Range Finder or GPS?

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Aug 6, 2009
Northern California
Hope this is the right place to post this?
I have an extra couple hundred dollars to spend and am wanting to get a GPS or a Range Finder..
Either way I know that you get what you pay for...

I am leaning towards a GPS as I think not only can I use it for its intended purpose but also as a range finder itself...or am I miss understanding something?
The GPS would also be used for traveling and finding specific addresses besides navigation in the woods,target shooting,etc...

Or should I just save up and buy them separately?

Either way which unit would you suggest for the money I have to spend?

For the GPS I am looking into the Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx as I have heard it can be had for around $200
As for the Range Finder I would like one that goes out to at least 1000 yards.

Your help would be greatly Appreciated
Thank You
IMHO, with the quality of GPS on modern smartphones, especially with the Android OS, standalone GPS's are largely a waste of money unless for extremely specific uses (i.e. backcountry camping outside of the country).

For shooting/hunting purposes a $200 rangefinder would be much more useful.
What do you want the range finder for? And I agree that standalone GPS devices are somewhat obsolete these days with the advancement of GPS in phones, especially Android phones. Though one use of standalone GPS is hiking in places where one gets no cellular signal. While the phones do not need cell signal for the GPS to work, they do need it to load maps.

If you are using the range finder just to make out known ranges, than I guess a GPS could be useful for that. But if you're trying to range a deer, or do some tactical-precision shooting practice, a range finder is probably the way to go.
The range finder allows for greater accuracy and you don't have to walk off the distance.

The GPS gives you the more general ability to find your location to within a few meters. You can pace off range with one, but you could also just learn to pace distance anyway.

GPS utilizes satellite location technology while most phone "gps" systems use cell towers to locate the phone. Since cell tower location is good along highway corridors and urban/suburban areas you can have good wayfinding (if the maps are correct). Get beyond those corridors and town (like ranges or rural/wilderness) and the map accuracy and cell tower density begins to fail compared to true GPS. I live in an area just off the edge of "the 'Burbs" and modern cell phone dependent folks can't find my place to within a hundred meters. Art Eatman has even better "privacy" because his place can't be located with a cell phone gps to within a couple of miles.
GPS as a stand alone is not obsolete. Many of us don't use the fancy new phones, nor do I want to pay for that kinda service.

GPS allows you to go off the trail. Go anywhere you want, and don't have to worry about being the focus of a search and rescue party. For 150 bucks, you have a great unit like a Garmin that you can trust, I would not go cheaper than that.
Range finders vary wildly in terms of price, quality, and accuracy. A $150 LRF from walmart MIGHT do 500 yards on a large reflective target in perfect (read: rare) conditions. If you do get a distance in less than ideal conditions, the accuracy is questionable.

On the other end of the scale you have some big names such as Leica and Swarovski. These range finders, in the area of $1k, will absolutely do the ranges you are looking for on most targets in most conditions. The 'ultimate,' so to speak, in the LRF world seems to be the Vectronix models. They start around $3,700. Their upper level LRFs get into the tens of thousands of dollars, and will do some pretty intense ranges.

All of that to say it appears you get what you pay for. The walmart range finder might be plenty for you. If you ever want to range in less than ideal conditions on small targets and/or long distances, the budget has to increase significantly.
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I would buy the GPS but bear in mind your accuracy.

PRO / GPS Can be used as a rangefinder (depending on unit features) provided you can go to the spot you want to range to.

PRO / GPS Units intended for road use also have walking mode, super useful

CON / GPS is limited to about +/-3 yards in accuracy (nothing a handheld unit can help) and the cheaper units do not work in forest cover or cloud cover, if the overhead cover gets thick enough then none of them work.

CON / So if you are trying to measure off 200 yards in the field then +/- 3 wouldn't be a big deal, but at 25 yards at the range that is pretty significant. Also in order to range with a GPS you need to actually traverse a distance, you can't get a range on a place you haven't been.

This decision is based on where I hunt, we scout range beforehand from the blind and mark it off with sticks.

**Sidenote: Not everyone has smart phones, and some of us leave our phones when we embark into the woods where there is no 3G. Plans for smartphones run 70-100 a month. I do not understand why people insist on believing that everyone has them. We do not, we are poor, we spend all our money on guns!
How about a little more info so that we can make a better suggestion. What type of place are you hunting and what range are the typical shots? For a rangefinder I have a Nikon 550, it won't reach 1000 yards like you want, but I can't hit a deer over 300 yards so I don't worry about it. I do hunt state game lands that are very large, and I never know where I'll draw a permit for. My gps is invaluable when I need to find my car. My phone just makes phone calls so I'm not familiar with the gps function, but most places that I hunt don't have very good cell phone reception.
Thanks for the replies everyone.

I don't have a Fancy phone so I wont be going that route.
I think what I am going to do is get a GPS first and save up a bit for a good Range Finder.

Ragnar Danneskjold,
The range finder will be used mostly for shooting practice,hunting and just for fun how far is that kind of things.

Pacing off distance is one thing I have learned to do well. Hasn't let me down so far.

Yo Mama,bigalexe,
+1 on not wanting to use a fancy phone or pay the prices. Mine does exactly what its intended purpose is suppose to do,Make Phone Calls.

I will be saving up some more cash to get a good range finder that will do what I want it to do.

Centaur 1,
I hunt Northern California in the Coastal Mountains.When hunting I wont take shots more then about 200-300 yards, usually well under this. For target shooting I can go out to 600-1000 yards(not that I'm any good at the ranges but it is fun ;) ).

Thanks for the help guys
FWIW, there are Android apps that allow you to preload map sets, just like on the fancy GPS's. No need for cellular service. I do quite a bit of backcountry camping and hunting and on my last few trips took both my new Android phone and my backpacking Garmin. The Garmin staying in the bottom of the rucksack, the phone worked flawlessly. You also would be surprised at how much of your phone use you can route through an unlimited data plan. I pay less monthly now than I did prior to getting a smartphone.
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