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Our editors rate and review products objectively based on the features offered to consumers, the price and delivery options, how a product compares with other products in its category, and other factors.
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Rangefinder Shopping Guide
Whether you are hunting, golfing, or heading to the archery range, you will need a good rangefinder that can improve your accuracy and give you a better shot.
As is always the case, there are tons of rangefinders of varying quality out there. This makes researching a product overwhelming, especially if you are a beginner and don’t really know the ins-and-outs of rangefinders.
That is why we put together this comprehensive buying guide on rangefinders where we will cover some important features that you should look into before buying a rangefinder.
First vs Second Priority
Rangefinders are basically small cameras used to gauge distances between the user and some object within their visual field. You point the camera at the object and it tells you how far away from it you are. There are two main types of rangefinders, based on which object it focuses on.
First priority range finders are the most common for sports like golf. First priority rangefinders pick up the first object in their line of sight and record the distance. So if you are looking at a flag on the golf course that is 100 yards away, the first priority rangefinder will tag that object and not the line of trees that might be behind it.
Second priority range finders are typically used for hunting. Second priority range finders focus on the object that is the furthest away in the visual field. So in our previous example with the golf flag, a second priority rangefinder might ignore the flag and focus on the line of trees in the back of the visual field.
You can technically use either kind of rangefinder for whatever purpose, though first priority rangefinders are good for gauging static targets while second priority rangefinders are good for more dynamic targeting that might involve some movement or other objects impeding the line of sight.
You need to figure out how far your rangefinder can measure. Keep in mind that the stated maximum distance of your range finder is calculated in ideal atmospheric conditions. So a rangefinder might have a max distance of 1,500 yards, but only in ideal weather conditions. Air pollution, cloud cover, haze, and fog may limit this distance to 1,000 yards or so. Also, max distances are based on picking up a large reflective surface. So even if the max distance is stated at 1,500 yards, you might only be able to see something the size of a deer from about 900 yards away.
We recommend getting a rangefinder that has a max measuring distance of at least 1,500 yards. That way you can measure pretty long distances regardless of what your target is.
The reticle is the aiming point of the rangefinder you see when looking through the viewport. Cheaper rangefinders simply have a set of black lines you superimpose over the target. The problem with these kinds of reticles is that they can be very difficult to see in low-light or conditions of poor visibility.
Other rangefinders have LED reticles so they are easily visible during the night. The problem with these kinds of reticles is that they can be overtaken when lighting conditions are good and overwhelming when in the dark.
There are also backlit reticles that have a black superimposable reticle and switch for a backlight. We favor these kinds of reticles because they are the most flexible under varying weather conditions.
Distance is not the only important thing, you also need to consider the magnification level. If you buy a rangefinder with a 400-yard max distance to range deer from 400 yards away, then that would be a waste. You want to find a rangefinder that has at least 6 times magnification. That means that the object focused on appears 6 times closer than with the unaided eye. Keep in mind that higher magnification does not necessarily mean that more distant objects are easier to range as magnification also reduces the field of view.
Most rangefinders work using regular AA or AAA batteries. In general, you should not have to worry about changing batteries too much. We have found that changing batteries once or twice a year is usually enough, but this can vary based on frequency of use.
Alternate Viewing Modes
Some rangefinders let you do more than pick out a single target in the distance. You can find rangefinders that have a horizontal mode for shooting up and down steep angles and others might have a scan mode that gives you a continually changing reading as you move the rangefinder across your field of view.
Trusting our Top Pick
Navigating the many choices for every consumer purchase can be challenging. Our team spends hours doing research, combing through forums, and reading consumer reviews on even the most basic of household items, and we summarize that information in clear, precise comparisons.
Join the millions that have trusted BuyersGuide.org to help them make smarter buying decisions. We help our readers spend their money wisely and find the right product to suit their specific needs. Our independent expert reviews and data-driven shopping recommendations empower you find the rangefinder that's right for you.
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We leverage user data to understand decision-making and put the best products in front of each user. We tailor our comparisons to what matters to our user's needs, specific or broad. We keep our content up to date, we are constantly looking for new merchants and products to compare, and we are quick to remove any that are outdated or no longer meeting our standards. Our rankings change day-to-day based on our proprietary algorithms, that crunch data to identify top-performing products and tailor recommendations to exactly what our readers are looking for.
Have a question or want to make a recommendation? We love to hear from our readers and are always looking for new products to include on our site. Get in touch!
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