It's true - you do not need to spend a lot to get a good rangefinder anymore. I've tested almost every rangefinder you can imagine and running my Youtube channel and this website means manufacturers send me their products to review all the time. My favorite part of playing so much golf equipment is finding a good deal to pass onto you, especially when it comes to cheap rangefinders.
Every piece of golf equipment nowadays seems to get more and more expensive and rangefinders are no different. Optics can be expensive. Don't get down though, because there are plenty of good budget golf rangefinders to get the job done as accurately as the high end models. I've sifted through both the free models from the manufacturers and ones I have bought myself to show you the best budget rangefinders available.
8 Best Budget Golf Rangefinders
- Voice Caddie L5 (Editors choice - best speed in the category)
- Nikon Coolshot 20 GII (high quality Nikon optics)
- Precision Pro NX7 (best older model for low price)
- Shotscope L1 (best new kid on the block)
- Precision Golf NX9 (best quality budget rangefinder)
- Callaway 300 Pro (best golf brand rangefinder)
- Blue Tees Pro 2 (best external branding and construction)
- Wosports H100 AG (best really cheap rangefinder)
Quickest on the list and best rangefinder with slope
The Voice Caddie L5 rangefinder is my rangefinder of choice. I've got a lot of rangefinders in my cupboard at home and give them away or lend them to pros when they need one. But the L5 rangefinder is my favorite. There are many reasons I like this rangefinder but as always, the number one reason is it reads distances FAST. Not just relatively fast, I mean fast.
What sets it apart from every other rangefinder on the list is the V-algorithm to calculate the distance on slope readings. The engineering team at Voice Caddie have gone through iteration after iteration to improve the precision of the distance finding. This is their most precise model yet.
I prefer the way you can switch slope function on and off with the L5. I just press the M button and it toggles on and off. My main gripe comes when there is a decimal point on slope mode. It's a personal preference to have whole numbers but when I switch it over to Tournament mode without the slope, it does go to whole numbers without a decimal point.
A big difference in the viewfinder that I found is that the slope calculation is not in degrees but in yards so you can see the true elevation. The rangefinder tells us that the pin is +12 yards or -3 yards above or below us.
My experience with the L5
I tested the L5 against every rangefinder I use regularly (Inesis Tour 900, Bushnell V5, Coolshot, Precision Pro) and the distances were consistently on target and as quick or quicker than every other model. The display is better than most and the small bullseye crosshair is what makes it so easy to hit the top of the flag.
The L5 has an 'M' button on the top of the device to change between 4 modes: slope mode general, slope mode pin, no slope general, no slope pin. It's super easy to toggle between the modes and I noticed the Slope mode uses 1 decimal point in the reading while the No-slope mode uses whole numbers only.
Because I have used so many rangefinders, accurate numbers didn't surprise me but I was surprised how accurate AND FAST the rangefinder is. I didn't struggle to hit the target and rarely had to shoot a distance more than twice. The vibration when you hit the target is pleasant without feeling like an earthquake is hitting you either. I like this model and it is my gamer.
The Voice Caddie L5 is compact and the build quality is top notch. There's a 30 day full refund guarantee if you don't like it. That's a winner.
Nikon optics for durability and reliable distances
Finding decent rangefinders can be a challenge, not knowing the quality level, but when you see the name Nikon, your eyes just settle on it. The Coolshot 20 GII is a very simple to use point-and-shoot no frills rangefinder. Put it up to your eye, find the target, press the button, done.
Pro Bo Chalisa Lim on my Youtube channel uses this rangefinder and she is on the Thai LPGA. Here's what she says about the rangefinder.
"As a lady pro golfer, it's nice to have a small rangefinder for my hands while playing practice rounds. The cheap price of the Nikon Coolshot 20 rangefinder is the main reason I bought it but love that it fits snugly in the palm of my hand and can even be put in my pocket when I wear shorts on the course. Picking up targets inside 200 yards is easy but if we go beyond 250 yards, the crosshairs in the viewfinder do struggle to pick up the pin. That's okay though because only my driver goes around 250 yards.
Because it is so light and small, you do need slightly steady hand. The reason you don't want the Nikon waving around is that the crosshairs used to pick up targets are not 100% efficient. The battery lasts for about a year and to have Nikon optics in your bag at this price is a steal and comes in as one of the best budget golf rangefinders."
Reliable right in the sweet spot of the wallet
The Precision Pro range took over the best budget golf rangefinder market a few years ago The NX7 is a slightly older model but it does what it says on the box and it is a distance measuring device.
When I used an NX7 with subscriber Einar who was here in Bangkok, I learned more about this model. It has a scanning mode where I was scanning constantly while depressing the button and it told me distances to the different objects as I moved over them. Despite being a budget golf rangefinder, the pin lock feature was a nice addition so it vibrated when I hit the pin while measuring the distance.
If you've never used a golf rangefinder before, the vibration makes a big difference, giving you that extra feeling of reassurance. I enjoyed the slope function of the Precision Pro NX7 because the course we played had a lot of elevation changes.
I found the carry bag of the rangefinder is a bit low quality and is hard to get your rangefinder in and out of but there are enough generic ones out there to replace it. The accuracy on this device is equal to the Bushnells but the big difference is the speed of getting the reading. My Bushnell is super quick but that is because it costs triple the price. We have to accept this is a lower priced option.
We have to compare apples to apples and Bushnell of course is triple or quadruple the price. In the budget range, the Precision Pro NX7 is a winner especially with the slope function. I also found that the magnet feature which is in so many rangefinders was frustrating as we left it lying around the cart instead. This can be solved with a magnetic strap.
- Build construction is high end
- Accurate and consistent measurements
- Free lifetime battery replacements from Precision Pro
- Slope functionality helps select the right club
- No magnet to stick on the golf cart
- I found yellow flags were a problem for this rangefinder
Premium quality in a budget package
Shot Scope PRO L1 Golf rangefinder a pretty small sized rangefinder and can fit in your pocket between shots. When you play with cheaper rangefinders as much as I have over the last few years, you expect that they will feel cheap and nasty. But the Shot Scope Pro L1 feels high quality and the external materials are upper end with a solid construction.
May favorite aspect of the Pro L1 was the Precision Clear Lens where you can change either red or black optics by flicking a switch so you can see the readings clearer. Like all rangefinders, even the budget golf rangefinders, you can change between yards and meters.
My next favorite feature is the scanning mode where I was holding down a button, and the rangefinder was giving me readings to trees, bunkers or whatever was int he way as I moved.
Despite being a cheaper model, I liked the pulse vibration when the rangefinder thinks it finds the the flag. The range is stated at 875 yards which is extreme but I found the rangefinder works best inside on distances inside 220 yards. The inflated 875 yard or 600 yard claims mean nothing because we will never use the rangefinder for those lengths. The longest I have ever needed to get a reading on the Shot Scope was 340 yards on a par 4, to know which club to hit off the tee so leave a pitching wedge to the green.
With flag lock technology, as well as slope it's a great deal. The styling is just so much better than the really cheap models I have played with as well. It's quick, comfortable in the hand, accurate and comes with a hard case. Good value.
Best rangefinder for the money
The Precision Pro NX9 is just as the name says, precise. It's also really easy to use. Precision Pro Golf keep your wallet in mind when creating their rangefinders. The devices are fantastic and don't cost you your children's' college funds. Plus you get free lifetime batteries!
I found I got readings within a yard of my very expensive Bushnell V5 and with good consistency.
The distances if you check and recheck won't change more than a yard or so which eliminates a lot of confusion and frustration associated with only the lowest end product. On top of that, the funky green and black make this a very good looking model.
If you drive a golf cart when you play, like I did a lot in the USA, there is a magnet in the rangefinder so I was able to stick it to metal surfaces. It just stays there. Be careful with the almost entirely black color, because I left it on the golf cart multiple times and the worker at the course had to give it back to me.
I had a small issue with the viewfinder because of the wide crosshairs in the viewfinder. This means sometimes, it gets frustrating as you try to lock onto a pin with tree trunks in the background. The crosshairs take in too much of the surroundings which is why the higher end optics always have smaller bullseye or crosshairs.
The company behind this lovely device is responsive and you'll hear back from them rapidly when you have questions or issues and are known for calling you on the phone as a follow up. They also offer free battery replacements for life.
Big name brand makes a superb rangefinder
I have seen and used these all over Malaysia and Thailand and it's a very nice, simple piece of machinery. Two professionals I have played with use the Callaway 300 Pro because it's so widely available out here.
The built in magnet makes it perfect for the times you have to ride a cart, which is often the case in Malaysia and USA I found while I was there. When I have to take my golf clubs across the fairway when it's buggy on track, I stick the rangefinder onto a club head and shaft. The magnet inside the Callaway makes it stick to the clubs!
It's not just some cheaply made rangefinder. The bullseye is a great SMALL size which is what I want so I can hit the small top of the flag easily . You want it to be a bit smaller because it picks up smaller targets (like a pin) MUCH easier. There is no silly decimal point in this rangefinder. I hate the decimal point in the budget golf rangefinders because they are meaningless and cause confusion.
I like the slope function on every rangefinder. It's very rare that I would use one without slope function. This budget golf rangefinder has the slope function which can be toggled on and off.
The unit is comfortable and small. It comes with a very nice bag with a D clip on it so you can tether it to your. I never do - I always put it inside the bag. Overall, this is one of the best rangefinders for the money and is a very reliable product from a big name brand.
Well-made and well-thought out branding but optics in budget range
The Blue Tees rangefinder is fast and accurate for this category of budget rangefinder. I got to try one in the USA after I bought a model at the PGA Superstore in Fairfax VA.
Looking through the viewfinder is a pleasure and the quality is clear and easy. The rangefinder is very comfortable to hold, unlike some of the very cheap ones with weird names. But please be aware that I found the Blue Tees model I had to be out by a few yards. You could get readings between 1 and 6 yards difference on the exact same measurement.
I would stand and shoot the flag and notice one distance is 165 and the next is 167 then 159 then 171 so I was not 100% impressed with it. It certainly is a better feeling quality exterior but internally, it's not perfect. It's much better than a lot of the poorly named models you will see. The models where you can't pronounce the names as the ones to avoid.
You'll need to have a steadier hand when you're measuring over about 180 yards. It has a harder time picking up the flag but the flag lock vibration is included so you know when you do hit the flag, it vibrates.
The slope model is excellent for taking into account the difference in shot length depending on elevation up or down. The rangefinder lets you know if the shot is playing longer or shorter, and tells you the adjusted distance. This is so helpful especially if you do not understand elevation and how it affects your shots.
I would stock up on some batteries as well. Batteries that are included in rangefinder sets usually do not last as long as the ones you can get at the camera store.
Ultimate budget beater
Wosports have created a rangefinder that is unfathomably well-priced. Of course, the immediate reaction is to doubt the quality of the cheap rangefinder.
There are differences between a model that costs a quarter of the price of the top range golf rangefinders, but the differences are not in the overall function. They all give you a distance to the flag. But a big difference is that the Wosports is really most accurate and easy to use inside 200 yards. For most of us amateurs, that's where we need it.
What I noticed when comparing the readings between a Wosports and a Bushnell (the top end golf rangefinders), is a fractional difference in yardage readings. For example, my Bushnell said 185 yards, and when I shot the same distance with the Wosports it would say 187 yards or 182 yards. That difference is negligible and to be expected in the budget range. It's difficult to escape from the lower price golf rangefinders unfortunately.
I found on golf courses that hav the reflectors on the pins, the Wosports locks onto them easily and vibrates once it locks on. When there were no reflectors on the pin, I found the distances were 1-5 yards inside the 150-200 yard range. The question is, will the 2-3 yard difference change your club selection? If the pin is a true 145 yards, and your reading is 150 yards, will you be hindered?
For me, I prefer to have total trust in the distance and so I do not use the Wosports myself, but have friends who do. I prefer the Precision Pro and Nikon models for consistent readings.
For this price, it's hard to go wrong. You'll get plain yardages. That is the main point of the rangefinder. At a quarter of the price of the big boys, you'll notice build quality differences of course. But if you are looking just at the yardage information, this one gives it to you. You may be out by 1-2 yards compared to Bushnells, but is that going to change your club choice?
- Vibration alert on flag
Slope is the calculation that the rangefinder does for you to tell you how far the pin is playing taking into account the elevation change between your ball and the pin. It's a feature that should be turned on and off in the rangefinder so you can use it in competition - it's not actually allowed in tournaments.
These rangefinders generally cost a bit more but it's becoming normalized to include slope in every model. In the viewfinder, the digits will display the real distance plus a second distance below that one, where the rangefinder tells you if it plays longer or shorter. The distance will play shorter if the pin is below you and further is the pin is above where you are standing.
The best cheap rangefinder including slope, for both accuracy and speed is clearly the Precision Pro NX9. I got to use this model in the USA on my recent trip which is documented on my Youtube channel.
Frequently Asked Questions about budget golf rangefinders
I turned my nose up at rangefinders. I was one of THOSE guys who thought you should pace it out or rely on caddies. Until I just stopped being that guy. I had enough of walking and guessing and calculating to the center and +8 yards for a back pin and blah blah blah.
A rangefinder eliminates all the guesswork and frustration of finding distances to the hole, to carry hazards or reach targets. Imagine the confidence and commitment to your shots if you KNEW the distance to anything instead of wondering if your guess is good.
While the top brands like Bushnell are very expensive and come with all the bells and whistles, there are cheaper yet high quality options and in this article I hope to guide you to the best golf rangefinder without breaking your wallet.
Can I use a hunting rangefinder?
I firmly DO NOT recommend buying a cheap hunting rangefinder with all the well-priced golf-specific rangefinders available. Having a golf-specific one gives you so much peace of mind knowing you’ve got something that will work immediately out of the box. Why purchase a hunting rangefinder for a similar price to a golf rangefinder when the golf rangefinder has been programmed specifically for golf?
Hunting and golf rangefinders work the same way and a hunting rangefinder CAN be used for golf, BUT…
Golf rangefinders have software to give preference to a target closer to you rather than further from you. For example, if the pin is 50 yards in front of bushes, the golf rangefinder has been designed to give preference to the closer object (the pin). This technology has a few names like First Target Priority Mode(Callaway/Nikon), PinHunter (Leupold), Pinseeker (Bushnell).
The hunting rangefinders generally give preference to the more distant object like a deer behind a tree. Golf rangefinders have been designed for golf-specific purposes.
Golf rangefinders also have pin seeking technology that recognizes the pin and can zero in on it easily. Some have technology which makes the device vibrate to let you know once it’s found the pin.
With a hunting rangefinder you are going to have trouble picking up the pin and it will only be effective for larger targets like hills, slopes and bunkers. It can be very frustrating to pin point exact distances to precise spots on the golf course. It takes many readings to eventually get a distance to a flagstick.
What are the differences between cheap and expensive golf rangefinders?
I like a good bargain myself. But when it comes to rangefinders, you get what you pay for.
If you're going too low on price, you are going to lose on accuracy. The discrepancies may be 1-3 yards but they could be as big as 7 or 8 yards in which case, it might affect club choices. I have excluded the very bad ones from this list and I promise, if it's on the list it works. If it is not on the rating list above, then it did not make the cut. You do need to make trade-offs when going budget but if your sole purpose is to get a number for your shot, then there isn't too much to stress about!
The more well-known and pricier the rangefinder, generally, the better the optics. This means superior accuracy. I cannot in good faith recommend some brands in this guide that I know are junk so you will find the good ones here only. Leica, Bushnell and Swarowski make the best optics in so many fields that to expect the level of quality and attention to detail from models 1/4 of the price is unrealistic.
Which Golf Rangefinders should I avoid in this price range?
These are made for hunting and aren't suitable for golf. Best to avoid them to avoid disappointment. They have cheap construction and feel awful.
Gogogo Sport Vpro 6X
Gogogo Sport Vpro Laser Golf/Hunting Rangefinder
Why don't you recommend the "best sellers"?
I've had a few of these best sellers either sent to me or I've bought them to try and I can say so far, nothing is worth putting on my site to recommend to honest people like you. I cannot in good faith accept and promote products from some of these companies with thousands of glowing reviews, when the items they send me, just plain suck.
There are so many products out there with 1000's of reviews and I am unsure if they are sincere or even real. I suspect some of them have been populated using review or click farms. A lot of the models are so bad that I wouldn't even give them to my opponent to use because it would be such blatant bad sportsmanship. I have not included any of those popular top sellers because of this.
I've tried dozens of these brands and devices and compared to my Bushnell rangefinders, they fail. And they fail hard. Sometimes the differences are up to 6 yards each way. One reading will say 145, then 153, then 141, then 157 on the same spot.
Now if that reading is 1-2 yards in variance I can accept that, but when you use a rangefinder, you're not just buying a distance measurer. you're buying peace of mind and commitment to your shots. You want the correct number first time with trust.
How do you use a golf rangefinder?
It's really simple to use a golf rangefinder. You put it up to your eye, look through the monocular and center the bulls eye onto your target and click the button. But the art of using a rangefinder is something you'll develop at your own speed. Here are a couple of examples of how I use mine on the course.
I was between a pitching wedge and a gap wedge on this shot if listening to my caddie and pacing off the distance from the markers. But in the end it was an easy choice to pull my pitching wedge and hit with confidence after I took the exact distance with the rangefinder.
Off the tee
Off the tee, I always like to see how far to carry bunkers and it's really easy because you can lock onto the rear lip of the bunker quickly. I also like to shoot distances to further bunkers in case I can roll into them. On this shot, it was easy to put the 4 wood away and hit the 3 iron as hard as I could, knowing I wouldn't hit it in the far bunker.
Should I use a rangefinder or a golf GPS watch?
At this price point, there is the option of using a golf GPS watch and some other golf distance measuring devices besides only rangefinders. There are pros and cons to both. I suggest the rangefinder if you want to know the carry to many spots on a hole while I suggest a GPS watch if all you want to know is the distance to the front, back and middle of the greens.
GPS Golf Watch
There's no need to go for the very expensive rangefinders when any of the above best budget golf rangefinders will do. I like the Precision Golf NX9 as the top pick for it's overall quality and design. The Wosports is hard to beat on price though!
If you want to have The higher priced premium options in rangefinders check out the guide.