Shooting ethically and accurately requires knowing how far away your intended target is relative to your location. When bowhunting whitetail deer, there’s arguably no better tool for measuring the distance between you and your shot than an archery rangefinder.
What is an Archery Rangefinder?
Hunting rangefinders or laser rangefinders, also known as archery rangefinders, are devices that use laser pointers to measure the distance between two points.
Bowhunting is a close-range sport, especially when compared to shooting. That’s because arrows travel much slower than bullets, and the arc of an arrow’s path travels a much steeper slope than a bullet.
What's the takeaway? In order to make ethical kill shots, archers are well served using devices like rangefinders to determine the exact distance to their target. This enables them to position themselves properly and line up their shot accurately.
How Do I Pick the Best Archery Rangefinder for My Needs?
The purpose of archery rangefinders is to enable accuracy by measuring the distance between two points. So when choosing between various rangefinders, some of the most important factors to consider relate to accuracy and measurement capabilities. But that’s not all to consider. Here are five things to think about when comparing different rangefinders against each other:
- Distance Measurement Capabilities: It’s usually a good idea to choose a range finder with a maximum distance measurement capability that’s a few hundred yards more than you plan to measure.
- Size: The rangefinder you choose should be comfortable, easy-to-use, and fit easily in your hands.
- Magnification: When in doubt, go for a rangefinder with 6x magnification power for the best blend of image clarity and zoom.
- Features: (e.g. archery rangefinders with angle compensation to account for shooting on hilly terrain, target priority modes).
- Price: Rangefinders can vary fairly significantly in pricing depending on capabilities and features.
What Are Some of the Best Rangefinders for Archery in 2023?
Rangefinders aren’t cheap tools. But when pinpoint accuracy matters, it’s important to invest in quality equipment. That’s why Bowhunting.com’s Kyle Lipke’s cheapest recommended archery rangefinder is $299.
There are certainly rangefinders that cost a lot less (as well as a lot more). That said, here are the five rangefinders Lipke recommends and why:
- Bushnell Broadhead - $299.00 - “Works effectively out to 150 yards on all sorts of targets in all types of lighting conditions”.
- Vortex Razor HD 4000 - $729.99 - Offers “crisp optical clarity and displays an easy-to-read reticle in red.”, which “makes for simple reading in prime low-light conditions.”; also offers HCD angle compensation and “was made to handle any type of weather” with IPX-7 waterproofing. Backed by a transferable no-fault lifetime warranty.
- Sig Sauer Kilo 3K - $359 – Popular rangefinder maker Sig’s Kilo 3K rangefinder includes a dedicated archery mode “where archers and bowhunters can input their bow speed using firmware software”. The Lumatic™ display also “adjusts the optics illumination automatically with changes in lighting”.
- Leica Rangemaster CRF 2400-R – $599 – Lightweight, compact, and able to provide “readings accurate to 0.1 yards” this comfortable and high-quality Leica model is well worth considering.
- Leupold RX-Fulldraw 5 - $499 – Built for bowhunters, this rangefinder lets you input your personal bow specifications like draw weight, arrow weight, and peep sight height to calculate the shot angle for you, giving you the most accurate distance projections for your setup. It also displays high point indicators at the 20-yard and mid-way points. It even was build to withstand temperatures between –40 degrees to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and includes a Last Target mode that works well in dense fog.
Looking for other rangefinder recommendations? Outdoor Life’s article “The Best Rangefinders for Bow Hunting of 2023” offers several, starting at $169 (Hawke LRF800) qualified by best use cases:
- Best Overall: Leupold RX-FullDraw 5
- Best Image Stabilized: Sig Sauer KILO4K
- Best for Mountain Archers: Vortex Diamondback 2000
- Best for Whitetail Hunters: Bushnell Broadhead
- Best Budget: Hawke LRF800
- Best for Elk Hunters: Nikon CoolShot ProII Stabilized
- Best for Binocular Rangefinding: Leica Geovid Pro 32
- Best for Crossbow Hunters: Sig Sauer KILO 1600 BDX
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