Rangefinders are devices used to find objects and measure the distance between it and the user. This is typically used for fieldwork, especially when the person is unable to physically measure the distance due to a mobile target or simply because the environment wouldn’t allow. Its uses are diverse, but it is mostly functional and sought after for golf and hunting.
The demand for rangefinders in these two fields has made significant changes and specializations in rangefinders for golfing and hunting. The question is, are they interchangeable? Is it possible to use a golf rangefinder for hunting and vice versa?
To be specific and direct, yes, both could be used for the other because essentially, it is still aimed to measure distances. As a matter of fact, some rangefinders could do both with some clicks and change in settings.
However, it is vital to dissect each difference that they share and what makes each well adapted to its specialization. This way, when using a golf or hunting rangefinder for other purposes, one would know how the rangefinder would work and what it would focus on – considering that it is made and designed to specially serve a specific purpose: either for golfing or for hunting.
Rangefinders are used in golf to find the pin. This makes its softwared geared towards finding the nearest object, the pin, and seperating the background for faster and smoother focus. Golf rangefinders use technology that make finding the pin easy. Leupold calls it PinHunter, Nikon call it FTPM or First Target Priority Mode, and Bushnell calls it Pinseeker.
While golf rangefinders find the nearest object and separate it from the background, hunting rangefinders on the other hand tend to look for more distant objects. This makes sense, considering that in shady areas, the target will be way behind some leaves and bushes in the foreground that could be distracting.
Although this is the case, some hunting rangefinders are still reported to be efficient enough for golf, while other rangefinders, as already said, are designed to be able to switch modes from one that is ideal for golf (finding close targets) to one that is ideal for hunting.
In terms of slope, both are equipped with inclinometers for measuring the inclination in the field. Some parts of golf courses are inclined and one could also incounter varying slopes for hunting too.
Being specialized for golfing or hunting does not specifically affect the range of a rangefinder. The ranging capacity still depends on the model and brand. Newer and more expensive models usually have a longer range.
Magnification is significant in finding the object that one is supposed to range. Most rangefinders have the same magnification capacities. Usually, a hunter needs a higher magnification, since a hunting environment is variable at most times and a target could be very far from the user. Golfing on the other hand, has set distances and wouldn’t require a very high magnification.
If you are considering to use the rangefinder for both purposes and your budget isn’t restricted, a higher magnification would be a good option.
Weatherproofing and durability
Hunting is definitely subjected to more variable and sometimes harsh environments compared to golfing. Although this isn’t very related to the sport per se, it is a consideration for getting a rangefinder. Weather-resistance is not uncommon to rangefinders. However, if you expect your rangefinder to meet tough days, weather proof body and optics would be a good investment. If you hunt (or plan to hunt) in places with unpredictable weather, a weatherproof gear would be perfect. A tough body that is water, dust, and shock proof would be worth every buck.
Some other modes are available in specialized rangefinders. Take for example, hunting rangefinders have a ballistic mode that accurately measures a bullet drop based on the bullet’s weight, velosity, and the used caliber. Some even give information on how much hold-over is needed.
Sometimes buying one top-of-the-line rangefinder that is packed with features could be cheaper than buying two. If you do both golfing and hunting, consider getting a good one that does a good job in both. However, if you only do one of the two and you want to be practical, know what you need based on the said criteria before making a decision.