured and displayed.
Rangemaster 3500.COM software features the same angle compensating and target priority modes we mentioned discussing other models. But what makes this rangefinder an outstanding premium class product is the Leica Hunting App. In this app, you can manipulate with basic settings, set the ballistic curve, and create your own ballistics profiles. The app is very intuitive and gets all the necessary updates.
You can also connect a Kestrel Elite weather meter to achieve even better precision.
Well, the only disadvantage this rangefinder probably has is its price ($1200), but it is totally worth it.
Now that you’ve gained some knowledge about hunting rangefinders and what features they may have, you’ll be much more conscious about your needs and make a decision you’ll never regret.
And if your shopping list is not limited by rangefinders, take a look at the best hunting gear for sale.