The Best Rangefinders for Bow Hunting: Reviews of Our Favorites
Welcome! In this post, we’ll explore the best rangefinders for bow hunting, and the six models we think rate the highest. The models we've selected have a wide variation of features, from “just-the-basics” to “incredibly sophisticated,” and we’ll discuss how each pick is unique, what the features actually mean, and what type of bow hunting each model is good for. Let’s jump in.
Quick Picks / Brief Summaries
We'll go into more detail below, but here's a quick summary of our picks: two "just-the-basics" models, two mid-range models with some very good features, and two top-of-the-line models that are pretty sophisticated and very versatile. They are:
- The TecTecTec ProWild Hunting Rangefinder: a solid "just the basics" pick for ranging short distances over flat land and bow hunting from ground blinds;
- The Halo XL450-7 Hunting Rangefinder: another solid pick, but good for bowhunting from both ground blinds and treestands;
- The Bushnell Scout DX 1000 ARC: a mid-level option that's good for short- to mid-distance from any angle and elevation (that also has a rifle-hunting function);
- The Nikon Arrow ID 3000 Rangefinder: another good mid-level option that can spot targets partially obscured in brush and branches—good for hunting in the woods;
- The Nikon Arrow ID 7000 Rangefinder: can range up to 1,000 yards, has some powerful features, and is good for any type of bowhunting, from blinds to tree stands to spot-and-stalk, and is our top pick for best bowhunting rangefinder;
- The Vortex Optics Ranger 1800 Rangefinder: can range objects over 1,800 yards away (that's more than a mile) and measure game over 900 yards away (that's more than a half-mile), has some incredible features (which we'll explain below), and can also be used for long-distance rifle hunting and target shooting. Our pick for best rangefinder overall.
The Best Rangefinders for Bow Hunting: Our Top Selections
OK! You read the brief reviews, now you want the details. In this section, we'll go over each product in-depth, and talk about the finer points, and our opinions. Our first pick is:
The TecTecTec ProWild Hunting Rangefinder
Summary: A basic model with some nice extras that's great for bow hunting from ground blinds and for open shots on flat land
- 6x magnification and decent range;
- Nice extras (carrying pouch, strap, water resistant); and
- Among the lightest models we've seen
- Doesn't autofocus / need two hands to operate;
- No angle compensation feature; and
- Not a great pick for shots from tree stands
Our first pick is the TecTecTec ProWild Hunting Rangefinder. This is a great—and capable—option if you're looking for a no-frills, just-the-basics rangefinder. It's got 6x magnification and a range of up to 540 yards, and accurate up to +/- 1 yard from 300 meters. That's pretty good, for a rangefinder in this tier. It's also got continuous measurement mode—also a nice little extra—so you can swipe across a landscape to see if you can spot any game, instead of doing so with the naked eye, and then range in.
It's got some nice extras—a carrying pouch (this is actually important, and a lot of basic models don't include it), a battery, a strap to tether the model, and a cleaning cloth made of microfiber fabric, and it's light—it weighs in at 185 grams (about 0.40 pounds), and that's among the lightest models we've seen. If you're a gear guy and you've got a lot to carry with you, a lighter option can be a good pick.
The only negative to the TecTecTec ProWild is that it doesn't have any sort of compensation for angles/slope/incline-and-decline (and if you don't know why that's important, check out the sections of this post where we discuss "horizontal distance"). That makes it NOT a great option if you'll be hunting from tree stands, because unless you've marked out horizontal distance on the ground around your tree stand—which we've seen people do, but it takes forever—well, shooting from an elevated stance can be really tricky, and angle compensation, which most other models have, is incredibly helpful.
That said, if you're just going to be shooting on flat surfaces, or out of a ground blind and over flat land, this can be a capable, uncomplicated a great option, and it shouldn't burden you down with dozens of features and options.
If you are looking for a "just-the-basics" model rangefinder that DOES have angle/slope/incline measurements, because you'll be shooting from a tree stand (or are simply bow hunting on hilly land where you'll need to find out horizontal distance), we like the...
The Halo XL450-7 Hunting Rangefinder
Summary: A versatile basic option that features Angle Intelligence, designed for bow hunting on flat land and ground blinds but also from tree stands and elevated angles
- Has AI, "Angle Intelligence," to determine horizontal distance
- Great for scoping from tree stands;
- Ergonomic design
- Limited reflective range / accuracy range
For another "just-the-basics" model, the Halo XL450-7 Hunting Rangefinder has a lot going for it: 6x magnification, a constant range feature so you can scan across an expanse of land, and an ergonomic design, shaped for the human hand (and why more rangefinders aren't shaped for the human hand, we don't know). All nice touches.
Our favorite part about this rangefinder—and the feature that makes it stand out from other basic models—is its AI, which stands for Angle Intelligence (which sounds like "artificial intelligence," which is some pretty clever naming/marketing on the part of the folks over at Halo). Angle Intelligence is Halo's version of angle compensation, and it gives you a quick and accurate read out of the horizontal distance to your target when you're shooting from a tree stand or an elevated plane. What we like even more is that it's pretty simple—you have four different distance settings to choose from, and they are: yards (flat), yards measured with AI (to find horizontal distance, so you can shoot from a tree stand/at an angle), meters (flat), and meters measured with AI (so you can find horizontal distance, and shoot from a tree stand/at an angle).
The only downside to the Halo is that it has a maximum reflective range of up to 450 yards, which is lower than most other models in this tier—but honestly, that's within reason for a rangefinder of this caliber. It's designed to range a larger animal out to about 350 yards, and that's definitely good enough for many, many bow hunters.
If you're not looking for anything fancy and want a capable rangefinder to bow hunt from flat land or a tree stand or hill, we think this is a great pick.
The Bushnell Scout DX 1000 ARC
A good mid-level option for both bow hunting and shorter-range rifle hunting
- Features Angle Range Compensation (ARC) for elevated shots;
- Has a bow hunting feature and a rifle hunting feature;
- Capable of functioning in very wet conditions
- Not great for long-range rifle hunting or long-range rifle target shooting
Now we're getting to the mid-level rangefinders, where you start to see some really neat features popping up, and rangefinders that are capable of both bow hunting and rifle hunting.
The Bushnell Scout DX 1000 ARC fits that bill. It has an extended range of 1,000 yards, with a tree ranging capability of about 650 yards, and a deer ranging capability of about 325 yards—that's getting up there, and the unit is accurate to +/- .5 yards (an increase from the more basic models we've reviewed). It's designed to perform in low light conditions, and because it's waterproof—and many rangefinders are water resistant, and not truly waterproof—you should be able to lug it into some weather.
The ARC feature—Angle Range Compensation—makes it a great option for shooting from tree stands, because it allows you to quickly calculate horizontal distance, and believe it or not, the ARC mode for bow hunters allows for accurate horizontal distance up to 99 yards. Most bow hunting shots are let off at 25 yards or less, so that's likely more than enough for most bow hunters. You can easily switch from the ARC feature for bows to the ARC feature for rifles, and you always know which setting you're using, because you can see the little bow icon or the little rifle icon.
We think the Bushnell Scout DX 1000 is a good option if you're into bow hunting and short- to mid-range rifle hunting. It's not great for long-range rifle hunting or target shooting—that functionality is usually reserved for top-tier rangefinders—but this can be a great option for bow hunting and mid-distance shooting.
The Nikon Arrow ID 3000 Bowhunting Laser Rangefinder
A solid mid-range option designed specifically for bow hunting in dense brush and thicket in woods
- Tru-Target Technology designed to range game obscured by grass, twigs, etc.;
- ID Technology enables you to quickly find horizontal distance for elevated shots; and
- Capable of eight seconds of scanning with feedback measurement
- Shorter range (but that's not really a bad thing on this particular model).
The Nikon Arrow ID 3000 is designed specifically for bow hunting, and it's stand-out feature is the Tru-Target Technology, that allows you to re-adjust the rangefinder if your target is partially obscured by brush or tall grass. Here's how it works:
You can set the rangefinder to First Target Priority Mode, which is the "normal" mode—you see a target unimpeded by bush, twigs, or whatever, and you point your rangefinder at it, and the Nikon ID 3000 will display your distance immediately. That's great, but it's pretty common to most rangefinders.
The real feature is the second mode: The Distance Target Priority Mode, which allows you to get an accurate distance of your target when your target is partially obscured by thicket, brush, branches, and other small impediments. That's a fairly new development, and if you're trying to scope deer in dense areas—wooded areas, fields with tall grasses, etc.—it can be a very worthwhile tool.
The Arrow ID 3000 doesn't have the range that some models have—in fact, it's only got 4x lens zoom, and a 550-yard ranging capability—but that may be by design: it's a great option for ranging game that's tangled up in the scenery, in areas where you're not going to need to see 1000 yards into the distance.
So there's that, and that's fantastic, in our humble opinion. The Arrow (great name!) also has ID technology, which is Nikon's version of a horizontal distance finder (it stands for Incline/Decline); is capable of eight seconds of continuous, uninterrupted measurement, so you can scan across a vista, find your target, and home in on it; plus it's pretty decent for low-light conditions, especially for a rangefinder in this tier.
Lastly—it's tiny! While we couldn't find specs for size and weight, it's on the small side of things, and many hunters consider that a plus.
The Nikon Arrow ID 7000 VR Bowhunting Laser Rangefinder
A high-end option specifically for all styles of bow hunting, from near distances to far, with some very powerful focus / stabilizing / and aiming features
- The big pro: VR Technology that decreases wobbliness of the image in your viewfinder, and stabilizes your view;
- Tru-Target Technology designed for ranging in thicket and brush;
- ID Technology quickly determines horizontal distance for shots from tree stands and heights;
- Incredibly long reflective range of up to 1,000 yards
- Only comes in one color?
We're now going to kick it up a notch and talk about the Nikon Arrow ID 7000 VR Bowhunting Laser Rangefinder. This is an incredibly versatile tool for just about any kind of bow hunting you want to do—ground blind, tree stand, spot-and-stalk—and it's got just about everything we'd hope for:
It features Tru Target Technology (the same kind we just mentioned), that allows the rangefinder to distinguish between a target in a "busy" area—in other words, game in a tangle of brush, high grasses, twigs and small branches, etc., making it a great choice for in-the-woods ranging;
It can measure reflective distances accurately up to 1,000 yards, and can provide readings of up to .1 yard. That's about as good as it gets, as of the time of this review, and it can allow you to do some spot-and-stalk hunting—and it's one of the only "just bow hunting" rangefinders we've found that's good for spot and stalk hunting;
It's got ID Technology, designed to assist accuracy in measuring horizontal distance—all the way up to 89 DEGREES—virtually straight down. That's great if you find that game wanders directly under your tree stand; and
It's very light—at 7.1 ounces (roughly 0.44 pounds), it's pretty tote-able.
Perhaps our favorite feature of the Nikon Arrow ID 7000, though, and the feature that sets it apart from many other rangefinders, is VR Technology—aka, Vibration Reduction Technology. Basically, the VR Technology creates a still image in your viewfinder, and reduces much of the "distance jumping" you may experience with lower-end models. Many rangefinders without a vibration reduction feature have a hard time homing in exactly on the right distance, but the VR Tech on the Nikon Arrow ID 7000 is designed to give an accurate, clear, non-jumpy reading with great speed. If you've ever held a rangefinder and been frustrated when your target wobbles around in your viewfinder, well, this may be a good option for you.
This gets our vote for #1 in our "best rangefinders for bow hunting" review. It's designed just for bow hunters, and doesn't limit itself to a particular style of bow hunting. With its features, it can make a very powerful tool.
The Vortex Optics Ranger 1800 Laser Rangefinder
A high-end option that you can use for both bow hunting and long-range rifle hunting, with a ton of features and capability to range more than a mile away—our pick for best rangefinder for hunting of all types
We're going to skip the pros and cons and just chat about the Ranger 1800. For hunters who use bows and also use rifles, we consider the best model overall to be the Vortex Optics Ranger 1800 Laser Rangefinder.
- It's got 6x magnification—OK, great, but nothing out of the ordinary—but it can range up to a distance of 1,800 yards—more than a mile away. You can range deer up to a distance of 900 yards—more than a half-a-mile away;
- The viewfinder display is, in our humble opinion, pretty darn capable: the scan feature allows you to read an entire landscape or moving targets, and it has three brightness settings, designed to let the display characters stay visible, regardless of the conditions in which you're hunting. Very often, on more basic models, the display character will be black—and that's great for mid-afternoon hunting when it's bright and sunny outside—but not great in low-light situations, where you can't really read the display (which is kind of the whole point). The red display can be a great advantage in low light situations;
- The primary display mode of the Vortex—called HCD, "Horizontal Component Distance"—shows the distance compensated for the angle of your shot. In other words, that's the primary mode, and when you range your game, you don't need to switch to another mode to find the horizontal distance to you quarry. It's designed for any length shot you'll take from a bow;
- It's also got a LOS feature for rifle shooters—that's short for Line of Sight—that allows you to calculate very long distances, and is designed to provide accuracy on high-angle shots;
- It's fog-proof. That may not mean much if you're a desert hunter, but if you've ever been outside in plain-old cold-and-wet-and-nasty conditions and had your rangefinder fog up on you, fog-proof lenses are a fantastic feature. It's also fully waterproof, as opposed to water resistant; and finally
- The utility clip! This is such a simple, fantastic feature—and it costs the manufacturer next to nothing. Why don't more rangefinders have utility clips? We'll never know. Anyway, it's a great option if you're going to be moving around. An around-the-next lanyard is great if you'll be in a blind or tree stand for hours at a time, but if you're moving around, that viewfinder bumping at your chest as you hoof it can drive you crazy.
This is, in our humble opinion, as good as it gets if you're looking for a bow hunting rangefinder, rifle hunting rangefinder, or target shooting rangefinder.
OK! That about wraps up on our "Right Rangefinder for You" thread. Good luck, have fun, be safe, and happy hunting!