OVERALL RATING: 93. GRADE: A. The Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition is the newest member of the “#1 Rangefinder in Golf” family. While it is the largest and heaviest device tested, and intended for use with two hands, its 7x magnification and large field of view make it a breeze to aim at individual targets or rapidly scan across multiple objects. The device quickly picks up flagstick distances at most approach distances, and has the ability to pick up yardages beyond the other laser rangefinders we tested. The actual and slope-adjusted distances are clearly displayed, and while the slope-adjusted distance is only available in PinSeeker mode, it is still a useful (and addictive) feature. Alas, the Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition is not USGA-compliant.
The Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition is an exceptionally well-made product with the best viewing of all devices, and despite its price tag, this device tops our ratings of laser rangefinders that provide slope-adjusted distances.
- 7X magnification is the highest available among devices we tested
- Best device at locking on to targets at long distances
- Big and heavy
- Premium price point
Editor’s note: Consumers looking for a device they can use in tournaments or in rounds that are posted for USGA handicap purposes may want to consider the Bushnell 1600 Tournament Edition, which does not include slope-adjusted distances. We did not have the opportunity to test the Bushnell 1600 Tournament Edition, although its operation and performance should be identical to the 1600 Slope Edition, with the obvious exception of slope-adjusted distances.
EASE OF USE
Our reviewers liked the look and feel of the horizontally-oriented Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition in the hands. What they didn’t like was the carry pouch (which weighs a whopping 7.2 ounces). Shaped like a fanny pack, with straps that wrap it around the circumference of a golf bag, the carry pouch seems like overkill. A simple clip to attach the device to a bag or cart would have been sufficient and more flexible to use.
The information displayed by the Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition is exceptionally clear and easy to read. The 7x magnification is tied for the highest among all rangefinders tested, and makes it easy to find targets even over 300 yards. The optics are bright and clear under all conditions. Bushnell displays the distance, mode, yards/meters, slope angle and slope-adjusted distance in the lower portion of the viewfinder below the aiming circle. This makes the information easy to read against the contrasting light colored background of the green, fairway or rough. Since the distance display is positioned where the user is already looking, the user’s eyes don’t need to dart back and forth between the aiming circle and some other portion of the viewfinder. While there is no option to change the style of the aiming circle, our reviewers liked the circle and found it easy to target the flagstick or other objects.
The adjustable eyepiece (+/- 2 diopter) of the Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition enables the user to adjust the focus of the LCD display much more smoothly than in the other devices we tested. It also is the only golf laser rangefinder that has a twist-up eyepiece, which is designed to exclude extraneous light while targeting objects. For those without glasses, it is best used in the fully “up” position, and for those with glasses, the eyepiece should be left down to be able to see a full field of view. It’s a great option to have, and another example of why we liked this device so much.
There are only two buttons, which keeps the device about as easy to use as possible. The power/laser button, located on the top of the Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition, is used to turn the device on/off, as well as to fire the laser to acquire distances. The mode button, on the front left side of the device, allows the user to change between yards and meters (if the button is held for several seconds), or cycle between different modes (if the button is pressed quickly).
The Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition uses a single 9-volt battery. Bushnell recommends replacing the battery at least once every 12 months.
For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of laser rangefinder ease of use.
The Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition features three modes: automatic scan, PinSeeker only, and PinSeeker with slope and compensated distance information. The mode selection button cycles the user from automatic scan mode, then to PinSeeker with Slope mode, then to PinSeeker only mode. When powered off, the device will retain the previously selected mode.
Automatic Scan Mode
Automatic scan mode allows the user to pan across the course and receive updated distances to different targets so long as the user keeps the power/laser button depressed. While obtaining readings to targets with other objects close behind (such as a flagstick with trees behind it) is easier with “PinSeeker” mode, experienced users kept the 1600 Slope Edition in automatic scan mode virtually the entire time during play because of the ability to quickly generate multiple readings. With some practice, users were able to generate accurate readings in automatic scan mode by aiming at either the flag or the base of the flagstick (it is easier, not surprisingly, to pick out a flag that is extended in the breeze than the flagstick itself).
Reviewers liked the automatic scan ability as well as the smooth updating of the distance displayed on the LCD during scanning (on many competitive devices, such as the Leupold devices, the distance “blinks” as it is updated). The 7x magnification and large field of view (we can’t mention these enough) really set the Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition apart from other devices in ease of use and targeting.
PinSeeker mode is meant to make life easy for the user in those situations where the target has other objects close behind it, like a flagstick with trees behind it (note that despite its name, PinSeeker mode can actually be used to determine distances to targets other than a flagstick). PinSeeker mode is designed to identify when there are multiple objects being picked up within the crosshairs and to ignore the background targets even though they may be larger and have stronger signal strength. The 1600 Slope Edition displays a small icon of a flagstick in the lower left of the display when the user engages PinSeeker mode. Once the device has located the closest of the targets in the area of the aiming circle, it will display a circle around the flagstick icon and show the distance to the closest object. In most cases, this means that the 1600 Slope Edition has properly “locked on” to the pin and is properly ignoring the trees behind it.
While it sounds like the perfect solution to targeting flagsticks, PinSeeker mode isn’t flawless. It is possible for the 1600 Slope Edition to “miss” the desired target and lock on to an object in the background while still displaying a circle surrounding the flagstick icon, particularly at long distances. Likewise, it may display the correct yardage while not displaying the circle. If there is any doubt on the distance, users will likely want to fire the laser multiple times.
Whether it was the increased magnification and horizontal form factor (which promotes using two hands to steady the device) or the optics and software running the device, the 1600 Slope Edition was noticeably more reliable than the Tour V2 in PinSeeker mode, particularly at distances in excess of 200 yards.
PinSeeker With Slope Mode
PinSeeker with Slope mode adds slope-adjusted distances to the PinSeeker mode described above. Not only will the Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition show the standard line of sight distance, but the device will also show the average slope angle from the user to target (in degrees) and an adjusted distance that compensates for the slope between the user and the target – longer for uphill shots, shorter for downhill shots. The slope angle and compensated distance are displayed when the power/laser button is released, or if the power/laser button is held for approximately five to seven seconds. Slope information is only available in PinSeeker mode, and not in automatic scan mode, so it is not possible to scan multiple targets and receive constantly updated slope and compensated distance readings as it is with the Leupold GX-II.
The maximum amount of time the laser can be fired is 30 seconds in automatic scan mode, and 10 seconds in PinSeeker mode (if a target is acquired, the laser may automatically stop firing in PinSeeker mode after only a few seconds). To conserve batteries, the LCD will only display the last distance measurement for 30 seconds after the laser is done firing.
Note that putting the Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition into PinSeeker only mode does not make it USGA-compliant (any device with the capability is by definition non-compliant, whether the player uses the functionality or not). Users likely would select this mode only if they didn’t want to be distracted by the additional information provided in Slope mode, or to simply put themselves on a level playing field with their playing partners.
For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of laser rangefinder features.
OBTAINING DISTANCE READINGS
Bushnell claims that under optimal conditions, the 1600 Slope Edition is accurate at up to 400/1,000/1,600 yards for flagsticks, trees and reflective objects, respectively. While we find these numbers to be more marketing and less real-world numbers, the Bushnell was the best overall device in picking out flagsticks and other targets at a distance.
Ease of Locking on a Target:
- At 150 yards, the 1600 Slope Edition was quick to lock on to the flag, as were all of its competitors
- From 200 to 300 yards, the 1600 Slope Edition was the standout in acquiring the pin among devices tested
- Beyond 300 yards it began to be more difficult to obtain flagstick readings, though the Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition was still at the top of the heap across different testing conditions. As mentioned above, at these longer distances the device may indicate that it has “locked on” to a target in PinSeeker mode even when it has picked up the wrong target. Users trying to pick up flagstick distances at these yardages would be well-served to fire the Bushnell 1600 multiple times until they are comfortable with the reading.
The Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition was one of the fastest devices in our speed test for obtaining distance readings.
- Panning Mode: When we tested utilizing only a “panning” mode, the 1600 Slope Edition (with its Automatic Scan Mode) was the second fastest device.
- Pin-locating Mode: When tested against other devices with “pin-locating” mode, the 1600 Slope Edition was the fastest device, and second fastest when tested across all devices.
- Using Both Modes: When we tested utilizing both modes together (which included pushing the buttons to cycle between modes) against devices that have more than one mode, the 1600 Slope Edition finished at the head of the class. When tested against devices with only one mode, the 1600 Slope Edition finished in the middle of the pack.
PinSeeker with Slope
Our reviewers tested PinSeeker with Slope on courses that generally ranged up to +/- 4 degrees, and the adjustment for this slope accurately helped reviewers judge the compensated distance to play. While not USGA-compliant, it’s a useful tool to learn how to properly adjust for uphill or downhill approach shots.
In our Critical Golf laser rangefinder speed test we have included a comparison to the prior-generation Bushnell 1500 Tournament Edition as a reference, which has the same modes as the Bushnell 1600 Tournament Edition (not tested).
The Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition tips the scales at $499.99, which makes it one of the higher priced laser rangefinders tested. It doesn’t have all the functions found on some rangefinders (such as the Leupold GX-II), but even at this price, its 7x magnification, ability to find flagsticks, large field of view, and crisp clear display make the Bushnell 1600 Slope Edition a reasonable value.