Bushnell Pro XE Review: Bushnell’s Latest Rangefinder Tested
The Bushnell Pro XE is the latest premium model, building off the excellent Pro X2. The latest in technology comes with an MSRP of $549.99, so is it worth the premium price? Let’s take a closer look in our Bushnell Pro XE review.
What it Comes With
Out of the box, you’ll get:
- Pro XE Laser Rangefinder unit
- “Premium” Carrying Case
- Washable Micro-fiber cloth to clean the lens
- 1 CR2 Battery
The Bushnell Pro XE lists all the features you’d want to see on paper:
Solid Construction and Durability
The Pro XE has a high quality feel and an nice blend of weight – light or too heavy, just like many of their recent models. It’s ergonomic with button locations that are very simple to grab and start using immediately. The exterior material is listed as Polyester but I just think of it as “grippy rubber” so you won’t drop it when it’s wet.
Speaking of wet conditions, this is another IPX7 waterproof model in the hopefully rare case you drop it in a pond when fishing for your ball or spill a beer on it in your cart. You don’t want to take the risk at this price! IPX7 is a standard that specifies that it can be held under 1 meter of water for 30 minutes and not leak. I’ll admit, our Bushnell Pro XE review is incomplete. We decided to take them for their word on the waterproof testing. The TwoGolfGuys don’t have the budget to be marinating rangefinders.
Magnetic Cart Mount
The new trend of magnetized rangefinders continues with the Bushnell Pro XE. Instead of buying a separate attachment to hold your rangefinder on the front bar of an electric golf cart, you can simply place the Bushnell Pro XE directly on the bar. The magnet is strong enough to stay attached to your cart on rough terrain. This is a new standard for rangefinders that we’re expecting in all future rangefinder models. It’s a small cost to add a whole lot of convenience.
If you’re shooting distances far away, you want to be able to see it. Nothing noteworthy here – the 7x magnification is the sweet spot most rangefinders use to balance being able to lock onto far-away targets while not making short distances too zoomed-in to find a target quickly.
Range: 5-1,300 yards
Let’s face it; you don’t need to shoot anywhere near 1,300 yards in a real course situation. A 7x zoom at that distance would make it insanely hard to hold it stable enough and see your target. Laser rangefinder technology is good enough now that any unit you buy will handle the most common golf distances with ease. The Pro XE is no different.
Slope with Weather Considerations
Bushnell claims that the updated Slope technology in the XE is calibrated to adjust for temperature and barometric pressure. No other rangefinder on the market does it. Both of these factors affect ball flight and can affect the time it takes for the laser to bounce off the target and back to the unit. How much does this affect the calculations? We noticed the slope at shorter distances was calculating 2-3 degrees higher than the V5 Shift in our testing. It’s not clear if this is a difference in how well the slope works between the units or the weather conditions. Is this a cool feature? Yes, it sounds like it. But it’s one that’s hard to assess if it’s working or not. I wouldn’t pay extra for it unless you play courses with major elevation changes and similar changes in weather from round-to round.
Visible Slope Switch
USGA rules for using rangefinders in play disallows the use of slope adjustments in order to make rangefinder use more like using a yardage book super efficiently. Computer-calculated slope adjustments would be considered an unfair advantage, so they’re not allowed. To avoid having to build two types of every model: with slope and without, they use a switch that has a colored indicator so rules officials can tell if it’s on or off.
The Bushnell Pro XE has a button on the left side to switch the slope feature on or off. It feels a little flimsy and frankly is small enough that the red indicator would be hard for me to see if I were a rules official. Sure, it does what it’s designed to do, but if Bushnell asked me, I’d increase the side and make it feel more sturdy and “click” more when you switch it on or off. It could be easy to accidentally flip it on or off when you’re putting it back in the case.
Pin Seeker with Visual and Vibration Feedback
Nothing noteworthy in this area. The Pin Seeker feature on the Bushnell Rangefinders has been standard for 5 years now. It works well and there’s no reason to change it. Once you point your rangefinder on a flag with reflectors on the stick, the rangefinder will vibrate and flash to let you know the distance displayed it to the flag and not a tree or the next tee box behind the green.
I was glad the display in the lens was easy to adjust on this unit. The maximum brightness with the orange color made it feel like I was staring into a stoplight. The lower brightness setting was key.
There is bumpy circular dial for adjusting the focus of the rangefinder right near the viewer. (not to be confused with a zoom feature which is my most-wanted-feature over on our best golf rangefinder page). You turn it to the right or left to adjust the focus to your liking given your distance. I found this part a little annoying to use as there’s no primary control bump that sticks out more than the rest like they have with some cameras. Also, it’s a little tight to use so you have to press relatively hard to get it to turn. Good for not accidentally getting out of the focus that works for your eyesight but could be better. I wouldn’t base my decision on this alone, by any means, but I could see people getting annoyed by it.
Like the rest of their product line, the XE has a 2 year limited warranty which you can find in more detail here.
“Your Bushnell® golf laser rangefinder is warranted to be free of defects in materials and workmanship for two years after the date of purchase. In the event of a defect under this warranty, we will, at our option, repair or replace the product, provided that you return the product postage prepaid. This warranty does not cover damages caused by misuse, improper handling, installation, or maintenance provided by someone other than a Bushnell® Authorized Service Department.warranted to be free of defects in materials and workmanship for two years after the date of purchase. In the event of a defect under this warranty, we will, at our option, repair or replace the product, provided that you return the product postage prepaid. This warranty does not cover damages caused by misuse, improper handling, installation, or maintenance provided by someone other than a Bushnell® Authorized Service Department.”
There’s nothing complicated about rangefinder usage these days. Just point and shoot. All of the buttons are in reach when you’re holding it properly – the trigger, Mode and focus buttons are on the top and the slope adjustment is easily reachable with your thumb. It’s a solid rangefinder that we expect from Bushnell.
Bushnell Pro XE vs Nikon Coolshot Pro Stabilized
For the price, we’d opt for the Coolshot Pro Stabilized.
Reasons to Pick the Pro XE
- If you’re a Bushnell fan and prefer the biggest brand name in the business.
- If you *really* need your slope adjustments to consider weather conditions
- Magnetized for easy use in carts
Reasons to Pick the Coolshot Pro
- Stabilized technology is really good
- It has a better display in the viewfinder
Bushnell Pro XE vs V5 Shift
- The slope tended to show 2-3 degrees lower in the V5 Shift than in the Pro XE. This may have been the weather related calibration in the Pro XE but could also be just a consistent difference between the models.
- The black numerical display color in the V5 is hard to see with dark backgrounds. This seems like an intentional hamstringing of the V5 models to make the Pro X series models seem like a better choice. The viewfinder color should contrast with all background colors we normally see.
- Pro XE is better but the V5 Shift is a nice alternative if you are not willing to pay an extra ~50% price premium
The Bushnell Pro XE is a great premium rangefinder for golfers who want the name brand and the latest features. The 2 new features from the previous Pro X2 model are the magnetic mount and the slope calibration that factors in weather conditions.
If you’re usually walking your rounds, you won’t care about the magnetism. If you ride in a cart, it’s a great feature to avoid time wasted looking for it and getting it out of the case.
The slope calibration is a cool sounding idea but hard to gauge if it matters. Bushnell would have marketed this feature better if it did matter, so my guess is the new generation of slope-enabled lasers do this by default and this is their way of trying to get a price premium for it.
The downsides to this unit are the focus control knob being tough to control and the slope button feeling flimsy. They’re not a big deal but little things like this annoy me when paying this kind of money.
Bottom line – no surprises here. A very good unit with
Alternatives to consider are the v5 Shift, the Precision Pro NX9 or prior Bushnell X2 model for a lower price tag. At this price range we’d opt for the Coolshot Pro Stabilized.
Hope you got some value from our Bushnell Pro XE review. If you’ve bought or tried it, what do you think of it?