Golf equipment costs add up fast. Whether it’s time for new wedges or a new set of irons, the wallet can take a hit every time our golf games need a slight change. Here we review the best budget rangefinders currently on the market.
It’s time for some more accurate yardages, but you’re are something on a budget that still works – don’t worry we have you covered. These five rangefinders are the best ‘cheap’ golf rangefinders in 2023.
They all vary slightly, but they’re accurate, easy to use and won’t break the bank.
The best cheap golf rangefinders are:
- GolfBuddy Laser Lite – Best overall
- TecTecTec VPro 500 – Best value
- GolfBuddy Aim L10V – Best with voice function
- Shotscope L1 – Best usability
- Nikon Coolshot 20i GII – Great all-around perfomer
1. GolfBuddy Laser Lite
One of the most fun things about testing golf rangefinders is when you find a budget model that can hold its own against a premium model. The GolfBuddy Laser Lite does the best job of disguising itself as a premium rangefinder in the budget golf rangefinder category.
From within 200 yards, you will not find more accurate than the GolfBuddy Laser Lite, possibly as accurate, but this really holds its ground against all rangefinders out there. In our testing we found it to be 99.5% accurate, which for the price is something that is hard to beat.
Remember that accuracy is sometimes tied to the magnification of the rangefinder. The GolfBuddy Laser Lite has the 6X magnification and a very clear overall look through the viewfinder.
The GolfBuddy Laser Lite is a compact rangefinder that fits easily in the palm of your hand. You will have no trouble feeling as though you have control of the unit as you hunt down your pin. Perhaps the most crucial feature of the GolfBuddy Laser Lite is the slope functionality.
Slope functionality can be turned on and off, making the GolfBuddy Laser Lite acceptable for tournament play.
We noticed that it took less than a second to get the yardage, even with slope mode active. There is a vibration alert that notifies you that you have picked up your target. The alert is a little harsh at first, but you’ll get used to it.
GolfBuddy Laser Lite is water-resistant. If you get caught in a bit of rain, you won’t need to panic, but the model is not fully waterproof. Worried? I wouldn’t be – it has survived a full winter of testing in the great British weather.
The magnetic case is a nice feature. Many premium rangefinders have a magnetic body; this Laser Lite model has a magnetic case.
As great as magnetic technology can be in rangefinders, it tends to make us a little nervous when it comes to the rangefinder flying off the golf cart. Overall the magnet on the GolfBuddy Laser Lite case seems plenty strong enough to hold up to a typical golf cart ride.
When it comes to usability in these budget golf rangefinders, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that because of the limited features that you will find; the rangefinders become quite easy to use. The bad news is that they can sometimes be a little harder to work with when getting yardages over the 150-yard mark.
The second reason the GolfBuddy Laser Lite tops our list is that it is super easy to use and checks all the boxes for usability. After countless rounds using this rangefinder, we can barely fault it, the vibration pin lock is a fraction slower than a rangefinder twice its price but that is it.
The fact that the GolfBuddy Laser Lite falls below the $150 mark still catches us by surprise from time to time. When you compare this to some models in the $300, and even $400 range, you will notice very little change in functionality.
Golf Insider verdict
We tested quite a few budget golf rangefinders and kept coming back to the GolfBuddy Laser Lite. Overall the design is simple, and the yardages are super accurate. The GolfBuddy Laser Lite is like a great functioning, reliable car – no fancy leather trim, or sparkly wheels – but you’ll be delighted you own it, and you’ll love using it round after round on the golf course.
2. TecTecTec VPro 500
The TecTecTec VPro500 is exactly what you may expect from a no-frills, budget-friendly golf rangefinder. However, when you look at the important things, like accuracy, usability, durability, and overall value, TecTecTec Vpro500 earns a spot on this list.
The total range for the TecTecTec VPro500 is 540 yards. This is plenty long enough for the average golfer, and it claims to have one yard of accuracy. We found that from 200 yards and in the continuous scan mode did an excellent.
The TecTecTec does a good job of picking up the pin, but needs a little bit more care than more expensive rangefinders. However, once the pin is locked in, you’ll feel confident in the number you have left to the flag.
To be able to clearly see the target you are looking to find, the optics of a rangefinder are vital. Sometimes with a budget golf rangefinder, it is hard to find a model that will help you narrow in on the target. However, the optics on the TecTecTec Vpro500 are really clear, with great adjustability on the zoom and focus.
The TecTecTec VPro500 is also considered an eye-safe laser rangefinder that will not strain your vision from continuous use. Good news if you are really golf obsessed!
The TecTecTec Vpro500 is very lightweight, compact and portable. The exterior is durable, and there is a carrying pouch that comes with the unit to help keep it safe.
The Pinsensor technology helps to lock in on the target when under 150 yards or so. In addition, the more compact size of this model will help you feel as though you have control over the unit. For those with a shaky hand or trouble focusing, consider a higher-priced rangefinder.
However, if you are shopping on a budget and are willing to give more attention when locking onto a pin this is hard to beat.
The TecTecTec VPro500 is priced right around the same as the GolfBuddy Laser Lite. However, this model does not have slope, and that makes it a little less valuable for many golfers. If slope technology is beneficial check out the GolfBuddy and Shot Scope options in this list.
Golf Insider verdict
If you think that you will never use slope functionality in your rangefinder and you want a simple and accurate yardage reading, the TecTecTec is a great choice. A two-year warranty and a 30-days money-back guarantee mean this is an incredibly safe bet if you are dipping your toes into the rangefinder market.
3. GolfBuddy Aim L10V
Voice technology is something that we have seen in GPS rangefinders for quite some time. If you think this could benefit you on a laser rangefinder, then the GolfBuddy Aim L10V is the place to look. This scrapes in the top end of our ‘budget round up’, but offers great function for the price.
GolfBuddy suggests the Aim L10V is accurate within a yard and has an 880-yard range. In testing, we found this model lives up to that claim within 200-yards and gives near identical yardages compared to the top of the range products on the market (±1 yard).
Outside this range, human testing makes valid data a little more challenging to come by. However, the figures above should give you no doubt about the L10V’s accuracy and will be more than enough for most golfers.
The main feature that will help the GolfBuddy Aim L10V stand out is the fact that it has voice technology. When you look through the scope and lock in on your target, simply press a button, and the rangefinder will tell you the yardage.
For those that have a hard time reading numbers inside the scope, this is a great feature to consider!
The audio is just another assurance that you have locked in on the proper number for your yardage and can be set constantly on or toggled on/off when visibility is poor. The only downside is being careful you don’t disturb other golfers. There are lots of new sound type devices like cart speakers and talking GPS units being incorporated into the game, we’ll let you decide if this is the kind of product for you.
The GolfBuddy Aim L10V has a water-resistant body, three targeting modes, and then 6X magnification. The view is clear through the scope, and it can be adjusted with the diopter if you have some vision issues. It also comes with slope mode that can be toggled on/off.
Overall the features of this rangefinder will mimic any of the top models on the market and surpass some.
The first thing you will notice about the GolfBuddy Aim L10V is how small it is. For some golfers, this is positive, and for others, this is a negative. We like these more compact rangefinders as they are lighter in weight and easier to manage as we make our way around the golf course. If you want something chunkier, take a look at some of the large Bushnell models on the market.
With the three targeting modes, Standard, Scan, and Pin, you can really help yourself scan the horizon off the tee and then narrow in on the target using Pin Finder mode into the green.
The Pin Finder mode has a vibration feature that will alert you to the fact that you have found the pin. For those that really struggle with vision and looking through a rangefinder, we’d suggest a combination of the Pin Finder mode with the Voice Output.
The only snag with usability we found was the time taken for Pin Finder mode to vibrate. The yardage will appear straight away, but there is a 0.3 to 0.4-sec delay for the vibrate to kick in and the circle to appear around the flag on the display. This is a small issue but one to consider.
The GolfBuddy Aim L10 V is moderately priced, especially considering that it also has slope technology. You may pay a few dollars more for the voice technology, but for those that really want to avoid the GPS technology, this can be a good alternative.
Golf Insider verdict
If you are after an accurate rangefinder, with slope and voice activation, this is the cheapest and best option out there.
The voice technology included in the GolfBuddy Aim L10V is not a fit for every golfer, and if it is not what you’re after, save some golfing pennies and grab the GolfBuddy Laser Lite instead.
4. ShotScope Pro L1
With the Shot Scope L1, you will get great Target Lock technology, slope function, great usability and some water resistance. If you are switching from a GPS to a budget-friendly golf rangefinder, this model will quikcly help you get accustomed to zeroing in on your targets.
Shot Scope claims the Pro L1 accuracy within one yard and displays all yardages to 0.1 yards! This gives the impression of some serious precision. In our testing, we found that the ShotScope Pro L1 was accurate within a yard up to 150-yards away, but that figure rose to ±2-yards outside that range, not bad but a smidge behind the GolfBuddy options in terms of performance.
For comparison, when testing a wide range of budget golf rangefinders, we found that most models are accurate to within one yard as long as we were less than 150 yards from the target and have a steady hand. Once you get into that 150-250 range, the accuracy seems to be better with the higher-priced models.
The Target Lock Technology helps golfers find flags, hazards, and even trees or bunker edges quite easily. We found that even for a golfer with a shaky hand, the ShotScope L1 can be a good selection.
The accuracy of a laser rangefinder is talked about at length. However, the view through the scope is not often brought up quite as much. If you can’t clearly see the numbers that the rangefinder comes up with, how accurate can it be?
The Shot Scope L1 gives you the option to choose either red or black numbers displayed in your rangefinder. Depending on the lighting or your vision, one or the other may be easier to see.
The Shot Scope Pro L1 is a slope rangefinder and has a slope mode that can be easily turned on and off. This helps ensure that your rangefinder is ready for any type of round that you may have going.
Another feature of the Shot Scope Pro L1 that stood out to us was the darker color of the unit itself. This is gray/black body with some blue trim. If you have been around the game of golf long enough, you may know exactly what happens to a white rangefinder body over time. Dirt, oils, and even sand will take the color away and make it look quite a bit different.
This is a small consideration but something that certain golfers will want to ensure they have thought of prior to purchasing.
Similar to the other models on our list, the Shot Scope Pro L1 is rather compact in size and allows you to operate with just one hand.
The view through the rangefinder is clear and the diopter is adjustable and provides up to 6x magnification. Another cool feature is the ability to change the display graphics from black to red, making this function well on the golf course and at night on the golf range.
To top things off the Shot Scope comes in a sturdy carry case with a zip and an easy access elasticated hook. Overall, the Shot Scope scores near-perfect marks for usability – better than many top of the range products.
Anytime you can find a rangefinder with slope, with a one-year warranty, under $200, consider it a good deal. This is a durable model that comes with a carrying case and makes an excellent overall investment.
Golf Insider verdict
We love the usability and overall look of the ShotScope Pro L1 – it is as good or better than our top pick, the GolfBuddy, but the extra yard of error in accuracy has dropped it a few places. This is not a rangefinder that you will be disappointed with and if you’re fine with yardages within 2-yards it is well worth its price.
5. Nikon Coolshot 20i GII
Nikon has an impressive history and reputation when it comes to lenses and visual technology. The Nikon Coolshot capitalizes on that to get golfers some extra precision and accuracy on the golf course. If optics are your concern, this is a great rangefinder to consider.
Accuracy can be very dependent on the stability of the rangefinder that you have in your hand. The Nikon Coolshot 20i GII is not the most stable rangefinder in the Nikon lineup. This budget-friendly model offers a clear view and rapid-fire measurements when trying to collect a lot of information at once.
Is it accurate? Yes. Is it the most accurate? No.
The Nikon claims to be accurate within a 2-yard range with this Coolshot model. Although it may not sound like too much of a difference, you have to consider whether you would rather have a 3-foot putt or a 9-foot putt for birdie…
First Target Priority is probably the most important technology that the Nikon Coolshot 20i GII has in place. What the First Target Priority does is it will display the yardage automatically to the first target it can come across. This means you will not need to press a button to get the actual yardage; just simply hold up the rangefinder, and the closest target it comes across in the target will be read for you.
In addition, there is a scan mode on the Nikon that works a bit differently than other models. With the 8-second continuous measurement scan, you will be able to move your rangefinder around and see the measurements change as you scroll over different areas.
Let’s say you are trying to figure out how far it is to carry the bunker, what the distance is to the flag, and also how far it is to the water hazard behind the green. When you activate the continuous measurement technology, you will simply press the button and see all of these measurements pop up at once.
If you have ever been stuck trying to get your rangefinder to pick up on a bunker edge or a rake, you know how important this feature can be.
The thing that makes Nikon so easy to use is the glass and lens that they put in place on this laser rangefinder. This is one of the clearest views that you can find. When you have vision problems and trouble locking in on a pin, combine the Nikon lens with the continuous scan and First Target Priority, and it will be hard to complain about their results.
The only thing you won’t get with this budget-friendly rangefinder is the vibration when you lock in on a target and, of course, the slope mode functionality.
If you look at the pricing of the Nikon cameras, you may find that this is actually a pretty good deal for a Nikon product. It is Nikon’s low-priced rangefinder option, with all the comparable features of other products in this review.
The build quality is good, but it feels like you’re paying a little extra for the name.
Golf Insider verdict
Nikon makes it easy to trust their product; with strong customer support and a tremendous reputation, this is a rangefinder that you can feel confident will get you through several years of golf.
The technology (accuracy) lacks slightly behind some of the other best budget golf rangefinders on the market, but if you’re happy with sound accuracy and great optics then this is still worth grabbing.
Frequently asked questions when buying a budget rangefinder
The budget rangefinders on our list are not just cheap; they offer great technology at a low and affordable price. Whether you are looking for a model with slope or you want a very basic rangefinder, it pays to understand this technology prior to making your final purchase.
What is the best budget golf rangefinder with slope?
The best budget golf rangefinder for the money with slope is the GolfBuddy Laser Lite. The slope functionality can be turned on and off, and the accuracy of this rangefinder is unparalleled within this price range.
Although some cheaper models will have slope, this slope cannot be turned on and off and accuracy levels tend to drop.
What is the cheapest rangefinder that will work well?
One of the cheapest rangefinders that will also work well is the TecTecTec Vpro500. This won’t be the fanciest looking model with the most bells and whistles; however, when you look at overall functionality, the rangefinder has everything you need for a fair price.
What am I losing out on when buying a cheaper rangefinder?
When buying a cheaper rangefinder, you mostly miss out on pin locking features and slope functionality. In addition, usability and speed of pin locking tend to suffer in cheaper models. With very cheap models there can be some issues with accuracy.
The technology on the market today allows golfers to get some very accurate readings from 150 yards and in, even with the cheap technology. The higher-priced rangefinders have pin lock technology, slope features and sometimes even tech that can take into account barometric pressure and weather. Although these extra features can be nice to have, they won’t make or break your success on the golf course.
Do budget golf rangefinders last just as long?
Many golfers have rangefinders in place from eight or nine years ago. Technology has changed slightly, and the newer units from budget rangefinder manufacturers should last just as long and have slightly improved accuracy. The bottom line is that laser technology, scopes, and visual accuracy have gotten less expensive to manufacture and more advanced, especially in the last few years.
The best budget golf rangefinder does not need to feel or act cheap. Instead, you can get all the functionality you get from a premium rangefinder and just give up on a few of the bells and whistles.
What we like about the GolfBuddy Laser Lite is that there is not much that you will have to give up on; the product has everything the average golfer and even lower handicapper needs to perform on the course.
For more reviews you can check out our full best golf rangefinder review article here.
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