PROS: 0.1 yard increment readings, 200 yard ranging capability, easy to use, one handed operation, quickly acquires target, distance is compensated for angle +/- 89 degrees, rubberized finish, waterproof, fogproof
CONS: the backlight turns on automatically in lowlight conditions and cannot be controlled or adjusted for brightness
Rangefinders are essential pieces of bowhunting equipment and I’ve been using Nikon’s Archer’s Choice MAX rangefinder for the last two seasons. It’s a tool that’s earned my trust and rely on my Nikon to make an ethical shot and a quick clean kill while bowhunting. With the Archer’s Choice MAX I can quickly and easily range my intended target from 5 to 200 yards in 1/10th increments. You can even hold down the range button and continuously range an animal as it moves – how cool is that!
The big thing with today’s rangefinders are their angle compensating technology. Nikon’s ID Technology compensates for various incline or decline shooting angles, up to +/- 89 degrees. It’s extremely helpful for hunters out west, but don’t over look its importance if you’re a treestand hunter. I’m routinely in a treestand 25 feet off the ground in hilly terrain which exaggerates the already steep angles from my treestand to the deer below me. This is where the Nikon Archer’s Choice MAX and its ID Technology really shine.
If you’re familiar with Nikon’s binoculars, then you’ll feel right at home with the Archer’s Choice MAX. The rangefinder is finished with a rubberized coating for a non-slip grip regardless of weather conditions. I find this especially useful for those early season hunts in the rain. If you hunt late season, and I’m talking late December into January when the temperatures really drop, any sound you make travels farther. The rubberized coating deadens any noise should anything come in contact with the rangefinder.
What you won’t find on any other rangefinder is the unique neoprene carrying case that comes with Nikon’s Archer’s Choice MAX. The soft case provides a protective cover for the rangefinder body as well as a quiet magnetic front flap for protecting the optics from dirt and scratches. The front flap is great because I’m always moving around my rangefinder and without a cover for the glass I’m sure I’d find a way to scratch the lens. On the other hand, if front flap bothers you, just unsnap the it and put it in your pocket. With an adjustable shoulder strap, it’s easy to keep the rangefinder close and slide out of the way as that big whitetail works his way in.
There is one feature that Nikon had good intentions with, but slightly missed the mark on and that’s the automatic backlight in low light conditions. The first version of the Archer’s Choice had black text on the screen when you ranged an object. The downside to the black text was at dawn and dusk the lowlight conditions made it hard to read the rangefinder. Nikon’s new automatic backlight was supposed to solve this problem by illuminating the display with red text for easy visibility, but a new issue came along with the illuminated display.
With no brightness control, the illuminated display washes out what you’re ranging making it difficult at best to be see what you’re actually ranging. I found there were times right after daybreak and before dusk when the illuminated display came on, but was not yet needed.
Weighing the pros and cons of the Nikon Archer’s Choice MAX I still can’t argue it’s quality and ease of use. It’s rangefinder that’s great for any bowhunting situation and it’s saved me in a few instances from both the deer stand and the turkey blind.