Long Range Hunting Rangefinders
Long range hunters have found that rangefinders are an invaluable tool to their sport. Most hunters know that the key to making a good shot accurately knowing the distance to the animal; however, this becomes even more critical as the range increases.
Long Range Hunting
With the rising popularity of customized scopes set up to match an individual rifles ballistics, and the increasing use ballistic software; hunters with practice and the proper equipment are taking game at what once was considered extreme ranges. The majority of hunters who will only on rare occasion shot out past 300 or 400 yards would probably be better suited with what we classify as dual purpose rangefinders as they are well able to handle those distance. However, those who are set up and comfortable taking game out past those distances should consider this class of rifle hunting rangefinders.
What to look For:
Compact and Lightweight: Despite the fact that many shooters in this category take long shots, that doesn't mean they aren't having to get away from the truck and put a lot of miles on foot to get a shot. Therefore, selecting a compact lightweight rangefinder makes sense. If your shots will be likely be long and your walks short you would probably be better suited with what we call rifle shooting rangefinders, which are larger, heavier, and generally have a tripod mount. However, those hunting mountain sheep, mountain goat, mule deer, antelope, elk, etc. who are watching weight and logging miles will probably want to stick with these smaller more compact models.
High Power Magnification: When hunting with a rifle the ability to see and range big game sized animals at long distance is crucial. So here a 7x magnification rangefinder is about ideal; while an 8x might even be better, 7x magnification is pretty much the limit as to what a vertically held rangefinder can be held steady enough to get long range readings offhand. This especially true when your heart in pounding from hiking, or a case of buck fever sets in.
Ranging capability: Those hunters taking shots out to 500 yards and beyond are going to want as much ranging power as they can get in this style of rangefinder for a couple of reasons. The ranging distance listed by the manufacture is always a best case scenario reading under good conditions on a highly reflective object; and you can expect a rangefinder to generally range a large animal at about half that listed range. This puts 1500 yard models down to about 750 yards, and while weather conditions, target size, shape, and color will all factor into how far the rangefinder will read; but using half the max range gives you a pretty decent number to work with.
Calculations: Once ranges start exceeding 500 yards, it starts becoming necessary to take into account the numerous factors that can affect a shot. Some rangefinders are equipped to calculate these equations on the go, while others have selectable predetermined ballistic curves that calculate the range and tell you were to hold, while still other rangefinders might simply give you the line of sight distance a let you determine the rest of the calculations with a separate devices like a smartphone. So consider that factors like wind, elevation, temperature, angle of the shot, among other factors will all need to be taken into account and how many of these factors you want the rangefinder to handle.
Rifle Hunting Rangefinder Comparison Chart
|Weight||7.5 oz||8.1 oz||7.7 oz||6.2 oz||8 oz|
|L x W x H||4.2" x 1.3" x 3"||4.5" x 1.3" x 3"||3.9" x 1.6" x 3"||4.4" x 1.5" x 2.8"||4" x 1.3" x 2.9"|
|Display||Red OLED||Red LED||Red OLED||Black LCD||Red LCD|
|Last Target Priority||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Max range||3400 yds||1600 yds||1500 yds||1300 yds||1300 yds|
Sig Kilo 2000 - Editor's Pick
The Leica 1600-B used to be the king of the hill in this category, and while still a great option it isn't perfect. Its lack of target priority modes, automatic only display brightness, and $800 dollar price tag weren't necessarily deal breakers but weren't ideal. However, for long range performance it was the clear choice for years, assuming you had the money. Over the last couple of years nearly all the major players in the hunting rangefinder market have added a more powerful option to their line up to compete in this category; and with the ranging performance gap closing, the decision became much tougher as hunters now had multiple viable choices with different features sets at various price points.
Then Came the Kilo
Then Sig Sauer came out with their new Sig Kilo 2000 and the choice got a lot simpler again. The latest technologies, high end components, extreme ranging performance, and a sub $500 price tag made it the obvious choice for many. While those with the Leica or any other model on this chart that is currently serving them well shouldn't be looking to trade off their rangefinders; those looking to upgrade an out of date model or buy their first model in this category would be hard pressed to do better than the Sig Kilo.
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