A wide range of Rangefinders: The Best Archery Range Finders
When it comes to archery hunting, having the right rangefinder can save you a lot of trouble. Not only will this useful tool give you the ability to judge your shots more accurately, you will be able to use it as a means to learn to teach yourself range estimation. Soon after using one you will find yourself being able to judge distances better, but you will never be left guessing or second-guessing when you can use one to assist you.
With archery hunting specifically, you as a hunter need to close the distance in order to get that well placed and ethical shot you want for a clean kill. Part of that equation is knowing the limits of yourself and your bow. You know that at some ranges you need to aim differently in order to get a shot on target so you need to know exactly what you are dealing with. Hunting is all about landing a precise shot on a target, killing it instantly so you are not having to track a wounded animal. Beyond it being a pain in the butt as a hunter you also do not want the animal to suffer. You are harvesting its meat so having it die quickly should be your goal, so you need to know without a doubt how to aim. Using a rangefinder gives you that precise edge that you need as a bow hunter.
Now there are a lot of options out there on the open market for a good rangefinder. So finding the right one can be a lot like looking for a needle in a stack of needles. So I have taken the time to compile a list of rangefinders that you and the bow hunters in your life need in their toolkit for hunting.
Ranging in the list – The Best Archery Rangefinders:
Vortex Optics Ranger 1500 – From a name you can trust and rely on, they bring you a great rangefinder that is robust, weatherproof and built to last. It promises to cut through the glare and give you a great picture, one you expect from Vortex.
Leica CRF 1000 – An all-weather workhorse that is tough as nails and is nearly bulletproof. This rangefinder also has the added bonus of rarely fogging up. It will keep you dialed in no matter what.
Bushnell Tactical 202421 Elite 1-Mile ARC – Another name you can trust, this rangefinder gives you the added edge of extending your range to a mile, with quick returns and a crystal clear optic.
Halo XRT62-7 Rangefinder – A great rangefinder for the price that will get you on target but a good price. Lightweight, easy to use, and has a good return time.
Nikon 8397 ACULON AL11 Laser Rangefinder – Nikon has been making optics for a long time and their rangefinder is the one I carry every day. One of the best returns with the real-time updated info given on the fly, an excellent rangefinder.
SIG Kilo 850 Range Finder Monocular – Known for their firearms, SIG has produced an excellent rangefinder. Built as tough as their weapons this rangefinder gives you a lot of options found in others, at a reasonable price.
Bushnell 202208 Bone Collector Edition 4x Laser Rangefinder– A good rangefinder for people starting out that do not want to spend a lot of money. Perfect for the bow hunter for accurate, closer range reading.
Bushnell G-Force DX ARC 6x 21mm Laser Rangefinder – One of the best rangefinders on the market with a super fast return, 1300 yard range and is backed by a bulletproof warranty. Worth the cost if you want the best out of the performance.
Wildgame Innovations Halo Ballistix 600 Range Finder -If you are looking for a barebones, entry level, simple to use rangefinder this is the one for you. Perfect to get you started and to hold you over until you get something else.
Best Archery Rangefinders – deep dive
Vortex Optics is without a doubt one of the most trusted names when it comes to optics. They have been producing some of the best hunting and shooting equipment for many decades now and here recently have made some very seller products to aid the hunter in their quest for food. The Ranger 1000 is among one of their many high-quality products and it truly lives up to the expectations hunters have set for them.
Lightweight, reliable and accurate, that is the Ranger 1000. The lenses are reflection proof which cuts down on glare which can mess up a reading and not give you the best view of your target. The O rings on the rangefinder lock out the dust and water making it virtually weatherproof and weatherproof because the big game doesn’t wait for good weather sometimes. Being small means it is easy to transport and won’t weigh you down on those long spot and stalks. The rangefinder is covered with a rubber coating that makes it easy to grip even with gloves on in bad weather. Rugged by design it was made to take a beating and keep on reading.
The belt clip that is attached to the unit is really only useful for temporary use and is not meant for long-term carry, it will slip off and fall. Another issue is the Ranger could be a little easier to use. While the optics are perfect (It is Vortex after all) but its a three-step process to get an accurate range on a fixed target. It’s not slow but it’s not fast and when seconds count, it adds up. However still a damn good rangefinder and worth the price.
You cannot have a list of quality range finders and not include the Lecia CRF 1000. A lesser known name to some but a company that is clearly making their mark in archery hunting. This is probably one of the best entry level, first-time archery hunter rangefinders. Now it comes at a price, but you truly get what you pay for with this rangefinder. When you are purchasing a rangefinder for hunting, especially archery hunting, you want a fast and accurate read.
The CRF 1000 gives you one of the fastest returns on the range that exists on the market. As a bow hunter, you know that speed means nothing if you are not accurate, and lucky for us this rangefinder is also extremely accurate. Not only does it give you a range reading on linear but also horizontal range. Now you know exactly where you are relative to your target regardless of your height. I live in the rocky mountains and find myself shooting up and down hills often so having this ability ensures I get the best reading possible.
The optics are crystal clear and deliver a perfect sight on your target, in any weather. Designed to stand up to the elements it works well in driving rain and snow and holds up just fine. The lenses rarely if ever fogs up, any “fog” that does appear turns out to be a slight glare and a simple adjustment makes that go away.
The CRF 1000 is a great rangefinder but it does seem to have some trouble at 700-1000 yard ranging. You need a very clear, perfect angle to the target and no glare at all. Which for a bow hunter is not really an issue in the heat of the moment since you are not taking shots that far, but it can be trouble when trying to figure out how far you need to move.
You would be hard-pressed to find anyone that has anything do with hunting that has something truly negative to say about Bushnell. They have been in the optics business for the hunter for decades and as such they know what people require out in the field. A company that stands by their product with a bulletproof warranty. The Bushnell Tactical 202421 Elite 1 Mile ARC rangefinder is one of their latest rangefinders and it holds up to the good Bushnell name and history.
This rangefinder gives one of the widest ranges to work with out there, being able to mark ranges on targets between 5 yards and 1 mile (1760 yards). So now when you are glassing and spot that world class buck on an opposing ridge, you have a good idea how far you are going to need to walk and with this information you can plan your stalk. When you are fair chase bow hunting having the ability to spot, and stalk with a plan with distances worked out saves you a lot of guesswork. You know now how long it will take you to get where you need to go and the ARC gives you an edge by being quick, accurate, and versatile.
Now at longer ranges, it’s harder to get a smaller target dialed in…due to the size of the rangefinder and the limits of the optics. I mean they are 8x optics but at ranges over 1000, it can be hard to get a reading due to the target being washed out in the background. Steady hands and practice help resolve this but it is worth noting.
Halo has done it again with another great tool for the bow hunter. Halo has been in the business of assisting the hunter for years and makes very good quality products that hunters have grown to trust. So when the XRT 62-7 was released by them they truly lived up to their reputation and delivered an excellent rangefinder.
The XRT is one of the smallest and lightweight rangefinders that I have used. You could carry this around all day and not even remember that you have it, so its great to accompany stronger optics. This rangefinder has only a 6x optic and can only range to 600 yards, which is fine for bow dialing in the shots you need with a bow. This means that you are going to want to carry binoculars as well to aid in your glassing, but when the time comes to line up the shot you will be able to get a fast and accurate return.
Now, this does eat batteries pretty quickly and I was less than impressed with the time it took to return readings from targets. It is accurate enough and a great entry-level option for a more budget minded hunter.
This is my go-to, every day, goes with me everywhere I go, rangefinder. I love this range finder. It is small, lightweight, and it works no matter what. I have used this in weather where others have failed me and its part of my shooting toolkit as well. Now it does not range out as far as others, but most of us are not taking shots of any kind at over 600 yards anyway so it is perfect.
It does have some issues with light sensitivity sometimes with glare and non-reflective targets but it still works just fine. For the price it is hard to beat and Nikon is a well-known name in the hunting industry that has been making intermediate level optics for hunters and shooters for many decades. The optics are clear and the numbers are easy to read.
Another great feature is the ability of this range finder to give constant readings by holding the button down. This gives you the added ability to track and follow a target for a while and determine its closure rate and to get a constant, steady flow of range information. This really makes life a lot more simple and you now can laze a target, hold the button and know when you release the last known range, but you also know about how fast that buck was sauntering up to you, so when you let it lose you know exactly where put that sight.
Now when I think SIG and odds are, when YOU think SIG, you think high quality and precision made sidearms and rifles. However, now you will think high quality and precision made rangefinders. The Kilo 850 stands out in the mid-range world of quality rangefinders. Like the Nikon, it is lightweight, durable, and perfect for everyday use. This rangefinder gives fast and accurate readings in all weather and honestly edges out the Nikon given that it has the addition of another 250 yards of an accurate reading. Which for a bow hunter means less but as mentioned before its nice to be able to judge ranges at ALL distances if possible.
This rangefinder also has the ability to shoot constant information to you and give you real-time range information on a moving target. Which is by far one of the biggest key features a bow hunter needs to have a rangefinder.
While it does have the range over the Nikon, it does lack in the display. I find that it is a little harder to read the numbers in low light when you are getting your return data. For the price it works perfectly otherwise I just wish it was a little bit brighter. Still a quality rangefinder.
As stated before, Bushnell is a name we all know and love when it comes to hunting optics so their rangefinders are no exception. This is a great rangefinder for the price and would be great for someone just getting into archery hunting and needing to not break the bank. Giving good and accurate readings that help enable you to make those perfect shots. The size and weight make carrying this around all day no problem.
Like the others in this price range, you are going to need to invest in a pair of binoculars. This range finder only has a 4x optic. Which means if you plan on getting a reading on an animal at over 200 yards you are going to have trouble. This rangefinder was truly meant with the bow hunter in mind for close up, and accurate readings. It is not good for anything else.
It still is worth mentioning because it is a damn good rangefinder and will do most hunters a good service and will get the job done. Just don’t expect this one to be as versatile as others.
Going yet again with the old tried and true Bushnell name, the G-Force DX ARC is an excellent range finder to add to a list of great rangefinders. Now this one will cost a little bit more but the old adage that you get what you pay for comes to mind, and you truly do get every penny out of this range finder. Lightning fast returns, accurate readings up to 1300 yards.
An upgrade from older, heavier, bulkier models the G-Force DX ARV is lightweight, small and works every bit as good as larger models. Size and weight matter when you are fair chase hunting over literal hill and dell all day, so having a tool that works like the big boys and is small enough to be practical.
Now there is one drawback, for some reason, it does NOT like black targets. It was very hard to get a return off black surfaces like the ones found on some targets for practice, ended up having to add tape in order to get a reading. So it works a lot better in the field than it does on the range.
Now with every list, I do I try and throw in a very good, low-end budget option for people out there, like me, that start off slow. With all the options out there that cost in excess of a few hundred dollars, it is nice to have an option that works and will not hurt the wallet to bad. Halo has come out with a budget rangefinder with the Ballistix 600 rangefinder as part of their Wildgame Innovations line.
This low cost yet effective range finder will give you plenty of bang for your buck with fairly accurate returns and works up to a 600-yard range. Now like anything else you get what you pay for and the readings can be off by a couple of yards here and there, sometimes 3-5 yards. Which is not a HUGE deal but it is something to note.
You cannot find a better rangefinder for this price but it is important to note that it is not as durable so you are going to need to take care of it a little more than others. It also has trouble in bad weather with readings, even with a slight rain. It’s perfect for the entry level bow hunter or for someone looking for a low budget option to get them by. It’s not perfect but for the price it is without a doubt a good range finder.
So with all the options out there for the bowhunter both new and old, it is hard to really dial in exactly what is good and worth your time. So I have taken the time to show you some fine examples of rangefinders that fill many uses for the bow hunter.
Archery hunting requires a lot of skill and effort for us to be able to locate, close with, and harvest a game animal. Part of that ethical harvest is ensuring that we get a good hit killing the animal quickly and with as little suffering as possible. In order for us to do that with archery harvests, we need to make sure that we know EXACTLY how far we are from our target.
We are only as good as our equipment so make sure you head out with the best you can, with many options for different price points and desires there is bound to be something that works for you. Good luck, have fun, and be safe out there!