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Golf rangefinder vs hunting rangefinder, What are the differences ?

Sep 12, 2023 Mileseey tools

Many people wanted to know whether a laser golf rangefinder can be used for hunting purposes or vice versa. The reason behind this is that they expect to save some bucks by investing only in one rangefinder for both hunting and golfing.

The stark truth is that a golf rangefinder and a hunting rangefinder provide quite different measuring features. This also provides us with the impetus to explain in detail the disparity between them, allowing our customers to know that there are limitations to using a single rangefinder for both games. This article also serves as a guide for people to choose the right rangefinder for their needs.

What is a golf rangefinder?

A golf rangefinder is based on the pulsed laser principle and uses the time the shooting laser travels and bounces back to calculate the distance between the golfer and the target. Using a golf rangefinder can provide golfers with the distance information they need so that they can pick the right club, shoot the correct distance, or choose the right place to land the ball to ultimately lower the score. 

Golfers have a high demand for image clarity to understand the detailed contour and elements of the course, especially bunkers, trees, hazards, water features, and flags for better course management and mastery of the game, ensuring the ball consistently lands on the grass of the fairway. This means a golf rangefinder foregrounds the importance of optical performance, such as field of view, light transmission, and optical magnification, which matters as a crucial factor of premium golf rangefinders. 

PF1 golf rangefinder

The Mileseey PF1 golf rangefinder stands as the epitome of top of line golf rangefinder that boasts crushing optical performance with 7.5°wide field of view and over 90% light transmission thanks to the ultra-wideband dielectric lens coating and exceptionally high resolution and color contrast due to the advanced PC-3 phase coating that well repels water, oil, dust and prevents scratches. Many premium golf rangefinders are also designed with dual red and black displays to adapt to varying lighting conditions.

Flag-lock technology is another core feature of golf rangefinder, which is demonstrated in the pin seeker technology of Bushnell, Target-lock technology of Shot Scope, target acquisition technology of Precision Pro, and Stabilized technology of Nikon Coolshot Pro II. Despite these variants of flag-lock technologies, they share the commonality of the algorithm of first target priority, which confirms to the golfers with a vibration alert(the Nikon Coolshot Pro II shows flag-lock confirmation with display icon and sound) that the rangefinder has hit the flag, rather than items behind it. Flag-lock technology is easily susceptible to rainy days because the raindrops can block the beam and lead to inaccurate flag-lock performance. The problem is well addressed by the Mileseey PF1 RainShield Targeting™ technology, allowing the rangefinder to be the only all-weather high-performance golf rangefinder, maintaining consistently accurate flag-lock capability even in heavy rainy days(a precipitation rate between 25-50mm per day). 

Flat golf courses are rare and few golfers play on flat terrain. This inspires golf rangefinder manufacturers to integrate slope function into the rangefinder which takes into account the effect of incline/decline and adjusts the distance based on the elevation of the terrain to provide the “true distance”. While a golf rangefinder with slope is illegal in official golf tournaments when the slope function turns on, it does help develop golfers’ slope awareness and trains players to factor in the effect of slope to distance during practice. A high-level golfer should not only have good knowledge and control of the carry distance of each club, but a good sense of how an uphill or downhill affects his/her shot. 

Many golfer consider magnetic strip an indispensable feature of a golf rangefinder as it allows for easy attachment to the golf cart or accessories. However, the truth is that driving a golf cart on a bumpy road can easily lead to an accidental drop of the rangefinder. To combat this dilemma, some visionary manufacturers foreground the importance of pocketability and lightweight of the rangefinder. For example, the Mileseey PF1 is designed to be small and fits right in your pocket, addressing the issue of excessive reliance on the magnetic strip that adds additional weight and easily causes accidental loss.

What is a hunting rangefinder?

While a hunting rangefinder uses the same laser principle for distance calculation, it offers many distinguished features that are exclusive to hunting scenarios. 

A rangefinder for hunting typically has a much longer range(over 2,000 yards) than a golf rangefinder(typically around 1,000 yards). Archery and bullet ballistic drop are way different from the ballistic drop of a golf shot, meaning a rangefinders for hunting different measuring features than golf rangefinders. 

The last target mode(the variants could be Rain & Fog mode, Brush mode) is the major target mode of a hunting range finder which calculates the distance to the last target, as opposed to the first-target priority (Flag-lock mode) of a golf rangefinder. This is because a hunting rangefinder needs to puncture through the moisture, the trees, or other items before the game animals to provide the most accurate distance to the target. 

PFS2 hunting rangefinder

Shooting or archery rangefinder with angle compensation is also a common ranging mode which calculates the horizontal distance to the game animal. This is also a very counter-intuitive feature of a hunting rangefinder. Let’s say you are at a line-of-sight distance to the game animal on an uphill of 50 yards, while the horizontal distance is 40 yards. The true distance you need for an accurate shooting is 40 yards rather than 50 yards. This is because gravity has minimal influence on short-range shooting, meaning a 50-yard distance may lead to an overshoot of the game animal. Angle compensated distance is usually applied to all archery shooting, and can also be applied to rifle shooting with short range and mild angles(800 yards with a slope of less than 15°or 400 yards with a slope of less than 30°).

Premium high-end hunting rangefinders also provide bullet drop, holdover, and windage information for their rifle scope for long-range rifle shootings. They feature built-in sensors and paired apps that allow hunters to input bullet profiles, weather data, and vital size of the game animals all of which will be converted into the most accurate holdover and windage information to adjust their reticle(crosshairs). 

Can I use a single rangefinder for both golfing and hunting?

A golfing rangefinder may be used for hunting. For instance, the Mileseey PFS2 golf rangefinder has a version encompassing comprehensive features like smart horizontal distance, Rain and fog mode, and first target priority mode, which is applicable for archery and short-range mild-slope rifle shooting. While the normal distance ranging mode(line of sight distance) of a hunting rangefinder can be used in golfing situations to find the distance to trees, bunkers, and water features, it is not recommended to do the vice versa (hunting rangefinder for golfing) because most features of a hunting rangefinder are only exclusive to hunting scenarios and there will be various limitations when it is used in golfing scenarios, especially in courses of uneven terrains.

Final Thoughts

If you have a strict budget, you can invest in a premium golf rangefinder(like the Mileseey PFS2 comprehensive version) for both golfing and hunting. However, if you want advanced features specific to golfing or hunting, especially slope distance for golfing or holdover information for long-range rifle shooting, it is advised to buy two different rangefinders. You can’t get everything in one rangefinder and limitations will be very salient when you want to use it in multi-activities. So pick up the best rangefinder specific to golfing or hunting & ramp up your performance.

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