September 26, 2023

Technological improvements have led to more optical devices for hunting. Two such optical devices are the rangefinder and the rifle scope. Hunting optical devices make your hunting a lot easier and more fun. The devices ensure you see the targets more clearly without moving closer. It is worth noting that wild animals are quite sensitive to scent and movement. To have a clear shot, you need to see the animal from distance. And, this is only possible with a rangefinder or a riflescope.

However, deciding between a rangefinder and a riflescope can be challenging for most hunters. So, which is the best optical device for hunting?


Rangefinders are devices that use laser beams to calculate the distance between the target and the rifle. The rangefinder measures the distance from your rifle to the target helping you determine the bullet trajectory. You will also find rangefinders used by golfers to calculate the distance to the flag before taking their shots.

Calculating range is crucial when hunting if you want to take precise shots. Rangefinders help eliminate the guesswork in every shot you take over 100 yards. When taking shots over 100 yards, the bullet trajectory is quite different. You need to consider various factors like bullet drop over distance. Now that you know what a rangefinder does, you still need to choose the best rangefinder for hunting. But first, let’s see what a riflescope does.


Riflescopes are perhaps the most important and go-to-tool when hunting at long ranges. When taking shots at long ranges, you need the best long-range scope. Unlike a rangefinder that helps calculate range to the animal, a riflescope helps you see the animal clearly and aim a precise shot.

Riflescopes just as the name suggests as scopes that mount hunting rifles. They usually feature a magnification that helps you see targets at a closer distance. They also feature reticles that help improve your aiming.

Buying both devices

While buying both devices seems a pretty good idea, carrying them both is quite bulky. The last thing you want is a heavy load on your back on your hunting trip. You have to consider that you will also be carrying a rifle, food, and other accessories.

You will need to decide on one optical device that best suits your needs. The ideal choice between a rangefinder and a riflescope comes down to what best works in your situation. Let’s compare the two devices under different categories.


When hunting, the first thing every hunter needs is to spot a game. Both devices can help you spot targets from a long distance. The hunter will also need to measure the distance to the target for a clean shot. Knowing the exact distance will help you determine the bullet trajectory. As you can see, a rangefinder is quite necessary when hunting at long ranges.

However, you can forgo a rangefinder when hunting at short ranges. At short ranges, you can just take a riflescope alone. This is because the bullet trajectory at short ranges is quite straight. Rifle scopes can spot targets at long ranges but cannot accurately measure the distance. In such cases, you need a rangefinder to spot the game and calculate the accurate distance. This will then help you make a precise shot.

If you’re hunting at long ranges from a stationary place, then you can carry both devices. However, when moving around, carrying both devices can be too bulky.


Rangefinders tend to be a little bulky and heavier as opposed to riflescopes. Riflescopes mount on rifles and become part of the rifle. You will need to carry a rangefinder separately which adds more weight to you. More weight is unnecessary when traversing through the wild in search of games.

If you have to carry a rangefinder, then consider lightweight options. Some rangefinders come with straps that ensure you hang them around the neck like binoculars.


When it comes to pricing, riflescopes are readily available and affordable compared to rangefinders. You can easily find quality hunting riflescopes at affordable prices. However, you will have to dig a little deep to find the best rangefinders for hunting. When the price is a big determinant, then consider buying a rifle scope. However, price should not be the main determinant when choosing a suitable hunting optic. You need to consider an optic that best works in your situation.

Reaction time

When spotting targets, you need an optical device with a fast reaction time. Under this category, rangefinders tend to come out on top. They are pretty easy to use spotting and calculating target distance. You don’t have to fix the rangefinder on a riflescope or stands for use. You just need to pull them out and scope the area for your target.

Riflescopes on the other hand are fixed in a rifle. This means you have to move your rifle around to acquire your target. Rangefinders can help you save time and locate targets faster. This is important when hunting as animals are always on the move.

Target shooting

For target shooters, having both optical devices makes sense. The same applies to hunters hunting from a stationary position. You just need to carry bulky and heavy gadgets once. Once they are in the stationary place, there is no extra weight to carry around.

Most target shooters know the weight and size of objects they are shooting. However, they still need to calculate the accurate distance to the target for accurate shots. This means having a rangefinder for range and a riflescope for accurate shooting.

Final verdict

In conclusion, both the rangefinder and riflescope are necessary when hunting. However, you don’t have to carry both devices as they can be bulky and heavy. Make sure you analyze your hunting situation and needs and select the most suitable device. A rangefinder is very necessary when choosing long ranges. However, you don’t need it when shooting at short ranges where the bullet trajectory is straight.

If you’re a beginner hunter, then consider a riflescope. However, as you grow your skills at start hunting at long ranges, you will find a rangefinder very important.

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