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Over the years binoculars have gone mostly unchanged. Aside from some small enhancements to the optic coatings and general materials used in the manufacturing process, the main features and even the technology have for the most part remained the same. One area in which there has been some evolution, however, is with the inclusion of rangefinding capabilities.
Rangefinder binoculars first began, as with many optics devices – in the military. Rangefinding capabilities proved essential for soldiers on the ground who are looking to attain information as to the distance between themselves and the target. This technology has, much like night vision binoculars, become more attainable for the consumer market.
In fact, we’re beginning to see rangefinding binoculars available from major binocular brands, albeit at what are usually higher priced than traditional binoculars. This of course makes sense, given that rangefinding technology in itself isn’t very cheap. At least not to the degree that you’d want in a pair of rangefinder binoculars.
Vortex Optics – Fury HD 5000
The Vortex Optics Fury HD 5000 offers all the features and quality we’d expect from a premium product, without breaking the bank.
The Vortex Optics Fury HD 5000 has something to offer a myriad of uses. The rangefinder function provides everything you’d need as a sports shooter or hunter, with integrated applied ballistics. These definitely aren’t budget binoculars, but for the quality and functionality offered, you will find it hard to find something better at this price point.
Best High-End Choice
Leica has an outstanding reputation in the field of optics and the Geovid HD-R 2700 is an example of why they are so well respected. The 56mm objective lens diameter ensures quality low light performance, and the 20mm eye relief ensures glasses wearers are more than sufficiently catered for. These also come with all the bells and whistles, with rangefinder capabilities including atmospheric measurements.
Best Budget Choice
SIG SAUER’s Kilo 3000Bdx is a unique-looking pair of rangefinder binoculars that offers some great integration, especially with the SIERRA3BDX scope via Bluetooth. Under around 1000 dollars, you’re offered excellent value for money.
Best Marine Choice
Hooway’s 7×50 Marine Binoculars are created for the rather niche market of marine rangefinder binoculars, however, if you’re looking for an affordable pair of marine binoculars these are an excellent choice. At a fraction of the price of traditional rangefinder binoculars, you’re not going to struggle to justify this purchase.
What Are Rangefinder Binoculars?
The name says it all. Rangefinder binoculars are simply binoculars with rangefinder capabilities included. Rangefinders in general allow the observer to get an accurate gauge on the distance of a target. They are most typically used recreationally for hunting and sports shooting, though do spill out into other activities as well, such as birding or general wildlife watching.
With standard rangefinders or even typical golf rangefinders, you’ll find that the options and settings allow for a diverse set of functions, for instance, many GPS-based golf rangefinders offer course map integration. However, there is a trade-off to be made here as the optics themselves will typically fall short of that found with binoculars.
Regular rangefinders use a single (monocular) lens that the user looks through. The clarity of the optics is not the focal point here and it’s really used just to allow the user to get an accurate sight of their target. Similarly, the magnification levels found in these devices tend to fall short of those in binoculars.
Because of these limitations, rangefinder binoculars are extremely useful to those who require more magnification, or who need to identify features of the target. For birders, ensuring that you can identify unique plumage details is essential. Birding is based on an honors system and doing your best to ensure your identification is correct, is of utmost importance.
For hunters, the extra range offered by rangefinder binoculars’ higher magnification can also be useful in the field. The last thing you want is to begin tracking a target, only to have it slip out of sight because you didn’t have enough range to work with.
10 Best Rangefinder Binoculars
Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best binoculars with rangefinders. Whether you are a professional sports shooter, hunter, or marine enthusiast you’re bound to find a product that works for you.
1. Vortex Optics Fury HD 5000 10×42
With this pair of rangefinder binoculars, Vortex has really stepped up to the plate to bat alongside some of the biggest names in optics. We’re used to seeing Vortex offering quality products, and often at a budget-friendly rate too – but with the Fury HD 5000 they’ve placed quality above affordability.
It’s not only the optics quality that impressed us about the Fury HD 5000 though, the extensive functionality offered is really what sold us on these. To quote Vortex on one of the most impressive features: “With the Applied Ballistics Elite solver built-in, you can pair with the Fury HD app to create custom profiles compatible with popular Kestrel wind meters and Applied Ballistics Garmin devices for the ultimate in real-time precision.”
While this applied ballistics feature won’t appeal to everyone, it is a really cool piece of functionality to have alongside the rangefinding feature. It’s clear that these rangefinder binoculars were created for hunters and sports shooters, and they have so much to offer these purposes.
We haven’t even begun to touch on all the features that these rangefinding binoculars include. There are two rangefinding modes; HCD (Horizontal Component Distance) and BAL (Ballistics). When the Ballistics mode is used, you’re able to get some really useful information fed into your view. Wind speed, temperature, and even barometric pressure are visible in the rangefinder.
For the everyday user, these may seem like overkill, but for professional sports shooters or serious hunters who are looking to really get the cleanest shot possible, these metrics can put you ahead of the competition.
The design and build quality aren’t something to be overlooked either, as Vortex has created an ergonomic design that features some of the best lens coatings available from the company, along with dielectric phase-corrected prisms. You’re going to get some clear imagery, that performs very well in low-light conditions.
As could be expected, the Vortex Fury HD 5000 is also nitrogen-purged and offer water and fog proofing that will protect your binoculars from the elements.
2. Leica 8×56 Geovid HD-R 2700
Continuing this list with another premium optics manufacturer, Leica has been around for over 100 years, originally trading as Leitz. They have, since then showed the quality of German engineering.
The 8×56 Geovid HD-R 2700 rangefinder binoculars continue to build on their already impressive catalog of binoculars. Similar to the Vortex Fury, the Geovid is targeted primarily towards the professional shooting and hunting market. With that said, they will offer excellent quality for bird watchers and general wildlife enthusiasts as well.
This is most evident by the ballistic measurement options and thorough weather-proofing.
When it comes to the optics quality and design, HDC coating on the lenses ensures excellent clarity and contrast, while the 56mm objective lens diameter allows plenty of light into the binoculars. The way the Leica 8×56 Geovid HD-R 2700 handles color is also very accurate and vibrant, also thanks to the HDC coating.
Functionality that will really appeal to the hunters and shooters is the additional ballistic features we touched on above. These rangefinder binoculars have an inclinometer, temperature reading, as well as air pressure measurements.
If you’re looking for a high-end product that not only delivers world-class image quality and diverse functionality, the Leica 8×56 is worth shortlisting.
3. Swarovski 10×42 EL Rangefinder Binoculars
Swarovski needs no introduction if you’re already versed in optics. For decades they have set the standard for premium quality optic devices, and are particularly well known for their high-end binoculars and spotting scopes.
The Swarovski 10×42 EL has an open-bridge design, and is a bit longer than the Zeiss Victory, another pair that falls within the same market space. The weight is around 840 grams without the strap or caps, which is a pretty respectable weight for a premium pair of binoculars. The body makes use of magnesium alloys, and it is sealed against water up to 4 meters.
The focusing action on the binoculars is very smooth and stunningly precise. The lock-to-lock is around two turns; you might think this is slow, but going from a few meters to infinity only takes one turn. Why then does it take two full turns for the full travel? Because their focus distance is very close, at 1.5 meters.
The optics quality is what you’d expect from Swarovski. The prisms are conventional roof prisms with mirrors. Again comparing them to the Zeiss Victory, they transmit around 3 to 5% less light than those models due to the mirrors’ scattering.
As far as the objectives go, you will find a pretty complex design with around 12 optical elements on each side. Among the most important parts that Swarovski included in its battle with Zeiss and Leica are the HD lenses. These lenses have high-fluoride glasses, which, similar to apochromatic telescopes, reduce chromatic aberration. With a fairly large air gap, you will find at least four elements in the Swarovski EL.
For a pair of high-powered rangefinder binoculars, they do give you a state-of-the-art view. You’ll want to take them outside and use them for a while if you want to see just how good the view is. In both barrels, the optics are very sharp. Focus snap, as mentioned, is extremely precise, which is a sign of high-quality optics. All in all, they’re among the best rangefinder binoculars for hunting or wildlife observation that you will come across, and a popular choice for dedicated birders in particular.
Read our comprehensive review of the Swarovski 10×42 EL.
4. Carl Zeiss Victory 10×56
Zeiss is in no way a new player in the field of optics. They’re synonymous with extremely high quality if you can afford them, and with the Victory RF 10×54, they live up to their name. Let’s kick things off with the build quality. Even if you’re a person who doesn’t really take a lot of care about their belongings, you’ll be good to go with these. They’re built to be sturdy and maintain their performance even if you drop them once or twice.
This build quality also extends to waterproofing, which is always appreciated. They’re nitrogen-filled, which won’t let your lenses fog up on the inside, as mentioned a few times above. Cleaning the lenses is a breeze, which is, in most part, thanks to a coating that Zeiss put on their lenses.
The Zeiss Victory will give you excellent clarity and contrast, as one expects with premium Zeiss products. They don’t come cheap, but you can be assured that you’re buying quality when you pick up these rangefinder binoculars.
The premium optics have multi-layer glass and fluoride, which results in a lot of light is inside the lens. This in combination with the very impressive objective lens diameter of 56mm, will ensure that you’re able to get clear viewings in low light conditions. That coating we mentioned is LotuTec, and it also plays a big role in the vividness of the image.
The laser rangefinder in the binoculars is extremely accurate. And they’re made in such a way that even when lighting conditions are less than ideal, you won’t have a problem. We’re not talking about big objects only, but even with small things such as a squirrel or a rabbit, they can be seen with ease if you’re using them for hunting. Even with a bit of shaking, the laser is still accurate.
To sum things up, if you can afford them, as they carry a pretty hefty price tag, you won’t regret the purchase. For anyone who can appreciate a pair of binoculars that offer more than supreme clarity, as well as vivid images, it doesn’t get any better than this. Add to that the build quality and finishing touches, and you’ve got yourself a real winner here.
5. Nikon Laserforce Rangefinder Binocular
The LaserForce 10×42 is Nikon’s flagship rangefinder binocular and boasts an impressive 1900 yards distance; at least on paper. Nikon does mention that the number was achieved under their measurement conditions, and you might not be able to achieve the same results in less-than-ideal conditions.
The 10x magnification and 42mm objective lens diameter are respectable numbers that fit into what can be considered a safe bet for manufacturers. It offers enough magnification for most situations, while also being versatile enough to not require the steadiest of hands. When it comes to the rangefinding feature, the ranging distance begins at 10 yards and ends at 1900 yards; however, a more realistic expectation could be set at around 1100 yards.
You will also get their Extra-low Dispersion glass, something they often use for their camera lenses, as well as +/-89 degrees of incline and decline. The ED glass is what corrects much of the chromatic aberration that often happens, and this is something that should be important if you intend to use these binoculars with rangefinders for hunting or bird watching. The glass is actually the same one you have in the Monarch 7 binoculars, an extremely well-respected line of optics.
The angle and distance display can be set to one of four different intensities, which can be a useful feature if you intend to use the binoculars in varying lighting conditions. When you have a moving target, there’s the ability for continuous measurement, and it lasts up to 8 seconds. The accuracy of the measurement is incredible, with a tiny margin of error – at 100 meters or less, it’s accurate to 0.1 meters, which is very impressive.
All in all, aside from a distance, the binoculars are pretty similar to other competitors’ models, such as Swarovski’s EL series. However, since we’re comparing them to the Swarovski, they come in at a third of the price, which will mean a lot to a lot of people.
6. Bushnell Fusion 1-Mile ARC
In ideal conditions, the Fusion 1-Mile ARC can give you the range on targets that are up to 1 mile out. You will find that the ranging performance can easily beat some competitors that cost even twice as much. Being somewhat of a successor to the Bushnell Fusion 1600, Bushnell made some significant improvements in the ranging capabilities since the last model’s release.
If you take a look at precise tests, you will find that these rangefinders binoculars provide a very accurate reading, even at 1200 yards. Most of today’s rangefinder binoculars produce a beam that’s shaped like a horizontal rectangle. However, the Fusion actually has a vertical beam. According to Bushnell’s engineers, this helps optimize the performance for some of today’s most common hunting scenarios. A vertical beam can easily hit the intended target instead of a nearby bush by mistake.
As far as industry terms go, you’ll find BAK-4 prisms, XTR coatings, as well as what Bushnell calls the Matrix Display Technology. This feature enhances display readings as much as possible. If you haven’t used a pair with this technology before, you might not think you need it. However, it proves to be very useful in situations where you find it tricky to see the display. Those BAK-4 prisms are coated with PC-3 phase corrective coating. This ensures that you get a clear, sharp view.
In terms of physical characteristics, the Fusion 1-Mile ARC is on the heavy end. At more or less 31 ounces, this isn’t going to be your lightweight pick, however, with weight often comes better build quality and these rangefinder binoculars certainly have a solid build quality. The Nikon LaserForce may be a better option for you if weight is the ultimate determining factor.
Another thing that’s worth mentioning is that each of the device’s independent diopters is adjustable. The unit is right-eye-dominant, and the right diopter will focus on the reading display, and you have the main focus adjusting the distance.
To sum things up, the Fusion 1-Mile ARC is one of the best rangefinder binoculars Bushnell has ever come up with and is often referenced as a suggestion by customers in this market. The pricing, while not exactly budget-friendly, is well within the standard price range for a pair of high-quality rangefinder binoculars.
7. Sig Sauer Kilo 3000Bdx
Sig Sauer is perhaps better known for their firearms than their optics, but that’s not to say that they don’t do well in creating both. The Kilo 3000Bdx is a well-built and unique-looking pair of rangefinder binoculars that fall comfortably into the middle of the market in terms of pricing.
The rigid, plain black design (also available in Olive Green) makes it stand out from other models on the market, and while looks don’t mean much when it comes to optics, these binoculars have more to offer than just looks. The KILO3000 BDX is packed with all kinds of features and functionality, which we’ll talk about more shortly.
These rangefinder binoculars offer 10x magnification and an objective lens diameter of 42mm, with a 6.1′ field of view. With 18mm of eye relief, you’re also not going to run into any problems if you wear glasses.
SIG SAUER claims that the KILO3000 BDX is “The world’s most advanced laser rangefinder”, and while it’s a bit of a subjective topic we can see what causes them to make these claims. If you already happen to own a SIERRA3BDX riflescope you will be happy to know that you’re able to pair the KILO3000 BDX with your scope using a Bluetooth connection, providing you with drop data directly to the BDX-R1 reticle on your scope.
Overall, the SIG SAUER KILO3000 BDX is an excellent choice for sports shooters and hunters and doesn’t break the bank at the same time, at least when compared to some of the other binoculars with rangefinders on the list.
8. ATN BinoX-HD 4-16x
This pair of binoculars with rangefinders that are slightly different from the other offering. The binoculars we’re discussing are ATN’s BinoX-HD 4-16x, a pair that is distinctly different than those offered above. These are an affordable alternative, where perhaps you don’t need all the bells and whistles of some of the aforementioned products.
One of the things that really set these apart is that they actually offer night vision as well, though the BinoX-HD is not typical night vision equipment. They aren’t your typical pair of rangefinder binoculars either though. Typical night vision devices have image intensifier tubes, microchannel plates, high sensitivity, and improved frequency response.
These, however, have a sensor – much like the one you’d find on a digital camera. When you’re looking at the object, it’s the sensor that magnifies the object between 4 and 16 times, and it does so digitally instead of optically. You can’t do wonders with it, such as zooming it at something that’s 1000 yards away at night, but the products that can do this are at least six or seven times the price.
There is also a lot of additional functionality with the BinoX-HD. For example, seeing as you have a sensor that’s capturing the image, there’s the ability to take a picture or record video. The video can be either 1080p, at 30 frames per second, or 720p, at 60 frames per second, which is pretty good. At night, they’re very good, until you go past 10x magnification. This is where you’ll be having some issues, which is to be expected, honestly.
If you’re looking for a high-quality pair of binoculars with a rangefinder, we wouldn’t recommend this product. However, if you’re on a budget and you’re more concerned with the general rangefinding feature without breaking the bank, these may be what you’re after.
9. Hooway 7×50 Marine Binoculars
The Hooway 7×50 are a pair of marine binoculars which fall into their own unique category. This pair is truly made for marine life. With only seven times magnification it’s going to be limiting for those looking for a hunting or wildlife rangefinder binocular. For marine activities, 7x may be enough to suffice and even be beneficial in some cases where movement may cause problems with higher magnification when out at sea.
With a 50mm objective lens diameter, there is a whole lot of light being let into the binoculars and they perform well in lower light conditions. In addition, we were impressed by a 24 mm eye relief, far above that offered by most binoculars. It makes these binoculars extremely versatile in terms of those who wear glasses.
As far as the build quality goes, they won’t disappoint you. They were designed with fairly high-tech military standards, and nowhere is that more obvious than the armor. The non-slippery armor will both give you grip that’s more than sufficient for any user and provide fairly good shock absorption in case it’s something you happen to need, as it’s actually a rather rugged option.
The nitrogen gas filling ensures that your lenses don’t get fogged up, even in high humidity situations or rainstorms. These rangefinders binoculars are also IPX7 water-resistant. This is an extremely well-sealed product and the IPX7 rating lets you rest easy knowing you’re protected from water up to 3 feet.
Inside the Hooway are Hi-index BAK4 prisms, which have been proven to give you a sharp and bright image with plenty of contrast. The 22mm lens design also won’t cause any eye fatigue or dizziness, and your view will be a combination of HD and wide-angle.
Unfortunately, the compass is something that has been known to cause some issues, but we’re not sure whether these are isolated cases or a manufacturing fault.
These binoculars find themselves in an interesting position, in that they are very useful for use on a boat, and could even be of use to pelagic birders – however, on land they fall short of the competition in their general bulkiness. The eye-relief is even a little bit of overkill for land use, where you don’t have to worry about boat momentum misaligning your views with the eye-piece.
You can find a full review of this product here.
10. BARSKA Deep Sea 7×50
For budget-minded individuals, we have the BARSKA Deep Sea 7×50 binoculars. This pair is another excellent for water lovers and boating enthusiasts. They don’t have that green military style but instead come in a black and blue color combination. Nevertheless, they look pretty good.
Their build quality is good, which is actually a bit surprising, as many manufacturers’ first place for cutting corners when they want to save money is build quality. Fortunately, BARSKA decided to go against that, and you have an ergonomic, non-slip grip that won’t fall out of your hand. The rubber armor is shockproof and heavy duty and will hold in various rough conditions.
Another great thing while we’re discussing the build quality is that the binoculars are floating, and even if you do manage to drop them in the water, they’ll stay on the surface, making them easy to find. Like you’d expect, they’re fully waterproof and sealed with O-rings.
They are also filled with nitrogen, which means they won’t fog up or get damaged by moisture, regardless of the weather conditions. By now, this might be a common sighting with binoculars of this class, but you don’t notice how useful it is until you’ve had to use a pair that doesn’t have that kind of protection.
As far as the optics and functionality go, you’ll be pleased to find multi-coated optics with BAK4 prisms. You can read more about the different optic types here. They’ll make sure that you have high contrast images regardless of the weather, and details are easily discernible and clear. Almost a standard set in the binoculars on the list, you have an internal rangefinder and compass, which are pretty accurate.
Honestly, they won’t measure up to the Bushnell Fusion. However, if you don’t really want to spend that amount of money on a pair of binoculars with rangefinders for hunting or boating, the BARSKA Deep Sea 7×50 will give you a lot of binoculars for your money. It’s an option that’s absolutely worth checking out.
We also have a full review of the BARKSA Deep Sea 7×50
A buyer’s guide – what to keep an eye out for when buying rangefinder binoculars?
When it comes to binoculars, it’s typically a safe bet to buy one of the leading, trusted brands out there. After all, these companies have spent decades mastering their craft and they typically don’t cut costs. However, with that said, rangefinder binoculars are expensive and not something you want to gamble with when you make a purchase, which is why we’ve given you our thoughts above on what we consider the best.
There is room for subjectivity though, and while these premium brands will typically deliver in the optics quality side of things, that doesn’t mean that a sports shooter will be looking to buy the same pair as a nature enthusiast. Because of this, we’ve put together a buyer’s guide with some information that may assist you in making your own decisions.
What do the numbers mean?
Looking at the basics, you’ll find that all binoculars come with a set of two numbers. They can be 7×42, 7×50, 8×42, 10×52, etc. This is an important number with both regular binoculars and binoculars with a rangefinder. The first number will tell you the magnification. For example, a 7×42 will show you objects 7 times closer than the naked eye. The second number tells you how big the objective lens is in mm. A larger objective lens (the front lens of your binoculars, furthest from your eyes) lets in more light, and you’ll be able to see a brighter image.
This could be especially beneficial in darker conditions. You should know that higher magnification will reduce the amount of light available, and a large objective lens will make the binoculars large and heavy. That is to say, a pair of binoculars that is an 8×42 will usually provide more light than a 12×42.
When it comes to which is best, it is entirely dependent on both your personal preferences and your usage. If you’ve got a steady hand and you’re going to be using your binoculars in daylight conditions, you may find a higher magnification more satisfying. However, if you’re prone to shaky hands or require more versatility and field of view, it will be beneficial not to push your magnification too hard, an 8x or 10x magnification may be best for you.
This is a rather challenging topic when it comes to discussing binoculars. They are typically heavy products, and keeping them steady might be an issue. A popular option is to mount them on a tripod. But if you’re on a boat or in a car, the fact that they’re moving will counteract the tripod’s effect, and you’ll still get a shaky image.
If you get a pair of binoculars with rangefinders with image stabilization, the IS will counteract the vibration and movement, thus giving you a relatively clear image. You may not even need a tripod, even if you’re using a 12x binocular, and you’ll get an image that’s more than satisfactory.
Zoom vs fixed
You’ll recognize zoom binoculars by their name – the magnification factor is actually two numbers, such as 8-16×42. This tells you that you can go from 8x to 16x magnification. Not many manufacturers have these types of adjustable zooms, and most of these products tend to be on the more affordable, budget side of the market – or in smart binoculars.
Due to the construction required for the binoculars to work at both 8x and 16x magnification, you will get a severely crippled field of view when you’re using 8x.
Seeing as zoom requires glass parts to move and have a complex construction, there is some pretty noticeable loss of quality compared to a fixed pair of rangefinder binoculars. Your best option is to see what kind of magnification works best for your specific environment and then go for that with a fixed zoom setting.
What if you need boating or marine binoculars?
We did include a few of these on our list. When this is your requirement, there’s a list of things that need to be checked to get the most out of the binoculars. First of all, you’ll need them to be waterproof and fog proof.
Waterproofing is pretty much a given with them, and they’re commonly filled with nitrogen, so the lenses don’t fog up on the inside – this is a must-have feature in this situation. The models commonly have lower magnification because you’ll get a pretty blurry image with higher magnification. Image stabilization is a great option here – if you have it, you could go higher than 7x and still have a crisp image.
Roof prism vs porro prism?
The difference here isn’t that much in quality but rather in size and bulkiness. All binoculars need a prism, as, without one, they’d produce a reversed, upside-down image, which isn’t very useful. You get binoculars with a straight profile with a roof prism, and the eyepiece is right behind the front lens.
This is a fairly compact design compared to a Porro prism. On the other hand, a Porro prism has an offset lens and eyepiece, which is the more on cheaper binoculars with an older model appearance. Both are great in terms of functionality, but if the roof prisms certainly make the binoculars easier to store, carry and use in many situations.
Regardless of whether you’re an expert with an extensive collection of rangefinder binoculars or someone who’s only getting their first pair, choosing the right ones can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re looking for. When you consider all of the variables, making a wrong choice isn’t that hard, especially thanks to the large number of user reviews on Amazon that you can reference.
Things such as zoom or fixed, image stabilization, or even the numbers in the name can be confusing for someone who isn’t well versed in the topic. However, as you saw above, clearing them up isn’t that difficult, and if you do know what you need, getting the right pair isn’t all that difficult either.
While you won’t find quite the same amount of rangefinder binoculars on the market, as you would regular binoculars; there are certainly enough options to make a choice that fits your needs. Whether you’re after an entry-level option that’s great for only a few things that you really need, or a premium binocular from the likes of Carl Zeiss and Swarovski that have everything you need, and more, as well as some added benefits in terms of quality and optics, you can get something that’s right for you.
With the list and buying guide above, you should be on your way towards making an informed buying decision. The binoculars that we wrote about above are some of the best rangefinder binoculars you can get today. There are both budget options and premium ones, depending on your budget and your level of expertise.
Vortex Optics – Fury HD 5000
The Vortex Optics Fury HD 5000 offers all the features and quality we’d expect from a premium product, without breaking the bank.