The Best Golf Rangefinders of 2013

by   |   September 17, 2013

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)

bushnell pro 1m

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.

2. Bushnell Tour V3: $299  (4.5 out of 5 Stars)

bushnell tour v3

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.

3. Leupold GX-4i Digital: $499  (3.5 out of 5 Stars)

Leupold GX 4i

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.

4. Leupold PinCaddie: $249  (4 out of 5 Stars)

PinCaddie

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. 

5. Bushnell Tour Z6: $399 (4 out of 5 Stars)

Bushnell Tour Z6

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. 

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46 Comments

  1. Jaxson

    April 8, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Whatever you’re using learn how to use it and pick up the pace. I play with two guys who slow everybody down trying to figure if it’s 150 or 153. I use a Garmin watch that gives me front middle and back, automatically advances and is always there even at 67 to the middle.

  2. Golf Geek

    March 19, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    I like the Leupold Gx-31, but the Bushnell is a better deal.

    See our top list here: GolfGearGeeks.com

  3. longsyne

    January 17, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    what is the best rangefinder out for under $250.00 ?

    • Val B

      January 25, 2014 at 6:56 am

      The Bushnell Tour V3 isn’t quite that low, but close enough that I would consider spending the extra to get it. The Callaway X-Hot is a great little unit and well under $250.

    • bestgolfrangefinder.org

      February 15, 2014 at 5:43 pm

      Hi..I would recommend you go for Bushnell tour V3 standard edition. Its around that price. Check out my golf rangefinder comparison table for all the top golf rangefinder.. it includes the price and features.

      I hope it helps

      • sam

        April 28, 2014 at 3:58 pm

        Thanks man. Nice and comprehensive table also useful tips and guides

  4. hank rick

    January 17, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    I’m in the process of buying a 4i ..?? dose this unit realy worth the $499 ?

    • best golf rangefinder

      February 22, 2014 at 2:53 am

      Leupold GX 4i is still not as rated as the 3i. One issue is the speed. The difference between 3i and 4i is the slope capability. with slope edition you can do much more. However slope capability is not allowed for tournament play. 4i can be converted anyway.. the slope feature can be removed if you wanna use for tournament. so its convertable.

      3i is comparable smaller in size. but one issue now is that the manufacturer no longer produces 3i. Dont know the reason why but I guess its because of 4i. people still look for 3i. So depending if you really need the slope featured and also love leupold..

  5. MTGC7379

    December 29, 2013 at 5:59 am

    In perfect condition the Bushnell works perfectly. the reviews are always made under perfect conditions if they were not the ratings would not be published as the company would never sell anything.
    No different than any other review site. You pays your money you takes your chance.

  6. KH

    December 15, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Bushnell customer service says the V2 should work for 10 rounds per battery. That is a $100 a year for me. Really!!! I have friends who replace their battery for the same unit once a year and play more rounds than me. Sounds like a quality control issue Bushnell won’t step up to. Never again.

  7. Boo

    October 29, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Wow, Bushnell better up its game in customer service – they just lost my $500 puchase this week. Leopold all the way!!!! Customer service is everything, Bushnell will learn the hard way!!

  8. Jimithy

    October 28, 2013 at 9:41 am

    I had a Bushnell Tour Z6 and it worked OK as long as it was in bright sunlight. I live in the UK and so as you can imagine I don’t get to play in bright sunlight very often. In lowish light conditions the Z6 had a red hue across the screen (even with the brightness setting turned down). The red hue made it unusable. Sent it back to Bushnell and they were rubbish and said it worked OK, very poor service from Bushnell. I won’t buy anything from them again.

    • Dave McFeely

      July 31, 2014 at 10:52 pm

      Have a Bushnell with slope. Lost cover for Battery and try as I may, could not get any help from Bushnell to get replacement cover. Local agent in Dublin did not want to know, Bushnell Uk again were no help. Don’t bank on them for service.

  9. Will Jackson

    October 27, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    I am looking to buy my first range finder for under $300. What are the best options?

  10. chris

    October 15, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    which of the leupolds have the slope????

  11. J C

    October 2, 2013 at 1:14 am

    I find that the Bushnell display gets washed out in bright sun so I bought the Callaway made by Nikon. I hadnt tried the Leupold previosly. I’ve had the original battery for over 2 years, I take it out in winter, Buffalo, NY, golf May to October ish.

  12. Gil Viera

    September 30, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Email regarding the “E12″ error on the Bushnell Pro 1m rangefinder:

    This product has been discontinued and any new range finders will be announce in the first quarter of 2014 on our web site http://www.bushnellgolf.com . I hope this is of assistance.

    Please do not reply to this message.
    Bushnell Customer Service
    1-800-423-3537
    cid:image002.png@01CD869E.69E32120
    Thank you.

    • H B

      October 1, 2013 at 4:30 pm

      I just used my wife’s new Leupold gx-3i (to compare it to my old Nikon 800). It works great, fast and easy!
      If the Bushnells are any faster, they must know the yardage before I click…

  13. Alex

    September 28, 2013 at 11:35 am

    And, the build quality between the two is night and day, at least when it comes to the entry level option.

  14. Alex

    September 28, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I should say, both of these brands.

  15. Alex

    September 28, 2013 at 11:33 am

    As someone who sells both of these two units, I have to say there is quite a difference between what customers tell me, and what this article says.

  16. Jonathan

    September 27, 2013 at 8:53 am

    I just bought the Bushnell V3 slope edition and I am very concerned about the cost of replacing batteries. Can anyone suggest a rechargeable battery for this unit?

  17. Paul

    September 23, 2013 at 1:55 am

    I have the Leupold gx-4 and I love it. I recently tried the GX-4i in the store and it won me over the moment I hit the button. Talk about quick, point click and it gave me the yardage. No waiting, I thought it was a fluke so I tried different yardages and all of them were point click and number that quick.

    • Phill

      September 27, 2013 at 10:34 am

      I went with the 4i as well and put the skycaddie on the shelf. It is quick and accurate even without locking on a reflector. Leupold needs to increase it’s marketing budget. By far much better than Bushnell, Nikon and the rest of the lot.

  18. GolfWRX

    September 19, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    The Leupold devices won 2 of our top 5 devices. Obviously we felt they were excellent. We placed the Bushnell slightly above them for ease of hitting the target and time it took us to get a confident reading. You will please make note that the Nikon, Zeiss, Laser, Callaway or the Simmons were not given the “Best” award. Only Bushnell and Leupold were awarded the best of the best.

    • johan melander

      October 15, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      Thank you for explaining why!!!

    • bestgolfrangefinder.org

      February 15, 2014 at 5:46 pm

      for my review also the best rangefinder our there is Leupold gx 3i.. though it has been discontinued..better than 4i..

  19. johan melander

    September 19, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    How can you possible rate Bushnell as superior to Leupold?? That completely beats me. I’ve tested most of the rangefinders featured here and I belive the Leupold GX3i is by far the best. No Bushnell is even comparable with the Leupold GX3i in terms of speed.

  20. JoeSchu

    September 19, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Leupold GX1 all the way. Good value, lightening fast, simple to use, great battery life. Got mine for Father’s Day in 2012 and haven’t looked back. Fantastic stuff.

  21. Bmac

    September 18, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Leupold only in my bag. There’s a reason their optics are used by military’s across the world.

  22. Henny6

    September 18, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I have the Bushnell V2 and I play every week at least once and sometimes twice. I replace the battery once a year. I have not experienced any problems acquiring distant to the pin or any other object such as sand traps.

  23. Derek

    September 18, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I don’t know what Golfwrx is thinking. Haven’t they ever heard of Laser Link Golf. It is by far the easiest to use. All their rangefinders are pistol shape and so much easier to hold steady. They are also, the company that invented the prisms witch help all laser rangefinders. Golfwrx needs to look at the whole category not just the people that advertise with them.

    • GolfWRX

      September 19, 2013 at 11:44 pm

      none of the above advertise with us

      • gunmetal

        October 8, 2013 at 10:26 pm

        Doesn’t Callaway advertise with you? What about their Nikon models?

      • Arky

        October 21, 2013 at 4:20 pm

        Why would you ever test/rate a slope version?

  24. TheLegend

    September 18, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Yep my Leupold was way better than any bushnell I ever had.

  25. X

    September 18, 2013 at 2:52 am

    Leupold wins. Period.

  26. bj

    September 17, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    you should include customer service as part of the review. bushnell would fail that with flying colors.

  27. mb

    September 17, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Yep, I sent mine in to be fixed and they sent me a z6 saying the pro1m is being pulled from the market. I like the size of the pro1m. Easy to hold steady and aim. O well

  28. DB

    September 17, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    I thought the Pro 1M had lots of issues and they were phasing it out?

  29. pier

    September 17, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    hum… strange..
    i’m in europe playing france and switzerland, index 7.
    i had the small Leupold for 2 years, gave it to my son and bought the gx4.
    all my friends have bushnell, leupold is not well known here.

    1rst accuracy: imagine hole 3, 230 yards, green down, sunny all hole except part of green in shadow where you have the flag. Both Leupold: point,click, you have the distance! 2 models of bushnell: point, click, click, click and click… and nothing!
    on any hole, Leupold point and click and you have distance. Bushnell point, click and perhaps you have, or perhaps you click one more time!

    2nd battery life: Leupold CR2 2 years for the small madel or the big one. All my friends need 3 batteries per year!

    My experience…
    best

    • GolfWRX

      September 17, 2013 at 10:12 pm

      Changing times. As one of the testers for this article I can say the Bushnell Pro 1m in use for a full year over 50 rounds and yet to need a battery. Leupold takes us more time to get the number than our Bushnells we tested.

      • David W

        September 18, 2013 at 11:40 am

        I have buddies with Bushnell Tour V2s and they couldn’t believe how fast and easy it was to lock onto pins with my Leupold GX-3i.

      • Arky

        October 21, 2013 at 4:11 pm

        You are very fortunate or you know a trick. I go thru 2 1/2 batteries a year. Always have to have a new one in the bag because you never know when it’s going to fail. Have had the original small Bushnell and now the V2 the last 3 years, Deciding on which way to go and leaning Leopold.

  30. R

    September 17, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    in before the negative comments about rangefinders!

    • S

      September 19, 2013 at 10:08 am

      Gee, you win…

      Great contribution

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