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.
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.
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.
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.