How To Use Rangefinders On A Pair Of Binoculars - Our Guide

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Updated on: 

October 12, 2021

Our Ultimate Guide On How To Use Rangefinder Binoculars

If you are looking at a binocular for marine purposes, hunting purposes or golf then you will likely come across a pair with rangefinder reticles. 

Binoculars with reticle rangefinders will have either a marked reticle scale for you to work out how far away you are from a subject or a rangefinder laser light that sends a flash of light and automatically works out how far you are from a subject. 

In our guide below, we will cover which binoculars have range finders on them, how reticle range finders work and how to use them as well as how they match up to laser rangefinder binoculars. 

What Are Reticle Rangefinder Binoculars? 

First of all, let's explain what reticle rangefinder bins are. 

These rangefinder binos use a net of fine lines in the eyepiece of each binocular to produce a scale or they will have a type of reticle which are digitally displayed when you look through. 

Similar to a rifle scope, the scale on these types of reticle binos allows you to measure how far away you are from a subject or animal, they can also calculate the angle of a subject and the height of the target object. 

There are different types of measurements of objects on these reticles, but most use a mil-dot reticle to measure distance, so also have silhouettes you can use to get a guess on how far an object is away.

Where Are Range Finding Reticle Binoculars Used? 

Rangefinding reticle binos have several different uses and can be found mostly on - 

  • Marine binoculars - Having a reticle on a marine binocular allows sailors to identify their distance from other marine vessels, lighthouses and boats. 
  • Gold range finders - These types of range finders usually are on a monocular rather than a binocular and allows you to calculate the distance to a hole so as you can choose the perfect golf club. 
  • Hunting & military - On hunting optics as a reticle is used for helping you aim at potential targets by calculating how far away you are, more people are using quality optics with laser light for this in the professional field. 

How To Use Rangefinder Reticle Binoculars

If it's your first time using rangefinder binoculars you might be a little overwhelmed with all the measurements, but we have broken down how to use these marine binocular type systems below to help you out. 

Mil-Dot Formula 

To use rangefinder binos you will have to understand how to use the Mil-dot formula, this works as long as you know the height and length of the object you are spotting through the scale. 

For example, if you knew a building was 70 metres tall and your scale height says it's 90m tall then you simply divide 70 by 90 then times by 1000, this would mean the building is 777m away. 

Numerous spreadsheets already have their calculations on there to speed up the process.

What Are Laser Rangefinder Binoculars? 

As well as your reticle rangefinder binos, you also have laser rangefinder binoculars which are in the higher price range. To calculate the distance the laser system shoots out a flash of light at a target object then the distance is worked out by the amount of time it takes to reach the receiver. 

These binos are excellent for hunting and can spot animals up to 1000 yards away when calculating distance, they are not however good for use on water due to it being a reflective object. 

We have listed both the pros and cons of reticle rangefinder and laser rangefinder binos below. 

Laser Rangefinder Binoculars Vs Reticle Binoculars 

Since both types of rangefinder binoculars are so popular, we have compared both of the rangefinder systems below to help you work out which kind of rangefinder is right for you.

Reticle Rangefinder Binoculars 

Reticle rangefinder binoculars excel over their laser competition when it comes to range, they can be used to calculate longer distances and also are much more affordable. Not all of the models require batteries to function either. 

The drawbacks of these binoculars have to its calculating process which is a little more time-consuming and less accurate. 


  • Calculates longer distances. 
  • More affordable. 
  • Some do not need batteries.


  • Calculating process is time-consuming. 
  • Less accurate.

Laser Rangefinder Binoculars 

Laser rangefinder binos are very accurate on the other hand as they do not rely on human judgement and give a result immediately with no waiting time for calculation needed. 

They do however need a constant power source to run due to the laser and are very expensive. The total range this rangefinder system can calculate is more limited and inaccurate over water.


  • More accurate. 
  • Great for hunting. 
  • Instant result.


  • Not accurate on water. 
  • Needs a power source.
  • Expensive.

Which Rangefinder Binoculars Should You Buy? 

Overall, reticle rangefinder binoculars are the preferred option for most laser binos thanks to their affordability and longer range distance, however, for professionals hunting a pair of laser rangefinder binos could be worth the investment if you want the best accuracy possible.

Top Factors To Consider In Rangefinder Binoculars 

When choosing your rangefinder binoculars, there are some key features you need to keep in mind if you want to be getting the most out of your pair of binos when hunting or spotting. 

We've listed the essentials to watch out for below.

  • Maximum range distance - Rangefinder binos in particular will have a maximum range distance, this number will determine how far off your rangefinder will be able to calculate the distance of faraway objects. Laser range finders will be more limited with this distance depending on their light beam.
  • Data accuracy - Different rangefinder binoculars will give various support data to help with accuracy such as elevation angles, temperature readings, and coordinates, these types of binos are always the better choice.
  • Field of view - A large field of view for seeing distance is important and will be more restricted if you have binos with a higher magnification.
  • Magnification & objective lens - Depending on the activity, you will choose the magnification level and objective lens size of your binoculars, range finder binos tend to have a magnification of either 10x or 8x and an objective lens of around 50mm to let a decent amount of light in.
  • Lens coatings - Like other binoculars, your rangefinder binos should have fully-multi coated lenses for the best quality optics and to reduce colour fringing.
  • Design - Most rangefinder binos are for outdoor use, so your design needs to be rugged, waterproof and fog proof.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rangefinder Binoculars 

What does ballistic configuration mean? 

This allows you to input your measurements and also allows for more accurate distance readings compared to previous rangefinder binos.

How much do marine binoculars cost? 

Standard marine binos with a rangefinder are not too expensive and are around the £100-£300 mark. 

What does a reticle display do? 

These are what gives you your measurements when looking through your binoculars in the form of a scale.

What price do laser rangefinder's cost? 

They can cost anything between £300 - £1000 depending on the quality of the model you buy.

Last Words

To conclude, rangefinder binoculars are easy to use but might take more calculating if you buy a reticle version rather than a laser rangefinder pair. To use rangefinder binoculars you simply have to divide the height of an object by what the height of the reticle scale says and times by 1000. 

Born and raised in the south coast of UK, a small town close to Cornwall, I have adventure in my blood. Ever since a young age, I have always been into the great outdoors and particularly love watching the natural wildlife. Birdwatching is what I enjoy the most, and thus my natural interest in binoculars began. I founded and run Best-Binoculars.UK a site where I talk about various aspects of and review binoculars. Hope you enjoy my ramblings :)

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Born and raised in the south coast of UK, a small town close to Cornwall, I have adventure in my blood. Ever since a young age, I have always been into the great outdoors and particularly love watching the natural wildlife. Birdwatching is what I enjoy the most, and thus my natural interest in binoculars began. I founded and run Best-Binoculars.UK a site where I talk about various aspects of and review binoculars. Hope you enjoy my ramblings :)

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