(Written By GolfSpy Matt) Seasoned MGS readers may remember that I reviewed Leupold’s GX-3 Rangefinder last year, and that it was so impressive it knocked my old Bushnell right out of the bag. This year Leupold has introduced the successor to the GX-3, the GX-3i. What’s new for 2012? Read on and find out, spies…
Ease of Use/Set Up
Just as with its predecessor, the Leupold GX-3i is incredibly easy to use: put the battery in and go. The GX-3i has the same basic options as the GX-3: displaying distance in yards or meters and the ability to change aiming reticules. It also retains Fog Mode for those misty morning rounds. All of these options are accessed through a simple two button layout that is very intuitive to navigate.
Having used the Leupold GX-3 all of last season, I had a pretty good idea what I should expect from the GX-3i: great optics, accuracy, and speed. On all counts, I got exactly what I expected.
In terms of accuracy, Leupold has upped the ante: it is accurate to within six inches and distances are displayed to the tenth of a yard. You might be reading this and thinking, “But, Matt, I’m not accurate to ten yards, let alone a tenth of a yard!” While that may be true (and I’m in the same boat some days), why would you ever turn down improved performance at the same price?
For the GX-3i, Leupold has kept the easy-to-read red display that set the GX-3 and GX-4 apart. As was true with the GX-3, the GX-3i’s display is extremely easy to see in all but the brightest environments.
In my opinion, the biggest area of improvement from the GX-3 to the GX-3i is speed. As I said in my last review, I never thought my Bushnell was slow until I got the GX-3. Well, I’ve had the same experience all over again: I never thought my GX-3 was slow until I got the GX-3i. You might be asking, “How much faster can it be?” My answer, “A lot.” The GX-3 is fast, but the GX-3i is Usain Bolt fast. Your next question might be, “Why does it need to be faster?” There’s actually a really good reason: one of the biggest complaints I hear about laser rangefinders is that they don’t work for people with shaky hands. With the speed of the GX-3i, you can shake it like a Polaroid picture and still get accurate readings.
Overall, Leupold took a great laser rangefinder and made it even better with the Leupold GX-3i. The only problem is that I’m not sure how they can make the next version better than this.
Last year, I broke down the prices of lasers and discussed why I thought that a quality rangefinder was a good investment for the serious golfer. In the interest of brevity, I’m not going to repeat that whole thing, but if you missed it, you can check it out here.
When I rated the GX-3 for value, I scored it a 23/25. The Leupold GX-3i gives you a faster, more accurate laser for the same price, $379. A better product for the same price? That seems to me to be the very definition of a better value.
The Peanut Gallery
As you might expect, the Leupold GX-3i was as well-received by The Peanut Gallery as the GX-3 was. People still love the compact size and the sturdy, milled aluminum construction. The red display is also still a crowd favorite.
I brought my GX-3 along for speed comparison, and everyone agreed that the speed is a major upgrade. As I suspected, there was a good bit of eyebrow-raising over the necessity of distances being displayed to the tenth of a yard, but the eyebrows went back down when I told them the price had not increased.
The lone complaint was a carryover from the GX-3: for those of us with gorilla hands, the GX-3 can feel a bit small. While overall, the compact size and light weight are a plus, especially for walkers, some people would like it to be a bit bigger.
Quick recap: the GX-3 was an awesome rangefinder, and the Leupold GX-3i is more accurate and faster while retaining the same great optics, compact size, and solid construction. If you’re looking to add a rangefinder to your bag, or planning an upgrade, the Leupold GX-3i needs to be at the very top of your shopping list.