Laser range finder...or is there another way?


December 29, 2003, 12:13 AM
Most decent laser range finders start at $200 from what I gather. But would a laser rangefinder be necessary? I'm looking at buying my first rifle for a beginning deer hunter and long range target shooting. Are there other ways to estimate distance other than eyeballing it?

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December 29, 2003, 12:54 AM
Try a search here or on the net for MilDot scope reticles.
Thats how they did it (and still do!) before lasers.
I just bought a range finding scope at a gun show.It takes some
practice to get used to it,but that just means more shooting.:D


December 29, 2003, 10:51 PM
Just what do you mean "long range target shooting"? 500 yards, 1000? 2000?

There are options available at a lower cost, but in my experience you won't get what you pay for. The split image type have been around for years and can be accurate to +/- 10%. The problem that I found with the Ranging 1000 was that it was constantly getting knocked out of calibration in my back pack. I couldn't trust it. Also if you are going long, +/- 10% won't cut it.

On the laser units check the specs carefully. Bushnell rates their 930 model to 930 yards, for a reflective surface. Works ok if you have deer that are reflective :D For deer it was rated to about half of that. Other companies (usually high $ like Lieca) rate theirs on non-reflective surfaces then you can really reach out there, if per chance you want to know how far to a house or car.

If you are serious about stretching the range, you need to consider the future. What is long this year will be a short next year. If you buy for what you are capable of now will it still work when you improve?

December 29, 2003, 11:02 PM
I suffered a slight fit of ''fiscal impropriety'' three years ago and got a Bushnell Yardage Pro 600 ... it is an excellent piece of gear .. despite price i do not regret investing in it.

December 30, 2003, 12:10 AM
I bought a Swiss Army surplus range finder for about $500 a few years ago. Up to the range of a lazer (1000 yds) its not perfect but only off less than 1%. This thing weighs about 10 pounds, maybe little less and extends over your shoulders for about a meter of separation. VERY high quallity optics and mechanicals, robust and rugged , and NO BATTERIES!! Maximum range is a far as you can see or 20,000 meters!!;)

December 30, 2003, 01:19 AM
There are methods of estimating range of a given (estimated) dimension (e.g., height of a deer's shoulders or kill area, known diameter of a paper target, etc.) by using plex-type reticles from certain scope manufacturers ate certain magnifications. As mentioned, there are also scopes and binoculars with Mil-Dot reticles as well as reticules with graduations that are made specifically for range estimation.

Also mentioned are those coincidence rangfinders like those older huge tube types from Europe and more up to date compact ones.
(Cabela's (

No electronics, all mechanical and optical.

December 30, 2003, 06:00 AM
Sir, find out from other hunters in your area what the typical deer-hunting range is. In most parts of the country, terrain folds, woods and brush limit practical ranges to 125 yards or less for deer. Often very much less. So if you zero at 100 yards you're going to be shooting almost point of aim.

If you are going to be range shooting in competition, the distance will be known.

There are many ways to estimate range and your library probably has hunting books that delve into it in some detail. It is the stock in trade for military snipers and there are books available in that quarter as well.

There are some hand-held optical rangefinders avaiable and some binoculars have a reticle that can be used for rangefinding as well. These differ from the coincidence optical rangefinders formerly used by the military in everything from tanks to battleships. This type of rangefinder was used as late as the M60A1 tank, used last by the USMC up to Desert Storm.

The most common range estimation method is dubbed the "Football Field" approach. As the name implys, you simply estimate how many football fields would cover the distance in question. You then measure it on foot or with a map. This can be quite accurate with practice at the moderate ranges used for most rifle shooting. The Army has found that over 70% of combat is at 100 yards or less and something like 95% is at 200 yards or less.

December 30, 2003, 09:09 AM
If you aren't confident estimating range, you can sight in your rifle to maximize "point blank range" for the target you're shooting at. As an example, a .223 sighted in at 100 yd will be WAY low at 250 yards. However, if it is sighted in at 200 yd, it will be only 1.5" high at 100 yd (IIRC), right on at 200, and only slightly low at 250. This means that you can hold dead on a 3" target all the way out to 250 yards or whatever. (I don't have exact figures at the moment, but these numbers are close.) There are several ballistics programs that allow you to calculate "maximum point blank range" or MPBR for a particular target zone; Oehler Ballistic Explorer is a good one, and the freeware demo will give you a feel for the concept.

Also, if you choose a flatter-shooting caliber like .270, you won't have to worry about knowing the range as precisely.

Jim K
December 30, 2003, 10:09 PM
Buy a whole bunch of yardsticks....


December 31, 2003, 12:42 AM
... or you can pace off the distances at wherever you're shooting and mark them with poles or flags or something.

Zak Smith
December 31, 2003, 01:05 AM
I was lucky enough to receive as a gift the Leica LRF1200 a couple years ago. This is - or at least was - the smallest, longest-range rangefinder out there. If I'm going to be making unknown-range shots and I know the ballistics of my rifle, it's coming with me.

I also bring it on hikes and "range" random objects in the distance so I get better at estimating range when I don't have the LRF with me.


December 31, 2003, 02:08 AM
Mildot reticles will only help if you know the size of the object you are using as your reference.

Also, I don't know of any cheap (cheaper than a laser rangefinder) mildot spotting scopes. There are some rangefinding binoculars, but none that use an actual mildot system (whether it be the Army or USMC version).

If you decide to get a laser rangefinder, look into the Newcon line. They have a 1200, 1500, and 1500 with speed-detector, all of which are cheaper than the Leica 1200 and 1500s. And from what many are saying, the Newcon is a high quality, reliable product. The Newcon 1500 goes for about $299, and the one with the 1500 with the speed detector feature goes for $349.

December 31, 2003, 09:33 AM
I have one for golf. and Zac has it right, range everything, i can get a real good est. on my yardage from just using it. I caddied for my dads pal at the Phoenix Open, pro am, and I had two other guys in his group asking for yardage. my wife thinks im strange for "ranging" when we go mt biking.

December 31, 2003, 09:59 AM
As another poster has pointed out, mildot scopes only work when you know the size of the target.

That just means you need to carry a small notebook with your ammo or in your pocket that has the dimensions of various objects you might enouncter. If you are hunting deer, what's the average width of body brisket to shoulder? What's average length ear tip to ear tip? What's average length nose to top of head ? etc etc.

Do a list for bucks and for does.

I love the Gen 2 Mildot reticle from Premeire Reticles. I have used mine at a shooting school to range unknown distance targets and hit them at a variety of distances. The extra hash marks on the Gen 2 combined with the fact that you can vary the power from 6.5 all the way up to 20 power and not change the readings are big pluses.

My longest such shot on UKD target was 820 yards.

And do not be intimidated by the mildot ranging formula. I could never figure it out until I went to Badlands Tactical and they showed me how simple it really was.

One more. At Badlands, I heard a story from another student who, after taking the class, had to call everyone up and tell them how he spotted, milled, ranged, dialed, and took a large mule deer buck at 460 yards using the Mildot system he learned at the school.

One shot, one deer.


Jim K
December 31, 2003, 06:35 PM
The Army uses a laser range finder that is, supposedly, accurate to a couple of inches at 20 miles. The problem is howinhell do you calibrate it? Even 35000 GI's with yardsticks would have a lot more error than that.


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