Rangefinder Buying Guide
Buying rangefinders sadly isn't quite as easy as you might expect, for no reason other than the thousands of brand and models flooding the market. Sure, you want to make sure you go for a brand you can trust like Bushnell or Leupold, but when it comes to the specifics of choosing an actual product, you need to know exactly what you need to make the right choice. Therefore, with this in mind, here is a quick and concise guide to buying laser rangefinders for any common purpose:
Hunting or Golf - What's the Difference?
The two most common types of rangefinders are those used for golf and hunting. In golf, a first priority mode model is usually the most useful as these are the types the read the first object they view and don't take into account anything beyond. This makes it ideal for seeing how far away the flag is, rather than the person that might be standing 50 yards behind the flag.
By contrast, the second priority mode rangefinder is one that doesn't look at the first object and instead looks further for something further away. This makes them the perfect choice for hunting as the rangefinder will not take into account the tree that might be obscuring the view of the target, but will instead look past this first object to tell the actual distance needed.
Technically speaking both of the laser rangefinders can be used for either or both purposes - it all depends on the scenario and what fits the location/individual best. Leupold and Bushnell also offer rangefinders you can switch between the two modes to take home the best of all worlds.
Aiming Points Vs. Reticles
Neither the basic reticle nor aiming point is 100% perfect. The problem with a black line reticle is that it can completely disappear when looking toward a dark object or area, or when used in poor lighting conditions. In the same vein, the standard LED aiming point can also become invisible or difficult to see during the brightest of conditions. As such, the very best laser rangefinders for all conditions are those with illuminated reticles that can be seen regardless of the target or the ambient lighting.
Not every rangefinder you come across is good for the same distances - a key point to bear in mind. What's more, it's also crucial to allow a little leeway when it comes to the distance the products itself advertises. For example, if a rangefinder says it can read distances up to 1,500 meters, this will only be true in the most optimal conditions and most of the time will therefore perform slightly lower. Always be sure to find out exactly how far it can read in general everyday conditions as more often than not, a 400 meter rangefinder to be used on 400 meter targets is a waste of cash - a 500 meter unit is far preferable.
These days the chances of coming across a rangefinder that you'll constantly be adding new batteries to is pretty much zero. Most of the more popular models from Leupold and even the affordable Bushnell products on the market will probably need their batteries to be changed once or twice a year at the very most - keep one spare on-hand and you're golden.
Weight and Size
Last up, something that really must be factored in before placing an order is the weight and the size of the rangefinder. If looking to pick up a rangefinder for golf, it's really not a problem if the unit you take is relatively bulky and heavy - it will attach to your golf bag. It's of course the opposite story when it comes to hunting rangefinders as the device needs to be as light, as portable and as easy to whip-out for quick use as physically possible.