Which laser rangefinder is better: Bushnell or Vortex?
Accuracy and aim are two essential requirements that a successful hunter and a low-handicap golfer have in common. A precise distance reading gives the hunter the information needed to make the correct aim adjustments, and it helps the golfer make the proper club selection.
Since its introduction in 1940, the laser rangefinder has exploded in popularity. Today, it is one of the most important pieces of gear an outdoors person can buy, and it has also become a common tool for the amateur golfer’s bag.
Bushnell and Vortex Optics are among the leading companies that manufacture laser rangefinders, and each has specialized in a different market segment. Which one is best for you will depend on its intended use.
Bushnell makes rangefinders using world-class optics for hunting, shooting and archery, and is considered a market leader in golf laser rangefinders. Bushnell leads a list of reputable optics manufacturers including Nikon Corporation, Callaway, SkyHawke Technologies LLC for its design, accuracy and technological advancements.
Bushnell produces four golf rangefinder models that are generally priced from $300-$550.
All Bushnell golf models have several features in common:
The Slope System: Automatically adjusts the distance indicated according to the slope encountered due to course hills and elevation changes. A switch on the side of the device allows you to disable the feature when participating in a competition.
PinSeeker with Visual Jolt: All models except the Hybrid produce a slight vibration when the system locks onto a target. The Jolt feature gives a slight vibration, and the edge of the screen flashes red when you lock onto a target.
Water-resistance: All models of Bushnell laser rangefinders are water-resistant
Legal for tournament play: All models are tournament-safe when slope mode is disabled.
Bushnell rangefinder pros
While the target range for the Pro XE model is nearly 1,500 yards, all Bushnell models can detect a flag located on the green more than 400 yards away and provide an accurate distance.
The slope technology adjusts for slopes with an accuracy of +/- 1 yard.
The built-in BITE Magnetic Cart Mount allows golfers to conveniently hang the rangefinder on the golf cart window frame for easy access. The Bushnell Golf app includes hole layouts, 3D flyovers with distance and wireless course updates.
Bushnell rangefinder cons
While the top-of-the-line golf rangefinder, the Pro XE, may be costly for some golfers, one of the less-expensive models may provide enough range and accuracy for a rewarding experience. The slope feature that adjusts distances for elevation is not legal for competition.
The best Bushnell rangefinder
Bushnell Pro XE Laser Rangefinder: available at Amazon
The product has several enhancements over the other Bushnell models, including improved optics, longer range and an updated and more precise slope algorithm. This model can place targets at over 500 yards and offers both 7x magnification and the new Slope with Elements technology (which factors in temperature and barometric pressure, among other things) for the most accurate readings yet. The Pro XE is Bushnell’s most powerful model to date.
Vortex Optics rangefinders
Vortex Optics, headquartered in Barneveld, Wisconsin, has been making high-quality optic devices since its inception in 1986. The company currently manufactures spotting scopes, rifle scopes, binoculars, monoculars, red dot sights and a host of other optic accessories.
Vortex Optics offers a variety of rangefinders primarily designed for the hunting market. However, they are suitable for other applications like military, golf, security and marine use.
Vortex binocular and rangefinder models are available in two types:
- Binoculars and monoculars that use a reticle, a net of fibers or fine lines in the eyepiece for sighting and taking measurements.
- Rangefinders that use a laser beam to determine the distance to an object. An onboard receiver calculates the distance by measuring the time elapsed for the laser to reach the target object and return to the rangefinder.
Vortex Optics rangefinders offer different modes designed to provide shooters and hunters the distance information required for making accurate shots.
Horizontal Component Distance range display: Also known as HCD, this is the primary mode, showing a yardage number corrected for shot angle. The mode is best used for rifle shooting on level ground at any range, out to ranges of 400 yards with slopes of 15-30 degrees, or out to ranges of 800 yards with slopes less than 15 degrees. It also works well for all archery shooting.
Line of Sight mode: Also known as LOS, this is intended for rifle shooters using ballistic apps, slope-correcting ballistic-drop data cards or PDAs with ballistic programs to fire at targets at distances beyond 500 yards and slopes greater than 15 degrees.
Scan Mode: This mode provides range readings when panning across the landscape or tracking a moving animal.
The following are Vortex Optics rangefinders in the $200–$500 price range.
Ranger 1800: available at Dick's Sporting Goods
Razor HD 4000: available at Amazon
Vortex Optics rangefinder pros
The best Vortex rangefinder model provides a range for animals up to 900 yards and will accurately range a target out to 1,800 yards. Vortex rangefinders offer a built-in angle compensation for tree-stand hunters.
When the rangefinder is in LOS mode, it displays the actual line-of-sight range. Vortex rangefinders are made with precision multi-coated optics, are fully waterproof and come with an industry-leading lifetime warranty.
Vortex Optics rangefinder cons
The top-end Vortex rangefinder 1800 might be out of some hunter’s price range, but less expensive models also provide excellent performance. Some users have reported that several attempts are sometimes needed to range a target at long distances, so a steady hand is needed.
The best Vortex Optics rangefinder
Capable of ranging targets to 1,800 yards, the Vortex Ranger 1800 rangefinder is the ideal companion for archery and rifle hunters and shooters on the target range or in the mountains. The compact and lightweight optical device is built tough to resist the elements. Multi-coated lenses provide enhanced light transmission, while HCD and LOS modes give the user an advantage in all shooting situations.
Should you get the Bushnell or Vortex Optics rangefinder?
Both Bushnell and Vortex Optics make some of the best laser rangefinders on the market today. While Bushnell offers rangefinders in both segments, hunting/shooting and golf, Vortex Optics has focused more on the outdoors person looking to improve accuracy and aim when hunting in the wild or shooting at target practice.
For the golfer, the Bushnell Pro XE offers distance reading and adjustments that are sure to improve the choice of club for each shot and ultimately lower one's handicap. For the rifle shooter, the Vortex 1800 with HCD and LOS is the best choice for accurate distance measurements adjusted for any conditions.
Jeffrey Harper is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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