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Having an accurate range estimate when shooting an arrow is key for placing your shot correctly, so using a rangefinder for bow hunting is always a good idea. These rangefinders are perfect for all kinds of archery and can help even experienced hunters place their shots more accurately.
Let’s look at the best range finders for bow hunting, including reviews of all the best-performing models and an in-depth buying guide to choose one that best meets your individual needs and preferences.
Also Read: 15 Best Rangefinders for Hunting in 2022
Best Rangefinders for Bow Hunting
Bushnell Bone Collector 850 LRF – Best Overall
Our top pick for the best rangefinder for bow hunting is the Bushnell Bone Collector 850 LRF.
This rangefinder balances quality and price in a single rangefinder, offering an excellent value at a middle-of-the-road price point. Not surprising that Bushnell managed to pull that off once again.
The Bone Collector has a max range of 850 yards. Still, Bushnell makes no secret of that being for reflective targets, so they also advertise a 500-yard range for trees and a 350-yard range for deer to give you a better idea of how the rangefinder will perform in the real world. Bushnell advertises that this rangefinder is accurate with a yard.
Some previous versions of the Bushnell Bone Collector didn’t feature angle calculation. Still, with this most recent model (number 202209), Bushnell has introduced ARC (Angle Range Compensation) technology to provide you with more accurate calculations.
The Bone Collector has a large, 24mm objective lens that’s fully multicoated for a high-def image and excellent light transmission. It allows you to choose from multiple reticle options and uses a single CR2 battery, which is included.
The single-button operation makes it easy to choose between settings, even with one hand. Hold the button to use the scan mode for a fast, easy transition from one target to the next.
It’s IPX4 waterproof, which means it can handle splashes of water, like rain, but it shouldn’t be submerged, so don’t drop it in a lake. It comes with a lanyard tether to help you keep your grip to prevent drops. The grippy texture should also help.
- Great value
- 850-yard maximum range and 350-yard range for deer
- ARC technology
- Scan mode
- Accurate within 1 yard
- Bushnell’s warranties are just so-so
- It doesn’t come with a storage pouch
Leupold RX-FullDraw 5 – Best High End
The Bushnell Bone Collector is great, but if you have some extra cash to throw at a rangefinder, it’s worth doing so, especially to get the Leupold RX-FullDraw 5. The FullDraw is designed specifically for archers, and the FullDraw 5 improves on the design of previous versions. If you want all the bells and whistles and don’t mind spending more on it, this is the rangefinder.
First, the RX-FullDraw 5 has Flightpath technology, showing potential obstructions to about 85 yards. Its overall range is 1200 yards, but its max range for trees is 1100 yards, and its max range for deer is 900 yards, so you’re more than covered for even crossbows.
Like all Leupold optics, the FullDraw has been thoroughly tested for durability. It’s waterproof and resistant to extreme temperatures, so you’re covered no matter what the weather throws at you.
The rangefinder’s Last Target mode helps the laser compensate for moisture in the air to give you more accurate readings, even in the rain or fog.
The FullDraw 5 also accounts for bow velocity, arrow weight, and peep height to quickly provide accurate ballistic information, thanks to the Digitally Enhanced Accuracy (DNA) ranging engine.
The rangefinder displays all this information on a clear OLED display with adjustable brightness. You can choose between several different reticle options to suit your preferences.
The Leupold RX-FullDraw 5 has 6x magnification and a 22mm objective lens.
One thing to remember, though: while these different features are handy, they require additional controls relative to other rangefinders. You’ll want to take the time to familiarize yourself with the various buttons before taking the FullDraw 5 out for your first hunt with it.
However, Leupold has laid out those controls to be accessible with a single hand, and the controls are ambidextrous.
- Flightpath technology
- Incredibly durable
- Last Target mode
- Durable construction
- Ambidextrous controls
- A few different buttons
Halo XL450 Laser Range Finder – Best Budget
At the other end of the spectrum is the Halo XL450 Laser Range Finder, which proves that you don’t have to shell out a ton of cash to get a good rangefinder.
Where Halo manages to cut costs on this rangefinder is range. The Halo XL450 Laser Range Finder has a 450 max reflective range. Unfortunately, Halo doesn’t tell us the range for trees or deer, so it’s hard to say what it looks like in the real world, but it should still be plenty for most bow hunters.
Other than that, you get many of the same features with more expensive rangefinders, but not to the extent you get with the Leupold RX-FullDraw 5.
Angle Intelligence allows the Halo XL450 to calculate range while considering the angle from you to your target. Auto Acquisition technology provides you an immediate range reeding with just the press of a button. At the same time, the scan mode allows readings for up to four different targets in a single second.
The Halo XL450 provides 6x magnification, just like most of the other rangefinders on this list. Halo says that the XL450’s readings are accurate within a yard.
This rangefinder is water resistant. It also comes with a 1-year warranty, which isn’t great compared to many other rangefinders.
It doesn’t have a grippy texture like our last two recommendations, but the ergonomic shape should still help keep the rangefinder securely in your hand.
The XL450 uses a CR2 lithium-ion battery, which is included. It also comes with a lanyard to prevent drops and a lens cloth to keep the rangefinder’s optics clean and scratch-free.
If you have extra money, you could opt for the longer-range versions of this same rangefinder, the Halo XL600 or Halo XL 700.
- Angle Intelligence
- Scan mode
- Auto Acquisition Technology
- Limited range
- The warranty isn’t great
Leica Geovid 3200 8×56 – Best Rangefinding Binoculars
If you’re looking for a rangefinder and binos in one, it’s hard to top the Leica Geovid 3200s.
Most rangefinding binoculars have 10x magnification, which is way overkill for bow hunting. What I like about the Leica Geovid 3200 is that it has 8x magnification, splitting the difference between most bow hunting rangefinders and most rangefinding binos.
It’s still a little strong for close-up shots, but then again, close-range shots aren’t what rangefinding binoculars are for, so whether that’s a feature or bug is up to you. And the generous 56mm objective lens lets in a ton of light for a clear, bright picture.
Further helping that picture is the Perger-Porro prism system and high-quality optical glass. All in all, these binoculars deliver a clear, bright picture with excellent color fidelity and definition.
The lenses even have a water-repellent AquaDura coating to make sure you still get excellent performance in wet weather.
These binos have a rugged design, with a magnesium body. They’re shock-resistant plus waterproof up to 16 feet.
The max range is 3,200 yards (and can be calculated in less than 0.3 seconds), which exceeds what’s needed for bow hunting. However, that, coupled with the 8x magnification, means you can use these binoculars for far more than just bow hunting. To help with that, you can connect these binoculars to Leica’s Hunting App via Bluetooth to help with ballistic calculations.
These are some of the most versatile on this list and can be used for various applications.
- Binos and a rangefinder in one!
- Lower magnification than most rangefinding binos
- Excellent image
- Waterproof and shock-resistant
- You can use it for more than just bow hunting
- Connects to Leica’s Hunting App with Bluetooth
- 10x magnification is going to be overkill for most bow hunters
- Very pricey
SIG Sauer KILO1600BDX – Best for Crossbows
While you can use a regular rangefinder for crossbows, if you’re a crossbow hunter, there are advantages to using a rangefinder designed explicitly for that. That’s why I wanted to be sure to include a rangefinder designed for crossbows on the list.
In my opinion, the best rangefinder for crossbows is the SIG Sauer KILO1600BDX. That’s not because of the rangefinder itself, though it is an excellent rangefinder, but because it works with SIG’s Ballistic Data Xchange (BDX) system. This is interesting for crossbow hunters because part of that same BDX system is SIG’s SIERRA3BDX scopes, which they designed along with Mission Crossbows for, you guessed it, crossbows.
Simply use the SIG BDX app (free for Android and iOS) to find the ballistic information for your crossbow setup. The app takes that information, along with the distance and angle to your target gathered by the rangefinder (connected to your phone via Bluetooth), plus temperature and pressure to find the actual ballistics. Then, it sends all that information to your riflescope (also via Bluetooth), which then projects a precise holdover dot that accounts for all that information.
While the SIG Sauer KILO1600 BDX can be paired with any SIERRA3BDX scopes, I recommend the SIERRA3BDX 2.5-8x32mm scope because it’s lightweight and has a low magnification range.
It’s also just an excellent rangefinder. While the BDX system helps you get the most out of this rangefinder, you don’t have to run out and get a BDX scope to use with it, and certainly not right away.
The KILO1600 BDX has a 1600-yard range, 6x magnification, and a 22mm objective lens. It uses the same SpectraCoat anti-reflection lens coatings that SIG’s scopes do to deliver excellent light transmission and definition.
The HyperScan mode provides ranges for four targets in just a second. However, the RangeLock mode also continues to display the last ranged target. You can make range calculations based on either line of sight or angle-modified ranges, and the KILO1600 BDX provides readings down to the tenth yard.
- You can use part of SIG’s BDX system and with SIERRA3BDX scopes
- Works particularly well with the SIERRA3BDX 2.5-8x32mm scope
- Ultra-precise range measurements
- Several different mode options
- Controls can take some getting used to
Vortex is one of my favorite optics brands for quality and value, so I had to include at least one Vortex rangefinder.
While another Vortex rangefinder is also on this list, my first recommendation is the Impact 1000.
It’s a basic little rangefinder with 6x magnification and a 1000-yard max reflective range (800 yards for trees and 500 yards for deer). It’s a lightweight rangefinder at just 5.5 ounces. Coupled with the included strap makes it convenient for trekking through the woods.
It has a Horizontal Component Distance (HCD) mode for calculating ranges at an angle, plus Line of Sight (LOS) mode for, obviously, line of sight range. There’s also a scan mode for continuously updating ranges.
The Impact 1000 has a simple design that makes it very easy to navigate these different modes. There are only two buttons, one to scroll through the modes and another to measure distance. However, I wish the display was in red rather than black, which can be tricky to see.
The Vortex Impact 1000 comes with a strap for easier carrying, plus a soft carry case for protected storage. It also comes with a lens cloth, CR2 battery, and a ballistic cheater card.
Like all Vortex Optics, the Impact 1000 Rangefinder comes with Vortex’s VIP Warranty, one of the best any optics brand offers. It provides lifetime coverage for manufacturing defects and accidental damage, including electronics. It’s also rugged and waterproof.
This makes it a great option if you often find yourself hunting in rough weather, especially in the early part of the fall season or the later parts of the spring when the weather can change on a dime and leave you out in an unexpected downpour.
- Durable and waterproof
- Good range without adding a lot to the cost
- Great value
- Industry-leading warranty
- The black display can be hard to read
The TecTecTec ProWild Laster Rangefinder is another affordable option for hunters on a budget. However, you do miss out on some of the features you get with a more expensive rangefinder.
For example, this rangefinder has neither angle calculation nor target priority.
However, it does have a lot going for it too. For example, this rangefinder can detect targets as close as 5 yards and 540 yards. This is an excellent option for hunters who don’t need to worry about hitting those 600+ yard shots, including bow hunters.
Inside that range, we found the ProWild to be highly accurate inside 300 meters, which is way more than you need for any bow or crossbow shot. It also features 6x magnification, making it a decent replacement for binoculars if you don’t want to carry both.
It has a continuous scan mode that you can use to quickly get range estimates on different parts of the area you’re hunting in without having to stop and press a button on each measurement point. It runs off a singular CR2 battery for several hundred hours, so you won’t have to worry about it dying on you in the field.
It also has a tremendous two-year warranty which, while not exactly the best in the industry, is more than good enough for most hunters. This is great if you’re worried about something happening to it while you’re still new to using it.
However, they offer lifetime customer support and product fixes, so you’re covered forever if something goes wrong.
- Very affordable
- Extremely accurate, even at close ranges
- 6x magnification range
- Continuous scan mode
- It doesn’t have angle calculation
- Limited range compared to other options (still way more than you need for archery)
- The full warranty ends after two years.
Nikon’s Prostaff line is probably very familiar to most hunters, and the 1000 and 1000i are the rangefinder parts of what is primarily a rifle optics line.
We’ve chosen the 1000i for this list because it has some pretty great features, especially for the price. This is accurate out to 600 yards and costs less than half of what some equivalent models do. You can see Nikon’s experience and position as a titan of the hunting optics world.
My favorite feature is the Tru-Target technology, which is excellent for an accurate reading when you have a crowded sight picture. It works because you have an option for a first-target or last-target priority. This will help you ignore readings from something before or behind your target.
This makes it worlds easier to range your target when it’s partially obscured by grass or branches, or when you have several animals in view simultaneously, and you need a reading on the one in the front or the back, depending on your target.
It uses a great 6x magnification like most range finders, and it has a relatively wide field of view, so you can easily use this as a monocular for scouting. The fact that it can pull double duty like this is excellent for anyone who wants to keep the weight they’re carrying in the field down as much as possible.
- Tru-Target technology helps filter out vegetation and other non-target info in the foreground to help you accurately spot your target
- Built-in angle calculation to account for shooting at upward or downward angles
- 8-second continuous scan mode
- It starts getting a little inaccurate after a few hundred yards (not an issue with bow hunting, but worth noting if you’re looking for a multi-sport rangefinder)
As I said, Vortex is one of my absolute favorite optics brands, so I couldn’t just pick one rangefinder to include here.
My second Vortex recommendation is the Ranger 1800. It’s a higher-end rangefinder than the Impact 1000, so it’s great if you’re a big Vortex fan like I am but want something nicer than the Impact.
For one, as the name indicates, this rangefinder has a reflective range of 1800 yards and can detect targets close as 10 yards away. It only measures whole yards or meters. You’d expect the measurements to be a bit more precise.
Like the Impact, the Ranger is very durable, with a rugged, waterproof design and rubber skin that helps absorb impacts and helps you keep a better grip to prevent drops in the first place.
It has fully multi-coated optics, but unlike the Impact, the Ranger has a red display which is much more visible, especially in low light conditions. It does have the same Horizontal Component Distance, Line of Sight, and scan modes as the Impact.
Another difference from the Impact is a utility clip allows you to attach the Ranger to your waistband or pack. It can also be adapted for a tripod mount for additional convenience. In addition to the utility clip, the Ranger comes with a neck lanyard, soft carry case, and CR2 battery.
The Ranger is a bit heavier than the Impact, but not a lot at 7.7 ounces.
- Industry-leading warranty
- Durable construction
- Only measures in whole yards
The Maven RF.1 is Maven’s most high-end rangefinder and is one of my personal favorites. It is built to some of the highest standards of ruggedness and durability of any option on this list, and the performance and care match some of the best high-end optics on the market right now.
The scope tube inside the rangefinder is O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged like a rifle-mounted optic, which keeps the interior waterproof and fog proof. This is great for hunters who find themselves out as the sun goes up or down.
During sunrise and sunset, the temperature changes fairly quickly, leading to condensation and other issues on a less well-sealed optic or one that isn’t purged with an inert gas. This is what causes fogging on cheaper rangefinders.
With RF.1, this isn’t something you have to worry about. The lenses are also treated with a durable scratch-resistant coating to keep the objective and ocular lenses free of little surface scratches, which is incredibly important in the field.
You can also use the RF.1 on a tripod, so it’s a great option if you’re the type of hunter who likes to scout out your hunting spots in advance and want to have those ranges memorized before you set up your blind during the season.
This is especially great for bow hunters because you often don’t have the time to range a target as it comes into view, and you often can’t afford the extra motion.
Finally, Maven has a pretty special sales model where they don’t have a retail markup. All of their products come directly from them, so you’re essentially getting a wholesale, straight-from-the-warehouse price, which makes the RF.1 a phenomenal value overall.
- No retail markup
- Ultra-durable, high-end optics design
- Unconditional warranty for all damage other than intentional damage or minor cosmetic damage to the body
- It lacks a few features from more expensive optics
When choosing a rangefinder for bow hunting, there are several different things that you’ll want to keep in mind to make sure you’re choosing not just a high-quality rangefinder but also the best rangefinder to meet your needs.
Let’s review these features individually to ensure you have all the knowledge you need to select the right rangefinder.
Also Read: How to Make a Longbow
Bow hunting, even with a crossbow, has a minimal range, so you don’t need a long-range from your rangefinder. Going with a rangefinder that’s too powerful will often be a waste of money.
However, the longer the range of a rangefinder, the better it performs at a distance within those ranges.
Besides, the maximum range of a rangefinder is calculated using ideal conditions, like perfect weather and reflective targets. In other words, you won’t be dealing with conditions when hunting. There aren’t a lot of shiny deer walking around the woods near me anyway.
In real-world conditions, the effective range of a rangefinder will be a good deal shorter than what the manufacturer advertises.
A good rule of thumb is to look for a rangefinder that advertises a maximum range twice what you need, so for bow hunting, a rangefinder with a 200-300 yard range should be plenty.
Close Target Sensitivity
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some rangefinders have difficulty detecting targets within a short distance. Look for a rangefinder that you can use for targets with 10 yards. It’s also helpful at those ranges if the rangefinder can further break down the range to include fractions of a yard.
Because bow hunting involves very close targets, you don’t need a very powerful zoom. A zoom that’s too powerful can make it harder to find your target and can be disorienting for you.
I wouldn’t recommend more than 5 to 6x magnification for most bow hunters. That will give you enough magnification for longer distances without zooming too far for closer shots.
Look for a rangefinder with multi-coated optics. This will help reduce reflection and glare, which gives you a better picture. It also helps with low light performance, crucial in the early morning and late evening hours when most games are active.
Ordinarily, a rangefinder only updates with the press of a button. However, if you get a rangefinder with scan mode, you can use scan mode to get information about whatever is in front of the reticle.
Generally, budget rangefinders won’t have this feature. However, while it’s nice to have, it’s not essential, so don’t worry if you’re shopping on a limited budget. If you have the funds, scan mode is worth shelling out for.
You and your target won’t always be at the same elevation. That elevation difference means that the distance between you and your target is longer than it would be if you and your target were at the same elevation. Remember the Pythagorean theorem from back in middle school?
A good rangefinder can calculate the angle from you to your target, then calculate the actual distance based on that angle. This is especially helpful if you do a lot of hunting from a tree stand.
By the nature of the hobby, gear used for bow hunting gets exposed to the elements. There’s always a chance of rain or snow and drops and bumps. Unexpected showers and accidental drops happen to the best of us.
So, you need a rangefinder that can stand up to all that. Look for one that’s waterproof and shockproof. A scratch-resistant coating on the lenses is also a considerable advantage.
Speed & Ease of Operation
Since one hand will be busy holding your bow, you want to choose a rangefinder that you can efficiently operate with a single hand. That means ergonomic button locations that are easy to use when you’re not looking at them.
In addition, your rangefinder needs to work quickly. Every second counts in a hunting situation, so your rangefinder needs to provide information virtually instantaneously. Having a scan mode, which we already discussed, helps with this. Still, your rangefinder also needs to provide calculations quickly, especially since you’ll typically want to calculate the range to a target more than once to ensure you’re getting accurate numbers.
Eye relief is an essential but often overlooked aspect for both rangefinders and scopes.
In short, eye relief is simply the distance from your eye to the lens at which you can see the entire picture of the optic.
With rangefinders, eye relief is mostly about comfort since you don’t have to contort your neck into a comfortable position to use your rangefinder or shove your rangefinder right up to your face.
Target priority is how your rangefinder decides which target to provide information for when it detects multiple targets.
Some rangefinders have first target priority, which means that the rangefinder defaults to the nearest target. Others prioritize the last target, meaning the rangefinder defaults to the furthest target.
Still, others allow you to choose between the different available targets manually. While that’s handy to ensure your rangefinder is using the right target every time, it does slow you down on hunts where every moment counts. It’s up to you whether the trade-off is worth it.
Generally, I recommend that hunters default to the last target priority. Most often, the first target will be a branch or leaf somewhere between you and your target, so it’s easiest and fastest just to have your rangefinder default to the last target.
You can use a laser rangefinder for bow hunting. As long as you know how to use it, a laser rangefinder is incredibly helpful for bow hunting.
Different rangefinders have different maximum ranges. Some laser rangefinders can only reach a few hundred yards, while others have maximum ranges of 4,000 yards or more. Of course, for bow hunting, you don’t need a rangefinder with that kind of range.
In some cases, military snipers use several methods to find the distance to the target, including laser rangefinders. They also use other methods, like rangefinding reticles, to calculate the distance to the target without a laser rangefinder.
For bow hunting, you typically don’t need a super powerful rangefinder since a bow, even a crossbow, has a limited range relative to other uses for rangefinders. Since the more powerful the rangefinder is, the more expensive it tends to be, and you probably don’t need a super expensive one.
However, expensive rangefinders are worth it for other hobbies, like long-range precision shooting, that benefit from a more powerful rangefinder.
Also Read: 11 Best Hunting Binoculars in 2022
Having a rangefinder on you when you’re out bow hunting can be the difference between planting an arrow right through that trophy whitetail’s lungs or sending your freshly-sharpened broadhead into the dirt.
Our top overall recommendation is still the Bushnell Bone Collector due to its great hunting-focused features and solid reliability, but any of these options are likely to work great. It depends on which one you think will best meet your specific needs.
Whichever one you go with, we know it will serve you well. Thanks for tuning in, and happy hunting.