Long range shooting is an exact science. To be successful, the shooter must know and understand a long list of variables.
Of course, “long range” is a subjective term, but for the purposes of this discussion, we will call it anything outside of 800 yards. Whether you are shooting those distances competitively, to harvest game or just for fun, knowing the range of your shot is a critical component of executing it.
The right rangefinder will not only tell you the distance to the target, but it will give you true ballistic range by doing a calculation that takes into account any elevation change between you and the target.
A quality rangefinder is an integral part of successful long range shooting and the right one will become one of your most important tools.
However, for as helpful as a quality rangefinder can be, one that does not work correctly could totally prevent you from hitting your mark at long distances.
Rangefinders fail for a variety of reasons, all of which tend to be amplified the farther away you are.
Weather conditions play a factor often and some rangefinders are not capable of gauging longer distances unless held perfectly steady and used in optimum conditions. Some rangefinders are simply not designed to be used at a long distance.
This article aims to help you find the right rangefinder for the long range shooting job. By helping you find the ideal tool for identifying shot distance, this overview of the best available rangefinders should help your long range shooting capabilities.
- 1 The Top Long-Range Rangefinders of 2018: Outdoor Empire Reviews
- 2 Important Choosing Factors
The Top Long-Range Rangefinders of 2018: Outdoor Empire Reviews
These are our top recommendations for long-distance rangefinders in 2018:
- Best up to 1000 yard rangefinder: Get the SIG Sauger Kilo 850
- Best 1000+ yards rangefinder: Get the Leica Rangemaster 1600-R
- Best tactical rangefinder: Get the Bushnell Elite 1 Mile ARC ( Read 10+ reviews )
*Looking for a specific feature? Check out our quick-reference chart below:
|Product|| || ||
|Reflective Range||1200 yards||10 - 1600 yards||1760 yards|
|Magnification||4 x||7 x||7 x|
|Objective Lens Diameter||20 mm||24 mm||26 mm|
|Accuracy||±0.1 yd under 100 yards||±1 yd / m to 500 yd / m|
±2 yd / m to 1600 yd / 1425 m
|+/- 1/2 Yard|
|Eye Relief||24 mm||15 mm||19 mm|
|Weight||5 oz||6.3 oz||12.1 oz|
|Cost||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price
Best for 1000 Yards and Below – SIG Sauger Kilo 850 4x20mm
Our first pick was Vortex Ranger 1000, but we changed it because it’s discontinued by manufacturer.
Once upon a time SIG Sauer was known as a maker of premium DA/SA handguns. These days they are known as a premium manufacturer of just about everything gun related. Part of this new expansion is the addition of optics of all kinds including rangefinders.
The Kilo 850 is a compact, durable, and sleek looking Range Finder that can reach out to 1,200 yards to deliver an accurate range. The Kilo 850 uses Lightwave DSP Technology for the fastest and most accurate results possible.
The Kilo 850 uses a hyperscan method that provides 4 range updates per second in scan mode, and when you switch to Rangelock it reports the last range result and isolates it to the screen. The accuracy is down to 1/10th of a yard.
SIG makes some robust gear and the Kilo 850 is impressively strong, but deceivingly small. It’s compact, and easy to hold up for extended scans. The controls are placed in an easy to reach and easy to use manner. The spotter doesn’t have to break their view to access the controls. The entire system is designed to be used with one hand.
The Kilo 850’s 4x power magnification and the extremely high end glass in the unit allows you to consistently and clearly see down range. It gives you a great field of view and a crystal clear picture.
- Multiple Viewing Modes
- Brilliant resolution
- Simple and easy to use design.
Best for Beyond 1000 Yards – Leica Rangemaster CRF 1600-R
The Leica Rangemaster CRF 1600-R is designed for hitting targets out to 1600 yards but remains small enough to be easily carried and packed away. It is also accurate with a 5-yard variance at 1000 yards.
- Compensated angle distance out to 1200 yards
- Handy feature that uses a heads up display that automatically adjusts to the external light. So when it’s dark, the reading is dim. When it is insanely bright outside, the reading is much brighter.
- Uses bonded plastic that is reinforced with carbon fiber. This makes the whole system durable and also lightweight.
Best for Tactical Use – Bushnell Elite 1 Mile ARC
The Bushnell Elite 1 Mile ARC is a powerful and compact little beast. 1000 yards is impressive, but it blows that out of the water.
With the ability to accurately estimate range up to a mile away, it is uniquely qualified for tactical use. The ARC isn’t pocket sized but is a handheld unit that’s easily tossed into a pack.
It’s perfect for snipers when you take an objective look at their jobs. They aren’t just expert marksman, but also scouts for artillery, tanks, and air power. This allows a sniper to distance a target — be it a building or tank, and have direct fire placed on it.
When the time comes for a sniper to go to his rifle, this rangefinder has a built-in drop compensator in inches, centimeters, MOA, and Mil. It’s an excellent option for the tactical shooter or even the long range hunter.
- 7 power magnification for clear and consistent sight
- Accurate up to a half yard
- Tripod-compatible for long-term viewing and ranging
Important Choosing Factors
Long range is a term that’s different to everyone. It is relative to what the person is trying to do. For example:
- long range hunting for medium animals is done at 300 yards
- long range for 50 BMG competition shooters is more than a mile
We are specifically talking about rangefinders that are designed to be used at 1000 yards or farther. 1000 yards is a relatively long range regardless of the rifle being used.
Without a solid foundation as a shooter, it doesn’t matter that your 338 Lapua can reach 1000 yards if you can’t hit the target. So 1000 yards and beyond is almost universally accepted as long range distance for shooters.
So when choosing a long range rangefinder, you have to make sure it can reach out to at least 1000 yards with an accurate reading. If it can go a bit beyond 1000 yards, that’s even better.
The price difference between a 1000 yard rangefinder and 1500 to 1600-yard rangefinder isn’t typically substantial. Being able to reach beyond a thousand yards accurately could be invaluable once you master that 1000 yard space.
The further you attempt to target at a distance, the greater accuracy you need.
A small inaccuracy at 100 yards isn’t a big deal at all. You can still hit your target. However, a slight inaccuracy at 1000 yards may result in a complete miss.
This means purchasing a high-quality laser rangefinder from a reputable brand. It’s critical you search unbiased reviews to give you a solid understanding of just how accurate it is.
You also want to make sure it’s easy to use, and you understand how to get an accurate reading from it.
Most rangefinders have slight variances between their accuracy ratings so it is not guaranteed to be spot on. They typically have a small inaccuracy usually less than half a yard of variance.
Magnification is a fine balance to walk with long range rangefinders. You need enough magnification to make out your target. If you can’t get a solid picture of your target, how exactly are you going to range it?
So you need enough power to see it well to utilize the rangefinder accurately.
At the same time, too much magnification makes it insanely difficult to find and stay on target. It doesn’t only magnify your target, but also magnifies every breath, shiver and shake you make.
If you ever tried to use a spotting scope without a tripod ( see how to choose a tripod ), you know what I mean. Too much magnification is a bad thing. It also means the system is bigger and requires a larger objective lens. We’ve already gone over size and weight issues for certain users.
Keeping with the 1000-yard range theme, you want to limit magnification to about 7 to 10 power. It keeps the device small and lightweight yet provides enough magnification to see your average 1000-yard target. 7 to 10 power isn’t too powerful either.
Long range rangefinders are made from various fragile materials. Think about it. They have electronics, magnified glass lenses, and laser emitters. None of these are known for their durability. So it needs to be tough around those fragile materials.
The overall body strength of the device should also be durable. On top of this, you want it to be sealed against moisture and debris. You don’t need to dive at the bottom of the ocean with a rangefinder but you want it to resist some morning dew at least.
You have to remember, it’s a lot like binoculars and rifle scopes due to the use of optics. So you also want it to be fogproof and preferably nitrogen or argon purged.
Hunters and snipers need an optic that can keep up with their lifestyle. The optic can’t be weak enough to be treated like a piece of China. It needs to be carried and forgotten.
Hunters and snipers have bigger concerns than keeping their gear from being bumped, tossed and dropped. A solid shockproof rating is always a desirable feature to have.
Size and Weight
Size and weight are major considerations depending on what you are planning to do with the rangefinder.
- If you are a simple bench rest competition shooter, size and weight don’t necessarily matter. You won’t be lugging that bad boy around much.
- For a hunter or tactical user like a sniper, size and weight is a much bigger issue.
A sniper needs a compact but powerful rangefinder that can easily be packed away when on a mission. They also need to maintain a low profile as much as possible. In a hide, they don’t want a large machine to wave around.
Slim, lightweight and compact is a big deal for the gear that these guys use.
A good warranty is a must-have on a rangefinder designed for 1000 yards or more. It ensures that if you have an issue with the product, you aren’t out your initial investment. No questions asked warranties are great but not all companies offer it.
Likely, a good warranty covers and guarantees the electronics and quality for at least five years. A limited lifetime warranty is even better.
Before purchasing, I always suggest to review the warranty policy of the manufacturers.
If you want to learn more about rangefinders, how they work, or what products we recommended for other use cases check out our comprehensive rangefinder buying guide.