- Don’t Break Your Budget: Break 80 Instead with the Breaking 80 Golf Rangefinder IS500
- Breaking 80 Rangefinder Review
Don’t Break Your Budget: Break 80 Instead with the Breaking 80 Golf Rangefinder IS500
If you’re looking for an inexpensive laser rangefinder with 6x magnification and the ability to lock onto the pin, the Breaking 80 IS500 might be what you seek. In a market full of expensive rangefinders, Breaking 80 manages to keep its price down and still offer a lot of value for the money. You can also rest easy because Breaking 80 offers a money-back guarantee, a 1-year warranty, and a low-cost replacement policy for products more than a year old.
On paper, the Breaking 80 IS500 has better specifications than I’d expect for a budget-priced rangefinder. Here are the features that the IS500 offers.
Top features of the Breaking 80 IS500 Rangefinder
- Accurate down to +/-1 yard
- Ranges out to a maximum of 550 yards
- 6x magnification makes it easy to aim for the flag
- 8-second Intelliscan (IS) obtains yardages to multiple targets like hazards
- First priority mode shows distance to closest object while ignoring the background
- 3rd generation Pin Sensor locks onto the flag and acknowledges it on display
- Legal to use in tournaments under USGA rule 14-3 because it doesn’t measure slope
- Water-resistant for playing in wet weather
Now I’ll fill you in on what I noticed when I took it out for a test round to see how it performed.
Breaking 80 Rangefinder Review
Breaking 80 IS500 first look
The weather was as close to perfect as possible when I stepped out onto the course. If the Breaking 80 failed, it would only have itself to blame. I admit I was a little skeptical that a rangefinder in this price range could perform as well as people were saying.
I had the black IS500, but Breaking 80 offers a couple of other colors, including camouflage. The size was about the same as Bushnell’s V2, so it fit well enough in my hand. The housing is plastic. Like many golf rangefinders, the top and bottom edges have a grippy texture. To be honest, the IS500 looks and feels a little cheap, but what matters more are the parts on the inside.
The Breaking 80 IS500 in action
I adjusted the focus using the eyepiece and played with the options while I waited to tee off. Holding the MODE button for a couple of seconds toggled between yards and meters. There were no options to change the brightness or color of the display like I can on my Bushnell Tour X. There is no slope mode either. The MODE button is needed to change between Flag and Scan Modes.
The clarity of the optics isn’t quite as crisp as the Nikon COOLSHOT 20, another budget-priced rangefinder I recently reviewed. The 6x magnification requires that the IS500 be held with a steady hand. This is pretty common among rangefinders, so I already had practice bracing my arm against my chest to cut down on shakiness.
One other detail I noticed was the automatic shutdown. It took about 30 seconds to power off by itself. But it wasn’t going to get much rest for the next 18 holes.
Flag Mode is speedy and accurate
The first few measurements I took in Flag Mode seemed spot-on to the distances I’d established with other rangefinders in the past. The yardage appeared on-screen right away, and it was always the distance to the closest object.
Breaking 80 said that anything out to 250 yards doesn’t need to be reflective to read accurately, and they were right. Although the IS500 ranges out to 550 yards, in Flag Mode it doesn’t always get a secure lock onto a non-reflective target above 240 to 260 yards.
When the Breaking 80 did lock onto the flag, it indicated it with a flag icon on the display. I liked this better than the COOLSHOT 20 which gave no indication at all that it detected the pin.
One detail that Breaking 80 doesn’t reveal directly is that the IS500 must be at least 10 yards from a target in order to range it. The majority of other rangefinders only require a 5-yard minimum distance.
Scan Mode for front and back yardages
On the fifth hole, I wanted to range a variety of obstacles like sand traps and trees, so I used the IntelliScan feature. This requires a switch from Flag Mode to Scan Mode with the Mode button, then the use of the power button. Holding down the power button for 8 seconds allowed me to get the front and back yardages. Everything looked accurate, or within a yard or two of the measurements I already knew.
I finished out the rest of the round with the IS500 and had no issues with its performance. As long as I held it steady and didn’t try to hit the flag from more than about 250 yards, it behaved just as promised.
There is a newer version of Breaking 80 is SS500 model with slope reading. I was not able to test Breaking 80’s slope-reading model that day. The SS500 ranges out to 550 yards and measures elevation. It doesn’t provide the user with the “play-as” distance already calculated. Instead, it shows the line of sight distance, degree of slope, and vertical height. It’s up to the user to do the math.
Speaking of the math, it’s time to sum up the pros and cons of this laser rangefinder.
Things We Liked
- Fast ranging out to a maximum of 550 yards
- Accurate down to +/-1yd under 250 yards
- IntelliScan shows distances to multiple targets
- 6x magnification makes it easy to aim for the flag
- Pin Sensor acknowledges when it locks onto the flag
- Measures in either yards or meters
- Rain-resistant so you can play in wet weather
Things We Didn't Like
- Have to use MODE button to switch between Flag and Scan Modes, not one-button operation
- Minimum ranging distance is 10 yards, not 5 like many other rangefinders
- No slope reading function on IS500, only on SS500
- No way to adjust the display for brightness or color
- Looks and feels a little cheap
Now that you’ve seen how the IS500 performs, let’s see who will get the best value from this laser rangefinder.
If you’ve never owned a laser rangefinder, and cost is a constraint, the Breaking 80 IS500 rangefinder is a reasonably-priced entry-level product. Beginning golfers can always benefit from having a rangefinder to get a feel for their abilities, so the Breaking 80 IS500 would be a good starter rangefinder.
Experienced golfers who have used a rangefinder before may find that the Breaking 80 doesn’t offer enough power and precision.
In summary, for the price, the Breaking 80 IS500 is a respectable entry-level rangefinder. It was speedy and accurate up to the limit of its abilities, and the optics are reasonably good.
I hope you got the information you needed from this review. My goal is always to help you find the best rangefinder to lower your handicap and up your game.
If you’re not sure that the Breaking 80 IS500 is right for you, check back for the top 5 best golf rangefinders on our website, there are some other awesome options for you there.