2019 LASER RANGEFINDER BUYERS GUIDE

It wasn’t that long ago that golfers relied on yardage markers, sprinkler heads, and precision pacing skills to calculate pin distances. Some say it was a simpler time. These days, many golfers don’t know how to survive without the precision of their rangefinder. While measuring pin distance is an integral part of every rangefinder design, the category has evolved dramatically. Modern rangefinders include a plethora of useful features. Slope (and now enhanced Slope), stabilization, magnetic mounts, and GPS functionality are among the features available in in the market today.

With all those options, it can be overwhelming, and that makes it hard to know which one is right for you. That’s where we come in. We put the top rangefinders to the test to ensure you receive the best advice possible when purchasing a new unit.

Whether you’re looking to buy a new laser rangefinder today, looking for some buying advice, or just want a closer look at what’s on the market right now, this guide will help you find the right rangefinder to fit your needs.

How We Test

We're here to help you find the perfect laser rangefinder to fit your needs.

To do that, we employ a thorough and fully independent testing process that leaves no feature unexplored, no display unchecked, and no stone unturned.

Our Metrics

Rangefinders are tested head to head with rigorous protocols.

The metrics we consider when rating rangefinders include Accuracy, Speed, Optics, Display, and Additional Features.

FEATURES THAT MATTER TO YOU

Accuracy

A rangefinder is useless if it’s not accurate. By and large, the rangefinders we tested read within 5-yards of each other. Lasers that consistently read the same number every time give golfers confidence in knowing the number they see can be trusted. We test each laser vigorously to verify that the numbers provided are both accurate and consistent.

Optics and Display

When we talk about the optics of a rangefinder, we’re focused on the clarity of the viewfinder and the digital display. The simpler the display, the easier it is to understand. Ideally, you want to look for a display that provides clear and concise information so that you know you’ve got the correct yardage every time. Note that most units include a diopter adjustment to improve focus.

Locking indicator

While the feature names may differ, most manufacturers now offer audible, visual, or tactile pin acquisition notification technology to let you know that you’ve locked onto your intended target. Some work better than others, and we’ll detail the differences throughout this guide.

EXPERT TIP - Slope or No slope

Integrated Slope features typically adjust yardages based on elevation changes. Bushnell's Pro XE takes things a step further by adjusting for actual weather conditions (temperature and humidity). While Slope features can provide more accurate Plays As yardages, they do add to the cost of the unit. It's also important to note that Slope features do not conform to USGA rules (most units allow Slope to be disabled for tournament play).

If you prefer to keep costs down, or just keep things simple, you may want to forgo Slope functionality entirely.

2019 Rangefinder Features Chart

 NameMagnificationReticle ColorRangeLock indicatorSlopeWarranty
Bushnell Pro XE

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7XRed5-1300JoltY2 Year
BUSHNELL Tour V4

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5XBlack5-1000JoltN2 Year
BUSHNELL Tour V4 Shift

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5XBlack5-1000JoltY2 Year
Callaway EZ

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5XBlack5-800Black SquareN1 Year
Callaway Tour S

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7XRed5-1200Red SquareY1 Year
Callaway 200S

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6XBlack5-800Black SquareY1 Year
Garmin Approach Z80

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6XRed5-350Laser Range ARCY1 Year
Golf Buddy Aim L10

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6XBlack5-880Black SquareY1 Year
Golf GPO Flag Master 1800

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6XBlack5-1800Black CrosshairsY2 Year
Decathlon - Inesis 900

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6xBlack5-1300Black CircleY2 Years
MG GOLF 600S

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6XBlack6-600JoltY60 Days
Nikon CoolShot Pro Stabilized

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6XRed8-1200Green CircleY5 Year
Pinnedgolf The Pearl

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6XBlack5-400VibrationN1 Year
PRECISION NX7 Pro Slope

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6XBlack5-400PulseY2 Year
PRECISION NX7

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6XBlack5-400PulseN2 Year
PRECISION NX9 HD

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7XBlack5-400PulseY2 Year
SCOREBAND Vibe SL8

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6XBlack5-800Black CrosshairsY1 Year
Zinn optics TS600

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6XBlack5-600Black CrosshairsN1 Year

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT - The Rangefinder / GPS Hybrid

Looking for a rangefinder that offers many of the features of a golf GPS unit? The Garmin Approach Z80 is a unique rangefinder that does just that.

Acquiring the target has always been the priority of rangefinders, but the Z80 has gone one step further. It boasts full-color 2-D Course View mapping for more than 41,000 courses worldwide. Each hole is overlaid on the viewfinder providing a more detailed view of the golf course. Feature rich; the Approach Z80 also includes Slope technology (can be disabled for tournament play), image stabilization, and Green View feature which automatically shows distances to the front and back of the green.

More Tips

  • While all the rangefinders tested provide the distance to the target, not all do it consistently every time. It’s important that you buy a laser that provides consistent yardages.
  • Many rangefinders have additional features that make life easier. Magnetic mounts, sensors that integrate weather conditions into yardage numbers, vibration reduction, integrated GPS functionality…it’s a long list. Before buying, it’s essential that you decide what features you have to have and which you can do without.
  • Golfers with shaky hands will benefit from the Nikon CoolShot Pro Stabilized. Integrated Vibration Reduction technology helps you lock onto targets quickly and efficiently. Many golfers will find it’s the one feature they absolutely can’t do without.
  • The display within the lens is often overlooked when purchasing a laser. Products with a simple and clear layout relay information more effectively.

2019 Laser Rangefinder Results

 NameAccuracySpeedOpticsDisplayFeaturesTotal
Bushnell Pro XE

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1st1st1st3rd1st95.5
Nikon CoolShot Pro Stabilized

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2nd5th1st1st3rd94
Bushnell Tour V4 Shift

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2nd1st4th3rd7th91
Bushnell Tour V4

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2nd1st3rd3rd14th91
Garmin Approach Z80

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8th17th13th2nd1st88.5
Precision NX7 Pro Slope

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7th12th7th6th4th88
Golf Buddy Aim L10

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5th5th12th10th7th87
Decathlon - Inesis 900

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5th5th15th6th7th86.5
Precision NX7

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8th5th7th6th14th86.5
Precision NX9 HD

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10th12th9th13th4th85
Callaway Tour S

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11th12th9th6th14th84
Callaway 200S

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11th12th14th10th14th82.5
Golf GPO FlagMaster 1800

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15th5th4th16th7th82.5
Callaway EZ

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14th12th9th16th7th81.5
Zinn Optics TS600

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17th5th4th10th12th81
Scoreband Vibe SL8

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13th17th17th13th4th80
PinnedGolf The Pearl

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15th4th16th13th14th79.5
MG Golf 600S

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17th5th17th18th12th75

FAQ

Q: Are more expensive rangefinders better?

A: Not for everyone. Keep in mind that a good bit of the cost associated with the most premium units is a result of features that not every golfer needs or even wants. If you’re looking for every bell and whistle the market has to offer, expect to pay more. That being said, there are several lower cost units that, while not feature-rich, cover the basics every bit as well as the more expensive units. Brands like Inesis and Precision Pro offer excellent products that won’t break the bank.

Q: Do I need a laser with slope functionality?

A: It really comes down to use. For serious golfers, Slope technology can help you make smarter decisions on the course. It can be an invaluable tool for tournament golfers looking to learn the nuances of a new course during practice rounds. Golfers who just want to know the yardage to the target and are happy to figure the rest out on their own should consider skipping the Slope feature and saving some money.

Q: What’s the best rangefinder for a shaky hand?

A: If you struggle to hold a rangefinder steady, there’s really only one model to consider. The Nikon CoolShot Pro Stabilized “freezes” the lens and allows you to lock on to the target. While the Nikon is on the upper end of the price range, it is well worth the money if you have shaky hands.