Laser Range Finders?


December 31, 2011, 11:27 PM
Wasn't sure which forum to put this in, but figured rifle afficianados would likely be the most knowledgeable.

I'm thinking of buying a medium quality laser range finder. Compactness and durability are desired. I'd like to be able to range reflective targets out to 1K yards or more. The Bushnell Legend 1200 ARC has caught my eye; it appears to be a pretty good package for the money.

I'm interested in input. Anybody have the Legend? Like it? Are there others I should be looking at with the same form factor? I know one "gets what you pay for" with rifle scopes, and I tend to be a Leupold guy. I get that there are more expensive and higher quality range finders out there. I'm mostly looking for something reliable to play with.

Experience-based feedback welcome!

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December 31, 2011, 11:37 PM
1,000+ yards is a mighty fur piece to ask a medium price range finder to work at.

Sure is says 1,200 on it.

But unless you are pointing it at a reflective surface like a white metal building in perfect weather, I would not bet on getting a reading.

I looked at several 600-800 yard range finders a couple of years ago, and was able to convence the store clerk to come with me outside to test several brands.

The worst would range a stop sign at about 400, and the best a Walmart store at 900+.

But most of them couldn't range an evergreen tree in the next mall parking lot.

I'm sure range finders have gotten much better since then.
But still, it depends an awful lot on what kind of surface you are ranging.


December 31, 2011, 11:38 PM
When I was looking at the rangefinders, I looked at the Bushnell because I was told it was nice. We looked at Bass Pro. The Bushnell was nice, until I picked up the Leupold TBR. The optics where night and day better and the crosshair in the leupold is red and the bushnell is black. The leupolds red is way easier to see when trying to range something. We spent the extra money on the leupold and don't regret it.

Hope this helps


December 31, 2011, 11:55 PM
I have a Leupold RX-1000 which is a small device, and I find it and others like it are difficult to hold steady without a tree or post to rest on when attempting to range at long distance.

These range finders are more acceptable to folks in some places where using a Mil-Dot scope to get a distance would be looked on as bad form. Also, a Mil-Dot scope is often a whole lot more cash.

December 31, 2011, 11:59 PM
what about the bushnell 1600 yard one - seems about the same ballpark $340 ish at amazon?

January 1, 2012, 01:03 AM
I've never used Bushnell, but I wouldn't go lower than a Nikon or Leupold for that distance if it were my money. I own a Nikon medium grade and it works very well. I haven't tested it past 200 or so yards as I don't expect to take very many shots beyond that distance.

January 1, 2012, 01:11 AM
I have a Leica, but find myself defaulting to my smartphone app called Range Card ( for the really long shots.

As an example, I had to park my truck in the target area with the windshield facing the shooting lane to range 1k with my $600 Leica. Range Card cost all of $5.

January 1, 2012, 01:15 AM
friend of mine had a bushnell 1000 something that I used and it ranged trees to almost 800 very easily - ie. it did it first time or it didnt, I was wondering that if the 1600 did 1200+ bob's youre uncle....I did notice that the prices of the other ones are much higher...I know one can buy a Swarowski or a Leica but then were talking more than double the price.....and at what distance?

January 1, 2012, 02:11 AM
I'm also in the market for something like this. On the sniper's hide the bushnell ARC series seems to get good reviews as a good 'bang for the buck' model (you have to factor in some of those guys have $3000+ units).
My dad has a leica that I've used to range at 800+yds. I am leaning towards the bushnell series 1200 or 1600. I'm more concerned with accuracy than optics. I'm not going to be shooting something with the rangefinder, I just wanna know how far away it is!

January 1, 2012, 02:18 AM
There are scopes with them built in now. You could then fold the cost of the ranger in to your laser ranging rifle scope. You could also use QD rings so the scope could be used as a ranger with other weapons?

January 1, 2012, 06:02 AM
I own a Bushnell Legend 1200 ARC, and I love it. Mostly.

Things about it that I love are many.

To begin with, the display is simple, and it only has two simple buttons. In other words, it is very easy to use. You push the power button to turn it on, and then you push the power button again to range your target. It turns itself off. If you need to change modes, you push the button on the side to toggle through the options. Programming it for your needed calculations is only slightly more complex than that.

The display is simple and easy to read.

It is very light weight, and rubber armored.

The thing ranges stuff, under the right conditions, right out to its rated 1200 yards. Light conditions dramatically affect its performance, but I was always able to at least get half of its rated distance, and that is what I expected from the reading I did - it seems that just about any rangefinder will usually work out to at least half of its rated distance, even if conditions are pretty crappy. Thus, I bought something that seemed to have more capability than I really needed, so that I could count on it performing at least acceptably under most conditions.

I did, on one target, range it well over 1300 yards. Shocked me to see those numbers from it, but it was there.. Later the same morning, from the same position on the same clump of rocks, it wouldn't do it. Like I said, lighting conditions affect what it will do. It made it easy to tell how far away bushes, animals, rocks, etc were while hunting.

I bought mine primarily for use while hunting Coues deer and coyotes in the mountains of southern Arizona, and to a lesser extent for target shooting. It works. There may be better units, but the performance from this one is more than adequate. I need to know whether a deer or coyote is within rifle range for hunting purposes. For me, that means 400 yards and less. If it's not in range, I need to know how far I have to go to get within rifle range.

I have also used it while target shooting. It ranged all of the targets at the Rio Salado range on Friday just fine, and let me know that the range markers weren't exactly accurate to boot.

The biggest trick to using one of these in the field is to remember that it's probably not always going to give you an exact reading for how far away your target is - frequently it wouldn't read the exact location or animal I wanted, but it would read the bush or tree next to it.

Things I don't like: first, the black ballistic nylon pouch. Instead of a secure fastener to close the flap, it uses a fancy-pants magnet. Guess what? it doesn't really work. I usually would carry it in a cargo pocket, inside the pouch, to give it as much protection as possible.

The "neck strap" is a stupid black woven string.

The optics appear a shade of gray. They are really a display for the LED electronic display, but it is somewhat disconcerting to realize that a cheap pair of Tasco binos will probably give you a better image.

I can't think of anything else about it I don't tell like.

At right around $300, it isn't cheap, but it's nothing like as expensive as some of the European brands like Leica and Swarovski.

January 1, 2012, 08:06 AM
Thanks, all. Sixgunner, I appreciate the first hand review of the Bushnell. I'll be looking for an opportunity to handle some various units. I'm in no rush, so don't plan to buy one sight unseen.

Art Eatman
January 1, 2012, 10:38 AM
Back when the laser rigs were first coming on the market, I bought a Bushnell 800. It tested out just fine on already-known distances. I've used an oil drain pan as a reflector for casual surveying to some 800 yards in my pasture...

January 1, 2012, 12:12 PM
I bought mine sight unseen, based on reviews, because I needed it and kind of live in the middle of nowhere, so getting to handle various units would have been difficult, and I didn't have time to do it.

It was kind of late last night when I wrote the above review, and I was wiped out from chaperoning the youth group's New Year's Eve activity, so I'm going to add some things.

I should say that I had hoped to be able to use the rangefinder as a monocular, and thus eliminate the need for carrying a pair of binos while hunting, but, at least for deer, that is not feasible because the light-transmission of the optics isn't as good as a good pair of binos in the same price range. Everything, instead of being bright and clear as with a pair of good binos, or a good riflescope, is a bit darker than it appears with the naked eye. It isn't a bad thing necessarily, and you might not even notice it under many light conditions, but it is something to be aware of - depending on what you're doing with it, you may have to consider it a single-job piece of equipment.

Just don't expect a 6x rangefinder to do the job of a pair of 8x or 10x binos, and you'll be fine.

Someone mentioned having a rangefinder as part of your scope. I don't think I would want that for the some of the same reasons, and for one additional. I don't want my scope to be darker, I want it to transmit more light, and I'm afraid that if it's also an electronics display, it won't transmit light quite as well, as I discovered with this unit. Also, when you have a unit or electronic item that does two or three critical jobs, I have found that if one part of it breaks, it generally takes out the other things it does, too, or at least reduces the effectiveness of the other things that it does, and then when you send it in for repair, you're deadlined on all of the things it does.

The additional thing: when the rangefinder is part of the scope, everything you want to range, you have to point your rifle at, and that may not be the best idea in all situations. It's like the guys I've known who spent a lot on their rifle glass, and didn't want to buy binos, too, because adding binos adds weight to your gear, and they already spent a lot on optics, so why spend more? The answer is, because not everything you might want to take a closer look at deserves to have a rifle pointed at it, just as not everything you might want to range deserves to have a rifle pointed at it.

I would rather have a rangefinder be part of a pair of high-quality binos than part of my riflescope. It would make more sense to me, so long as the light transmission was up to a good standard for doing the binos job in addition to being a rangefinder.

January 1, 2012, 01:25 PM
Don`t need one, ARMY trained range finder. (13F)

January 1, 2012, 01:27 PM
I would rather have a rangefinder be part of a pair of high-quality binos than part of my riflescope. This makes sense. But the price of a good combo unit is prohibitive as I already have a good set of binocs. Wonder if anyone puts a laser rangefinder inside a good SLR camera? That would have some appeal ...

January 1, 2012, 01:32 PM
I first purchased a Bushnell and it didn't last long before the inner workings came apart. Now I have a Leupold and it's great. I don't find it hard to hold steady, just place the sight on the target and press the button and the range pops up on the screen. I use it for targets out to 500 yards. It takes something flat to read a long range like the side of a deer or a rifle target. Also, the battery lasts a long time before it needs to be replaced. You can't go wrong with a Leupold. BW

January 1, 2012, 01:35 PM
Yeah, those combo units are expensive. I haven't heard about putting a range finder display in a DSLR - that would be interesting, since an autofocus camera is already ranging to focus the lens.

Art Eatman
January 1, 2012, 01:53 PM
Carrying: I've never liked the skinny straps which are so common on binoculars, so I use a 2" camera strap. I carry cross-body with the strap over my right shoulder and the binocs on my left side. No flopping around, that way.

Browse around camera or computer stores for a carrying pouch which goes on a belt. Handy but out of the way...

January 1, 2012, 02:05 PM
There are scopes with them built in now.The problem I see with that is.

Laser range finders are consumer electronics with a limited life span.

$900 dollar scopes are not, and can be expected to last a very very long time.


January 1, 2012, 02:07 PM
I was looking into the Leica brand range finders and the one I had settled on my son said was very low end. To justify his judgement on the Leica I was looking at he is a tech for Leica and only one that is certified to work on laser equipment east of the Miss. Currently he is in contact with the home office for the best ranger finder and for me best thing is I can get it at cost.

January 1, 2012, 02:22 PM
I just got a Leupold 1,000 yard model RX-1000 for Christmas. Just for kicks, I ranged the house across the lake last night. And I mean dark. The house is 545 yards. As noted, the display is red so it's a lot easier to see.

I have a older little one that is rated for 400 yards. Don't remember the brand right now, but I know it's green. Nikon maybe. Doesn't work well once things start to get dark. Even off a white house in daylight, it wouldn't read the same 545 range. Display is black and hard to see unless it's bright daylight.

This Leupold is pretty awesome. Got it NIB off another forum for $200 delivered. That makes it even more awesome.

If you have a Cabelas close, keep checking in the Bargain Cave. Lots of good stuff comes back after Christmas.
Carrying: I've never liked the skinny straps which are so common on binoculars, so I use a 2" camera strap. I carry cross-body with the strap over my right shoulder and the binocs on my left side. No flopping around, that way.I got a Cabelas bino harness that holds my Leupold 10x50's. I've got the rangefinder hooked to it. Works GREAT. Two of my friends used them on our hunt out west. Like Art said, it's WAY better than the little strap that digs into your neck.

Nikon makes a retractable safety strap with a clip. Kinda like the thing janitors keep their keys on. Use one on your range finder. Trust me on that. They have an interesting habit of squirting out of your pocket when you squat or sit down.

January 2, 2012, 10:25 AM
legionnaire, another point. I like to wear a M-65 field jacket when I'm in the woods and a Leoupold rangefinder fits nicely in the upper pocket. The one I have is an RX-1000. I also carry a Garmin eTrax in the other pocket and with both tools I always know where I'm at and how far it is to an object. I use the Garmin for coordinates only and it's really fast. BW

35 Whelen
January 2, 2012, 10:36 AM
I have a Nikon 800 and I've found on non-reflective targets such as game, you're going to get about 1/2 that on game another 100-150 or so yards more on trees, rocks and such. That's O.K. with me because I've come to realize that 400 yds. is plenty far for me to be flinging bullets at game.
I did use it to lay out the 200, 300 and 600 yd. range along my north fence. I had my buddy walk backwards with an old road sign and the rangefinder worked perfectly out to 600.


January 2, 2012, 12:45 PM
I played with a range finder a friend had a couple of years ago, a Bushnell rated to 600 yards, I think. My sense was not that I would use it actually range game, but rather to lay out a range card, or figure out distances to stationary items in my field of fire. Then eyeball distance to game animals by comparing their location to the known distances. I hadn't really thought much about trying to range the animal itself.

January 2, 2012, 04:41 PM
I picked up this one (|/pc/104791680/c/104752080/sc/104217480/Bushnell-Yardage-Pro-Sport-850-Rangefinder10x42-Binocular-Combo/1229654.uts?destination=%2Fcatalog%2Fbrowse%2Fhunting-optics-binoculars%2F_%2FN-1100054%2FNo-48%2FNs-CATEGORY_SEQ_104217480%3FWTz_l%3DSBC%253BMMcat104791680%253Bcat104752080%26WTz_st%3DGuidedNav%26WTz_stype%3DGNP&WTz_l=SBC%3BMMcat104791680%3Bcat104752080%3Bcat104217480) for my BIL yesterday, because he's out of town for a week and wanted to grab it before the sale ended. The rangefinder in the package is the Bushnell Sport 850 Rangefinder (rated to 850 yards).

Tested it yesterday evening. Farthest things I could see from my front door were the upper tips of four palm trees lining a neighborhood park a few streets over. I ranged each one, and got readings at 212, 216, 220, and 224 yards. Checked them each again and got identical readings.

My first experience with a rangefinder, but I interpreted the results to mean the thing is at least decent quality. I was pretty pleasantly surprised, considering he paid $160 for the binos and rangefinder. Binos were decent quality too.

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