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Critical Golf: Unbiased Golf Equipment Reviews

Callaway Diablo Octane

Callaway Diablo Octane

Score

89

Grade

B+

The Callaway Diablo Octane laser rangefinder is marketed as Callaway’s new entry-level rangefinder, replacing the Callaway LR550, and despite the re-branding, seems to deliver the same specifications as the earlier generation device. The Diablo Octane, which is manufactured by Nikon, provides distance readings at increments of 0.5 yards below 100 yards, and at increments of a yard from 100 yards up to its maximum 550 yard distance. We love the value, as it is one of the least expensive laser rangefinder in our tests, and yet still provides 6x magnification and “First Target Priority” mode (the equivalent of “Pinseeker” or “Pinhunter”), and is waterproof. The LCD display is clear, and the distances are prominently displayed within the viewfinder. The device is easy to hold, weighs just 6.8 ounces, and comes with a sleeve for the device and a carabiner clip to attach the device to a bag or cart.

The device is capable, though we found that it struggles in picking up skinny objects (such as the stick portion of the flagstick) compared to our top-ranked devices. Aiming the laser on the largest target possible, such as the flag itself, solves the problem.

The Callaway Diablo Octane is a very simple device – no whizbang slope-adjusted readings or LED display here, and no preference settings other than yards or meters. What you get, however, is a solid value for the relatively inexpensive price.

SCORE
89
GRADE
B+
Ease of Use
95
Features
84
Obtaining Readings
85
Cost/Value
92

Pros:

  • Lowest priced rangefinder in our tests
  • Distance readings to 0.5 yards at <100 yards

Cons:

  • Harder to pick up the pin (but not the flag) versus the competition
  • No settings beyond yards v meters

Retail: $299.99
Availability: Discontinued. Replaced by Callaway idTECH.


95 / A

EASE OF USE

Callaway Diablo Octane Laser Rangefinder

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The device is a standard vertically-held device – it isn’t the smallest in size, but it is one of the lightest. The Octane Diablo has a plastic and rubber exterior that is easy to hold. It comes with a sleeve that wraps around the device and connects to a carabiner through a quick-release pin. The pin is a bit on the small side and thus requires a little bit of extra attention to ensure that the pin locks back in when you’re re-attaching the device to the carabiner.

The Callaway’s 6x magnification is about average for golf laser rangefinders (the Bushnell Tour V2 is at 5x, and the Bushnell Pro 1M line and Leica Pinmaster 2 are at 7x). The user focuses the display by twisting the eyepiece – the adjustment mechanism is smooth and requires little effort.

Callaway Diablo Octane Laser Rangefinder

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The Diablo Octane features two buttons, both located on the top of the device. The power button both turns the device on and fires the laser, and the mode button allows the player to toggle between yards and meters.

The LCD is generally easy to read, but is more challenging when you’re focusing against dark backgrounds (the more expensive OLED devices display distances and cursors in red, which is much easier to see). Distances are displayed in an easy-to-read large font and appear above the target crosshair, so there’s no need to scan around within the viewfinder looking for the magic number. As with many rangefinders, there is a slight tint to the display that makes the display slightly darker, though not enough to significantly impact visibility.

Callaway Diablo Octane Laser Rangefinder

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The Callaway Diablo Octane requires a tap of the power button to turn it on, and then a second tap of the same button to activate the laser. The laser will continue to fire for eight seconds, allowing the player to pan across multiple targets and receive updated distance readings (distance readings are solid when displayed and update at approximately the same rate regardless of distance). When the laser is done firing, the last distance will continue to be displayed in the viewfinder for an additional eight seconds until the device powers off.

The Callaway Diablo Octane takes one 3-volt CR-2 Lithium battery. A battery meter positioned in the lower center of the viewfinder below the crosshairs indicates the remaining charge level.

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


84 / B

FEATURES

The Callaway Diablo Octane features “First Target Priority” mode, which is always on. First Target Priority (similar to “Pinseeker” and “Pinhunter” modes from other manufacturers) will return the distance to the closest target within the crosshairs and ignore larger targets that are farther away, and thus is helpful in targeting a flagstick against a backdrop of trees. As noted above, the device allows the user to pan across targets to receive updated distance readings.

There is no option to change the crosshair style or adjust timeout preferences.

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


85 / B

OBTAINING DISTANCE READINGS

Callaway markets the Diablo Octane as providing distances up to 550 yards. Distance readings will continue to update and be displayed on the LCD for eight seconds after the power button is released. This is also the maximum time the laser will continue to be fired, regardless of how long you actually hold the fire button down. At under 100 yards the Diablo will provide distances in 0.5 yard increments. We note, however, that we would regularly see distance readings vacillating back and forth by a full yard, rather than at 0.5 yard increments, so we’re not really sure if the device provides a differentiable level of precision.

Ease of Locking on a Target:

While the Diablo Octane can pick out flags and larger targets well in excess of 200 yards, the device doesn’t lock on to the pin (as opposed to flag) as easily as other devices. The Diablo Octane began to struggle with pins in excess of 100 yards, and beyond 200 yards it became truly troublesome. We could pick up pins in the range of 70% of the time at 150 yards, declining to under 50% at over 200 yards. There is no question that users should be targeting either the flag, or, if visible, the ground at the hole, when firing the laser.

We also observed the Diablo Octane lagging other devices in more challenging situations, such as light fog, as well as targeting points on the ground under difficult lighting conditions.

Speed Test:

The Callaway Diablo Octane updates distance readings quickly, and was one of the fastest devices in our speed tests (65 seconds), even with the requirement to re-fire the laser every eight seconds. The Diablo Octane combines its First Priority Mode with a “panning mode”, and retains its position as one of the fastest when tested against other devices in their “pin-locating” modes, as well as when other devices switch modes during the speed test.

For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison for ease of obtaining distance readings.


92 / A-

COST/VALUE

At $299.99 retail, the Callaway Diablo Octane is the least expensive laser rangefinder that can acquire distances to any target in our cost comparison of laser rangefinders, though only by a penny. Curiously, the Diablo’s price is a bit higher than the Callaway LR550, the rangefinder it ostensibly replaces, even though the specifications are the same (even more curious, we have found the Diablo for less than the LR550 on Amazon at the time of this article).

The Diablo Octane provides pretty good bang for the buck, and we wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it to those looking for a reasonably priced entry level rangefinder . The stiffest competition for the Diablo Octane rangefinder comes from the Leupold GX-1, which features the same 6x magnification as the Diablo Octane in a smaller package, and also possesses additional features such as a variety of crosshair styles, fog mode, and longer panning before timeout. The GX-1, however, comes at a higher price ($375).