2020 LASER RANGEFINDER BUYERS GUIDE
Every golfer is looking for the next new, big thing that’s going to take their game to the next level. In modern golf, like modern life, technology is quickly changing the way we approach and conquer tasks. It’s been a number of years since golfers had to use landmarks or guesses to estimate yardage, but the field of available laser rangefinders continues to improve and evolve.
Our games have become more precise and strategic, thanks not only to the ability to digitally measure pin distance but also to see hole layovers and utilize GPS technology.
What’s impressive with this year’s group of laser rangefinders is that accuracy has dramatically improved across the field. Nearly every rangefinder in the test is accurate to the pin within five yards making the number of quality laser rangefinders available to you, vast.
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.
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
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.
The clearest optics in the 2020 test belong to the Nikon Coolshot Pro Stabilized. The clarity of the lens allows you to easily lock on to a target and gain accurate yardage.
If you’re the type of golfer that prefers to have the most amount of information available to you on a single display, the Garmin Approach Z82 employs a GPS generated hole layover visual, yardage from front, middle and back, distances to fairway bunkers as well as slope.
There are a number of different ways a laser rangefinder can use to lock on to a target. Some work better than others. Jolt technology, pulse and visual indicators are all examples of alerts that serve as notification that you’ve found your intended target. It’s personal preference, but in our experience a combination of these alerts, as well as a confident yardage read out tend to be the best.
The Bushnell Pro XE gives you a flashing red visual indicator in addition to a jolt technology alert.
Fastest Rangefinder – Sureshot Pinloc 5000iPS Laser
No time for BS? If not, get the fastest rangefinder on the market. The SureShot Pinloc 5000iPS Laser quickly locks on to your target. The highly ranked accuracy, optics and display features allow you to get a clear picture of what obstacle you need to overcome. This one is worth your consideration.
If you play on a course with considerable elevation changes, a rangefinder that calculates slope will give you the most accurate yardage readout. It takes the elevation changes into consideration and generates both the actual yardage as well as adjusted yardage.
BEST TECH – Garmin Approach Z82
The Garmin Approach Z82 is a step up from the Z80. The combo rangefinder/GPS device now includes additional features. The Approach Z82 gives you the wind direction, has improved laser range (now 450 yards instead of 350), it indicates you’ve locked onto your target with both a visual and vibration notification, and it calculates slope. You can also see a GPS generated visual hole layover for the best view of every hole. In addition, it alerts you to the location of bunkers and water hazards. Because it has both GPS and rangefinder technology, it comes at a price. $599.99 to be precise.
- You don’t need both a GPS and a laser rangefinder, the Garmin Approach Z82 combines both technologies into one device.
- We’ve found that ease of use in laser rangefinders has to do with the individual golfer, or user error. For example, it’s easier to stabilize a larger device than a smaller one if you have large hands. We’re advocates of trying before buying to see what fits you.
- 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.
- Some laser rangefinders use standard disposable batteries, while others use charging ports and store power, much like a cell phone. Again, it’s personal preference. The battery life varies widely between each model. If you prefer models that uses disposable batteries, Precision Pro will provide you with an unlimited supply of free replacement batteries for life.
Most Accurate Rangefinder – Bushnell Pro XE
One of the primary reasons the Bushnell Pro XE is the Best Rangefinder of 2020 is it’s ability to generate a consistent yardage readout. We put the Pro XE to the test and each time we attempted to lock in on a target, this rangefinder produced the same number. The Pro XE also takes altitude and temperature into consideration when providing a yardage number. Not only is the Pro XE the most accurate of the test, but the V5 Tour Shift and the Tour V5 (the second and third-tier Bushnell models) use the same technology and are equally as accurate. As you move down in tiers and price range, you sacrifice features but not accuracy.
The Best Rangefinders of 2020 – 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.
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