Best Rangefinder Rifle Scopes: Top 5 Picks, Buying Guide from Rifle Experts

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By Dennis Howard •  17 min read

One of the key components for accurate long-distance shooting is the distance to the target.  An accurate estimate of the distance to the target is required to calculate bullet drop.  The shooter can compensate by holding over the target or dialing in the appropriate elevation changes into the scope.

rangefinder scopes

Accurately judging distance has always been a challenge.  However, new technology has made accurately assessing distance easier and almost automatic for shooters.  Laser rangefinders have been available for several years.  Now scope manufacturers are building laser range finding technology into scopes.

If you are a long-range shooter and considering a rangefinding scope for your rifle, the new technology is both attractive and confusing.  Below are my recommendations for the best range finders scopes.

SCOPE DETAILS
  • Built-in electronic compass for easy navigation.
  • Multiple reticle types built-in and are easily selectable.
  • Reasonable price.
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  • X96 reticle and programming app.
  • Auto point bullet drop compensation.
  • Burris Forever Warranty.
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  • Rangefinder works out to 1500 yards.
  • LED illumination in the reticle.
  • Bluetooth connectivity.
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Before we get into the deeper review of the scopes, there are some things to understand about the latest generation of range-finding scopes.

How Do Laser Rangefinder Scopes Work?

In the simplest terms, the scope has a laser built into the housing of the scope.  The laser fires pulsed laser bursts at the target and then time how long the laser light takes to bounce back to a sensor in the scope.  The range finder can use this time to calculate the distance to the target.

As simple as it sounds, a laser range finder is an incredibly sophisticated piece of kit.  It requires a laser, a sensor sensitive enough to see the faint laser light even in full sun, and a computer to perform incredibly fast calculations.  Keeping this small enough to fit into the body of the scope without becoming bulky or requiring a huge battery is the challenge.


Best Rangefinder Scopes: My Top 5 Picks

I always urge anyone buying shooting equipment to find the piece of kit that best fits them and their needs.  Different shooters always have different expectations and goals for any equipment they add to their range bag or field bag.  An optic of any kind requires the same care in selection. 

These are my picks in their specific category of the best range finding scopes for 2020.  My picks may not fit your needs, but they should give you a starting place on which to make your decision.

1. Best Laser Rangefinder Scope with Thermal Vision – ATN X-Sight HD 5-20

ATN X-Sight HD 5-20

ATN has made its reputation selling tech optics since 1995.  Today, their product line includes some of the latest technology in thermal imaging optics available to civilian buyers.  The range of options offered by ATN is staggering.

Technically, the ATN scope is not an optical scope.  These thermal imaging scopes use sophisticated electronics to gather infrared light or visible light and process the light into digital signals displayed in the scope’s eyepiece.  A thermal imaging scope is a camera and a viewer.

Computers built into the scope can process the images in various ways and calculate such things a distance, bullet drop compensation, and many other functions.  The range of functions even includes linking with Bluetooth devices to record video or capture still images.  The ATN scope incorporates an amazing number of these features

Pros

Cons

If you are looking for technology packed into a riflescope, you won’t be disappointed by the ATN X-Sight HD 5 – 20 Thermal scope.  It may be a little boxy and clumsy-looking, but this scope performs out of the park.  For the money, this is probably the most feature-rich range-finding scope on the market.

  • Built-in electronic compass for easy navigation.
  • Multiple reticle types built-in and are easily selectable.
  • Reasonable price.
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2. Best Traditional Range Finder Scope – Burris Eliminator III LaserScope 4-16x50mm

Burris Eliminator III LaserScope 4-16x50mm

If you prefer a traditional glass optical scope with a built-in laser rangefinder, you should look at the offerings from Burris.  Burris has a great reputation as a scope builder.  The Eliminator line of scopes incorporates all the other Burris scopes’ features and quality with the advantages of a precision built-in laser range finder.

One of the great features of the Burris laser range finder system is the auto trajectory compensation feature.  Push a button on the scope, and an illuminated dot on the reticle shows your new aiming point. You no longer need to fiddle with turrets or calculating holdover.   

Burris also offers an app that allows you to enter all the necessary information about your shooting situation to help get the most precise shooting compensation allowances.  You can enter such information as

Burris includes all the features you would expect in one of their optical scopes as well

Pros

Cons

The Burris Eliminator III Laser scope is my choice as the best traditional optical scope with a rangefinder.  The combination of features and the price keep this scope at a point that most shooters can afford to add this quality of optics to their long-range rifle. 

  • X96 reticle and programming app.
  • Auto point bullet drop compensation.
  • Burris Forever Warranty.
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3. The Ultimate Range Finding Rifle Scope – Swarovski DS 5-25 4A-I Riflescope

Swarovski DS 5-25 4A-I Riflescope

If budget isn’t a concern or you shoot at extreme ranges and need the best clarity and quality of optical glass you can find, the Swarovski Ds 5-21 riflescope is where you want to look.  Consider that Swarovski produces some of the world’s finest optical glass and couple it with attention to detail and construction. This combination has always resulted in the finest of rifle scopes.

Swarovski has mated their optics skills with the latest in technology to produce the Swarovski DS 5-24 riflescope.  You won’t find a riflescope with a built-in rangefinder that offers this quality and technologically superior performance.

Pros

Cons

  • Rangefinder works out to 1500 yards.
  • LED illumination in the reticle.
  • Bluetooth connectivity.
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4. Best Budget Option for a Range Finder Scope – ATN Auxiliary Ballistic Laser 1000

ATN Auxiliary Ballistic Laser 1000

The ATN Auxiliary Ballistic Laser 1000 is technically not a scope or optic.  However, it is a legitimate option for anyone on a tight budget who wants to add the capability of having a laser range finder mounted on a rifle. 

If you already have an ATN scope that doesn’t have a rangefinder, this may be a perfect option.  Many of us already carry a laser range finder as part of our kit.  Using a separate range finder can be tedious and time-consuming.  The separate range-finder is one more thing to have in a pocket or backpack that you must fumble to retrieve.

ATN solves many of these issues with its auxiliary ballistic laser unit.  This device attaches to the forward end of your existing scope.  The scope pairs with your ATN scope’s operating controls via Bluetooth, giving you full operational control with no extra buttons with which to contend.

The downside here is that you must have an ATN SmartScope to use this add on product.  It is not compatible with other scopes.

Pros

Cons

If you own one of the compatible ATN riflescopes and longed for a laser rangefinder, this is a cool way to add the functionality to your scope.  The price is relatively easy to justify when considering the cost of a new scope with a built-in laser rangefinder.

  • Adds the full range of ballistic data to your existing ATN scope.
  • Easy to install and pair with your ATN scope.
  • Great range out to 1500 yards.
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5. Runner-up for Best Auxiliary Scope Mounted Range Finder – Laserworks LE-032 Riflescope Mate Rangefinder

Laserworks LE-032 Riflescope Mate Rangefinder

Adding rangefinder capability to a standard rifle scope is all but impossible.  The Laserworks LE-032 Riflescope Mate Rangefinder is one possible solution.  This rangefinder mounts to the top or side of the front rings on your scope mounts.  Mounting this rangefinder does require scope rings with auxiliary Picatinny rails on the front ring.

Having your rangefinder mounted conveniently on your scope has its advantages.  The readouts on the range are clear and easy to see.  Having the range information easy to see can speed up making compensations on your scope.  A mounted rangefinder eliminates carrying a separate rangefinder in your pocket or backpack.  It keeps the rangefinder where it is easiest and quickest to use.

Pros

Cons

If a true range finding scope is not in your budget, adding a simple rangefinder to your rifle may be an option.  You won’t get all the technical wizardry you get with a heads-up display and automatic compensation systems, but you will have a rangefinder that is where it needs to be and ready all the time.

  • Accurate and fast.
  • Doesn’t add a lot of weight or bulk to my rifle.
  • Easy to operate.
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The Factors to Consider When Choosing a Range Finder Scope

You should consider the same factors that are important to choosing any optic for your rifle.  Nothing has changed in that department.  However, the addition of a range finder in your scope makes several of the factors even more important.


Rangefinder Rifle Scopes FAQs

How Much Does a Burris Eliminator 3 Scope Cost?

The Burris Eliminator 3 Scope costs $999.99. This outstanding scope combines supreme optics, precision trajectory, and exact laser range finding. If you’re heading out on a hunt, the Eliminator 3 Scope is the ideal pick to get the most out of your hunt.

Using this scope will enhance your accuracy and erase any guesswork, doubt, and variables that could disrupt your hunt. With enhanced ballistic software, it poses a much bigger threat when out in the wilds.

The way in which this stands out from so many is its offering of an extended range and accuracy for your rifle. There is no other riflescope on the market that has the technology this provides as well as its level of quality, accuracy, speed, repeatability, and effectiveness.

If you’re looking for longer distanced, ethical shots, the Burris Eliminator 3 Scope is one to consider.

How good is a Burris Scope?

It is widely agreed that Burris makes excellent scopes for the money. When you’re looking for a good quality riflescope, you should consider a variety of factors such as its durability, mounting options, magnification, lenses, and more.

A Burris Scope is excellent for an easy zoom on your target for a precise lock in to shoot. Burris is a highly reputable brand and has been since 1971. Many hunters favor a Burris scope for its durability, magnification, and mounting options.

A model that is good value for money is the Burris Fullfield II Ballistic Plex Scope. This is a lot cheaper than the Burris Eliminator 3 but shows off all the top qualities of Burris scopes. With a high-grade optical glass, you are provided with supreme brightness and clarity with robust durability. Its lenses are larger than many of its competitors and collect light far better.

Overall, Burris scopes have a longer eye relief than many scopes and are very reliable.

Where are Burris Eliminator Scopes made?

There has been much confusion over where Burris Eliminator scopes are made but we are here to clear that up.

Many of the parts are produced in the Philippines as well as the assembly of most of the optics. However, a few are still assembled right here in the United States. The Philippines have a long tradition of weapons manufacturing and have an outstanding reputation for producing high-quality scopes.

In recent years they have begun to assemble optics and the results have been excellent with some of the best on the market.

Originally, Burris scopes were developed in the USA by Burris Optics Company. This was founded by Don Burris in 1971. His and the company’s aim was to make unique scopes with a range of different specifications and this continues today.

In 2002, the company was sold to Beretta Holdings that specialize in many products such as rifle scopes. This company makes most of their products in the Philippines, hence the move.

Does Burris own Steiner?

Burris and Steiner are affiliated through the company Beretta Holdings. Beretta bought Burris in 2002 and has owned the company since then.

Steiner, a very well-respected maker of optics in Germany was acquired by Beretta Holdings through its Burris division.

Steiner is regarded as one of the finest producers of optics, especially binoculars. Steiner became integrated into the Beretta Group through its optics subsidiary, Burris, in 2008. It is interesting to note that this German company makes optics for a US-based company which is owned by Italians.

This takeover took place due to the dwindling fortunes of Steiner in the North American market. Beretta and Burris have strong brand identification and a powerful distribution network which Steiner couldn’t build on its own.

It was also a great deal for Burris and Beretta Holdings as Steiner has a rich record of innovation such as producing the first pocket-sized binoculars and the first models with anti-UV protective lens coating.

Do Burris Scopes have a lifetime warranty?

All Burris Optics, including riflescopes but excluding thermal products, are covered by the Burris Forever Warranty.

The company promises to repair or replace a defective or damaged optic item. Furthermore, if a Burris scope is sold to another owner, this warranty automatically transfers to the future owner.

Burris states that there is “no repair or replacement charge, no warranty card needed, no receipt needed” and there will be “no questions asked.”

However, the Burris Forever Warranty does not cover theft, loss, deliberate damage, or cosmetic damage that does not affect the product’s performance.

If you require warranty service from Burris, you can visit their support portal to submit a warranty service request at Burris SupportSync.

You can send your defective item to Burris Company, Inc., 331 E. 8th Street, Greeley, CO 80631. If you’re outside of the US, you will need to contact the nearest Burris distributor for instructions on shipping.

What magnification do snipers use?

On prism scopes, the magnification is always fixed. The choices are generally from 1X up to 5X while a few scopes reach 6X. The level of magnification depends on how far you wish to shoot but most people choose a 3X scope for around a 300-yard shooting distance.

When it comes to snipers, they often use a 2X-12X magnification level. This is ideal for long-range shooting. If you require a lower or higher magnification, this can be easily reset. Higher levels of magnification allow you to shoot targets far more accurately from much greater distances.

While snipers are mostly used by the military, many hunters use these rifles for extended-range shots and better accuracy. With long-range scopes, you should be able to meet a target, even when it is 1000 yards away.

One of the essential components of a long-range scope is its optics. The optical clarity has to be clear for easy sighting of targets and sniper scopes offer just this.


What I Really Think

You won’t go wrong choosing any of the range finding scopes I have discussed.  However, for most average shooters, including myself, it is hard to justify spending the money some of these scopes cost for a rifle I use only several times a year. 

For me, that boils down to finding the most features at the best price.  In this case, that is the ATN X-Sight HD 5-20 scope.  Not only does it provide all the range finding and associated features, but it is also a true thermal imaging scope useable day or night.  The balance of these features with the price makes this my choice of a range finding scope.

I hope this article has helped you understand the difference in range finding scopes and the available technologies.  If you have comments, suggestions, ideas, or experiences you would like to share about range finding scopes, please use the comments section below.  We love to hear from our readers and your shared experiences are invaluable.

Now, go shooting.  Be safe and have fun.

Dennis Howard

A life long hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman, after surviving a devastating tornado in his home town, he saw the effects on people's lives as they struggled to cope. He built his first bugout bag a few weeks later and has been a dedicated prepper/survivalist since that time. After a career as a fireman, Dennis opened a retail store (FFL approved) catering to the military, law enforcement, and like-minded individuals. The store built their own AR platforms. Furthermore, Dennis was also an NRA instructor in both long gun and handgun as well as a certified range safety officer. Read his full interview here.