Rangefinder Buying Guide – What to Look For When Buying a Rangefinder

what to look for when buying a rangefinder

For many years sighting tool such as binocular, spotting scope or rifle scope have been the main tool to help them hunting the prey. But in the past few years there is one optic piece that grab the hunters attention and become more popular which is a rangefinder. With today advance technology the rangefinder are made smaller, more accurate and of course more affordable compare to the other sighting devices. Now there is almost no hunter left to hunt without bringing the rangefinder along.

What to Look For When Buying a Rangefinder

With so much growth of popularity on rangefinder, many companies race to win the rangefinder market by producing their own rangefinder products. With so many brands to choose and so many varieties of features and price it becomes too easy to make the consumer confuse. So if you are in the middle of getting one, make sure you read through this rangefinder buying guide so you can make a better decision to choose the best rangefinder that suit your needs.

Rangefinder Type

There are two common type of rangefinder sold in the market nowadays, which is a laser rangefinder and a GPS rangefinder. The difference of them is the method they use to measure the distance between your stand points to a target object. While laser rangefinder uses the time interval of a laser beam to come back to the device, the GPS rangefinder uses the satellite to measure the distance. Between those types, laser rangefinder gives you more accurate measurement than the GPS rangefinder. That is why now laser rangefinder is more popular than the GPS rangefinder. You can read the direct comparison between both on the laser rangefinder vs GPS rangefinder guide post.

While the laser rangefinder is mostly made special for hunters or golfers who need a long range measurement, there is also a type of rangefinder that designed special for a bow hunter with closer distance to measure. The bow hunter rangefinder can measure the distance between you and an object up to 100 yards to help the bow hunter to make a better angle decision to shoot.

Maximum effective range

One of the most important factors to consider when buying a rangefinder is the maximum effective range of the rangefinder. Different model will gives you a different maximum effective range. It will be vary from 500 up to 1500 yards. So when it comes for you to make a comparison between two models make sure it has the same maximum effective range that you need in your rangefinder.

One thing you should know about maximum effective range is it will gives you different result due to the reflectivity of the object you are targeting. The more solid and reflective the object makes it easier to measure. So the device can reach its maximum effective range if the object is solid and highly reflective. A solid rock can gives you more accurate measurement compare to a soft deer. So make sure you know the average distance and the material of the object that you need to measure before deciding to buy a rangefinder.

Ease to Operate

There are two types of rangefinder in term of the orientation of operation which is the vertical operation and horizontal operation. Although it doesn’t seems like a big problem, but in reality this difference determine the range capability and practical use.

The vertical rangefinder is mostly very easy to operate using only one hand and very compact to fit in your pocket. This type of rangefinder is perfect for a close range hunting as you need to use the rangefinder fast and without requiring many movements.

The horizontal rangefinder usually gives you greater ranging capabilities but less practical since it require two hands to operate just like using a binocular. But with better ranging capabilities, this rangefinder is perfect for a long range hunting.

Size and Weight

Simple factor that you should consider just like the orientation of using is the size and weight. Although it is more a personal preference, but it can gives you different practical use especially for a hunter. While smaller is easier to carry and fit your pocket, it usually are more expensive. But for a golf use, size doesn’t matter too much since the rangefinder is usually stored in the golf bag until needed.


Whatever rangefinder model you decide to buy, they all provide a certain level of magnification vary from 4x to 8x just like in a binoculars with 6x magnification being the most favorite. This feature will greatly assist you finding and ranging your target when hunting. The bigger level of magnification will gives you a better sight and will take you closer look to the target. The higher level also means you will have a smaller field of view of the target. The small field of view can makes it harder to spot your target.


One factor that will determine the quality of your sight is the coating of the lenses of your rangefinder. This special chemical coating is applied to the lenses to reduce glare and to keep the light quality to lose during the light transmission from the target to your eye. There are 4 kinds of coating that you might find in every rangefinder model. Each types of coating will gives you different sight quality in your eye. Here are all 4 types of coating that you should consider.

Image Quality

The different quality of coating will gives you different brightness, sharpness and clarity of sighting. But the better the coating the rangefinder has, the more expensive it will cost. But coating is not the only factor that determines the image quality you will get. Two other factors are the exit pupils and the lens size.

An exit pupils is a term refer to the number of light available for your eyes in the rangefinder. The larger the exit pupils will gives you better image quality. The exit pupils usually measured in millimeter. You can get this number by dividing the diameter of the lens with the magnification number. For example a 20mm lens with 4x magnification will gives you 5mm of exit pupils.

The lens size is really obvious will gives you a different image quality. The bigger the lens will gives you bigger exit pupils which mean better image quality. However bigger lens will gives you more weight and bulky size.


There are very wide ranges of price available for a rangefinder which is between $100 and $1000. With the average is around $200 to $400 for a good quality of rangefinder. You can find a rangefinder cost more than $1000 which is a high end rangefinder binocular which combine the powerful binoculars up to 10x magnification with range finding function for more than 1000 yards. This high end rangefinder is mostly used by a serious hunter so they only need to carry one device both or magnifying and range finding.

Additional Features

All of the above factors are the factors that every rangefinder has that you should consider the most to get your perfect rangefinder that suits your needs. The common features that you will likely to find is camo finish, roll down or twist down eye cup, lens cups and neck straps.. However, there are additional features that you might also consider that usually embed in a rangefinder.

  • True Horisontal Distance. The common rangefinder only uses a straight-line measurement which mostly is distorted by the gravity. While the true horizontal distance feature can give you more accurate measurement by calculating your actual horizontal or ballistic distance to the target.
  • Rubber Armor. This feature can absorb any shock to reduce the impact receive by the rangefinder. This feature also makes the rangefinder more comfortable to hold. This feature can be a benefit when you have a hard field of hunting.
  • O-rings seal and Nitrogen gas filling. This feature can make the rangefinder waterproof, fog proof and also shockproof.

Time to Decide What Rangefinder to Buy

Well, now that you know what factor to consider when buying a rangefinder, it is time for you to look around the internet to find what model of rangefinder will suit your need. Or you can head to our rangefinder reviews to save your time since we have done all the research to review all the best rangefinder that are available on the market.






Fixed vs. Variable Scope for Your AR-15, What Do You Prefer?

Fixed vs Magnification Scope for AR 15

Choosing the best rifle scope for your AR-15 can be challenging especially if you’re new to scopes. There are hundreds of scope options on the market leaving you with a huge decision to make. Do I go with a variable or fixed scope? These are some of the questions to ask as you look forward to selecting an ideal scope for your AR rifle. The fixed and variable scopes are the two types of scopes in the market.

Before we even get to decide the best scope for an AR-15, let find out the differences between these two types of scopes.

Fixed Scopes


A fixed scope just as the name suggests uses a specific power that cannot be changed. They have no adjustment on the magnification. This provides them with the benefits of being less complicated, lighter, compact and cheap. They are highly portable, easy to carry something that makes them a great pick for beginners.

However, fixed scopes lack flexibility when it comes to setting the right magnification. They might not be an ideal pick when you need to use different magnifications.

Variable Scopes


These are scopes tailored with variable magnification powers to suit different situations when shooting or hunting. One of the most significant benefits of the variable scope is being able to tailor the amount of magnification to the target at hand. You can adjust to maximum magnification to spot targets at long distances before narrowing down the magnification for a precise shoot.

However, they come with their disadvantages. They are usually bulky and heavier making transportation in the field an issue. They also require parallax adjustment and are usually hard to site in.

So, What Type of Scope’s the Best Choice for Your AR-15?

In general, the only difference between a fixed and variable scope is the settings on their magnifications. The AR-15 is one of the most versatile rifles to use and one that will require a robust scope. The choice between a Fixed and a Variable Scope for Your AR-15 will still come down to the exact use of the scope. A fixed scope can work well for sports purposes where you have to shoot at close ranges. However, the most versatile scope for an AR-15 is the variable scope which gives you good speed up close and great precision when shooting at long ranges.

For long range shooting, you need variable long range scope to gain more shooting capabilities. You can easily nail down targets from distances of 600 yards using variable long range scope as compared to fixed scopes.

The variable scope might have the weight drawback, but that will not be a major concern when you consider the versatility they give your AR-15. They also come with a variety of features which enable different users to achieve their goals. The target game is also crucial in determining magnification as opposed to range. There is a misconception that range usually determines magnification when hunting small game. Hunting a squirrel at 100 yards will require the same magnification as a deer 600 yards.

This is where our variable scope comes in with the primary benefit of collecting information first. A variable scope on your AR-15 when hunting can collect information at very high magnifications. Once you have the target on site, you can then lower the magnification to engage targets easily.

Final Verdict

For the AR enthusiasts, choosing a variable scope for your AR-15 comes with plenty of benefits. Think about your needs carefully and choose a model that matches them. Navigating the variable scope might be the hard. However, it is not as hard as navigating your AR-15 rifle. While a fixed scope is also excellent, it is not the best when handling a versatile rifle like the AR-15. It does not offer AR-15 users the much-needed flexibilities when shooting. Flexibility to play with your magnification to get the target at close and long range is only possible with a flexible scope.

The Millett DMS-1 Optic For Your AR-15

The Millett DMS-1

The Millett DMS-1 has recently jumped onto the market as an excellent value for those looking for a variable low power scope. DMS stands for “Designated Marksman Scope”.

In an effort to find something with more versatility than the ACOG or the Aimpoint, I decided to try out the DMS-1. As an optic that adjusts from 1-4x, with a battery illuminated “dot in donut” reticle, this optic showed some promise from the start.

With the magnifiers for Aimpoints and such, you can see why something like this needed to come about.

Millett DMS-1 with 30mm LaRue Tactical SPR-S mount

Add in the price tag (just a little over $200 at most places) and you have a very tempting scope for many of us in the world of AR15 rifles.

Knowing that an optic is only as good at it’s mount, I chose the best mount on the market for such a purpose, the LaRue Tactical SPR-S mount. LaRue stands above them all in almost every category of mount or railed handguard. They are also known for excellent customer service as well as quality.

This top notch quality and customer service comes at a price though. The mount cost almost as much as the optic.

Still, for a quality optic/mount combo coming in at around the $400 mark, I have no complaints.

Custom 20″ AR15 build with Millett DMS-1

I decided to mount the scope on my custom built 20″ AR15. It features a 20″ Colt govt profile 1/7 twist chrome lined barrel. It also features a Hiperform free floated carbon fiber handguard and a 2-stage trigger. I’ve shot 1″ groups with it at 100 yards in the past so I know it is capable of respectable accuracy.

I could do a couple more things to squeeze out every last bit of precision from the gun (mostly by upgrading the barrel), but I am quite happy with it as is. Mostly because I prize lightweight and durability in a combat rifle.

I took it out for testing a couple times to see how it would do and can say that at this point so far I am pleased. I also had a few others inspect, test out and try the scope and they were all impressed with the clarity and function of the scope.

3 shot group, 1 inch boxes

In my accuracy testing I shot the above group from 50 yards with 75gr Prvi Partizan Match ammo. It was a fairly windy day (about 10 mph winds) but I believe any lack of precision should be blamed on me, not the wind, optics, or the weapon, as I am no sniper.

However, I was happy with the group for my purposes.

My conclusion is that this is a very good optic for the money. If I had one issue, it would be that I wish it had more eye relief.

I really like the precision of the dot with the quick acquisition of the “donut”.

I saw little need for the reticle to be illuminated during day time shooting as it was much like a regular scope.

I don’t think it really does either job better than the ACOG (4x) or the Aimpoint (1x), but it is a good compromise and goes extremely well on this particular rifle. I don’t like the idea of a dedicated long range AR15 because I believe that the most likely combat scenarios for a normal citizen (and even most LE and maybe even military) is going to be under 100 yards.

Even though this is my “long range” AR15, it is still fairly useful at close range because I can use the scope at 1 power.

Only time will tell how well it holds up, but I am optimistic.

Which Caliber for your AR15 Carbine?


A large part of this is subjective. You may have particular criteria you want/need your AR15 carbine to meet, you may or may not reload your own ammo, etc… You may even have several AR15’s in a variety of calibers.

That said, of all of the various calibers out there for the AR15, I prefer the 5.56. There are several reasons for this. For one, 5.56 is plentiful and easy to get a hold of and much of it is made domestically. If for any reason, production and shipment of ammo from foreign countries were to cease certain cartridges would lose a lot of appeal and would suddenly cost MUCH more than currently.

Also, it is fairly inexpensive, when compared to most other rifle rounds. This means you can shoot more often and stash more of it. I believe that shot placement is paramount. The best way to improve that is through shooting. 5.56 costs less to shoot than many other calibers.

The 5.56 round is an underrated round in my opinion. No, it’s no death ray, but it is effective when placed in the right spot. The light round allows you to carry a lot of ammo. Light recoil allows for fast follow up shots. It is also a very flat shooting round.

Most of the various AR15 calibers are not nearly as common. Most are impractical, but the biggest reason to avoid them is because of parts availability for AR15’s in those calibers. If your primary defensive carbine is in another caliber such as 6.8, I recommend you keep plenty of spare parts/magazines and get into reloading.

.223Rem and 5.56 ammo have the same case dimensions on the outside but 5.56 is generally loaded to higher pressures. Therefore, you can safely shoot .223Rem ammo in your .223Rem or 5.56 chamber. I wouldn’t attempt to shoot 5.56 in a .223Rem chamber though. It could be dangerous.

However, not many AR15’s are even made with a .223Rem chamber. Still, steer clear of a .223Rem chamber in a tactical carbine if you come across one.

The .223Wylde chamber was created as a bit of a hybrid chamber that could also shoot both .223Rem and 5.56, and do so more accurately than a 5.56 chamber.

Shooting .223Rem in a .223Rem chamber will slightly increase the accuracy and velocity of the .223Rem round as opposed to shooting it in a 5.56 chamber. The .223Wylde bridges this gap just a little bit better for both cartridges.

It should be noted that the barrel will indicate which caliber your AR15 is chambered in. If your barrel says “5.56” and your receiver says “.223”, your AR15 is chambered in 5.56.

Superlight AR15


When I first started into the AR15 world, I had a strange desire to get an HBAR (Heavy Barrel). When I finally got myself one, I quickly saw the downside to it and learned why I didn’t want one anymore. All it took was a few outings with the HBAR. It was pure misery.

I had also come to realize that the AR15 was originally designed to be lightweight. The original 20″ AR15 sporters sold by Colt weighed in at around 7.6lbs loaded. The AR15 was never meant to be a machine gun or a sniper rifle originally.

M4 vs. Superlight

M4 Profile Barrel (Top) vs. Superlight Barrel Profile (bottom)

Superlight barrel carbines point vert fast and balance the weapon much better than heavier AR15 barrels. Although many people who advocate HBAR’s are quick to point out that thinner barrels heat up much faster, they tend to forget that they also cool down much faster.

Yes, you lose some accuracy, but not the practical kind in short-lived defensive shootouts.

I’ve gone through carbine classes where people’s superlights (many LEO’s) have held up just fine through all of the shooting drills even though we were putting a lot of rounds downrange quickly. I’m convinced that the superlight barrels are just fine for any likely scenario one might encounter as a civilian or an LEO.

My Superlight AR15 (bottom) in it’s original configuration

This particular carbine that I built was inspired by a rifle my brother had built with a chrome lined superlight “pencil” barrel and a carbon fiber free floated handguard. This is the same guy that told me not to get the HBAR in the first place. However, some of us have to experience things the hard way before we learn…

We had done several builds (for me and helping others) and had so many leftover parts from past builds that I practically had enough to build another complete rifle. This happens as most AR15’s we built were upgraded and utilize other various parts, leaving various extra parts. All I really needed was a barrel and the lower receiver.

I have since upgraded and changed out certain parts, including the buttstock, handguards (now DPMS carbon fiber free floated), and from an A2 fixed carry handle upper to a flat top upper with a cut down detachable carry handle.

Superlight AR15 build

With a loaded 30 round magazine, this 16″ superlight weighs in at 7.5lbs

It may not even have finished it’s full transformation. I might even try to lighten it up even more with a Cavalry Arms complete AR15 lower, which I estimate may drop close to 1lbs from the total weight.

Although it is mine, I built this one with my wife in mind. She shoots it very well too. At one point I had considered getting her an M1 Carbine, but the Superlight AR15 is very light. On top of that, it shoots a better round that I already own, shoot, and reload for, and it has parts that are compatible with my other AR15 rifles.

It’s a light and handy carbine that I can trust with my life and the life of my loved ones.