The best laser rangefinders are useful gadgets for measuring the distance between your current position and your target. If you’re playing a game of golf, simply retrieve the rangefinder from your pocket, point it at the green or flag you wish to hit and wait for the device to calculate the distance for you – thus enabling you to choose the correct club and improve the accuracy and efficiency of your subsequent shot. The distance is measured by the device bouncing light off the object it’s being pointed at. But a laser rangefinder can have other uses too – for construction, real estate and more.
As with anything electronic, there are a fair few brands of laser rangefinder available in the market. These include familiar names like Nikon and Bushnell, alongside less familiar imports that may potentially offer even greater value for money. Below we’re rounding up what we consider to be six of the best laser rangefinders you can buy right now, to help with your purchase decision.
Chief considerations when buying should include finding the best laser rangefinder that is compact, portable and lightweight – so that you won’t mind potentially carrying it around with you for hours – alongside of course selecting one that is accurate and precise.
You might also want to consider battery life, making sure the power on offer lasts the course, plus that the device possesses an outer casing that is perhaps waterproof so rain doesn’t prevent play.
As well as weighing up ease of use of said rangefinder, there will also be your personal budget to throw into the buying mix. Higher priced models offer a greater range and a greater complexity of functions – but that may add to their complexity. Whichever option you choose, ultimately accuracy and precision will be improved over having no laser rangefinder at all.
So read on as we survey the market and assess the best laser rangefinder for you.
The best laser rangefinders in 2021
While being one of the higher priced laser rangefinders for golfers, this is also one of the most highly specified and streamlined examples. For example, it can calculate incline and decline to display a slope-adjusted distance guide to how far you should hit that golf ball, while featuring a built-in 6x monocular. The brightness of the internal OLED display, automatically adjusted dependent on ambient light levels, further enables viewing in a broad variety of conditions, while it claims to pinpoint a measure in a speedy 0.3 seconds. As the model name suggests, Nikon’s flagship laser rangefinder features built-in vibration reduction, which provides a steadier viewfinder image – by up to 80% it’s claimed. If you’ve the cash, this could well be the only such measuring device you’ll ever need.
Packing a lot into a compact body that’s light enough to cradle in your palm, including a very respectable range of five to 730 metres and a 6x magnification monocular with multi layered coating, this is a value for money device for keen amateurs eyeing up their first laser rangefinder. The on-board First Target Priority algorithm is claimed as sophisticated enough to pick out the closest target even if the flagstick during a golf game has otherwise distracting trees or a building behind it. It may be slower than higher priced alternatives, necessitating the user to hold down the power button for up to eight seconds of continuous measurement – and a further four should that first measurement fail – but a long eye relief and dioptre adjustment makes Nikon’s smallest available ‘Coolshot’ comfortable enough for spectacle wearers to use.
The boast with this one is that it combines a 6x magnification with a fast focus, providing accuracy to within one yard. Its core range is from 5 yards up to a whopping 1,300 yards. Like the alternative Bushnell laser rangefinder listed here, this affordable and specifically ‘Golf’ dedicated option features a ‘jolt’ mechanism to confirm to the user that it has locked on the pin – with the unit itself vibrating – while claiming to be able to navigate and help golfers compensate for an uneven, sloping surface. A switch on the unit itself enables the user to toggle in or out of said slope mode. The build may be plastic rather than metal, but if you don’t need the ruggedized exterior and waterproofing of the Pro XE, then this more keenly priced 2020 model should help you hit that hole in one!
Another laser rangefinder option from a recognized specialist in optics – here, multi coated – that will likewise conveniently fit in the palm. This one handily comes with a roughened surface so it doesn’t slip from your grasp, while offering a degree of waterproofing with it. Able to pick out objects up to an impressive 900 meters away, sophistication comes courtesy of four user modes, with results viewable via its LCD viewfinder. These are: Distance (measuring a straight line to your subject), Beeline (the shortest horizontal distance to your target), Height (how high the target is in relation to the viewfinder) and Angle (calculating the angle of projection from the point that you are aiming at). It all adds up to a respectably comprehensive proposition for the price.
Bushnell has expertise in scopes and optics, so its no surprise to find it offers a handful of laser rangefinders too, of which this is a very sophisticated if pricey option that will enable users to achieve accurate results even in environments with lots of slopes and pick out a golfing pin placed in the turf.
With 7x magnification offered, as a visual ‘jolt’ a red ring flashes in its viewfinder to confirm it has locked onto your intended target some distance away, while an extra ‘gimmick’ here is a magnetic mount on the unit itself that allows it to be attached to the metal bar of your golfing cart, if so desired. A further bonus is the fact that the Bushnell is fully waterproof, with rubber armor protecting the metal housing so it won’t slip from your grasp. We’re paying a premium here, for sure, but this rangefinder should last years of accurate service.
If you’re seeking a laser rangefinder that delivers better than expected bang for your buck, then train your sights – pun intended – on this device. The ‘Tacklife’ can zero in on an object up to 800 meters away and offers 7x magnification into the bargain, while offering a comfortably ergonomic design that sits readily in the palm. Its rechargeable battery can be conveniently charged via USB, while there’s also a screw thread provided for attaching it to a tripod, if desired, along with a hand strap gifted to us out of the box. Peace of mind comes courtesy of a two-year warranty – and the fact that we’re not breaking the bank to buy it in the first place, which should reassure those hesitant about buying a non name brand.
Garmin is best-known for its range of sat-nav in-car and handheld navigation devices – so it comes as not surprise that its golf laser rangefinder offers built-in GPS. Its ability to know where you are in the course is put to good use, as it can provide 2D aerial maps of the hole you are playing, in color, from a built-in database of over 40,000 golf courses from around the globe. It also boasts the best accuracy - being able to tell your distance to the pin to within just 10 inches (250mm). Furthermore, Garmin Approach Z82 can even tell you the current wind speed and direction. Ultimately this tech does make this about the most expensive laser rangefinder that you can buy – but it brings with it the skills and knowledge that you might otherwise only get from a professional caddy, so may be well worth the sizable investment!
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