A laser rangefinder is a device used to measure the distance between you and a target. That target could be a 10-point buck, hole number 18, or a steel gong at 1000 yards.
If you do more than one thing outdoors and want a quality piece of gear, shopping around is critical.
Know the Key Elements
Just like any other electronic equipment, rangefinders can be expensive and confusing. You have to understand first its two main categories: rangefinders for golf and those for hunting and shooting.
While there is a crossover between these units, it’s essential to know the key attributes of each type to help you choose what’s most important to you.
End Goal & Features
The purpose of a laser rangefinder is to give you an accurate distance between you and the target, they all do that at least. So you should decide which kind of features you’d like to have at a given budget
Most major optics manufacturers make laser rangefinders, and they carry the name of the brand. They are similarly priced to their other product lines and are a match in both quality and design.
Of course the more the features, the more you’re going to spend.
The table below outlines the major differences between the two types of laser rangefinders. As a general rule, each product category follows these trends to make a functional item while a top notch product has them all no matter what.
|Less magnification||More magnification|
|Target priority||Target priority|
|Specialized software||Better glass|
|Lanyard hole||Carry case|
|Bright LCD||Longer battery life|
|Ballistic compensation||More accurate|
Many of the high-end models have all the positive features because they’re expected to be used for both, or they’re expected to be used a lot. The quality, especially of the optics, is crucial the more you use the rangefinder.
Not All Features Are Created Equal
It may seem silly to add things like lanyard holes or carry cases, but it’s also essential to have an idea on how to bring it. Of course, the more critical features such as battery life, size, weight restraints and the range the unit is good for should be considered first before anything else.
Hunting rangefinders can get away with cheaper components because you’re likely only to use it no more than a few seconds per hunt. They typically have faster measurement times and easy-touch buttons that function before the animal runs off.
Significant Features for Hunting Rangefinders
The purpose behind having a laser rangefinder for hunting is to get an accurate distance for bowhunting and extended gun hunting. For close range rifle hunting, under 300 yards, you won’t need a laser rangefinder if you know your rifle well.
For bowhunting, features are now coming out to help you predict your shot. It gives you the horizontal distance between you and your target if you’re hunting in a tree stand. It can make you a deadlier bow hunter if you get used to it.
Other nice to have features include a lanyard strap to keep your rangefinder ready, a common battery size, one button aiming and reasonable weather resistance.
It goes without saying, don’t have bright colored gear. It doesn’t have to be camo, but white or pink is going to draw attention while on the stand and in camp!
Significant Features for Golf Rangefinders
Having a more accurate rangefinder for golf is great to zero in on smaller targets like flags and small dips in terrain. Target priority in the golf course rules because it can help smooth out terrain differences and make sure you get an accurate measurement.
You will typically use your rangefinder more on the golf course than in the woods. So factors like battery life and optical quality are essential. Cheap low-quality glass in the optic can give you a headache from looking through the rangefinder.
The attributes you want for the golf course are long battery life, a handy carry case and more magnification for looking further out towards the flag.
Getting the Best of Both Worlds
Working from outside to choosing the right model to serve double duty for the fairway and the wood lot is picking a well-rounded unit that does most things well.
First, make sure you don’t choose a color that stands out. The white models are prominent and the camouflage gets you laughed at so pick a black or brown color.
Choose the most accurate unit. This will pay dividends every time you use it. Make sure you get one that has a battery life that is long enough to use all day on the course. Get the best optical quality possible so you won’t have a headache.
If there’s one “best to have” feature for both the golf course and the deer woods, get a model with target priority.
This means that the unit searches for the type of target you designate to make sure that it gets a good read on what you’re looking for. That way, you’ll be able to find the deer or the sand trap.
Simple is Better
The differences between laser rangefinders for the golf course and hunting or shooting aren’t as much as the ads lead you to believe. Small details can make life easier, but the basics of just having an optic to measure distance are all you need.
Decide on what you’d like your tools to have. Choose based on your budget and get out there, use your new gear to enjoy doing what you love!