We have seen rangefinders evolve so that today you can get one with great capabilities at a low price. We wanted to know which rangefinders are the best value for money.
To pick the best, we considered the distance, speed, price and quality of optics. We found great options that cost less than 100 dollars and excellent options that James Bond probably uses. Read on to find what fits you.
Best Rangefinders 2018
- Weight - 7.8 oz
- Linear Field of view at 1000 yards: 320 feet
- Twilight Factor - 11.50
- Measuring Accuracy Below 100 Yards ±0.5 yards
- Max Range - Reflective (yd) - 1215
- Max Range - Trees (yd) - 900
- Max Range - Deer (yd) – 800
This is a top of the range rangefinder that costs above 300$. We thought it would be another expensive toy, but we were wrong. After testing, we wondered how it did not cost a hundred dollars more. If you judge it on performance, it beats some rivals that cost 500$ easily.
This rangefinder has an angle compensation feature that works up to 125 yards. It cannot pin flags though, so it is more suited to hunting than golf. It gives three different capabilities for ranging deer, trees, and reflective objects.
The optics are great for this rangefinder, and we could acquire targets under clouded skies quite well. The unit is also easy to hold and operate.
We set out to range and started with trees; they were the nearest objects. We quickly acquired trees at 800 yards repeatedly; this was above the advertised range of 900 yards.
With a deer, we managed 550 yards; this is decent considering the expected distance was 800 yards. The rangefinder returned readings very fast too.
By now you have an idea of what we looked for when we reviewed the rangefinders. What we did not adequately cover are the considerations that can help you choose any random rangefinder you find. Rangefinders can be used for many things like precision shooting, hunting, surveying or golfing.
2. Sig Sauer Kilo - Editor's Choice
- Weight: 7.5 oz
- Magnesium Flat Dark Earth Housing
- Range: Deer (1400 Yards)
- Trees (1800 Yards)
- Reflective Steel (2000 Yards+)
- SpectraCoat™ anti-reflective coating
- Exit Pupil: 3.6mm
- Eye Relief: 15mm
- Angular Field of View: 6.78°
- Angle Compensation
This is a top of the range rangefinder; it costs nearly 1500$. This is a great rangefinder for precision shooters. It also works well for rifle hunting. The Sig Kilo is a specialized rangefinder that comes with a lot of smart features to help shooters get the right shots.
This is a rangefinder for the pros who are looking to shoot over 1000 yards. We were awed at the capabilities advertised for this, so we dashed outdoors to test, and the results were excellent.
This rangefinder is advertised to work up to 2000 yards. It also does all the calculations, so you needn't take out the phone to do any math. It can range a deer up to 1400 yards. The rangefinder integrates with a mobile app, and it also has an in-built compass in case you need to know the directions.
The applied ballistics software that comes with this rangefinder works out all the details including wind speed- it comes with a wind meter. Indeed, it can be compared with rangefinders that cost over twice its price.
We decided to try ranging deer, and we did it quickly at 1200 yards; it was an easy acquisition. We looked for elk and found a calf that ranged at 1450 yards. The calf was about the size of a deer and standing broadside, but it is above the expected range.
When we tried ranging trees at 2300 yards, we got a reading, and the rangefinder was still able to give a shooting solution. In all rangefinders, we tested this is the only one that consistently does better than advertised.
We decided to try something different, and range moving objects. We chose cars and the rangefinder was returning readings. The speed at which this rangefinder works is undoubtedly very fast because most rangefinders falter with moving objects.
3. Halo XL450-7 Laser Rangefinder - Budget Pick
- 6x magnification
- Angle compensation
- 450-yard range
- Scan mode available
This is an entry level rangefinder that belongs in a class of its own; it costs less than 100$. It can be great for amateur golfers and hunters who need something that performs for a low price.
Despite its low price range, the manufacturer still managed to pack some impressive features like the angle compensation and high magnification into this gadget. This Halo uses an LCD and returns readings quite fast which was a pleasant surprise.
We started ranging a cow grazing 180 yards away, and this rangefinder performed just as well as pricier rangefinders we tested. The result was also accurate as we suspected.
After 200 yards though, we could tell that this rangefinder was not going to surprise us again, it performed dismally. It also did poorly in low light conditions.
- Weight: 4.4 oz.
- Magnification: 6x
- Maximum Range: 550 yards
This Nikon is a compact rangefinder that you can carry on your person. It was designed mainly for golf though some use it for hunting. It is reasonably priced, costing about 200$.
We all know Nikon to be a great manufacturer of rangefinders. With such high expectations, we set out to test this Coolshot 20 and see if it could stand up to the other Nikons, especially its predecessor which is the Coolshot.
The advertised possible range for this rangefinder is 550 yards though we expect it to work a third to three-quarters of that distance depending on the light. The 6x magnification is quite impressive.
We saw it fit to test this rangefinder in a golf course and it easily picked up pins till we hit a wooded area. The rangefinder struggled and gave readings 3 out of 5 times. It also gave readings at a slower speed than we would expect of a Nikon though its speed is at par with other models in the same price range.
The readings were accurate, and we agreed that this is a great option for golfing. The optics were also excellent so that we could see objects with clarity.
- Yard Range: 5-540 yards
- Magnification: 6X
- Display Type: LCD/Black
- Tournament Legal
- Weight: 7 oz
- Measuring Systems: Yards/Meters
This is a rangefinder that costs less than 200 dollars and is designed for golfers. The VPRO500 is a compact and powerful rangefinder that costs little but delivers.
The small, lightweight design was the first thing that caught our attention about this rangefinder.
The question we started with is, can it range as well as it claims? Since its stated range is 540 yards, we headed off to the golf course and tried it. Its sturdy build means it withstood the usual bumps as we rode the cart.
When we took it out, it was indeed okay, and we started ranging. Its pin seeker feature worked quite well several times with the odd hiccup. This rangefinder also gave a quick reading which is great whenever time is at a premium.
The advertised range is 540 yards, and we noticed that you will not enjoy using this rangefinder if your hands are unsteady. With steady hands, it performed well though it gave inconsistent readings a few times, but worked better once we got used to it.
The readings were accurate up to a yard. The rangefinder was sometimes inaccurate when the user was unsteady. However, it proved mostly reliable and precise in testing.
The optics are excellent, with an easy to read display that provides distances in meters and yards. This portable rangefinder also has greater magnification than most rangefinders at six times.
- Multilayer covered Optics
- 550-Yard Ranging Capability
- Easy-to-View LCD Display
- Extensive Eye Relief
- Distant Target Priority Mode
- Solitary Button Operation
- Compact Size
- Water Resistant/Rainproof
We are used to top-of-the-range items from Nikon, but this is an entry-level rangefinder that costs less than 200$. It is a compact rangefinder that comfortably fits into most pockets.
As you might expect, it is not packed with many features at this price range. Since it is advertised for hunting, we set out to the brush to see how well it could perform.
After a little testing, we felt that this is a great rangefinder for beginners but might not be the best option for seasoned pros. Looking through the lens, we could see trees in the distance quite precisely thanks to the impressive optics.
The distance between buttons is sufficient for convenient operation even with gloves during cold winter months. The water resistant feature is also a must for outdoor uses and this rangefinder does not disappoint. However, do not submerge the unit as it is not totally waterproof.
The most important aspect of a rangefinder is how well it picks up targets and how fast it returns readings. This rangefinder uses a high eyepoint design which enables those who wear glasses to use comfortably.
We were able to range a deer at 270 yards, which is expected. The rangefinder could not range a deer from 300 yards under a cloudy sky.
We also tried a golf course because some users say they use this rangefinder for golf and we ranged a flag at 160 yards.
- Magnification: 4x
- Range:10-600 yards
- Reflective Ranging Performance: 600 yards
- Tree Ranging Performance: 400 yards
- Deer Ranging Performance: 200 yards
- Rangefinder Accuracy:+/- 1 Yard
This compact and lightweight rangefinder is designed for hunters. Bushnell is known for quality, and though this is another low budget model in this list, it outperforms its peers in our opinion. It is accurate and features an intuitive design that makes it a joy to use.
What do you get at less than 150$? Well, its advertised range is 10 to 600 yards, but objects that you can range from 600 yards must be big, with high reflection properties.
We could range a deer up to 200 yards after which the performance was poor. At 300 yards we ranged a tree, beyond that distance you might need to be ranging a shed for this rangefinder to work.
The rangefinder gave distance measurements in yards and meters though you need to switch it off when adjusting from yards to meters and vice versa.
You can operate this rangefinder with one hand. It gave us accurate readings up to one yard as advertised. Its 4x magnification was not the best, but it was sufficient for deer sized targets at 300 yards. We also liked the quality of the optics; the objects were visible. The eye relief is set at 20 mm which is comfortable.
- 4x magnification
- 10-Yards to 600-yards range
- 1-Yard accuracy
- Measures in yards or meters.
- 1-Button Operation
- In-View liquid crystal display
- Weighs 7.7 oz
The Simmons Volt 600 is another rangefinder that costs less than 150$ but delivers a lot of useful features, we recommend it for bow hunting.
Its main strengths include the decent ranging ability and the angle compensation feature which is lacking among most rangefinders in that price range.
This rangefinder has a 4x magnification which suffices when looking at targets closer than 500 yards for large objects. We found that this rangefinder is reliable as long as the object has an excellent reflective ability.
We tried ranging deer at 300 yards and could not, but at 180 yards we got splendid results. The manufacturer states that it can range deer at up to 200 yards.
We found that it returned readings a little slowly compared to other rangefinders we tested and its optics were also of a lower quality. The rangefinder also seemed to fare poorly in low light conditions.
The angle compensation feature only works up to 99 yards though, after which you only get line of sight distance
- Range Reflective: 11-1000 yards
- Range Deer: 11-500 yards
- Accuracy: +/- 3 yards at 1000 yards
- Magnification: 6x
- Angular Field of View: 6 degrees
- Eye Relief: 17 mm
- Weight: 7.7 ounces
This is a rangefinder that costs over 300$, so our expectations were high when we got a hold of it, and we were pleasantly surprised that it proved to be great value for money based on the tests we conducted.
The Vortex has excellent optics and quite a wide field of vision compared to other rangefinders we had tried. One thing we did not expect was its relatively slow speed in scan mode. It is faster than anything we tested that goes for less than 200 bucks, but among its class, it was slightly slower.
This rangefinder is supposed to range up to 1000 yards with an accuracy of three yards. We were satisfied because ist successfully ranged a goat standing broadside at 300 yards. It also acquired a deer at 520 yards. You need a steady hand or a rest to range at that distance.
We also agreed that this rangefinder is quite easy to operate and its LED has three brightness settings which make it easy to read in different lighting conditions.
We liked the angle compensation feature in this rangefinder; you can use it in the HCD ( horizontal component distance mode). It also has the usual Line of Sight mode for rifle shooters. This is a great rangefinder for archers because it shows the distance you should shoot for rather than the linear range.
- Pin seeker with JOLT
- Ranges from 5 to 1,000 yards with +/- yard accuracy
- Ranges flags to 400+ yards
- 5x magnification
- Fast focus System
- Legal for Tournament play
This compact rangefinder is light which makes it easy to carry. It costs a little less than 300$, but we were sufficiently impressed by its features and performance to chalk it down as worth the money. It is smaller than its predecessor; the Tour V3.
This rangefinder features impressive optics, which you will need because it can range a long distance. It also ranges quite fast, and its display is clear.
The JOLT technology is an exciting and useful feature as it notifies you when it has locked on the target with a very slight vibration or jolt.
We hit the golf course and ranged a flag at 360 yards though it needed very steady hands. We think it can range flags up to 400 yards as advertised though you need to be very steady when ranging over 200 yards. We found the operation to be straightforward.
Considerations when choosing rangefinders
Line of view
Rangefinders can read many objects in the line of view. Manufacturers design three types of rangefinders;
First priority mode
Those that read the first object in the line of sight are said to be in first priority mode. These are often beneficial for golfing because golf courses allow a clear line of sight to the target.
Such a rangefinder is not suitable for hunting because it will return readings for brush, thickets and other objects between you and the target. In open fields, this type of rangefinder might also work for hunting.
Second Priority mode
Rangefinders that operate in the second priority mode will ignore nearby object to focus on a distant object. This makes them suitable for hunting as they will ignore trees, other animals and return readings for your intended target.
Can you use these for golfing? Yes. But it won't be smooth; the rangefinder might return readings for other golfers and objects beyond the flag.
Nearest and distant modes
Some rangefinders come with the capability to switch between the first and second priority modes. These give the best of both worlds. Use them when hunting or playing golf, all you need to do is choose the appropriate setting.
The main purpose of rangefinders is to help you hit the target by doing the math for you. The vital math is distance. Each rangefinder is capable of ranging up to a set distance which is labeled clearly for all units.
Note that the distances set for rangefinders are correct, but you are not likely to achieve them in the field. That might seem oxymoronic but consider this; the manufacturers will test the rangefinder in perfect conditions.
Perfect conditions mean perfect light, with no fog, mist or any other factor that reduces the ability of the rangefinder to perform optimally. On average, rangefinders can perform between 20 and 75% of their stated distances.
So if a rangefinder is said to work well up to 1000 yards, you might range a barn at 900 yards, and a deer at 400 yards. The distance decreases as you range small objects. Acquiring a flag at a golf course using the same binoculars might be possible only closer than 200 yards.
Reticles are the aiming points. The most popular aiming points are crosshairs, but some rangefinders use dots or circles. The reticle will superimpose over the object you are ranging.
Reticles must be visible for the hunt or game to be successful. That is why we consider the visibility of the reticles against multiple backgrounds. If the reticle is a black dot, will it be visible against a dark background?
Most reticles are not very clear against dark backgrounds, but some are. LED lights usually illuminate reticles to improve visibility, but this also come with some significant disadvantages:
The LED light can reduce your night vision which will interfere with your aim
In bright light, it might be hard to see the reticles, even at the brightest setting of the rangefinder.
Hunters also need to hit targets that are often up on slope or downhill. Even a slight inclination can affect the type of shots to take. Some rangefinders will do the math to enable you to get clean shots thanks to their angle compensation feature. Manufacturers call the angle compensation feature different names, but it means the same thing.
Whether you are playing golf or hunting, you are seldom on a flat surface to the target. Some rangefinders cannot be used in tournaments because of the need to standardize the playing field.
Rangefinders have magnification capabilities to help make targets clearer. Magnification comes at a cost though; it reduces the field of view. The right magnification depends on the type of targets and landscape.
For archery, a magnification of four times is often sufficient. In hunting, a higher magnification is desirable, so a 6x magnification or more might be appropriate.
Speed is essential when hunting, prey won't generally stand patiently and wait to be ranged and shot. A rangefinder that returns the readings speedily will enable hunters to bag their hunt.
Small is often convenient whether for hunting or playing golf. Small rangefinders are easy to carry, hold, and keep safe.
Rangefinders need to withstand rain and fog because these are typical outdoor conditions. Weatherproof rangefinders will also last longer.
Without a doubt the best rangefinder we tested was the Sig Sauer Kilo. However, it is a specialist’s gadget. The rangefinder we highly recommend is the Leupold, it is the best considering its features and price.
The Halo XL450 is a great budget pick that costs less than 100$. It is also versatile despite its limited features. The Nikon Coolshot 20 is the best for golf but the Leupold leads overall for hunting and value.