Can You Use Binoculars as a Rangefinder?

By Richard

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One tool that many people consider adding to their kit is a rangefinder, which can help accurately determine the distance between the user and a target. However, some do ask if they can use their binos as an alternative to rangefinders as both function similarly to some extent.

Can You Use Binoculars as a Rangefinder? Yes, binoculars can be used as rangefinders but their readings and measurements are not always accurate. It is not recommended to use binos for those activities in which you will need perfect accuracy like golf etc.

In this article, I will explore the question of whether or not binoculars can be used as a rangefinder and what you need to consider before giving it a try. So have a cup of tea in your hands and ready the whole article. Let’s dive in!

Related Article: Can Binoculars See Through Curtains?

How Binoculars and Rangefinders Work?

Rangefinders and binoculars are quite similar optical tools and many people get confused in the usability of these tools. Binoculars use lenses to magnify the image of the targeted objects.

On the other hand, rangefinder doesn’t focus on magnifying the visuals. In fact, they work to give you the exact distance between you and your target object. For this purpose, they use lasers.

Binoculars that fall in the budget category don’t come with rangefinding capabilities. However, those binos are considered a premium rangefinding feature which ignites the debate whether only binoculars are good to go or you will need a separate rangefinder.

Why is knowing the range between you and the target important?

There are many outdoor activities like hunting, and golfing where knowing the exact distance between you and target is very important. When you don’t know the distance then chances are high that you will miss the target.

In hunting, knowing the distance determines whether you should shoot at the target or not. Imagine yourself hiding in the bushes in the search of buck, and not knowing if you need to shoot or not due to not knowing the distance.

It is scary bad! Isn’t it? 

Hunters know the range of their guns and they shoot when they feel confident that their buck won’t escape away from the gun attack. Similarly, golf players use rangefinders to know the distance before kicking the balls.

Can Binoculars be Used as a Rangefinder?

Binoculars are not made for rangefinding however, they can still be used for knowing or more appropriately estimating the distance between you and the targeted object.

Almost all modern binoculars come with features like ranging finding etc. These binoculars can be used as an alternative to a rangefinder but they are not perfect at giving you an accurate measurement.

For example, Vortex Optics Fury HD Binoculars have excellent rangefinding capabilities but you can never rely on their measurement all the time as they sometimes malfunction and give you wrong readings.

This is not only in Vortex Fury, in fact, but all the binoculars that have rangefinding capabilities also are not trusted. Those activities in which you need just estimation of distance for example bird watching, using such binoculars as an alternative to rangefinders. 

These binos are not recommended for those activities in which wrong measurements or readings of the distance can put you in trouble. For example in a golf game, knowing the wrong distance can put you on the losing side.

Limitations of Using Binoculars as a Rangefinder

Binoculars are not made for rangefinding purposes – instead, they are perfect for getting a closer view of the targeted objects. But many people do use them for finding the distance but this usage is not perfect. There are two main limitations of binoculars when they are used as rangefinders.

  • Binoculars that have a rangefinding feature don’t give an accurate distance between you and the target. If you use them for those activities in which knowing the distance is important, then keep in mind that you’ll regret using these binos as they will offer the wrong distance.
  • They are not very powerful and their rangefinding capabilities are limited to some distance. For example, most binoculars will give you distances within a few hundred meters. But when you will need to know the range of the object which is far away then binoculars won’t work.

When to Use a Rangefinder vs. Binoculars?

Binoculars are a very good option for casual activities like bird watching. Keep in mind that binoculars that have rangefinding capabilities are not perfect for giving you accurate readings.

If you’re going to perform an activity like golf in which slight miscalculation of distance can make you regret, then rangefinders should be your go to option as they offer more accuracy as compared to binoculars.

Key Takeaways: Rangefinder should be used for activities in which you can afford slight misjudgment. On the other hand, binoculars are for casual use where wrong reading doesn’t put you in trouble. I recommend you to rangefinder for professional use.


So, I have to take this debate to a conclusion. I believe binoculars are a very good option for those people who don’t have extra money to buy a separate rangefinder. They can buy binoculars with range-finding features and can use them as replacements. 

However, this alternative is not perfect and if you do so, you’ll have to compromise on the accuracy. If accuracy is your concern, I recommend you to go with rangefinder and have no regrets.

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