The best rangefinder binoculars have been developed to offer observers the ability to measure distances while in use. Many popular models are laser rangefinders that project an invisible, eye-safe laser beam onto a target and measure the time it takes for the laser to reflect back into the binoculars. The binoculars then, typically, read out the distance which is particularly helpful for tracking subjects. This is clever stuff, which only a few years ago was way outside the budget of ordinary consumers. Of course, the more powerful the laser, the farther it can reach and send back a measurable signal.
But before you spend anything that might power a space hero's sidearm, consider how much power you actually need. Even relatively modest lasers can reach well over a kilometer, which is more than good enough for most users. Understanding how this technology and all the numbers work can help inform your purchasing decision, so be sure to check out our What to look for section.
Rangefinder binoculars may be too specialized for some though. Luckily, we've reviewed and rated the Best binoculars for more generalist observing as well. But if you're looking for something a bit smaller check out our guides to the Best compact binoculars and the Best binoculars for kids.
Best rangefinder binoculars 2023
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Best rangefinder binoculars 2023 ranked
Manufacturer SIG Sauer makes the bold claim that the Kilo3000 BDX is the world's most advanced laser rangefinder, which is something every other company mentioned in this guide would probably challenge. But considering the price of this device, it offers a lot.
The rangefinder is also fairly powerful, if not quite up to the output of some more expensive models. The optics are pretty decent, too, certainly enough for everyday use. The SIG Kilo packs a lot of tech into a relatively small package. It has its own dedicated smartphone app, transfers data with compatible sighting scopes through Bluetooth, and even performs high-speed distance calculations.
While in scan mode, the range is updated up to four times per second, and the range lock function records the most recent result. SIG wins our recommendation since it accomplishes all of this for a price that is much lower than both direct competitors and premium brands.
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There's a lot of competition for the title of best optical quality among the leading binocular brands, but we think Swarovski just edges it over the competition with this pair of rangefinding binoculars. All binoculars lose a portion of the light that travels through their objectives, but Swarovski believes that their high-end, fully multi-coated glass lenses and prisms transmit more and lose less light than the competition. This performance can have a significant impact, especially during twilight when every photon counts.
The binoculars are equipped with all the tech you'd anticipate these days at this high price point, with a dedicated ballistics app and range corrections for inclination. Although the laser rangefinder only measures up to 1370m, it has all the features you'd anticipate.
We'd go for the 10x42 Range rather than Swarovski's similarly priced 8x42, as it is slightly higher performing, only marginally heavier and has an appreciably better twilight factor of 20.5 instead of 18.3.
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Bushnell is well known for providing some decent binoculars at affordable prices, but some models are a touch fragile and would be better avoided. We think the Bushnell Fusion X 10x42 laser rangefinders certainly fall into the former category.
They provide decent range-finding capability and accuracy with reasonable quality optics for less than half the cost of several competing entry-level devices. In good conditions and with a reflective subject, the laser should reach up to a mile and be accurate within a single yard.
The ActivSync display cleverly modifies the overlay information's color based on light levels. It shows red overlays on dark subjects and black overlays against bright daytime backgrounds. They're waterproof to IP67 and with a special lens coating to shed moisture, and we think binoculars are a great choice for value-conscious users.
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These Nikon Laserforce 10x42 laser rangefinder binoculars come in at a price that puts this well-known and trusted optical brand within the reach of many hoping to get a quality mid-range pair. Although there are some trade-offs, such as the laser rangefinder's relatively limited range, it's still powerful enough for many real-world situations.
The ID (incline/decline) system compensates for angles up to 89 degrees. As you'd expect from Nikon, the optics are top-notch, with fully multi-coated lenses and prisms, and even include ultra-low dispersion (ED) glass to correct chromatic aberrations that would otherwise cause color fringing.
They are rubberized, water and fog-proof with nitrogen-purged internals to avoid mold and rot. Nikon's warranty policy is quite complex, offering a lifetime warranty on optical components and a 7-year warranty on non-optical components, but only 1 year on electronic components. Without these, what's left is a pair of heavy and expensive regular binoculars.
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Zeiss has long been a go-to brand for binoculars and in our opinion, makes some of the best quality optics on the planet. Combine this with a powerful laser rangefinder and it becomes a very useful tool for use in the field, but it comes at a price.
In order to maximize light transmission, Zeiss Victory binoculars use fluorite lenses that have been coated with their multi-layer T-coating. The eyepieces also include a second coating called LocuTec that deters moisture and dust. This laser rangefinder outperforms many other laser rangefinders in terms of distance and speed, sending data via Bluetooth to a dedicated Zeiss smartphone app to calculate corrections for critical tilt and environmental factors.
The Victory 10x54 is a quality piece of kit at a price that reflects the advanced technology and the top level of engineering that has gone into it. Victory rangefinders are available in four configurations, with either 42 or 54mm objectives, and with 8x or 10x magnification. We think the 10x54s are the best pick of the bunch.
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While the majority of consumers interested in rangefinder binoculars will be looking for laser-powered models, there are alternative approaches based on geometry rather than geodesy. These USCamel binoculars have a reticle (also known as a graticule) that is superimposed on the image seen through the right tube. They are a bit like the crosshairs on a rifle scope. By doing some simple mental math along with these markers, you can determine the distance from you if you know the size of the object you are looking at.
It's not highly accurate or convenient but it's robust and above all, budget-friendly. Most laser devices are at least ten times the price of these. The binoculars themselves are surprisingly high quality for this lesser-known brand, with top-of-the-line BaK-4 glass, fully multi-coated, and waterproof nitrogen-purged chassis. However, individual eyepiece adjustment is more cumbersome than traditional center focusing.
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Best rangefinder binoculars: What to look for
The first thing to consider, as with any pair of binoculars, is their optical quality. It doesn't matter how good all the sophisticated electronics and other fancy gizmos are if you can't get a clear image of the subject in your eyepieces. Look for fully multi-coated lenses (FMC), BaK-4 glass, and phase-corrected prism coatings, if possible, provided your budget will stretch to that. Some manufacturers (Zeiss for instance) use fluorite glass and proprietary coatings to maximize light gathering.
Nowadays, a lot of rangefinder binoculars come with dedicated smartphone apps that gather data over Bluetooth and make corrections for the weather and inclination. That's great if you don't mind getting your phone out, but it's worth checking what information is actually displayed in the viewfinder before making a choice.
Finally, always consider build quality and warranty. The levels of waterproofness vary from splash-proof to submarine grade, and features like nitrogen-purged internals will prevent fogging. It's also a good idea to check what devices are actually legal to own where you live, before shelling out your hard-earned cash on a tool that might be unusable.
If you're looking for the best binoculars overall though, check our guide to the best binoculars. For something a little more specific we have a round-up of the best binoculars for kids and best night vision binoculars, too. Alternatively, find out when you should purchase them to maximize savings with our write-up on the best time to buy binoculars.
As with any significant purchase, it really pays to shop around. The market for binoculars with rangefinders is rapidly changing as manufacturers strive to continually improve their products with new features and improved electronics. This means that bargains can sometimes be found among discontinued devices if you don't feel the need to own the very latest rangefinder technology.
Our final top tip is to always carry a spare battery with you. The majority of the devices in this review use a standard CR2 battery, and should deliver thousands of distance measurements before replacement. However, you can almost guarantee that when the battery does fail it will be at some crucial moment.
How we test the best rangefinder binoculars
To guarantee you're getting honest, up-to-date recommendations on the best rangefinder binoculars to buy here at Space.com we make sure to put every rangefinder binocular through a rigorous review to fully test each instrument. Each rangefinder binocular is reviewed based on a multitude of aspects, from its construction and design, to how well it functions as an optical instrument and its performance in the field.
Each pair of binoculars is carefully tested by either our expert staff or knowledgeable freelance contributors who know their subject areas in depth. This ensures fair reviewing is backed by personal, hands-on experience with each binocular and is judged based on its price point, class and destined use.
We look at how easy they are to operate, whether eye relief can be adjusted for spectacles wearers, if a binocular comes with appropriate accessories or carry bags and also make suggestions if a particular set of binos would benefit from any additional kit to give you the best viewing experience possible.
With complete editorial independence, Space.com are here to ensure you get the best buying advice on binoculars, whether you should purchase an instrument or not, making our buying guides and reviews reliable and transparent.