If you’re any kind of serious about hunting, which we know you are, you absolutely need to be using a rangefinder! Especially if you’re traveling to hunt, you don’t want to take all that effort to bring a gun across the world, spending hours of your time and hundreds of your dollars to come back empty-handed. We know. But there are a lot of optics out there, so we decided to make our very own CIBTC buying guide for all you gun-totin’ globetrotters!
So, no beating around the bush, what do we want out of our rangefinder? Number one has to be accuracy. It doesn’t matter how many features your rangefinder has if it can’t give you an accurate reading. On to number two, then. Number two is ease of use. Rangefinders are all about convenience. You don’t want to be fiddling around with some stupid setting while the game is getting away. We want our rangefinder to be simple and straightforward. Last up, we want it to be ready for the road in every possible way. So, no wiggly parts, no delicate knobs sticking. We only buy rugged little rangefinders that can take a beating, because you never know what you’re going to run into in the bush, not even mentioning the baggage check, right? Recapping: accurate, easy, and rugged. The three things we look for when we’re picking distance gauges.
Our current favorite between all of us is a Leupold, which also tends to be our favorite brand for scopes. They make great glass, plain and simple. The RX1000I is a fantastic rangefinder for just about everybody. It has really clear, crisp glass, just like their scopes, and it’s super defined out to the edge of the range, which tops out around 1000 yards. It uses their DNA software to get readings, and when we’ve tested it/used it in the field, it’s dead-on every damn time. Our top feature on this one is the TBR, which is a ballistic range calculator tool that works like a BDC reticle, telling you how to compensate for slope, winds, and all that stuff that can throw you off. You can turn it on and off as needed. Oh, and it’s rugged as hell. It’s not the absolute best out there, and it’s nowhere near the cheapest, but it hits our sweet spot, dead-on.
If you’re one of those hunters who has to have the absolute, hands-down most accurate tool, and good on you, you want to get the Leica Rangemaster CRF 1600-B, which is as far as we know the only rangefinder made today that can beat the Leupold head to head in accuracy. It scores better in any rangefinder reviews, including ours. It’s also more powerful, out to 1600 yards, and it’s loaded with even better ballistic software that measures everything from slope to air pressure and every other minute detail. It works in dusk lighting, it works accurately even past the 1600 yard range, and it’s not just drop-proof but waterproof. Phew. It’s overkill, for pretty much everybody, but if you’re an expert going for the big kill or someone who really likes his gear, you might be able to justify the cost. In general, though, the Leupold is more than good enough.
Nikon’s Aculon series is currently the best budget tool we know of, and that’s the last one we’re including in this buying guide. It’s not the best thing out there by any stretch, but it keeps it simple, stupid. The AL11 has a range out to 500 yards, and even though it comes with basically no features, it does what it actually does very well. One feature that really makes this one better than any of the other <$200’s that we’ve used is the grouping processor. It basically takes a group of targets and automatically calculates to the last one. So, if there’s a deer behind a tree, it’ll give you the deer, not the tree that’s in your line of sight. Not as fancy as a Leupold, but it has clear glass, it’s solid enough, and we don’t think anybody who’s not fussy will have anything to complain about.
So grab your rangefinder and pack your bags, your ideal takings await.