Five Best Laser Rangefinders For Less Than $180 | Field & Stream

Five Best Laser Rangefinders For Less Than $180

A laser rangefinder eliminates the guesswork of estimating yardage in the field, but the best units--with high-quality optics and complex technology for calculating bullet drop out to 1,600 yards--can cost more than your bow or rifle. The good news is that affordable options abound. I tested four $180-and-under models that claim to do the job at distances typically ranged by the average whitetail hunter. These affordable units won't let you count a deer's whiskers at a quarter mile, but they can range deer, elk, pronghorns, and other game out to 200 yards and mark larger, reflective features such as hills and trees at even greater distances. Here's how they stacked up.

Bushnell Bowhunter Chuck Adams Edition
MSRP: $319

Amazon.com Cost: $160
Magnification: 4X
Eyepiece: Fixed focus
Angle Compensation: Yes
Scan Mode: No
Weight/Dimensions: 5.2 oz.; 3.8 x 2.4 x 1.4 in.
Battery: CR2 lithium (included)
Advertised range: 5-850 yd.
FOV: 430 ft. @ 1,000 yd.
Target Acquisition: Excellent
Accuracy: Excellent
Ease of Aiming: Very good
Optical Quality: Very good
Utility: Very good
Bargain Rating: Excellent

Comments: The most compact unit was also the steadiest--very important when centering a whitetail in the viewfinder at long range. Quick acquisition and clear optics produced consistent accuracy to 200 yards. The angle-­compensation feature displays true horizontal distance under 100 yards, a nice perk at this price.

Simmons LRF 600
MSRP:$222

Amazon.com Cost: $108
Magnification: 4X
Eyepiece: Fixed focus
Angle Compensation: No
Scan Mode: No
Weight/Dimensions: 7.7 oz.; 4.2 x 3.6 x 1.9 in.
Battery: 9-volt alkaline
Advertised range: 10-600 yd.
FOV: 320 ft. @ 1,000 yd.
Target Acquisition: Very good
Accuracy: Good
Ease of Aiming: Very good
Optical Quality: Good
Utility: Very good
Bargain Rating: Very good

Comments: This unit performed reliably to 150 yards but faltered at 200, which for deer is its advertised maximum distance. Decent optics and a generous rectangular reticle make it easy to aim, but it takes longer to acquire and read the target than the Bushnell. No angle compensation is a minus that's made up for by the very low price.

Wildgame Innovations Halo XRT
MSRP: $140

Amazon.com Cost: $105
Magnification: 6X
Eyepiece: Adjustable diopter
Angle Compensation: No
Scan Mode: Yes
Weight/Dimensions: 8 oz.; 4.2 x 3 x 1.7 in.
Battery: CR2 lithium
Advertised range: 0-500 yd.
FOV: 366 ft. @ 1,000 yd.
Target Acquisition: Good
Accuracy: Good
Ease of Aiming: Very good
Optical Quality: Fair
Utility: Good
Bargain Rating: Good

Comments: At ranges up to 150 yards the XRT delivered good accuracy--when I could see my target. Only fair optical quality cut visibility in low light, and the glare of low-angle sunlight washed out targets more so than with the others. The two-button operation lessens utility. You can't beat the price, though.

Nikon Prostaff 3
$180

Amazon.com Cost: $178
Magnification: 6X
Eyepiece: Adjustable diopter
Angle Compensation: No
Scan Mode: Yes
Weight/Dimensions: 6.3 oz.; 5.1 x 2.7 x 1.4 in.
Battery: CR2 lithium
Advertised range: 11-550 yd.
FOV: 314 ft. @ 1,000 yd.
Target Acquisition: Fair
Accuracy: Fair
Ease of Aiming: Fair
Optical Quality: Excellent
Utility: Good
Bargain Rating: Good

Comments: A lack of steadiness in the hand and an oversize reticle that practically blots out a deer at 100 yards created problems with distant aiming and produced the most wildly inconsistent readings at longer ranges. But the excellent optical quality makes this a solid choice for bowhunters­--especially at first and last light.

A laser rangefinder eliminates the guesswork of estimating yardage in the field, but the best units--with high-quality optics and complex technology for calculating bullet drop out to 1,600 yards--can cost more than your bow or rifle. The good news is that affordable options abound. I tested four $180-and-under models that claim to do the job at distances typically ranged by the average whitetail hunter. These affordable units won't let you count a deer's whiskers at a quarter mile, but they can range deer, elk, pronghorns, and other game out to 200 yards and mark larger, reflective features such as hills and trees at even greater distances. Here's how they stacked up.

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