Bushnell Pro XE Golf Rangefinder Review: The Best Rangefinder in Golf
Over the years here, I’ve reviewed a lot of golf rangefinders – and pretty much across the board, the Bushnell devices have been the best.
Each year when they come out with their latest models, I question how they could improve on this in a way that actually makes a significant difference. And each year I’m surprised by what they come to the table with, that actually makes a difference.
And with the new Bushnell Pro XE? I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t expecting it to be a that much of an improvement over the X2 – but I was wrong. The Bushnell Pro XE, not only introduces useful new features, but it’s also the best rangefinder I’ve ever had the pleasure of using.
Why is it? Let’s take a look.
Check out my full rundown of the best golf rangefinders currently on the market.
Bushnell Pro XE Review: First Impressions
As is usually the case with Bushnell products, the Pro XE rangefinder looks great out of the box. The box has a nice build quality to it, and when you open it up – the device is front and center.
Underneath is a nice looking carrying case with a carabiner for attaching to your golf bag.
My immediate first impression upon taking it out of the packaging, was actually that I expected to like the X2 more – for two reasons.
The first is that the XE is heavier than the X2. The X2 with it’s metal body was already not a light rangefinder, and the XE felt noticeably heavier. Now, this also can be equated with a higher build quality, but if you’re a golf minimalist who likes to carry a Sunday bag – this might be an issue for you.
The second was that I preferred the look of the X2, to the new model. The X2 was a combo of gun metal grey and red that just looks sleek. The new model, while still very attractive, just didn’t quite have the same appeal to me.
Now that these two things are out of the way, we can focus on all of the reasons that I LOVE the XE and will be choosing it over the X2 from here on out.
Bushnell Pro XE Accuracy and Jolt Feature
When I got it out on the course the first time, one of the things I noticed was just how quickly and accurately it gave readings. Instantly after hitting the button, you’d get a distance to the pin. And unlike some less expensive rangefinders that will dance around with distances of +/- 5 yards – this one would give the same number every time.
Finding the flag, hazards, bunkers – it didn’t matter, it is very easy to lock onto whatever feature you want and feel confident in the distance you’re getting.
The Pro XE, like most high end rangefinders is equipped with a vibration feature to let you know it’s locked onto the pin – in the Bushnell models, they call it “Jolt”.
A nice upgrade to this feature is that when it locks on the entire outline of the rangefinder lights up in red as well, so there’s no doubt you have a distance that is 100% accurate.
I did notice compared to previous models, that I didn’t get the Jolt to activate as often as I’d like. It’s kind of had this weird dichotomy, where I felt more confident than I ever have with the distances, but it didn’t tell me it was 100% accurate via Jolt as often as it did in previous models.
That also could be a setting issue or some other form of user error, but I found it odd that everything works so fast, and so accurately, but if I wanted the Jolt I’d have to lock on a few times to get it to activate.
Bushnell Pro XE Optics
One of the biggest reasons for me to go for a higher end Bushnell model over some of the less expensive options are the optics. When you look through a cheaper option, it probably looks fine and you don’t think about the lens quality.
But if you look through one of those, and then look through the XE, it’s a night and day difference. The Bushnell looks like you’re looking through a set of high end binoculars, and is crystal clear. It makes accurately shooting your target that much easier and more enjoyable – and there’s also a focus knob to help you adjust to your eyesight.
They advertise it as the only rangefinder on the market with 7x magnification, and whether it is or not, it’s the clearest and most beautiful image I’ve seen in a golf rangefinder.
The display numbers are also a bright red that are very easy to see, and definitely feel a notch above previous models.
Bushnell Pro XE Slope with Elements
One of the most talked about new features of the Bushnell Pro XE Rangefinder is how they’ve gone a step further with their slope feature (which adjusts your distance based on elevation), by adding “slope with Elements.”
So now, it not only adjusts for an elevated or lower pin, but it also factors in temperature and barometric pressure (or your elevation above sea level).
So if it’s 90 degrees and you’re in the mountains 5,000 feet above sea level, your “plays as” number could be dramatically different than the actual.
This is probably the most high tech feature I’ve seen on a golf rangefinder, and in my experience, it works very well.
I personally don’t use the slope number all that often, as I like to be the judge for myself, but in using this for a few rounds as part of this review, I actually found myself both enjoying it, and it being quite accurate as long as wind wasn’t a major factor.
It’s also easy to turn both the slope and elements features on or off. Similar to last year’s model, you just have to flip the switch built into the logo on the side of the device to turn off the Slope mode, and if you want to toggle back and forth between the elements reading, you can do that via the mode button at the top of the device.
My Favorite Feature of the Bushnell Pro XE
So the visual “pinseeker with Jolt” tech is a nice nominal upgrade. The Slope with Elements is definitely a step forward and nice feature, as is the now 7x magnification.
But none of these are my favorite new feature of the XE.
No, my favorite new feature is decidedly more low tech than all of those.
It’s the built in magnet.
Part of the added weight versus the previous model, is because they’ve added a magnet to the side of the device, which makes it easy to attach to, well, anything metal.
The obvious use case for this is to attach it to a cart, and it works very well for that.
But for me, I normally use a push cart. And I found that using it to stick it to my irons was one of the most surprising, and convenient features I’ve seen in a rangefinder.
The magnet is strong enough that I could just attach it to one of the club faces on my iron, and it was always right there when I needed it. No need to open and close a pouch – just grab and go.
I’ve only had one issue where I ran into a curb with the push cart, and knocked the rangefinder off. But overall it works beautifully, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this added convenience.
Bushnell Pro XE Price and Final Impressions
There’s no denying a simple fact of the Pro XE: it’s not cheap. At a retail price of $549, it’s one of the most expensive laser rangefinders on the market.
Do you need to spend that much in order to get accurate distances?
Short answer? No.
You can get a Precision Pro for half that price that will generally give you accurate distances. And the newer Precision Pro is even faster, and has the built in magnet like the Pro XE.
Will it do it as fast? No. Will it be as easy to lock onto things other than the flag? No. Is the build quality as high end and as durable? No.
But it’ll get the basic job done of getting you an accurate distance to the flag.
It’s kind of like the difference between a Honda Civic and a fully loaded Porsche.
A Civic will get you where you need to go, and have a few nice features.
A porsche will get you where you want to go faster, more comfortably, and in style.
Does anyone need a Porsche? No. But if you want the very best and are willing to pay for it? It’s a fantastic option.
The Bushnell Pro XE is the best rangefinder on the market right now, plain and simple. The advanced features, superior build quality, and speed make it a dream to use.
If you’ve already got a X2 or similar high end model, is it worth upgrading? Depends on your budget. For $549, probably not. The extra features are great, but that is already such a good device in it’s own right, that the new features aren’t worth that much of an upgrade fee.
But if you’re looking for your first rangefinder, have an older model, or have a lower end model – and aren’t worried about price? Then I can’t recommend the Pro XE highly enough. It’s fantastic, and if you do plunk down the cash, you’ll be very pleased for a long time to come.
Quick Thoughts on the Pro XE vs. Bushnell Tour V5 Shift
I wanted to do a quick update to this post now that the Bushnell Tour V5 is out, because well, that’s a really good rangefinder.
To be clear, the Pro XE is still the best rangefinder I’ve ever tested.
But the new Tour V5 Shift has most of the same features, at $150 less than the retail price of the XE.
The biggest differences are that it isn’t fully waterproof, doesn’t feel quite as sturdy, and it doesn’t have the fancy slope calculations that takes into effect things like barometric pressure.
Otherwise it’s just as fast, just as sleek, and is a really good value.
For $100 less than that the Tour V5 is also a phenomenal rangefinder if you don’t need Slope.
It’s worth checking those out before you make your final decision.
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- Best rangefinder I've ever used
- Extremely accurate and fast to use
- Magnet is a gamechanger
- Jolt feature doesn't activate as often as I'd like