The Difference Between Golf Rangefinders And Hunting Rangefinders

by Simon Daniels

Hunting Rangefinders compared with Golf Rangefinders 
Not long ago, determining the gap between a sportsman and his target depended wholly on the eye and experience. The same applied to golf, where finding and determining the distance to the pin was tricky. That was until the creation of rangefinders, marvellous gadgets that transformed both golfers and hunters lives when calculating distance.

What Is A Rangefinder?

A laser rangefinder is a device used to measure the distance between the user and the user’s target. The aim of applying this tool is to get accurate distance measurements. This allows you to achieve better results in either sport.
There are golf rangefinders and hunting rangefinders, both utilised interchangeably in some cases. With time more dedicated rangefinding kit has arrived that suits one sport better than the other. This is generally due to sport-specific additions to expand the device’s capabilities. If a potential buyer, you need to understand the limitations of each sport type of device. You can then be smart about what you wish to buy. Depending on your needs, here are the main differences between hunting and golf rangefinding equipment.

Golf Rangefinders vs Hunting Rangefinders.

The chief differences between the two are based on their functionality and capability.

Different Priority Modes

The two differ in the area of target acquisition. A golf rangefinder adopts nearest or first target priority mode. This is a capability that enables it to spot things(normally a pin) nearer to it. It does this by excluding objects that are in the distance behind the target. A hunting rangefinder, on the other hand, applies a distant target priority mode. This is a function that enables it to locate objects (usually an animal) further from the user. It does this by excluding objects that are near (for example) trees.
From the above distinct target priority modes, you can see that it is unwise to use these devices interchangeably. Golf rangefinders are for that sport and hunting for that. Unless a rangefinder specifically advertises it is for both (and has both distance modes) then go for the sport-specific option. If not, then using a golf rangefinder in hunting could get you pinging the thickets rather than your prize feeding behind it. Using the hunting rangefinder in golf could lead to you cruising past the spot and missing the flag by some way.
If you need a single device for both sports you could go for a more expensive rangefinder fitted with both near and distant acquisition modes. These rangefinders allow you to switch between the modes depending on the sport in which you are participating.

Yard Distances

Golf rangefinders are normally restricted in range distance. In golf, this is okay as you rarely require ranges above 500 metres. Due to this you will find them generally offering the highest range of 600 metres with roughly 150 – 400 metres to the flag. Rangefinders for hunting offer a wider range of 75 to 1300 metres due to the nature of use. It’s worth noting that detection of reflective spots in the distance is crucial. Most hunting rangefinder advertising mentions long distance acquisition. However, often these devices can only achieve a max of 900 metres.
In this situation, you can see that a hunting rangefinder can, in distance terms, work for golfing. However, a general-purpose golfing rangefinder can only work for hunting if targets are under a distance of 300-400 metres.
It is crucial, also, to remember that weather affects the capability of a rangefinder to detect faraway targets. Heat mirage and changing weather are some of the situations that affect them. So yes, yardage is important when trying to figure out what way to go. Again though, horses for courses – choose the rangefinder for your sport.


LCD and LED is the choice of display for both golf and hunting rangefinders. While there are advantages and disadvantages to both, the main difference appears when you want to use the rangefinder in the day. Daytime is appropriate for golfing while hunting can happen at whatever period of the day. From early until late into the evening. Bear this in mind when choosing.
LED displays feature a setting that enables brightness adjustability. This usually means bright and clear readouts. It is a characteristic that makes it both suitable for a cloudy golfing day and also evening hunting sprees. However, when used in total darkness, it can affect the users night vision substantially.
An LCD screen on the other is good for bright sunny days and can be designed with additional, subtle, backlighting. This will enable the rangefinder to work effectively for all situations. The user can see the readings effectively without fear of hurting their night vision. Such hybrids are hard to come by as the backlighting approach is mostly observed in the hunting. So if you’re a hunter then an LCD with backlighting is the way to go.

Activity Specificity

Given the differences we’ve highlighted in how they are used, both hunting and golf rangefinders specialise. A rangefinder made for golf will often include specific golfing features. These can include capabilities such as club suggestions, swing velocity average, short distance calculators and manageable reticles. One made for hunting will include wider yard scales, ballistic information could be preloaded onto it and could feature more complex reticles.
When comparing golf rangefinders and hunting rangefinders, you must use them for their specific purpose. Mixing them up is depriving yourself of the full capability of the rangefinder. Your skill may not grow as much as it could with the wrong choice.


Having a waterproof device is not only essential but also a trend in the modern world of sport. This, of course, applies to rangefinders. During a heavy downpour, the chances of you finishing your golfing round lessen as the rain beats harder. In the hunting situation though, whatever the weather condition the game goes on. Finding a rangefinder that can withstand such challenging conditions is essential for hunting.
While some golfing rangefinders can work in such conditions, it is the hunting devices that usually have the most robust waterproofing. They must be more capable than their golfing equivalents. Golfing in such conditions is almost impossible so weatherproofing requirements are less.
Even though the cost can be minimised by having a multipurpose rangefinder rather than one for each sport, performance is probably going to suffer. Yes, they broadly perform the same function, but the devil is in the detail. the functional differences between them are significant as we’ve discovered. The question of whether golf rangefinders or hunting rangefinders are best for you depends on your sport and the level at which you play. Choose wisely and reap the benefits.

Range The Drive