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2018 LASER RANGEFINDER BUYER'S GUIDE

The 2018 rangefinders are the best we have ever tested.

The number of products is growing, the feature sets are increasing, and most still do a terrific job of giving you distance to the target. Within the last year, the rangefinder market has evolved dramatically. The best lasers not only capture the distance to target simply, quickly, and accurately, but many offer additional features to give you the confidence to hit the shot required.

Best Rangefinders of 2018

One key to our testing protocols is testing products head-to-head. We select the top products from each category and put the products through detailed head-to-head testing. We test both in the lab and in the field. We score each product across a range of weighted categories. We then rank the products and explain why, and give awards to the best performing products in the category.

This year we approached our rangefinder testing with more critical scoring and improved protocols. This was based on an intensive look at the market and feedback from consumers just like you. Several key findings from that research influenced the rangefinder testing process for 2018.

We can definitively say that some laser rangefinders performed better than others. For this guide, we evaluated each model looking specifically at the consistency of distances provided, the clarity of the visual field, and the unit's ability to capture distances above of 200 yards. Our top performers stood out among the pack.

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2018 Rangefinder Features Chart

NameMagnificationCrosshair ColorRangeLock IndicatorY/MSlopeWarranty
Bushnell Hybrid5XBlack5-1000JoltYN2 Year
Bushnell Pro X26XBlack/Red5-1300JoltYY2 Year
Bushnell Tour V45XBlack5-1000JoltYN2 Year
Garmin Approach Z806XRed5-350YellowYYNA
Leupold GX-1i6XRed5-400Red TriangleYNLifeTime
Leupold GX-2I6XRed5-400Red TriangleYYLifeTime
Leupold GX-3i6XRed5-400Red TriangleYNLifeTime
Leupold GX-5i6XRed5-450Red TriangleYYLifeTime
Nikon CoolShot 206XBlack6-550Black TriangleYNNA
Nikon CoolShot 80 VR6XBlack8-1000Black CircleYNNA
Nikon Pro Stabilized6XRed8-1200Green CircleYY5 Year
PRECISION Nexus6XBlack5-400Black CircleYN1 Year
PRECISION NX76XBlack5-400Black CircleYN2 Year
PRECISION NX7 Pro5XBlack5-400PulseYY2 Year
SCOREBAND Vibe SL 6006XBlack1-400PulseYNNA

THE METRICS

We're always fine-tuning our evaluation process to ensure we're collecting the best data possible. Continuing that trend we've updated and refined this year's analysis to bring you the best buying advice possible.

Over the course of the test, golfers lasered flagsticks from three different distances. The flagsticks were outfitted with reflective prisms to best evaluate the laser's effectiveness at capturing a distance to a flag.

To establish whether the distance produced was consistent and accurate, testers shot each distance ten times with each device.

We found that some products struggled to pick up the target at the longest distance. If a product failed to acquire the correct target in three tries, the incorrect distance was recorded.

Accuracy (40 Points) - The goal is to test the consistency of the distances provided. Products that performed well provide the same distances time and time again. While minor variations of +/- one or two yards were common across all models, some entries provided readings that varied by more than five yards or failed to pick up the flagstick entirely.

In a sport described as a game of inches, it is imperative that provided distances are consistent. If you practice based on the distance provided by your device; even if the actual distance is different your club distances should correlate to what your device is telling. In other words, a consistent distance is more important than the correct distance.

Speed (15 points) - How quick you can get from a blank display to an accurate reading. We found rangefinders with pin-sensing technology were more efficient because they notify the golfer when the distance has been captured. Units without the pin-sensing technology place a greater burden on the golfer to decide when the distance is correct. We also found non-sensing rangefinders were more likely to pick-up foreground and background objects instead of the intended target, creating a lack of trust in the measurement.

Optics (25 points) - How clear is the visual field?  Is it possible to easily see the course's topography? Can you make out invalid blades of grass and grains of sand? While this level of detail may seem insignificant, it can be helpful in assessing the layout of the golf course during play. The slopes of the fairways and greens can be better-taken advantage of when they can be seen clearly.

Display (15 points) - How prominently is the distance displayed? Is the layout overly complicated or too basic? Does the font design and color help or hinder the effectiveness of the display?

Additional Features (5 points) - How many features does the unit have to help determine the right iron/shot to hit? Rangefinders don't have to be single function devices that provide you distance to the flat and nothing else. Some provide distances to front, middle, and back of the green. Some also have Jolt or vibration technology built from within that give you confidence that the number is correct.

Final grades were awarded based on total scores. The Best Overall is our highest scoring rangefinder, with additional awards given to the top five rangefinders. Additionally, more specific Best in Class recognition is awarded to rangefinders that push the industry envelope in certain categories (optics, accuracy, display, and speed).

rangefinders top5

Nikon CoolShot Pro Stabilized

Nikon CoolShot Pro Stabilized

"Best Rangefinder of 2018"

Accuracy
4th
Speed
4th
Optics
1st
Display
1st
Additional Features
3rd
Total
94
1

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What We Liked

Image stabilization from Nikon is the “2018 Rangefinder Feature of The Year“. The VR (Vibration Reduction) technology found in Nikon’s lenses has finally found its way to its rangefinder line. The increased stability helps golfers with even moderately shaky hands acquire the target faster and with more confidence. The optics are clear and offer a wider field of view. A winning addition to the laser rangefinder category.

Pros

  • Image stabilization is “2018 Rangefinder Feature of The Year”
  • Great stabilization for those with shaky hands
  • Outstanding ergonomics
  • Stabilization feature boosts confidence in measurements
  • Accurate and fast
  • Clear and precise display
  • Slope feature to adjust for changes in elevation

Cons

  • Not quite as fast as some other units
Bushnell Hybrid

Bushnell Hybrid

Accuracy
13th
Speed
3rd
Optics
3rd
Display
2nd
Additional Features
1st
Total
92
#2

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What We Liked

First of its kind hybrid GPS blends Bushnell’s signature rangefinder technology with an onboard GPS to give you distances to the front, middle, and back where the rangefinder alone can’t. The jolt feature provides physical feedback when the target is acquired. The hybrid offers outstanding optics while an option mobile app provides flyovers and layup distances for the hole that you are playing.

Pros

  • Amazing GPS app for phone provides complete visual of hole
  • Acquires target quickly
  • Jolt technology for added confidence
  • Outstanding optics

Cons

  • Struggles to acquire neutral colored flag at distances greater than 250 yards
Bushnell Pro X2

Bushnell Pro X2

Accuracy
1st
Speed
1st
Optics
5th
Display
5th
Additional Features
5th
Total
91.5
#3

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What We Liked

Another outstanding offering from Bushnell. The Pro X2’s display color can be changed from red to black to suit your preference and lighting conditions. It’s also one of the fastest models on the market today. Acquiring pins reliably in fractions of seconds, the X2’s precision and accuracy leads the pack.

Pros

  • “The Most Accurate Rangefinder of 2018.”
  • “The Fastest Rangefinder of 2018.”
  • Built-in jolt technology for added confidence of target acquisition
  • Adjustable on/off slope feature

Cons

  • Some may find the no-nonsense design light on features
Bushnell Tour V4

Bushnell Tour V4

Accuracy
1st
Speed
1st
Optics
3rd
Display
5th
Additional Features
7th
Total
91
#4

Shop & Support

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What We Liked

The Tour V4 is an awesome rangefinder for several of reasons. It acquires the target instantly. The bigger and brighter optics provide a crystal clear display of the target and surrounding area. An outstanding option for those who want a simple but effective product.

Pros

  • Fastest rangefinder of 2018
  • Best product for accuracy
  • Great optics

Cons

  • Not particularly feature-rich
PRECISION PRO NX7

PRECISION PRO NX7

"Best Value"

Accuracy
9th
Speed
9th
Optics
5th
Display
7th
Additional Features
11th
Total
86.5

Shop & Support

When you shop online consider using our special link. It helps support this site and other golfers around the world. #ConsumerFirst

What We Liked

At just $199, the Precision Pro N7 is “The Best Value Rangefinder of 2018”. The Precision NX7 is your compact and basic rangefinder. It may not offer everything that others in the top 5 do, but the NX7 does a great job at acquiring the pin and giving you consistent readings. The NX7 is the best in value when it comes to price and performance.

Pros

  • Acquires target quickly, consistently, and accurately
  • Best value for money
  • Clear optics

Cons

  • Display arrangement could be better

2018 Laser Rangefinder Buyers Guide

NamePriceAccuracySpeedOpticsDisplayAdditional FeaturesTotal
Nikon Pro Stabilized$449.954th4th1st1st3rd94
Bushnell Hybrid$399.9913th3rd3rd2nd1st92
Bushnell Pro X2$499.991st1st5th5th5th91.5
Bushnell Tour V4$274.991st1st3rd5th7th91
Nikon CoolShot 80 VR$299.959th12th2nd2nd4th90.5
Garmin Approach Z80$599.994th15th10th2nd2nd88.5
PRECISION NX7 Pro$249.994th4th5th7th7th88
PRECISION NX7$199.009th9th5th7th11th86.5
PRECISION Nexus$149.0012th9th5th7th11th86
Leupold GX-1i$389.993rd4th11th14th11th85.5
Leupold GX-2I$429.9913th4th12th12th7th83.5
Leupold GX-3i$519.994th9th14th10th7th83
Leupold GX-5i$714.999th4th9th10th6th82
SCOREBAND Vibe SL 600$209.994th12th15th15th11th78
Nikon CoolShot 20$229.9515th12th12th13th11th78