Laser Rangefinders Buying Guide

laser rangefinderDistance is an important factor in activities such as golfing, hunting or conducting a forestry survey. Laser rangefinders are electronic devices that calculate the distance to an object by use of a laser. A rangefinder functions by emitting a bouncing laser beam off the target at the push of a button. A digital clock measures the time the laser beam takes to reach your target and then return to the device, instantly calculating the distance. The range is displayed on the LCD display that is built into the lens of the device.

When purchasing a laser rangefinder, there are certain considerations you should make. The first step is to ensure that you choose the most useful model for your particular purpose, which could either be hunting, golf or surveying. Other features you should keep in mind include:

Reticles
The reticle is the aiming point or circle you see when you look through the device. Some are made of black lines that appear over the object you are pointing at and are ideal for dark backgrounds or in poor lighting conditions. Other reticles are LED lights that appear illuminated and their brightness can be adjusted.

Distance
When choosing between different models, you will notice the maximum effective range often varies from 500 to 1500 yards. However, it is also worth noting that the reflectivity of your target partially determines the unit’s maximum effective range as well. For instance, a hard reflective target such as a vehicle or rock could be ranged at greater distances when compared to a softer target like a deer.

In addition, while most rangefinders indicate the maximum range for various targets, this range is often only reached under ideal atmospheric conditions. For instance, a lot of glare from the sun, air pollution and heat waves could easily lessen the range. In addition, a device with a greater maximum distance or power will be more appropriate for ranging small objects. For instance, if you want to range animals at a distance of 400 yards, a rangefinder of 400 yards or less might prove ineffective.

Magnification
Every rangefinder provides a certain magnification level. This is meant to assist in ranging and sighting your target. Most magnifications vary from 4 times (4x) to 8 times (8x). The number preceding “x” indicates how many times closer the object appears in relation to the actual distance. However, while a higher magnification means a superior look at the target, it also lowers the field of view, which could make it difficult to locate your target. As such, distant objects may not necessarily be easier to range with greater magnification. Certain premium models (range-finding binoculars) are a combination of a 7x to 8x binocular and a laser rangefinder whose maximum range can exceed 1000 yards.

Coating
Chemical coatings are usually applied to the lenses to reduce the glare or the amount of light that is lost during transmission from the target to your eye. The number, quality and position of the coatings determine the amount of light transmitted. A rangefinder with better quality and more coatings will have a brighter picture, but it will also be more expensive. However, overall brightness and sharpness of the picture is also affected by various factors, such as the amount of light available to the eye.

Operation
Laser rangefinders are usually oriented for vertical use and can be operated using one hand. Others function horizontally, usually requiring both hands for effective operation. While this will largely depend on your preference, vertical rangefinders are often compact and can easily fit in your pocket, while horizontal ones usually have longer ranging capabilities.

Protection
Many models come with a rubber armor to provide shock-absorbing protection from scratches or bumps while in use in the field. This also makes them quieter when carrying and more comfortable to hold. Good models are also waterproof and fog proof. Other features include a camo finish, neck straps, lens caps and twist-down or roll down eye cups designed for users who wear glasses.

When buying a rangefinder, it is important to compare various models within your budget and look through each, preferably to view distant objects. Ideally, you should pick the most appropriate for your most common purpose and with the greatest range to avoid constant replacements and purchases.