Simmons Rangefinder: Pawn Shop Find & Lightning Review

    Simmons rangefinder

    Early this year, I stumbled on a very affordable Simmons rangefinder in a pawn shop and couldn’t pass it up. The clerk didn’t know how long the Simmons Protarget Rangefinder had been there, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the battery still worked. The clerk allowed me to step outside with it and it didn’t seem to have any trouble providing readings on nearby buildings, so I took a chance and spent the hefty sum of $35.

    Simmons rangefinder

    SIMMONS RANGEFINDER, PROTARGET

    I had heard of the Simmons, budget-minded brand of optics, but until that day, I had been unaware of their line of rangefinders. When I got home, I looked up the details of the Protarget model I’d just purchased. The Protarget was no longer offered by Simmons, but Walmart still had them listed. The packaging claims that the Protarget is capable of ranging reflective targets to 625 yards, trees at 450 yards, and deer at 250 yards.

    Simmons rangefinder

    The Simmons rangefinder has a 6×20 viewing optic, weighs 4.7 ounces, and officially measures 5.5×1.3×3 inches. The overall size is comparable to other handheld field models, which makes it handy to slip into a cargo or jacket pocket. Walmart.com had it listed for $69.86, marked down from $90, so I felt pretty good about getting my Simmons rangefinder for a hair over a third of the original price. Simmons’ website no longer has the Protarget listed, however the “Venture” model seems to have taken its place with the same housing and function, with an additional option of a “tilt” reading according to Amazon.com.

    Simmons rangefinder

    RANGING OF RANGES

    The little Simmons Protarget seemed to hold up well for a bottom-tier price range and suited me well for most of my work at the shooting range and to help me gauge distances on more open terrain. The longest reflective distance I was able to reach was 606 yards on a business sign, which was pretty close to the maximum specifications. Taking photos through the 6x optic was a bit tough, so please forgive the low quality pictures. I can vouch that to the naked eye, the optic is surprisingly clean and clear.

    Simmons rangefinder

    Clicking the button activates the laser and shows the battery icon and a digital test of the numbers. Pressing the button again takes a reading. The reading will only show for 10 seconds before shutting off automatically.

    The eye relief is quite narrow and I found it easier to use by taking my glasses off, even though it was possible to use it with them on. The activation button is a little stiff, so sometimes it was necessary to attempt longer distances multiple times to get a result due to moving off target trying to push the button while holding on target. I found it helpful to push the eyepiece up against my brow to add a bit more stability.

    Simmons rangefinder

    There’s plenty of deer in my area, but they never seemed to want to come out to play while I had my camera and the rangefinder in the same place. Thus, I substituted the deer for cows, which were more than willing to stand still for me. The longest distance I was able to range a cow was at 234 yards. Again, a little short of the maximum specs.

    Simmons rangefinder

    Ranging trees produced an unexpected result with a reading that exceeded the maximum specs. I was able to range a tree at 466 yards, compared to the suggested 450 yards max. I checked all my readings against the Google Maps measurement feature and found that each measurement from the Simmons rangefinder was within 5-10 yards. Although, it was a little harder to confirm the cows’ position since they probably weren’t even born yet during the last satellite image taken of the field.

    Simmons rangefinder

    FINAL THOUGHTS

    Overall, I’m glad I purchased the Simmons Protarget rangefinder. I was pleased that it worked for doing general training at the shooting range and improving judgment with distances. It would’ve been a little handier if a tripod screw mount were included for even more versatility, but if I feel like it, I’m sure I can rig something up.

    Simmons rangefinder

    What do you think of my pawn shop find? Have you tried any of the Simmons rangefinder lineup for yourself?



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    Doug E

    Doug has been a firearms enthusiast since age 16 after getting to shoot with a friend. Since then he’s taken many others out to the range for their first time. He is a husband, father, grandfather, police officer, outdoorsman, artist and a student of history. Doug has been a TFB reader from the start and is happy to be a contributor of content. Doug can be reached at battleshipgrey61 AT gmail DOT com.


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