Range finders are devices used in golf. They provide numerical estimates of the distance between their position and that of a distant object. In golfing, this is usually a flag. They can measure the distance between the range finder (and thus the user) and a flag in a number of ways, but the most commonly used range finders nowadays are the ones that employ a laser beam to do it. For obvious reasons, these are dubbed laser range finders.
Laser range finders are considered among the most accurate of their type nowadays. The degree of accuracy depends in part on the particular range finder in question, however. Some range finders will always be more accurate than others. This could be because of the quality of their computational mechanism, because of superior laser beam focus, or for other reasons.
It is worth noting that not all of the best range finder products are expensive ones. In fact, there are a lot of affordable units now that boast good enough accuracy to make them worth a look for people not seeking one to use at the professional level. Here we will provide you with the information you need to look for such products, as well as give some suggestions to get you started.
How to Choose the Best Range Finder
- Get one with pin sensor or pin seeking technology. Most of the newer range finders actually come with this by default, but you want to be sure when you pick yours. Pin sensor or pin seeking technology allows you to target flags much more easily, as it compels the range finder to focus on them instead of the objects behind them.
- Form factor and build quality. In general, you want a small and compact range finder because that makes it so much easier to carry around and use. Most golfing range finders are even operable with a single hand for greater convenience. On the other hand, if you happen to be a bit shaky in the arms and are unwilling to pay for a more expensive range finder capable of compensating for that when you are aiming it, you may want to go with a bigger, two-handed unit. A larger size makes it easier to grip and steadier—but it also means sacrificing portability, so keep that tradeoff in mind. Look too for the more sturdily built units: one way or another, your range finder will likely get knocked around a little bit, so it helps to have one that is sturdier instead of more fragile.
- Accuracy rating. Obviously, more accurate range finders are better than less accurate ones. In good conditions, the range finder you choose should be within a yard (+/-) of the precise measurement.
- It needs to be at least 5x magnification for golf course usage. Anything lower than that and you will find yourself struggling just to find the flags you are supposed to be targeting with the range finder.
What to Look for in a Good Range Finder
Ease of Use and a Good User Manual
You can technically get away without the latter if the range finder is simple enough to operate, but in most cases, you want both of these things. Not all range finders are designed to be intuitively used by the first-time owner, and when you do not know how to use something, how can you expect good results from it?
The best way to find out how easy one is to use is to try it yourself. A user-friendly range finder should be operable without you having to check which button you are pressing all the time, and it should latch onto the target you want without requiring you to aim and shoot 5 times (assuming you already know how to use the pin sensor technology on it).
Speed and Accuracy in Measurement
How long does it take the range finder to give you a measurement after you have found your target? Good range finders deliver results almost instantaneously after acquiring a flag. Bad ones, on the other hand, make you wait several seconds. Faster is better, just as more accurate is better.
Test the range finder on known distances in the golf course and compare its results to the posted measurements for those ranges. Keep in mind that you should expect greater result variance if you do the testing in less-than-optimal conditions, though. Even a good range finder can be off by more than a yard on foggy or rainy days.
A good range finder always comes with a warranty. The shortest period you should be able to expect is 1 year: more expensive ones come with at least 2.
|Bushnell Tour v3 Rangefinder||$$||4.8 / 5|
|Bushnell Tour V3 Slope Edition Golf Laser Rangefinder||$$$||4.6 / 5|
|Bushnell Tour V3 Jolt Standard Edition Golf Laser Rangefinder||$$||4.7 / 5|
|Breaking 80 SmartSlope Golf Slope Rangefinder||$$||3.9 / 5|
|TecTecTec VPRO500 Golf Rangefinder||$||4.6 / 5|
|Halo XRT6 Laser Rangefinder||$||4.3 / 5|
|Nikon 8397 ACULON Laser Rangefinder||$||4.4 / 5|
|Bushnell Scout DX 1000 ARC 6 x 21mm Laser Rangefinder||$$||4.4 / 5|
|Callaway Hybrid Laser/GPS Rangefinder with Power Pack||$$$||4.3 / 5|
|GolfBuddy LR5 Golf Laser Rangefinder||$$||4.7 / 5|
The Bushnell Tour V3 Rangefinder’s Standard Edition is a laser rangefinder with a top range of 1,000 yards and Bushnell’s Pin Seeker + Jolt tech. Enormously well-regarded both by non-professional and professional golfers, it is legal for tournament use and is often recommended for those suffering from “shaky hand syndrome” when aiming at flags.
It is not exactly cheap—it is one of the higher-priced models in our roundup—but it does deliver a lot for its price, which still makes it a great bargain for the smart golfer.
Advantages of the Standard Edition Bushnell V3 Rangefinder
- Pin-seeking technology and Bushnell’s vibration-based Jolt alarm – This combination makes it extremely easy to find a target and lock onto it.
- Weatherproof construction – You do not have to worry about it breaking down if it does get a little rain on it.
- Ergonomic design – The single-hand-grip-friendly design makes the V3 extra-easy to manipulate and carry around while you are on the course.
- Tournament-legal – If you ever do want to participate in a tourney, the V3 will not embarrass you. It takes only straight-line (zero slope compensation) measurements so it stays within the rulebook, yet still manages to deliver accuracy within +/- 1 yard.
Things to Be Aware Of
Perhaps the biggest issue most people will have with the Bushnell Tour V3 Standard Edition is that it does cost quite a bit more than the others in this lineup. It pushes the boundaries of what is “affordable” for some consumers. It is also a little short on features if you are the type who prefers something with more bells and whistles, having only one scan mode and no option for enabling slope compensation.
Despite the reservations some may have about its price, Bushnell’s Tour V3 Standard Edition Rangefinder offers such unerringly good performance that we have no qualms about labeling it a smart buy. This is one of the best range finders available in overall terms, having good build quality, easy operation, and replicable accuracy.
There are cheaper options that also have pretty good accuracy, but the V3 tends to be more consistent in its performance, and is more user-friendly to boot.
This is not a range finder that will demand that you pore over each page of its user manual to get started with it. It invites you to find out how to use it right out of the box, and thanks to the simplicity of its design, you can actually do that.
Bushnell’s Tour V3 series actually does offer a slope-compensating edition. This is dubbed the slope edition of the V3, and it offers even higher accuracy than the standard one. There is a price for the improvement of the measurement, but golfers who often use courses rife with hills and dips will very likely be willing to pay it.
In exchange, they get everything the standard V3 has to offer as well as the added security of knowing they can get the right range even in a hilly situation.
- Rubberized armor coating – This gives the Tour V3 range finder nice “grippability”, rendering it less likely to slip out of your hand during use. It also contributes to its ergonomic design, making the Bushnell Tour V3 nicely comfy to have in the palm.
- Pin Seeker with Jolt – These technologies help the range finder find flags more easily and also tell the user when a flag has been found by causing the device to give a small jolt.
- High maximum range – The 1,000 yard measurement is for optimal conditions, of course, but having a range finder with a higher top range is always better considering that the top ranges advertised are rarely ones you can obtain in everyday use. Thus, even if you get a 400-yard range finder, it is unlikely that you will get 400 yards out of it due to environmental conditions limiting its efficacy. With a top range of 1,000 yards, though, you are assured at least 500 yards of ranging in most conditions.
- Slope Compensation – The slope compensation feature on the Bushnell Tour V3 gives it added accuracy in its measurements. It may not be immediately felt on courses with a lot of level areas, but take the Slope Edition of the Tour V3 to a course with lot of slopes and you immediately see the difference.
Advantages of the Slope Edition Bushnell Tour V3 Rangefinder
- Heightened Accuracy – This is with reference to the Standard Edition, of course. The Slope Edition basically has all the virtues of the standard but gives you better slope compensation.
Things to Be Aware Of
As with the Standard Edition of the V3, the usual concern buyers have with the Slope Edition is its cost. It is the priciest thing in our list. It is less of a concern that it cannot be used in tournaments since most golfers already know this and do not purchase a range finder with slope compensation thinking to use it in formal competition.
In spite of the Slope Edition’s cost, we maintain that its strong performance-for-dollar keeps it in this list. In this range finder you have the accuracy of the Tour V3 in a boosted form for sloped-course golfers. Overall, it remains one of the best range finders in its category.
The Tour V3 Jolt Standard Edition is Bushnell’s mid-ranged (but not exactly budget) offering for those looking for a laser range finder for golfing. This device boasts a 5x magnification rating, a 24mm objective, and an impressively high range of 1,000 yards.
Even more importantly, it has Bushnell’s famed Pin Seeker and Jolt features, which many golfers have lauded for the improvements they bring to flag-detection times. It offers a continuous measurement or scan mode too, along with an LCD display that updates continuously for real-time readouts.
- Two-year Warranty – Most range finders come with one-year warranties, but the Tour V3 Jolt Standard Edition offers a two-year one. This can give you some peace of mind when you buy it, as you know that you are protected for at least 24 months from the moment of purchase. Bushnell’s reputation in the warranty department is also decent.
- Easy-handling and Light – The Tour V3 Jolt Standard Edition weighs in at a measly 6.7 ounces, making it very easy to carry around or aim.
- Imperial and Metric Capabilities – You can opt for the Tour V3 to display your distance readings in either imperial or metric units, so there is no more need to do calculations from yard to meter or vice-versa if you are more used to working with one instead of the other.
Advantages of the Bushnell Tour V3 Jolt Standard Edition Rangefinder
- Out-of-the-box Readiness – This is one range finder you can start using right out of the box without issues.
- Pin Seeker – The excellence of Bushnell’s pin seeking technology means less time trying to tame your shaky hands and more time actually playing the game.
Things to Be Aware Of
Some consumers have complained of the Tour V3’s cost, but this was usually only prior to trying it out. It may also be less than ideal if what you really need is something with slope compensation, in which case the aforementioned Slope Edition would be a better selection for your golfing gear.
The Tour V3 Standard Edition is a great buy in spite of the seemingly high price tag because it makes good on every dollar you pay for it. Not only is this one of the easiest range finders to use (and you would be surprised how many require you to wade through a manual to operate them right) but it also delivers extremely fast and very accurate results.
Breaking 80 releases a lot of budget range finders, and the PinSensor series represents one of its best-selling lines. The mid-ranged unit in this series is the one we recommend, the 550-yard SS500. This unit boasts 6x magnification, a lens-protecting design, and a selection of color options that not only jazz up its looks but also make it harder to overlook in your golf cart.
- Compact and Durable – This Breaking 80 laser range finder is not only designed to be compact but is also quite sturdy, having lens protection in place as well as offering easy one-handed usage.
- The Latest Pin Sensor Software – Modern pin sensor software helps the Breaking 80 rangefinder detect flags instead of obstacles or trees in the background.
- Multiple Color Choices – You can get the Breaking 80 SS500 range finder in the usual black, but the more adventurous may want to opt for colors like white, red, orange, and even pink.
Advantages of the Breaking 80 Golf Rangefinder – PinSensor 3 Series SS500
- Low Cost – For its performance and range, the PinSensor 3 SS500 range finder is actually very affordable, being available at many stores for less than $200. Despite that, it actually works very accurately, and most people are surprised by how often its results match those of range finders from bigger brands with much bigger price tags.
- 60-day Money-back Guarantee – Breaking 80 offers a 60-day returns period with its range finders, so you are not only paying less than you would for the big brands’ units but also get the security of knowing you can get your money back if you decide the range finder is not for you after all.
- Lifetime Replacement Plan – A registration-based lifetime replacement option allows owners of this range finder to replace it with a new, just slightly shorter-ranged unit from the manufacturer if it should ever break. The replacement is not free, costing $99, but it is still much cheaper than what you would pay at list price for the replacement unit.
Things to Be Aware Of
While this is a fairly accurate range finder when used right, it takes some time and practice to learn how to do that, especially because it does not come with a very helpful product guide.
Breaking 80’s offering is the first of the very cheap options in our list, and while it does post a shorter maximum range than the Bushnell model, it still manages to perform at very nearly the same level. This is made doubly impressive by the fact that it costs about half what their model does.
In short: get the Breaking 80 if you can make do with slightly less polished performance and need a bargain.
TecTecTec is another company to consider if you want a good laser range finder on the cheap. One of its products, the VPRO500, is an excellent example of an affordable range finder that hits above its price point.
A weather-resistant unit, it weighs just a little over 11 ounces for easy carry and aiming and also offers a multilayered optic lens to give users an extra-clear picture. It can range objects at up to 540 yards and also falls well under the $200 mark at most stores.
- Slim and Light – The VPRO500 is compact at just 4.1 x 2.8 x 1.6 inches, making it easy to stuff into your bag. Its low weight only enhances its portability.
- Scan Mode – Need to do continuous measurement? The VPRO500 comes with a scan mode, like most modern range finders.
- Pin Sensor Technology – Combined with 6x magnification and its extra-clear multilayered lens, the VPRO500 makes it simple to get a lock on the flags you are really aiming at.
Advantages of the TecTecTec VPRO500 Golf Rangefinder
- Low Cost – Again, this is one of the top choices if you are on a really tight budget. Its build and performance quality are well above what you might expect from its price tag, though. It is actually impressively fast at taking measurements once you lock on.
- Easy to Use – This is one of the easier single-handed laser range finders when it comes to usage. Fingertip operation and simple controls contribute to this.
Things to Be Aware Of
Like most budget range finders without locking technology, it can be a bit finicky about acquiring a flag and measuring it if your hands are not very steady.
This does not mean it is inaccurate: in fact, it tends to be within the stated 1-yard error allowance given in the product literature when you do get it to lock on the right object. The problem only manifests when the person using it has a tendency to tremble in the hands.
The VPRO500 is one of the best budget range finders you can find right now, and if you can hold it steady, there is no reason for you to expect budget performance. This little gadget can actually trade measurements happily with a Bushnell in most situations, at least if the target does not pass its maximum range. 540 yards is more than enough for most golfing applications though, so that should not be a problem.