Nikon Prostaff 7i - Nikon's Most Powerful Rangefinder
The Nikon Prostaff 7i is Nikon’s premium rangefinder, replacing the popular but now discontinued Riflehunter 1000 as top dog in the Nikon line. The Prostaff 7i has a full set of features and long distance ranging capability but do these attributes translate into a winning combination for a hunting rangefinder?
What’s in a Name?
The Nikon Prostaff 7i is closely named to a nearly identical looking Nikon rangefinder called the Prostaff 7. However, that little “i” makes a big difference because while similar in appearance the two are very different rangefinders. The Prostaff 7i has a maximum range of 1300 yards while the Prostaff 7 has a 600 max range; also while the Prostaff 7i has a black LCD display, the Prostaff 7 features a grey LCD display that had on demand red LED backlighting, a feature that was mainly good in theory and that Nikon quickly abandoned. While the Prostaff 7 has been discontinued, it is still widely available online so make sure to look for the model with the little “i”.
Nikon gets what makes a good hunting rangefinder, they understand the two features hunters want most are angle compensated readings to give the true horizontal distance to the target, and a target priority mode to filter readings when the rangefinder hits two objects on a single press of the fire button. Next, hunters like the convenience of a scan mode so they can track a moving target, double check the distance, or range multiple targets by simply holding the range button down and letting the display constantly update the distance. Finally, having a unit that can measure in yards or meters is a nice option to have, especially if someone you shoot or hunt with is setup for using metric measurements. The Nikon Prostaff 7i covers all these bases with ID technology for angle compensated reading, Tru-Target technology for either first or distant target priority settings, a continuous eight second scan mode, and lets the user choose between yards or meters.
The Nikon Prostaff 7i is similar in overall design to the current field of compact hunting rangefinders. First, and most immediately noticeable, is the bright red to orange styling lines on the housing that are a departure from the more traditional solid black or camo pattern of many other rangefinders in this class. The top of the this Nikon rangefinder has the standard Power and Mode buttons for operating the unit; the mode button only coming into play when adjusting settings after which ranging is done with a single press of the power button. Moving to the back of the unit there is an adjustable eyepiece that allows the user to focus the display to their eyes. Flipping the unit upside down reveals the battery compartment on the Prostaff 7i and is the only part of the unit listed as water resistant, whereas the rest of rangefinder is rated as waterproof up to one meter for ten minutes.
Even though this is Nikon’s premium rangefinder it uses a black LCD display, which is still pretty common on budget rangefinders but is getting to be less and less prevalent in higher end premium rangefinder models. Nikon keeps things pretty simple when it comes to the display; in the center of the screen you have the reticle above which the range is displayed followed by a “m” or “y” to let you know the units of measure. Below the reticle the letters “ang” are displayed when the rangefinder is in angle compensated mode and showing true horizontal distances, and below that will be either “1st” or “Dst” letting you know which target priority mode is in use. Lastly, there is a battery icon which roughly estimates the amount of power left in the unit’s CR2 battery.
We dislike the bright styling stripe for a hunting rangefinder, yeah..yeah it in no way detracts from its function but still makes the Prostaff 7i look more like a golf than hunting rangefinder. Also, with this type of long distance rangefinder we would like to see a tripod mount so it could be called upon for the occasional long range shooting session; without the use of a tripod these small lightweight rangefinders can be difficult to hold steady enough to get readings out toward the extreme ranges of their capabilities. While not really a complaint of this particular model we would like to see Nikon take a stab at producing a premium component model with an OLED display for better sight clarity and a metal housing for a more solid quality feel and a little more ruggedness.
We often get asked what rangefinder would work best for golf and hunting and that is actually a somewhat complicated question. It is important to keep in mind hunting rangefinders won’t have a pin lock like most golf rangefinders. Also, will you be golfing more, or hunting more? When hunting will it be with a bow or rifle or both? Long story short if you are primarily a hunter but dust off the clubs occasionally for a game of golf and a few beers, make sure you get a rangefinder that is equipped with both first and last target priority modes because golfers use first target priority to find the narrow flagstick against a crowded background of objects like trees or the clubhouse; while hunters generally use last target priority to range through grass, brush, etc. The Nikon Prostaff 7i with its 6x magnification, angle compensation, and first and last target priority make it a very well rounded rangefinder capable of use for bowhunting, rifle hunting, trips to the shooting range, and the even the occasional round of golf.
The Nikon Prostaff 7i is one of the most versatile full featured rangefinders currently available and can be used for a wide variety of applications. While it may not have the insane ranging power, metal housing, or newer display technologies of models like the Sig Sauer Kilo 2000, the Prostaff 7i does have all the right features to get the job done at most all practical hunting distances and is currently selling for around $299 which is a good $150 - $200 less than some of its competition.
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