Golfers are always looking for new technology to help them play their best. While rangefinders don’t have the cool factor of a new driver or set of irons, they’re one of the easiest way for golfers to gain confidence and precision on the course.
Unlike golf GPS units, which offer golfers approximate yardages to different areas on the course, rangefinders give golfers precise distances to targets that are accurate within a few yards. That’s why everyone from Average Joe’s to PGA Tour pros can benefit from using a rangefinder.
There’s a lot of different models on the market, which makes it hard to know which one might be the best for your game. That’s why we’ve taken the guesswork out of the selection process with our list below, which includes the best rangefinders we’ve tested so far in 2013.
1. Bushnell Pro 1m: $499.95 (4.5 out of 5 Stars)
[three_fourth last=”no”]We’re not sure anyone needs a rangefinder with a range of 550 yards, but that’s the capability of Bushnell’s premium Pro 1M model.
The Pro 1M is larger and heavier (it’s 12 ounces) than most rangefinders on the market, but we can’t deny the technology Bushnell packed into the unit: Vivid Display Technology (VDT) to brighten even the darkest playing conditions, 7X magnification and readings that are accurate to plus-or-minus 1 yard. The Pro 1M is also available in Bushnell’s “Slope Edition” for $100 more, which provides compensated distances uphill and downhill shots.
The 3-volt battery costs approx $10 to replace, but don’t expect to need a new battery for a long time thanks to Bushnell’s PowerBoost technology.
Best for: Golfers who want the ultimate in point-and-shoot performance, and don’t mind a high-priced, larger-sized rangefinder.[/three_fourth][one_fourth last=”yes”]
2. Bushnell Tour V3: $299 (4.5 out of 5 Stars)
Is $499 a little more than your rangefinder budget? For price-conscious golfers, Bushnell created the Tour V3 rangefinder, which is $200 cheaper as well as smaller and lighter (it’s 6.6 ounces) than the Pro 1M.
Like the Pro 1M, it’s has a VDT display and runs on a 3-volt battery. But it has something the Pro 1M doesn’t have: Bushnell’s Jolt technology, which causes the unit to vibrate when a golfer locks in on a flag. It doesn’t quite have the range of the Pro 1M (300 yards instead of 550 yards) or the zoom (5X instead of 7X), but its smaller size, cheaper price and plentiful 300-yard range makes it the best rangefinder for the money on the list.
For the most detail-oriented golfers, it also comes in a Slope version for $100 more (note: if you’re interested in a rangefinder with slope capabilities, remember that they’re not legal for tournament play like standard models.
Best for: Golfers looking for the most bang for their buck. Its Jolt technology is great for showing off as well. [/three_fourth][one_fourth last=”yes”]
3. Leupold GX-4i Digital: $499 (3.5 out of 5 Stars)
[three_fourth last=”no”]Leupold’s GX-4i has a 450-yard range that measures distances to one-tenth of a yard (or meter), making it the most exacting model on the market. It is also designed with a 6X zoom and the company’s TGR Slope functionality, which can be added by attaching the company’s yellow Smart Key to the chrome face plate (Note: neither face plate makes the rangefinder legal for tournament play). And we’re just getting started with its unrivaled amount of features.
The GX-4i’s Prism Lock technology beeps and freezes the display when it locks onto the highly reflective prisms already incorporated into many course’s flag sticks, which is a nice touch. It also has a fog mode, which cuts through “first targets” like fog to help golfers get the yardage they want in poor weather conditions, as well as a club selector, which allows golfers to program the GX-4i to recommend clubs for certain yardages. At 7.1 ounces, the GX-4i is also about 5 ounces lighter than Bushnell’s Pro 1M and significantly more compact.
Call us old fashioned, but we’re not sure that golfers really need the added complexity of club selector, or the rangefinders “fog” and “scan” modes. And the added options don’t make up for the fact that we found it more difficult to lock onto targets with the GX-4i than any of Bushnell’s models.
Best for: Golfers who want every available option in a sleek, modern package.[/three_fourth][one_fourth last=”yes”]
4. Leupold PinCaddie: $249 (4 out of 5 Stars)
[three_fourth last=”no”]We love Leupold’s PinCaddie rangefinder because of its simplicity. It has everything we liked about the GX-4i: 6X magnification, a high-contrast LCD display and the company’s ultra-accurate PinHunter laser technology. And while it’s maximum flag range is only 250 yards, we feel it’s a worthwhile tradeoff for the unit’s $250 cheaper price.
More important for golfers who play in tournaments is that the PinCaddie lacks slope functionality, making it legal for tournament play. It runs on the same CR-2 lithium battery as the GX-4i, but swaps it aluminum construction for a rugged plastic design and tips the scales at a slightly lighter 6.8 ounces.
Best for: Price-conscious golfers who like the look, feel and performance of a Leupold. [/three_fourth][one_fourth last=”yes”]
5. Bushnell Tour Z6: $399 (4 out of 5 Stars)
[three_fourth last=”no”]Bushnell’s Z6 rangefinder has a 450-yard flag range, and the company’s ESP (Extreme Speed Precision) technology to allow for faster, more accurate reads than Bushnell’s Pro 1M and Tour V3 models. It’s also unbelievably compact (about the size of a deck of cards), with a 6X zoom and an accuracy of plus-or-minus 0.5 yards. From 5-to-125 yards, where golfers needs the most precision, the distances are displayed to one-tenth of a yard.
The Z6 has the same Posi-Thread battery door for its 3-volt lithium battery as the Pro 1M and Tour V3 models, and is legal for tournament play. But golfers can get a 100-yard longer range from the $100-more-expensive Pro 1M, and the company’s Jolt Technology from the $100-cheaper Tour V3. Both those rangefinders are available in slope models as well, if that’s your thing.
But if you’re looking for the smallest, easiest-to-use rangefinder without the frills of Leupold’s GX-4i and more power than the Leupold’s PinCaddie, the Z6 is probably the rangefinder for you.
Best for: Golfers who want the smallest, most powerful rangefinder on the market for tournament play. [/three_fourth][one_fourth last=”yes”]