Nikon Prostaff 3i Rangefinder - Affordable & Dual Purpose
Capable of handling archery or rifle hunting, the Nikon Prostaff 3i is a well equipped rangefinder that comes to market at an attractive price. But what models does this Nikon rangefinder compete with and what role does it fill?
The Nikon Prostaff 3i is a compact 6x magnification rangefinder that has a maximum range of 650 yards on reflective targets. This rangefinder is equipped to make angle compensated readings and comes with both “First” and “Distant” target priority modes. Next, the Prostaff 3i reports distances in either yards or meters which it outputs onto its black LCD display. This unit gets its power from a single CR2 battery and is covered by a two year limited warranty which protects against defects in material and workmanship.
The Prostaff 3i has Nikon’s ID (Incline/Decline) technology which allows the unit to account for the angle of the shot and report the true horizontal distance to the target. Nikon also included their Tru-Target priority feature on this model; this allows the user to select either a “First” or “Distant” mode which tells the unit how to deal with two objects that are ranged at the same time. “First” mode will return the distance of the closer of the two objects, while “Distant” mode will report the further of two objects. Hunters will generally want to use the “Distant” mode for use when ranging through cover such as tree branches or brush. Finally, this Nikon rangefinder has a scan mode which allows the user to hold down the power button and move from target to target while the display constantly updates for up to eight seconds.
The Prostaff 3i uses a black LCD display for aiming and reporting distance. The unit features a open crosshair reticle made up of long horizontal lines and short vertical lines, which aids in centering the target in the display for ranging. Once a target is ranged the distance is reported directly above the reticle and is followed by either a “YD” or “M” to designate the unit of measure being displayed. Below the reticle, the unit will display the letters “ang” when the user turns on Nikon’s ID technology to confirm it is displaying angle compensated distances. Next, this unit also shows either “1st” or “Dst” on the display to represent which target priority mode is in use. Finally, there is a battery icon shown near the bottom right of the screen to keep the user informed of the power remaining in the battery.
The Prostaff 3i is a full featured rangefinder with angle compensation, target priority, and a scan mode which are three features that hunters want, yet are surprisingly absent on a large number of hunting rangefinders. Next, the price of this model seems to be quite reasonable considering its feature set and capabilities. Finally, Nikon not only made this rangefinder well equipped but they managed to keep things simple and easy to understand as well without adding a bunch of unnecessary modes and options just for marketing hype.
Well let’s see, the styling swoosh isn’t our favorite but at least it isn’t neon green like on the Nikon Arrow ID 5000, and it is probably a good sign when minor styling criticism is at the top of the complaint list. Also, while not really a con this unit is rated as rainproof while other Nikon models receive the waterproof rating, so while a hunt in the rain probably won’t have any adverse effects on the unit submerging it might. Although even with waterproof rangefinders it is good policy to keep them as dry as possible. Finally, a little bit more top end range capability would be nice but those looking to up the long range capability of a unit like this should look at the Nikon Prostaff 7i which is very similar to this model but has a maximum range of 1300 yards.
The Nikon Prostaff 3i has a predecessor at least in name which was the Nikon Prostaff 3; fortunately the new model is a complete redesign and the two looking nothing alike, but just be aware that there is a similarly named Nikon model out there when shopping. Also, of note is the Nikon Prostaff 3i doesn’t really fit into any of our comparison categories very well; it is kind of like the Leupold RX-850i in that it is capable of being used for a lot of different applications but doesn’t fit into any of our current categories, so we are tentatively calling it a budget dual purpose rangefinder. While they might lack some of the extreme ranging horsepower and high end features that many dual purpose rangefinders have; these budget dual purpose rangefinders do have a full feature set and are versatile enough to be used for both archery and most common rifle hunting applications; and do so at about half the cost of those higher end models.
The Nikon Prostaff 3i combines useful features with simple operation to make it a versatile hunting rangefinder. The best fit for this rangefinder is probably someone looking for both an archery and rifle rangefinder but would rather save a significant amount of money rather than have 1000+yard ranging capability, and top end components like a red OLED display and metal housing commonly found on many dual purpose rangefinders. Those who can live without these features can save several hundred dollars off the $400 - $500 price tag of many premium dual purpose models; currently the Prostaff 3i rangefinder can be found for around $220.
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