Rifle Hunting Range Finder Comparisons
Big game hunters have found that rangefinders are an invaluable tool for hunting. Most hunters know that the key to making a good shot is accurately judging the distance to the animal, and the hunting rangefinder gives the sportsman this information quickly and accurately. Our definition of a rifle range finder is one that will be used by the rifle hunter who is primarily after big game or large varmints. Small varmint shooters like prairie dog hunters would be better of with what we call Rifle Shooting Rangefinders.
What to look For:
Compact Size: If you are hunting with a rifle chances are there is going to be some hiking involved, sometimes miles and miles of hiking. The vertical style rangefinders have the advantage over the flat style rangefinders in this department because they are more compact and generally weigh less than the horizontal style rangefinders.
High Power Magnification: When hunting with a rifle the ability to see and range big game sized animals at several hundred yards is crucial. So here a 7x magnification is about ideal. While an 8x might even be better, 7x power is about the limit to what a vertically held rangefinder can be held steady enough to get long range readings offhand, especially when your heart in pounding from hiking, or the adrenaline rush of spotting a trophy animal.
Ranging capability: The vast majority of shots taken with rifles on big game probably come in significantly under 500 yards (despite what you hear at the local bar); however, if your hunting range finder has a maximum range of 1000+ yards it will probably give you faster and more first attempt readings than a rangefinder with a shorter maximum distance.
Simplicity: The higher magnification of these units make them less than ideal for archery hunting, (if you need your rangefinder to do both check out the dual purpose section so there is no need to have bow modes and archery related features on your rifle hunting rangefinder. More options mean a higher chance of getting the rangefinder in the wrong mode or setting at a crucial moment. Also, generally speaking rifle rangefinders don’t need the angle compensated yardage feature, which is generally the most beneficial to archery hunters who hunt from tree stands.
Rifle Hunting Rangefinder Comparison Chart
Leica CRF 1000
The Leica CRF 1000 appears to be the closet replacement to the Leica CRF 1200. About the same price and looking very similar to the Leica CRF 1200, the new CRF 1000 has 200 yards less advertised ranging capability but does have the ability to measure in either yards or meters, unlike the CRF 1200 that had to be ordered in either yards or meters versions. The Leica CRF 1000, like the other CRF rangefinders, uses a red LED display reticle and is a compact and simple rangefinder. The CRF 1000's red LED display also automatically adjusts for the amount of light available to help the operator see the display under a variety of different lighting conditions. The CRF rangefinders are also made from a metal housing which is then reinforced with a carbon fiber material making them a lightweight yet durable unit. While the CRF 1600 is a more powerful version with a few more bells and whistles than the CRF 1000, it adds another $200 dollars to the price tag and the added ranging power and options don't really come into play in a hunting rangefinder class.
Leica CRF 1600 - The Leica CRF 1200 used to be the top dog in this category by a pretty decent margin; however, like most good things they decided to change them. The CRF 1600 is suppose to be the further ranging more featured packed version of the CRF 1200 and that it is……..but it also costs several hundred dollars more than the CRF 1200. So what exactly does the extra money buy? Basically this unit will measure in both yards and meters, detects temperature, barometric pressure and can calculate the angle to the target. However, no angle compensated yardage is displayed; although, holdover information can be given based on temperature, barometric pressure, and pre-selected ballistic curves, but only out to 500 meters (we were unable to tell the distance it will display holdover information in yards but 500 yards or 550 yards would probably be a good guess).
Nikon Monarch 1200- For pure line of sight horsepower that we like to see in a rifle hunting rangefinder the Nikon Monarch Gold 1200 is near the top of the class. No gimmicks, no gadgets just a plain jane, affordable, keep it simple get it done rangefinder. Was it not for its large size the Monarch 1200 would have probably been in the running for top pick in the rifle hunting rangefinder class. While size is relative, it is clearly significantly bigger than all its classmates. However, if the extra size doesn’t bother you this is a good and proven hunting rangefinder.
Nikon RifleHunter 1000- While only a 6x power, the RifleHunter 1000 is the only rangefinder in the bunch that will give you an angle compensated reading in yards, so if you hunt in very steep terrain or think you need an angle compensated yardage readings then this is probably the unit for you. The Nikon was included in this group because of its ranging capability and its ability to display angle compensated yardages for those who feel their rangefinder should have this feature. The RifleHunter 1000 was included while similar models from Bushnell and Leupold were excluded because the Bushnell’s won’t give angle compensated readings in yards in anything but bow mode (only out to 99 yards), and the Leupold 1000i TBR will, but was excluded because the Nikon 1000 does it with less modes and programming, in addition the non TBR (True Ballistic Range) model was included already and we felt the regular RX-1000i was a better match for the category.
Leupold 1000i DNA – Why was this unit in the comparison and the 1000i TBR DNA not included. The Leupold 1000i DNA doesn’t have most of the “features” that make the TBR version so complicated and clustered. The 1000i DNA is made from a durable aluminum body that is rubber coated for grip, and is a solid unit, that is compact and is also one of the least expensive in this class. The Leupold RX-1000i DNA is also an updated version, so the score above in the comparison chart represents mainly previous versions. However in our opinion it is probably the best rangefinder in the Leupold lineup and its simplicity and compact design helps it compete well in this category, but a little more magnification would have been beneficial for this rifle hunting category.
Conclusion - The Leica CRF 1000 was the top pick in this competitive category because it has all the features a good hunting rangefinder should. The one caution on this model is it is new and doesn't have much for user reviews; however, this was the case with all the models in this class with the Nikon 1200 being the only exception. However, with the Leica name and previous performance of the nearly identical Leica CRF 1200 (our former top pick in this category which has been discontinued) the CRF 1000 is a pretty safe bet. Here are some of the reasons why the Leica CRF 1000 took the top spot.
- 1000 Yard Ranging: For even the longest of shots.
- Simple Operation: Leads to less problems in the field.
- Compact: Small size and light weight for long hikes.
- 7x Magnification: For precise ranging of targets even at extreme distances.
- Durable: Metal Housing reinforced with Carbon Fiber to stand up to rough use.
- Red LED Display:Adjusts automatically for maximum reticle to target contrast.
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