The advance in technology doesn’t stop when it comes to hunting and shooting optics. First, we certainly had and have improvements in the scope itself, like improvements on the clarity of the glass or better coatings that improve the overall optics.
Electronic components like laser rangefinders have improved, gotten smaller in size and cost as well as lower in price. It was and is only a matter of time until useful electronics made it into the optics used for hunting. One of these first lines of products are laser range finding rifle scopes.
What are they? A look back and forward
On the other hand, we have technology improvements in range finders. A few decades ago, it would have been impossible to think of a handheld device with a laser that can measure distances. The improvement in technology on that side of the equation has shrunk the size of the device as well as the power requirements significantly.
Combining a rangefinder, computer, and rifle scope – Leupold BOSS
The logical next step was and is to combine the laser rangefinder with the rifle scope. The first scopes that combine both features are available and perform well. The US Army is developing a new system for its snipers based on a Leupold rifle scope (Leupold Rifle Scope Reviews) and laser range finder called the Ballistically Optimized Sniper Scope or BOSS.
This system does go farther than just combining the scope with the range finder (Buyers Guide to Finding the Best Long Range Rifle Scope). It basically includes an array of environmental sensors as well as a small computer to perform all ballistic calculations for bullet drop compensation, the impact of environmental factors like winds, etc.
The scope itself is a 6-22x scope from Leupold (Vortex vs. Leupold Rifle Scopes – Who makes the best optics?). The data from the range finder and the sensors are used to calculate the best aiming solution for accurate shooting for the sniper.
The technology for the Army might be a few more years out before it’s used in the military and many more years before it’s commercially available for hunters and shooters. What is available today are scopes that have a built-in laser range finder (Best Rifle Scope Magnification and Power Range).
Available Today: Optic and range finding capabilities combined
It clearly shows that we will see more and more changes and improvements to the capabilities of pure optical scopes (e.g. Meopta Optika6 Rifle Scope Review – How good are these Scopes?). These currently are as simple as illuminated reticle to heads-up displays to help the hunter/shooter.
The integration of the range finder into the scope has made huge strides. It did not only get small enough to be physically viable but also affordable enough so that it became commercially viable. Many reputable rifle scope manufacturers (The Best Rifle Scope Manufacturers) are starting to introduce scopes that are combined with range finders.
Best Laser Rangefinder Rifle Scopes – Optics Buying Guide
Have a look at the following scopes to make your choice easier when looking for a riflescope with a rangefinder. We provide you with quick reviews of
- Nikon Laser IRT Riflescope
- Bushnell Laser Rangefinder Scope
- Burris Eliminator
- Zeiss Victory Diarange
Additionally, you should have a look at Swarovski’s Laser Rangefinding dS scope. Click the link to check the post about this magnificent rangefinding riflescope.
Nikon Laser IRT
Nikon has the Laser IRT scope that combines a range finder with 2.5-10×40 or 4-12×42 optics (What Do the Numbers Mean on a Rifle Scope? – Guide to Scope Numbers). The 4-12 scope comes either with a Nikoplex or a BDC reticle. The M-223 2.5-10×40 Laser IRT sports a BDC 600 reticle.
Nikon does not offer this scope anymore. You can at times find a scope online or at a local retailer.
Bushnell Laser Rangefinder
Next in line is the Bushnell Laser Rangefinder Mil-Dot Reticle Riflescope 4-12x 42mm. It’s a compact design with the range finder being within a +/-1 yard accuracy up to 800 yards.
Similar to Nikon, Bushnell also no longer offers laser rangefinder scopes. Again, you might find one of these scopes online or locally at usually great prices!
Burris Eliminator IV
Lastly, there’s the Burris Eliminator IV which is the successor of the highly praised and successful Burris Eliminator III rangefinder scope. It combines a 4-16x50mm scope with a laser range finder. The range finder on this combination is accurate up to 2,000 yards!
As the number indicates, Eliminator IV is the highly-praised successor to the Burris Eliminator III rangefinder scopes. Burris improved its successful laser rangefinding scope with an extended ranging capability and improved ballistics calculations when you compare the Eliminator IV to the Burris Eliminator III. If you want to save yourself some money then try to find the Burris Eliminator III which you might be able to find online.
The laser range finder module in the Burris Eliminator IV has an added internal digital inclinometer to compensate for shots you take at angles and provide you with the correct distance. Based on the distance the Eliminator IV will provide wind hold-off estimations based on the distance and your cartridge’s ballistic information.
You provide the ballistic information of your cartridge before your hunt and the ballistics calculator will use that data to provide the exact holdover for your shot at the measured range. All that with the simple push of a button and the red dot will provide you with the correct holdover for your shot.
There’s no doubt that the Burris Eliminator IV is currently the best scope with an integrated laser range finder available. It provides long-range capabilities that are no available in any other rangefinder scope.
Zeiss Victory Diarange
At a time Zeiss also had the Victory Diarange scopes that combined a Victory rifle scope with a range finder. It’s no longer offered though.
There are also a few other combinations available from lesser-known manufacturers. Not listing them by name does not mean that they are in any way bad or inferior to the ones listed above.
Pros and Cons of Rangefinder Riflescopes
Combining a traditional rifle scope with a range finder does not only offer advantages though. Before putting out quite a bit more money than you’d pay for the scope alone, make sure that you are aware not only of the ‘cool’ things but also the disadvantages that this combination brings with it.
Well, at least at the current times it has a few disadvantages you might want to consider. Progressing technology will take care of a few of these downsides in the future though.
To start with the good things, here are the pros that we found:
All in one device
If you shoot long distances (Choosing the Best 1000 Yard Rifle Scope) then you might use a laser rangefinder anyway in order to get an accurate reading on the distance. Instead of having two pieces of equipment, you end up with one. And, as it’s mounted to the rifle, you won’t forget it at home by accident.
The combination does allow you to take faster shots. There’s no more searching for the rangefinder to get the distance and then aim through the scope to shoot.
It’s all in one package and there’s no time lost from searching or setting up the gear. This certainly doesn’t make a difference when you shoot on a range. It makes a significant difference during hunting though.
It’s just plain easier to have everything in one device. During a hunting trip, it can at times be difficult to find a safe space to put down the rifle when you have to dig for the rangefinder or vice versa. It’s also easier to only have to handle one piece of equipment instead of two.
The scopes listed are definitely high-quality rifle scopes even without the addition of the rangefinder. All these brands are reputable and known for top-quality optics.
And these scope/rangefinder combo’s fall right in line with this expectation. They are built well with top-notch optics. The rangefinder modules also do not have to hide behind a handheld device.
As with everything in life, there are not only advantages but also a few cons to consider. Actually, there are a few downsides to having such a combo vs. having two pieces of equipment.
The first is that the scope/rangefinder combination is quite a bit heavier than a rifle scope itself. Well, to be clear it’s not heavier than the two separate devices but it weighs more than a scope itself. It makes quite a difference in weight on the rifle which makes it harder to carry the rifle and potentially to set it up.
The second downside is that you potentially pay more for the combination than for a good scope and a good range finder if you buy them separately. You do pay for the listed advantages of having it all in one device. If you buy both items separately you can pick and choose what to buy.
The third issue is that the range finder for example on the Bushnell combo is ranging up to 800 yards. You can get a rangefinder with much higher ranges, like 1,200 yards, for not too much money.
Lastly, you are tied to the magnifications that are offered right now. Looking at traditional scopes enables you to get a large variety of optics matching your needs perfectly. The limited amount of combinations available also results in fewer optics and magnifications to choose from.
The Verdict on Finding a Rangefinding Laserscope
Are the available riflescope/rangefinder combos any good? Yes, they are. If they fit your needs and if you are ready to look over the cons then there’s probably nothing more convenient than such a combo. They are of high quality and will make it easier to target and shoot.
Do you need one for Hunting?
Is a rangefinder scope the best option for everyone? No, it is not. The weight and bulkiness alone require that you use them on a somewhat larger rifle. The lack of variety with regards to the optics also reduces their ability to fulfill the requirements for all types of shooters and hunters.
It does come down to your personal needs and preference. If you choose such a combo then you get a high-quality device that is as dependable as the two devices you use today.
If you are considering getting such a rangefinder scope and mount it on your hunting rifle, then the best rangefinder scope is the Burris Eliminator III or IV. They are quality rangefinder scopes for long-range shooting and the laser range finder supplements the optics nicely. If you want the latest and greatest then go for the Eliminator IV. If you can live with less range and a smaller price tag, and if you can find one, then the Eliminator III will do the job!
An alternative to using a rangefinder scope would be to have two separate units that communicate with each other. Sig Sauer introduced their BDX system which connects the scope and rangefinder through Bluetooth.
You get the range to the target and it is fed to the riflescope which in turn guides you to make the perfect shot. Sig Sauer provides a number of magnifications ranging up to very capable and accurate long-range hunting and shooting scopes.
What’s to come?
You can rest assured though that there are more rangefinder scopes coming out and that their capabilities and integration will get better and better. At this time, it might be worth waiting a while longer to get the next generation of these devices.
You can rest assured that the future for many will be combination scopes like the ones listed above.
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