Pairing a Riflescope with a Rangefinder for Big Game Hunting

Pairing Up a Riflescope and Rangefinder

In modern shooting, the pairing of a quality rangefinder with a scoped rifle makes up the foundation of a big game hunting rifle. The technological advances and value pricing of rangefinders in the last decade has made them as common in the hunting field as binoculars. Couple the advances and popularity of rangefinders with the amazing strides in riflescopes, and increased ballistic performance of modern bullets, and shooters find themselves able to stretch their effective ranges.
Using a rangefinder is no excuse for taking unethical shots, or not practicing with your rifle, but rangefinders are tools that can lead to increased accuracy and longer ranges when shooting. Whether you’re adding a rangefinder to your rifle hunting setup for the first time, or you’re a seasoned veteran utilizing a rangefinder for many seasons, there are some things to consider when it comes to your big game hunting rifle, riflescope, and rangefinder setup.

Running a Setup Through its Paces

Adding a piece of gear to your equipment list and pack is not enough to make it reliable. Make sure you put in time with your rangefinder, scope, and rifle to test your setup before the hunt. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your rangefinder, and plan on hunting with the same rangefinder you practice with before the hunt.

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Putting in range time with your complete hunting setup, both off of a shooting bench and practicing realistic field shooting positions will build your comfort and confidence in your system. Put your setup through its paces by practicing in all kinds of weather, at varying distances, and at known distances. Utilizing known distances to check and test your rangefinder and rifle zero is the first critical step in testing your rifle, scope, and rangefinder setup. Knowing that you can trust your rangefinder, and that your rifles zero is based on your rangefinder’s trusted data goes a long way when it’s time to start testing at greater distances and varying situations.

Accounting for Steep Angle Shooting

Shooting up or down steep angles in mountain country and around canyons is tricky. The practice of shooting upward or downward at drastic angles has often had a type of confusion involved in most hunting circles. As gravity only acts on a bullet on its path along the horizontal access, shooters for decades have developed strategies and rules to compensate. Thankfully modern rangefinders are built to calculate the True Ballistic Range (TBR) of a shot. It doesn’t matter if the shot angle is abruptly up or down, the use of a rangefinder with TBR technology reveals the correct range every time. It may seem too simple, but utilizing TBR in a quality rangefinder takes all the guesswork out of shooting steep angles. Know your rifles zero and bullet drop paired with your scopes reticle, and shooting angles will no longer be an issue.

Leupold’s RX-1600i with TBR is an excellent choice when shooting steep angles.

Consider Bullet Drop Compensation Scope Reticles

Ballistics study the impact of a projectile as it travels through the air. Bullets fired either at the range or in a hunting situation are affected by gravity, wind, elevation, temperature, distance, and velocity just to name a few impacts. By measuring as many factors as possible and knowing the circumstances before a shot is fired, the shooter has the ability to compensate for many of the known factors.
One of the largest factors in rifle shooting and accuracy is distance. Knowing the true distance to a target is invaluable when firing a rifle. Rangefinders provide that critical variable data of the distance to target in an efficient and reliable manner.
With reliable ballistic information known, such as the true distance to the target, you’re able to repeat shots at known distances and improve accuracy. One of the latest trends that is made possible by quality rangefinders and quality scopes is Bullet Drop Compensation (BDC) reticles.
Whether you choose a Nikon BDC, Vortex Deadhold reticle system, or another brands compensation reticle; shooters have found that the ability to quickly compensate for bullet drop at a known distance is paramount at the range and when hunting. Utilizing a series of cross hatch elevation marks, circles, or dots on the vertical reticle mark to allow for holdover points for known distances, shooters can quickly hold for a true zero when knowing the exact distance to the target is no longer an issue.

The Nikon Monarch 5 with BDC reticle is an easy choice when you are utilizing Ballistic Drop Compensation.

Custom Dial Systems

Having the ability to accurately and consistently measure the exact distance to a target has changed the face of optical scopes more than any other factor in recent years. Optics manufacturers have hit the ground running with reliable range data to develop custom turret dials for most quality scopes at reasonable prices.
In order to achieve effectiveness with a custom dial turret on a scope, a few items must be known. These items include bullet weight, muzzle velocity, and accurate distance to the target. With a rangefinder in a shooters toolkit, they can quickly and effectively measure the distance to the target at the range or in the field. With the use of a chronograph and bullet load information from the handload or manufacturer, all the information needed to create a custom turret is available to most shooters.
Many riflescope manufacturers make the process for getting a custom dial made for their scopes simple and cost-effective. Some optics companies even offer a free turret coupon in the box with a new scope purchase. With a custom dial on your hunting rifle, there is no need for hold over or distance compensation. Simply range the distance to the target, adjust the turret to the known distance, hold right on the desired point of impact and squeeze the trigger.
Custom Dial Systems available on rifle scopes today are the perfect example of using a quality rangefinder coupled with a scope in synergy to create an amazing rifle platform. Pairing a rangefinder with a rifle scoped with a custom turret offers shooters a world that past hunters and riflemen only dreamed of.

Leupold offers a free coupon for a custom turret on man of their VX3 series rifle scopes!

Increased Accuracy and Customization

Combining a quality rifle with ammunition, a riflescope, and a rangefinder allows shooters to perform an optimal level of precision. With products on the market like custom scope dials and true ballistic ranging, little is left to chance when it comes to equipment. Hunters are more now than ever equipped to make those tricky shots when big game hunting.
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