The Leupold GX-1 and Leupold GX-3 are two of our favorite range finders. With the Christmas buying season upon us, we thought it would be helpful to write a comparison post to help our readers pick the right model for the golfer(s) on their Christmas shopping lists, which might very well include themselves!
Unlike our previous golf range finder comparisons posts, we won’t be picking a winner or making a recommendation here. Both range finders are excellent choices and are very similar in terms of features. You seriously could not go wrong choosing either of them. The choice really comes down to personal preference, and we won’t presume to dictate that to anybody.
Similarities Between the Leupold GX-1 and Leupold GX-3
Both the GX-1 and GX-3 are compact range finders. Their dimensions vary by a only a few tenths of an inch. For all intents and purposes, they are pretty much the same size.
They also have essentially the same range. The maximum range of the Leupold GX-1 is 750 yards, while the GX-3 tops out at 800. Either one can range a target much farther away than anyone can drive a golf ball, so the 50 yard difference is meaningless.
Neither the Leupold GX-3 or GX-1 provides slope-adjusted distances. They’re both strictly line-of-sight range finders, so both are legal for tournament play.
Both sport the same 6x magnification and have the Fog Mode and Prism Lock features (see our Leupold GX-1 review for more information).
In addition, both range finders use the same CR-2 lithium battery and are weatherproof.
Differences Between the Leupold GX-1 and Leupold GX-3
The Leupold GX-3 has an internal frame made from a solid block of aluminum, while the GX-1 is made wholly of plastic (except for the optics, of course).
This makes the GX-3 more durable and much less likely to suffer serious damage if it’s dropped. It also adds a bit of extra heft. With the aluminum frame, the GX-3 is 1 ounce heavier than the GX-1.
The Leupold GX-1 uses black LCD technology for the display. Most of the time this is perfectly fine, and it’s what most range finders use. But it can occasionally be a bit hard to read, like when you’re getting the distance to the flag and there are dark-colored trees in the background. The black readout can blend into dark background objects, making it harder to distinguish the numbers for the distances. The GX-3, on the other hand, sports a red OLED display. The red numbers and symbols shown in the readout are pretty bright, and are easily distinguishable no matter what’s in the background. The yardage readout has also been moved to the bottom of the display, which further improves readability.
Another display difference is the number of available aiming reticles, or cross-hairs. The GX-1 gives you a choice of 7 different reticles. With the GX-3, Leupold narrowed down the choices to 3.
This is totally a matter of personal taste, but we think the Leupold GX-3 is a lot sexier looking than the GX-1. That’s not going to help your game any, but for those who want the coolest-looking gadget, the GX-3 fits the bill.
Not surprisingly, the GX-3, with its solid aluminum frame and OLED display (which costs more to manufacture than LCD displays) is a bit more expensive than the Leupold GX-1. If you opt for the GX-3, you can expect to pay more than you would for the GX-1.
So Which Should You Buy?
Reasons to Choose The Leupold GX-1
Probably the biggest reason to pick the GX-1 over the GX-3 is cost, since it’s roughly $100 less than the GX-3.
Reasons to Choose The Leupold GX-3
With its aluminum frame, the GX-3 is a sturdier device that will better withstand abuse than the GX-1. For those hard on their toys, that’s something to consider.
Another reason might be concern about being able to read the display against dark backgrounds. There’s definitely no problems reading the display with the red readout of the GX-3.
You Can’t Go Wrong Either Way
The Leupold GX-1 and GX-3 are very similar range finders. They’re pretty much the same in the accuracy and easy-of-use departments. We think both devices are excellent choices, and if getting accurate distances to the pin and hazards are what you need to take strokes off your game, either will do the job.
You’ll have to decide for yourself which one is right for you.