Golf vs Hunting Rangefinder — (Differences, Targeting, and more!)

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Both golfers and hunters love rangefinders because they can help each identify how far a target is away from them with pinpoint accuracy.

Can you use a golf rangefinder for hunting or can you use a hunting rangefinder for golf?

The Tell Me More Golf team is going to look at golf vs hunting rangefinders to see if there are differences between the two, what you need to look for in each type, and if one laser rangefinder can work for both sports.

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Differences Between Rangefinders

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Both golf rangefinders and hunting rangefinders are used to get accurate distances of targets downrange from the shooter.

However, how they identify targets can be different.

Foreground Targeting vs. Background Targeting

When a golfer uses a rangefinder, he is shooting at a target in the foreground like the flagstick, or a bunker. Golf rangefinders have settings like Pinseeker, or target priority mode that lock in on the targets in the foreground.

Hunters are shooting at targets that are a long-distance away. They need a distant target mode to lock on long range targets, not objects in the foreground. The ability to scan distant objects and get a distance reading is also important as an animal may move in the background and locking in might not be possible.


Both golf and hunting rangefinders often have a slope feature on them. The slope feature calculates the difference in elevation from where the shooter is standing to the target. This calculation gives the shooter a “play like” yardage that is higher or lower than the true, line-of-sight yardage.

While laser rangefinders with slope are legal to use in casual rounds, golfers cannot use the slope function during tournament play unless local rules allow them. Golfers should look for rangefinders that have the option to turn the slope on and off as needed.

On hunting rangefinders, the slope feature is often called angle compensation. This lets hunters know how much higher or lower they need to aim to compensate for the target being above or below them.


Both golf rangefinders and hunting rangefinders use magnification to get a closer look at the targets they are shooting.

Golf rangefinders, because they are shooting targets within 500 yards, usually have a maximum magnification of 6X.

Hunting Rangefinders, which can shoot targets at over 1000 yards, have up to 10x magnification to help them clearly acquire their targets.


One of the biggest differences between golf and hunting rangefinders is the color schemes that they come in.

Because alerting prey is not a concern, golf rangefinders come in a wide range of colors to suit the style of the golfer.

Most hunting rangefinders come in dark or camouflage versions. You don’t want to alert the prey of your presence by using a rangefinder with bright colors or reflective surfaces.


When you look into the eyepiece of a laser rangefinder, there is a reticle in the center of the screen to aim the laser beam at the target. The yardage shot, and any slope information displayed on the screen can be hard to see in either bright sunlight, or in low-lighting.

Both golf rangefinders and hunting rangefinders typically come with either LED or LCD displays. There are strengths and weaknesses to both display types that affect both golfers and hunters.

Red Reticle/LED

Rangefinders with these screens can be more expensive than other versions of laser rangefinders. They are great to use in low-lighting as the red reticle stands out against the background. However, in the dark, the backlighting can hurt your night vision.

On dazzling days, the red reticle can be tough to see because of the ambient lighting and glare in the background.

Black Display/LCD

This is the more common display for most rangefinders and is typically in less expensive models. The black reticle is easy to see in sunshine, but harder to see in low-light or when shooting objects with dark backgrounds.

LCD displays that come with a back-light can make it easier to see in low light or into areas with a shady background.

Both golfers and hunters need to think about what time of day they will use their rangefinders and the backgrounds they will shoot against to choose the right rangefinder for their needs.



Both golf and hunting are sports that are played outside and in inclement weather. Look for the IPX Rating for your rangefinder to help to determine the weatherproofing capabilities of your rangefinder.

The IPX rating system goes from 0, no protection, up to 9, which is protected against high pressure and high temperature water. Devices with IPX ratings of 5 or 6 are water-resistant, and over 7 are waterproof.

Both golfers and hunters should look for laser rangefinders with IPX ratings over 7. You can get caught in a rainstorm golfing or hunting and want to have devices that can handle sudden changes in weather.

Accuracy And Speed Comparisons

There are several things to consider when looking at accuracy and speed comparisons between golf and hunting rangefinders.

Golf Rangefinder

A high-quality golf laser rangefinder will be accurate up to 500 yards to within a yard. The closer the target is to the shooter, the more quickly the rangefinder will acquire and lock onto the target.

Because objects that a golfer is going to shoot are static, they will not be as fast to lock onto the target as hunting rangefinders.

Weather and time of day can interfere with the laser beam between the shooter and the target, which can also slow results.

Hunting Rangefinders

High-quality hunting rangefinders need to be exceptionally accurate and fast when locking onto and providing accurate yardage readings to the shooter.

Hunters need to lock onto targets at over 500 yards

They should also calculate angle compensation to compensate for elevation changes between the hunter and the target.

Hunting rangefinders need to lock onto targets quickly because they are often moving through grass and foliage at long distances. Many hunting rangefinders have a scan mode that allows them to scan all the objects in the background instead of locking into a single object.

Golf rangefinders shoot at objects that are static and closer to the shooter. Hunting rangefinders shoot targets that are farther downrange and often moving, so they need to be more responsive than golf rangefinders.

FAQ Section

Can You Use a Golf Rangefinder for Hunting?

You can use a golf rangefinder for hunting, depending on the type of hunting that you are doing and the model of rangefinder you are using. A golf rangefinder has a maximum range of about 1,000 yards, so short range activities like archery would be OK.

However, a golf rangefinder might not have the range, nor the speed to lock onto targets that are over 500 yards and moving in the background. Check the specifications of your golf rangefinder to see if it has the range and targeting modes to suit the type of hunting you are doing.

Can I use a hunting rangefinder for golf?

You can use a hunting rangefinder for golf. Look for models that have a scan mode or a first target mode as those will do a better job of picking up the flagstick or a hazard in the foreground.

Hunters do not use hunting rangefinders every day and, as often as a golfer uses a golfing rangefinder, so durability and battery life may be an issue.

Are golf rangefinders the same as hunting rangefinders?

No, golf rangefinders are not the same as hunting rangefinders. Golf rangefinders have a much shorter range of about 1,000 yards maximum where a hunting rangefinder can have ranges over 4,000 yards.

Golf rangefinders typically have a maximum magnification of 6X, while hunting rangefinders can have magnification up to 10X.

Golf rangefinders use first-target mode as a default for target objects in the foreground. Hunting rangefinders use distant target mode to lock on targets in the background.

A quality rangefinder made by Leica, Nikon, Leupold, Callaway, and Bushnell comes with both first-target mode, distant target mode, scan mode and a slope mode.

Can I use my vortex rangefinder for golf?

Yes, you can use your Vortex rangefinder for golf. Some Vortex models are better than others for golf because they have different targeting modes where the rangefinder will lock on targets in the foreground.

All Vortex rangefinders are powerful enough and responsive enough for a golfer to use during a round of golf.

Do you really need a rangefinder for golf?

No, you don’t need a rangefinder to play golf. However, a rangefinder can help you get accurate yardages to targets on a golf course when playing a round. Being able to get precise yardages on the course can not only help you play more quickly, and it can help you score better too.

If you’re not using a laser rangefinder, a golf GPS device is another great tool to give you not only accurate yardage to hazards and greens on the golf course, they can also help you keep score and track your statistics during a round.

Conclusion: Research by

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There are specific rangefinders for both hunting and golf. However, you can use a high-end rangefinder with different targeting modes, and slope/angle compensation for both golfing and for hunting.

Look for quick distance measuring, accurate readings, slope, long battery life, and durability when looking for the best golf rangefinder, or hunting rangefinder. Also look for an IPX rating of 7 or higher to protect your rangefinder from being damaged when used in wet conditions.

Laser rangefinders can help your golf game, and also bag more prey when out hunting. Take the time to do the research to find out if one rangefinder can meet your golfing and hunting needs.


Patrick Corley Tell Me More Golf Instructor and Coach
Patrick Corley
From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
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