Rangefinder Binoculars

Rangefinder Binoculars

Binocular Reviews Home > Ranging Binoculars

Whilst most users simply require a binocular that will offer them a better view, there are some specific uses like military, security, marine and hunting where it is beneficial or even critical to know how far away the object that you are looking for is.

This is where a good set of rangefinder binoculars comes in. However as with most things, there are a number of options available and the best option for you and your specific requirements will depend on a number of factors which I will go through in this section and thus hopefully point you in the right direction.

Two Options:

There are two main methods in which a pair of binoculars can indicate distance and other information like compass readings or ballistic data two you.

The first uses a scaled reticle in the view that you can then use to work out distance. The second method is to use a laser light that reflects off the object you are looking at and then simply displays the distance for you.

Both have their own benefits and drawbacks and as such which one you opt for will largely depend on your intended use and budget:

Reticle ViewReticle Ranging Binoculars

The least expensive binoculars with rangefinders are those that use a marked reticle which you see in the view when looking through the eyepiece.

Whilst they are in most cases substantially cheaper than laser rangers, you should not consider a them to be inferior, rather just different and in the right applications, a reticle rangefinder will actually be the better option:

The fine lines with scale markings on them can either be digitally displayed or are physical markings in the view usually made with very fine fibers. They are similar to the crosshair that you see when looking through a rifle scope and the scale that is displayed enables you to work out the distance from the object either using a simple formula (you can also work out the height or width) and/or by a system of silhouettes that enable more swift ranging without calculations.

Note: There are a number of different types of reticle. Most are based on a form of angular measurement called the milliradian (mrad for short). The key to accurate and effective ranging using this type of reticle, is having a good understanding of the measurements of objects that you commonly seen in the vicinity in which you are using it.

The mil dot reticle is another variation and which uses dots instead of lines. Mil ranging binoculars are another popular choice for long range hunters and target shooters.

Mrad Ranging reticle with silhouettes

Some rangefinding binoculars will also have a number of different sized silhouettes marked in the view and all you then need to do match them to the object to get an idea of the distance which is marked under the silhouettes. Note: The image above taken from the excellent Vortex Viper HD R/T Binoculars.

Apart from costing less than a laser, the main advantage of ranging with a reticle is that it can be used over longer distances and which is why it is most commonly used on marine binoculars or for long range target/hunting optics.

Many military binoculars will also use this method for long range uses and because there will often times when a laser is not ideal as it can give your position away.

For more information on the method of calculating the distance using a reticle, be sure to take a look at this article on Reticle Rangefinders on Marine Binoculars.

Advantages

  • Less expensive
  • Calculate long range distances
  • Calculate Height / Width of object
  • Not all require batteries

Disadvantages

  • Not immediate - needs calculation
  • Less accurate than laser

Cost & Where To Buy

Depending on the quality of the binocular and it's optics, reticle ranging binoculars start at around $70 and can go all the way up to $1000 or more:

Laser Rangefinder Binoculars

Laser Rangefinder ViewWhilst more expensive, laser rangefinding binoculars are far more accurate and quicker to use than a reticle.

They work by sending out a brief flash of light at a target object. The distance to that object is then almost instantly calculated by the amount of time it takes to return to receiver on the binocular.

The effective range is less than that of a reticle and is affected by a number of factors, most of which depend on the size and reflectivity of the object you are looking at.

Under perfect conditions (cloud cover actually improves performance) and whilst viewing a large, reflective object you can get measurements up to about 1600 yards away. For hunting deer sized animals, most laser ranging binoculars will work up to about 1000 yards.

The improved accuracy and the fact that you can get instant ballistic information often makes a laser the best rangefinder binoculars for hunting, target shooting or indeed general wildlife observation.

Because ranging with a laser over water can sometimes lead to false readings caused by reflections, these are not usually ideal marine binoculars.

Further Reading & Reviews:
Best 10x42 Laser Rangefinder Binoculars

Advantages

  • Very accurate
  • Immediate reading
  • Can also supply instant and accurate ballistic information

Disadvantages

  • More expensive
  • Less range
  • Needs a power source (batteries)
  • Laser light can give your position away (important for military / police etc)
  • Can give false readings over water

Cost & Where To Buy

Expect to pay between $400 right up to $10 000 for a pair of laser rangefinder binoculars. Popular models from Snypex, Bushnell, Nikon, Steiner and Vortex range from about $600 to $1200, whilst top end models from Swarovski and Leica cost between $1500 and $3000:

Reticle Rangefinder Binoculars Reviews

Celestron Cavalry 7x50 Binoculars

Celestron Cavalry 7x50 BinocularsAs well as having a range finding reticle, these low cost Celestron binoculars come with a digital GPS, Compass and bubble meter that you can view via the small screen onto of the body.

The 7x magnification ensures a wide field as well as more stable view. Perfect for use on the water where your platform is unsteady. Add to this a rugged, waterproof body and you have an excellent and inexpensive marine binocular.

When testing them I was also very impressed by the bright image they produced. this is largely the result of the large 50mm objectives and good quality optics and coatings. This means that they also perform exceptionally well in very low light and is why I would also recommend them as a great search and rescue binocular and for use in security applications.

Read my Full Review:

Prices & Where to Buy
These Celestron Cavalry binocular are currently available for around $170 / £200. For latest prices and to compare between retailers in a number of countries, take a look at the links below:

Laser Rangefinder Binoculars Reviews

For a selection of options in a range of different prices, take a look at the BBR guide to the Best 10x42 Laser Rangefinder Binoculars.

Vortex Fury HD Laser Rangefinder

Vortex Fury HD 10x42 Rangefinder BinocularsAs well as all the other major uses like birding and general wildlife observation, Vortex is a brand that makes a point of catering for the needs of the hunter and as such, they have produced a number of reticle rangefinding binoculars and monoculars over the years (For more, take a look at my guide to Vortex Rangefinder binoculars and monoculars).

As for laser rangers, they have a number of dedicated instruments, but up until fairly recently they did not have a binocular with an integrated laser rangefinder.

This has now all changed with the introduction of the excellent Fury HD:

Aimed at the high end of the market, but still with an eye on value for money, the Vortex Fury HD Laser Rangefinder combines the optics of their flagship Vortex Viper HD binoculars with a very high performance laser ranger.

Optical Highlights Include:

  • Fully Multi-Coated Optical System
  • HD Glass Elements in the Lenses
  • Bak-4 Roof Prisms
  • Phase Corrected Prisms
  • Dielectric Coatings on the Prisms

Reticle View through the Vortex Fury HD Rangefinder BinocularsLaser Rangefinder

  • Easy to Reach Controls
  • Easy to Navigate Menu System
  • 3 Modes
    • Vortex's HCD (Horizontal Component Distance)
    • Line of Sight
    • Scan
  • Range
    • Maximum Reflective range: 1600 yards
    • Maximum Range (Deer): 1000 yards
  • Battery: CR2

Reviews
For more details, take a look at my mini-review of the Vortex Fury HD 10x42 Binoculars.

Optical Specifications:

ModelEye ReliefClose FocusField of View
1000 Yards
Interpupillary
Distance
Height x
Width
Weight
10x42 16 mm 20' 314 54-69 mm 5.7 x 5.9" 31.8 oz

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Video
The video below produced by Vortex provides a good overview of the binocular and the rangefinder functions:

Price Range

At the time of writing, the Vortex Fury HD Rangefinder binocular has a retail cost of around $1200 in the US, for current prices in your country, take a look at the following link:

Buy & Compare Prices for Vortex Fury HD Binoculars
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