Guide to Buying Laser Rangefinders
Thinking of the coolest gift to buy for a golfer or a hunter?
Simply buy a laser rangefinder, and you will remain in their best friend’s book forever!
A laser rangefinder is a little electronic device that allows you to effectively measure the distance of a faraway object by laser. This device has a wide range of uses and applications – there are laser rangefinders for golf, hunting, surveying, etc. If you have used a laser rangefinder before, then you understand how easy it is to use and how beneficial it can be.
When it comes to buying laser rangefinders, choosing one that suits your needs can be very difficult considering the fact that there is a vast selection of laser rangefinders available on the market today. Furthermore, even if you decide to buy the device from a traditional brick and mortar store instead of the internet, you cannot really test it anywhere but in the field. As such, you will still face the dilemma of which rangefinder to buy.
We have prepared this comprehensive buying guide to help you sieve through the noise and find the best laser rangefinder for your specific needs.
How does a laser rangefinder work?
The actual dynamics of laser rangefinders and how they work is understood very little even by those who actually own them. At first, these devices seem like quite confusing contraptions, but once you understand how they work you will find rangefinders to be quite simple devices.
Here’s how they work:
You simply look through the device like you do a pair of binoculars, and then place the crosshairs on the target that you want to calculate the distance to. After ensuring the target is in your site, you then hit the ranging button and the laser rangefinder will swiftly send out a laser beam at the targeted object. Sophisticated electronics measure how long the laser takes to reach the target and then to reflect light back to the rangefinder. The rangefinder calculates the distance based on this measurement before displaying it on the screen.
To an uninterested person, the value of this might seem insignificant, but to a hunter or a golfer, this can be a valuable tool. Golfers usually need to measure the distance to a bend or to the flag as this distance will play an integral role in selecting the club with which to make the shot. If you are a golfer, a quality laser rangefinder will allow you to consistently pick the right club length, making you a much more consistent golfer.
Likewise, if you are a hunter, a bow hunter in particular, then you largely face the same challenges as those of a golfer. Namely, you will need to know the correct distance to your target in a bid to accommodate for your shot. In all these endeavours, knowing the exact distance is very critical to your consistent success.
Now that you understand how a rangefinder works, which laser rangefinder is best?
The answer to this question lies in the next sections of this guide. Read on.
What to Consider When Buying a Laser Rangefinder
When it comes to buying a laser rangefinder, you cannot just pick the first nice-looking device that captures your attention. There are several considerations to make when you are purchasing a rangefinder to ensure that you make the right purchase. Here are the most significant considerations:
When a rangefinder recognizes the first object in its path and ignores further objects, the device is considered to be in a First Priority Mode. Conversely, if a rangefinder ignores the first object in its path of vision and sees a more distant object, the device is considered to be in a Second Priority Mode.
First priority laser range finders are an extremely valuable tool on the golf course. Generally, nothing stands between you and the flag, unless the flag is hidden. In fact, all laser rangefinders made for golfing are in the first priority mode. As such, if your target is a flag that is perhaps 150 metres away, it will read 150, and not, say, 170, which might be trees behind the flag.
On the other hand, second priority laser rangefinders are more beneficial for hunting. If used as in the last paragraph, a second priority rangefinder would certainly read trees at 170 metres and ignore the flag 20 meters closer. In most hunting situations, plants, somewhat, blind you. A hunting laser range finder would ignore the first object in its site path, such as the leaves, and read the most faraway object, which could be a dear.
When it comes to choosing between these two types of range finders, there are two frequently asked questions:
- Can you use a first priority rangefinder for hunting?
- Can you use a second priority rangefinder for golf?
The answer to these questions is an absolute YES. However, the device most closely designed for your intended application would be more convenient as you won’t require switching modes or multiple readings to ensure the accurate distance.
This is perhaps the most important aspect of laser rangefinder. Obviously, you need to know the actual distance your rangefinder can be used in order to maintain accuracy. Rangefinders can vary in different ranges, and many models out there have the ability to measure up to 1600 yards. There are also others that may only be accurate for up to 800 yards.
If you are a rifle hunter, for instance, you will need a longer range, whereas if you are more of a bow hunter, a shorter range will work fine for you.
This refers to the process of visually enlarging something. Magnification is typically related to scaling up visuals to be able to see more details, increasing resolution. On laser rangefinders, magnification is expressed by multiplication. An x7 magnification means the device can enlarge an object up to seven times its actual size.
Without a doubt, this will help you hit your target. If you want a short-range laser rangefinder, you should go for a lower magnification and vice-versa.
The accuracy of a laser rangefinder binoculars might be + or -1 yard. This means that the measurement you get could be one yard further or one yard closer than the actual distance of your target. Laser rangefinders normally provide very accurate results, the weather condition notwithstanding. A higher accuracy translates to better results.
While the weight of a laser rangefinder will not affect its effectiveness, it is advisable to get one that is handy just for the sake of convenience. Don’t go for something that is so heavy that you can’t hold it to your eye for some time. In fact, there are extremely small and compact rangefinders that you can simply tuck into your pocket, and be able to grab and use easily.
A good laser rangefinder should be both water and fog proof. If you are a hunter, you most probably go out there during very warm or very cold weather. For this reason, you need fog-proofing to ensure your rangefinder lenses don’t get fogged by humidity or your skin’s heat during warm days. In the case of rainy days, you don’t want a laser rangefinder that cannot handle rain. Seeing your target object while you can’t get your range is a grave risk you don’t want to take.
A reticle, or aiming point, is the crosshair you see when looking through your laser rangefinder. Some aiming points are made of black lines, which you overlay your target. This target are typically difficult against a darker background with dim lighting conditions.
On the other hand, there are recticles that appear illuminated because they’re actually LED lights, whose brightness is invariably adjustable. The major issue with LED aiming points is that in bright conditions, they could be drowned out to the extent that they can’t be seen even at the highest settings. Furthermore, in the evening when your eyes are used to the night, the LED reticles are so bright that they can affect your night vision, even at the lowest settings. You can’t really see past the bright reticle.
The best laser rangefinder is the one with a black reticle and information with a backlighting button. The backlighting will allow you to view your information in virtually every light condition.
The battery life of a device is another important aspect to consider when buying a rangefinder. Many people who go for cheap rangefinders complain about battery life. If you are a golfer, for instance, be sure that the device you are buying will allow you to play at least a full 18-hole game. It can be very frustrating when the battery dies after playing just a few holes. Sometimes, it can be quite expensive or difficult to replace the battery. It is advisable to compare the battery life of several brands within your budget range before you make a purchase.
Some laser rangefinders, especially the ones made for golfing, are equipped with a function to also measure other factors affecting a shot, such as elevation and temperature. It is worth noting that at present, these extra features are not allowed in competitive golfing. Therefore, if you get a laser rangefinder with such functions, be sure that the functions can be disabled, and that you can use the device with the functions disabled in a competitive event.
Armed with all this information, you will find it very easy to choose a laser rangefinder that will perfectly meet your expectations. Now, let us examine some of the best models of laser rangefinders on the market today.
16 of the Best Laser Rangefinders You Can Buy
If you are a golfer, this is perhaps the best laser rangefinder for you. You need not more than 5 minutes to figure out how it works. You will certainly be blown away by the speed, accuracy, and the JOLT of the Tour Z6 golf laser rangefinder.
It is quite easy to see, especially on cloudy days, thanks to its vivid red display. The Tour Z6 golf laser rangefinder with JOLT is lightning fast – press the button and boom! There’s the yardage. This amazing device is effective in ignoring the background clutter and will never get fooled by background trees.
You might be wondering, what is this thing called JOLT? JOLT is a new feature added to the Tour Z6 as it allows you to quickly lock on the object you want to range. Your laser rangefinder will vibrate and lock onto the target automatically, even if your grip is not steady.
With an x6 magnification, a Vivid Display Technology, a sleek design, and the ability to provide super-fast readings, Tour Z6 golf rangefinder is ideal for ardent and professional golfers who are looking for a complete package of an attractive, convenient, and super-efficient device. What’s more, it is one of the most reasonably priced rangefinders considering its features.
Another highly rated laser rangefinder is the Leupold GX-3i series digital golf laser rangefinder. This premium device offers a prism lock feature with the PinHunter technology, which helps you target the flagstick with surgical precision, ignoring the background clutter.
Many golf courses are equipped with prism reflector. Therefore, the prism lock feature in combination with the PinHunter technology facilitates easy locking of the flagstick. You can only get this unique combination on the Leupold GX-3i, and not on any other brand on the market.
This laser rangefinder dimensions are of 3.7×2.9×1.3 inches, and weighs 7.8 oz. Its maximum range for targets with prism reflector is 800 yards or 731 meters. For trees, the range is 600 yards/ 549 meters while for other targets, it is 450 yards/411 meters. The GX series of rangefinders has a ranging accuracy of +/- 0.5 yard. What’s more, the Leupold GX-3i has a fog mode for screening out the inaccurate readings occasioned by raindrops or other atmospheric interference.
This device comes with a CR-2 lithium battery. It is arguably the best product by Leupold, especially comparing to their other models of laser rangefinders in the market. Leupold GX-3i series digital golf laser rangefinder is ideal for users who are looking for the best golf laser rangefinder features in a sleek and modern package.
The powerful Bushnell Pro X7 Slope golf laser rangefinder is another must have device for ardent golfers. It is one of the best golf laser rangefinders in the market today. However, it is worth noting that the Bushnell X7 is not allowed in professional tournaments due to its slope technology.
It is exceptionally fast when it comes to distancing calculation, with an accuracy of up to 0.5 yards. In fact, it takes less than 3 seconds between pressing the button and getting the distance to your target! Its JOLT technology helps you to know when you hit your target by producing a bursting sound-vibration.
Bushnell Pro X7 is quite user-friendly and can display distance in yards and meters. The device has a range of up to 550 yards. Its JOLT can also provide a modified distance to a choppy background. This rangefinder is built with cutting-edge technology, featuring:
- Extreme speed precision (ESP)
- Vivid Display Technology (VDT)
- Bushnell Pro X7 HD Optics that allow for 7x Magnification
Pro X7’s display is so bright and crystal clear that you can see in any weather condition. If you take your golfing seriously, then you should consider having this laser rangefinder.
If you are looking for a light rangefinder that would easily fit into your hand, then Nikon Coolshot 40 Golf laser rangefinder could be your perfect device. Nikon Cool Shot is an ergonomically designed compact laser rangefinder. It is relatively fast. After pressing the power button, it gives you the distance to your target within 8 seconds and then completely shuts down to save power.
That’s too fast for you? Don’t fret! Simply press the power button again. Nikon Cool Shot will give you the distance and then shut down in 16 seconds. It is a versatile laser rangefinder, which doesn’t depend on a flagstick reflector. It can be used for non-golf activities, such as hunting, hiking, and bird watching.
The dimensions of Nikon Coolshot 40 Golf laser rangefinder are 4.4 x 1.5 x 2.8 inches, and the weight is 5.9 ounces. With its x6 magnification, you can see distant objects even with poor vision. The device has a range of 600 yards, with an option to measure distance in meters or yards. The Auto turn off feature plays a great role in saving the energy of the included CR2 battery. The additional backlight ensures that the screen is brightly lit even in dark conditions.
All in all, this is an excellently built laser rangefinder from the frontrunners in the world of optical technology – NIKON. Nikon Cool Shot is an ideal rangefinder for hunters or golfers who are looking for a simple but reliable laser rangefinder.
The Bushnell Tour V3 Standard Edition is one of the most sought-after laser rangefinders in the market today. This device is a new addition to the Bushnell Tour model of rangefinders, featuring JOLT technology together with the Pin-seeker feature. The Tour V3 Standard Edition of Bushnell also comes with improved speed and battery life.
The JOLT technology provides, through a vibration, a signal for completion of the Pin-seeking process. This device is tour certified, making it suitable for pro golfers. Tour V3 is quite compact and can comfortably fit in the hand, thanks to its dimensions of 1.6×4.3×2.8 inches, and a weight of 6.6 oz. It features x5 magnification and multi coated optics.
The device comes with a 3-volt lithium battery, in-built tripod mount, a 2-year warranty, and a carrying case. With its unique JOLT technology and several other improved features, Bushnell Tour V3 Standard Edition gives the best value for money and is a perfect choice for the price-conscious golfers.
With its Pin-seeker technology, the Bushnell Medalist golf laser rangefinder is a great device for the regular golfers. The Pin-seeker technology allows for precise sensing and pointing of the flagstick, ignoring background clutter, such as trees, which may have stronger signal strength. Weighing 9 ounces and measuring 1.7 x 4.5 x 3.8 inches, the horizontal sleek profile of the Medalist makes it all the more convenient and beautiful in looks.
The device has a tripod mount molded at the bottom. This makes it easy to attach to the cart mount accessory. The fully waterproof laser rangefinder comes with a 9-volt alkaline battery. Its digital technology has a range accuracy of 5-1000 yards or 5-914 meters, delivering exceptional range performance with a precision of +/- one yard. The Bushnell Medalist golf Laser Rangefinder features an x4 magnification for distant targeted objects on the golf course. Other significant features include a 2-year warranty and a carrying case.
Simmons LRF 600 Laser Rangefinder is a no-frills laser rangefinder that will definitely give you value for your money. The device fares well for hunting as opposed to golfing. It may be relatively cheap, compared to the aforementioned models, but it performs just as well as most highly priced rangefinders in the market.
Featuring an x4 magnification, Simmons LRF 600 is ideal for hunting and long-range shooting since it allows a clear and close-up view of the target. The device is also surprisingly accurate in light of the fact that it only weighs 8 ounces. Giving you the exact range of your target from 10 to 600 yards, Simmons LRF 600 also relies on the target’s reflectivity for a better measurement.
Another notable feature of this rangefinder is its capability to switch from meters to yards and vice versa. For this reason, in addition to its pinpoint accuracy, Simmons LRF 600 laser rangefinder is highly recommended for hunting and distance shooting. However, it can also perform effectively in cross-differential works between the distances of buildings.
If you are looking for a cheap yet effective laser rangefinder, then Simmons LRF 600 should be your device of choice. It will certainly outperform and outlast many of its competitors.
This is another lightweight and portable laser rangefinder. Measuring a mere 5.1 x 1.5 x 2.7 inches, Nikon ProStaff 3 Laser Rangefinder can comfortably fit into the palm of your hand. Sporting a modern design and a sleek finish, the rangefinder’s body allows for easy grip. You can quickly store it or grab it from your pocket, pouch, or belt.
This sleek device is both fog proof and water proof, which is a great relief in high altitudes or during unexpected rains. However, it is worth noting that the device’s battery chamber is not waterproof. The Prostaff 3 also demonstrates Nikon’s reputation for high-quality optics by offering up to six times magnification and multi-coated anti-reflection lens. Thus, you should expect high resolution images in virtually every lighting condition.
The Prostaff 3 has a maximum range of up to 550 yards, and even higher for reflective targets. This makes it the best rangefinder for hunting and long-distance shooting. Another remarkable feature of this device is its display of half increments that run-up to 99.5 yards, allowing for a more accurate measurement.
While the Prostaff 3 is largely recommended for activities such as target shooting and hunting, it has also captured the interest of golf lovers for its far-reaching range and accurate measurement. If you are looking for a user-friendly and powerful laser rangefinder that combines impressive technology and simplicity of design, then the Nikon Prostaff 3 is your perfect device. At a very reasonable price, close to cheap, the device is worth every penny.
This competitively priced rangefinder is another great device from Nikon. The Aculon is ideal for a hunter, who doesn’t need ultra-high tech features, but just needs to get the job done.
The device has a range of 550 yards, which is a far much greater distance than most hunters can ethically and safely take shots at. What’s more, Nikon 8397 Aculon Laser Rangefinder is very easy to use. In fact, it is so user-friendly that you can obtain an accurate read with a push of only one button. The device is lightweight and compact, making it easy to carry.
Having garnered countless positive reviews from previous users is enough testimony that the device has a reputation of satisfying the needs of hunters.
If you are an archer with a desire to launch arrows beyond the usual hundred yards, then you need the help of this notorious Bushnell creation. Bushnell G-Force 1300 ARC Laser Rangefinder is perhaps the most accurate device currently available in the world of archers. It has a range of up to 1300 yards, and the precision is on point. Its units are given for every one-tenth of a yard.
For the nearest 475 feet, you can rest assured that the shot will land within 0.5 yards without human adjustment. Moreover, everything beyond that point still promises an accuracy of a single yard range.
With its legendary x6 optics, brilliantly enlivened by Vivid Display Technology, the device delivers greater clarity and contrast. Another remarkable feature that is sported by Bushnell G-Force 1300 ARC is Variable Sight-In (VSI).
There exist three different modes for the bow and arrow, each of which is really beneficial. Brush and Scan modes focus on panoramic aiming practices, whereas Bull-Eye mode emphasizes sharpshooting. The device also boasts a powerful protocol called “Extreme. Speed. Precision.” This is the most renowned rangefinder mainframe software being offered to ordinary customers today.
Another great advantage is that you can mount this stylish piece of equipment on a tripod, thanks to its factory-installed mounting chamber.
If you are looking for an authentic hunting experience, then you certainly need this rugged laser rangefinder. The Collector’s Edition of Bushnell rangefinders features a unique design, with a camouflage exterior that presents itself to a gritty outdoor lifestyle. The device’s tough appeal is not just for show; it is geared to handle extreme environmental conditions.
Bushnell Michael Waddell Bone Collector Edition rangefinder sports, a rainproof shell and its compact design makes it extra portable. The way this device simplifies the hunting experience is unrivalled. All its functions have been integrated into a single-button operation. With this rangefinder, you can spot any object between 10 and 600 yards, thanks to its magnification versus the objective lens ratio of 4x21mm. Accuracy is usually within three feet.
The greatest asset of this laser rangefinder is its advanced low light abilities. The device can deliver unmatched levels of crystal clear optics in near darkness.
When it comes to a multi-pronged approach to golfing, the simplified technology of TecTecTec VPRO1 laser rangefinder is simply difficult to beat. Embedded with an x6 magnification, bright crystalline imagery is the focal point of this device. It can measure up to 540 yards, and every shot falls within a one-yard accuracy zone.
With this piece of machinery, you don’t need binoculars. TecTecTec! VPRO1 exhibits the most advanced digital circuit design currently possible, and its optic system is a marvel in today’s industry. If you are an amateur in golf, this could be your device of choice.
This rangefinder has three unique modes, which is certainly the key to its innovative success. While the First Target Priority Mode measures the distance in regards to the nearest object, the Distant Target Priority Mode does the opposite by looking for the farthest object. Every essential visual data is immensely streamlined, and the view makes it possible to determine exactly where all hazards lie with Scan Mode.
Here is another exceptionally valuable tool for bow hunters. The Bushnell Elite 1600 Arc is an Angle Range Compensation (ARC) rangefinder that can detect objects up to 1760 feet away. This revolutionary piece of machinery comes along with a 96×48 Pixel Matrix Display. Blending functionality with aesthetics, the PC-3 Phase Corrective Coating performs impressively on both counts.
The Bushnell Elite 1600 Arc rangefinder also features state-of-the-art Bak-4 prisms, which ensures total crispness and sharpness for images. In light of the fact that the conjoined reader has the ability to retain a minimum of 80% light, you can use it in several dim environments. In fact, this light retention rate is second to none in the rangefinder industry!
For archery enthusiasts, here is another premier laser rangefinder from Nikon. Nikon Archer’s choice rangefinder comes with First Target Priority mode, and all its measurements are very specific. In fact, this is its primary selling point, largely because it can be used to perfectly aim onto very small objects. In measurements, the increments are given for every one-fifth of a yard or meter.
The device is designed to strike the bulls-eye on a thin fence post 100 yards away. Likewise, the mapping interface doesn’t falter with close range distances as low as 5 yards. What’s more, the objective diameter is an ideal 21mm.
The Archers choice rangefinder is made to withstand tough conditions, including rain and fog. The device boasts an exceptionally impressive 89 degree angular range, which allows for straight shots up and down. Its 18mm eye relief zone is a representation of true comfort. It comes with a CR2 lithium battery, which promises reliable service for extended periods of time. It is also worth noting that the device weighs 6.3 ounces.
For bow hunters in the middle ground, here is your go-to laser rangefinder. This jaunty piece of machinery is equipped with everything you will need for a successful wilderness excursion. The Bushnell 202442 “The Truth” is especially designed for handling objects in motion, and it can track distances between 7 and 850 yards. The device has a powerful 4x zoom that extends 199 yards and grants pure horizontal perspectives.
Featuring a comfortable anti-slip surface for an all-time tight gripping, the device is compact and can snugly fit into your pocket. This laser rangefinder also possesses a truly complete angle range, which touches 90 degrees on both the positive and negative ends of the scale. Its Clear Shot interface provides instant data on every shot, before, and after it’s taken. Likewise, the precise angle of every row is provided instantly.
This device comes with one of the best carrying cases you can find, as well as a handy neck strap for quick and easy access.
Bushnell has a reputation of producing rangefinders that have cutting-edge technology, and Bushnell Scout DX 1000 ARC 6 x 21mm rangefinder is no exception. This device is impressively lightweight and compact. It comes with a battery, neck strap, and a carrying case. You should not be fooled by the size and weight of this device; it is so tough and hard-wearing that it can withstand any weather condition or terrain.
It features a very sleek body, which is made out of a blend of heavy-duty plastic and stifled rubber that gives you a firm grip. You can comfortably use this device in rainy conditions considering that it is waterproof. This laser rangefinder also comes with an E.S.P Turbo-processor, which means Extreme, Speed, Precision – the perfect combination for firing a perfect shot.
For this reason, the device has 0.5-yard accuracy, and a one-tenth-yard display precision. It boasts an impressive x6 magnification and a range of 5-1000 yards. The in-built inclinometer provides ARC. The function of this ARC Bow Mode is to provide true horizontal distance up to 99 yards.
What’s more, this rangefinder performs like two units in one, thanks to the options of the Rifle Mode and Bow Mode, each with its own unique and customized capabilities. However, like every other device, Bushnell Scout DX 1000 ARC 6 x 21mm rangefinder has some setbacks:
- It doesn’t seem to perform efficiently at dusk, dawn, and overcast conditions in spite of the fact that it is equipped with a dioptre for crystalline viewing. This makes it more suitable for daytime use only.
- While this rangefinder boasts of a range of up to 1000 yards, it mostly doesn’t deliver. In fact, many reviewers claim that it doesn’t go beyond 350 yards.
The rangefinder may have been a relatively recent addition to the arsenal of modern hunters, golfers, and sharp-shooters, but it is an integral one. Approximating distances is now a thing of the past since laser rangefinders have revolutionized the way people measure distances for hunting, golfing, surveying, and any other measuring that calls for considerable accuracy. In fact, thousands of golfers and hunters are using the laser rangefinders too quickly and accurately measure distances, thereby improving their performance.
On your quest to find the best laser rangefinder that will effectively meet your expectations, you will come across products with limited reliability, more cost put into the brand compared to technical value, and loads of other little traps. That’s why you need a comprehensive laser rangefinder buying guide such as this one. It will help you get the perfect device that meets your needs and budget.