Best Nikon Rangefinders Reviewed & Rated For Quality
It’s been almost 50 years since Paul Simon sang about his Nikon camera. But while the world has changed, Nikon’s name is still synonymous with quality cameras, optics and lenses. That’s why we’ve decided to give them their own page when we’re talking about rangefinders. This company has been in the lens business for a long time and it shows in all their products. Even though the imagery is primarily a digital process, hunters, and birdwatchers, and stargazer still count on this brand for the kind of first-rate optics and lenses that keep Nikon on the front burner of viewing technology. Their commitment to quality and precision definitely earn them their own prime spot. So here are some of our favorite Nikon Rangefinders, if you’re into exploring, explore here first.
This is the best product on our list that is currently in stock:
Manual Brightness Levels
Crystal Clear Display
Best Nikon Rangefinders
1. Aculon 8397
About the size of a smartphone
The LCD display is easy to read and uncluttered
The unit can be operated with a single button
Long eye relief for bowhunters
Slightly underpowered for some users
Big things come in little packages, which is why the Nikon Aculon has been chosen as the best in their lineup. What this little unit does in its uncluttered design is amazing, with the compact design allowing for a lot of customization options and settings.
Smallest In Their Lineup
Nikon is proud that this is the most compact in their lineup, not just because of the size, but because of what it can do. Having a compact rangefinder that has the power of a model twice its size is a big achievement. It can do everything that the other models can do while also fitting in your pocket.
This one is pretty easy if the 550-yard range meets your necessities. If you need something more, then there are plenty of others on the list. Otherwise, enjoy the best product out of Nikon’s lineup.
Cost And Value
A low price ensures that this compact model is purchasable by all customers. It is the lowest priced on the list, which is a great thing since it is also the #1 choice.
2. Arrow ID 3000
Advanced features are easy to use
Lightweight and affordable
The advanced ID is fine-tuned in this model for better scalability
Some of the best eye relief you’ll find on a rangefinder
Some features lean more for bowhunters
Missing some vital data for range
With the #2 spot comes the Nikon 16224 Arrow ID 3000, and while it is billed as a bow hunting rangefinder it has the power to be a lot more. Some of the features in this model are not available on others which makes it a bit of a niche product, which is always a good thing!
A Lot of Eye Relief
Since this was made for bow hunters there is a lot of eye relief at 20.3mm. That is something that bow users look for, and it doesn’t get much better than that number. Finding your target and ranging it is quick and easy and will lead to higher accuracy on the shot.
Good for all kinds of Hunters
Regular buyers may think it is unorthodox to purchase a model that is marketed towards bow hunters. If the Arrow ID 3000 has proven anything, it’s that multiuse products are always a great sell.
Cost And Value
This is a high-end option with a low price tag. The reason it is in the #2 spot rather than #1 is due to it being made more for bow hunters. But the superior power and features of the unit make it suitable for all users.
3. Nikon Coolshot Pro Stabilized
Manual Brightness Levels
Crystal Clear Display
Sometimes doesn’t Power On
The coolshot is well named. It’s a sleek elegant design that’s easy to carry around but it also gets the job done. Its stabilizer allows you to keep a steady eye on whatever you’re looking at and it has locked on technology to make sure you can keep your quarry or your ball right in the viewfinder where you need it.
The Nikon exclusive stabilization technology stabilizes not only the image that you’ve got a bead on but it also stabilizes the outbound laser to allow maximum control of your long-range quarry. One look at the steadiness of the shot through the viewfinder and you’ll be hooked on this finder.
Locked on Technology
This is a unique feature that can be annoying but most of the time is really valuable. The locked on technology automatically focuses on the closest object to you. Usually, that’s what you’re looking at and this is an incredibly helpful little tool. But the great thing is that it also lets you easily switch to further away objects and the viewfinder tools make it easy to tell the difference.
Cost and Value
A fairly pricey little tool but we really love all the high-end tech that goes along with this viewfinder so we think that if you have the money you’re going to be really satisfied with this viewfinder.
4. Forestry Pro
Best LCD screen
Multiple programmable options
Built to last
Doesn’t measure the speed
Power is the first thing that comes to mind when customers look at the Nikon Forestry Pro. At the #4 spot, it strikes a great balance with its powerful features and strikingly professional design. There are so many different points to touch on with this model, yet amazingly it is just out of the top three.
Internal and External LCD Display
An informative LCD display on the side of the unit gives you all of the information you could ever want. And the best part about the external display is that it runs independently of the internal one. The external shows all information, while the internal one shows selected information.
High-Quality LCD Display
There is no other on the list that has a better setup of LCDs than the Nikon Forestry Pro. If that is a feature you can’t live without, then this will be the best purchase you ever made.
Cost And Value
The Nikon Forestry Pro is very competitively priced, proving that value can be found in products that are priced in the midrange. It isn’t the best product on the list but may very well be the best value.
5. RifleHunter 550
Can prioritize objects
6x multicoated optics
Features Tru-Target system
18mm eye relief
Battery drains quickly
Hard to see the readout in low light
With the Nikon Riflehunter 550, you’ll never have to guess the distance of your target again. Made for the hunter, it can easily fit in the palm of your hand and has advanced technology features that allow it to compensate distances for varies decline and incline shooting positions.
Nikon's' unique and exclusive Tru-Target system allows you to zero in on smaller and harder to reach targets with the simple push of a button. It also has a half yard accuracy on targets less than 100 yards and one-yard accuracy measure on targets ranging from 100 to 550 yards.
High-end second Priority Range Finder
If you are a rifle hunter and spend a lot of time in wooded and wet areas, then this item will be great for you. It is more costly than others on the list, but it is worth it.
Cost And Value
This is a little on the expensive side, but its accuracy is unbelievable. It’s compact and very portable. It’s also designed to withstand water and fog, for a very durable product.
6. Nikon 16224 Arrow ID 3000
Tru Target Technology
The Monarch has a number of nice features for a really reasonable price. There’s front first focusing technology that makes the app automatically focus on what’s closest to you and then easily shift to further away objects. It’s also waterproof and will resist fogging.
Tru Target Technology
This has become a fairly standard bit of technology on most of the Nikon rangefinders and what it does is automatically focus on what’s right in front of you. But it also allows you to move that front object off-center and the finder will then shift to background objects. It’s handy and really valuable.
What this does is automatically take into account height when predicting your distance. What that means is that the number you see in the viewfinder in some cases isn’t the actual distance but will display shorter if your target is downhill, and farther if the distance is uphill.
Cost and Value
This Nikon rangefinder is in the middle range of pricing and while it doesn’t come loaded with all the bells and whistles it is a great little model and it will give you almost all the information you need to get a bead on distant objects.
7. Laserforce Rangefinder Binocular
A high visibility OLED display
Has multicoated lenses
Can measure up to 1900 yards
Made of strong aluminum-alloy
Sand and dust may stick to the rubber coating
If you’re a serious hunter looking for the best, then look no further. This rangefinding binocular has a 10 to 1900 yard range and a bright OLED display that can read under the toughest lighting condition. It can also measure continuously for eight seconds.
It’s important that you keep track of your target in the wilderness, and having to look away to find a button, is all the time the animal needs to disappear. Having the mode and power buttons ready at your fingertips is a big plus with this item.
Although this is a very costly item, if hunting is your passion and you want something you can depend on in the toughest conditions, then this would be a good choice for you. It’s also built to last a lifetime, so if you have many years of hunting in front of you, then this can actually save you money in the long run.
Cost And Value
This item is by far the most expensive on the list, but it is also the most durable. This was built for the serious hunter who isn’t afraid to face harsh weather conditions. It is built from a lightweight aluminum-alloy that will last a lifetime.
8. Monarch 7i/ 16210
Vibration Reduction system reduces vibrations by 80%
World-class range at 1,000 yards
Range display updates in real-time
Supports +/- 89 degrees angles
The battery lasts an average amount of time
Nikon went all out with the Monarch 7i, which has been the first choice of many looking for an all-around rangefinder. This model covers speed, information, distance and even has the usual Nikon killer accuracy.
New to this model is the Optical VR Vibration Reduction system. This is similar to the anti-shake feature found on high-end cameras. Not only does it work well, but it adds an entirely new dimension to how you use these.
With the most advanced internals so far on the list, the Monarch 7i is a really good purchase to make. There are barely any cons attached to it, and the price seems about right for the technology.
Cost And Value
It’s a little pricey but nothing out of the ordinary. It’s worth the price for the Vibration Reduction technology, which by itself can justify the purchase. There are only about 3-4 others on the list with similar features.
9. Nikon 16224 Arrow
Lightweight at only 6.9 ounces
Best eye relief on the list
21mm exit pupil
Information is real-time/instant thanks to Tru-Target Ranging system
An average range
Customized more for bowhunters
We have to call this the little beauty that can. It comes in at one of our lowest prices and gives you a great 550-yard ranging capacity, is easy to carry, has a long eye relief and has a really low power output and takes into account height when displaying the yardage
Again we’ve talked about this before but this is really interesting and valuable technology that allows the unit to take into account the height, up or down of the object you’re looking for. This will come in particularly for golf, but also if you’re hunting. We just know that it works.
Long Eye Relief
This might not seem like such a big deal but when time is an issue the long eye relief means that you’re going to be able to get a bead on your target quickly and without eye fatigue, if you’re using it a lot.
Cost and Value
This one comes in at a low price but still has a lot of the great features on some of the more expensive versions. If you want a range finder but don’t want it to break the bank this is the finder for you.
10. Inc D 600
Lightweight as an attachment
The metal body is long-lasting
The battery is one of the best on the list
17mm eye relief
The design might not be for everyone
Sometimes the aesthetics of a device can make the buying decision a lot easier. When you get beyond the how pretty this Nikon looks, you’ll notice that the hardware isn’t half bad. It’s in a fitting position on the top ten list for more than just looks, and will prove a reliable unit for years to come.
This is the best looking on the list, which is saying a lot since there are sleeker ones further down. Underneath the beautiful design is a powerful Nikon Laser 600, which is easy to miss if you get lost in the outer qualities.
A beautiful art piece wrapped around the Nikon Laser 600 makes for a formidable pair. It’s an awesome model in its current state with a price that doesn’t offend.
Cost And Value
The price is idling at around the middle in the industry, so it is worth the buy if you like the design. Buyers that want something a little more powerful will end up with something further down the list.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Ease of Use
Buyers will use their rangefinders several times a day, so ease of use was important. We rated this category with the number of user-friendly functions, comfort and whether the device was weather or water-resistant. The last thing you want to deal with while carrying golf clubs is an overly complicated unit.
Measuring distance should take seconds, not minutes at a time. When you find yourself fumbling around with options/buttons and still not coming up with the information you need, then it is time for a change. There is a small learning curve with all models, yet nothing that should prevent you from mastering the basics in a short amount of time.
Hunters can relate since wasted time can cost them a lot. One that is difficult to use can really get in the way of a successful hunt. Usually, the models that had an informative instruction booklet proved to be easier to get into. Since this is Nikon, that pretty much covers them all. So we isolated manuals that specifically pointed out golfing and hunting specific features of a device. These were better to use out of the box since the most important instructions were front and center for a user to read.
Accuracy was the second thing we rated, with a lot of time going into how well the device focused, what the max magnification was and also how it handled low light conditions. Across the board, all of the Nikon rangefinders performed exceptionally well in the daytime.
Trying to measure them just based off of daytime usage would be splitting hairs. Because of their superiority in the light, we measured them based on low light performance. That doesn’t include dark since it would be more optimal to see how they performed in their intended conditions. It didn’t take long to see which ones were the best in this area, with some making the top three while the others went to the bottom.
All of the Nikon products were able to perform in low light, but some required a lot more changes to their settings than others. Think of the top of the list as the portion that worked right of the box with low light, and the bottom of the list as the rangefinders that needed a lot of tinkering to make them efficient. Max magnification was an easy feature to sort out the list, and we only included the rangefinders that held focus when they were at max. This reordered the list a bit by itself, with a lot of the high powered Nikon models really showing what they were made of.
Weight was an important part to measure with all of these, even if it separated some by a few ounces. In an ideal situation, you would want to have the option to put yours in a pocket-sized space. It would have slightly more bulk than an average smartphone, and possibly the same or less length.
There is no technical reason to have a larger one, so smaller and lighter gained the most points for us with this criterion. We had no problems reordering the list by weight, and buyers will be surprised at how big a difference a half-inch can be. For someone that doesn’t have any extra space to store one, it could make all the difference in the world.
A lot of the Nikon rangefinder choices were resistant in some way, and at the very least absorbed shock. So it is no surprise that water and weather-resistant models are at the top of the list above all others. This was a very important criterion to consider since it helps to determine the durability of the product.
Low or no resistance leaves them open to harm and possible destruction in the wrong situation. Even if you keep your equipment in a case and away from danger when possible, it’s still a good idea to favor the more durable choices from Nikon. Surprisingly, not all of them meant that the price tag would be higher. There are many instances of the price being lower at the top of the list.
Popularity, battery usage, and design were the last three things we looked at. The design may seem like a superficial criterion for some, but it is worth noting that designs influence a lot of purchases. They also led to some models being more popular than others, even if the other model had superior features.
You’ll be able to see that a bit in Nikon’s lineup, with some of the popular choices, also getting the added benefit of being tournament approved. It’s more likely that a popular Nikon rangefinder will be on an approved list than one of their lesser-known models. You should still check the current list for the sport you plan on using it in, just to be sure. We’re happy to say that battery usage was the same across all but one of the models, so the only change based on that had to do with the last on the list. The Nikon Inc D Nikon Laser is an older model, so by default had the worst battery usage.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
There are two different kinds of rangefinders: first priority and second priority and the differences are important. First priority models are really useful when golfing because they work really well when you're dealing with unobstructed views. But for hunters, you're going to need to look at second priority options. These will ignore the closest object in its range (likely limbs or bushes) and hopefully help you get a better bead on the partially obstructed object of your hunt. Big difference, so pay attention!
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What Makes Nikon Rangefinders Different?
Brand name notoriety is nothing new in an industry that prides itself on optics. Nikon is a leader in this area, so when buyers settle on a rangefinder from their lineup, at the very least it will have superior optics. There are a lot of choices from other brands, yet none of them can guarantee optical quality in all of their products. Only a select few like Nikon can back that guarantee up, and then deliver when needed. With their large lineup of cameras and accessories, making a quality rangefinder was an easy task for them.
q: What Are The Different Types Of Models?
The two main types of models are for golf and hunters, which are vastly different in their approach to how their features blend with the user. The same concepts that would be beneficial to a golfer in measuring distance will become a hindrance to a hunter. In the Nikon lineup they have made combo rangefinders that work for both golfers and hunters, yet getting one for your specific purpose is still the preferred method. The combo unit is fantastic, yet is a jack of all trades and a master of none when you need it the most.
q: Is Bigger Always Better For Range?
Not all the time. The #1 item on the list is the smallest of the bunch and does respectable yardage, about 550.
q: So Smaller is Better?
Smaller is always better when it comes to rangefinders, as long as the core features stay intact. This includes having a large screen to compare distance results with and to also change the options. Having too small a screen on your rangefinder defeats the purpose since no one wants to strain their eyes trying to make out the details of the image.
For models without a screen, then they should be much smaller than the ones with screens- if not, then what was the point of not including the screen? You’re going to be spending a lot of time using the rangefinder, so make sure that the size is something that doesn’t work for what you want.
q: How important is Magnification?
Magnification helps with ranging your target but also reduces your field of view. This is why having a rangefinder with good hardware capabilities is more important than the actual magnification power.
q: Nikon or Leica?
This is one of those battles that will never have a winner. And the reason? Bushnell, Simmons, Wildgame Innovations and Carl Zeiss are still big names. Nikon and Leica are tops in the industry for rangefinders, but they are hardly alone.
q: How Far Can Rangefinders See Accurately?
Currently, there is a high-end model out that can reportedly see up to 3,400 yards (reflective). Your mileage may vary, as there are plenty of conflicting reports on its accuracy. The best Nikon rangefinders on the list were tallied from 1,500 yards and under models where their accuracy could not be put into question.
q: How Do Advanced Functions Help?
Specific to Nikon, their advanced features are powerful enough to stand out from the competition. Some of the advanced features that are game-changers are optical VR, Hyper Read Technology, Tru-Target Technology, and ID Technology. These are all Nikon exclusives that enhance normal functions like target acquisition so that you can line up your shot better. They can even reduce vibration so that you don’t struggle to keep the target in sight. These advanced functions all come together to bring you the best range finding experience possible with a Nikon product.
q: Are They Weatherproof?
Not all in the Nikon catalog are guaranteed to be weatherproof, or even waterproof. Always check the features to see if they fall into either category. About the only thing that is guaranteed for each model is that they will have some type of shock absorption feature, something that was implemented when they first started creating Nikon rangefinders.
Having a weather resistant model can come in handy on rainy days or even when you happen to drop it in water. It takes one bad water accident to end a rangefinder that doesn’t have adequate protection against the elements.
q: How Dependable Is The Magnification?
The superior magnification of Nikon products helps out a lot when you need to spot long distances. Size doesn’t affect magnification, and it all comes down to the optics paired with the mechanics of the model. So even if you take it to a wooded area, once you spot your target the magnification will result in a beautiful image. Some things to look out for in other brands are lack of magnification. Yes, some competitors sell theirs without magnification. This isn’t a problem with Nikon, as all of their current models for sale have magnification included by default.
q: Are There Any Differences In The Lenses?
A Nikon monocular is one of the top three lenses in the industry and guarantees quality directly out of the box. When choosing a rangefinder, the optics are the most important thing to pay attention to. The coating of the lenses is what you’ll pay the most attention to, as they reduce reflection, glare and other undesirable effects while finding your target. While there are differences in the coatings provided, largely the most important thing you’ll be looking at is whether they were coated at all. All of Nikon's rangefinders come coated, so there is no need to check for that feature unless you’re looking for a specific type of coating.
q: Can Nikon Rangefinders Be Used For Tournament Play?
In amateur and professional events, there is a list of approved units that the players have to go by. This list changes yearly based on requirements of the tournament and the introduction of new equipment. It gets a little confusing when looking since these lists aren’t always readily available. A good example is how a Nikon rangefinder is approved for one year but banned the next due to new regulations.
This is a rarity, but just something to think about if you use one in competition. Buyers that are afraid of purchasing a model that doesn’t follow current standards will have a safer bet sticking to models in their lineup that is at least a year old since being on the market- these are less likely to get caught with an unfair restriction.
q: How Long Does The Battery Last?
Nikon rangefinders have superior power-saving capabilities so are usually good for an entire year. It’s rare that you’ll have to recharge or swap them out sooner than that, and at the bare minimum, they are good for a full season. You’ll get a low battery warning before it is time to switch out the power. This will let you finish about a days’ worth of use from the product without it dying while using it. Battery cost isn’t an issue, and you can find cheap batteries just about anywhere. Another bonus to rangefinder batteries is that they don’t lose a lot of power while idle.
q: What Are Some Cons Of Rangefinders?
Even the best on the market could do with a better display. The displays on Nikon models are good, but trail behind what is offered with their top tier cameras. It’s not that they are low quality, and most of them get the job done- but that’s it. HD displays aren’t common with viewfinders since you won’t be watching videos on them. A bump up in display quality would really help for the Nikon models that offer multimedia capabilities and might be something that is looked into as a focal point in the future. As of right now, it is something that you’ll only find on the most expensive.
q: Is There A Big Difference Between Low Priced And High Priced Models?
In terms of quality, no. The difference with price comes with compatibility and extra features. A higher-priced Nikon model may provide better resistance against the elements than a low-cost option. Judging Nikon models by price doesn’t really do a lot beside highlight features that are not majorly used, like media capabilities.
In fact, buyers that purchase the lowest priced choice from Nikon are pretty much getting the bulk of the main features in their cheapest model. Unless you are a diehard fan of a specific rangefinder feature, purchasing by price with a Nikon won’t get you anything special.
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