For those of you who have eagle eyes and sharp senses, a rangefinder usually is an afterthought. For the rest of us mortals, if we want to try long-range hunting then a rangefinder is usually a must-have.
I only started using rangefinders for bows quite recently because I was a huge fan of short-range hunting. I didn’t think I had the accuracy to successfully hunt targets over 70 yards away from me until I got comfortable with a rangefinder. That’s a bit odd because I’ve used rangefinders since forever on my guns, but for some reason, I always thought it was weird to use them while bowhunting.
Nevertheless, once I started using them, I became a big fan of using rangefinders in bowhunting. Because I like sharing what I know, I decided to see if I can determine what is the top rangefinder for bow hunting, and then give everyone a shortlist of the best options out there. I don’t know how you guys feel about this, but I hate Top 10s, 15s, 20s because with so many products in that supposed Top List, they are basically listing every product under the sun which negates the Top part.
That being said, I’m a big fan of Top 3s, 5s and this one will be no different, short and educational is the name of the game.
What to look for in a top rangefinder?
It’s really important that every time you want to shop for a product, especially specialized gear such as rangefinders, that you have all the important bits of information on hand so that you can make an educated decision.
This is probably one of the most important aspects to take into consideration, if not the most important because this determines what rangefinder you should be looking for.
Personal preference comes into play here because this depends on how far you usually hunt/shoot and what are your plans for the future. For example, if most of your hunting/shooting occurs at max 200 yards away, then you don’t need an expensive rangefinder that can track at 1000 yards and vice versa. You can always get a more powerful rangefinder even if you don’t use it to the max, but for most people that generally is overkill.
So, decide what is your optimal range, if you want to be future proof, add 100 yards to that and then continue with the rest of the things you should be looking out for.
This is the other extremely important aspect to consider, and this ties in with the first point I talked about, namely range. Angle calculation starts to become increasingly important once you pass the 50 yards mark (give or take), and that’s because of gravity. As is the case with bullets, because of air resistance and gravity, the trajectory of the projectile will be curved and not a straight line. While short-range bowhunting is entirely possible without a rangefinder that can also tell you at what angle you should shoot, for medium to long ranges, it’s a must because otherwise, you will be shooting randomly.
So, a rangefinder that will also calculate and show you the angle you have to take is a must if you do any kind of bowhunting over 50 yards. Once you figure out the range you’re looking for, then you will also know if you need angle calculation or not.
Target priority refers to which object/target is the one focused by the rangefinder when there are multiple objects/targets in the view screen. So, usually, First Target Priority Mode is used in golf, because the players usually measure the distance to the flagstick, and that is usually the nearest object they measure. In this mode, the rangefinder only focuses on the nearest object to it (usually the flagstick) and ignores all further objects, like trees, people, golf carts, etc.
The second target mode is called Distant Target Priority Mode, and this one is usually the ones hunters use because in this mode the rangefinder focuses on the furthers object and ignores all foreground distractions. That way you can correctly measure the distance between you and a deer at 265 yards away, and not the distance between you and the trees/underbrush that closer to you than the deer.
This is another quality-of-life feature that’s a very welcome addition to any rangefinder, so make sure to get one that has this feature.
While magnification is important in bowhunting, it’s not as important as it is when it comes to guns. Usually, bowhunting occurs at shorter distances than rifle hunting, and as such too much zoom can hurt your chances of a successful hunt. Usually, a 5x or 6x is enough for most bowhunters, any more than that is usually overkill and may disorient you. Not to mention that with increased magnification also comes an increased price tag.
So, just to be clear, most hunters should try to aim for a 6x magnification, some may go even higher but that depends on what hunting range they settled on initially.
A well-made and well present view screen will make your task of correctly finding out the distance and angle of attack much easier. All the information you need must be easy to see and understand even in low-light conditions. Another thing to keep in mind is eye relief. For those that don’t know, eye relief is how far the eye needs to be from the eyepiece to see the whole picture. Usually, the bigger the distance, the easier it’s to handle out on the field.
If you are going to spend top dollar to get the top rangefinder for bow hunting, then you want to know that it will last you a long time.
The best rangefinders out there are usually very resilient, and will generally take a beating before giving up on you. While most hunters are pretty careful with dropping their rangefinders, a bigger problem is water.
As everyone knows, water and electronics don’t mix well together so always go for the waterproof option. It may be a bit more expensive, but I will pay off in the end. The last thing you want is to get a fancy new rangefinder and then have it die on you because it got wet in the rain.
Lesson to be learned here, don’t cheap out on waterproofing.
Which is the Top Rangefinder for Bow Hunting? | Best 5 Options Reviewed
Leupold RX-FullDraw 4
We start off the list with what has to be my number one contender for the top spot, and that is the Leupold RX- FullDraw 4. Before going further with this review, I just want to mention that there are more powerful rangefinders out there, but I honestly feel that having a rangefinder that can clock up to 2,000+ yards is overkill if you just bow hunt, because you will never use that extra range when hunting.
Now that have that bit out of the way, let’s see what makes the RX-FullDraw 4 so good. First of all, this rangefinder was specifically designed and made for bowhunters, and their specific needs. It has a max range of 1,200 yards which is more than enough for the majority of bowhunters. The more important aspect in my mind is the fact that it has Leopold’s proprietary Archer’s Advantage technology that takes into account arrow weight, arrow velocity, and peep height to give you extremely accurate ballistic solutions up to 175 yards. We are talking about ½ yards or angle compensated accuracy here, up to 175 yards which is perfect because it covers the range in which most of the hunting is done.
After that we also have Flightpath technology which displays the highest point in the arrow’s flight, so you know before shooting your bow whether there is an obstacle in the path, and where you need to aim for top accuracy. The Line of Sight tech also comes to lend a helping hand with calculating the distance to a target, regardless of any incline or decline.
The rangefinder is equipped with an OLED display with bright red characters that also includes adjustable brightness settings for total adjustability. If you also take into consideration the fact that it’s extremely fast in measuring and giving you the reading, plus the fact that it’s waterproof and resistant to fog and oils you can get a pretty accurate picture as to why this is my number one rangefinder.
For me, this is the best combination of price, quality, and features and that’s why this takes the number one spot as the top rangefinder for bow hunting.
Fixed magnification of 6x
Archer’s Advantage for incredible accuracy
Flightpath technology for knowing exactly where your shot will go
TecTecTec ProWild Hunting Rangefinder
As everyone knows, I like to give people varied options and the right information for them to choose the best option for them. In this case, we have here a TecTecTec product that offers a lot of performance on a budget. While the RX-FullDraw 4 takes the overall crown, this is making the top because it’s probably the best budget rangefinder that you can get.
So, we have here a rangefinder with a max range of 540 yards with continuous scan mode, increased measuring speed, and a sturdy and water-resistant body. I know some of you will be put off by the limited range, but for beginners, this is a great tool because they will most likely not exceed that range anyway.
Beyond speed, you also get a crisp and clear image thanks to sharp 6x magnification and multilayer coating. Combine this with the continuous measurement mode and you get a very precise and accurate piece of engineering.
Talking about the accuracy, the rangefinder provides a true measurement accurate within +/- 1 yard within its max range which will improve anyone’s accuracy.
In the size department, we have the following, 4.06x 1.63 x 2.81 in and weighing in at just 5.71 oz for a very compact design. In addition to the rangefinder itself, you also get a carrying pouch, a free CR2 battery, a wrist strap, and a microfiber cloth for cleaning.
At the end of the day, this is an excellent rangefinder for most hunters, and it offers a great quality/price ratio even if it’s missing some features that costlier models have.
540 yards continuous scan mode
No angle calculation
Accurate within +/- 1 yard
No distant target priority
Leupold RX-1600i TBR Laser Rangefinder
Next up we have another Leupold product (what can I do if they are so good?), the RX-1600i. This has to be the most versatile rangefinder I tested, and that’s exactly the reason that this is also on my list of the top rangefinder for bow hunting.
The reason that this rangefinder is so versatile is the fact that it has two modes, the TBR-W and the Bow Mode. The TBR-W, or True Ballistic Range/Wind is a proprietary tech from Leupold that provides ballistically calculated ranges for extremely accurate shots at longer distances, and it can also generate a hold point for a 10-mpg wind at a 90-degree angle up to 800 yards. Now the one we are interested in is the Bow Mode, which uses the distance and the angle of the shot to calculate the ballistic equivalent to the target for a more accurate shot (uphill/downhill/straight).
This 1,600-yard rangefinder is also equipped with a Last Target mode setting which ensures that the rangefinder only measures the distance to the farthest target in the laser’s path, so branches, grass, and twigs don’t interfere in its calculations.
Add to that an OLED display with adjustable brightness and red characters, a Line-of-Sight technology, 6x magnification, an eye relief of 17 mm, rubber-coated aluminum body, and waterproofing and I think you get the full picture (pun intended).
I love this rangefinder because of its overall quality and versatility out in the field, and I’m sure that most people will feel the same way when they get one.
1,600-yard max range
Higher cost than other models
Dual modes for either rifles or bows
Last Target mode for complete focus on target
Vortex Optics Impact Laser Rangefinder
We are adding to this list another versatile laser rangefinder, namely a Vortex Optics product. The Impact model rangefinder in my opinion strikes a very good balance between features and price. It’s not the best in the world, but it also doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
What we have here is an easy-to-use rangefinder, with a very good 1,000-yard max range, small and lightweight package (5.5 oz), 15 mm eye relief, 6x magnification, and a hard and waterproof outer casing.
The main feature of this rangefinder is the Horizontal Component Distance, which makes use of angle-compensated ranging technology to give bow and rifle users the critical data they need to make accurate shots.
In addition to the HCD, we also get Line-of-Sight technology in addition to an intuitive and easy-to-use menu with a clean illuminated display.
As I was saying, what makes this rangefinder worthy of taking a spot in my top list is the fact that it is versatile (can be used by both bowhunters and rifle hunters), and the fact that it’s at a very good price point for the features that it does have.
1,000-yard max range
Limited viewing angle
Horizontal Component Distance technology
No adjustable magnification
Halo XL450 Rangefinder
This is another option for those of us that are on a budget or love a bargain.
The XL450 has a range of 450-yards and a 6x magnification to give you just enough range for most beginner hunters. Another bonus is the fact that laser is classified as a class three laser, meaning it’s not fazed by rain or fog and it will give you good readings even in bad weather. Talking about bat weather, this rangefinder is water-resistant and has a sturdy outer shell, just what you want out in the field.
It also comes equipped with constant scanning which gives precise measurements of +/- 1 yard, and a novel feature at this price point, angle readings. It has the patented Angle Intelligence software that ensures proper angle readings for all terrain types.
The only downfall is the fact that it doesn’t have distant target priority which can make measuring hard if there are a lot of objects in the way.
If you take into consideration the entire package, the build quality, and the price you can get this at, then you will agree with me when I say that I think this is a great budget option for a beginner or someone who loves a good bargain. As long as you understand the pros and cons of this rangefinder, you will get your money’s worth.
The shape is a little awkward to hold
Lacks distant target priority
I’ve reviewed a lot of rangefinders before I felt I tested enough to make a comprehensive list, and honestly, I’ve got to say I’m pleased with how it turned up.
The number one spot in my list of the top rangefinder for bow hunting has to go to no other than Leupold RX-FullDraw 4 because it has all the features that you would want in a premium rangefinder whilst also having a compact shape and a decent price.
The top budget rangefinder for bow hunting award goes to TecTecTec ProWild Rangefinder because of its excellent quality/price ratio. It doesn’t have all the fancy features of the RX-FullDraw 4, but it compensates for that by having a much more accessible price point.
And the most versatile award has to go to Leupold RX-1600i because it neatly packs high build quality, innovative technology, and both gun and bow modes. When you want a great all-rounder, Jack of all trades, I believe that this is the best choice you can get in the market.
As always, soak up all the information you can from this post, decide on your particular needs and then find the right piece of equipment for you. Happy hunting!