Hunting Rangefinders, How to Select the Best

By: Albert Hugginsen

Hunting rangefinders have improved the accuracy of many hunters and most of the better huntsmen these days use one of these devices. With a hunting rangefinder you get an accurate report of the distance to your target and no longer have to estimate how far away the prey is.

As the advantages of using a hunting rangefinder are clear new entrants to the sport are now looking for the 'best hunting' rangefinder. The term best is hard to define as the best hunting rangefinder will be the one that best suits your needs and this will differ from person to person. Four of the main characteristics you should look at when making a selection are:

Weight: If you are out hunting for a long period of time the weight of your equipment will play an important part in maintaining or sapping your energy levels. The electronics and optics of most modern hunting rangefinders are a similar weight, the battery is the main differentiator. On this point it is important to note that many manufacturers quote the weight of their hunting rangefinders excluding the battery. A rangefinder without a battery is useless and hence you need to be aware of the total weight when making a comparison.

Controls: Whilst the concept of a hunting rangefinder is simple some manufacturers manage to make the operation of their rangefinder complex. Test out two or three models to assess how easy they are to use in the field. An electronic hunting rangefinder which gives you a supremely accurate distance to your prey but takes you five minutes to operate and establish this information will not help you to have a successful day's hunting. On this point also check the supplied manual, is it clear? do you need a PhD in electronics to interpret the instructions?

Range: A hunting rangefinder will be accurate to a certain level over a specific distance for example accurate to 250 yards for a large size animal and 600 yards for a tree sized object. To select the best hunting rangefinder you need to decide which type of prey you will be targeting and look at the accuracy measurement for this size object. If it is quoted at say 100 yards, consider whether you will be able to get close enough to the target to use the rangefinder without being sighted and disturbing your prey.

Image: The brightness of the image and field of view are important in making the hunting rangefinder usable. In poor weather conditions a low intensity image will make it hard to discern the prey from the background. A limited field of view will make it appear as though you are looking into a tunnel and you will find it hard to easily locate the prey.

Overtime the performance of hunting rangefinders will improve whilst no doubt, as with all electronics items, the price will decline. Accuracy will increase through improved electronics and optics rather than increased laser strength which could carry some health warnings. You could wait for a better model but whilst you wait your hunting is not benefiting.

When you are choosing the best hunting rangefinder it is important to consider how a rangefinder will operate in the field to improve your hunting, and not get distracted by the latest features and manufacturers claims. You are purchasing a hunting rangefinder for one purpose only and the most important factor is to improve your performance as a hunter.

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