Do Binoculars Have Rangefinder Built In?

Binoculars are one of the most vital gear items for hunters, shooters and even golfers when it comes to making an accurate shot on any target. However, the magnification capabilities of binoculars alone are often not enough for users to properly assess the exact distance of the target. 

Binoculars are made with two optical lenses aligned side-to-side that enable users to experience a more clear view of their target using magnification. A rangefinder, on the other hand, is a tool that’s used to measure the distance of a specific target by emitting a laser beam which calculates distance. 

While these two types of gear items are distinctively unique in their functions, some outdoor brands are now manufacturing binoculars that feature built-in rangefinders. Combining rangefinders and binoculars into one single device is extremely convenient and allows users to acquire precise distance readings on the objects they’re observing. 

In order to understand binoculars and rangefinders to a better degree, let’s take a closer look at each one. In this article, we’ll delve into the construction and engineering that goes into a typical pair of binoculars, as well as the average rangefinder. In addition, we’ll explain everything you need to know when it comes to selecting a set of binoculars with rangefinder built-in, along with some of the top makes and models. 

Binocular Basics

What are Binoculars? 

Binoculars have long been an essential tool for outdoor enthusiasts and others which helps to provide a more detailed view of distant objects. The typical pair of binoculars is made of two identical telescopes, aligned side-by-side, which allow users to observe objects with both eyes simultaneously. 

Binoculars were introduced as a significant improvement on the traditional monocular that had been used for centuries by explorers, hunters, military generals and others. Using binoculars allows one to view objects with enhanced depth perception, as well as a more immersive viewing experience compared to monocular devices.

There are a wide variety of uses and applications for binoculars which include wildlife observation, hunting, shooting, exploration and many others. Hunters usually rely very heavily on binoculars to spot game and determine whether there is the potential to harvest an animal or not. Hikers also prefer to use binoculars to help determine the best course of navigation when moving through difficult terrain. There are also a number of applications one might use binoculars for in maritime activities like fishing, sailing and boating. 


Binoculars are characterized by two main specifications–magnification and objective lens size. Magnification basically refers to how much larger an object will appear through the binoculars compared to viewing it with the naked eye. Common magnification levels range from 8x to 12x, with higher magnifications offering more detailed views but there are a few drawbacks with having such powerful magnification. 

Objective lens size is usually measured in millimeters and determines how much light the binoculars can gather. Larger objective lenses result in brighter and clearer images. These are especially helpful when viewing targets or game animals in low-light conditions around dawn or dusk. However larger objective lenses will increase the weight and size of the binoculars. 

There are several factors that come into play as it relates to the performance and user-friendliness of binoculars. One of the most prominent among these factors is eye relief, which is the distance between the eyepiece and the user’s eye when the entire field of view is visible. Longer eye relief is better for users wearing eyeglasses as this allows them to maintain a comfortable viewing position without having to hold the binoculars in an awkward manner. 

Exit pupil is another factor, which is calculated by dividing the objective lens size by the magnification. This factor determines the overall brightness of the image. Binoculars with larger exit pupil diameter will produce brighter images, particularly in dim lighting conditions such as dawn or dusk.

Binoculars operate using a variety of different prism types. These prism types are often made of either Porro prisms or roof prisms, and work to invert and flip the image for correct orientation. Porro prisms offer better depth perception and a wider field of view, but are typically bulkier. In contrast, roof prisms provide a more compact design that’s well-suited for compact binoculars models. 

Depending on the quality and performance expectations, binoculars include various characteristics that make them more suitable for certain types of outdoor activities. Some binoculars will include features like waterproofing, fog proofing, rubberized coatings for shock absorption and durability, as well as better usability in a variety of conditions. 

Some advanced binocular brands include image stabilization technology that counteracts the downsides associated with powerful magnification. This technology is able to eliminate hand tremors and deliver a more steady view, which is very useful for people who typically experience hand tremors. Understanding the specifications and features is crucial to selecting the right type of binoculars for things like target shooting, hunting, birdwatching and other activities. 

Binocular Design Types 

If you’re interested in finding the perfect pair of binoculars for your own specific needs, it’s vital to understand the inner workings of binoculars, and what sets each prism type apart from one another. Porro prism and roof prism are uniquely different in their own respects and each one will deliver particular advantages and disadvantages. 

Porro prism binoculars feature an offset design, where the objective lenses are not in line with the eyepieces. This type of design allows for better depth perception, wider field of view and usually delivers better image quality compared to roof prism binoculars. Porro prism binoculars  are usually considered to be more affordable than their counterparts, however, they tend to be bulkier and heavier. This downside makes them less portable and not ideal for anyone seeking a sleek, compact pair of binoculars to fit in with the rest of their gear. 

Roof prism binoculars have a straight-through design, which allows binoculars to be constructed in a more compact and streamlined shape. They are typically more durable and lightweight compared to Porro prism binos. This difference makes them ideal for outdoor activities like hunting, hiking or backpacking in remote wilderness areas where the weight and size of each piece of gear matters. Roof prism binoculars are generally more expensive due to the complex manufacturing process required in their production. The main drawback with roof prism binoculars is that they rarely offer the same image quality or field of view that’s found in Porro prism models. 

Rangefinder Basics 

What is a Rangefinder?

A rangefinder is an innovative optical device that’s engineered to measure the distance from the observer to a target with precise accuracy. These devices perform such measurements by emitting a laser beam or other electromagnetic radiation towards the target and measuring the time it takes for the beam to reflect off the target and return to the rangefinder’s sensors. 

Rangefinders can be used in a variety of different kinds of activities. Golfers rely on rangefinders to determine the distance to the hole or hazards, which helps them select the right club and strategically plan their shot. Archers and bowhunters often rely very heavily on rangefinders to accurately determine the distance of their targets, ensuring precise shot placement. Rifle hunters are also known to use rangefinders to assess the range to their target, especially when shooting at distant game animals. These tools also help eliminate much of the guesswork when it comes to long-range target shooting. 

Rangefinder technology has improved in recent decades. The first types of rangefinders were optical rangefinders which relied on triangulation to provide distance assessments. Brand would later begin using ultrasonic rangefinders that employ radio waves to measure distances between the user and their target. More recently, modern rangefinder models operate using advanced laser systems. 

Laser rangefinders produce readings by emitting a laser beam towards the target and measuring the time it takes for the beam to bounce back. This time measurement is then converted into a distance reading displayed on an LED or LCD screen and happens almost instantaneously compared to older rangefinder technology. Some rangefinders include additional functionalities such as angle compensation. This feature is capable of adjusting distance measurements to account for elevation changes, which is crucial for hunters and archers shooting across steep inclines or declines. 

Many of the more popular rangefinder brands in today’s outdoor industry usually incorporate other notable features. One of the most common is target priority modes, which prioritize the closest or farthest targets in scenarios with multiple objects within the field of view. This allows users to obtain distance readings to a variety of potential targets, enhancing efficiency by eliminating the time it would take to perform individual readings on each object.

Rangefinders are especially useful in a wide variety of outdoor activities. Modern laser rangefinders with advanced features like those mentioned above are recommended for serious hunters or target shooters who can’t compromise on accuracy and performance. Depending on a user’s budget and specific needs, some of these advanced features may not be necessary to achieve the desired results. 

Rangefinder Design Types 

The most prominent modern rangefinders come in either laser or ultrasonic design types. There are some notable differences between each design, along with distinct advantages and disadvantages. 

Laser rangefinders have a solid reputation for incredible accuracy and versatility. By emitting a laser beam, these rangefinders offer precise distance measurements over long ranges. Their accuracy makes them especially popular among hunters and outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds.

Most hunters choose laser rangefinders because they normally feature compact designs, yet it is their ability to provide instant and accurate readings that aids in the speed of a hunter’s decision-making when time is of the essence. One of the main downsides to using laser rangefinders is that they don’t always perform optimally in adverse weather conditions. This is due to the fact that the laser beam is obstructed by things like fog, snow or rain. 

Ultrasonic rangefinders, on the other hand, use sound waves to assess the distance between the user and a target. These devices send out ultrasonic pulses towards the target and measure the time it takes for the sound waves to bounce back. Ultrasonic rangefinders are useful in outdoor activities like hunting and shooting, but they provide some unique advantages that may be appealing to some users. 

They are generally less expensive than laser rangefinders and usually perform well in low-light conditions. However, ultrasonic rangefinders are limited in the overall distance they’re able to measure and provide readings compared to their laser counterparts. Their reliance on sound waves also makes them susceptible to inaccurate readings when focused on objects with soft or irregular surfaces. 

Laser rangefinders are the perfect choice for users who value superior accuracy and range, despite their issues in adverse weather conditions. Ultrasonic rangefinders are more favorable for users seeking a more budget-friendly option that will also allow them to acquire distance measurements in low-light scenarios like dawn or dusk. It’s important to consider these factors and how they might impact your desired results before selecting a rangefinder. 

Combination Binocular-Rangefinder Devices

Some of the most innovative products in the outdoor optic industry today are binoculars that feature built-in rangefinders. These products represent a remarkable combination of two essential optical tools commonly used by hunters, target shooters, archery enthusiasts and others. These distinct gear items provide users with the convenience of magnified viewing of distant objects, as well as simultaneously delivering precise distance measurement for the object in view. 

Some of the outdoor optic industry’s premier brands have released various models of binocular-rangefinder combos in recent years. These include Sig Sauer, Vortex, Leupold and many others. Many of these products offer additional features that make them especially useful for hunters and target or tactical shooting. 

The major advantage of binocular-rangefinder combos is the overall convenience and efficiency of their performance. Most of these binoculars include laser rangefinder technology that allows them to seamlessly deliver distance readings at targets of varying degrees. Having the ability to accurately assess the distance of a game animal while viewing it with powerful magnification makes it possible for users to make an ethical shot in less time than it would take to utilize both binoculars and a rangefinder. This streamlined operation carries over into many other types of outdoor activities, making binocular-rangefinder combos extremely valuable. 

It is true, however, that binocular-rangefinder combos bring certain limitations that should be considered. These devices are often much heavier than standard binoculars or rangefinders, which can add unwanted weight to an already heavy pack. As is expected, the more powerful magnification of the lenses and more capable rangefinder technology in these products makes them more expensive. If cost is not a prohibiting factor, hunters and target shooters should seriously consider a quality pair of binoculars with a built-in rangefinder as a serious investment. 

In some cases, binocular-rangefinder combos may not deliver the same level of performance that their individual counterparts are capable of giving users. Some brands choose to employ less powerful lenses and laser technology in order to craft a combo product that has much of the same look and feel of standard binoculars. If precise distance measurement is something that can’t be compromised, users may want to compare the advantages of acquiring a quality set of binoculars and premium model rangefinder. 

There’s no denying the convenience and streamlined functionality that comes with binocular-rangefinder combos. Depending on the particular activity in which they will be used, users should be discerning in their priorities and select the option that best fits their needs. Regardless, a binocular-rangefinder combo is a worthy addition to any outdoor enthusiast’s gear arsenal. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Do all binoculars have built-in rangefinders?

No, not all binoculars feature built-in rangefinders. While some models do have integrated rangefinding capabilities for streamlined functionality, most binoculars in today’s outdoor industry are designed solely to provide users with magnified views of distant objects. 

What’s the benefit of having both in one device?

Having both binoculars and a rangefinder in one device offers convenience by reducing gear. It also streamlines the performance in various outdoor activities like hunting or target shooting by providing quick, accurate distance measurements as users observe objects. This ability optimizes hunters and shooters’ decision-making in the field, allowing them to set up and take an accurate shot much faster. 

What are the limitations of combination units?

Binocular-rangefinder combo units can sometimes be bulkier and heavier than the individual units in most cases. The range at which a binocular-rangefinder combo can produce distance readings will vary depending on the specific model. These items are usually much more expensive than purchasing a pair of binoculars and a rangefinder separately.

What price range are combination binocular-rangefinders?

Binocular-rangefinder combos vary in price depending on the quality and components used to produce them. These items typically range anywhere from around $350 for budget-friendly models to more than $3,000 for premium options. The main differences in price are based on optical quality, rangefinding accuracy, as well as additional features such as ballistic calculators.

Get Started Finding the Right Gear 

If you’re ready to start searching for a new set of binoculars, rangefinder or combo unit, Optics Force has you covered. We offer the biggest selection of optics gear and the best prices. Our experts are ready to answer any questions you have regarding any of the inventory listed on our site, as well as general product knowledge to help you select the products that will elevate your performance in the field. 

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