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4 Best Rangefinders For Shooting [2019]: Dope It Right

If you’re a hunter or a long-range competitive shooter, you already know how important it is to know the distance between you and your target. 

Long-distance miscalculations can throw off your accuracy and cause you to miss your target completely, which is a big problem if you’re on a hunting trip and have come across a prized buck (or bear, mountain goat, or whatever you’re hunting).

Rangefinder in action
Rangefinder in Action

In the old days, the best shooters were able to pick off their prey with a naked eye and some estimating. These days, rangefinders make distance shooting far easier.

Today, we’re going to look at some different rangefinders that’ll help make you a crack shot. But first, let’s quickly look at how rangefinders work.

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The Lowdown on Rangefinders

There’s nothing new about rangefinders.

They’ve been used by militaries throughout the world as a means of judging distance and improving the accuracy of projectile weapons for centuries. Even the Romans used a kind of primitive rangefinder during their military campaigns.

polish destroyer rangefinder
Polish sailor using a rangefinder on a battleship (circa 1939).

These days, most rangefinders use lasers (and some use GPS) to judge distances. But up until World War II, rangefinders used optical mechanics to measure distance and operated similarly to a scope.

Thanks to the advancements of modern technology, anyone with a couple hundred bucks can have a fully-functioning rangefinder of their own. They’re accurate, compact, and for the most part, reasonably priced. In fact, sharpshooters and archers aren’t the only people who use rangefinders.

Amateur golfers, surveyors, and photographers also use them to help with calculating yardage.

modern rangefinder

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a look at some great rangefinders that won’t break the bank.

Best Rangefinders for Shooting

1. Sig Sauer Kilo1800 BDX

I don’t mind saying right off that for my goals, the Kilo1800 is the best of the bunch.

The glass is clear, the controls simple, the reticle easy to read, and it feels really solid in my hand.

Sig Rangefinder
Sig Sauer also includes a decent case for it. Belt loop on the back, elastic loop and hook on the front.

Max ranges are middle ground, but getting good readings on deer sized targets at 1,000-yards is more than enough for my needs.

I enjoy how it feels in my hand, the grip is grippy without being annoying, the buttons are right under my natural finger placement, and the glass is really clear and bright.

There is a bit of distortion at the edge — but that isn’t really a concern to me on a rangefinder.

Sig Sauer Kilo 1800 Rangefinder
Sig Sauer Kilo1800BDX reticle is very simple, but has everything you need. Also nice and bright.

What really sells me on the Kilo1800 though is that it interfaces with the Sig Sauer BDX app also.

This can be paired with the Serria BDX Scopes for even more features, but with just the rangefinder and the app I’m able to enter my load data, range a target, and get hold information quickly and without the need for complex DOPE.

While not as accurate as using a Kestrel and a rangefinder, it is quick and easy making it good enough for most range days.

All of the tested Kestrel Weather meters
All of the tested Kestrel Weather meters

Sig Sauer Case

Simple and well made. It’s nothing to really write home about, but it works in every way. The backing is attached well and the lid uses an elastic loop and plastic hook to secure.

I didn’t go running with it or anything, but hiking around the range it never had a problem of falling out.

Sig Sauer Kilo1800 BDX Specs:

  • Magnification: 6x
  • Max Range On Deer: 1,000-yards
  • Max Range On Trees: 1,200-yards
  • Max Reflective Range: 2,000-yards
288
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

2. Vortex Ranger 1500

Vortex is my number one go-to pick for scopes that punch above their price level, I’ve never handled a Vortex product that I hated — but the Ranger 1500 rangefinder was at the very least disappointing.

Vortex Ranger 1500 Rangefinder
Vortex Ranger 1500 didn’t come with a case… lost another point in my book for that.

The glass quality is fine, controls are grippy and functional, and the unit feels good in your hand. But the reticle really disagrees with me.

On paper, there isn’t any reason why I should hate the reticle the way I do. It’s bright, easy to see, and displays the information I need.

But the placement of the range reading at the top of the field with the annoyingly large crosshair reticle in the center taking up the majority of the field of view makes it crowed, overpowering, and sometimes hard to read the range number.

Vortex Ranger 1500 Rangefinder
Vortex Ranger 1500 with the HUGE crosshair.

The crosshair is obnoxiously large, granted a crosshair is nice to have so you know where you’re aiming, but there is no reason why it should be the primary feature seen.

If the Ranger 1500 had a reticle 1/3rd the size that it does, it would be about perfect.

Vortex Ranger 1500 Case

Um… none. It didn’t come with one. So… ya.

It has a metal belt clip attached to the side of the unit itself. You could use that, but I didn’t trust it to stay secure outside of walking from the truck to the bench and back.

The clip is handy for when you just want to get the Ranger out of your hands for a moment, but I wouldn’t use it as a secure method of carrying it.

Vortex Ranger 1500 Specs:

  • Magnification: 6x
  • Max Range On Deer: 750-yards
  • Max Reflective Range: 1,500-yards
330
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

3. Vortex Razor HD 4000

If you want the best glass and the ability to range things REALLY far away, the Vortex Razor HD 4000 is awesome.

Vortex Razor Rangefinder
Vortex Razor also upped the case game, this one is Nice.

The glass is by far the best that I tested, ultra-clear and bright. The Razor also features a different reticle compared to the Ranger 1500 — this time one that works.

Featuring a crosshair that is small and centered with the range information right below it. Information comes through brightly and easy to read with no eye strain.

It also has a great hand feel, I can grip it nicely, the buttons are well placed and easy to push. No negatives on any of those fronts.

The Razor HD 4000 feels like it is top tier, it feels like you got your money’s worth, and I like that.

Vortex Razor HD 4000 Rangefinder
Vortex Razor HD 4000 — ignore the weird color of the numbers, in real life the color is bright, crisp, and even. But the refresh rate was messing with my camera for the picture.

Of course, the biggest hurdle with the Razor is the price tag. But if you’re looking to range things really far away, that’s just the nature of the beast.

Vortex Razor Case

Hands-down the best case of the bunch. It’s a mild hard shell, not really hard but definitely stiffened. It also has two closing methods, a full-sized zipper or an elastic loop and plastic hook.

The zipper is more secure, but the loop and hook are much faster.

It also comes with a belt clip like the Ranger 1500, but even more well made and attached. I still wouldn’t trust just the belt clip for a long stalk, but it’s there for when you want it.

Vortex Razor HD 4000 Specs:

  • Magnification: 7x
  • Max Range On Deer: 2,200-yards
  • Max Range On Trees: 2,500-yards
  • Max Reflective Range: 4,000-yards
500
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

4. TecTecTec ProWild Hunting

Best part of the TecTecTec besides the name? It’s price. Everything else though… Meh.

If you’re just looking to range deer or targets at fairly close ranges and doing so in decent daylight settings, then there is nothing really too bad about the TecTecTec.

TecTecTec Rangefinder
TecTecTec Rangefinder with it’s “meh” case. Not bad, but great either.

The glass is not as bad as I was expecting, there is a good amount more fisheye than with any of the other options but that really isn’t the end of the world for a rangefinder.

Looking through it, the range information is displayed well, but the lack of illumination makes it hard to read unless you’re looking at something that is well lit.

My biggest gripe is the grip, it has none. The shell is smooth plastic that feels slightly slimy when you get it even a little wet.

It also feels ultra-lightweight but not in a good way, more in the “this is super cheap” way.

Jurassic Park Are They Heavy
The TecTecTec is not heavy… or expensive.

None of that prevents it from doing its job though, so if you need a budget option for lasing deer at sub-500-yards, this is a good enough rangefinder.

TecTecTec RangefinderTecTecTec Rangefinder
TecTecTec Rangefinder with a view that… works.

But if you have hopes of doing anything else with your rangefinder or want something that doesn’t feel like it came from the DollarGeneral, you might want to invest in something a bit more upline.

TecTecTec ProWild Hunting Specs:

  • Magnification: 6x
  • Max Range: 540-yards
120
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Parting Shots

Those are my four favorite rangefinders for low, medium, and big budget spenders.

Now that you know a little bit about rangefinders, you’ll probably want to go out and get one of your own. The truth is that a good rangefinder doesn’t only increase your accuracy, it’s also fun to use.

For this reason, you should definitely make it part of your essential shooting gear for all of those long-range shooting expeditions.

Unpacked range bag
Make a rangefinder part of your range gear.

Remember, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get a good range finder. You just need one that gives you crisp, clear visuals while also providing you with adequate viewing distance.

Get the one that fits your budget and needs and you’ll have many years of good use.

Have you used any of the rangefinders recommended here? Do you have a favorite that didn’t make our list? Tell me about it below! For some more awesome and useful optics, take a look at the Best Spotting Scopes!

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3 Leave a Reply

  • Wzrd

    I have the Vortex Ranger 1000. It's a great mid level option. Brownells has Bushnell Elite 1 mile CONX on sale for under $300 right now. Don't know anything about how good it is but for the range & features it seems like a good deal.

    2 years ago
  • Joe

    Sig Kilo 2400 ABS

    2 years ago
  • Paul L.

    Great recqs! I have a Leupold RX-1200i myself and love it.

    2 years ago
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