Critical Golf: Unbiased Golf Equipment Reviews

Laser Rangefinder Ease of Obtaining Readings

Some of the ways in which laser rangefinders differ include:

  • How the user activates the device to receive distance readings (do you press-and-hold a button, press-and-release, etc.)
  • Magnification of the viewfinder, which impacts how easy it is to pick out a target at a distance (see Ease of Use for details)
  • Weight
  • How the device is designed to be held (with two hands or with one hand)

All of these factors can impact how easy it is for the user to obtain a reading. We tested each device at different distances, and with different color flags, to determine if certain units stood out (both good and bad).

More advanced laser rangefinder users go far beyond determining the distance to a single point, and will scan across multiple targets in preparation for their next shot. For these users, the speed at which a user can take several reading is critical. Thus we designed a speed test:

  • We tallied the total amount of time it took players to cycle through five distance readings five times. Each cycle of five readings consisted of points in the following order: flagstick (pin not the flag), bunker lip, mound behind green, front edge of green, and a point on the green.
  • Readings were taken from approximately 125 yards from the flagstick.
  • When using the laser rangefinder during play, users likely won’t be able to compare the displayed distance to either earlier readings or other rangefinders (or even the distances marked on sprinkler heads, which are most often to the center of the green). Therefore, testers were allowed to move to the next target in the cycle based on when they felt “comfortable” with the reading. This is a real world test of users pinpointing targets, getting comfortable with the distance reading (which we would do as quickly as possible, though we gave ourselves more leeway for determining distances to slopes/hills, where the distances will vary between points targeted that are just feet away from each other), and then moving to the next target.
  • For each rangefinder that had multiple modes, we did our testing three different ways:
    • in “pin-locating” mode (such as Bushnell’s “PinSeeker”) for all targets – this is a specialized setting that helps the user locate the flagstick when other objects are behind it;
    • in “panning” mode for all targets* – in this settings users can scan across multiple objects while continuously firing the laser, allowing for faster readings across different targets; and
    • starting in “panning” mode, then moving to “pin-locating” mode for the initial flagstick reading, then switching (while still being timed) to “panning” mode for the last four readings.

Some devices have only one mode, such as the Leupold, Callaway and Laser Link devices. We categorized these as “panning” mode, as it is the more versatile setting and allows for faster readings. The Laser Link QuickShot does not have times in the table below as it is unable to read any targets other than flagsticks equipped with the Laser Link reflector system.

Table 1. Speed Test – Average Total Time from 125 Yards (seconds)

Laser Rangefinder Panning mode Pin-seeking mode Switching modes
Bushnell Hybrid Laser GPS NA 68 NA
Bushnell Tour Z6 JOLT (1) N/A 65 N/A
Bushnell Pro 1M (2) N/A 65 N/A
Bushnell Pro 1M Slope N/A 101 N/A
Callaway iQ 67 N/A N/A
Callaway RAZR 66 TBD TBD
Opti-Logic GL (3) 66 85 161
Opti-Logic GT (3) 66 85 118
Laser Link QuickShot N/A N/A N/A
Laser Link Red Hot 71 N/A N/A
Leica Pinmaster II 77 NA NA
Leupold PinCaddie TBD N/A N/A
Leupold GX-3i 67 N/A N/A
Leupold GX-4i 69 N/A N/A

(1) Bushnell Tour Z6 JOLT times estimated based on the predecessor Bushnell Tour Z6.
(2) For the Bushnell devices in “pin-locating” mode, if the device did not display that it had locked into an object (which is reasonable for certain readings as PinSeeker mode is intended to only be used in certain situations), we moved on after we received what we believed was the correct reading.
(3) For the Opti-Logic devices, we used Mode 1 (Line-of-Sight) time for “panning” mode, although the user must fire the laser separately for each target as opposed to holding the power/fire button down continuously to receive updated readings.