The Best Rangefinders

Gear We Use
The Best Rangefinders
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“Close enough” might cut it at the golf course, but when it comes to the rifle range or tree stand, punched tags require precision. Whether you’re gun or bowhunting, making a successful and ethical shot hinges on knowing your target’s exact distance. The MeatEater crew doesn’t leave hunting to chance, so we picked their brains to find the best rangefinders for a variety of hunting and shooting scenarios.

What We Look For in a Good Rangefinder

Call it superstition, but there’s a reason we don’t leave these rangefinders at home. Still, today’s market offers plenty of capable options, depending on your hunting and shooting needs. Whether you strike a chord with one of these options or not, consider these factors before pulling the trigger:

  1. Angle Compensation
  2. Quick Response Time
  3. Accurate Ranging
  4. Optical Quality

No matter where we hunt, quick response times and accurate, real-world ranges are a must. While you might not always need angle compensation technology, most rangefinders feature it (and there’s some saying about not having and needing that feels applicable here). If you’re a bowhunter, you probably don’t need crazy ranging capabilities. Budget options might save you big bucks. They might also cost you a big buck if you can’t see well enough to range at last light.

The Rangefinders We Use

If you can hunt it, chances are the MeatEater crew has. Your preferred brand might not have made this list, but the rangefinders below represent options we trust when it’s time to pull the trigger or let an arrow fly.

Jump to: Field Notes

What We Look For in a Good Rangefinder

Rangefinders can run anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Luckily, the current market has solid options in almost every price range. But if you’re like us, you’ll want to get the most mileage out of your gear or hunting funds. Regardless of your budget, here’s a list of non-negotiables when it comes to rangefinders.

  1. Angle Compensation
  2. For most bowhunters, angle compensating technology is critical to making a good shot, whether hunting from a tree stand or in steep, open terrain. The steeper the shot angle, the more imperative this becomes. Luckily, most rangefinders include angle-compensating technology, especially those marketed as archery-specific. Just make sure your rangefinder includes this feature before you make a purchase.

  3. Quick Response Time
  4. While you should range landmarks, trees, rocks, etc., ahead of time, you might have to make a last-minute range. Big game encounters can last anywhere from several minutes to a few seconds. If you’re scrambling to get an accurate reading while a buck walks through your shooting lane, that slow time could cost you. Most options will provide readings within less than one second, but cheaper options might require multiple attempts or inaccurate readings.

  5. Accurate Readings
  6. A few yards might not matter for the short to mid-range rifle hunter, but for precision shooters and archery hunters, especially those shooting heavy or high FOC setups, it might mean missing the target completely. This isn’t a problem you’ll likely encounter with rangefinders in the mid-to upper-tier price range, but a solid option should give you consistent readings within at least half a yard.

  7. Optical Quality
  8. You shouldn’t expect the same optical quality from your rangefinder as you would your spotting scope, but it should provide enough visibility in low-light conditions to pick up and range your target accurately. Otherwise, what’s it for?

Field Notes from the MeatEater Crew

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