Everything you need to know about Rangefinders

What exactly are Rangefinders?

Rangefinders are devices, that are used as instruments to measure out certain distance. There are two main types of Rangefinders – a stereoscopic Rangefinders one and a coincidence Rangefinders. Both of those systems are related to a special technology that took quite a long period of time to be fully developed. These handheld devices are helpful in several different conditions.

Before we take a look into the different components and compulsory features of the Rangefinders themselves, lets mention a few spheres, where Rangefinders fit perfectly as a measure distance tool.

Rangefinders are widely used in Hunting, Archery, as a Crossbow scope, as a Laser rangefinder and even in Golf. You can look at those mentioned spheres as categories of each Rangefinder – as for every single sphere mentioned, the Rangefinder each category uses are different from the next or previous one.

How exactly does Rangefinders work?

Every type of different Rangefinder pretty much works the same way. The Rangefinder emits laser beams with the control of a button. Those mentioned beams bounce off of objects in the distance and the rangefinder’s high-speed ‘’clock’’ measures out the total time it took from when the beam was emitted from the device itself to the time it returned and got detected by the device.

Since we pretty much know how fast an emitted beam travels (pretty much the speed of light) the unit can simply use that time of travelling to calculate the distance. Them this traveled distance is displayed on the device itself, delivering the result to the user of the Rangefinder.

Although pretty much all of the rangefinders work along the same principle, there is a lot of room for different innovations around the details. For instance – the ranging performance of one Rangefinder depends on many different factors, but let’s take a look at the main specifications of the performance of an average Rangefinder

Ability to spot the target

The ability to spot a target completely relies on good quality optics and a set-up proper magnification. You won’t be able to range your target if you can’t even find it or see it right? For example, most shooters or hunters opt for 8x or 10x magnification.

While doing different trials and tests on the fields there was a test with a 5x magnification zoom and the target/s were detected successfully. But after that, there was the same test on the same field but this time with a 10x magnification. The result was that the user, while using 10x magnification, was able to actually detect and find an additional target, that was pretty much undetected and ‘’invisible’’ when there was a 5x magnification. So shortly, the proper magnification setting is crucial for detecting objects.  

Ability to get laser energy on specific target or object

This point has got to do with beam divergence. Beam divergence is descried as the focusing of how the emitted beam is or pretty much how concentrated the emitted beam from the device is. There are a few tiny differences between a very ‘’tight’’ or larger beam divergence – there can be different quality of the laser pulses emitted, the type of wavelength of the beam, sharpness and even more.

Basically, the higher the beam divergence or beam concentration, the easier and at a longer distance it will ‘’bounce off’’ the said target and faster deliver the result to the user.

Receiver aperture size

This feature is the size of the opening on the receiver optic for the ‘’returning’’ beam after it bounced off the desired target. It captures those returns and reads them while in the meantime sending them to the actual sensor. Basically, a larger specter can have a pretty significant impact in how much return data will be delivered and collected. This can further allow the device to perform at greater distances and helps increase the resolution accuracy of short distance measurements too.

How the unit analyzes the collected results from the bounced off and received emitted beam

There are a lot of differences between how each specific rangefinder interprets the information collected after the received emitted beam. Older models simply display the first reading they get while many modern rangefinders use a technology called ‘’multi-pulse’’. This approach emits a quick burst of hundreds and even thousands of small laser pulses over an extremely short period of time. After that it collects a big variety of samples of readings.

After that the gathered data is further analyzed and for a proper result, different weather conditions like a brush, fog, rain, snow are ignored so that the reading range will be more accurate. The logic and algorithms that are implemented into the use of every rangefinder and what it displays to us can have a big impact on the overall performance of each rangefinder.

Different Rangefinder Analytical Results based on the Rangefinder technology used

1 – 1st Reading

This is pretty much how older Rangefinders work although there are still a few up-to-date rangefinders that still rely on this technology. This technology pretty much receives the first beam that is bounced off the target or object (the closest target or object). Then it calculates and displays the corresponding distance

2 – Closest Spike

This technology is pretty much similar to the first one, but instead it looks for the closest peak instead of the closest single-target or object reading. This technology can help block out ‘’false’’ readings from different weather conditions like fog, rain and snow which are more scattered in pattern.

3 – Highest Spike

This technology looks through an entire set of specific readings. After that it finds the largest peak from all of those readings for the same distance and assumes that is what the user is intending to range at. This is a stable approach in general, but especially helpful when used against reflective targets that are pretty much perpendicular to the user.

4 – Largest Cluster

This approach would also analyze the entire set of readings and additionally look for the biggest group of readings but unlike the highest spike technology, here it takes the three highest readings. This combination of the three highest readings received to the rangefinder are called a Cluster.

5 – Furthest Spike

This technology is closest to the second technology, The closest spike. But this time the rangefinder does not use the closest spike but on the contrary – the most further away spike. This technology is particularly useful when trying to range a target that is partially obscured by a brush for example.

Up-to-date technology and user’s choice

It’s actually pretty interesting how a simple Rangefinder can use so many ways to interpret a simple emitted beam, that is bounced off a desired target or object. There is one known fact although. None of the approaches are perfect in every situation and for a user to understand what type of rangefinder to choose for himself and buy – you have to consider the conditions you are going to use it in and the type of activity you are mainly going to use it for. This mentioned, today’s advanced technology in rangefinders almost all rangefinder manufacturers and brands rely only on three main technologies that they have named differently than the original ones.

They named them much simpler and more understandable to the average user that is willing to buy himself a rangefinder, but isn’t too familiar with the technology itself. For example, one of the biggest and best brands for rangefinders, Bushnell Fusion uses three main categories, from which a rangefinder enthusiast can pick from:

  • Normal – This principle is pretty much a combination between the number 3 and number 4 technologies that we mentioned above. This is considered the easiest, simplest and most effective technology used in a rangefinder, although a bit pricier than the average rangefinder.
  • BullsEye – This is similar to the second technology we mentioned above. It is considered that this mode allows for easy acquisitions of smaller targets and object without getting close enough distances to background targets that have stronger signal strength and can confuse the rangefinder. When more than a single object has been acquired, distance of the closer object will be displayed.
  • Brush – Brush is similar to the fifth technology we mentioned above. This technology is self-explanatory by its name pretty much. It allows for the user to send out emitted beams from his rangefinder to ignore brushes and tree branches, so that only the distances from the background targets to be acquired. When more than one object is detected by the rangefinder, the distance of the furthest object or target will always be prioritized.

Those simplified technologies are an innovative feature. Essentially, this way they allow the user to understand much easier and simpler at what approach he has to take in order to have the best chance of detecting and getting a reading on his intended targets or objects. Ultimately the user knows more about his particular situation or scenario that they are ranging for.

Taken as a very quick example, there is a brush that is obscuring your targets or objects almost always, as you are trying to range on a very small target or object. In this case the Brush technology will almost always do the job for you and you have to orient yourself into buying a Brush-technology based rangefinder.

Main things to consider before going out on a Rangefinder shopping

It is very important to know which factors are going to be considered, after choosing the technology for your rangefinder. There are several things that the user needs to be additionally focused on when buying himself a Rangefinder. Whenever a single user is going to buy a product, there always needs to be a double check on different scenarios, features and the reasons for using a rangefinder.

Rangefinders are impressive gadgets that greatly assist the user in determining said distances between their targets and the users themselves. These handheld gadgets are essential in different scenarios and sports applications like the mentioned golf, archery, bowery and hunting.

This is exactly why the user needs to pay attention to different details as for example, a rangefinder intended for Golf for example will definitely not work properly if then used on the hunting grounds and so on. Let’s mention important pin-points that deserve additional attention from every potential rangefinder user.

  • Determining the size of the objectives less
  • Does this specific device have an available cover or carrying case?
  • Does it have a built-in eye relief for longer periods of use
  • How durable is the battery and how long is its battery life?
  • Does the selected Rangefinder have a longer warranty life?

On the big market for rangefinders, these devices come available in many different ways. When on the lookout for a rangefinder that is strong in performance and as budget friendly as possible, you need to get yourself a device that gives face-to-face view with the target objects or in other words you have to feel like you are extremely close to your target when looking through the rangefinder.

Clear and bright images are a must feature in the chosen rangefinder device, which you are willing to buy. The rangefinder has to be able to perform in all kinds of weather conditions. Buying a reliable device could be tricky and difficult because of the hundreds different products available on today’s rangefinder market.

Most of the brand names claim that their devices are top-notch as for example they could read up to fifteen hundred yards or 1399 meters. This statement is pretty ridiculous, as most users have to have in mind that the possibility of a rangefinder to have enough power and performance to emit laser beams at this distance will be pretty tough for a small handheld device.

In-fact, anything over 500 yards at a maximum is pretty much rare. On the market these days, there are different available modern technology-based rangefinders that have a very improved and unique magnificence, waterproof and many different features.

Rangefinder choosing and buying tips

Start your investigation for rangefinders and take your time – don’t rush it before you properly understand how a rangefinder operates.

Start researching through information regarding rangefinders after selecting the most suitable and affordable choice for the sphere and for what activities you are going to use your device for.

Your investigation has to cover all of the features of the rangefinder’s technology. Simply, your best bet would be to make a list of all your demands and expectations of a rangefinder device and then compare it to different rangefinders offered by different brands.

Pick the device that if not your full list, at least covers the most points in your list.

Why would you need a Rangefinder?

The rangefinders are tools that as we already mentioned, are used to measure out distance. Today’s technology is furnished with different specifications of rangefinders to detect distant objects.

With the help of ultra-powerful lenses, these devices actually work in a very innovative way. The rangefinder figures out ideal ballistics before taking a shot for example. It allows the user of the rangefinder to take every shot in the most accurate way possible – making it the ideal choice for hunters. Your hunting/shooting performance can be greatly positively hindered by simple implementing a rangefinder into your shooting/hunting activity.

The rangefinders come with a technology that detects targets and objects in the clearest and fastest way possible. For hunters, timing is everything. You will be able to much faster detect and understand the distance between you and the desired target and take your shot much more adequately and without any hesitation.

Vari-focal HD is an attractive innovation to the rangefinder’s technology. This feature is used for monitoring and detecting distant images with much higher quality than the average rangefinder. This feature will definitely up the price for a specific rangefinder, but if your budget is not that tight you will definitely appreciate the Vari-focal High definition feature.

The Vari-focal HD feature is also very convenient as it gives an additional adjustable lens that has an option to connect with a smartphone. These devices with Vari-focal HD technology are most often equipped with another feature – the Vari-focal lens. This lens is everything but average. It contains an Infrared-cut filters and an Infrared LED software. This feature is the perfect choice for every user that wants to use his rangefinder for a combination between day and night activities and monitoring.

When we are on the part of the day and night – let’s talk about the rangefinder’s image clarity in both scenarios. The image clarity for a rangefinder is in color, but the image quality through the night is captured in black and white. – as most night vision devices. This is a unique feature of the modern rangefinders that offer the user dual technology – day and night. With the push of a simple single button, you switch the settings of the whole rangefinder, making him adapt to a day or night performance. Even some rangefinders, if set up on the day mode, are turned on in the pitch-black night, they turn on their night mode automatically as they detect that there is no present sunlight.


The list for different high-tech rangefinders can go on and on. Rangefinders may be comprehensive, detailed and sometimes confusing, but there are several things that need to be mentioned. When you are on the lookout for a rangefinder, you have to always go on the market prepared. Simply make yourself a specification demand list, do your further research and then start looking for potential brands and models. This way you will definitely find the best fit for your desired needs and the activities you are going to want to use your rangefinder for.

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