The 6 Best Hunting Rangefinders for All Budgets (Updated for 2016)
You can agonize for weeks on end over what model to choose as the best rangefinder for hunting. In this roundup I’m trying to make your choice a little easier by presenting 4 models that have been tested in the field by their owners and managed to get an overwhelming thumbs-up.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution as budget and requirements vary from person to person. I’ve tried to cover a wide price range (sub-$200 to $500), so hopefully this will help you find the perfect rangefinder to fit both your hunting and budget requirements.
- 1 The 6 Best Hunting Rangefinders for All Budgets (Updated for 2016)
- 2 Best Rangefinder for Hunting: The Contenders
- 3 Best Hunting Rangefinder Final Words
Best Rangefinder for Hunting: The Contenders
I have chosen 6 models to include in this roundup. They represent the best value, performance and customer satisfaction, while never crossing the $500 price point.
Sig Sauer Kilo 2000
Bushnell Bone Collector Edition
Bushnell G-Force DX
Vortex Ranger 1000
Bushnell Tactical Elite 1-Mile
Let’s get to it, starting with my top choice and working down from there.
Top Honors: Sig Sauer Kilo 2000 7x25mm
The Sig Sauer Kilo 2000 just knocked my socks off. For the sub-$500 price range it occupies, this is as near to perfect a rangefinder as you can hope to get.
This unit was built for the outdoors. It is waterproof, with a display that automatically adjusts to changes in the ambient light to give you clear readings in all conditions.
– Waterproof and fogproof
– Lumatic OLED display adjusts to ambient brightness
– Ranges to over a mile with 1/10th yard accuracy
– 4x per second refresh in scan mode
– Angle Modified Range (AMR) technology to compensate for angle and sight range
– Spectracoat anti-reflection coating
– Twist-up eyecup with multi-positioning
Right off the bat, let me say this: very few hunters will need more than this rangefinder can deliver. You’ll have to pay into the thousands of dollars for a better unit than this. Sig Sauer has produced a game changer in the Kilo 2000.
Performance under all weather conditions is admirable. Whether you’re in the challenging conditions of bright noon, overcast skies, near dusk or rainy weather, the Kilo 2000 maintains a high level of optic clarity and still ranges to 1200 yards and beyond on non-reflective targets even in challenging low light conditions.
The red OLED is a major plus. As if this product needed any further recommendation, it is also covered by the Sig Sauer Infinite Guarantee, which essentially amounts to a lifetime guarantee.
It does seem to have a little too healthy an appetite for batteries, while you need to take care not to cross thread the battery cap into the body.
Sig has produced a cracker of a rangefinder at an incredible price with the Kilo 2000. Rugged build, precise performance and clear optics with a stunning guarantee? I cannot recommend this product enough.
Satisfied owners: 97%
Amazon: 4.8 out of 5
Optics Planet: 4.9 0ut 0f 5
– terrific price
– great features
– red OLED
– fast ranging
– long range
– battery cap is finnicky
– battery life
Price Range: $400 – $500Get pricing and user reviews for the Sig Sauer Kilo 2000 on Amazon.com
Bushnell Michael Waddell Bone Collector Edition (MWBCE) 4x21mm
I don’t attach great importance the celebrity factor, so the name Bushnell in this case is much more important to me than the Michael Waddell Bone Collector moniker this rangefinder carries.
However, whatever you think of Michael Waddell, the Bushnell MWBCE is a decent budget hunting rangefinder, backed up by Bushnell’s 100% buy-back guarantee.
– one-button operation
– weather resistant and rainproof housing
– ranges from 10 – 600 yards with +- 1 yard accuracy
– 4x 21mm magnification
– Realtree Xtra camo pattern
– includes case
At this price point (around $150) you can’t expect the best optics and there will be sacrifices. In perfect light, the MWBCE offers fine optical quality. In low light, reading the LCD becomes more of a challenge.
The weather resistant and rainproof housing makes this unit ready to take into the bush, even though it doesn’t feel as rugged as other Bushnell equipment.
Once there, things become a little tricky. You have to very careful when ranging with this unit to not pick up foreground objects or obstructions.
The single button operation is simple and ranging is fast. The unit is very small and lightweight, perfect for carrying around and easily hiding in a pocket.
You’ll be hard pressed to get the full rated distance of 600 yards out of it even in perfect conditions, but at moderate distances into 300 yards territory you’ll get pretty good readings.
It’s not the most attractive rangefinder out there. I think the camo is a little overdone (but that’s just me), and if you drop this in the woods you may never find it again.
You don’t get angle compensation with this rangefinder, but overall it is a solid product that delivers about what you can expect at this price range.
Satisfied owners: 84%
Amazon: 4.3 out of 5
Optics Planet: Not enough ratings yet
– Simple operation
– Can switch between meters/yards
– Powered by common 9v battery
– Prone to ranging minor obstructions
– LCD visibility in low light
Price Range: $120 – $150Get Pricing and User Reviews for the Bushnell Bone Collecter at Amazon.com
Nikon 8397 Aculon Laser Rangefinder
Nikon seldom fails to deliver quality, even at budget price ranges like this. The Aculon may be a pretty basic rangefinder feature wise, but it offers a lot of bang for the buck in terms of performance.
– very compact
– 1 meter/yard increments display
– single button operation
– multilayer coated optics
– distant target priority mode
– water resistant and rainproof
– 6x 20mm magnification
– rapid 6 to 550 yard ranging
The simple display features a black OLED that displays battery life, a crosshair reticle and of course the distance. As expected Nikon’s optics are really good, and the clarity of the display is impressive.
While the theoretical range for this unit is 550 yards (and you may hit that in perfect conditions), you’ll probably find that in practice its effective range is closer to 250 to 300 yards.
This is probably the most compact rangefinder Nikon has ever produced. Battery life looks great and it can toggle between yards or meters.
While it has no incline/decline feature you’re still getting good value for money. If you want to use it in hilly country, you may wish to look at something a little more expensive.
Overall, the Nikon Aculon is a no-frills, straightforward rangefinder that performs very well.
Satisfied owners: 88%
Amazon: 4.3 out of 5
Optics Planet: 4.9 0ut 0f 5
– does what it should
– good optics and clarity
– great battery life
– decent magnification
– very compact
– no advanced features
Price Range: $150 – $200Get pricing and reviews for the Nikon Aculon at Amazon.com
Bushnell G-Force DX ARC 6x 21mm
The G-Force DX ARC is a feature packed hunting and shooting rangefinder coming in at a very attractive price point. Bushnell seldom fails to hit the mark, and this is another winner.
– 6x 21mm
– ARC (Angle Compensation)
– Vivid Display Technology for clarity and contrast
– 5-1300 yards range with 1/2 yard accuracy and 1/10 yard increments
– Selective Targeting System (Bullseye, Brush and Scan modes)
– Bow mode
– Rifle mode
– Rubber-armored metal housing
– Tripod mount
As you can see from that list, the G-Force DX ARX offers you everything you could need in a hunting rangefinder. The Rifle mode factors in bullet-drop/holdover, while Bow mode gives you true horizontal distance in a 5-99 yard range.
The red optics, for me, is a plus, although in certain light conditions they can be hard to see. Hopefully some day we’ll see a rangefinder that offers a choice of either black or red optics for different conditions. Still, the display on the G-Force is nice and clear and with 4 brightness settings you’ll be able to adjust to most conditions.
This unit handles ranging at long distance quite well and you’ll be able to range large objects beyond 900 yards.
The focus is a little tricky, as either the target or the reading tends to be out of focus at times. Not a major issue though.
This is an excellent, fast rangefinder from Bushnell and should be more than sufficient for most hunting or shooting trips. For the price, the value you get here is hard to beat.
Satisfied owners: 87%
Amazon: 4.3 out of 5
Optics Planet: 4.6 0ut 0f 5
– great features
– good price
– bow and rifle modes
– good optics
– tricky focus
Price Range: $230 – $300Get pricing and reviews for the Bushnell G-Force DX on Amazon.com
Vortex Ranger 1000 6×22 Laser Rangefinder
The Vortex Ranger 1000 is a rugged rangefinder built for the outdoors, complete with rubber coating and o-ring seals to make the unit waterproof. Its price point is attractive, but does it have performance and features to match?
– rubber-armored coating
– waterproof performance with o-ring seals
– non-slip grip
– diopter adjustments
– HCD mode for angle compensation
– LOS mode
– scan mode
– can display yards or meters
– runs on CR2 batteries
– Vortex Limited Lifetime Warranty
As you can see, for around $300 you get a lot of bang for your buck. The HCD angle-compensation mode, while you’d expect it to be there in this price range, is still pleasing to have and works very well.
The red OLED readouts is another big plus, and you have three brightness settings to choose from to help you get a clear reading in most conditions.
The 6x magnification is just about enough. The unit doesn’t seem to have any problems ranging out to about 500 yards on dull objects and around 700-800 yards on brighter objects, and you may even get better results in perfect conditions.
On the downside, you do have to press the power button twice to get a reading (three times if the unit was off). This does add a little difficulty to accurate ranging and I would have preferred single press operation.
Overall, this is a decent rangefinder with solid performance at an attractive price. The lifetime warranty doesn’t hurt.
Satisfied owners: 90%
Amazon: 4.7 out of 5
Optics Planet: 4.4 0ut 0f 5
– bright optics
– red readouts
– rubber coated
– lifetime warranty
– multiple button press operation
Price Range: $230 – $300Get pricing for the Vortex Ranger 1000 on Amazon
Bushnell Tactical Elite 1-Mile ARC
With a good stack of up to date features, solid performance and an affordable price, the Bushnell Tactical Elite 1-Mile with ARC is dollar for dollar the best one mile rangefinder around, occupying the $400 – $500 price range.
– ARC Technology
– Multicoated optics with Rainguard HD coating
– 100% Waterproof
– Bow Mode displays true horizontal distance to 99 yards
– Bullseye™, Brush™ and Scan modes
– Built-in tripod mount with magnetic attachment
– Scan Mode
– 7x Magnification
– Includes battery and case
Bushnell apparently struggles to get their display just right. Like on so many of their other models, the optics here could have done with being easier to read in bright daylight. It is, however, very usable under most conditions.
This unit is very much geared towards rifle shooting, and with the ARC technology it will serve rifle hunters well. It is accurate up to its maximum range (1760 yards) on reflective surfaces, while you should get a good 1100 – 1200 yards on non-reflective surfaces in perfect conditions.
The Bullseye mode helps you to focus more easily on smaller targets without getting confused with background objects. A small drawback is that the white/gray color scheme of the rangefinder housing may not appeal to hunters.
Bushnell may not have the same quality glass and optics as Leica or Swarovski units, but for the price this is a fine rangefinder offering strong modern features and rugged quality.
Unfortunately for Bushnell, Sig Sauer upset the apple cart with their Kilo 2000, which rules the roost in this price range now. Still, the Elite 1-Mile remains a strong contender, and if you’re loyal to the Bushnell brand you’ll still walk away with a fine piece of equipment that won’t let you down.
– Satisfied Owners: 86%
– Amazon: 4.5 out of 5
– Optics Planet: 4 out of 5
– ARC technology
– Accurate to its full range
– Rugged, armored, waterproof
– Bullseye and Brush targeting modes
– Well priced
– Display hard to read in bright daylight
– Color scheme not appealing
Price Range: $400 – $500See the Bushnell Tactical Elite Deal on Amazon.com
Best Hunting Rangefinder Final Words
While there are still many competent rangefinders for hunting out there, the purpose of this roundup was not to discuss them all, but to quickly point you to products that offer real value and quality, with an army of happy owners having spoken up for them.
The Sig Sauer Kilo 2000 has established itself as the new king of hunting rangefinders, with the Nikon Aculon providing good value in the budget price ranges. If angle compensation and bow modes are important to you and your budget maxes out at $300, the Bushnell G-Force DX is a wonderful option.
I hope you’ve found a rangefinder that suits both your budget and your hunting style.