Archery Range Finder Roundup
Optics manufactures have finally started to dial in on what bowhunters want in an archery rangefinder. Previously there were so few options we would add dual purpose units in for comparison purposes and often times they were the better choice even for hunters that only bowhunted. However, the archery rangefinder category has grown and evolved, and there are now a variety of well designed rangefinders for the bowhunter to choose from.
What to Look For
Low magnification: Bow hunters will generally be targeting objects at 50 yards or less, so here a lower power is generally more desirable as these units usually have a wider field of view. This wide view enables the archer to more easily find and range an animal at close range. For the hunter who is only going to be using his rangefinder for bowhunting a 4x or 5x magnification rangefinder is probably ideal.
Compact Size: These optics are usually of the vertically held design as these units are generally more compact and lightweight than there horizontal counterparts. Bow hunters often carry their rangefinders in a holster on a belt, or use a tether system for quick access, so the small size of these units is important.
Target Priority: Archers often hunt in thick cover to try and get within range of the game they are stalking. However, this is not an ideal environment for the rangefinder as these units will often pick up a branch or bush between the hunter and animal. To help compensate for this a few rangefinder manufactures have equipped their rangefinders with some sort of target priority feature; Nikon calls their feature “first priority” and “distant priority”, and Bushnell calls their feature “Brush” mode and “Bullseye” mode. These units can be set to “near” or “far” priority settings, while in the far setting, if there is split reading (i.e. a branch and say a deer) it will report the farther of the two distances, which for the archer hunting from cover will usually be the game animal.
Angle Compensation: Often times those hunting with bows find themselves high in a tree stand waiting for game to wonder along a trail; this elevated position often creates an extreme angle between the shooter and the animal. Extreme angles affect the true (horizontal distance) to the target, so a normal range finder which gives distance in linear distance might read 42 yards to an animal; while an archery rangefinder with an angle compensation feature might read the same object at 36 yards, which is the horizontal distance to the target and the number the archer wants to use when making the shot. Nikon calls their angle compensation I/D for Incline/Decline, and Bushnell calls theirs ARC which stand for Angle Range Compensation, Leupold uses TBR for True Ballistic Range, and Simmons opted to name their version Tilt.
Archery Range Finder Comparison
|Model|| Nikon Archer's|
| Nikon Archer's|
|Display Type||LCD w/LED||LCD||LCD w/LED||LCD||LCD||LED - External|
|Display Color||Gray - Orange||Black||Gray - Orange||Black||Black||Red|
|L x W x H||4.4" x 1.6" x 2.8"||4.2" x 1.6" x 3"||4.6" x 1.6" x 2.9"||3.8" x 1.4" x 2.9"||4.2" x 1.9" x 3.6"||3.8" x 1.3" x 2.8"|
|Max Range||600 yds||800 yds||200 yds||850 yds||600 yds||70 yards|
|Angle Compensated||Yes||Yes to 175 yds||Yes||Yes to 199 yds||Yes to 99yds||Yes|
|Distant Target Priority||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||-|
|First Target Priority||Yes||No||Yes||No||No||-|
Nikon Archer’s Choice
The Archer’s Choice shares the same name as a previous version Nikon archery rangefinder and this will probably cause some confusion until the previous models with the same name are completely sold out of retailers’ inventory. To further the confusion there is also an Archer’s Choice Max version (see below). The new version Archer’s Choice is much more advanced that the previous version, and features both first and distant target priority modes. The new version also features a gray LCD display that can be manually backlit with orange LED for better visibility readings in low light conditions. The new Archer’s Choice features 6x magnification and has Nikon’s ID technology allowing the unit to display angle compensated readings. The maximum range on reflective targets is now 600 yards which is a considerable improvement over the previous version Nikon archery rangefinders and this is an important factor to consider if the rangefinder might ever be used on a rifle hunt. Read Full Review of Nikon Archer's Choice.
Leupold Full Draw
This is Leupold’s first traditional style archery rangefinder, and shares the same housing as their popular RX-800i series. The Leupold Full Draw features 5x magnification and is capable of giving angle compensated readings out to 175 yards. This Leupold rangefinder has a black LCD display and three different reticle options you can choose from. The most unique feature of the Full Draw is it Trophy Scale mode that lets you program a set of brackets from 10” to 60” which help in judging animal or rack size. These units are also equipped with an adjustable diopter to enable you to adjust the reticle/display to your eyes. The Full Draw features last target priority to aid in ranging through cover such as twigs or grass and also comes with a scan mode for ranging multiple animals or moving targets. The Full Draw fits well into the guidelines we outlined for a good archery rangefinder with its low magnification, last target priority, and angle compensation modes. Read Full Review of the Leupold Full Draw.
Nikon Archer’s Choice Max
Despite the Max designation this unit is older and has less overall range than the new Archer’s Choice. The Nikon Archer’s Choice Max version is built on the same housing as the Riflehunter 1000 and features the same auto adjusting gray LCD to orange LED lit display. These units have both first and last target priority modes allowing the user to set which target they want to display in the case of a split reading, the nearest or the farthest; generally bowhunters prefer the last target so the unit will ignore obstructions like weeds or branches. This rangefinder can also display angle compensated readings and features a scan mode for multiple targets. These units also come with 6x magnification and have a maximum range of 200 yards or meters. Read Full Review of Nikon Archer's Choice Max.
The upgraded and updated version of their previous Chuck Adams endorsed Bowhunter model, the new Bushnell The Truth archery rangefinder is now supported by Team Primos. While the endorsement change was probably the biggest change, the Truth got an extra 50 yards in overall ranging power and can now give angle compensated readings out to 199 yards versus the previous versions 99 yards. The Truth features a low 4x power magnification and does not come with either Bushnell’s Brush or Bullseye target priority modes. The unit features the “Bow” setting of the ARC (Angle Range Compensation) mode found on dual purpose Bushnell rangefinders. The Truth reports line of sight distances and then if the power button is held down for two more seconds while still on target both the angle of the shot and the compensated distance reading will also display as long as the target is within 199 yards. Line of sight readings are available out to the maximum 850 yards. Read Full Review of Bushnell The Truth.
Simmons LRF 600 Tilt
The standard LRF 600 models have been around for sometime; however, despite having a max range of 600 yards, they are only rated for 200 yards on deer. That lack of ranging ability and low 4x magnification made them less than ideal for rifle hunting. However, Simmons has decided to introduce Tilt Intelligence, an angle compensation mode, and included it on a LRF 600 model. Since its relatively short ranging ability on deer isn’t really a factor for archery hunters and its 4x magnification is actually a positive when ranging at close distance by adding a angle compensation feature to the unit Simmons created a rangefinder that caters well to the bowhunter. While the Simmons LRF 600 Tilt does lack target priority and other features like a scan mode it does offer an option for archery hunters on a tight budget with its current price tag of under $150. Read Full Review of Simmons LRF 600 Tilt.
Leupold VendettaThe first and only bow mounted laser rangefinder on the market and only rangefinder we know of that can give distance readings while you are at full draw. This unit is not legal for hunting in all states so be sure to check you state’s regulations if you are considering this model. The Leupold Vendetta mounts to your bow and is aimed by synchronizing it with one of your sight pins. It is activated by a touch pad mounted near the grip of your bow and distance readings are displayed on the back of the unit of an external red LED display. The Vendetta gives angle compensated distances out to 70 yards and it does have a scan feature so you can range an animal as it is moving and the external display will update allowing you to track a moving animal at full draw until it presents a shot. The Vendetta has been around for a few years and has met with mixed reviews with most of the criticism coming from the mounting and calibration steps. Read Full Review of Leupold Vendetta.
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