Important Choosing Factors
Long range is a term that’s different to everyone. It is relative to what the person is trying to do. For example:
- long range hunting for medium animals is done at 300 yards
- long range for 50 BMG competition shooters is more than a mile
We are specifically talking about rangefinders that are designed to be used at 1000 yards or farther. 1000 yards is a relatively long range regardless of the rifle being used.
Without a solid foundation as a shooter, it doesn’t matter that your 338 Lapua can reach 1000 yards if you can’t hit the target. So 1000 yards and beyond is almost universally accepted as long range distance for shooters.
So when choosing a long range rangefinder, you have to make sure it can reach out to at least 1000 yards with an accurate reading. If it can go a bit beyond 1000 yards, that’s even better.
The price difference between a 1000 yard rangefinder and 1500 to 1600-yard rangefinder isn’t typically substantial. Being able to reach beyond a thousand yards accurately could be invaluable once you master that 1000 yard space.
The further you attempt to target at a distance, the greater accuracy you need.
A small inaccuracy at 100 yards isn’t a big deal at all. You can still hit your target. However, a slight inaccuracy at 1000 yards may result in a complete miss.
This means purchasing a high-quality laser rangefinder from a reputable brand. It’s critical you search unbiased reviews to give you a solid understanding of just how accurate it is.
You also want to make sure it’s easy to use, and you understand how to get an accurate reading from it.
Most rangefinders have slight variances between their accuracy ratings so it is not guaranteed to be spot on. They typically have a small inaccuracy usually less than half a yard of variance.
Magnification is a fine balance to walk with long range rangefinders. You need enough magnification to make out your target. If you can’t get a solid picture of your target, how exactly are you going to range it?
So you need enough power to see it well to utilize the rangefinder accurately.
At the same time, too much magnification makes it insanely difficult to find and stay on target. It doesn’t only magnify your target, but also magnifies every breath, shiver and shake you make.
If you ever tried to use a spotting scope without a tripod ( see how to choose a tripod ), you know what I mean. Too much magnification is a bad thing. It also means the system is bigger and requires a larger objective lens. We’ve already gone over size and weight issues for certain users.
Keeping with the 1000-yard range theme, you want to limit magnification to about 7 to 10 power. It keeps the device small and lightweight yet provides enough magnification to see your average 1000-yard target. 7 to 10 power isn’t too powerful either.
Long range rangefinders are made from various fragile materials. Think about it. They have electronics, magnified glass lenses, and laser emitters. None of these are known for their durability. So it needs to be tough around those fragile materials.
The overall body strength of the device should also be durable. On top of this, you want it to be sealed against moisture and debris. You don’t need to dive at the bottom of the ocean with a rangefinder but you want it to resist some morning dew at least.
You have to remember, it’s a lot like binoculars and rifle scopes due to the use of optics. So you also want it to be fogproof and preferably nitrogen or argon purged.
Hunters and snipers need an optic that can keep up with their lifestyle. The optic can’t be weak enough to be treated like a piece of China. It needs to be carried and forgotten.
Hunters and snipers have bigger concerns than keeping their gear from being bumped, tossed and dropped. A solid shockproof rating is always a desirable feature to have.
Size and Weight
Size and weight are major considerations depending on what you are planning to do with the rangefinder.
- If you are a simple bench rest competition shooter, size and weight don’t necessarily matter. You won’t be lugging that bad boy around much.
- For a hunter or tactical user like a sniper, size and weight is a much bigger issue.
A sniper needs a compact but powerful rangefinder that can easily be packed away when on a mission. They also need to maintain a low profile as much as possible. In a hide, they don’t want a large machine to wave around.
Slim, lightweight and compact is a big deal for the gear that these guys use.
A good warranty is a must-have on a rangefinder designed for 1000 yards or more. It ensures that if you have an issue with the product, you aren’t out your initial investment. No questions asked warranties are great but not all companies offer it.
Likely, a good warranty covers and guarantees the electronics and quality for at least five years. A limited lifetime warranty is even better.
Before purchasing, I always suggest to review the warranty policy of the manufacturers.
If you want to learn more about rangefinders, how they work, or what products we recommended for other use cases check out our comprehensive rangefinder buying guide.