To make an accurate shot at long distances, you first need to know the exact distance between you and the target. To measure the distance, a rangefinder is needed, although not all rangefinders perform as required. Today we want to help you find the best rangefinders for long range shooting and we also have a couple of high-quality long-distance rangefinders which we will review.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing A Rangefinder
When it comes to rangefinders, especially for long-distance hunting, there are a few key aspects to consider. Let’s take a look at the main features and factors to pay attention to when shopping for a rangefinder.
Perhaps the most important consideration is the operational range or working distance of the rangefinder in question. What you require is going to depend on the type of hunting or shooting you plan on doing.
Generally speaking, long-range shooting is going to require a range finder with a working distance of at least 1,000 yards, although this of course depends on your specific needs. You may need a rangefinder that can go 500 or 600 yards, or you may need one which can go out to nearly 2,000 yards.
The bottom line is that you need to pay attention to the working distance of the rangefinder in question and compare this to your requirements. Paying a bit extra for one that can go the extra distance is usually worth the investment.
How accurate the rangefinder in question is should be considered as well. What it is important to note is that the further your shot is, the more accurate the rangefinder needs to be. This all has to do with simple physics and geometry.
At a close range, such as 100 or 150 yards, a small inaccuracy may not be a big deal. However, for a long shot, such as 1,000 yards, even a minor inaccuracy can lead to a total miss. Therefore, it is always recommended that you invest in a rangefinder that is as accurate as possible.
Cheaper models may be accurate to within ± 3 or 5 yards, which is OK for short distances. Yet, for long-distance shooting, such as for that 1,000 yard shot, you need a rangefinder that is accurate to within a single yard. Accuracy is key and it will make the difference between a good hit and a complete miss.
Although this is not as important as the previous factors we looked at, the size and weight, or in other words, the overall portability of the rangefinder is something worth looking into as well. If you are a tactical hunter or constantly on the move, something big and heavy is not going to be advantageous.
Simply put, you already have enough gear on you, which means that a large and heavy rangefinder is just going to add to your burden. That said, for the most part, a small, slim, and lightweight model is best, something that is not hard to carry and won’t attract much attention.
On the other hand, for stationary shooters hunting out of tree stands and blinds, a slightly larger and heavier unit won’t necessarily be a deal breaker.
The overall durability of the rangefinder should also be taken into account. Put it this way — when you go hunting, you will likely be on the move, through some nasty conditions too. This means that any gear, such as your rangefinder, needs to be able to stand up to tough conditions.
You should be able to drop the rangefinder on a rock or the ground, it should be able to get wet, and it should be shock resistant. It’s important to get a rangefinder that has a solid and rugged shell with a high level of impact resistance.
Moreover, any rangefinder worth the cost is going to be waterproof as well. Keep in mind that long-range rangefinders have a lot of fragile and sensitive components on the inside, glass and electronics, so a solid shell is required to keep those fragile components safe.
Another important factor is how much the rangefinder magnifies the image when you look through it. Now, of course, some magnification is required — you need a magnified image if you want to get a clear image of that buck at 1,000 yards out.
Without some magnification, it will be like looking with your bare eyes, which is not possible past a couple hundred yards. What is recommended is a magnification rate of 7 to 10, which is ideal for long-range hunting, such as at a distance of 1,000 yards.
However, you really don’t want the rangefinder to magnify any more than 10x because if the image you see is far too magnified, following a target becomes increasingly difficult.
Let’s not forget that your own movements, such as just your breathing, will be far more noticeable with increased magnification. Something in the middle, such as magnification power of 7x is ideal for long-range shooting.
If you are hunting in hilly or mountainous terrain, you want to look for a rangefinder that comes with angle compensation features. If you are on higher ground than your target, a basic rangefinder won’t be able to compensate distance based on the angle, which can lead to a missed shot. Therefore, depending on your needs, you may want to look for a rangefinder that comes with both HCD and LOS modes for altitude and angle compensation.
If you buy an expensive rangefinder, and yes, they can be quite pricey, especially for the highly accurate long-distance models, it would be great to find ne which comes with a great warranty. The initial investment can be quite high, and if something goes wrong with your unit, a good warranty is going to be a real lifesaver.
Types of Rangefinders
Before you go out and buy a rangefinder, let’s quickly talk about the three main types which are out there at this time.
Although optical rangefinders are old-school, and while they do not come with all the fancy features which modern types come with, they are still quite popular. The great thing about optical rangefinders is that they don’t require a power source, they are relatively affordable, and extremely simple to use as well.
The measuring process involves seeing two images, you turning a knob, and then getting a distance reading when the two images superimpose upon each other. A slight drawback with optical rangefinders is that they are accurate to within 90% to 95%. 90% accuracy is not going to cut it for long-distance shooting.
Laser rangefinders tend to be the most expensive of all, and it’s because they are fancy, can easily reach long distances, and tend to be very accurate too, to within as close as 99%. These work by firing a laser at the target and measuring how long it takes for that laser to reflect back.
Yes, they do need a clear line of sight and often don’t work well in harsh weather, such as fog or heavy rain. However, the great part about these models is that you don’t have to do any work, and moreover, they can take several readings per minute, thus allowing for maximum accuracy.
The other type of rangefinder is the infrared rangefinder. They work much like laser rangefinders, but tend to be better for bad weather. They are a little less accurate than laser rangefinders, but more so than optical versions; the price is also somewhere in between those two.
Two Good Rangefinders for Long Range Shooting
We have reviewed two really nice and high-quality rangefinders for long-range shooting. We have selected models with the most high-quality features, the best accuracy, a high level of durability, and overall ease of use.
Vortex Optics Ranger Laser Rangefinder
Here we have what is often considered one of the best laser rangefinders right now. First off, the Vortex Optics Ranger Laser Rangefinder has a great operational range of 1,800 yards, which is no small feat. Moreover, this unit also has a great level of accuracy, being accurate to within ± 3 yards.
What’s also nice about this rangefinder is that it features a fairly large and lit display, one with adjustable brightness levels, making it easy to see in all light conditions.
The Vortex Optics Ranger Laser Rangefinder comes with a scan feature, which allows you to pan across a landscape and receive continuous distance readings as you are following a target. This unit comes with a primary HCD mode, which is more than ideal for hunting because it displays the angle compensated distance; in other words, it can calculate the distance from you to the target while keeping angle/slope in mind.
The Vortex Optics Ranger Laser Rangefinder even comes with a highly advanced LOS mode, which allows you to calculate high-angle and long-distance shots with maximum precision and accuracy. The fact that this unit comes with three different modes is pretty awesome in itself.
However, that is not all, because this rangefinder also features a fully multi-coated lens designed to allow for maximum light transmission in all light conditions, so you can see with clarity even in very dim light.
What is also worth mentioning about the Vortex Optics Ranger Laser Rangefinder is that it features a very rugged and solid outer shell, which is also waterproof. This means that it has a high level of impact resistance, and getting it wet won’t make a difference. Let’s not forget that this rangefinder comes with a removable utility clip, a lanyard, and it is tripod compatible as well.
Bushnell 202208 Michael Waddell Rangefinder
This is a much more basic rangefinder that does not have as many features as the one just reviewed, but it also costs less than half the price. It might not be the highest quality or most feature-heavy rangefinder, but it is affordable and it gets the job done just fine.
The Bushnell 202208 Michael Waddell Rangefinder has an operational range of 600 yards, which may not be the longest range out there, but still more than ideal for mid- to long-range shooting.
One of the benefits that comes with the Bushnell 202208 Michael Waddell Rangefinder is that it features a simple single button design. Simply look through it, press the button on top, and you will get the range from you to the target. What is quite impressive about this unit is that it features an accuracy level of ± 1 yard, which is about as good as it gets, especially for the fairly low price.
The Bushnell 202208 Michael Waddell Rangefinder comes with quality optics, maybe not the best for very low light conditions, but more than good enough to use on an average day and to see with great clarity.
The light transmission is not too bad. You may also like this particular rangefinder due to the fact that it is very lightweight and highly portable, not to mention that it also has a very durable outer shell. The nifty forest camo pattern comes in handy as well.
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The bottom line is that for long-distance shooting, a high-quality laser rangefinder with great distance, accuracy, and durability is what you need. A unit that can compensate for angles is also ideal, especially when hunting from an elevated position.
Just be sure to choose wisely.