range finder hunting

Best Rangefinder for Hunting and Golf for the Money 2023

Nikon 8397 ACULON Laser Rangefinder

As a person who likes to both hunt with a bows, crossbows, and golf from time to time, it’s important for me to have a rangefinder that can help me zero in on a target. Since bows have limited range compared to firearms, it’s nice to have a device that can tell you exactly where the target lies in relation to your position.Expert Reviewer: Barry Kelly

Quick Summary:
The most admired feature of this device has to be its speed when sighting.

Almost as soon as you start the range finding process, you’ll have results.

It’s this speed that makes this a great hunting rangefinder because when on a hunt, if a rangefinder takes more than a couple of seconds to provide an accurate range reading, then there’s a good chance that the quarry will move on.

Selecting a Range Finder

Have you ever found yourself needing an accurate readout of range? Then, you could use a laser rangefinder. There is a wide range of reasons to purchase a laser rangefinder; whether you are shooting a round of golf or trying to get an accurate bead on a 12 point buck, it really helps to know how far from you a specific target is.

How a Range Finder Works

Rangefinders use the speed of light to get an accurate read on exactly how far a distant object is. As a laser device, the rangefinder fires a laser which travels at light speed towards the object when you press a button. The emitted laser hits the object and almost simultaneously the range finder’s high-speed computing system measures the time it took for the emitted light beam to reach the object and bounce back to the rangefinder.

Finally, the rangefinder’s internal computers then run the math based on the total time from laser firing to returning to get an accurate bead on the exact range from you to your target. The level of accuracy of a laser rangefinder is extremely precise and people in multiple professions use them from surveyors to photographers.

Nikon 8397 ACULON Laser Rangefinder

As a person who likes to both hunt with a bow, crossbows and golf from time to time, it’s important for me to have a rangefinder that can help me zero in on a target. Since bows have limited range compared to firearms, it’s nice to have a device that can tell you exactly where the target lies in relation to your position. Out of all of the devices that I’ve tested, I’ve found the Nikon 8397 ACULON Laser Rangefinder to be one of the best on the market today. It has a plethora of excellent features that make range finding a relatively easy process.

Size and Lenses

The first thing you’ll notice about this laser rangefinder is how small it is. It’s really a perfect pocket-sized device that will accompany you on the green or deep in the bush. Its overall measurements are 3.6 inches from the projector to the viewfinder, 1.5 inches across, and 2.9 inches from the top to the bottom of the rangefinder.

This compact rangefinder is small enough to easily fit in a pocket and is of a similar overall size to some wallets. The device has three glass lenses on its front; these allow for the device to measure the accuracy of the emitted laser from firing to refraction. Each lens features a multi-layer coating that enables light to transmit at a higher level so that the entire visible spectrum is available to the device.

This is also a very light rangefinder; the entire device weighs in at a very easy to heft 5.6 ounces. This small shape coupled with a lightweight construction makes this device easy to carry when out and about.


Accuracy is the one feature of a laser rangefinder that has to be of a high level of refinement. Fortunately, for a relatively low-priced rangefinder, this product has some great overall accuracy. The previously mentioned multi-layer coating is a great accuracy increasing feature that delivers a very natural looking view when looking through the viewfinder.

When sighting through the rangefinder eyepiece, the farthest object in a collection of potential will be highlighted with the most accurate range. Once you’ve found the target, whether it is that prized buck or the golf ball on the green, you can zoom in a six times magnification. This close optical zoom is actually very impressive at this price point; most range finders at this price typically have four, maybe five times magnification at best.

This precise magnification is most likely a result of Nikon’s well-known optics quality. The brand has a history of providing great optical zoom on their devices and this is most likely why this device can perform at this level without being hundreds of dollars more expensive.


The display on this unit uses an overlay system that displays a sight-line/reticle, the yardage to the selected target, and a battery indicator. This display system is relatively simple, but having too much information can be distracting during times when you need to keep an eye on your target. As mentioned before, because this device uses a proprietary system called the Distant Target Priority Mode, the furthest target in a series of targets will receive the range reading first. This makes observing objects that can become potentially obscured much easier.

Functions and Features

To operate the device, there is only two buttons that are positioned along the top of the Aculon. One is for powering the device, and the other is to cycle through the Aculon’s modes. The mode functions allow you to cycle the distance measurements in both yards and meters. The base range, or minimum range, of this rangefinder, is six yards or about five and a half meters. The Aculon’s maximum range is 550 yards or 502 meters.

When it comes to focusing, some of these types of devices utilize a diopter that allows users to adjust the focus of the device to their eyes. Nikon has had a habit of utilizing these in many of their devices, but not all of the lower price-point range finders incorporate this feature. Fortunately, the Nikon 8397 ACULON Laser Rangefinder has this so that when you use the unit, you can have an easier time adjusting its focus to your eyes.


As with anything, there are considerations when purchasing this device. Firstly, as with all rangefinders, you’ll find that getting a bead on an objects range is very conveniently easy. The downside of this is that you can potentially lose a lot of your ability to easily recognize ranges without the device helping you. I find that it’s a good idea to use the rangefinder to help refine my own natural sense of distance by only using it alternately.

At longer ranges, rangefinders like the Nikon 8397 ACULON Laser Rangefinder have a tendency to experience something called beam divergence. This means that as a laser is emitted as it travels the beam loses cohesion and spreads out, so when it actually arrives at the target, the actual surface area of the beam might be larger. The Nikon 8397 ACULON Laser Rangefinder has a tendency to lose a small amount of accuracy at farther ranges near its 550-yard upper threshold, so consider this before buying.


Finding an accurate range for a plethora of uses is much easier with this quality Nikon rangefinder. If you plan on using this device on the course, in the forest, or to scope out beautiful vistas, it won’t fail you in delivering quality range measurements at a startlingly fast pace. Its ease of use, speed, and very respectable range make this one of the best solutions for range on the market today.

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