12 Best Rangefinders For Bow Hunting in 2022 – Reviews And Buying Guide

As a bowhunter, you need to know the exact distance to your target in order to make a killing shot. The only way to know the exact yardage is with a rangefinder. Our team of expert bow hunters have spent numerous hours in tree stands and blinds testing out rangefinders. Below you will find their top picks for best rangefinder for bow hunting.

Best Rangefinders For Bow Hunting

Vortex Optics Razor HD 4000 Rangefinder

At nearly $500, the Vortex Optics Razor is targeted to the serious bowhunter – but the investment will pay dividends if you want to make sure you have the best possible rangefinder in your kit.

It features a 25mm objective lens and 7x magnification, so you'll never fall short of your long-range targets. 

The Vortex Razor HD comes equipped with four target modes (normal, first, last, and extended laser range) as well as two range modes: HCD (Horizontal Component Distance) and LOS (Line of Sight).

HCD Mode is what we use in tree stands, as it calculates the angle for more exact shooting yardage.

LOS mode gives you the exact distance on line of sight, which is used for shooting on flat ground.

Its non-slip grip and durable external protection, however, makes doing so much easier.

Best of all, though, it's tough and built to last – no matter how tough you are on your optics. 

What We Like

  • We love the Horizontal Component Distance for shooting from tree stands or uneven ground
  • Durable and built to last
  • Feels good in your hand
  • Lightweight at only 9.9 ounces
  • Fully multi coated glass
  • Vortex VIP Lifetime Warranty

What We Don't Like

  • The $500 price tag puts the Vortex Optics Razor out of budget for many hunters.

Here's a video showing all of the features of the Vortex Razor 4000.

The Vortex Razor is the top choice of the bow hunters on staff here at DeerHuntingGuide.net. It has everything that you need to get the job done quickly and accurately. Throw in the Vortex VIP warranty and it is the last rangefinder that you will ever buy.


Editor’s Choice Best Rangefinder For Bow Hunting

Leupold RX-FullDraw Rangefinder

Leupold RX-FullDraw Rangefinder

We love this fully-loaded, top-spec rangefinder, which uses Archer's Advantage software to take into account your arrow weight and velocity to calculate ballistics with seriously impressive accuracy.

It features 1/2 yard, angle compensated distances, so you are always 100% confident that you are using the right bow sight pin for the shot.

It will calculate out to 1,200 yards, so you'll be able to get tabs on how much distance you need to close to get a good shot at your target.

The Leupold RX-FullDraw also has a hefty 6x magnification and an impressive 3000 actuation battery life.

Plus, we found it was the most ergonomic of all the rangefinders we tested, which is always a perk on a long day out in the woods.

We also loved the red OLED display, which gave us a clear read-out even when we were out in the woods at happy hour with nary a sunbeam to help us along.

It's not one of the cheaper options, however, in our opinion, it's worth every penny – and while new rangefinders with all sorts of tech specs are constantly flooding the market, the Leupold RX FullDraw is one rangefinder that will never go out of style.

What We Like

  • We love the way this rangefinder fits in your hand. It is the most ergonomic rangefinder we have tested
  • Durable and built to last
  • We love how the Flightpath™ technology displays your arrows highest point, so that you can see if it will hit branches or leaves in its path
  • Aluminum coating for enhanced durability
  • Super lightweight at only 7.5 ounces
  • Batteries included with purchase

What We Don't Like

  • High price point. However, you almost always get what you pay for with Leupold products
  • The warranty is not as good as the Vortex VIP Warranty

Here's a video where you can learn more about the features of the Leupold RX FullDraw Rangefinder.

The Leupold RX-FullDraw is definitely a lifer and one of the best rangefinders on the market. We're confident you'll be satisfied with its performance.


Best Rangefinder For The Money

Vortex Optics Impact Laser Rangefinder

Vortex Optics Impact Laser Rangefinder

With an accurate range spanning from 5 yards to 1,000 yards, the Vortex Impact is a no frills rangefinder that gets the job done at less than half the price of its aforementioned Vortex and Leupold counterparts.

The Vortex Optics Impact Laser is less than $200, but it comes packed with useful features that'll help you maximize your time on stand or in the field..

We found ourselves primarily using the HCD (horizontal component distance) mode, which has an impressive angle compensation feature that came in handy when hunting from tree stands.

We also appreciated its scan feature, which gives continuous range readings to pan across a landscape or to track a moving target. All modes can be set to read in yards or meters.

It is completely waterproof, thanks to being o-ring sealed.

It is also very small and lightweight, fitting perfectly in your hand, as you can see in the image below.

Vortex Impact Rangefinder in a hunters hand

This model does fall short of the higher-end choices, as the optics are not as high end, but it does include the incredible Vortex VIP Warranty, which basically will repair or replace the rangefinder NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENED TO IT!

That is a huge feature in a rangefinder at this price point.

What We Like

  • We love the way this rangefinder fits in your hand. It is the most ergonomic rangefinder we have tested
  • Durable and built to last
  • We love how the Flightpath™ technology displays your arrows highest point, so that you can see if it will hit branches or leaves in its path
  • Aluminum coating for enhanced durability
  • Super lightweight at only 7.5 ounces
  • Batteries included with purchase

What We Don't Like

  • High price point. However, you almost always get what you pay for with Leupold products
  • The warranty is not as good as the Vortex VIP Warranty

Overall, though, the Vortex Optics Impact Laser is a good rangefinder that provides excellent value for money.


Best High End Rangefinder

Maven RF.1 Rangefinder

Maven RF.1 Rangefinder

When we are buying high end hunting products, we prefer to buy from the manufacturer. The price is always comparable and you eliminate all chances of encountering counterfeit products.

Next up on our list of rangefinders, it's the Maven RF.1. The Maven brand is driven by technology specifically developed for brightness, clarity, and accuracy, which bodes well for its rangefinders.

Whether you’re a bowhunter, rifle hunter, or long-range shooter, all rangefinders within the RF Series are designed to take the guesswork out of establishing accurate distances.

However, if you're in the market for cheap rangefinders, then just keep scrolling. At nearly $500, the Maven RF.1 rangefinder isn't a bargain-basement buy, but it is well worth the price it commands if you're serious about bowhunting.

As stated by the brand itself, it's the clarity that really sets Maven apart from its competition. No matter what conditions we used it in, we got a crystal clear view and spot-on accuracy to boot.

The Maven RF.1 is extremely durable. One of our field testers purposely dropped it from his tree stand, which was 20 feet high. 

He climbed down, picked up the Maven RF1 and it worked perfectly.

As a matter of fact, it is still working perfectly as of this writing.

It has a minimum range of five yards and a maximum range (reflective range) of a whopping 4,500 yards, or 2,000 yards to a deer. This makes it one of the best rangefinders for bow and rifle hunters on the market.

In addition to its durability, the Maven RF1 features line of sight and angle compensation features. We love the Field/Forest feature that allows you to switch between searching for small targets while ignoring background features, or to track targets as they dart between trees.

It is slightly larger than some of the other rangefinders on our list and could be a little awkward for hunters with smaller hands, as you can see in the photo below.

Maven RF.1 rangefinder in a hunters hand

It also comes with a lifetime warranty – though we can't see you needing it. This thing is tough.

What We Like

  • We love the durability of this rangefinder. We purposely dropped it from 20 feet up and it still worked perfectly
  • 100% waterproof and fog proof
  • Excellent low light operation, which is imperative for bow hunters
  • Award winning glass and scratch resistant lens coatings 
  • Batteries included with purchase
  • Unconditional lifetime warranty

What We Don't Like

  • High-end option and likely out of budget for many
  • It is bigger and heavier than other rangefinders. Weighing in at 10 ounces

Here's a video showing you all of the features of the Maven RF.1 rangefinder.

When we are buying high end hunting products, we prefer to buy from the manufacturer. The price is always comparable and you eliminate all chances of encountering counterfeit products.


One Of The Best Vortex Rangefinder For Bow Hunting

Vortex Optics Ranger Laser Rangefinder

Vortex Ranger 1800 Rangefinder

Vortex Optics remains one of the most popular manufacturers of hunting rangefinders because they look after their customers so well with their warranties.

But you get more than just a guarantee of customer care when you buy in, particularly if you opt for the Vortex Ranger.

With a max range of 1,800 yards, the Vortex Ranger 1800 rangefinder effectively covers all the ground you'll really need it to when you’re out hunting. 

It features the Vortex Horizontal Component Distance (HCD) mode for angle compensated ranging, as well as, Line of Sight (LOS) mode, which displays actual line of sight range.

Weighing only 7.7 oz, it's a lightweight option, but this doesn't detract from its durability.

The piece de resistance, though? An impeccable continuous scan feature that gives you a read on a moving target while you're panning. The scan mode works exceptionally well in all weather conditions.

In addition, the brightness modes will take you through even the most changeable day, a positive characteristic of most Vortex models.

One of our favorite parts of this rangefinder is the handy clip that allows you to clip it to your belt, a pocket, tree stand safety harness, or even a backpack.

What We Like

  • We love the fully multi-coated lenses, which deliver optimal light transmission and unbeatable clarity
  • Easy to use with a clean display and highly intuitive menu
  • 100% waterproof and fog proof
  • Super lightweight at only 7.5 ounces
  • High angle compensation for the critical distance data you'll require when hunting
  • Vortex VIP lifetime warranty

What We Don't Like


This is, without doubt, an exceptionally good option for serious bow hunters with a high budget. Couple that with the Vortex VIP warranty and you will never buy another rangefinder. 


Best Affordable Rangefinder For Bow Hunting

Sig Sauer Kilo 1000 Laser Rangefinder 

Sig Sauer Kilo 1000 Laser Rangefinder

If you need to keep costs down but want plenty of bang for your buck, the Sig Sauer Kilo 1000 rangefinder will give you all the features you need at an attractive sub-$200 price point.

Despite its much lower price point than several similar alternatives, this model has 5x20 mm monocular with SpectraCoatTM anti-reflection coatings for superior light transmission and optical clarity. This is particularly useful when hunting in low light.

The HyperScan feature proved an excellent example of scan mode, and the 5x magnification was handy, though it is less than the 6x magnification on many other rangefinders.

Still, it offered everything we needed and its compact, lightweight body makes it a really useful accessory for getting out and about with a bow, particularly on those days when the last thing you want is one more tool to weigh you down. We've all been there.

Another benefit of this option is a high transmittance LCD display for superior low-light performance. The one downside? Unlike other Sig Sauer rangefinders, the readout on this one is black, not red. This is not a huge issue, but it does make it harder to read in low-light situations.

What We Like

  • We were very impressed with the clarity in a rangefinder at this price point 
  • Great price for all these features
  • 100% waterproof and fog proof
  • One of the lightest rangefinder we tested at only 5.5 ounces
  • Both line of sight and angle compensated modes

What We Don't Like

  • Only a 5 year warranty
  • Black readout is hard to read in low light conditions

Overall, we are impressed with this option. It's a good rangefinder that provides plenty of value for money, ideal for hunters working with a tighter budget.


Another Affordable Choice

Leupold RX-1400i Rangefinder

Leupold RX-1400i TBR Rangefinder

We're sticking with low-cost rangefinders for the time being. Typically associated with more expensive options, there is no doubt that this model is Leupold's entry-level rangefinder. However, when you look at the spec and its capabilities, it’s clearly more of a mid-level rangefinder that’s packed with exciting, useful features.

The Leupold RX-1400i is another great option, coming in at under $200. Unlike the Sig Sauer Kilo Laser Rangefinder, this option does have a red display. So, you won't run into any problems trying to read it in low light.

The best thing about the RX-1400i is that it comes with a whopping seven usage modes: True Ballistic Range (TBR), Line of Sight (LOS), Bow and Arrow (BOW), Minutes of Angle (MOA), Milliradians (MIL), and Trigonometry (TRIG), all of which have distinct uses and most of which will help you hone your shots.

Or, at the very least, help you figure out how tall a building is, for example, if you use that TRIG mode.

Because of its range of options, this is a great buy if bow hunting isn't your only hobby. It's useful for boaters, and as a golf rangefinder (as most rangefinders are). And, while there is no fixed rifle mode, it is ideal for rifle hunting, too.

What We Like

  • We love the bright red display that makes it easy to read in low light conditions
  • One of the most feature rich rangefinders in this price range
  • 100% waterproof and fog proof
  • The lightest rangefinder we tested at only 5.1 ounces
  • Both line of sight and angle compensated modes

What We Don't Like

  • Warranty is not as good as Vortex

Overall, it's a seriously good rangefinder and a great option for its price. Its superior angle compensation and scan mode make it a solid purchase that you'll get plenty of mileage out of.


Best Budget Rangefinder for Bow Hunting

Bushnell Laser Rangefinder Bone Collector

Bushnell Laser Rangefinder Bone Collector

The first Bushnell rangefinder to make the list, this is one of the best options on the market. The brand claims to produce high-quality and affordable products that are reliable, and the Bushnell Laser Rangefinder is a testament to this statement. At less than $200, it is a seriously good bargain for the bowhunter on a budget.

It has surprisingly good optics for the price, comprising fully multi-coated optics with ultra-wide band coatings that provide bright, true-to-life colors. With a bright viewfinder and accurate colors, you can trust it to maintain optimum performance even if the light isn't perfect.

Whilst the Bushnell Laser Rangefinder Bone Collector is not as long-range as some of the other options, it still provides a max range of 850 yards to reflective targets, and its angle range compensation (ARC) technology will give you an accurate distance to target even if you're shooting up or downhill.

We were particularly impressed with the scan mode feature, which updates four times per second to help you get the perfect, successful shot.

What We Like

  • We love the price of this rangefinder
  • Has many features of more expensive rangefinders 
  • 100% waterproof and fog proof
  • Fairly lightweight at only 6.4 ounces
  • ARC technology for use from treestands

What We Don't Like

  • Ours worked perfectly, but there a lot of bad reviews on Amazon
  • Warranty is not as good as Vortex

Best Nikon Rangefinder For Bow Hunting

Nikon Prostaff Laser Rangefinder

Nikon Prostaff Laser Rangefinder

Nikon is a world leader in optics, and their foray into hunting rangefinders is no exception. 

With its slick back color and a ‎CR2 lithium battery included in price, this option will not disappoint users aesthetically, nor in terms of features.

It has a long-range capacity of up to 1,000 yards and 6x magnification, so it's no slouch. And we love some of the features it comes with.

We particularly enjoyed the fact that the continuous scan mode provides eight seconds of feedback, and its target priority switch mode means you can hunt multiple targets easily, whether they're six yards away or 1,000.

In fact, this model comes with two range modes. The first is its First Target Priority Mode, which displays the distance to the closest subject, and the second is Distant Target Priority Mode, which will provide the distance to the furthest subject.

It's durable too. While it may not be as bulky and weatherproof as some of the aforementioned alternatives, it's rugged and waterproof, meaning it can take some abuse when you're out hunting.

What We Like

  • We love Nikon optics. They make great rangefinders and they are our top pick for best binoculars for deer hunting
  • Very small and only 4.6 ounces
  • Waterproof
  • Multilayer coating is applied to lens and prism surfaces, giving bright and clear images

What We Don't Like

  • Only a 5 year warranty

If you want angle compensation and a decent maximum range, backed by a name you can trust, you can't go wrong with this excellent Nikon standby.


Best Bushnell Rangefinder For Bow Hunting

Bushnell Prime 1700 Laser Rangefinder

Bushnell Prime 1700 Rangefinder

Next up, we're back with another Bushnell model, and this is certainly one of the best rangefinders for bow hunting on the market, considering its features and price point. Although it's not one of our ultra bargain choices, at around $200 it's still a reasonable price for what it is, providing users with great value for money.

The Bushnell Prime 1700 features a variable long-range that'll take you up to 1,760 yards (yes, you read that right) to a reflective target. You'll also get 1,000 yards to a tree, or 700 yards to a deer.

We found that its larger objective lens meant that it gave maximum brightness, which was a godsend on early morning hunts when lighting is low or certainly limited.

The scan mode was efficient and effective, and being able to switch between Brush Mode and Bullseye helped us to move between multiple targets without risking it locking onto a bit of foliage and losing the quarry.

Bushnell is generous when it comes to accessories for your rangefinder. This model comes with a case and cover, meaning you won't need to buy these components separately.

In addition, you can benefit from its durability; the aluminum shell should stand the test of time and can take a knock or two without trouble.

What We Like

  • We like the Mid Range price and should fall within budget for many hunters
  • The large objective lens lets in 2X more light making it ideal for use at dawn and dusk
  • Durable with hard shell and case included
  • Fully Multi Coated Optics for more true to life colors
  • ARC technology for accurate shooting distances from tree stands

What We Don't Like

  • Battery not included

Best Inexpensive Rangefinder For Bow Hunting

Bushnell Engage Hunting Laser Rangefinder

Bushnell Engage Laser Rangefinder

Like the Bushnell Prime 1700 before it, the newer Bushnell Engage rangefinder offers superior brightness, double that of its predecessor, in fact, which makes it an exceptional bow hunting rangefinder.

Its angle range compensation (ARC) is second to none, so if you find yourself shooting on the side of a mountain, you'll be able to take full confidence in its measurements.

Those most satisfied with the Bushnell Engage are those who understand its limitations and use it from the correct distance. It has a slightly shorter max range than the Prime 1700. However, the laser will take you up to 600 yards to a deer, which is more than enough for bowhunters.

This is a popular choice for rifle hunting, too, and while it doesn't have as many features as some of the other picks on this list, it's a perfectly handy little workhorse that will excel at a short-range.

The Bushnell Engage is undoubtedly best for those planning to hunt in low light, and its qualities are demonstrated most clearly when used at dusk or dawn. What's more, its fully multi-coated optics boast ultra-wideband coatings which provide bright, true-to-life colors.

The Bushnell Engage rangefinder comes with a durable carrying case and batteries included, as well as a quick start guide, paracord, lanyard tether, and instruction sheet.

What We Like

  • Excellent rangefinder for hunting in low light
  • Essentials included with purchase, including batteries, case
  • Durable with hard shell and case included
  • Fully Multi Coated Lenses for crisp, clear images
  • ARC technology for accurate shooting distances from tree stands

What We Don't Like

  • Could use better instructions

Best Cheap Rangefinder for Bow Hunting

TIDEWE Hunting Rangefinder with Rechargeable Battery

TIDEWE Hunting Rangefinder

Last, but certainly not least, we come to the TIDEWE Hunting Rangefinder. Many might question its quality based on the low cost, under $100. But we were surprised by the range and measurement capabilities of this one.

Warning: it's not designed specifically for hunting. In fact, this range finder was originally developed for golfers, so it's a great dual-purpose tool for the busy hobbyist who'd rather not spend big on separate toys for their sports.

Despite this, you can absolutely use it to hunt. And if you're new to the game, on a budget, and in need of a starter rangefinder that will get the job done, then this could be the perfect option for you.

One thing you won't do by investing in this option is break the bank; this under $100 rangefinder is the perfect no-brainer buy for short-range shooting on a budget.

While it'll only give you accurate readings up to around 660 yards, its accuracy within those confines is seriously impressive: we're talking within 0.3 yards up to 220 yards and 0.5 yards from 220-660 yards.

One factor we've discussed frequently when referring to the best rangefinders is durability. A downside of this model is that it's made from plastic, so you'll have to take care of it when you're out and avoid any knocks or falls.

Despite the material, it's seriously good value for money and a great option for complete beginners or those on a budget.

What We Like

  • Best archery rangefinder under $100
  • Higher accuracy and angle compensation than you would expect at this price range
  • Rechargeable with a charging port built in
  • Case and charging cord included

What We Don't Like

  • Made from plastic and not very durable
  • We prefer name brand optics from companies we know 

Best Rangefinders For Bow Hunting Compared


Model

Features

PRICE

Vortex Optics Razor HD 4000 Rangefinder

Best Overall  Vortex Razor HD Laser Rangefinder

 7x Magnification

25mm Objective Lens

HCD and LOS Modes

Weighs 9.9 oz

Range to 4000 Yards

Best Warranty In The Business

Leupold RX-FullDraw Rangefinder

Editor’s Choice  Leupold RX-FullDraw Rangefinder

 6x Magnification

22mm Objective Lens

ARC Mode

Weighs 7.5 oz

Range to 1200 Yards

Vortex Optics Impact Laser Rangefinder

Best For The Money

Vortex Impact Laser Rangefinder

 6x Magnification

20mm Objective Lens

HCD and LOS Modes

Weighs 5.5 oz

Range to 1000 Yards

Best Warranty In The Business

Sig Sauer Kilo 1000 Laser Rangefinder

Best Affordable

Sig Sauer Kilo 1000 Laser Rangefinder

 5x Magnification

20mm Objective Lens

Angle Modified Range Mode

Weighs 5.3 oz

Range to 1200 Yards


Bushnell Prime 1700 Rangefinder

Best Bushnell Rangefinder For Bow Hunting

Bushnell Prime 1700 Laser Rangefinder

 6x Magnification

24mm Objective Lens

ARC Mode

Weighs 5.9 oz

Range to 1700 Yards


Nikon Prostaff Laser Rangefinder

Best Nikon Rangefinder For Bow Hunting Nikon Prostaff Laser Rangefinder

 6x Magnification

20mm Objective Lens

Weighs 4.6 oz

Range to 1000 Yards


How an archery rangefinder calculates distance

When you push the button on an archery rangefinder, it sends a laser out that bounces off whatever it reaches and returns to the rangefinder.

This then calculates the time the bounce has taken and converts that into a distance. That's a straightforward enough system if you're working on flat ground, in a relatively short distance, and without other objects that could potentially get in the way of the beam.

This is the same way the best rangefinder binoculars work.

Of course, that's rarely reflective of the reality of hunting, which usually involves variable terrain, multiple potential game animals, tricky conditions, and irritatingly non-reflective targets.

But that's where all the different modes of use in a good rangefinder come in handy. Perhaps the most useful is angle compensation, which helps you get an accurate read of the correct distance between your bow and your target when you're shooting up or downhill rather than at a horizontal distance.

Shooting at an angle like this actually lessens the distance more than you might expect. And, because it has such an effect on the way gravity works on your arrow, it's essential to use an archery rangefinder to make the calculation, as it's nearly impossible to do so by eyeballing it yourself.

You may even see a rifle mode option on your rangefinder, which can help you to gauge the bullet drop and holdover compensation.

The importance of a bow hunting rangefinder

The earliest rangefinders appeared on the market back in the 1880s, and though the technology has developed considerably since then, the need for such a device is greater than ever for bow hunters.

Before rangefinders, archers had to make an educated guess as to the distance to the target.

Even rifle shooters can benefit from a good rangefinder because, in many states, rifle scopes are subject to legal limitations (here's looking at you, Idaho).

A range finder takes all – or most – of the guesswork out of calculating the exact distance of your target, and as the technology has improved, so has their ability to work out angles.

This means that they'll help you make an accurate shot, whether you're shooting on a hillside or from the high vantage point of a tree stand.

Rangefinders also make it easier to sight in your bow and are ideal for walk back tuning your bow.

For you crossbow hunters out there, some manufacturers are now making crossbow scopes with built in rangefinders, eliminating the need for a separate rangefinder.

Rangefinders aren't just for hunting. They are also a valuable tool to use when sighting in a crossbow or compound bow, giving you the exact distance to the target as you get zeroed in.

To help you streamline your archery rangefinder shopping process, we've rounded up some of our best-in-show picks.

Keep on scrolling and you'll find our need-to-know buying guide to separating the good from the great and customizing your laser rangefinder purchase to suit your own unique needs.

Whether you're ready to make a serious investment or you want top-quality target tracking on a wallet-friendly budget, we've got the best archery rangefinder for you.

Buying Guide: How to find the best rangefinder for bow hunting

It's easy for us to tell you our favorite bow hunting rangefinders, but ultimately, choosing the best archery rangefinder is largely subjective and will depend on you.

It depends where you shoot, what you shoot, the conditions you shoot in, and so on.

With that in mind, here are some of the factors you'll need to consider when searching for a quality rangefinder to add to your hunting gear.

Durability

It's a no-brainer, really – you'll need something tough and watertight that'll deal with variable weather conditions and a few knocks.

We're all a bit rougher on our hunting gear than we'd like to be, and if a rangefinder can't handle being dropped on the forest floor or solidly clunked in a bag, it's not making our shortlist.

Look for durable casings and coatings, and check out reviews, too. You'll want plenty of assurance that it can go the distance, particularly in wet conditions.

A good quality case will help to protect your rangefinder. We have found that our top picks for best binocular harness come with a rangefinder pocket that keeps all your optics at your fingertips while hunting.

Water-Resistant

Optics are sensitive and complicated, and even the tiniest amount of condensation in the glass can lead to focus misfires and even fungal growth, which effectively renders your optics useless. Some good, solid, quality casing can help you avoid a lot of issues.

Also, it's important to note that there's a big difference between water-resistant and waterproof. Water-resistant range finders are generally built to withstand lower levels of moisture.

For example, rainfall. But if you think there's a chance you'll be hunting near a body of water, and you might just drop your range finder in it, you'll want to ensure you have fully waterproof housing.

Range

One of the key elements you need to keep in mind while shopping is the range, or distance, you'll need your range finder to cover, because not all are created equal.

If you primarily target shoot, this might be an easy call for you, but if you're an avid bowhunter and need to track fast-moving game, you'll likely find it worth the investment to get a rangefinder with a long-range and a high level of accuracy throughout that range.

On average, an archer will usually shoot within 50 yards, while a rifle shooter will need a considerably longer distance.

That's a key point to remember, really: as a bowhunter, you're unlikely to ever shoot beyond 50 yards, but the extra range can be incredibly helpful to help you set up a shot nice and early – for example if you spot a big buck in the distance and want to keep tabs on it in case it moves in your direction.

Spotting it from 200 yards out gives you so much more prep time than being surprised with it suddenly at 75 yards, and could mean the difference between a missed shot and the trophy of the season.

Some rangefinders are accurate within a yard all the way throughout their focal length, while others go up to 3 yards at the far end, so check the spec fully and read plenty of reviews, because that's where you'll discover if a rangefinder has a tendency to be faulty at its maximum range, which could be a deal-breaker.

Magnification

Magnification

Being able to accurately gauge a target's distance from 1,000 yards is all well and good – but not much use if you can't actually see the target through the viewfinder.

Optical magnification is essential to help you locate your target, and you'll want 5x or 6x magnification to get to the far end of your reach.

Of course, it's worth noting that the closer you magnify your viewpoint, the more restricted that view will be.

It's effectively taking you from a wide-angle to telephoto zoom, so you need to have a steady hand and move quickly to ensure you continue to focus on your quarry and don't lose them off to the side.

If you're not particularly steady-handed, of course, you can always opt to use a tripod, though this may slow you down somewhat and you'll need to buy a rangefinder that has a tripod attachment, too.

Battery Life

While this is generally less of a concern if you solely dabble in target shooting at a range, you'll certainly want to keep battery life in mind if you're a bowhunter.

There's nothing more frustrating than getting into the heart of a hunt to discover your rangefinder is totally drained – and this can be exacerbated by extremes of weather. So, do your research here, and consider buying backup batteries to keep in your kit.

That'll be more of an investment if your range finder uses rechargeable batteries, but it's well worth knowing you've got back-up. And even better if you know that your rangefinder is good for thousands of actuations before then, anyway.

Here's a bow hunting tip for beginners

Always carry an extra battery in your hunting pack, so you will always have a working rangefinder. I learned this the hard way on a deer hunting trip to Ohio.

Angle Calculation

Angle Ramge Compensation

It's rare that any of us will spend our entire hunting careers shooting targets on totally level ground or hunting from a ground blind. So, unless you never plan to leave the ground, you'll want to keep angle calculation in mind.

Not every angle compensating rangefinder is created equal – some have the bare minimum technology and can measure a horizontal distance and a gentle up or downhill, but struggle with anything more complex.

Look for superior angle intelligence technology and an emphasis on compensation for horizontal and vertical views so you can nail the trigonometry and get the angle and actual distance spot on.

This is even more important if you tend to shoot from a tree stand, so don't skimp on built-in angle compensation when you're shopping for the best bow hunting rangefinder for your needs.

A quality rangefinder will also share all the information on its display, so you know the angle you're shooting at and the exact distance.

Eye Relief

Eye Relief

This is one of those features that many hunters don't think much about – until it's too late.

There's not much point splashing out on top-of-the-range hunting optics and great glass if the range finder's performance will be limited by subpar eye relief.

Eye relief is, in short, the distance your eye needs to be from the lens in order to get a full picture of what you're looking at.

The exit pupil – the technical term for the eyepiece – needs to have a diameter larger than your own pupil, so that you can move within it and get more side-to-side views. If it's not, you'll see a clipped image.

It's important to note that magnification and eye relief have a direct correlation. For example, if you buy a rangefinder with an objective lens measurement of 10 by 42mm, that'll reduce to 21mm when you zoom in to 2x magnification.

Starting with a generous objective lens measurement will give you lots more room to play with, especially if you plan to use the full 6x magnification.

Low Light Performance

View Through Rangefinder in Low Light

You can't always guarantee perfect lighting for hunting: you may find yourself looking at the buck of a lifetime at dusk or dawn, or under a particularly thick cover of trees, or in gloomy weather, and for all these reasons, you'll need a rangefinder that's able to cope with all the conditions bowhunters deal with.

The best archery rangefinders will have features built in to cope with low light, including bright optics, red displays for ease of use, and even extras like fog mode.

Features to look out for include:

  • Red reticles
  • A large objective lens, which lets in more light
  • Thermal imaging
  • Organic light-emitting diode (OLED)
  • Lumatic display for added brightness

Optics

The glass and coatings used on the lenses in your bow rangefinder are also important to consider.

The best rangefinders are fully multi-coated, which means that there are several layers of protective coating on every air-to-glass surface. This tends to give more brightness and more clarity but at a cost.

At the other end of the spectrum, you'll find coated optics, which refer to a single coating applied to one lens surface, and in the middle of the spectrum is fully-coated, which means a single layer has been applied to all glass-to-air surfaces, and multi-coated, which means multiple coatings have been applied to one lens.

Target tracking

Life would be very easy, but perhaps not as much fun, if all targets stayed stock still and allowed us to get a range reading, load up, stop for a breather, cock our weapons, pour a cup of coffee, and then, finally, shoot.

In reality, though, there's generally very little time between getting a read on your target and pulling the trigger. So, getting yourself ahead of the game with a bow hunting rangefinder that's designed to follow targets will help ensure an accurate shot (though you still probably won't have time for a cup of coffee before pulling the trigger).

Most rangefinders will come with a scan feature, which will seek out a target for a certain amount of time. The higher the scan time, the better – though as you fine-tune your own processes, you'll find you need less active scanning time.

Look for range finders with multiple scan modes, which might be named things like Field or Forest mode, and consider whether you'll get use out of multi-target tracking.

This can be particularly handy for long-range hunting, where any movement will be harder to track and you may want to switch quickly to a closer range.

A laser range finder emits countless beams per second to keep tabs on its target, and that can mean that it gets foiled by trees or bushes and loses track of what you actually want to track.

In this case, multiple priority modes are particularly handy. Being able to switch between front and back target priority will let you override the beams and focus on a subject closer or further away from the optics.

Final Thoughts

Whether you're in the market for a cheap archery rangefinder or you want a tricked out multipurpose rangefinder with all the bells and whistles, you now have the knowledge to make an educated decision about the right rangefinder for you or as a gift for your favorite hunter.

It doesn't matter if you shoot a crossbow or a traditional bow, the best rangefinder for you might, of course, not be the best rangefinder for another hunter. So, don't get too caught up with following the pack in terms of brands and trends.

Instead, take stock of your own unique needs, the circumstances in which you shoot, and the hunting challenges you're hoping to overcome, and use those to govern the purchase you make.

There will always be features. For example, back target priority or fog mode – that you're willing to pay a premium for, but there may be others, such as a colossal maximum range or top-spec angle compensation – that you can save some pennies on if you know you won't really need them.

Knowing your own priorities will help you narrow down the (let's be honest, overflowing) market of commercial bow rangefinders and help you find the perfect tool to ensure your range measurement is spot on, every time.

Photo of author

John VanDerLaan

Hi folks! I'm John VanDerLaan and I have a deep passion for the outdoors, and deer hunting in particular. I am what you call a year round deer hunter. I am in the whitetail woods year round preparing for the next years season and I love to share the knowledge that I've gained over 40 years of chasing the wily whitetail! In full disclosure, it is safe to assume that I am an affiliate for products that I recommend. I will make a commission if you buy through my link. You will not pay more when buying through my link. In fact, oftentimes I have negotiated a lower price (or bonuses) for my readers than you will find anywhere else online. Also, when you buy through my link, it allows me to continue to provide you with tons of FREE valuable information through this website!

1 thought on “12 Best Rangefinders For Bow Hunting in 2022 – Reviews And Buying Guide”

  1. Leupold RX is my go-to choice, however, Vortex is a strong contender. Bought my Leupold around 5-6 months ago and now considering if I should get something to compare it against from Vortex. Most likely going to wait till sales and grab one for cheap. Bushnell looks interesting too tho!

    Reply

Leave a Comment