Nikon COOLSHOT 20 & 20i GIII Laser Rangefinders Review

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The Nikon COOLSHOT 20 and 20i GIII laser rangefinders are compact, accurate, and easy to use.  The 20i model offers slope adjusted distances.  Solid construction and price points.

Introduction

As we reported in our 2024 PGA Show recap [read it HERE] we saw an absurd number of new laser rangefinder companies this year.  And clearly most were merely white labeled clones.  That’s why it was comforting to visit the Nikon booth and learn about their latest offerings, including the third generation COOLSHOT 20 and 20i.   Comforting in that you can trust that Nikon products are based on superior optics and well proven designs.

Setup & Ease of Use

The Nikon COOLSHOT 20 and 20i GIII came in nearly identical boxes, seemingly only differentiated by the names and graphics.  Reading the “Key Features” on the side of the boxes identified the key difference – slope, which the 20i has and what Nikon refers to as “ID” for Incline/Decline.  Inside each box I found the laser rangefinder, case, and a CR2 battery.

Physically, the two rangefinders are identical except for name and color.  The battery port located below the eyepiece was simple to use, and each unit was ready to go in seconds.  On the top of the rangefinder I found two well identified buttons.  A quick push of the “PWR ON” button brought up a crisp black crosshair on the internal display.  That same button is used for distance measurement, which I’ll elaborate on in the next section.  The “MODE” button switches from the default yards to meters on the COOLSHOT 20.  With the COOLSHOT 20i model, the MODE button turns slope on and off, and changing units is done by holding down that button.

Accuracy & Performance

This category is where Nikon laser rangefinders really shine, and both the COOLSHOT 20 and 20i GIII were impressive.  Let me start with the features common to both units, beginning with the weight.  These units are compact and lightweight – perfect for golfers who walk or for slipping into a pocket.  Construction feels substantial, and the crosshatch textured section made for a secure grab.  Nikon advertises the units as “rainproof” but advise you not to hold under running water in the instruction manual’s fine print.  For what it’s worth, I only read the instruction manual for research after using the units – they’re very intuitive to operate.

Distance measurement was available in two ways – individual targeting or continuous scan.  Locking into the flagstick was quick, and I liked the confirmation vibration that Nikon calls “Locked On Quake.”  Nikon also utilizes a feature called “First Target Priority” that ignores trees and carts in the background, making the flag front and center.  It actually works on trees or whatever is in front of a jumbled background, as I learned shooting distances from my patio.  Continuous scan is just like it sounds and can be engaged for up to 8 seconds.  I found the scan helpful for checking distances when a number of bunkers or a lake is in play on an angled hole.

The COOLSHOT 20i GIII adds slope adjusted distance along with the associated incline or decline graphic to the display.  All the graphics were easy to read.

I found the accuracy of both units excellent.  I compared flag distances from the COOLSHOTs with other trusted laser rangefinders, as well as a GPS device and pin sheet data, and found the consistency always within a yard or two of each other.  I tested slope adjustment against my Nikon COOLSHOT PROII STABILIZED [full review HERE] and again, values were virtually identical.  It’s worth noting that both the Nikon COOLSHOT 20 and 20i GIII feature 6x magnification and up to 800 yard range.

Value

The Nikon COOLSHOT 20 GIII retails for $200, and the 20i for $220 (consider supporting Plugged In Golf, by buying HERE).

To me, the extra $20 is worth the slope feature.  In my view, these COOLSHOTs are solid values: less expensive than any Bushnell, and comparable to other compact models with similar features.  And compared to those other compact models, the Nikon name and impressive 5 year warranty tip the scales to the COOLSHOTs.

Conclusion

For my medium glove size hands, the compact Nikon COOLSHOT 20 and 20i GIII laser rangefinders were a great fit for operation.  The compact size is also favorable when space is limited and weight is a factor.  Nothing against the base model, but I don’t see any reason a buyer at this price point shouldn’t go with the slope enabling 20i model.  And if you are wondering about the longevity of the Nikon name, try getting the 1973 Paul Simon song “Kodachrome” out of your head now (apologies).

Visit Nikon HERE

Support Plugged In Golf, Buy HERE

Matt Meeker
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4 Comments

  1. Hi Matt, no mention of the units having a built in cart magnet so assuming not available?

  2. Mitchell Peterson

    Nice write up, sounds as though Nikon is a great value for money.
    One question does either model have a magnetic to the device can be attached or the cart for easy of access for us riders??
    Thanks Mitchell

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