RANGEFINDERS

Best Rangefinder for Bow Hunting: Helping you Find the Distance

Bow hunting rangefinders
Mike Benton
Written by Mike Benton

Laser rangefinders are devices most used for hunting and golfing and it is not always easy to determine which one is the best rangefinder for bow hunting or at least which one would fit you best, personally. What they do is that they measure the distance between where you’re standing and the object you’re aiming at.

Laser rangefinders are considered to be the most accurate and the most useful devices you could get to improve your hunting (or golfing) experience.

When speaking of hunting, there are basically two types of hunters – riflemen and bowmen. This difference is not relevant when speaking of rangefinders because they can be used for both bow and rifle hunts. There are many different types of laser rangefinders and some of them will be reviewed in this article.

Product nameDimensionMagnificationweight
Bushnell 202442 The Truth ARC 4X20MM3.8 x 1.3 x 2.9 inches4x5.9 ounces
Nikon 16228 Arrow ID 5000 Laser Rangefinder4.4 x 1.5 x 2.86x6.2 ounces
Bushnell Scout DX 1000 ARC 6X21MM Laser Rangefinder4 x 1.3 x 2.96x6.6 ounces

 

Nikon 8376 Archer’s Choice Max Rangefinder2.9 x 1.6. x 4.6 inches6x6.9 ounces
Wildgame Innovations HALO X-RAY Z6X 600 Laser Rangefinder8.6 x 6.4 x 2.6 inches6x11.2 ounces
Vortex Optics Ranger 10008 x 6 x 12 inches6x8 ounces
Bushnell G-Force ARC1.3 x 4 x 2.9 inches6x8 ounces
Simmons LRF 600 Tilt Intelligence Laser Rangefinder9 x 6.1 x 2.64x8 ounces

 

The most important thing to consider when acquiring a new device of any kind is how the particular product fits your exact needs and how it pays off in the long run. First of all, golfers sometimes use GPS rangefinders which require subscriptions that are paid on the monthly or annual basis.

If you decide to change to a laser rangefinder one of the great advantages is that it pays off in the long run because you won’t need to spend money every month, but you will be able to make a single payment and use the device whenever you need it. As it goes for hunters, laser rangefinders have both advantages and disadvantages. Being the most accurate devices around this surely makes quite an advantage.

If you are using a bow it can calculate a perfect shot. However, a thing to consider about laser rangefinders is that they require you to have a clear shot, meaning you have no objects in between you and your target. This can be a little tricky because some hunters hunt mostly during the night when the general visibility is largely reduced.

bow hunting with rangefinder

To make things run as smoothly as they can you should also consider acquiring some extra equipment such as night vision glasses. Basically, laser rangefinders are great tools that will improve your efficiency and make you a perfect shooter, but they work best when combined with other appropriate equipment.

Features to Consider Before Purchase

When acquiring a laser rangefinder you should keep some things in mind in order to make the best possible purchase, save money in the long run and don’t get frustrated by the low performance of the product you bought.

Some things that should be outlined when in it comes to making the best possible purchase are: type of weapon you are using, complicity/simplicity of the interface, maximum range at which they can perform accurately and its durability by which we mean how the product is endurable overall including battery life, battery features, being waterproof and so on.

Bow or rifle (or both?)

A proper rangefinder can be bought only one time and you won’t need to be changed every once in a while. This is why you should rethink what you need exactly. First of all, take into consideration if you are a rifleman or a bowman. Some rangefinders are specialized for only one of them.

woman bow hunting

For those using only bows, you can easily go for those only for bowmen. It can go just the same on the opposite side, but there are some people who like the fact that rangefinders are pocket-sized pieces of equipment making it easy to apply to both bow and rifle hunting.

Bow rangefinders come with arrow flight path calculations (usually up to 100 yards), rifle rangefinders can also count your bullets for you among other features and provide higher range while universal rangefinders outline their optimal utility.

Interface

Another thing to consider is that different rangefinders have different interfaces and while this may appear to be a minor difference, new hunters or people who haven’t used rangefinders so far might struggle at first with the more complicated ones. Different rangefinders can have a different number of modes for different types of situations.

Each mode will best fit a single possible situation and you will have to properly set it up in order to make a perfect shot. The device is never too big for pragmatic reasons and the button space may not be too wide. This is why they can have more buttons for different modes or fewer buttons that operate through making different combinations.

Rangefinder

You won’t have too much time to look at it so it’s best if you can simply remember all the required situations. If you haven’t used rangefinders before, consider buying a more simple one, to begin with. If you are satisfied it is advised to keep with the same producer or a line of product with only updating as they release upgraded series.

After you feel that you’ve got what it takes, you can get a more a complicated one. Still, keeping with the same brand won’t confuse you when you need rangefinders to do the job. Do not take this as an advice of not trying out different brands, but try to keep with the one once you feel it fits you best.

Maximum range

Maximum range is a very important feature when considering which rangefinder to buy. This can depend on many different things, such as the environment in which you plan to do you hunting. For example, the terrain may be set that way that you simply cannot approach your target that easily and you need to be able to make a clear shot from a higher distance.

Another thing to consider is if you are getting a rangefinder for a bow or a rifle. Although your rangefinder may be able to calculate the maximum distance that may be too much for your bow. Bow hunters usually go for around 100 yards of distance when using rangefinders in order to make a perfect shot.

Leica 1600 Rangefinder

It is always better to have a rangefinder that has limits over your bow (or rifle) in order to secure an accurate calculation. For example, if the rangefinder can calculate for up to 1000 yards, you should try to approach to at least 800 yards (if you are a rifleman).

Durability

Durable pieces of equipment are always the best choice. This makes your purchase pay off in the long run, and laser rangefinders are not cheap. You will be practically unable to find a proper laser rangefinder under around $200. Always look for features such as being waterproof.

Hunting happens in a specific environment and you have to be ready for sudden weather changes and some other unexpected things, such as accidental dropping your rangefinder into water. The removable battery also makes a rangefinder more durable in the long run. If the battery is removable you won’t have to pay for repairing your rangefinder or buying a new one. Instead, you can simply switch the battery.

Reviews of the Top Products on the Market

Bushnell 202442 The Truth ARC 4x20mm

Bushnell 202442 The Truth ARC 4x20mmWeight: 5.9 ounces

Dimensions: 3.8 x 1.3 x 2.9 inches

Specific features: 4x magnification, Clear shot, 199-yard range

Best use: more experienced hunters

This is a bowhunting laser rangefinder. It can be a great choice for introducing a laser rangefinder to you bow hunting experience because it is considered to be very easy to use. However, The Truth model is not made for beginners. It can be used for both pros and rookies.

It has a pocket design making it very easy to carry around. It has 4x magnification bow mode which ensures to provide an accurate horizontal distance up to 199 yards. It is also rainproof making sure you do not have to worry about any weather conditions you may be caught at. When hunting this is one of the highest priorities – you have to be able to adapt and endure all conditions, as well as it goes for your equipment, too.

It’s a specialized bow laser rangefinder and can accurately measure both the distance of the object you are aiming at and the arrow flight path. When compared to the older model The Truth offers a more accurate calculation of the arrow path. If you were using Bushnell before, The Sport model, for example, this can be a very useful upgrade and will improve your overall hunting experience.

The Clear Shot feature is the thing making this product so useful. However, you won’t be able to aim through foggy environment or windows. Instead, you will have to be in the open and not have anything between you and your target.

This model also comes with a useful feature of having a removable battery. In the long run, it can be a very useful thing because you won’t have to replace your device and buy a new one, should something happen to your battery.

Check the price on Amazon

Nikon 16228 ARROW ID 5000 Laser Rangefinder

Nikon 16228 ARROW ID 5000 Laser RangefinderWeight: 6.2 ounces

Dimensions: 4.4 x 1.5 x 2.8

Special features: 6x magnification, True Target technology, 600-yard range

Best use: hunting in clear weather, without much fog or rain

Nikon has been around specialized for optic devices for quite some time. The brand brings certain reliability and this for sure is one of the reasons why you surely won’t be making a mistake if you take it. Even though it won’t be a mistake, you might want to take into consideration all of its features before rushing into making your final decision.

It uses multicoated Nikon lenses that have proven to be of extreme quality in other lines of their products so far. The Arrow ID 5000 is a great tool for any level of proficiency for hunters and archers.

With all of its great features, it turns out to be very sensitive to weather conditions. Although it is rain-proof, it doesn’t function properly when raining or in extremely foggy conditions. When compared to other laser rangefinders, this one can switch modes between close and far away targets easily and on spot, but it’s no use when the weather doesn’t serve you.

Check the price on Amazon

Bushnell Scout DX 1000 ARC 6x21mm Laser Rangefinder

Bushnell Scout DX 1000 ARC 6x21mm Laser RangefinderWeight: 6.6 ounces

Dimensions: 4 x 1.3 x 2.9

Special features: 6x magnification, 1000 yard range, both bow and rifle rangefinder, selective targeting

Best use: both rifles and bows and for maximum range needs

Bushnell Scout DX 1000 is a serious piece of hunting equipment. Bushnell stands as one of the most popular and most reliable brands in this type of industry. However, this one is not recommended for rookies.

It has two different modes – bow mode and rifle mode, with each mode bringing special features. Bow mode can calculate flight path of the arrow up to 99 yards while the rifle mode adds with some special features such as bullets count.

It is pocket-sized and provides maximum mobility. It is easy to carry and performs extremely well at mid-range distances, although it can secure a perfect shot up to 1000 yards. It could perform more poorly if the weather conditions are foggy and rainy but the rain won’t damage a bit of it as it comes as a fully waterproof piece of equipment.

It’s best if you are upgrading or trying to merge bow and rifle rangefinders into a single tool that is easier to carry around.

Check the price on Amazon

Nikon 8376 Archer’s Choice Max Rangefinder

Nikon 8376 Archer's Choice Max RangefinderWeight: 6.9 ounces

Dimensions: 2.9 x 1.6. x 4.6 inches

Special features: 200-yard range, wider lenses, brightness control, 6x magnification

Best use: hunting in foggy weather conditions

Nikon’s Archer’s Choice Max Rangefinder is a bow laser rangefinder. It is a bit heavier and wider than most other pocket-sized rangefinders. However, it has special features such as brightness control overcoming most of the problems hunters encounter when using laser rangefinders during foggy or rainy days.

One of the really good things about this is that it has simplified interface because it adapts automatically. This can also be a bad thing because human control can be better than the automatic reaction. However, this feature makes it a great choice for less experienced hunters.

Its 6x magnification provide a clear view of your target and a 200-yard range makes a great high distance rangefinder for your bow. It accurately calculates your arrow flight path.

It has up to more than 20% wider lenses that provide a more clear view of your target and allows you to more quickly adapt to any situation. It was not made to particularly be fit for a single special situation but it was rather made to be universally used as a bow rangefinder in different weather conditions and different terrains.

Check the price on Amazon

Wildgame Innovations Halo X-Ray Z6X 600 Laser Range Finder

Weight: 11.2 ounces

Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.4 x 2.6 inches

Special features: 6x magnification, scan mode, both bow and rifle rangefinder, 600-yard range

Best use: clear & stable weather conditions, both for rookies and pros

The Halo Xray Z6X is a heavy piece of hunting equipment. Weighing 11.2 pounds it practically tops this list. Although some people may not like the fact it is this heavy, the others will say: heavy is reliable.

It can be used for both bow and rifle hunting. It can also be used as a great golfing tool, but its features clearly state its use is hunting primarily. One of the main features to prove this is its scan mode which allows constant ranging in spite of just pointing it straight at your target.

Scan mode acts as both a rangefinder and a scope in a way. It is always better to have a scope or binoculars to detect your target, but while determining the range this mode can prove a  showing if something lurks around.

Having 6x magnification at 600 yards range it provides a clear view and a possibility to easily secure a perfect shot. When compared to other on the list it may perform more poorly in rainy and foggy weather conditions.

Another great thing about this rangefinder is that it is cheaper than most of the similar quality. However, this may back away some potential buyers as many people like to save money in the long run and buy a more durable rangefinder.

Check the price on Amazon

Vortex Optics Ranger 1000

Vortex Optics Ranger 1000Weight: 8 ounces

Dimensions: 8 x 6 x 12 inches

Special features: easy grip due to rubber armor, 1000 yard range, moisture resistant

Best use: hunting in foggy weather conditions

This Vortex Optics Ranger 1000 is a great rangefinder with a range of up to 1000 yards. Most experienced hunters will see this as an important and an appealing feature. In addition, it performs very well in foggy weather conditions.

Also, it is completely waterproof and acts as one of the most durable rangefinders. Basically, it provides excellent hunting experience and saves money in the long run.

This product was specialized to focus on one particular problem that most rangefinders do not have and that is a perfect grip. It has rubber armor to prevent it moving in your hand or falling from your hand accidentally.

Rubber armor, however, doesn’t collect moisture which is very strange because of its special design that prevents any moisture to be caught on it. It stays clean and stands still in your hand.

Check the price on Amazon

Bushnell G-Force DX ARC 6x21mm Laser Rangefinder

Screenshot_30Weight: 8 ounces

Dimensions: 1.3 x 4 x 2.9 inches

Special features: 6x magnification, 3 targeting modes (bull’s eye, brush, scan), 1300 yards range

Best use: experienced hunters

Bushnell G-Force is known to be a line of their products that is meant for most experienced hunters. This G-Force can be used as both bow or hunter rangefinder having special modes to best fit each possible situation.

This is one of the best Bushnell rangefinders around, having the maximum range of 1300 yards and at same time providing different modes, adapting to your type of weapon, being pocket-sized and still having some details like having texture which provides a solid grip reducing the chance to fall out of your hand and provide maximum control when aiming.

Having a perfect grip is very important when using a scan mode because you will need to navigate the rangefinder until you find the target and it is best if you do this slowly having the most control possible.

Its 6x magnification provides a clear view of the target and can easily help you secure a perfect shot. In addition, bull’s eye and brush mode are something that is rarely a feature of other rangefinders and this makes this product as one of the best around.

It is a bit more complicated to use due to its multiple modes choices, so you will have to know which to use in different situations. This is why it’s best for most experienced hunters.

Check the price on Amazon

Simmons LRF 600 Tilt Intelligence Laser Rangefinder

Weight: 8 ounces

Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 2.6

Special features: 4x magnification, 600 yards range

Best use: rookies & a low-budget rangefinder

Simmons LRF 600 can be a great tool for introducing you to the world of hunting. It’s 600 yards range and 4x magnification provide just enough of what you need to successfully put a laser rangefinder to use.

If you are new to laser rangefinders and hunting in general, you might consider buying a bit cheaper device, to begin with. If your budget is limited, but you don’t fit into this category and you are a bit more experienced you might take it as well, but generally speaking, it is not the best idea.

Although it is pocket-sized it comes in greater dimensions and weighs more than others when relating to its maximum possibilities. Usually, rangefinders could weigh more because of having more and heavier lenses to provide longer range distances but this one weighs as much as those that have 6x magnification and 1000 yards range.

It doesn’t rate well when compared to other products on the list, but being on this list it is a fine choice, and a value well spent.

Check the price on Amazon

Thoughts of conclusion

Laser rangefinders are tools of the future. They improve your hunting experience and using them can be quite fun once you’ve spent some time and figured how they work and how to use them. Many people already use laser rangefinders for bow hunting and success rates in bow hunting heavily increase because of the science behind them.

What they do is simple: secure a perfect shot. You can try yourself when hunting to shoot with and without them and you will easily be able to tell the difference.

Man with Rangefinder

In this article, what we learned is that different brands and different rangefinders may focus on different things. It is really hard to say which one of them is the best because the ones with most modes and best features will not perform well in the hands of a rookie. It always depends on who you are and what you need it for.

Basically, things to keep in mind are how does environment in which you will be hunting is challenging and what these challenges are. It is always good to have a longer distance range possibilities, and better magnification with as much weight reduced as possible to make the device more easily portable.

Also, a type of weapon or a combination of them may heavily impact your choice. Still, it is maybe best to go for the universal ones unless you know that you will strictly be using only one type them. Basically, all them can be used as both bow and rifle rangefinders, but some of them have some special features that will improve the way you hunt with your particular weapon type.

Leica 1600 Rangefinder

At last, spending money for a hunting device is an important part of making a decision what to get so keep in mind why and how often do you go hunting. If this is something you do out of passion and very often you will need a better rangefinder to find and extend your existing limits. If not, don’t hesitate to buy a cheaper one and simply enhance the fun.

Finally, we’d like to hear from you, which option did you go with and why?  Let us know in the comments section below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Benton
Mike Benton

Mike is a hunter since he was 6 years old and his father would take him to Alaska or British Columbia. He realized that the difference in gear that you have might have a big impact on how much game will you carry home. Later he decided to share his valuable experience with our readers to help you to choose the proper gear for hunting and outdoors.

  • Brian Waters

    I have just started getting into bow hunting. The stealthiness of this method of attack is new and intriguing to me. Hunting with a bow makes me feel like a ninja! I really love my new Infinite Edge Pro and I want to find the best rangefinder for it. I was really interested in The Truth ARC Laser Rangefinder until I read that it has a hard time getting a read on dark objects and animals, so unfortunately I don’t think that is the one for me. But I was wondering if someone could tell me what kind of power source the Wildgame Innovations Halo X Ray Z6X 600 Laser Range Finder rangefinder uses?

  • Mike Benton

    The Wildgame Innovations Halo X Ray Z6X 600 Laser Range Finder is CR2 lithium battery powered. The battery is not included.

  • Anton Pasenko

    I started practicing bow hunting a few months ago, and I want to improve my skills in this field. I urgently need to buy a rangefinder, which will help me to improve my results. I want to shoot like a Robin Hood, so I’m looking for a device with the best optical characteristics. Is it true that Nikon 8376 Archer’s Choice Max offers superior performance in foggy conditions?

  • Jessica Wilson

    I have never thought that I will like bow hunting, but it has happened! Autumn is coming and I’m preparing myself for a hunting season. I see that BUSHNELL G-FORCE DX ARC 6X21MM is a high-quality laser rangefinder, which can be used for a 1300-yard range. With that said, is it okay if I buy this model, even though I am not an experienced hunter?

  • Mike Benton

    The Bushnell G-Force DX is a reliable Class 1 laser rangefinder for the money. It comes with Vivid Display Technology, making it suitable even for novice hunters.

  • Mike Benton

    Like most rangefinders on the market, the Nikon 8376 Archer’s Choice Max has a compact and durable body, but will present significant problems under extreme foggy conditions.

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