Leupold has historically offered golf laser rangefinders priced at the high end of the market. That changes with the Leupold PinCaddie, which at $315 is not only the least expensive Leupold, but also one of the lower priced laser rangefinders we’ve tested. The PinCaddie features 6x magnification, an LCD display, Leupold’s always-on Pin Hunter technology, and scanning mode. The Leupold PinCaddie is made of a primarily black plastic shell, and weighs 7.2 ounces.
Given that Leupold offers 5 different laser rangefinders, the table at the right may be helpful in identifying the differences among the Leupold devices available at time of this review.
The principal features the PinCaddie lacks are Leupold’s DNA (“Digitally Enhanced Accuracy”), Prism Lock (bummer), and Fog Mode, and the PinCaddie has lower maximum distance ranges. At a more granular level, the PinCaddie does not enable users to choose from different cross-hair styles, and is just a hair larger and heavier than the Leupold GX-1i and GX-2i, a pair of Leupold siblings that share similar body styles. The device has a 1-year warranty, compared to the 2-year warranty offered on the Leupold GX-3i and GX-4i.
Overall the performance of the PinCaddie didn’t match that of the other Leupold devices or mid-tier Bushnell lasers with which it competes. While it is one of the lower priced rangefinders, we would encourage prospective buyers to take a look at the Leupold GX-1i, which for $60 retail more than the PinCaddie provides both slightly better performance and additional features.
- Least expensive Leupold laser rangefinder
- 6x magnification
- Performance not at the level of other Leupold rangefinders
- Not as many features as the competition
- Black LCD screen can be difficult to read against dark backgrounds
EASE OF USE
The Leupold PinCaddie is vertically-held (as opposed to binoculars-style horizontally held devices), and at 7.2 ounces, is one of the lighter rangefinders in our tests. It is just a hair heavier and larger than its closest Leupold siblings, the Leupold GX-1i and GX-2i, though all of them share a similar plastic shell. It is also larger than the Leupold GX-3i and GX-4i, though these lasers have aluminum bodies, and weigh slightly more than the PinCaddie. The included carry case has an integrated clip to attach to a bag or cart, and an elastic band secures the lid of the case. The size and construction of the case is such that it is easy to slip the PinCaddie in and out for use. There is also a small pocket on the exterior of the case to hold an extra battery. A polishing cloth is included to boot.
The PinCaddie has just a single button that serves to power the device on, fire the laser, and switch units between yards and meters. The display will indicate whether the device is measuring in yards or meters (Y or M) in the top right of the viewfinder. The Leupold PinCaddie has the industry-standard 6x magnification (which is a plus, given that devices at lower price points, such as Bushnell’s entry-level products, are often limited to 5x magnification) and has a slight greenish-yellow tint in the lens. The black LCD display was disappointing to those of us who have come to love the red OLED display found in the top-of-the-line Leupold GX-3i and GX-4i and the more reasonably priced Bushnell Tour Z6 .
Tapping the power/fire button once turns the device on, and pressing it again fires the laser to return the distance to the target. Holding the button down enables panning across multiple targets. When panning across targets, distances will be generally updated at the same speed across targets and distances. The distances are shown to +/- 1 yard for all distance ranges.
The Leupold PinCaddie’s distance display will blink (1 reading per second) when the laser is being fired (Bushnell blinks the cross-hairs to indicate the same thing). The distance is displayed above the cross-hairs (see the lower image to the right), which unfortunately often places the black LCD numbers against a dark background of trees, making it challenging to read at a glance. The distance will continue to be displayed for 5 seconds after the laser button is released.
The Leupold PinCaddie takes one CR-2 Lithium battery. The manual indicates a battery meter is displayed in the lower right side of the viewfinder, first appearing when the battery reaches half-capacity, then flashing, before the PinCaddie finally shuts down when no power is left. We have not yet seen this during use – the battery is supposed to last for 7,000+ uses, and we haven’t pressed the button enough times to drain the battery halfway.
For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of laser rangefinder ease of use.
The Leupold PinCaddie is the most basic laser in the Leupold family, lacking most all of the bells and whistles found on the rest of the line. It does have, however, all of the basic features of laser rangefinders: the ability to toggle between yards and meters, weatherproof (though not waterproof) construction, and an always-on “Pin Hunter” mode that makes it easier to lock on to the target, rather than the background (i.e. a flagstick against a backdrop of trees). We found Pin Hunter to be slower to lock on to targets than we’d like. The flipside is that it is a bit easier when your line of sight to a distant object passes close to objects in the foreground. Unlike the rest of the Leupold line, the PinCaddie lacks the useful “Prism Lock” features, which freezes the distance displayed and emits an audible beep when the device picks up a reading from a prism on a flagstick. The “Prism Lock” is the greatest differentiator between the PinCaddie and the GX-1i and yes, we did miss having it in this device.
Unlike the other lasers in the Leupold line, the PinCaddie doesn’t let you choose from different cross-hair options. The device is either waterproof or weatherproof, depending on if you are reading the Leupold website or the manual. C’mon marketing people – can’t we all decide on the appropriate jargon?
For more details, check out our comparison of golf laser rangefinder features.
OBTAINING DISTANCE READINGS
Leupold’s marketing materials state that the PinCaddie is rated to provide distances to flagsticks at up to 250 yards (versus up to 400 yards for the Leupold GX-1i and GX-2i, and up to 450 yards for the GX-3i and GX-4i), and to reflective objects/prisms at up to 600 yards under optimal conditions (versus up to 800 yards for the other Leupold laser rangefinders). Distance readings will continue to be displayed on the LCD for approximately 5 seconds after the firing button is released. The Leupold PinCaddie allows users to continuously fire the laser for over a minute, long enough for us to scan across all the targets you’d like.
In order to ensure correct readings, we generally waited to receive the same distance reading twice as there is no functionality to “lock”‘ onto a target (such as Prism Lock, available on the rest of the Leupold laser rangefinder lineup). To determine distances to multiple targets consecutively, you can either pan and continue to hold down the fire button, or let go and re-fire at each target.
Ease of Locking on a Target:
The PinCaddie performed excellently up to around 175 yards, when performance first started to waver. At 200 yards it was still doing a good job returning flagstick distances against challenging backgrounds, but experienced increasing difficulty through 225 to 250 yards. It is possible to return yardages beyond 250 yards, no matter what the manual states (and Leupold is obviously being conservative). We did find it had lower performance than its Leupold siblings.
While we do not test to reflective targets/prisms, on-course experience revealed that the PinCaddie will, as with most all laser rangefinders, more easily lock onto prisms across a range of distances.
When we compared the PinCaddie in its one mode (since it always has panning and Pin Hunter available) against other devices in their “panning” modes, we found it to be about average among devices tested. While the PinCaddie updates rapidly, at times it took slightly longer for us to be confident in the distance because the device doesn’t provide any indication (visual or audible) that it has locked on to the target.
To compare the speed of the Leupold PinCaddie against other laser rangefinders, check out the Critical Golf comparison section on ease of obtaining distance readings.
At $315 retail, Leupold enters the low-end of laser rangefinder pricing in our cost comparison of USGA-compliant laser rangefinders (i.e. no slope-adjusted distances). The tradeoff (and there always is one) is the stripped down feature set. The PinCaddie’s performance also didn’t match that of the other Leupold devices or some of the mid-tier Bushnell lasers such as the Bushnell Tour Z6, although it fared reasonably against competition at the lower price point.
But if it were our own money, we would take a look at the Leupold GX-1i, which for $60 more than the PinCaddie provides both slightly better performance and additional features.