The Best Golf Rangefinders of 2020
*Don’t trust reviews from sites that don’t actually own the units! We’ve been buying and testing them since 2015*
Dial in your distances and swing confidently with the best golf rangefinders 2020.
Everywhere you look, golf gadgets and products promise you straight drives, lower scores and that you’ll be the envy of your golf buddies. Even the best golf rangefinder in the world won’t straighten out your tee shot but it’s is a must-have for any golfer looking to land their ball right on target.
After all, how can you hit your target without knowing exactly how far it is from you?
We set out to find the best rangefinders in each price range in 2020 to help you make better decisions on the course. So we bought them.
The Best Golf Rangefinders in 2020 are:
Click the links above to skip to each of the golf rangefinder reviews or jump to our our rangefinder buyer’s guide below
- Bushnell Pro X7 – Best Overall Rangefinder of 2016
- Leupold Gx-4Ia2 Rangefinder – higher-end alternative to Bushnell products
Other top rangefinders we took a look at:
- Callaway Hybrid GPS
- Breaking 80
- Bushnell Tour Xrev
- Bushnell Z6
- Nikon Coolshot 20
- Bushnell Tour V3 (Best Value Rangefinder 2017)
If you’re new to golf rangefinders, we’ve got a detailed buyers guide below. If you already own one and you’re looking to upgrade or replace, you already know that rangefinders are truly a game-changer that absolutely help you score.
Based on our head-to-head tests of the top units, we have found that there’s NOT a significant difference in the accuracy. The big differences are in the usability, display features, durability and the other features. We tested 50-yard increments up to 450 yards and the differences were really insignificant. They’re all the “best golf rangefinder” when it comes to accuracy. This is a sign the core rangefinder technology has matured and is affordable to produce for different consumer price points. Like any tech product, we’d expect to see prices trend downward over time (or adding new features for the same $).
Let’s dive into the golf rangefinder reviews
BEST GOLF RANGEFINDER – OVERALL WINNER:
Bushnell Pro X2 – Review
Distance measuring devices have become a huge part of the modern game, GPS watches, GPS screens on your golf cart, and rangefinders have become accessories that most golfers can’t live without. Bushnell has been an industry leader in the rangefinder business specializing in rangefinders, scopes, binoculars and numerous other products in the hunting, wildlife and golf industries.
Ask 100 people and 97 of them would name Bushnell as the first brand that when it comes to golf rangefinders. While not every Bushnell model is great, the Bushnell Pro X2 is another best-in-class product from the best in the business.
The Bushnell Pro X2 is another example of Bushnell offering state-of-the-art technology along with durability, usability, and better aesthetics than their competitors. This is why Bushnell rangefinders manage to top our overall and value rangefinder categories year-over-year – they usually make the best golf rangefinders. Does that mean you should blindly buy their latest model? Definitely not. Research is always the best way to avoid buyer’s remorse.
No product is perfect, though, so let’s get into the details.
- Dual Display Technology (DDT):Bushnell has added a color toggle within the display which lets you change the colors of the crosshairs and numbers to make sure it contrasts against your target.
- Pinseeker with JOLT:A vibration gives the user feedback (jolt) when the rangefinder picks up the flag. This helps when you’re shooting to a flag situated in front of trees or shrubs so you don’t end up choosing the wrong club.
- Slope compensation technology:The unit takes the incline/decline of the hole into consideration and adjusts the reading. Without the adjustments you’d come up short on uphill shots and short on downhill.
- Slope Switch technology allows you to toggle slope on and off to make sure you’re staying legal. USGA rule changes now allow rangefinders in competition (subject to local officials), but use of slope adjustments is not allowed.
The Most Durable Rangefinder
The Bushnell Pro X2 seems to be the most durable unit we’ve reviewed to date. It’s body construction is metal which feels very sturdy compared to many of the plastic units that are typical to golf rangefinders. We didn’t drop ours on purpose but would bet the X2 will hold up best if it happens to slide off your cart onto the path.
The Pro X2 is also fully waterproof so you can play through the storm, Caddyshack style.
Dual Display Technology (DDT) Explained
With a simple press of the Mode button, dual display technology (DDT) can be used to switch between a bright red vivid display or a sharp black display. This is a great feature because when lighting conditions change users can change the display color to an option that is most visible to them.
Pinseeker JOLT Technology Explained
It can be easy to shoot the wrong target if you don’t have feedback to confirm you’re locked onto the pin. Sometimes the trees behind a green can be close enough for you to think you’re on target but far enough to make you take the wrong club.
Pinseeker JOLT Technology is a feature that produces a jolt as soon as the rangefinder accurately detects the pin when ‘shooting’ at the pin. This feature gives the user peace of mind knowing that they have the exact distance to the pin, and that they didn’t accidentally get a wrong distance to a tree 30 yards behind the green. This is now a standard Bushnell feature and has been in the last 4 models or so.
Slope Compensation Technology
To some players having the ability to calculate undulation isn’t a big concern, but when your home course is situated on the side of a mountain having a rangefinder with slope compensation technology can be of great assistance. Professional players and amateurs who compete in USGA and big amateur events also benefit greatly from slope compensation technology. Having the ability to use these slope calculating rangefinders in practice rounds allows players to make accurate notes in their yardage books that they can reference during the course of their tournaments.
Slope Switch Technology Explained
When rangefinders were initially introduced to the market most rangefinders didn’t compensate for slope, as technology improved models that compensated for slope were designed, but only later on were there models available where switching between the modes were possible.
About 3 years ago Bushnell introduced a model where an attachment at the front of the rangefinder could be switched out to either have, or not have slope compensation technology. With slope switch technology it only requires the flick of a switch to move between the two modes, which makes it a very quick and user-friendly experience.
The Pro X2 is a very user friendly rangefinder, its shape allows for a comfortable grip, the rubber casing offers protection against falls and bumps and it is waterproof thus it can be used in any weather conditions. Two different display color options ensure that options are available to provide maximum visibility in different lighting conditions. Slope switch technology is available at the flip of a switch, there is no need to change attachments, this yet again adds to a friendlier user experience.
You’d expect the best golf rangefinder to offer tremendous accuracy, and the X2 has plenty with a range of 5 – 1300 yards and accuracy ranging to ½ a yard. The Pinseeker JOLT technology ensures that users know that they have ‘shot’ the pin accurately thus giving them confidence in their chosen distance. Having slope compensation technology available as well adds another dimension to ensure accuracy when obtaining a distance.
The X2’s metal body and extra weight add to the feeling that you’re holding something high-quality and gives confidence that the readings you’ll get will be fast and accurate.
The Pro X2 does come with a hefty price tag of $449.99, but it is a product that you can use for a very long time. Bushnell offers a trade up program, which means that users can trade in older models for newer models. The Pro X2 also comes with a 2 year warranty after the date of purchase.
The Bushnell Pro X2 is the best golf rangefinder they’ve ever produced. It’s just a nicely designed rangefinder with all the high-end features while giving you quick, accurate reads. It’s durable, with a rubber armored metal housing, and its waterproofing ensures ultimate durability in case you drop it in the drink. Having the slope switch technology offers great flexibility to players who play competitive golf, slope compensation can be used during practice rounds, and then by a simple switch of a button it is legal to use in events where distance measuring devices are allowed.
In all, the Pro X2 is accurate, packed with technology, lightweight to carry around in your golf bag and a product that will last a very long time. We chose it as our Best Bolf Rangefinder of 2018.
BEST GOLF RANGEFINDER – BEST VALUE
Bushnell Tour V4 Golf Laser Rangefinder with JOLT and Slope – Review
Building on the huge success of the Tour V3, Bushnell made some changes, namely reducing the size by 30%. They also improved the pin seeker speed and the slope compensation mechanism. Don’t let the small size fool you – it’s a very solid, high quality laser rangefinder that you’d be happy with.
- Legal for Tournament Play
- PinSeeker with JOLT Technology
- Accurate to 1 Yard
- Ranges 5-1,000 Yds; 400+ Yds to a Flag
- 5X Magnification
- Fast Focus System
- Stable-Grip Technology
- 2 year limited warranty
The Tour V4 comes out of the box with
- The unit
- Silicone protective cover
- Hard case that you can hang from your bag
- A cleaning cloth for the lens
Rangefinder with Slope
The Tour V4 Shift introduces a new way to toggle the slope compensation on and off. Laser rangefinders like the Tour X by Bushnell or the Leupold GX‑4i² had bright colored faceplates which could be removed to disable the slope feature. This helps tour officials to be able to tell if a player is using their slope-enabled rangefinder illegally. The problem is that you effectively have 2 parts to deal with. The faceplate can go in your bag but it’s also easy to lose. The Tour V4 changed the slope toggle to a button on the side which shows the words “Slope Edition” when it’s on. Same result, but in one piece instead of two. Smart.
Is the V4 the best rangefinder for the money?
The Tour V4 has been out for about a year and was priced at about $400 when it was released. Recent prices have brought it to the more affordable $300 range which is great value considering the feature set, Bushnell’s reputation and history of the line. If you’re looking for great value at a reasonable price, this is it.
Why it’s worth buying
- It’s really compact and fits easily in the palm of your hand or pocket. If size is a concern for you, the V4 is your pick
- It shoots quickly
- Target acquisition is easier with the pinseeker
- Water resistant – safe for rain play
- 5-1000yard range; practical range of about 350 yards and you can still see objects around 700 yards
Why you may pass on this one
- Magnification is 5x compared to 6-7x on newer models
- Accuracy is 1 yard vs 1/2 yard on newer models
- It’s small and light enough that it can be hard to steady – best to use both hands to stabilize it
Bushnell Tour V3 vs Tour V4
- V4 is 30% smaller
- Added on/off switch for slope control
Be sure to check out the video below from Bushnell:
How to Use It
The Tour V4 is very simple to use. Press the power/fire button once to turn it on. Next, aim at your target and press the primary button and hold it until you see the distance reading in the lens. After you release the fire button, the unit will automatically turn back off after 30 seconds. If you have trouble locking in on the target while shooting the laser after 10 seconds, just release the button and try again.
How the Pinseeker Feature Works
Bushnell’s Pinseeker technology helps to isolate the flag from other objects, like trees behind it. When the the unit notices multiple potential targets in the crosshair area, it will show an icon with a circled flag in the lower left corner. When you see this icon, the distance reading is to the object closer to you.
How the Slope Feature Works
A standard rangefinder without slope makes the assumption that you’re aiming at a target that’s level with your position, so it’s not uphill or downhill from you. The problem is your uphill shot will travel shorter than one at a level target because the ball has less time to travel to the target before it hits the ground.
The Slope feature figures out how much uphill or downhill your shot is and crunches the numbers to calculate the real distance to your target. Who really wants to do geometry on the course anyway? Pretty cool.
The Bushnell Tour V4 takes a CR-2 3-volt lithium battery. While some early rangefinders had issues with the battery life, the V4 has been reported to last 40+ rounds. When the battery is low, you’ll see “loB” in the viewfinder screen. The manual recommends that you change the battery once every 12 months. I keep a spare in my golf bag just in case.
Is it Tournament Legal?
Yes. With the Slope Shift feature, you’re able to turn off the slope feature while playing in tournaments.
Should you buy it?
The Bushnell Tour V4 is a great choice if you’re looking for a high quality rangefinder from the best manufacturer. It has some nice upgrades from the V3 model (our prior Best Value pick), particularly fitting in your palm and using a slope switch instead of a faceplate.
BEST GOLF RANGEFINDER – NEW ARRIVAL
Laser rangefinders are a quick way to shave a few strokes off of your game and to give you a bit more confidence while out on the the course. It’s important for the best laser rangefinders to have excellent accuracy, batter life, zoom, and the ability to lock onto the intended target. It’s also great when your device is lightweight and feels good in your hands.
The NX7 laser rangefinder is a newcomer to the market that scores well on all of these points and is priced well below its competition. Dollar for dollar it’s the best new rangefinder and also gives the TecTecTec a challenger for the best laser rangefinder for the money.
Accurate and Easy to Use
The Precision Pro NX7 is as accurate as any of the best golf laser rangefinders on the market today. The NX7 is accurate within one yard of any target and can measure distances to the 1/10 of a yard. Want to know whether it’s 45.9 yards to the bunker vs. 45.6 yards? We have no idea why you would, but the NX7 has your back.
To lock onto a target with the NX7 you simply push a button on the top of the device. A circle with crosshairs will appear. After placing this on the desired target, you hit the button again. The crosshairs will blink until the yardage is found and displayed. The NXY is easy to use and provides you with exactly what you need without any gimmicks.
The NX7 also boasts Target Acquisition Technology (TAG) that prevents the device from picking up objects in the background when you’re trying to hit a specific target. This laser rangefinder can pick up targets that are up to 400 yards away. That’s really far.
With some laser rangefinders, it’s easy to accidentally laser the yardage to a tree behind the intended target. This can lead to wayward shots that overshoot the green. With the NX7 you don’t have to worry about this as much. But it’s only as accurate as its user, if your hand is shaking or you can’t keep it steady on the target, you’ll want to laser the flag pin twice to make sure you’ve hit the correct target.
You might not think that fast speeds with a laser rangefinder are important. But there are few things more frustrating than a slow golfer. Some laser rangefinders take forever to lock onto their target and provide you with an accurate and reliable yardage. The Precision Pro NX7 provides you with a yardage reading in less than a second after locking on to your intended target. This prevents you from being the slow guy/girl on the golf course endlessly scanning the landscape with your device.
The NX7 golf laser rangefinder provides you with a great view of your intended target. The zoom on the rangefinder is 6x which is more zoom than some of the other best golf laser rangefinders on the market. This gives you a clear view of your target from far distances and allows you to better lock the crosshairs on the flag pin or other target.
Multiple Distance Types –
The Precision Pro NX7 allows you to easily switch how you measure the distance to the intended target. If you’re in the United States, you’ll likely want to measure distance in yards. However, those of you who are abroad will likely want to measure distances in meters. With one push of a button you can measure in either yards or meters and all of this is completely tournament legal.
There are a bunch of little a aspects of this laser rangefinder that are worth mentioning. Sometimes the details are as important as the big picture items that we all like to focus on. For example, you can have the most accurate laser rangefinder in the world, but if it requires $15 batteries that need to be replaced every two weeks, the device will be way less valuable. It’s also annoying when the device feels strange in your hand or breaks easily when dropped. Here are some of the other perks of this rangefinder that are fairly self explanatory.
- Water resistant
- Free Battery Replacement
- Feels great in your hand/not awkward to hold
- Good size
- Shock resistant
- 2 year warranty
NX7 Pro with Slope
For those of you looking for a bit more technology in a golf laser rangefinder, Precision Pro also offers the NX7 Pro with slope technology. The NX7 pro differs from the NX7 by providing the yardage to a hole with elevation taken into consideration. This can be incredibly helpful on course that have large elevation changes or courses that you are playing for the first time.
With slope technology engaged, the NX7 pro will tell you the actual yardage to the flag pin and the distance with elevation taken into account. This added benefit is not tournament legal but can easily be turned off for tournament play. The NX7 Pro also features the pulse vibration technology that lets you know when you are locked onto your target. This is great for checking the yardage on a target when there are other objects in the background or the foreground.
As you might expect, these added benefits don’t come without a higher cost. Expect to pay about $50 more for these features. If you’re interested in checking out these features feel free to check the price on amazon.
The Precision Pro NXT golf laser rangefinder provides you with everything that you need to lower your scores. It easily competes with the best golf laser rangefinders on the market at a fraction of the price. There are no real drawbacks to this device, but there is plenty of upside. It’s accurate, easy to use, durable, and cost effective. If you’re in the market for an entry level laser rangefinder this is a fantastic option. As we note earlier, this is the best golf laser rangefinder for the money.
BEST BUDGET GOLF RANGEFINDER / BEST GOLF RANGEFINDER FOR THE MONEY
TecTecTec VPRO500 Review
The best golf rangefinder that gets the job done and saves you money for other gear
The VPRO500, from a relatively new name in the rangefinder world, boasts a 6x magnification, realistic 400 yard range and a really tempting price. This unit is quite a bit heavier than the comparable-in-size Bushnell V3 (both still under 1lb). Some specs have the V3 beat (magnification, comparable range, accuracy), however there seems to be a few more reports of defects on this unit. Keep in mind there’s a 1-year warranty by TecTecTec, so you’ll be covered. The Vpro feels sturdy, gets the job done and makes for a great entry rangefinder for golfers relying on eyes or GPS units.
- Tournament Legal (no slope)
- 450yd Range, accurate to 1 yard
- 6x Magnification
- Pinseeking Tech
- 1 Year Warranty
Who is TecTecTec?
TecTecTec is not a name many are familiar with in the golf world or otherwise. There’s not much public information on the company and their product line consists of a few fairly different products: golf rangefinders and a GoPro copycat (plus a few digital projectors on their Euro website).
This lack of focus on golf may (rightfully) raise questions on the company’s ability to produce a quality rangefinder but TecTecTec is establishing a solid reputation through its VPRO500 rangefinder through its budget-friendly price and very good customer service. TecTecTec is a newer company, so it remains to be seen whether it’ll be around for the long-term, but signs are positive.
The VPRO500 is a light, compact rangefinder with a 6x magnification, decent pin sensor and good hard case. The lens is large and provides a clear view to your target to take a measurement. The pinseek feature isn’t great but is more accurate than using a GPS and eyeballing it.
It’s small enough to fit in your pocket between shots and the water resistance means it’s okay to set it down on the wet, early-morning turf while you take your shot if you’d rather not put it back in the case between shots. (Using the case is the safer choice, of course).
- 6x Magnification (most rangefinders are 5x)
- Customer service / support
- Not as accurate as Bushnell and Leupold models
- Newer company, short track record
- Long-term durability unclear
The packaging for the unit is nothing special but good looking.
Best Hybrid Rangefinder – Bushnell Hybrid GPS
Overview and Key Features
The Bushnell Hybrid GPS hosts a real party of features. As a combo product, the tech is truly on the cutting edge. With the laser finder/GPS combination, you get the best of both worlds.
It’s all about data with this rangefinder. With the laser, you get a display that provides information on what you can see on the course. Basically, the laser function lets you identify exact points on the course. Such as, the flag. It even features what the manufacturer calls a “pin seeker jolt,” which means that the finder will help you stay on target.
Ordinarily, laser finders just hit you with the distance that you are locked in on. Still good information, but not as comprehensive as you might want. But the Bushnell Hybrid gives you exact information on the distances you need to know: Distance to the pin. Distance to the front. Distance to the back. Everything you need.
The GPS is what gives you the extra information. The extra data points basically put a caddy in your pocket. Or the brain of a caddy…Forget the imagery, and just enjoy tour quality information.
And there is lots and lots more. You get the Bushnell GPS app, for a more defined display on your phone. A huge database of 36,000 courses, for coverage wherever you play. A durable, water-resistant exterior…
Told you you’d salivate.
Pin Seeker Jolt Explained
The pin seeker jolt has an almost alarming name, right? Like it’s some sort of unpleasant, maybe even painful surprise.
This isn’t the case. The only purpose of the pin seeker jolt feature is to help you identify the pin.
When the laser does find the pin, the finder will vibrate to let you know that you have hit your target. It’s a small feature but it is also pretty important.
Without the vibration, it can be hard to tell if you are actually hitting the pin, or if you are getting the distance to a tree behind the green, not the ideal target.
Hybrid Combination Explained
The Bushnell Hybrid GPS/Laser finder is actually the first product of its kind. The combination is exactly as potent as it sounds. We touched on this a little bit in the overview, but let’s break it down further in case anyone is confused.
A traditional rangefinder uses laser technology to pinpoint a precise point on the golf course. It gives you very specific, very precise information on a fixed point.
Golf GPSs are a little bit broader in their data. They might tell you general information, like how far you have to the back of the green or how far to the front. They might even include information on where specific hazards are.
However, they can’t give you accurate data on objects that are subject to move, like the pin, which, might get changed out every day.
The combination element essentially closes the gap and eliminates the weaknesses of each product.
Bushnell App Explained
So, if this has a built-in GPS, why the app? It is true that the GPS will supply you with basic data that is presented on the finder itself. A small LED screen provides info on the distance to the front and back of the green.
But GPSs can do so much more than that, and the body of the rangefinder can be a little bit restrictive. The app provides you with a display that gives data on the entire hole. You see the hazards, get an overview, and enjoy a display that is larger and more clearly defined.
As an added bonus the app comes for free. Which you would admittedly expect given the price tag here, but it’s still nice to see. This is golf we are talking about here after all. A game where everything comes with a big price tag.
Tournament Legality Explained:
You aren’t on the PGA or LPGA tour, are you? If so, oh my gosh! Thanks so much for stopping by. Unfortunately, you can’t use this product on the tour though.
If you aren’t a professional golfer, you are in luck. Well, you know, so to speak. The Bushnell Hybrid is legal for tournament play, which means you can use it every time that you play.
The Bushnell Hybrid is shaped to the human hand which means that it will feel very natural to use. It also features a durable build and a water-resistant casing. You aren’t going to want to take it for a swim, but it will be able to stand up to some light rain.
Of course, there is also a big premium on accuracy with this product. With the laser finder, you can identify targets from up to four hundred yards away and enjoy an accuracy that is exact up to a yard.
It’s a doozy. At $449 this probably won’t be for everyone. Still if you can reckon with the cost, you get a product that can have a truly positive impact on your game.
Cutting-edge is a phrase that gets thrown a lot these days. But the Bushnell Hybrid GPS really does earn this praise. If for no other reason than it is the first of its kind we can say with confidence, performs to spec.
Innovation aside, it is just a great product. The benefits of golf GPSs or rangefinders is pretty clear at this point. Holding one gadget capable of both feats is an all-around win.
Yeah, it’s expensive. Isn’t everything in golf? But if you have the cash or are looking for the right gift for the golfer that has everything, this is an excellent choice. If you’re not convinced you need the GPS feature, check out the X2 or the V4 from Bushnell.
Nikon Coolshot 20 Review
Nikon is a company known for their cameras and accessories, so it’s not surprising that they decided to bring some of their tech expertise into the golf market. The Coolshot 20 is one of the smallest golf rangefinders ever made and it doesn’t come at the expense of performance. It’s a no-frills, pocket-size unit with a very clear lens and almost zero learning curve. If you’re looking for a budget friendly rangefinder that just gets the job done, consider picking up the Coolshot 20.
- Budget friendly – typically found for $150-200
- Simple to use: no extra bells and whistles slowing you down. just point, shoot, and play.
- Small – Ideal for golfers who prefer to carry the rangefinder in their pocket
- 8 second shoot time – get distance to several targets in one shot
- Rainproof – won’t let rain get in the way of the way you play
- 6x magnification (the sweet spot – 7x feels too zoomed in, 5x seems too far away)
- No slope (adjustment for hills)
- No ‘pinseeker’ tech to assist with flag targeting
- Shooting flag directly can be tough if there are bushes and trees along the back of the green
Feature by Feature Review
The price of the Nikon Coolshot 20 is the key to it being competitive in the world of golf rangefinders. There’s solid competition in the $150 price point, and Nikon is really the only established technology brand competing here. TecTecTec has a really nice unit at this price point that might be a better fit for golfers looking for more features and who don’t care about brand names as much. The advantage Nikon has here is its brand name and the ease of use.
Ease of Use
It would be wrong to say that any golf rangefinder worth buying is complicated to use. If you can use a smartphone and drive a car, you can use a rangefinder. So to say the Coolshot 20 is easy to use compared to its peers is not a huge statement or differentiator , but I do think that its simplicity makes it a great fit for the ‘no BS’ golfer who likes to keep it simple and shoot a few distances per round without any hassle.
8 Second Shoot Time – Shoot Accurate Targets without Pinseeker Features
The caveat to the ease of use that you won’t be able to easily shoot the pin if there are other objects cluttered in the background. You don’t have the Bushnell Pinseeker tech looking for the flagstick specifically. The key to getting the right distance is to use the 8 -seconds it gives you when you press the button to scan the target area.
You really don’t need to target the flag itself if you’re not a very low handicap, anyway. The average golfer should be targeting a circular range near the center of the green. You can easily get a feel for the distance needed indirectly by shooting the green all around the flag in a sweeping motion. You’ll get 5-10 different readings while you scan and can use that to decide on the right club. There’s a bit of an art to using a rangefinder effectively, but it’s easy to develop over a round or two.
The Nikon Coolshot 20 is the smallest unit we’ve reviewed to date. If size is a concern due to your bag being full of shag golf balls or beers, this unit can stay in your pocket for your whole round without getting in the way. It fits snug in the palm of your hand and is a full 15% smaller than the TecTecTec VPro500 which is pretty small at the same price point.
This rangefinder is rainproof like most rangefinders released in the past 5 years. This is one you hope you won’t need but you’re glad when you have it. From what we can tell the rainproof protection is in line with the rest of its competitors.
Magnification can be tricky. If you don’t have enough, you’ll never see your target. If you have too much, you spend 2x the time just figuring out which tree’s bark you’re looking at up close. Many manufacturers seem to have settled on 6x as the right mix. Someday we’ll have rangefinders that zoom, but until then, you can feel confident you’re getting the magnification you should.
The Coolshot 20 is a solid competitor in the $150 price range. We’d recommend this one for golfers that are price sensitive and don’t feel the need for special features other than a button and the distance displayed in the lens. If you have a bigger budget, we’d recommend one of the Bushnell units or if you’re budget conscious and want comparable features to the higher end models, look at the Precision Pro or TecTecTec.
In This Article
- 1 The Best Golf Rangefinders of 2020
- 2 The Best Golf Rangefinders in 2020 are:
- 2.1 Bushnell Pro X2 – Best Overall Rangefinder with Slope
- 2.2 Nikon Coolshot Pro Stabilized – Best Premium Stabilized Rangefinder (with Slope)
- 2.3 Bushnell V4 Laser Rangefinder with Jolt – Best Value Rangefinder
- 2.4 Precision Pro NX7 Rangefinder – Best New Golf Rangefinder
- 2.5 TecTecTec PRO500 Rangefinder – Best Budget Golf Rangefinder
- 2.6 Bushnell Hybrid GPS Rangefinder – Best Hybrid Golf Rangefinder
- 2.7 Other top rangefinders we took a look at:
- 3 **New Finding**
- 4 BEST GOLF RANGEFINDER – OVERALL WINNER:
Bushnell Pro X2 – Review
- 4.1 Overview
- 4.2 Key Features
- 4.3 The Most Durable Rangefinder
- 4.4 Dual Display Technology (DDT) Explained
- 4.5 Pinseeker JOLT Technology Explained
- 4.6 Slope Compensation Technology
- 4.7 Slope Switch Technology Explained
- 4.8 Specs
- 4.9 Performance
- 4.10 Conclusion
- 5 BEST PREMIUM RANGEFINDER WITH STABILIZATION: Nikon Coolshot Pro Stabilized
- 6 BEST GOLF RANGEFINDER – BEST VALUE Bushnell Tour V4 Golf Laser Rangefinder with JOLT and Slope – Review
- 7 How the Pinseeker Feature Works
- 8 Should you buy it?
- 9 BEST GOLF RANGEFINDER – NEW ARRIVAL
- 10 Precision Pro NX7 Laser Rangefinder – Review
- 11 Accurate and Easy to Use
- 12 BEST BUDGET GOLF RANGEFINDER / BEST GOLF RANGEFINDER FOR THE MONEY TecTecTec VPRO500 Review
- 13 Best Hybrid Rangefinder – Bushnell Hybrid GPS
- 14 Nikon Coolshot 20 Review
- 15 RANGEFINDER HISTORY AND BUYER’S GUIDE
- 15.1 Background
- 15.2 Who Makes Rangefinders?
- 15.3 Getting the Most from your Rangefinder
- 15.4 How would Two Golf Guys improve laser rangefinders?
- 15.5 History & Legality of Rangefinders
- 15.6 Buying a Rangefinder
- 15.7 Wrapping Up
- 15.8 You made it this far – drop us a comment!
- 15.9 60
RANGEFINDER HISTORY AND BUYER’S GUIDE
Golf Before Rangefinders
I remember the moment that clinched my first rangefinder purchase very clearly.
A few years ago, I was playing on one of my home courses and was paired up with a quiet older guy in his mid 60s named Sam (if you’re reading this, thanks bud!). On a 350 yard par 4, I push my drive out to the right rough, about 210 yards or so – a little inside the 150 yard marker.
Now the green sits behind a water hazard – a creek that separates the green and fairway. I estimated a 120 yard carry to the front edge of the green, having been here more than once before. Confident in my PW being my 130 yard club, I give it a full swing and watch my ball hit the hill just past the water and roll backwards into the drink.
While I’m standing there, frozen in frustration, Sam strolls up next to me with his roller cart and pulls out his rangefinder. I’d never seen one actually used on the course before. Seconds later, he says “124 to clear the water, 128 to front edge of the green” and leaves me behind as he walked up to his ball on the green.
“Hey, can I see that thing?”
I had my first rangefinder later that day. (It was the Nikon Aculon 8397, a decent rangefinder, but the TecTecTec is better for the same price.)
Imagine what your scores would drop to if you have all your club distances dialed-in and you know the exact distance to the target for every shot. This is what the pros do with their caddies
Laser rangefinders enable you to aim directly at a target and know the exact distance, within mere inches. The margin of error with the new rangefinder technology is so low that it’s well below the margin of error in your shotmaking. This means using one is always going to be better than your own guesswork.
What is a rangefinder?
A range finder is a distance measurement device (DMD), often specially designed for use in golf to measure the distance from your ball to your target using either GPS or laser technology.
Laser rangefinders use technology determines the distance between you and a target you select by sending a short laser pulse to the target object and measuring the time it takes to bounce back to the device. The speed of the laser pulse is fixed, so the device uses the known speed and rebound time to calculate distance. The resulting distance is shown in a matter of a couple seconds within the viewport. Some units offer a “slope” feature which calculates the effective distance factoring uphill and downhill shots. Downhill shots will go further while uphill shots will be shorter.
GPS rangefinders use satellite data to measure the distance between your position (longitude and latitude coordinates) to calculate your distance to a certain number of fixed targets – usually to the front, middle and back of the green while some also include distances to nearby hazards like sand traps or water hazards.
Why should you use a rangefinder?
There are two major reasons you should carry a rangefinder in your bag:
- You finally know the actual distance to all of your targets
- You finally know the actual distance of your shots
Most golfers will say something like “I hit my 9I about 140” when in reality they hit it 135 most of the time and actually hit it 140 on a par 3 with a 10 yard drop from the tee box. These habits set unrealistic expectations and set you up for failure on nearly every shot.
Knowing the correct distance to your target can mean the difference between donating your ball to the water gods and giving yourself a chance for birdie.
Why shouldn’t you use one?
“You’re not good enough to need one yet”
Some may argue to wait on buying one if you can’t hit your clubs consistent distances yet. I was one of these golfers and found it beneficial to be able to check my actual on-course distances from fairways, rough and hazards. I shoot the distance after my shot and jot it down in my notebook (now a phone app). The more of these data points I have, the better I dial in my distances. Even if they’re not consistent, knowing that more than half the time I hit my 9I between 128 and 135 yards makes a difference.
“It slows down the pace of play”
Adding an extra process to your pre-shot routine can slow things down if you’re not efficient about it. Here’s my routine for using my rangefinder:
- Within reach I keep my rangefinder in an easy-to-reach place on my bag, so I can reach back and grab it while walking up to my ball or the tee.
- Pick out targets while walking What are the risks? I try to shoot targets in front and behind my ideal landing area so get a feel for the range of my target area. Is it a 5 yard window or 15 yards? This often helps me decide when to lay up and when to go for it. Golf is about calculated risk-taking, and the importance of knowing your distances cannot be overstated.
- Unit in hand When I set my bag down, I already have it in my hand, ready to shoot the targets I already picked out.
- Shoot Shoot the distance quickly and put the rangefinder back while grabbing my club. If there are multiple targets I do them in an order that I can do in an efficient sweep.
- Be flexible If another player’s ball is near mine and he’s shooting first, I’ll shoot from that distance and pace off the difference.
- Swing Instead of debating on whether the shot is 165 or 170 yards, I’m sure of the distance which gives me confidence in my club selection leading to better ballstriking.
Since I would spend time estimating my distance anyway, this process actually speeds up play for me. It only slows you down if you’re not efficient about it.
Doesn’t the course give you the distances already?
Courses try to help by showing distances on scorecards, tee signage, and markers on fairways, however, they give you the distance to the middle of the green from the marker’s position. Unless you’re striping your drive straight down the middle of the fairway to the 150 yard marker and the flag is in the middle of all the greens, you’re stuck estimating the distance using the markers as a reference point. And even if you are one of “the 1%” of golfers who hit the middle of fairways, let’s not forget:
- Yardage markers off the tee may be off since the tee areas are rotated to allow grass to grow (2-3 yard difference)
- Many markers can easily be moved by other players and staff while permanent markers such as plates in the ground may not be revised when a hole is redesigned. You’re even worse off if you slice or hook your drives.
I don’t see the PGA Tour players using them. Why should I?
Just because they’re not using rangefinders on Sunday at the US Open doesn’t mean they’re not relying on data from rangefinders. If you attend a Wednesday practice session of a tournament, you’ll see caddies spending hours shooting distances to different targets to build their yardage books. A major part of what makes the PGA Tour players is the ability to hit a shot a specific distance and to know what that distance should be. Rangefinders help with the second part, while the players are incredibly good at the former.
Scientific studies on human depth perception have shown that we’re terrible at estimating distances to targets, even at close range. Accurate laser rangefinders can help us fix that weakness.
Who Makes Rangefinders?
Here are the key players in the rangefinder industry:
Bushnell is the most well-known company in the golf rangefinder market and commands a large share of it – claiming 99 percent of all PGA Tour players as its users. Founded in 1948, the company was acquired in 2013 by Alliant Techsystems, a publicly traded company formerly owned by Honeywell. Bushnell is headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas.
Leupold is another outdoor optics company who has naturally made the expansion move into golf. Their primary line of rangefinders is the GX series and also includes the entry-level Pincaddie. Leupold is based out of Beaverton, OR.
TecTecTec is a newcomer to the rangefinder world. While there’s little information about the company available, they let their products and customer service do the talking. The VPro500 rangefinder is our favorite budget and entry level rangefinder on the market.
Nikon, a company famous for its cameras, began marketing its own line of rangefinders after producing for Callaway for several years. Its current line is the COOLSHOT with 20, 40 and 40i models.
Getting the Most from your Rangefinder
On the Course
There’s no rocket science to using your laser rangefinder on the course, but there are a few things you can do to maximize it.
1. Pick 2-3 targets around your target landing area, instead of one. This gives you a better feel for the club you should pick. If you only picked one target at 175yards while your safe landing area is 175-190y range, you’ll likely want to take a longer club than you might pick for a 175 yard shot. Pick your targets before you arrive at your ball so you can shoot quickly and avoid slowing up the play of your group.
2. Take notes on your target distance vs your actual shot distance and shape (more on it below). Are you playing about 1 club short compared to your normal distances? Start compensating on the course immediately by taking that extra club instead. Play the game you have, not the game you want. You can build the game you want in your practice sessions. Playing rounds are for realistic expectations and strategy, so the earlier in your round you can identify your shot tendencies, the better.
At the Range
Rangefinders are great tools on the course when knowing a precise distance is critical, but they’re even better for practice. Here are the best ways to use your rangefinder to get better:
Create a cheat sheet with your your *REAL* distances for each club
We all want to hit it long and straight, so we have a natural tendency to overestimate the quality of the shots we can hit. If you hit a great shot 10% of the time, you probably don’t want to pick a target based on the ball flight of the 10% shot. Your goal is to figure out the *most likely* shot shape and distance you will hit with a given club. If you know 65% of the time you hit your PW 125 and 20% of the time you hit it around 135, you can use it to carry a 115y hazard. If you’re around 115 yards 15-20% of the time, you may want to club up to play it safe.
Spend some time at the range charting your shots in a notebook.
*Note the distance to your target in the center using your rangefinder
*Use your rangefinder to mark 3 “rings” around your target like a dartboard – I like to use 10y intervals
*For each shot with one of your clubs, do two things:
A) Draw the shape of the shot, marking where your ball first bounces (the carry) and where it ultimately stops (carry + roll) on the chart. Write a shot number next to the shape of your shot.
B) Next, write down which club you used, the (conditions such as wind, lie, or even temperature), quality of impact, carry and roll distances as well as proximity to your target. I use a simple notation to keep it succinct: 7 yards is 7L (long), 7S (short), 7R (right) 7L (left).
If you’re practicing to play, you’ll be switching clubs for each shot which means a different chart for each club. You can flip between pages for each (or multiple) sessions.
Interpreting your Data
After 20 shots, you should start to see a general pattern. Where do your shots tend to land relative to your target? Short and to the right? Long and to the left? Is it a random buckshot pattern? You can use all this info to create a distance sheet that you can keep in your bag. It’s a great tool to help you make better shot selections on the course. I find that my cheat sheet tells me the correct club when my guesswork is a little off. Try it and let us know how it works for you!
How would Two Golf Guys improve laser rangefinders?
Unless there’s some breakthrough technology coming out of the labs soon, I think we’re not far off from peak rangefinder technology. They’re all fast, 5-7x magnification is plenty (unless you can stabilize it on a tripod like a sniper), slope calculations and pin seeking help with targeting.
How else could they really get better? I have one idea, and it’s one Canon could take advantage of:
If you’ve ever used a rangefinder with decent magnification, you’ve definitely found yourself so zoomed in that you’re not sure if you’re close to finding your target or not. ESPECIALLY if there are tons of trees in the background. You might spend 2-3 seconds just orienting yourself with what you’re zoomed into.
My idea is to use camera zoom features to let you start from, say 4x magnification which is easy to find a target with, to 7x or more. Find the target area quickly, then zoon into your precise target.
This would mean more moving parts that could potentially break if dropped, but I still think it’s a good idea. Canon, the maker of cameras and rangefinders, should be all over this. Especially because they’re not all that strong in the golf rangefinder world.
History & Legality of Rangefinders
The History of Rangefinders in Golf
Golf has evolved immensely since it began over 700 years ago. Improvements in ball and club technology have been so great in even the past 15 years that the game is completely different in the Spieth and Fowler era compared to the eras of Hogan, Player, Nickalus, and Palmer.
Laser rangefinders are part of that change, utilizing technology originally developed for military and medical use which dates back to the late 1950’s. Sniper teams depend on accurate distance estimates when determining the impact of wind, gravity and whether a target is within range.
The first laser range finder units built for use in golf debuted in 1955 by Bushnell, which remains the largest producer of rangefinders.
Is it legal to use a rangefinder during a golf round?
Yes, most rangefinders are USGA legal as long as they only measure distance.
In 2006, the USGA and R&A introduced a change to Rule 14-3 which had prohibited the user of ‘distance measuring devices’. The new rule permits the use of distance measuring devices (not slope, or wind speed or direction) as a local rule – meaning that local course rules would determine whether allowed or not. In 2014, distance measuring devices were allowed for use in all amateur events.
While new slope-measuring technology is great, it looks like the rules aren’t going to change anytime soon:
The USGA and The R&A have no intention to permit the use of electronic devices to go beyond the current rules and interpretations. This means that distance-measuring devices and applications will be limited to distance information only. If a device that is being used for distance-measuring purposes has any additional features, all such features must conform to the Rules of Golf.
The penalty for breaching the rule was revised in the USGA Rules of Golf in 2016 to two strokes in stroke play or the loss of hole in match play. A second breach would call for disqualification. These rules are in effect for a 4-year period through 2020.
The USGA does review all rangefinders and rules whether each conforms with the rules.
It’s important to note that some models of rangefinders have a feature to disable the slope measuring feature – even going as far as having a faceplate (similar to an orange toy gun tip) that can be removed to disable it. This feature was intended to allow rules officials observing play to be able to easily know if the player has the slope feature enabled simply by looking for the faceplate. The ruling bodies disagreed.
We expect that rangefinder manufacturers will eventually find a way to appease the USGA in this area. Most casual golfers won’t mind your use of slope-measuring rangefinders, but check with your playing partners or outing leaders before you tee off to confirm whether you can use a slope-enabled rangefinder or not.
The debate about rangefinders in golf Golf purists tend to disapprove of rangefinders in golf as giving an unfair advantage and not in the spirit of the game, believing that the technology making its way into clubs dilutes the level of skill needed to excel at the game.
Others promote the use of rangefinders (and other technologies) in golf, arguing that it increases enjoyment of the game and engages the gadget-centric audience. It’s also been shown to improve the pace of play (which is one of the most important challenges the USGA is focused on). Bushnell and the National University Golf Academy completed a study which showed that use of rangefinders for mid-hanidcappers sped up rounds by 30 minutes, over 10% of a typical round.
Golf is hard enough as it is now that courses are longer, more contoured and instruction is generally lousy – we think they’re great for the everyday golfer. If I were a professional getting practice rounds in on Wednesdays, I wouldn’t have a problem not using them during competition, but best believe I’d invest in the best one money can buy!
Buying a Rangefinder
Should I get a GPS or laser rangefinder?
I personally prefer the rangefinder to a GPS because of its flexibility to shoot any target compared to just getting green and hazard numbers. The chart below outlines the key differences between the two. If you’re unsure, buy one of them and see how it works for you and try to borrow the other from a friend.
|Size||Wearable||Kept in your bag|
|Targets||Limited to targets programmed by manufacturer; works with hidden targets||Any visible target|
|Accuracy||To green||0.5-1 yard of chosen target|
What are some negatives about laser rangefinders?
Lasers need a clear path to travel to the target and back. Weather elements like rain and fog can alter the speed of the laser (since it has to travel through water) and distort it, which causes inaccurate readings. Fortunately, if you’re playing in the rain or fog, you’re not likely to be shooting your best anyway, so it’s not a major setback and definitely shouldn’t stop you from buying one.
There’s also an ongoing debate on whether rangefinders slow down or speed up play. If you’re smart about when you use it, I think it absolutely speeds up play.
Do I need one with slope calibration?
Now that the USGA has clarified rangefinder rules (USGA rule 14-3/.05) which allows rangefinders with slope tech by local rule in tournament play with slope compensation turned off, we recommend buying a rangefinder with slope compensation if you play on courses with elevation changes. I live in the midwest which is far from hilly but I like to have the slope feature when I’m playing outside of my home courses. It’s not a necessary feature, but if you’re considering dropping $250+ on one you may as well have it all.
This is my first rangefinder purchase, what features do I need to consider before buying?
If you want to do it right, here are the features to consider when buying yours:
A rangefinder is pointless if the numbers it gives you are wrong. This is the number one criteria. Fortunately, almost all modern rangefinders are more accurate than we are as golfers.
What’s the maximum distance it can shoot reliably? Rangefinders claim to be able to shoot a thousand yards but it’s not realistic since the magnification isn’t strong enough for you to see a target that far. Even if you’re a Long Drive Champion, having a 400-yard functional range is plenty.
A long range is worthless if you can’t see the target from where you are. Be sure to have a large enough magnification (at least 5x) to see far-away targets.
Ease of Use
Any piece of electronics will have a slight learning curve and rangefinders are no exception. The curve is really shallow and even our grandparents who are afraid of email and smartphones can easily figure them out in a few minutes. The real consideration is whether you’re able to grab the unit from your bag easily and find the target quickly before shooting. The button-pressing and getting a reading back is a second or less, so you can’t get much easier than that.
Pricepoints for rangefinders tend to fall within the $140-$399 range with the sweet spot being around $250. The $150 rangefinders are pretty solid and functional while the more expensive ones give you some comfort in the brand/quality while having some useful extra features, such as slope calculation, pin seeking technology, longer warranties, etc.
How quickly does it give you the distance? You should be able to shoot them in just a few seconds and get a reading virtually instantly. The laser component of rangefinders work at the speed of light (bouncing from the target back to you) so the rest of the time is calculation speed. We can thank our smartphones for driving the speed increases in small processors that rangefinders benefit from. Speeds are really fast across all major models, so if you have issues it’s more likely an ease of use problem then a processing speed one.
Is it going to die while you’re out playing 36 holes? Most rangefinder batteries will last a most, if not all, of your golf season. (Try asking GPS watches about that)
Can it withstand any sudden rain? What if you drop it or it falls out of your cart into a puddle? Water is the enemy for any electronic device because it leads to corrosion of the metal elements inside. The plastic and rubber composite that make up the rangefinder shells have gotten much better over the years making them more resistant to water damage, but if you play in rainy conditions often, you’ll want a waterproof rangefinder. The Bushnell Pro X7, our Best Rangefinder winner, and Z6 Jolt are waterproof while the V2,V3 and V4 are not. Leupold’s GX series is also waterproof, although not quite as good as the Bushnell.
What if you drop it or if it falls out of your cart on the path? Durable construction ensures you’re not back here next year looking to replace your formerly new rangefinder.
Better casing can protect your investment and also help you access it more easily while on the course. What may normally be an afterthought can be a real factor in your choice.
Pin Seeking Technology
Laser golf rangefinders can be difficult to use on targets that are far away. A flag from 200 yards or more with normal shaky human hands can be hard to shoot rater than the trees behind it. To account for this, manufacturers developed a technology which uses some sort of voodoo magic to lock onto the pin more easily (pins now have reflectors that make it easier to pick up). Bushnell calls theirs PinSeeker®, Leupold calls it Pinhunter – you get the drift.
Is your shot down or uphill? Slope compensation features on some models will automatically compensate for this.
While function matters more than form, a rangefinder you think looks cooler should break a tie.
We’re big fans of how rangefinders can help improve your shotmaking and overall on course strategy. They’re also a huge help train your estimation skills during your practice sessions. We’ve never heard an owner of one say they’d rather not have one.
You made it this far – drop us a comment!
We’d love to hear what you think about this guide and how we can make it better.
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