Affordable Laser Rangefinder: Nikon COOLSHOT 20
The little laser rangefinder Nikon COOLSHOT 20 made a good impression on me. It’s smaller and lighter than many other rangefinders on the market, but it doesn’t lack accuracy or speed. The compact size makes it comfortable for smaller hands, and it fits perfectly in a pocket.
The optics are very good for such an affordable device. But it’s manufactured by Nikon, so I wouldn’t expect anything less. I tested it during a round of golf on a windy day and was surprised by the results. Right after this quick summary of its highlights, I’ll tell you what I found.
Big value in the little Nikon COOLSHOT 20
Here are the highlight features of the COOLSHOT 20:
- Simple to use with one hand – one button powers it on and also fires the laser
- “First Priority Technology” displays the distance to the closest target out of a group of overlapping objects
- 6x magnification and clear optics make it easy to locate a target even hundreds of yards downrange
- Ranges out to 550 yards, and is accurate down to +/-1 yard under 100 yards, or +/-2 yards beyond 100 yards
- 8-second continuous scanning of multiple targets
Now let’s look at how the COOLSHOT 20 performed on the course.
Nikon COOLSHOT 20 Golf Laser Rangefinder Review
The Nikon COOLSHOT 20 first look
Here’s what I noticed when I took the COOLSHOT 20 out for a test run. This little rangefinder is smaller and lighter than my Bushnell Tour X. It has a bright white housing that’s easy to spot if I forget to grab it from the cart. I like the location of the focus dial below the eyepiece. For me, this was easier to adjust than playing with an eyepiece while looking through the viewfinder. The eyepiece itself was long enough that it allowed me to play without removing my sunglasses.
The power button on top is also the button that fires the laser. The display is very simple with aiming crosshairs in the middle, battery status indicator on the bottom, and yardage that appears at the top. Press the button to range, and an “X” briefly appears over the crosshairs. The yardage to the target quickly appears on-screen.
The COOLSHOT 20 rangefinder in action
After I got the feel for how it works, I took it out to the first hole to tee off. I was concerned that testing under windy conditions wouldn’t be fair. It turns out that it didn’t matter at all. The little white rangefinder wasn’t hard to aim and still returned accurate readings.
On paper, I had read that the COOLSHOT 20’s precision over 100 yards left a little to be desired, but the predicted yard or two difference in readings wasn’t worrying me much. The wind was a bigger challenge to my playing.
Easy target acquisition
Nikon built in a compensation for shakiness, which came in handy that day. The COOLSHOT 20 automatically returns the distance for the closest target in a group even if you don’t catch it perfectly in the crosshairs. This means if the flag is in front of a group of trees, the rangefinder gives the distance to the flag first. This was a big help.
But there is no target lock acknowledgment like the vibrating JOLT feature on some Bushnell rangefinders. There isn’t a flag icon in a circle to confirm that you locked onto the pin. The COOLSHOT returns the distance to the object you targeted, and that’s all.
The COOLSHOT 20 continued to pick out the flag (or other targets, like a sand bunker) successfully on each hole until I started doing long-range tests. It became hard to hit anything specific over 240 yards away if it was in a group of multiple objects. I had to try two or three times to make sure I had the correct distance and not the yardage to something behind it. Although the rangefinder specifications say the COOLSHOT 20 ranges out to 550 yards, I believe that’s really only under perfect conditions and with a reflective target.
When Nikon says that this rangefinder is accurate down to plus or minus 2 yards when the distance to the object is over 100 yards, they were honest. I saw that when I compared readings from the COOLSHOT 20 to known distances on the course. It’s a little disappointing to me. Some of the other affordable rangefinders like TecTecTec’s VPRO500 are able to maintain a +/-1yard precision beyond 100 yards.
One another feature that I missed having on this rangefinder is a slope reading function. Of course, without Slope, the COOLSHOT 20 is automatically tournament-legal under USGA rules.
In closure, I had also tested how the COOLSHOT 20 acquires multiple targets during its 8-second scan. I was able to quickly see the yardages to various features near each hole as I moved the rangefinder to focus on them. The view on the display was clear and bright, the details nice and sharp.
I found myself liking this rangefinder even I spend a lot of time with higher-power laser rangefinders. The Nikon COOLSHOT 20 proved its value under adverse conditions. Let’s look at a summary of its pros and cons.
Now that we’ve gone over how it performs, let’s see who will get the best deal out of this laser rangefinder.
The Nikon COOLSHOT 20 golf rangefinder is a good investment for golfers who want to try a laser rangefinder without committing to a big price tag. It’s bound to help new golfers get a better feel for their own abilities and how to play a shot well. Golfers with smaller hands will find it delightful to use.
In summary, although the cons of the COOLSHOT 20 would cause hesitation on the part of pro golfers who demand precision, it’s a respectable entry-level rangefinder. I especially liked the clarity of details even hundreds of yards away.
I hope you got the information you needed from this review of the Nikon COOLSHOT 2. My goal is always to help you find the best rangefinder to lower your handicap and up your game.