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Critical Golf: Unbiased Golf Equipment Reviews

Bushnell Pro 1M Slope

The Bushnell Pro 1M Slope Edition joins the lineup of the “#1 Rangefinder on Tour” with minor enhancements to the prior generation Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition. The biggest change is the introduction of Bushnell’s “Vivid Display Technology,” which displays distances and other information in the viewfinder in red, as opposed to the previous black LCD display. The improved display, the 7x magnification and the large field of view are the device’s strengths. The Pro 1M Slope is horizontally-held (like a pair of binoculars) and is the largest and heaviest device in our tests. Because it is capable of providing slope-adjusted distances, the Bushnell Pro 1M Slope is not USGA-compliant (even though that feature can be turned off).

Our disappointment came from the convoluted process involved in obtaining slope adjusted distances. One must hold the fire button down for 2 seconds, at which point the display will show the line of sight distance, and then release the fire button, at which point the device will alternately flash the angle to the target and the slope-adjusted distance underneath the line of sight distance. Why not provide line-of-sight distance, slope-adjusted distances and slope angle at the same time?

We were also sad to see that the Pro 1M Slope only has a limited ability to pan across objects to receive multiple distance readings instantly. The Bushnell Pro 1M Slope comes with “PinSeeker” mode (which assists in locking in on targets) always on, and users can pan for a short period of time and receive updated readings, but only if they continue to pan to targets closer to them.

The Pro 1M Slope is a well-made product (it’s even waterproof !), but its steep price tag keeps it from getting separation from some of the other top laser rangefinders with slope.

SCORE
91
GRADE
A-
Ease of Use
93
Features
93
Obtaining Readings
89
Cost/Value
87

Pros:

  • 7X magnification is the highest available
  • Readily locks onto flagsticks from approach distances

Cons:

  • Large and heavy
  • Highest price point in the group
  • Users have to release the firing button and then wait for the Pro 1M Slope to alternate between displaying the slope angle and the slope adjusted distance
  • Limited ability to pan across targets and receive updated distances

Retail price: $599.99
Availability: Discontinued. Replaced by the Bushnell Pro X7 Slope
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Editor’s note: Consumers looking for a laser rangefinder they can use in tournaments may want to consider the Bushnell Pro 1M, which does not provide slope-adjusted distances.


93 / A

EASE OF USE

Bushnell Pro 1M Slope
Click to enlarge

Our sometimes unsteady hands always like the ease of using horizontally-held laser rangefinders, which are becoming increasingly rare. The Bushnell Pro 1M Slope is primarily black and white – the black sections are rubber and the white sections are a harder plastic, and both are textured to provide better grip. The downside is the weight of the device, which comes in at more than 20 ounces (yup, that’s 1 1/4 pounds). The carry pouch alone weighs more than competing rangefinders! Bushnell provides a fanny-pack like carry pouch (the two ends of the strap are wrapped around the top of your bag and then buckled together) that features both a zipper to close the bag and a magnetic latch for faster access to the device. While the strap secures the carry pouch reasonably well, we still favor the good old-fashioned simplicity of attaching a rangefinder to the bag with a clip. That’s right – we roll old school!

Bushnell Pro 1M Slope
Click to enlarge

The display of the Bushnell Pro 1M Slope is exceptionally clear and easy to read, with a slight tint to help reduce glare. The 7x magnification is the highest among all rangefinders tested, and makes a noticeable difference in aligning targets. Tapping the power/firing button wakes up the device, and pressing the button again will fire the laser to generate a distance reading. The Pro 1M Slope displays the line-of-sight distance below the aiming circle (which has cross-hairs surrounding it when the laser is being fired), with the battery level indicated to its left. To the right of the distance is a flagstick icon that is part of the PinSeeker indicator – when the device has locked on to a target, a circle will surround the flagstick. As discussed above, when the user releases the power/fire button, the line-of-sight distance will continue to be shown, and the display will then alternately show, in slightly smaller text, the angle of slope and the slope-adjusted distance below the line-of-sight distance. Our preference would be to see all three pieces of data concurrently.

PinSeeker mode is always on in this latest generation of rangefinder, which we find really unfortunate. What this means is that there is no longer the “automatic scanning” mode found in prior generation Bushnell devices, which allowed users to pan across whatever targets they want and receive continually updated distances. Once the Pro 1M Slope locates the closest target, users can’t pan to receive a distance to a target that is farther away. The Pro 1M Slope gives a fair amount of leeway when it picks up a target (the object doesn’t need to be within the crosshairs on the display), and the result is that you can lock onto the object closer to you fairly easily. We much prefer rangefinders that can freely provide any distance while panning, such as when you want to target not only target the flagstick, but also the face of the bunker in front of and certain points behind the green, or alternately to target multiple bunkers on a fairway to determine the safest shot distance.

The Pro 1M Slope has an adjustable eyepiece (+/- 2 diopters) that is smooth and easy to focus. It is the only golf laser rangefinder tested that has a twist-up eyepiece, which improves the usability of the device by shielding off extraneous light while targeting objects. For those without glasses, it is best used in the fully extended position, and for those with glasses, the eyepiece should be left down to be able to see a full field of view. A lens cap (the only laser rangefinder to provide one) is attached to the device through a short string – the trade off for the extra protection is that it’s an extra step to remove the lens cap (of course you can always just leave it off).

There are only two buttons on the Bushnell Pro 1M Slope. The power/laser button, located on the top of the device, is used to turn the device on, as well as to fire the laser. The mode button, on the front left side of the device, can be pressed quickly to turn off slope information, or held down for a few seconds to pull up a setup menu, from which settings for brightness and unit of distance (yards or meters) can be adjusted. There is no ability to change crosshair style.

The Bushnell Pro 1M Slope uses a single CR123 3-volt battery that inserts through a twist cap at the front of the device. Bushnell recommends replacing the battery once every six months.

For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of laser rangefinder ease of use.


93 / A-

FEATURES

The Pro 1M Slope features Bushnell’s new Vivid Display Technology, which displays data in red, making it easier to read against dark backgrounds. While there are four different level of brightness of the display, we found ourselves only using the two brightest levels regardless of lighting conditions.

The Bushnell Pro 1M Slope Edition features two modes: PinSeeker only, and PinSeeker with slope and adjusted distance information. A tap of the mode button cycles the user from PinSeeker only to PinSeeker with slope mode. When powered off, the device will retain the previously selected mode.

Despite its name, PinSeeker mode will lock on to any target, not just flagsticks. PinSeeker mode is designed to identify the closest object and to ignore the background targets, such as trees, even though they may be larger and have stronger signal strength. PinSeeker worked well at picking up targets, and in the cases where it did “miss” the target initially, continuing to fire the laser would quickly result in locking on to the appropriate object. Our sense was that the Pro 1M Slope was better than the prior generation Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition at locking on to the appropriate target, although that’s hard to quantitatively substantiate in an uncontrolled environment.

Bushnell Pro 1M Slope
Click to enlarge

PinSeeker with slope mode adds the slope angle and slope-adjusted distances (longer for uphill shots, shorter for downhill shots) to the PinSeeker mode described above.

Keep in mind that toggling the Bushnell Pro 1M Slope into PinSeeker only mode (with no slope information) does not make it USGA-compliant. Any device with slope capability is by definition non-compliant, whether the player uses the functionality or not. Users likely would select this non-slope mode only if they didn’t want to be distracted by the additional information provided, or to simply put themselves on a level playing field with their playing partners (but who wants to do that, especially if money is on the line?).

In either mode, the maximum amount of time the laser can be fired is in the range of 5 to 10 seconds. To conserve batteries, the display will only show the last line of sight distance measurement for 10 seconds after the laser is done firing, and if in slope mode, will toggle between slope angle and slope-adjusted distance 4 to 5 times while continuing to display the line of sight distance.

The distance smoothly updates in 1-yard increments, unlike competing devices, that either blink distance updates, and/or provide ½ yard increments. The 7x magnification and large field of view are what help set the Bushnell Pro 1M Slope apart from other devices. Our reviewers tested the Bushnell on courses that generally ranged up to +/- 6 degrees, and the adjustment for this slope accurately helped reviewers judge the compensated distance to play. While not USGA-compliant, it’s a useful tool to learn how to properly adjust for uphill or downhill approach shots.

Additionally, the device is waterproof and has a rain-guard coating on the lens to help shed the drops (we’ll let you all test the efficacy of that feature – we are fair-weather players!).

For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of laser rangefinder features.


89 / B+

OBTAINING DISTANCE READINGS

Bushnell claims a range of 5 to 1,760 yards for the Bushnell Pro 1M Slope under optimal conditions.

Ease of Locking on a Target:

The Pro 1M Slope is quick to lock onto pins at approach distances up to 200 yards. After 200 yards, it starts to become gradually more difficult to pick out pins, though it still does so reasonably well through 300 yards (we were successful more than 50% of the time on the first fire).

Given how readily the Pro 1M Slope locks onto the closest target (even if it is not within the aiming circle), users are best served by aiming high at their targets to they don’t pick up points that are closer to them. And if you want to try panning, which the Pro 1M Slope allows for a very short amount of time while across points closer to you, start on the farthest target and then move down to the ground.

Distances displayed generally update at the same rate regardless of distance from the target. The only slight (and we mean very slight) delay seems to occur at extreme distances.

Speed Test:

PinSeeker with Slope Mode
The Bushnell Pro 1M Slope was one of the slowest devices in our speed test for obtaining slope-adjusted distance readings, stacked up against the competition in their panning mode, pin-seeking mode, or toggling between modes. This is due to the fact when firing at each target, the player has to first get the correct line of sight distance (which can take a bit longer than other devices due to PinSeeker always being active), then release the fire button and then wait for the display to cycle through first the angle of slope to the target, and then to slope-adjusted distance.

PinSeeker-Only Mode
With slope information turned off, the Bushnell Pro 1M Slope fared well against the competition across the different modes. However, if you are springing extra for the slope edition, you probably won’t turn off the slope information too often.

Check out our laser rangefinder speed test to see how the full details on Pro 1M Slope stacks up against the competition.


87 / B+

COST/VALUE

The Bushnell Pro 1M Slope will take a sizable $599.99 out of your bank account, which makes it one of the higher priced laser rangefinders tested. Though it doesn’t have all the functions found on some rangefinders, it has most of what users need. With the Pro 1M you are paying for 7x magnification, an excellent ability to pick out flagsticks, a large field of view, and a crisp display. Those benefits might be enough to balance out the always-on PinSeeker mode and hefty weight for some, but we aren’t so sure.