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How To Use a Rangefinder with Your Rifle Scope

Are you tired of missing shots at the shooting range or during big game hunting season? Do you want to be able to take those long-range shots with precision and confidence? Would you like to take your shooting skills to the next level and become a sharpshooter? You may need a rangefinder alongside your riflescope! Using a rangefinder with your rifle scope is a game-changer for any kind of long range shooting. It allows you to accurately gauge the distance between you and your target, making it easier to aim and hit your mark. 

But a rangefinder is not the only tool you need for accurate shooting. A rifle scope is equally important in helping you aim accurately and hit your target precisely. Rifle scopes magnify the image of your target, making it easier for you to see it clearly and make any necessary adjustments.

How To Use a Rangefinder with Your Rifle Scope

When used together, a rangefinder and a rifle scope can take your shooting skills to the next level. However, using these two tools together can be tricky, especially if you’re a beginner. That’s why in this article, we’ll take you through everything you need to know on how to use a rangefinder with your rifle scope.

We’ll start by explaining how rangefinders and rifle scopes work, the different types available, and the features to consider when choosing them. We’ll then show you the techniques for using a rangefinder with a rifle scope, how to prepare before using them, and provide some practice exercises to help you hone your skills. 

Whether you’re a seasoned shooter or just starting out, this article will provide you with valuable information and insights to help you improve your shooting skills and take your aim to the next level. So, are you ready to take your shooting skills to the next level and become a sharpshooter? Let’s dive into the world of using a rangefinder with your rifle scope!

How Rangefinders Work

A Rangefinder is an optical device used to determine the distance between an observer and a target. This optical device uses a technology known as time-of-flight to calculate distance. This involves emitting a pulse of light toward the target, typically in the form of a laser beam. When the light strikes the target, some of it is reflected back toward the rangefinder. The device then measures the time it takes for the pulse of light to travel to the target and back to the rangefinder. This time measurement is then used to calculate the distance to the target, which is typically displayed on a screen or in the viewfinder of the rangefinder.

Some rangefinders use different technologies to measure distance, such as phase shift or interferometry. Phase shift rangefinders measure the difference in phase between the emitted and reflected waves to calculate distance, while interferometry rangefinders use multiple beams of light to create an interference pattern that can be used to calculate distance.

Rangefinders can be used for various applications, including golfing, hunting, surveying, and military operations. They come in different shapes and sizes, from handheld units to larger models mounted on tripods or other platforms. Some rangefinders even come with advanced features like image stabilization and angle compensation, which can be especially useful for big game hunting or shooting at long distances.

Overall, rangefinders are powerful tools that can greatly improve your ability to accurately measure the distance to your target. With their advanced technology and precision measurement capabilities, they can be invaluable for hunters, shooters, and anyone else who needs to accurately measure distance in their activities.

Different Types of Rangefinders

Laser Rangefinder

Laser rangefinders use laser technology to compute the distance between the user and the target. They emit a laser beam that is reflected from the target and measures the time it takes for the beam to return to the rangefinder. The device then computes the distance based on how long it took the laser beam to travel to and from the target. Laser rangefinders are small, lightweight, and very accurate. However, they can be affected by weather conditions such as rain, snow, and fog. They also require a clear line of sight to the target, so they may not work well in heavily wooded or obstructed areas.

Laser Rangefinder

GPS Rangefinders

GPS rangefinders use GPS technology to compute the distance between the user and the target. They work by triangulating the user’s position and the target’s position using GPS satellites. GPS rangefinders are very accurate and do not require a clear line of sight to the target. They also often come with pre-loaded course data and can provide information on hazards and other course features. However, they can be affected by weather conditions such as heavy cloud cover, and they may not work well in areas with poor GPS reception.

Optical Rangefinders

Optical rangefinders use a system of lenses to measure the distance between the user and the target. They work by splitting the image of the target into two parts and then adjusting the lenses until the two parts overlap. The distance is then calculated based on the angle of the lenses. Optical rangefinders are very lightweight and do not require batteries or electronics. They are also very accurate and can work well in heavily wooded or obstructed areas. However, they can be difficult to use in low light conditions, and they require the user to have a steady hand and good eyesight to get an accurate reading.

Ultrasonic Rangefinders

Ultrasonic rangefinders use high-frequency sound waves to determine the distance between the user and the target. They work by emitting a sound wave and measuring the time it takes for the wave to bounce back off the target and return to the rangefinder. Ultrasonic rangefinders are generally less expensive than a laser range finder and do not require a clear line of sight to the target. 

Binocular Rangefinders

Binocular rangefinders combine a rangefinder with a set of binoculars, allowing the user to view the target and determine its distance at the same time. They are very convenient and allow quick and easy target acquisition, making them popular for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. Binocular rangefinders can come in either laser or GPS models and can be quite accurate. However, they are typically larger and heavier than other types of rangefinders, making them less portable.

Binocular Rangefinders

The choice of rangefinder will depend on the user’s specific needs, such as budget, accuracy requirements, and portability.

Features to Consider When Choosing a Rangefinder


The range of a rangefinder refers to the maximum distance it can accurately measure. It’s important to choose a rangefinder with a range that is suitable for the intended use. For example, if the rangefinder will be used for golfing, a range of 500-600 yards may be sufficient, while for hunting or long range shooting, a range of 1000 yards or more may be necessary. It’s also important to note that the maximum range advertised by the manufacturer may not be achievable in all conditions, such as in low light or adverse weather conditions.


The magnification of a rangefinder refers to how much it can zoom in on the target. Rangefinders typically have magnification levels between 4x and 8x. A higher magnification can make it easier to see and target smaller objects, but it can also make it more difficult to hold the rangefinder steady and can reduce the field of view. For this reason, it’s important to choose a magnification level that is appropriate for the intended use.


The accuracy of a rangefinder refers to how closely it can measure the distance to a target. A more accurate rangefinder will provide more precise distance readings, which is especially important for hunting or long-range shooting.

It’s important to choose a rangefinder with a high level of accuracy, which is typically measured in plus or minus a certain number of yards. For example, a rangefinder with an accuracy of plus or minus one yard is more accurate than one with an accuracy of plus or minus three yards. It’s also important to consider factors that can affect the rangefinder’s accuracy, such as weather conditions, reflectivity of the target, and the user’s ability to hold the rangefinder steady.

Size and Weight

The size and weight of a rangefinder are important factors to consider, as they will impact its portability and ease of use. A rangefinder that is too large or heavy may be difficult to carry or hold steady, especially for extended periods of time. On the other hand, a smaller and lighter rangefinder may be more comfortable to use, but it may sacrifice features like range or magnification. It’s important to choose a rangefinder that strikes a balance between size and weight, based on the intended use and personal preferences.


The display of a rangefinder refers to how the distance reading is presented to the user. There are two main types of displays: LCD and LED. LCD displays are typically more energy-efficient and provide a clear and easy-to-read distance reading, but they may be difficult to see in low light conditions. LED displays are more visible in low light conditions and can provide additional information like battery level and mode selection, but they can be more power-hungry and may be harder to read in bright sunlight. 

Additional Features

Many rangefinders come with additional features that can enhance their functionality and usability. Some common additional features include angle compensation, which adjusts for the angle between the user and the target, and image stabilization, which helps to reduce shakiness in the user’s hands. Other features may include built-in compasses, weather sensors, or GPS capabilities. It’s important to consider which additional features are necessary or desirable for the intended use, as they may add to the cost of the rangefinder.

Preparations Before Using a Rangefinder With a Riflescope 

Mount the Rangefinder

Before using a rangefinder with a riflescope, it’s important to mount it properly. Some rangefinders come with special mounts that attach to the rifle’s scope rings or to a rail system. Others may require a separate mount to be purchased. It’s important to ensure that the rangefinder is securely mounted and aligned with the riflescope so that the user can easily and quickly transition between using the rangefinder and the scope.

Familiarize Yourself with the Rangefinder

To use a rangefinder effectively, it’s important to be familiar with its features and functions. Before taking the rangefinder into the field, it’s a good idea to read the user manual and practice using it in a controlled environment. This will help the user to become familiar with the different modes and settings, as well as the button layout and menu navigation.

Prepare the Rifle and Scope

In addition to preparing the rangefinder, it’s important to ensure that the rifle and scope are also prepared for use. This includes checking the zero of the scope, making any necessary adjustments, and ensuring that the rifle is clean and in good working condition. It’s also important to ensure that the rifle is loaded and that the safety is engaged until the user is ready to take a shot. 

Choose a Stable Shooting Position

Using a rangefinder with a scope requires a stable shooting position to ensure accuracy. Before using the rangefinder, choose a shooting position that provides a stable base for the rifle. This could be a prone position, a seated position with a bipod or shooting sticks, or a standing position with a shooting sling. Choose a position that the user is comfortable with and that provides a stable base to prevent movement or shaking that can affect the accuracy of the shot.

Choose Appropriate Targets

To effectively use a rangefinder with a scope, it’s important to choose appropriate targets. This means selecting targets that are within the effective range of the rifle and scope, and that provide a clear and unobstructed view for the rangefinder. The target should also be large enough to provide an accurate reading from the rangefinder. It’s important to avoid using targets that are too small or difficult to see, as this can lead to inaccurate range readings and missed shots.

Check Your Environment

Before using a rangefinder with a rifle scope, it’s important to check the surrounding environment for any potential hazards or obstacles that could affect the accuracy of the shot. This includes checking for any obstructions in the line of sight to the target, such as branches or foliage, and ensuring that the shooting area is clear.

Calibrate the Rangefinder

Before using the rangefinder in the field, it’s important to calibrate it to ensure that it is providing accurate readings. This can be done by using a reflective target at a known distance, such as a metal plate or a special calibration target. The user should follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to properly calibrate the rangefinder. If the rangefinder is not calibrated correctly, it can lead to inaccurate range readings and missed shots.

Choose the Right Mode

Many rangefinders come with different modes that are designed for specific types of shooting, such as bow hunting, rifle hunting, or golf. It’s important to choose the right mode for the type of shooting that will be done with the rifle and scope. For example, if the user is using a rifle for long-range hunting, they may want to choose a mode that accounts for bullet drop and wind drift, while if they are using a bow, they may want a mode that accounts for the angle of the shot.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Using a rangefinder with a rifle scope takes practice to master. Before heading into the field, it’s important to practice using the rangefinder and the scope in a controlled environment, such as a shooting range. This will help the user to become comfortable with the equipment, as well as to hone their shooting skills. Practicing different shooting positions, known distances, and environmental conditions can help the user to be prepared for a variety of hunting scenarios.

Steps To Using a Rangefinder

Turn on the rangefinder

Locate the power button on your rangefinder and press it to turn it on. The rangefinder should display a power-on message or beep to indicate that it’s ready for use.

Aim at your target

Aim the rangefinder at your target using your rifle scope or with your naked eyes. Make sure the target is fully visible in the rangefinder’s viewfinder.

Press the ranging button

Locate the ranging button on your rangefinder, which is typically located near the power button. Press and hold the ranging button until the rangefinder displays a distance measurement.

Read the distance

The rangefinder will display the distance measurement in yards or meters, depending on the mode. The distance measurement may appear on a screen, in the viewfinder, or both.

Record the measurement

Take note of the distance measurement and adjust your scope accordingly to make an accurate shot. You can also use the measurement to estimate the trajectory of your bullet or arrow.

Turn off the rangefinder

When you’re done using the rangefinder, turn it off to conserve battery life. Press and hold the power button until the rangefinder turns off.

Practice for Honing Your Skills

Honing your skills with a range finder and rifle scope requires practice, and there are several exercises you can do to improve your accuracy and precision. Here are some practice exercises for honing your skills:

Set up targets at different distances

Set up targets at both unknown and known distances, and practice measuring the distance with your rangefinder and adjusting your scope accordingly. This will help you become more comfortable with using the range finder and adjusting your scope for different distances.

Practice in different weather conditions

Weather conditions can affect the trajectory of your bullet, so it’s important to practice in different conditions to get a feel for how your bullet will behave. Try practicing in windy conditions, for example, to see how the wind affects your shot.

Work on your breathing and trigger control

In addition to using a rangefinder and rifle scope, honing your shooting skills also involves good breathing and trigger control. Practice holding your breath and squeezing the trigger smoothly to improve your accuracy.

Shoot from different positions

Shooting from different positions can also improve your skills with a rangefinder and rifle scope. Try shooting from a prone, sitting, and standing position to get a feel for how your aim and shot placement change with different positions.

Use different types of rangefinder

Finally, consider using different types of rangefinders to improve your skills. Practice with a laser range finder and a GPS rangefinder, for example, to see which one you prefer and to get a feel for the differences in accuracy and operation.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using a Rangefinder with Your Rifle Scope

Failing to account for slope and angle

When you’re using a rangefinder with your scope, it’s important to consider the slope and angle of the terrain you’re on. This is because the distance to your target can be different when shooting uphill or downhill compared to shooting on flat ground. If you don’t take this into account, your rangefinder may give you an incorrect distance reading, leading to inaccurate shots. It’s like trying to throw a ball uphill or downhill without adjusting your aim based on the slope.

Not considering atmospheric conditions

The conditions in the air around you, like humidity, temperature, and air density, can affect the accuracy of your rangefinder. These factors can cause the laser beam emitted by the rangefinder to behave differently and give you inaccurate distance readings. For example, if it’s very hot or humid, the laser may have trouble traveling through the air and provide incorrect measurements. It’s important to be aware of these atmospheric conditions and make any necessary adjustments to compensate for them. 

Ignoring the rangefinder’s limitations

Rangefinders have specific rules they follow. They can only measure distances up to a certain limit and are designed to work with specific sizes of targets. It’s important to understand these rules and not expect the rangefinder to do things it can’t. If you try to measure distances that are too far or objects that are too small for your rangefinder, it won’t give you accurate results.

Incorrect target identification

It’s easy to make a mistake and think something is your target when it’s actually something else. Before using the rangefinder, you need to be absolutely sure about what you’re aiming at. If you accidentally measure the distance to the wrong thing, it can mess up your aim and make you miss the target.

Not practicing with the rangefinder

Using a rangefinder takes practice to get good at it. Some people make the mistake of only relying on the rangefinder without getting better at shooting. It’s like using a calculator without understanding math. To improve your accuracy, it’s important to practice using the rangefinder in different situations and distances. This helps you become familiar with how it works together with your rifle scope and makes you better at hitting your target.

Improper battery management

Rangefinders need batteries to work, just like your TV remote or a flashlight. If you don’t take care of the batteries, they might die unexpectedly when you need them the most. To avoid this, it’s important to have spare batteries with you, keep them charged up, and replace them regularly. That way, your rangefinder will always be ready to use when you want to measure distances accurately. 


How does a rangefinder work with a rifle scope?

A rangefinder works by using lasers or other methods to measure the distance between you and your target. When you look through and activate the rangefinder, it emits a laser beam or uses other technology to calculate the time it takes for the beam to reach the target and bounce back. This information helps you determine the exact distance to your target, allowing you to adjust your aim accordingly.

Can I use any rangefinder with my rifle scope?

Not all rangefinders are compatible with scopes. Some rangefinders are specifically designed to be used in conjunction with scopes, while others are meant for different purposes like golfing or surveying. It’s important to choose a rangefinder that is specifically designed for use with a rifle scope to ensure proper integration and accurate distance measurements.

Is a rangefinder necessary for long-range shooting?

While a rangefinder can be beneficial for long-range shooting, it is not necessarily a requirement. A rangefinder helps you accurately determine the distance to your target, which can be crucial for long-range shots. It allows you to make the necessary adjustments to your scope settings or aim point. However, experienced shooters who have a good understanding of ballistics and estimating distances may be able to make accurate shots without a rangefinder, but that does not eliminate the advantage shooters can get from using a rangefinder.

Can I use a rangefinder for hunting purposes?

Yes, a rangefinder can be used for hunting purposes. Hunting often involves various distances and terrain, and a rangefinder can help hunters determine the distance to their target before taking a shot. This can improve accuracy and ensure ethical hunting practices by making sure the target is within a suitable range for a clean and humane shot.

What is the ideal range for using a rangefinder with a rifle scope?

The ideal range for using a rangefinder with a rifle scope depends on the specific rangefinder and its capabilities. Different rangefinders have different maximum ranges, which indicate the furthest distance they can accurately measure. Choosing a rangefinder that suits your shooting needs and has a maximum range suitable for your intended shooting distances is important.

How often should I calibrate my rangefinder?

The calibration frequency of a rangefinder depends on the specific model and manufacturer’s recommendations. It’s a good practice to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. In general, rangefinders may not require frequent calibration unless you notice a significant decrease in accuracy or performance. However, if you drop or mishandle the rangefinder, it’s a good idea to have it recalibrated by the manufacturer or a professional to ensure accurate distance measurements.

Are there any specific techniques for using a rangefinder with a variable zoom scope?

When using a rangefinder with a variable zoom scope, there aren’t any specific techniques required. The process is similar to using a rangefinder with a fixed zoom scope. Simply look through your scope, find your target, and then use the rangefinder to measure the distance. The main thing to remember is to adjust the zoom level on your scope to match the desired magnification for your shot after obtaining the distance reading from the rangefinder.

What are some popular brands of rangefinders for rifle scopes?

There are several popular brands that offer rangefinders specifically designed for use with rifle scopes. Some well-known brands include Leupold, Vortex Optics, Bushnell, Nikon, Sig Sauer, and ATN. These brands are known for producing reliable and accurate rangefinders that are compatible with rifle scopes.

Can I use a rangefinder with an illuminated reticle?

Yes, you can use a rangefinder with an illuminated reticle. The illuminated reticle provides a better aiming point, especially in low-light conditions. The rangefinder and the illuminated reticle serve different purposes and can be used together. You can use the rangefinder to measure the distance to your target and then adjust the aiming point on your illuminated reticle based on that distance for accurate shots.

Does using a rangefinder affect the battery life of my rifle scope?

Using a rangefinder itself doesn’t directly affect the battery life of your rifle scope. Rangefinders usually have their own separate power source, such as batteries, and don’t draw power from the scope. However, it’s important to manage the battery life of your rangefinder separately to ensure it remains functional when you need it.

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