Recently, there was a post published on this site that covers the best binoculars in the market for hunters (at an affordable price) as well as how you should go about picking the one that suits you most. No doubt, it’s highly informational and if you are planning to get a binocular, I highly recommend you to take a look at that post first. And you probably realized, it didn’t cover the rangefinder aspect extensively.
Today’s post will bring you through an in-depth understanding about rangefinder binoculars, whether or not it’s right for you and few of the best hunting rangefinder binoculars that you should go for.
Note: By chance, if you aren’t sure if you really need a binocular, you should check out this post and then return here to see if a rangefinder binocular or just a normal one will be right for you.
What is a Rangefinder Binocular?
Basically, a rangefinder binocular is a combined device of both a binocular and a rangefinder. The binocular will provide clear, distant vision while the rangefinder will calculate and show you the approximate distance of a targeted object from the point you are viewing. Due to the fact that both of these devices complement each other to provide a better hunting experience, rangefinder binoculars have been getting serious attention among the hunting tribes.
Note: If you are just looking for a rangefinder, check out our best rangefinder recommendation for both archery and bowhunting.
Most rangefinders work based on the laser beam technology basis. Highly energized laser beam will be emitted from the binocular to a targeted object and once the emitted laser beam is reflected back to the binocular, the distance of the object can be calculated by measuring the time of transmission. Don’t worry, I am not going to bore you with tons of formula and scientific theory here. However, if by any chance you would like to learn more about this technology and how it works to calculate distance, check out this article in Wikipedia.
Of course it’s possible to get a rangefinder separately, but it’s just not as cool and fun (and efficient) to have one integrated within a binocular. Let’s look at both the advantages and disadvantages of having a rangefinder binocular so you can determine if this is a right fit for you, or you should go for normal binoculars instead.
Rangefinder Binocular Comparison Table
In order to make it easier for you to compare the aspects of 4 top rangefinder binoculars (at an affordable price) in the market, we created a comprehensive comparison table that contains all the specifications you need to know about these binoculars.
To fully utilize the information in the table, it’s important that you read through these guidelines:
- The optical quality of these highly priced binoculars are really good, so there is no point to consider basic specifications. Instead, we are concentrating on the factors that contrast them.
- They are all made to be waterproof and fogproof.
- Formula shows the magnification and size of objective lens. For example, 8×42 means that the magnification power of binocular is 8 times and the size of objective lens is 42 mm.
- FOV (Field Of View) show the wideness of vision at 1000 yards. It’s represented by feet
- ER (Eye Relief) shows the optimum distance your eye has to be from the lens. Most cases, it’s adjustable. It’s denoted by mm.
- OP (Optical Performance) shows the quality of image seen through the binoculars.
- MRD (Maximum Ranging Distance) shows the maximum distance that a reading can be produced rather accurately.
- ROE (Range Of Errors) shows the level of accuracy of rangefinder. It’s calculated in percentage of the distance measured. For example, a rangefinder with ROE of 0.5% that shows a reading of 1000 yards will mean that the actual distance will range anywhere from 995-1005 yards.
- B. Config (Ballistic Configuration) shows whether or not the product comes with this feature. If yes, how many types of configuration there are and whether or not they support manually input data.
- WT (Weight) shows the weight of the binocular and is measured in Ounce (OZ).
- Price are measured in USD and are subject to changes.
Note: Please scroll through the table to look at all the information.
|Image||R. Binocular||Formula||FOV||ER||OP||MRD||ROE||B. Config||WT||Price|
|Carl Zeiss||8x45||420||16||Very High||1300||0.5||6 BC||35||$$$$|
|Leica Geovid||10x42||331||16||Very High||2000||0.5||12 BC (supports self input data)||33.5||$$$$|
|Swarovski Optik EL||10x42||331||15.8||Very High||1500||0.5||Automatic BC||31||$$$$|
|Bushnell Fusion||10x42||315||18||High||1700||1||No BC Features||31||$$$|
Accuracy. No matter how experienced you are in hunting, you can only come out with a ‘rough estimation’ of the distance of a prey. Rough estimation often means the accuracy of the measured distance is pretty much skewed. I am not trying to undermine experienced hunters but it’s normal that manual calculations are susceptible to human error. What more if you are an absolute beginner?
Planning strategically. It’s always important to come up with a sound hunting plan and you can only do that if you know where your preys are and how far are you from them. Don’t underestimate these data as they form the foundation of a solid strategy. For example, you get to gauge your shooting accuracy based on the distance estimated.
Convenience. It’s certainly more convenient to have both important devices combined. Imagine the situation where you spotted a prey and you would like to estimate it’s distance from you. When you took out your rangefinder device, it’s gone already. I bet you are going to be pretty frustrated. Furthermore, carrying both devices (that could be combined) during a hunting trip is just not wise.
Cooler Experience. I have to say, this is one of the reason I decided to give rangefinder binocular a shot. It’s just so cool using rangefinder binoculars as they give you the feeling as if you are on a military expedition. They really stepped up my hunting experience that made me felt worth it making the purchase.
Require Little to No Maintenance. The fact that they are made with strong materials as well as being waterproof and fogproof, it makes maintaining them much easier. Having that said, it’s still crucial to perform regular maintenance. You can learn more about maintaining a binocular here.
Expensive. In this case, rangefinder binoculars are pretty expensive, irrespective of the models. Even if you are searching for the cheapest rangefinder binoculars in the market, it’s going to be at least a few hundred dollars (which is pretty rare). The average price for something decent is going to cross the $1000 benchmark. Of course, if you do plan to get a rangefinder and a binocular separately, then perhaps a rangefinder binocular will be cheaper than the price of both the devices combined.
Heavier. They are naturally heavier than normal binoculars due to the fact that it’s a two-in-one product. Therefore, if you don’t plan to actually use the rangefinder functionality, then it’s better to stick with a normal binocular which is lighter. By the way, you can carry heavy binoculars comfortably by using a binocular harness.
How to choose the right one?
Assuming that you already made your mind up that a rangefinder binocular is going to be your choice, it’s time to search for an affordable and quality model. Luckily, there aren’t many choices out there in the market which makes choosing one very much easier 😀
Optical Performance. This aspect comprises of every thing that got to do with the clarity and sharpness of image viewed through the binocular. I have actually covered all these aspects pretty thoroughly in this post. If you aren’t aware about what makes up a quality binocular with great optical performance, I highly recommend that you check out the buying guide in the link before proceeding further.
Maximum Ranging Distance. This is an important aspect that should be given consideration. Generally, the longer the ranging distance, the better it is. This is due to the fact that you will be able to scout through a longer distance which will still provide you with accurate data.
Normally, the amplitude of the laser beam will determine the maximum ranging distance. The larger the amplitude of the laser beam, the higher the initial energy of laser beam which allows it to travel through a longer distance.
Field of Vision. Basically, it determines the wideness of the vision seen through the binoculars. Normally, it’s calculated based on 1000 yards. For instance, if you have a binocular of 317 feet at 1000 yards, it means that the field of vision is 317 feet from one end to the other at a distance of 1000 yards.
Data Accuracy. Since you are probably paying for something expensive, you wouldn’t want something that will return you skewed data, would you? Of course the level of accuracy of even the best rangefinder binoculars out there wouldn’t be 100%, it’s important to look for one which return consistent and accurate data.
Also, it’s important to pay attention to the plus-minus compensation that is claimed by the manufacturer. For example, if the plus-minus compensation is 2, it means that if the binocular is showing you a reading of 320 yards, the real distance can be anywhere between 318-322 yards.
Ballistic Configuration to Curb Inaccuracy. Some high quality ones come with ballistic configuration that will improve the accuracy of the data by taking into the account the atmosphere of the surroundings you are hunting. It allows you to input data such as temperature, air density, air pressure and so on.
These input data will be automatically taken into account so that it can calculate estimate distances at a high accuracy. This is not an extremely important feature if you don’t mind having slightly skewed calculations.
Also, really good ones allow you to insert a microchip SD card whereby you get to set each and every parameters for better results.
You might also be interested in checking out the best hunting GPS that offers more than just the basics in binoculars.
Weight. It’s an important factor here because most rangefinder binoculars are heavier than normal binoculars. If you are shifting from normal binoculars, it’s crucial to search for one that is lighter for better hunting experience.
Warranty. You should really look at the warranty details as these are high ticket items. It will be extremely saddening if you are only to find out that the binocular is not being covered under warranty after you bought it.
Ideally, you should look out for warranty that
- offers you a lifetime guarantee (will replace all damaged part irrespective of whose fault it is)
- offers to repair your binocular at a low price, eg: $10 for a lifetime
These are the best forms of warranty. There are some that will only provide a replacement/repair if the fault in on their side. For instance, it’s not properly made during the manufacturing stages.
Price. As discussed above, the price of any of these will range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. However, it’s also important to make fair valuations between the various brands in the market so you actually get what you pay for. Also, always ask yourself the degree of accuracy and maximum ranging distance you need as these aspects will highly impact the price of the product.
Top 4 Rangefinder Binocular Reviews
Let’s dive straight into our top 4 review since you have probably know how to make the right decision. Use the guide above to help you consider which one works best for you based on your liking and budget.
Note: Coincidentally, we stumbled on this video below whereby a professional is reviewing all of the four best rangefinder binoculars based on his personal opinion. If you prefer video over words, then watch the video below. However, it’s important to go through our in-depth reviews for more detail information.
In my opinion, Bushnell Fusion offers the most value for it’s price. It’s one of the binoculars that I wouldn’t think twice recommending to my friends, or anyone that are interested in investing in a decent, high quality binocular.
Putting aside it’s competitors (the other 3 in this post), it’s considered as high end binoculars with plenty of great features that you couldn’t possible find in normal binoculars. However, since today we are comparing solely among rangefinder binoculars, Bushnell Fusion might lose out a little in terms of high quality performance.
First of all, the image quality viewed through this binocular is almost perfect, but not as good as the other three. It uses ED lens and phase-corrected BAK-4 prisms. In addition, all air to glass surface is fully multi coated which improves the contrast of colors.
It comes with the basic features of rangefinder. According to the manufacturer, it can measure targeted object up to a distance of 1800 yards. However, according to some reviewers, the measurement is very much skewed above 1000 yards due to high range of error.
Besides, it does not comes with ballistic configuration feature. This means that it’s impossible to alter calculations as the surrounding changes. For example, if you are hunting near foggy areas, the measured distance might be inaccurate because this factor is not taken into account by the rangefinder.
In terms of physical quality, it’s waterproof and fogproof. Field of view is 314 feet at 1000 yards which is good enough for most cases. Weight is only 31 ounce, which is pretty light for a rangefinder binocular
Warranty wise, they provide a limited lifetime warranty in which they will only repair/replace any damaged part if there is a fault during the manufacturing process. If the mistake is on your side, no coverage is given. Not a good warranty in my opinion.
Who is this product for?
- Having a limited budget
- Trying to test out rangefinder binocular before investing in expensive ones
- Able to tolerate certain level of inaccuracy in distance measurement
- Not going for long-distance ranging (less than 1000 yards)
- Looking for high quality binocular + basic rangefinder feature
If you have been playing with binoculars for a period of time, you would have heard of the big name – Swarovski. It has always been considered as a luxurious, prestigious brand due to the fact that all the model of binoculars under Swarovski are really quality ones.
And of course, Swarovski Optik El live up to it’s name. In terms of optical performance, this product outperforms the other three in this review (it’s slightly better than Leica Geovid). However, if you ask me, I can’t really differentiate the quality of image seen through this and Leica Geovid. Perhaps you have to be really professional to notice a difference.
It uses high quality ED lens which are of HD (High Definition) quality and phase corrected BAK-4 prisms. Not to mention, all air to glass surfaces are fully multi coated providing you the best image quality ever. For some reasons (maybe due to the way it’s manufactured) it produces brighter and sharper image compared to other binoculars that use the same materials.
In terms of it’s rangefinder feature, it can calculate accurate distance of a targeted object up to a maximum distance of 1500 yards. Having that said, the angle auto-correction can only function up to 1000 yards. However, the accuracy of measurement is pretty good as the range of error is only 0.5.
This binocular uses automatic ballistic configuration that automatically detects various changes in the atmosphere and incorporate them in calculation. There are pros and cons to this automation. The pros are, it’s convenient as there is no need for manual input of data or choosing a specific set of parameters because the rangefinder automatically does it for you.
The downside, however, is that it might not be as accurate as manually inputting the data through a microchip SD card (which is what you can do with Leica Geovid).
This binocular is solidly built with rugged materials. It’s waterproof and fogproof. Field of view is 331 feet at 1000 yards. The weight is considered light too, only 31 ounce.
This product comes with a limited lifetime warranty whereby they will replace/repair faulty parts of the binoculars if the fault is on their side. Any damaged due to misused, action of God, etc are not being covered by this warranty. However, they do offer repair services at reasonable prices.
Note: This product is a pretty close substitute of the Leica Geovid rangefinder binocular. If given a choice, I would pick Leica Geovid due to the fact that it’s far more superior in terms of the rangefinder feature. The downside, however, is that the quality of image produced by Swarovski is much better.
Who is this for?
- Looking for the best of the best in terms of optical performance
- Fine with lower control over ballistic configuration (means lower accuracy)’
- Prefer automation (less work)
- Not ranging over 1500 yards (preferably below 1000 yards)
Leica Geovid is probably the best rangefinder binocular you can find in the market, at least in my opinion. Unlike other binoculars, Leica Geovid is extremely robust with tons of functionality that will definitely enhance your hunting experience.
First of all, Leica Geovid offers high optical performance (although some may argue that Swarovski is slightly better). It’s crafted with high definition ED lens and phase-corrected BAK-4 prisms. These glass surface are fully multi coated which reduces the lost of light during transmission to 0.005%, amazing right?
Leica Geovid has the most robust and comprehensive rangefinder feature ever (which is why I prefer this over Swarovski). First of all, it can calculate the distance of a targeted object accurately up to 2000 yards, probably the longest distance measurable among various rangefinder binoculars. Also, the range of error is pretty low at 0.5%.
In order to improve on the accuracy of the result, Leica Geovid takes the ballistic configuration one step further. It comes with 12 different preset settings to choose from. In most cases, you will definitely find one of them that fits well with the atmosphere. You might be thinking, what if all the settings aren’t relevant to my hunting area?
Well, don’t worry. Leica Geovid allows you to input your desired parameters (ballistic information) in a microchip SD card and then insert it into the device. This way, you can manually alter the calculation to cater for specific areas.
Furthermore, Leica Geovid has other great features built in as well. For example, it functions as a barometer and thermometer too. If by any chance you need any of these readings, Leica Geovid will be able to provide them to you.
The field of view is 331 feet at 1000 yards. In terms of weight, it’s slightly heavier at 33.5 ounce, but it shouldn’t be a big problem. Just in case you didn’t know, it’s made to be fully waterproof and fogproof.
In terms of warranty, Leica Geovid offers the best guarantee you can probably find (considering it’s a highly priced product). First of all, you get a three year full warranty. Meaning to say, within the first three years upon purchasing the product, if the binocular needs to be repaired, despite whose fault it is, it will be totally free.
The best part is, even after three years whereby the premium warranty is reverted to limited lifetime warranty, Leica Geovid promises to service/repair your binocular for only $35 irrespective of the actual cost of repairing for your whole life. $35 is pretty reasonable considering the fact that the materials used in Leica Geovid are high quality ones.
Who is this for?
- Often going for long-range hunting
- Particular about the accuracy of calculated distance
- Want to own a robust and cool binocular
- Looking for a great lifetime warranty coverage
- Looking for all-perfect binocular (based on my opinion)
If you noticed, Carl Zeiss is the only rangefinder binocular reviewed in this post that has a magnification power of 8 times and an objective lens of 45 mm in size. While 10x magnification is often the preferred choice (especially if you are scouting at a distance), it’s easier to stabilize images with a 8x magnification.
Also, the large size of objective lens (45 mm) allows more light to enter the binocular which improves on the brightness of images around dim light areas. It’s not really going to be very much brighter compared to the other 3, but you will definitely notice a difference.
Optical performance wise, Zeiss uses ED lens as well as phase corrected BAK-4 prisms. Like others, it’s fully multi coated minimizing the loss of light to produce brighter and sharper image (another contributing factor to it’s great performance around dim light areas).
In terms of rangefinder, the only drawback is that it only has a maximum ranging distance of 1300 yards which is pretty short especially when it’s being compared with Leica Geovid and Swarovski.
Although Zeiss ranging distance isn’t that far, it produces accurate readings of the distance of targeted objects. First of all, the range of error is pretty low at 0.5%. To further improve the accuracy, Zeiss utilizes the ballistic configuration in which there are 6 preset parameters that you get to choose from.
Although not as highly customized as Leica, it’s certainly good enough in most circumstances. Furthermore, there is no need for manual input of data which are quite troublesome at times.
Another great advantage of using this binocular is that the field of view is really wide at 420 feet at 1000 yards. For those of you that require wider field of vision, this model might be a great fit as it has the widest field of vision among various rangefinder binoculars in the market.
The warranty for this product is in the form of a limited lifetime warranty whereby the manufacturer will only repair/replace damaged parts for free if it’s their fault. This is pretty much a standard warranty which is not as good as what Leica has to offer.
The bright side, however, is that it’s in a form of transferable warranty. Meaning to say, if you happen to resell this binocular or perhaps give it to your friends, your friend will be able to inherit the limited lifetime warranty (most warranty for binoculars in the market are not transferable).
Who is this for?
- Looking for a cheaper alternative (around $700 cheaper than Leica Geovid and Swarovski)
- Want accurate results but don’t need to measure distance above 1300 yards
- Might be a better alternative for dim light hunting
- Looking for rangefinder binoculars with lower magnification power
I hope this comprehensive guide combined with the top rangefinder binoculars review will help you find the best rangefinder binocular that suits you. It’s really important to consider every aspects properly before making a purchase or you might regret (there are pretty expensive).
If you are on a tight budget, I would highly recommend that you go for Bushnell Fusion. It’s the most affordable rangefinder binocular in the market. Besides, putting aside it’s rangefinder feature, it’s definitely considered as one of the best binocular out there.
On the other hand, if you are looking for the best of the best, Leica Geovid will be your best bet. It will really make a difference to your hunting experience. Swarovski is another close substitute of Leica Geovid. However, if I have to choose between these two, I would go for Leica Geovid.
If you are just looking for a normal binocular within a few hundred bucks, then check out this post.
Do you think a rangefinder binocular is necessary? If yes, which model will be your top recommendation?