Best Radar Guns

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

7 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
104 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Shopping guide for best radar guns

If the first thing you think about when you hear the term “radar gun” is speeding tickets, think again. Police certainly use them regularly for traffic control and monitoring, but radar guns also have uses in areas that are a bit more fun.

Radar guns have the ability to measure the speed of various objects, not just cars. Athletes and coaches use radar guns to measure the speed of a thrown ball, a struck ball, a racket, or a club head. Measuring these speeds can help athletes figure out if they’re using proper technique. A loss in speed of a ball or club can provide an early indication of injury, too.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a radar gun, continue reading to learn more about these tools and how you can use one. We’ve included some of our favorite radar guns, too, if you’re ready to buy.

The official record for the speed of a Major League Baseball pitch belongs to Aroldis Chapman. In 2010, he threw a 105.1 mph pitch.

Key considerations

Technology

Radar guns are frequently used by police to measure vehicle speeds for traffic enforcement. Radar guns are also used in sports. There are two technologies used to measure speed: the Doppler effect and laser.

  • Doppler effect: A radar gun that relies on the Doppler effect sends radio waves toward the target. The radio waves strike the target and bounce back to the radar gun, which measures the change in frequency of the sent and received waves. That change is the Doppler effect. The frequency change enables the radar gun’s software to determine the speed at which the target is traveling compared to the radar gun. All of this happens within a fraction of a second, making it appear instantaneous.

  • Laser: Instead of radio waves, some radar guns use a laser light to measure speed. This type measures the time it takes for the light to reflect off the target and return to the radar gun. The police use laser radar guns to track traffic speeds. You won’t see these radar guns in use at baseball stadiums.
     

Uses

While using radar guns to measure vehicle speeds is common, you’ll also find these tools used in sports. Radar guns are regularly used to measure the speed of pitches during a baseball or softball game. Statisticians measure the speed of the ball off the bat (exit speed velocity). Radar guns are also used to measure the speed of the puck in ice hockey or serves in tennis. Golfers use radar guns to measure ball speed or the speed of the swing of the club.

DID YOU KNOW?

Radar guns used to measure traffic speed may work over a distance as short as 100 yards or as long as a mile.

DID YOU KNOW?

Police radar guns must undergo regular calibration testing to ensure accuracy. This testing usually occurs a couple times a year, but each jurisdiction and radar gun model has its own guidelines.

Radar gun features

Radar guns made for home use have some interesting designs and feature sets.

Design

A common radar gun design is a shape that resembles a handheld drill, with the trigger on the handle. The front of the radar gun has the radar mechanism, while the back has the display screen and control buttons.

Some newer radar guns look more like smartphones in shape and size. You hold this style of radar gun with the screen facing toward you and press a button to activate the radar. You can also attach this type of radar gun to a tripod to make it easier to use.

Controls

You activate a radar gun with a button or trigger. Many also provide a continuous mode in which the radar gun can be set up to work hands-free and automatically measure speed.

Some units offer a mode that displays only the maximum speed of the target during the testing period. Others store a range of speeds during the time of the test.

Radar gun prices

Radar guns are not cheap. While it might seem like fun to grab a radar gun to find out how fast your eight-year-old can throw a baseball, it’s going to cost you.

Basic

Even basic radar guns cost $100 to $200. They provide a reasonable level of accuracy to within a couple of miles per hour. These radar guns are easy to use, but they usually don’t offer much in the way of advanced features, such as memory to store readings.

Advanced

Advanced radar guns cost $200 to $500, but you can find some units that cost $1,000 to $2,000 or more. These expensive radar guns are very accurate to within one mile per hour, and usually less. They consist of high-quality, durable materials and can be used in any weather. These models may also fit on a tripod.

EXPERT TIP

When measuring the speed of a baseball or softball pitch, the location of the measurement affects the reading. A ball is moving more slowly when it crosses home plate than when it leaves the pitcher’s hand.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Use a radar gun for baseball or softball. Pitchers want a measurement of the maximum speed of a pitched ball. Many radar guns made specifically for baseball and softball automatically display the top speed, and some units can measure both the speed of the ball at the point of release and the speed as it crosses the plate. Additionally, most baseball and softball radar guns can measure the throwing speed of fielders and the exit velocity of the ball off the bat.

  • Use a radar gun for tennis. You can use a radar gun to measure the speed of a served ball, which is similar to measuring the speed of the ball out of a pitcher’s hand in baseball or softball. You can often use the same type of radar gun for both sports.

  • Use a radar gun for golf or hockey. Measuring the speed of a golf club head or a hockey stick gives coaches data about the efficiency of a shot. Some of these radar guns sit on the ground, aimed at the point of impact. Having a radar gun that can store 25 to 50 readings is especially nice in this case because you don’t have to stop a practice session to write down each reading.

  • Use a radar gun with motor sports. Look for a radar gun that continuously measures speed, which will tell you when the vehicle slows down unexpectedly. Or you might want a radar gun that only displays the top speed, such as for a straightaway or for drag racing. The gun must have a speed measurement range that can match your vehicle. Some radar guns top out at 150 miles per hour, while others measure up to 200 or 250 miles per hour.

Other products we considered

Multiple types of radar gun are available for purchase and home use. Beyond the choices in our matrix, we’ve found a few other radar guns that provide some specific features. When you want to combine video with speed measurements, the Pocket Radar Smart Coach works nicely. It pairs a radar gun with a smartphone app to mesh speed data with video recording, a perfect option for practice sessions. For measuring golf club speed, the Sports Sensors Swing Speed Radar is a reasonably priced choice. It yields immediate feedback on swing speed with a continuous measurement mode. For professional results in measuring ball speed, it’s impossible to beat The Jugs Gun. This brand has been the primary radar speed gun for professional baseball for several years. It measures speed to within a fraction of one mile per hour, but that accuracy comes at a very steep price.

Some radar guns have enough memory to store a series of readings. This works nicely if you don’t have paper and pen handy.

FAQ

Q. Are police radar guns really all that accurate?

A. They are extremely accurate, usually to within one mile per hour (and often significantly better). However, to maintain that accuracy, they must be calibrated and tested on a regular basis. If you’re questioning the accuracy of a particular radar gun, verify that it has been calibrated recently. The calibration needs to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Q. I notice baseball radar guns sometimes list the pitch speed to tenths of a mile per hour. Can they actually be that accurate?

A. The answer is yes, but it depends on the model. Most models you buy for use at home are only accurate to within one to three miles per hour. More expensive professional radar guns, such as those used by Major League Baseball teams, are accurate to 0.1 mile per hour.

Q. Where should I place the radar gun to measure speed?

A. For a radar gun using the Doppler effect, the gun must be pointed in the same direction the object is moving. This style of radar gun only measures the speed of an object moving toward the gun or away from it. Place the radar gun in front of or behind the object being measured.

Q. Does precipitation affect a radar gun’s performance?

A. No. Radar guns continue to work accurately even in rain or snow. However, you will want to be sure the radar gun is weatherproof and waterproof before you use it in poor weather.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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