Leupold GX-3i and GX-4i Rangefinder Review

Last year THP had a chance to review the Leupold GX-3 & GX-4 Rangefinders and came away pretty impressed. In fact so much so that it was hard to find any negatives with the devices in our thorough testing of each model. While at the 2012 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL, THP got a sneak peek at the new devices coming from Leupold and we were anxious to put them through some testing.

From the Company
The new Leupold GX Series digital laser rangefinder is a revolutionary, range-finding device that incorporates advanced digital electronics with state-of-the-art ballistics algorithms. The next generation Digitally eNhanced Accuracy (DNATM) engine incorporates additional signal processing techniques to generate better ranging distance with more accurate rangefinding.
GX-4i features include an incredibly bright OLED display, inclinometer, and PinHunter Laser Technology. Another truly innovative and unique feature is True Golf RangeTM (TGR), which is available on the GX-4i TGR model. TGR algorithms were developed by the same engineers who developed Sierra Infinity® Exterior Ballistics Software and who helped develop navigation and guidance systems for ICBMs and other missiles with far more demanding trajectory requirements than a golf ball. TGR is a marriage of laser ranging, an inclinometer, and an advanced computerized ballistics program. The result is distance measurements accurate to less than a yard, no matter the angle at which the laser is fired.

The 2012 models of the Leupold rangefinders might be the most accurate to hit the golf scene as of yet. The ranging accuracy of the GX series of rangefinders is +/- .5 yard/meter. The maximum effective range depends upon a number of factors including lighting conditions and air quality, but the most important factor is the reflectivity of the target. For most objects, the maximum distance is 600 yards, while for highly reflective targets (such as pin prisms), distances of 800 yards can be obtained.

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When testing the accuracy against other devices, both models of the Leupold appeared to be spot on and perhaps even the most accurate we have seen to date.

Ease of Use
Rangefinders in general are some of the easiest to use distance measuring devices there are as most have a single button for use and then another for mode and that is about it. This Leupold line is no exception, but it does stand out similarly to those in the past from the company. Once looking inside the viewfinder the display is done in a red color that is easier on the eyes than other devices like it done in the monochrome display. By adding the red numbers and display, the eyes appear to focus quicker and make for faster reading.

Outside of that, its very simple, put device up to eye, press the button and read your distance. If you are shooting a pin with prisms in it, you will hear a beep as it locks on to ensure you are hitting it properly.

Build Quality
One of the areas that the Leupold line of golf devices shine are in the build quality. They feel sturdy in the hand, are slightly heavier than others like them and overall have a “classy” touch to them that you would not expect in a golf laser, but the company spared no expense in building a rangefinder that will stay with you for years. Everything from the rubber grip to the battery door are done in a way you would not expect and exude a level of elegance that is both unexpected and cherished in a handheld unit used to get measurements. From the first time you pick the GX-3i or 4i up, to each time you use it on the course, you can tell just how sturdy it is. Something unfortunately lost a lot of times with accessories.

Slope Vs No Slope
The Smart Key is exactly what it sounds like. A bright yellow key that attaches to the front of your device (and detaches just as easily) to give you more than just a simple distance. The GX-4i is the only golf rangeinder available which converts from a simple line-of-site rangefinder to a full coaching tool with the switch of a faceplate. With the chrome faceplate attached, the GX-4i performs standard operations, simply displaying the line-of-site measurement to the pin or any object on the course. Snap on the yellow faceplate to activate the advanced features in cluding True Golf Range and Club Selector. Its equal parts “the coolest gadget ever” and “how did they do that” to create in my opinion, one of the most complete devices on the market today.

Does it work? It absolutely works and better than we expected by a long shot. The slope readings we were getting seemed so accurate, it was as if we had our own caddie with us as we played 6 different golf courses, none of which we had seen before. In the end, it will come down to personal preference, but by having it available as an option that is easy to use and can be taken off when necessary, Leupold has addressed all the concerns.

Like last year, we are struggling to find any issues with the GX-3i and GX-4i. Both do exactly what the company describes and do so in a form factor that is as nice as anything on the market to date. With a retail price of $399 for the GX-3i and $499 for the GX-4i, they seem to fall right in line with the other high end devices in the same category and are full of rich features in an extremely elegant package. For more information on any of the Leupold devices, check out their website at www.leupold.com.

Till Next Time

Josh B.

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  • Great review JB. I’ve seen the GX-3i on the course and the red numbers are so easy to see compared to my 1600 Bushnell. This is def advanced

  • Great review Josh! I initially thought I had no need for a rangefinder until this past weekend when I played a course with gigantic greens where the typical front/middle/back numbers were not quite enough for my liking. I love the idea of having that snap on piece where it converts from a standard range finder to one with slope, club selector, etc – definitely a very handy training aid.

  • I loved the “incredibly bright OLED display” on the GX-4i that I was able to try out at the Myrtle Beach outing. I have had a Leupold GX-1 for the past 4 or 5 years and will certainly be purchasing the GX-4i when this one finally wears out (if it wears out). The addition of a feature to either have slope readings also or not having slope readings is very nice. As always the review was on the money!

  • Great display with the red numbers etc. I think this could be a really valuable tool for guys having the skills to go pin hunting!

  • I really like the idea of the yellow key to remove the slope option if neccesary. Really adds some value to the product. I’d like to try a rangefinder with slope one of these days. I play a pretty hilly course and it would come in really handy.

  • I like the idea of the keyplate to all it to go from a basic rangefinder to a slope edition.

  • A gripe about rangefinders has been the difficulty seeing the black numbers on a bright day, with that I am so glad to see Leupold introducing red numbers to their units. The design looks very ergonomic and the little added size should make for a more sturdy feel. Great insight Josh.

  • I like the sounds of this rangefinder, espicially with the ability to basically turn on or off the slope.

  • I’ve never considerd this brand as I am still using my Bushnell from the late ’90s. I have been looking for an excuse to buy a new one, and when I do, I will not count these out because they are not a Bushnell. SOunds like a quality product.

  • Nice review JB. I have the older GX-4 and really like the OLED display. Very accurate.

  • Great review JB! I’ve never really used a Range Finder as I have a GPS but if I want to switch to one this would be at the top of my list. well done!

  • Thanks for the in-depth review!

  • Nice review, it helped me with decision to get the GX-3i. Had considered Callaway LR550 and Laser Link Red Hot Rangefinder, which seem to be very good products, too. I felt the comfortable feel of the Leupold, the simplicity of it, the speed (it’s FAST), and the obvious quality of the construction was worth the price and it won me over. Have used it several times, have not regretted purchasing it for a second. It’s does exactly what it says it will, reliably, quickly. It’s an unobtrusive way to get the information you need to improve your game. I’m a mid-handicapper and have found this to help me lose about 2 strokes a round compared to when I didn’t have one. As I become more adept at using it for course management I think I’ll be better. I thought it would be a pain to use a rangefinder, it’s not. I can see about the “shakiness” factor when focusing but that’s easy to adjust to and control. It’s a no brainer to use, which leaves you time to enjoy yourself on the course. If you’re on the fence about getting a rangefinder, don’t hesitate. I recommend the GSX-3i highly. I agree with Josh’s review.

  • I’ve been using mine, GX-4i, for a few rounds now – getting the hang of it, but my course has a LOT of trees, and the pins don’t have the prisms on top. It makes finding pins VERY difficult, and usually I will shoot the front of the green, or the back if there is a bunker behind the green. Other than that, it’s pretty good.

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  • FYI, I read another review at criticalgolf and in the comments they said that they called the USGA and that the 4i is illegal to use in tournament play or for posting a handicap (even if local rules state differently). The said it is even illegal if you don’t use the smart key simply because it has that feature (another stupid call by a golf governing body). I don’t understand why it’s illegal if the smart key isn’t used. It’s not like it can be hidden with the bright yellow color. The 4i would be the perfect range finder if it was legal.

  • Here is the comment posted by critcalgolf. “USGA decisions are published on the net, though you won’t find decisions that are specific to a device. The Leupold GX-4 is a non-confirming device under Rule 14-3, even with a Local Rule in effect permitting distance-measuring devices, as the USGA has ruled the GX-4 has the ability to provide other information (slope adjusted distance), even with the Smart Key removed.”

  • And the followup when asked if that was their opinion based on the rule. “We believed it to be non-conforming based on reading the Rules, and then confirmed it is non-conforming by calling the USGA and speaking with them (908-234-2300). The USGA offers a great service fielding questions from players, answering over 15,000 Rules questions each year!”

  • Nice review mate. It definitely helped me make my mind. I will be getting GX4i. Thank you.

  • Does the GX-3i provide slope adjustments in the same way? If so,what’s the difference between the 3i and the 4i?

  • It does not Dave.

  • Has there been any changes to this ruling? Is there a difference between a GX4 and the GX4I? I travel to multiple states between sea level and 9,000′ and using an elevation feature as opposed to the incline feature is more of a benefit to me than anything else.

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