March 02, 2022
There is a solid argument that the laser rangefinder is one of the most influential tools to aid in a hunter’s success since its introduction in the mid 1990’s. The ability to instantly know the precise yardage of your intended target, no matter your weapon of choice, is a game changer in the hunting world.
As technology has advanced so has the capabilities and portability of rangefinders. They have evolved from clunky binocular-size instruments capable of ranging only a few hundred yards, to fitting into the palm of your hand and giving exact ranges well beyond 1,000 yards. Another benefit of the technological advancements of rangefinders is it has driven the cost down to a very affordable price point.
Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly pricier rangefinders on the market that have some incredible features incorporated into them. But if you are looking for a reliable rangefinder that won’t break the bank, then these are for you. Below are four of the best rangefinders on the market for under $200.00
Leupold RX-1400i TBR/W
Leupold’s RX-1400i TBR/W rangefinder is packed with features for such a small unit. For starters, this rangefinder boasts the same impressive DNA range-finding engine used in all Leupold rangefinders. It also features several different modes including TBR (true ballistic range) which incorporates MOA, MIL, and HOLD options, as well as BOW mode. BOW mode provides archer’s the calculated shoot-to yardage as opposed to the actual yardage to compensate for whatever shot angle is presented.
The downside to this rangefinder as opposed to its more expensive counterparts is that you cannot input your specific ballistics into the unit. However, not all is lost; you can choose from a multitude of ballistic profiles and find one that closely matches your own to use the MOA, MIL, and HOLD features. Leupold promises +/- .5-yard accuracy out to 125 yards and +/- 2-yard accuracy with this unit out to 1,000 yards. In my own testing I was able to get a reading on a tree at 1276 yards—pretty dang impressive.
These features, combined with Leupold’s reputation of rugged reliability and quality optics gives this rangefinder a high-end feel with a budget price tag.
Bushnell Prime 1300
Bushnell’s new Prime 1300 rangefinder incorporates a new all-glass optical system with a 40% larger objective lens and improved LCD display. These new features result in Bushnell’s claim of 2X greater brightness than its predecessors. I can’t verify that claim with 100% certainty as I have not looked through the prior models, but the new glass unquestionably does a very good job lighting up low-light conditions. The unit also features Bushnell’s new EXO Barrier coatings designed to fend off Mother Nature’s attempts to disable your rangefinder
The Bushnell Prime 1300 also offers several modes and is tailored to archery hunters but can be used by rifle hunters in many scenarios. Bushnell’s ARC (Angle Range Compensation) technology is built into the rangefinder, providing true range as opposed to the line-of-sight range. This takes the guess work out of angled shots that are so common when archery hunting. Other features include brush, bullseye, and scan mode all of which are useful features in the tree stand and on the ground.
The Halo XR 700 rangefinder is a straight forward, user friendly rangefinder with a few key features to aid in the success of your hunt. This rangefinder features Halo’s Angle Intelligence technology which accounts for the horizontal angle of your shot and gives the calculated shoot-to-distance. This unit also features a scan mode which gives hunters up to four readings per second as they track their quarry through their rangefinder.
Halo claims a maximum reading of 700 yards off a reflective target. In my own testing, the furthest I was able to range a tree was 608 yards. For most rifle hunters, and all archery hunters, this sleek little rangefinder will supply everything you need to make a clean ethical shot.
Vortex Impact 1000
*The Vortex Impact 1000 rangefinder has an MSRP on their website of $269.99 but can be purchased at most places for $199.99, so we let it slide into this article. With that out of the way, the Impact 1000 rangefinder is a simple-to-use, well-built rangefinder designed to meet the needs of hunters across the board.
Like the other rangefinders in this article, this unit also features an angle compensating function that Vortex refers to as HCD or Horizontal Component Distance. Vortex advertises a reflective target reading at 1,000 yards, and a tree range reading out to 800 yards, which proved accurate in my testing. The furthest range I was able to get on a tree was 788 yards. This unit has a comfortable ergonomic feel and the range button is easy to find and quick to operate. Like all equipment from Vortex Optics, the Impact 1000 rangefinder is backed by their VIP Warranty