What can a golf rangefinder do for your game? Well, I started golfing with my father when I was eight years old—but I wasn’t any good until I was halfway through college. It took a lot of good old-fashioned hard work, sure, but the superior rangefinder was a big part of my transformation from a hapless golfer to a serious player.
However, not all rangefinders are created equal—if they were, we’d all grab the first discount model we saw, and we’d all be better golfers (and have a little more money in our pockets). The fact is, though, that rangefinders are not simple tools, and that a lot of conscious design choices separate the best from the so-so ones.
While it’s as true that you get what you pay for when it comes to rangefinders as it is with anything else, there are exceptions—plenty of expensive options that just aren’t worth it, and a few budget models that really shine. By determining what you personally need from a rangefinder and what the best options are in your price range, you can find the right golf rangefinder for you—and that means you can improve your game.
Top-notch Rangefinders for Golf in 2018
|5 - 1,000 yards||Pin seeker with jolt Technology|
5x magnification and a fast focus
|6 - 550 yards||Lightest and most compact|
First target priority technology
|TecTecTec||up to 540 yards||Advanced Pinsensor technology|
Ultra clear, multilayered optics
|Precision Pro||up to 400 yards||Advanced Target Lock Function|
1/10 Yard Measurements
|SereneLife||up to 546.2 yards||No extra subscription fees|
Smart Pin Seeker mode
To make things a bit simpler for you, I’ve included my selections of the superior rangefinders in this comparison table. While it’s still important to read the detailed reviews later, this table should help crystallize the key points to help you make the right decision at the end of this article.
Bushnell – Rangefinder for Slope
Whether it’s on the golf course or from other outdoor applications ranging from bird watching to hunting to astronomy, Bushnell has the reputation of knowing lenses and lasers—and the perfect casings to put them in for durability and ease of use.
However, with that reputation comes a high price. It’s true that this model from Bushnell is one of the most expensive on this list.
Given Bushnell’s strong reputation, though, and my admiration for a few of their other products, I was eager to order and try out the Tour V4 Jolt.
I have to say I was satisfied when I unpacked the box. The quality of the packaging alone was impressive, but what was inside was much more so.
Weight and comfort of grip are a big part of what separates the five-star rangefinders from the so-so ones. I’ll go into more detail on this aspect of golf rangefinders later on in the article, but for now, suffice to say that the Bushnell Tour V4 Jolt is a very comfortable product to grip and operate.
It is heavy enough to provide stability but light enough to still be very easy to hold up.
One of the key design features of this rangefinder, though, has nothing to do with its comfort factor. This feature, from which the Jolt derives its name, was a key selling point for me when I took the Tour V4 Jolt out onto my local course for testing.
The Jolt provides a light vibration feature—not enough to destabilize the unit, but definitely enough to feel—whenever it locks onto the pin during pin-seeking operation.
This is a small but powerful feature that boosts this rangefinder’s accuracy quite a bit, and also my confidence using it—because it lets me know when the unit is truly on target.
Speaking of accuracy, this unit is one of the best out there in that department, too. It measures distances between 5 and 1,000 yards with only a 1-yard margin of error—and its pin-seeking feature works at impressive 400 yards.
Its lens provides 5x magnification, which any golfer will tell you is a great boost.
Another key feature is the Jolt’s versatility. It is designed to work in the left or right hand, and will also display measurements in meters if that is more comfortable for you.
That being said, nothing is perfect. The biggest drawback to this unit for me is the price.
However, because of its sturdy and balanced design and that amazing vibration feature, it still packs a lot of value.
I can confidently recommend this unit to anyone who is serious about golf or involved in tournament play. While it’s certainly not a budget choice, its features truly set it apart from the pack.
- Comes with a durable and comfortable case
- Vibration features improve accuracy and confidence
- Balanced engineering with a good weight
- Durable, yet comfortable
- More expensive than many of the other rangefinders, though it provides enough value to justify the price
- Mostly white shell shows dirt easily—but luckily, the unit is easy to clean
Nikon – Best for the Money
While known primarily for their excellent cameras, Nikon is also a powerful manufacturer of high-end rifle scopes, lenses, and telescopes—as well as rangefinders, of course.
That history of breadth and depth of lensmaking experience is obvious in the Coolshot’s design.
Whenever I unpack a new product I plan to review, I read the manual. I know a lot of you might skip the manual, or only reference it later, but I find learning about how every feature works in detail is a great way to start getting to know a product for testing and review.
When I started reading the manual for the Coolshot 20, I discovered a feature I hadn’t seen in other rangefinders, even other high-end ones—and true to this golf rangefinder’s name, it’s a pretty cool feature.
This is the 8-second continuous measurement feature, which allows you to sweep the lens across a wider range and pick out targets and hazards within that field—all with one push of a button.
The product’s smart “target priority” means that it will pick up the foremost objects in its field every time, so that you can measure the distance to the nearest hazard and the pin all in one fell swoop. This is the first rangefinder I’ve come across with automatic targeting priority—and it works so well, too!
The price is amazing, too. While it isn’t the cheapest unit I review in this article, it’s at a very attainable price point and packs a lot of amazing features that even some higher-priced golf rangefinders simply don’t have.
Another key feature for me is the lightweight design—however, this may be a drawback for some users. Don’t worry, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of this rangefinder’s engineering at length so you can decide which camp you fall into.
I also recommend trying the product yourself at least once.
This unit is engineered for sleekness and ease of use. That means it’s light, and that it fits in the hand incredibly easily and comfortably.
It also doesn’t take up much room in the golf bag, which is always a pro in my book.
That being said, because of its low weight, it requires a very steady hand to operate. Unlike some slightly bulkier or heavier units, you’ll notice every little motion your hand makes while looking through this one—and if you have very unsteady hands, this could cause you to slide off target and get a bad reading.
Overall, though, this unit is incredible. Between its ease of use and transportation, and its powerful accuracy and magnification, and the amazing smart targeting feature, I can definitely recommend this unit with confidence to any golfer.
- Impressive and totally new smart targeting priority feature
- 8-second continuous measurement mode
- Incredibly portable and easy to hold
- Comes with a case and extra battery
- Accurate distance measurement up to at least 1,000 yards in my experience
- Design may be too lightweight for some
- The smart targeting feature can drain batteries quickly—but luckily, this product comes with an extra at purchase
- Cannot seek pins accurately above around 250 yards, though that’s still pretty impressive
TecTecTec – Top Under $200
While it’s not the cheapest unit I’ve come across, it is at a much lower price point, while still packing a lot of the major features.
It boasts a continuous scan mode that is accurate up to 540 yards, and at +/- 1-yard accuracy, it’s right up there with the most expensive rangefinders on the market in terms of giving out accurate readouts.
On top of that, the customer service of the company backing this product is amazing. Like reading the manual, trying out customer service is something I always do while reviewing a new product, especially from newer companies.
That’s because customer service, while not directly a product itself, is still a huge part of the product experience.
However, I didn’t even have to reach out to TecTecTec’s customer service. Before my product even arrived, I received a friendly (not pushy) email from a rep telling me who to contact if I had any problems or needed help using the product. Pretty amazing, right?
I’m happy to say that TecTecTec provides excellent customer service, and is happy to back their 2-year warranty, the TecTecTec Happy Guarantee. This is good to know if you order a product and experience problems with it—not that I had any trouble with my VPRO500. Quite the opposite, in fact.
I was quite satisfied with this unit’s accuracy and its pin-seeking features, which helped me pick out a flag in front of a small stand of trees with ease. That hole has always given me trouble on my local course, but with the VPRO500 I was able to measure the distance to the flag quite accurately.
The physical design of this unit sets it apart too, in terms of both its ergonomics and its durability and reliability.
While most golf rangefinders claim to be water resistant, this one really lives up to its promise—not that I’m saying you should chuck it in the pool, but it’s more than safe to take out in the rain without endangering your investment.
Its weight is well-balanced, and the unit is easy to hold steady, even for long periods of time. In addition, it comes with a nice carrying case to keep the rangefinder from getting banged up in your golf bag—which, let’s face it, is a situation we’ve all been in.
You know this unit won’t let you down when the pressure is on—unless, of course, you’re just not paying attention to the battery meter. Again, that’s a situation a lot of us (myself included) have gotten ourselves into.
While I’ve been singing the praises of this unit for a while now, I don’t want to paint too rosy a picture. As with everything, there are some drawbacks.
While this unit is just as accurate as some more expensive ones, for example, it’s not as great at picking out the pin over long distances (over 300-400 yards) and won’t accurately measure above 540. Though that’s not a big deal unless you’re a pro, it’s still worth noting.
- Equally accurate to the bigger brands at a slightly lower price point
- Extremely durable and well-balanced design with key ergonomic and weight engineering features
- Features like continuous scan to take your shot to the next level
- Some of the best customer support I’ve come across for virtually any product
- Not accurate over 540 yards, which may be a challenge to some users
- Battery life isn’t the best, though that may be because of the extra features packed in
Precision Pro – Top Rated Device
In addition, I could tell right away that this golf rangefinder was designed with ergonomics and weight balance in mind.
I was happy with the pin-seeking capability when I got this unit out onto the range, and it hasn’t let me down yet.
In addition, this pinseeker doesn’t require reflectors or prisms on the flag to lock on—which is a great feature at this unit’s surprisingly low price point.
While its overall range is lower than some of the other units I tested for this review, being capped at around 400 yards, its pin-seeking is accurate up to 250, which puts it in the same league as much more expensive products.
I was a little skeptical that this feature would make any difference at first, but it really can improve your performance in the crucial moments of a hole.
However, this unit does suffer from one drawback: it’s a bit slower than some of the other units out there. While a lot of the other rangefinders I tested for this project gave readouts almost instantly, this one takes 2-3 seconds to produce readings.
That’s not a drawback at all for more casual players but may become an annoyance for those of you who are involved with a lot of tournament play.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this unit to any golfer looking to improve their game with help from a rangefinder. The big advantage of this one is that it helps on the green just as much as with driving, but it works just as well on the fairway as other, more expensive units.
- Simple and ergonomic design puts this product at the top of the ease-of-use food chain
- The same accuracy as the more expensive units in this article and elsewhere
- Measurement down to 1/10 of a yard gives you confidence on the green as well as the fairway
- Pin seeking without reflectors at a value price
- A little slower at providing distance readings
- Very lightweight design may be too small for some users, but not most
SereneLife – Inexpensive Range Finder
When I first purchased this product for testing, I was worried this would be a “too good to be true” scenario.
I’m happy to say I was wrong. This offering from SereneLife packs a serious punch with its accuracy and its ergonomic design. It’s also one of the easiest rangefinders to use that I’ve come across in my whole golfing career.
Of course, as with any rangefinder, you need a steady hand—but you also need a steady hand to be any good at golf in the first place!
My favorite feature of this unit, though, is its ease of use. While it doesn’t pack as many bells and whistles, it provides the same accuracy and does it all in an extraordinarily simple and lightweight—but still balanced weight-wise—package.
Of course, nothing can be truly perfect. While I would confidently recommend this rangefinder to any golfer I know, I will say that it’s not designed for taking hard knocks—you should definitely keep this one in its case when you’re not using it.
Luckily, your purchase includes a padded travel case, so you can keep this rangefinder safe on the range and on the move.
- Extremely high value with the same accuracy at a lower price
- Lightweight and ergonomically engineered design
- Single-button operation makes this unit one of the easiest to use on the market
- Not as many bells and whistles—though some users will see this as a feature rather than a drawback
- Not as durable as some of the other devices, though it’s just as accurate and quite a bit cheaper
A rangefinder can help you improve your game in several ways:
- Club selection
- Getting to know a new course
- Your shot
Reading this buyer’s guide will help you determine two important things:
- What you need in a rangefinder
- What rangefinders are the best for your price range
I’m going to get into a lot of detail in this article regarding special features, accuracy, and effective distance. I’ve been golfing for nearly twenty-five years, and some of this stuff still makes my head spin.
Before I go on to tell you which of these golf rangefinders I think is the absolute best, I want to go over some of the key features and measurements I’ve discussed so far in this article. That’s because I don’t want to just help you find the best device overall, but the best for your specific needs.
For example, one of the biggest factors that will determine which product to buy for you is your budget. In addition to that, though, you can consider whether you like having extra bells and whistles, or whether you prefer a simpler design. Will the extra features improve your performance, or will they distract from the true function of the rangefinder—giving you the range to your target? This will vary from person to person. I, for example, love extra features, but you may not.
Why Haven’t You Talked about Accuracy Much?
Accuracy is obviously a big deal in the world of golf rangefinders. Accurately picking out the distance to the target is the whole reason they exist, after all.
You may have noticed that I haven’t discussed the relative accuracy of these products to one another in this article, and you may be wondering why. The reason is simple: these are the five-star rangefinders I found after extensive research.
There are even a few other products I tested that didn’t quite make the cut to be included in this review.
However, one isn’t necessarily more accurate than the other when it comes to the golf rangefinders I ended up including in my article.
I did test the accuracy of these rangefinders against one another, and they gave out the exact same readings virtually every time. That’s because they’re all accurate within 1 yard on either side of the measurement.
While there are plenty of rangefinders out there that are quite shoddily engineered, these are accurate to a T.
What About Those Slope Rangefinders?
If you’ve been hunting for a rangefinder for a while, or you’ve spent a lot of time golfing, you’ve probably seen or at least heard of slope rangefinders.
I didn’t include any rangefinders with slope calculation capability in this review for two important reasons. First, they’re not allowed in tournament play.
While my article is definitely as much for the general golfer as well as the professional or aspiring professional, I wanted to be sure that each product review was tournament-legal for all you traditionalists out there.
If tournaments start allowing slope rangefinders, though, I’ll be sure to write another article detailing the best slope rangefinders.
That being said, slope rangefinders definitely have a place in the game. While they’re not legal for tournament play, they can help you get to know a new course and improve your game generally before the tournament starts.
They can help you develop your fundamental golf skills.
The second reason I didn’t include reviews for slope rangefinders is that comparing them to traditional rangefinders doesn’t really make sense—they are, after all, different machines for distinct purposes. In addition, a lot of the models I reviewed in this article have slope-ready versions.
While adding slope as a feature might impact weight and durability slightly, for the most part, the devices will handle the same way. So if you want slope but you like the sound of the SereneLife Premium or the Bushnell Tour V4 Jolt, just get the upgraded slope versions!
How Does Product Weight Affect My Game?
The weight of a rangefinder can make a big difference when it comes to ease of use. You want one that’s heavy enough to hold steady, but also light enough that it’s consistently comfortable.
While all of the products I’ve included in this review are designed with a good, balanced weight in mind, they don’t all weigh the same thing—and once you’ve been golfing with these rangefinders for a while, you’ll notice the difference.
If you prefer an ultra-light rangefinder, I’d go with the SereneLife Premium. If you prefer a slightly bulkier model, the Bushnell might be the best choice.
Other factors can affect the weight as well, such as the outer shell’s material, as well as features like water resistance.
Conclusion: The Top-notch Golf Rangefinder Is…
For my money, the best one on the market today is the Nikon Coolshot 20. While I was impressed with every single one of the products on this list, the Coolshot seemed to me to provide the best balance between lots of extra features and a light, ergonomic, and simple design.
The Coolshot also impressed me with its value. While it’s not cheap enough to truly be considered a budget option, it packs by far the most extra features of any unit at its price point.
That being said, the Bushnell Tour V4 Jolt might be the best for some users. Its sturdier design and unique vibration feature make it the quickest rangefinder out there, and you can carry it anywhere—to any tournament and in any conditions—with confidence because of its certifications and durability.
The TecTecTec VPRO500 is in my mind the best choice for the golfer on a budget. It keeps the price low without sacrificing a feature-rich and durable design.
Its hard outer shell, easy-to-hold engineering, and water resistance mean that you can golf with peace of mind, knowing that your investment is protected.
Thanks for reading my article. I hope it helps you find the right rangefinder for your budget and your unique needs as a golfer.