Note: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
To find the best rangefinder for bow hunting, I decided to try something a little different for this article. I looked around at other sites specifically for what they considered to be the best bow hunting rangefinder available today.
I thought there might be some consensus as to which model you should get, since bow hunters, while not a small group of people, are a very targeted (no pun intended) market.
I was wrong.
While some brands rose to the top fairly often, there are at least three of them that are ranked as “the best”. By definition, they can’t all be “the best”. Some sites wouldn’t even attempt to name the best model. They just listed five, ten, or a dozen or more and made you decide for yourself from there.
I’m going to tell you about just 1 model for two reasons: 1) It’s good for bow hunting and 2) It’s currently available at Amazon. (Many of the other “best” models aren’t available there as of this writing.)
Update: Reason #2 is no longer accurate. I can’t even find the Arrow at Nikon’s site, so you’ll probably have to look for another rangefinder. Here is a good place to start.
Nikon 16224 Arrow ID 3000 Bowhunting Laser Rangefinder
As a bowhunter, you know you don’t need to range targets that are thousands of yards away. Several hundred yards will suffice. That’s one of the features that makes the Nikon 16224 rangefinder the perfect choice for you. Nikon didn’t bother putting really long distance capabilities into this model. It can range from 6 yards out to about 550 yards. If you can hit a target over five football fields away with your compound bow, more power to you!
The black LED display will show you distances in 1-yard increments. As noted, you can range as close as 6 yards, but if your animal is only 6 yards away, you better not be taking time with your rangefinder. Just shoot!
Nikon Arrow 3000: Smaller Than Your Hand
You may see pictures elsewhere of a hunter holding the Nikon Arrow in his hand. Since it measures just 3.6 inches by 2.9 inches, it fits very nicely in your palm. In fact, unless you have really tiny hands, your palm is very likely bigger than the whole device. If it weren’t 1.5 inches thick, you could wrap your fingers all the way around it. Maybe someone with extra large hands could even do so.
Since it’s so small, it weighs just over 10 ounces. It’s a good thing it comes with a lanyard, or you might drop it and never realize it was gone.
The optics inside do give you a magnification of 4 times (4x) real life. There is no zoom power on this model though. The 20 millimeter objective lens probably won’t let in enough light to make this very useful past dusk. This is mainly a daylight hours device.
You do get a 9-volt CR2 battery with your purchase. It’s not rechargeable, but these are common batteries that are easy to find online or in the store. How long your battery lasts will depend on how much you use the rangefinder, especially how often you employ the continuous measurement feature, which can last up to 8 seconds at a crack.
Eye relief is just over 20 millimeters. That’s about ¾ of an inch. So you don’t have to plaster you eye right up against the eyepiece lens to check out your target. That’s especially useful since, as I mentioned just above, the whole unit tucks neatly into your palm. You can rest your eye socket against your thumb and forefinger and still see through the lenses easily.
Tru-Target Priority System and ID Tech
Nikon labels their priority mode system as “Tru-Target”. This means you can toggle between a primary and secondary target by holding both top buttons for 2 seconds. Per Nikon…
“First target priority mode allows you to range an object as small as a fence post while distant target priority mode displays the range of the farthest target among a group of targets measured.”
The incline / decline (aka ID) technology gives you the horizontal distance to your target, no matter what the shooting angle is. If you’re sitting in your tree stand, your buck is almost certainly lower than you. ID tech helps you with your calculations in a case like this. It figures your shot slope and distance and gives you your “shoot-for” distance immediately.
Protection Features for Your Arrow 3000 Rangefinder
This unit is only water resistant, not waterproof. You’ll want to keep it in a pocket or a case if there’s any chance of it getting dunked into a pool or puddle. Rain, unless it’s pouring buckets (in which case you’re probably not out in it anyway), shouldn’t harm the rangefinder.
Nikon doesn’t mention whether the Arrow is fogproof or not, but other users have had virtually no problems with the lenses fogging up.
You get a 2-year warranty on this laser rangefinder. Check Nikon’s site for details if you ever need to exercise your rights here, which you probably won’t.
Check out other rangefinders here, since the Arrow is unavailable.