Nikon Coolshot 20 Rangefinder Review

Nikon Coolshot 20 Rangefinder

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- Lightweight and compact
- Inexpensive but high quality
- Durable


- Uses CR–2 batteries
- Defaults to 8-second continuous scan mode
- LCD display isn’t backlit

Howdy, and welcome to my review of the Nikon Coolshot 20 Rangefinder. Nikon is well known for its excellent optics, so I was anxious to find out how well the Coolshot 20 lived up to that reputation. Let’s evaluate this compact rangefinder and see how it fares.

When you unbox the Coolshot 20, you’ll find that you get the following items along with your device:

  • The Nikon Coolshot 20 Rangefinder itself
  • Carrying pouch
  • Lanyard
  • CR–2 battery
  • User’s manual

The carrying pouch is soft and offers decent protection for your device, and it can attach to your belt for easy transport. There are no zippers to fuss with, as it uses the tried and true Velcro closure system. The lanyard is basic but nice to keep your rangefinder wrapped around your wrist.

What’s the Range of This Device?

You can range objects from six to 550 yards away using the Coolshot 20, but bear in mind that the maximum distance depends on how reflective your target is. I found that the furthest I could get an accurate measurement on a buck was around 220 yards away, so keep that in the back of your mind if you’re one of those extreme hunters or shooters who want something that will get a distance further than that. Accuracy is within ±1 yard for distances less than 100 yards, or ±2 yards beyond that.

How Easy is the Coolshot 20 to Use?

This rangefinder features single-button operation, and is almost a no-brainer to use. Distance to target and battery life readings are easy to make out, but it would be nice if they were backlit for use in low lighting conditions. Changing modes is simple, and the device is just flat out a pleasure to use. The only thing I would change is the function of a single press if the Power button – the Coolshot 20 uses that to engage the device’s eight second continuous measurement mode, which isn’t usually my first choice of modes.

This particular model includes a 20mm objective lens with 6X magnification. The field of view is a bit narrow at 315 feet from 1,000 yards, but that’s still plenty wide enough for most hunters’ or golfers’ needs. Eye relief is a comfortable 16.7 inches, enough for use with or without eyeglasses, and the device even inclues a diopter adjustment.

How is the Rangefinder Powered?

Like most of its competition, the Nikon Coolshot 20 is powered by a single CR–2 lithium battery, and the box includes one to get you started. I wish rangefinders would use AA batteries instead, since those are easier to find in rural, sparsely populated areas, but the life of the power cell is long enough that it really isn’t that big of a deal, I guess. Power management within the Coolshot 20 will keep your battery going for at least a year, and they’re light enough that you can easily carry a spare with you when you go out to areas that might not have such batteries readily available.

What Features Can I Expect From the Nikon Coolshot 20 Rangefinder?

This model has two modes, the eight-second continuous measurement mode or a single-shot mode. It utilizes First Target Priority mode, to get you the distance to the closest subject in a group of objects. I found that the device functioned quickly to get measurements, more so than many of the other rangefinders I’ve used in the past.

What’s the Light Gathering Capability Like on this Accessory?

Since the lenses are multicoated, the Coolshot 20 offers pretty good light transmittance. It would be nice if they’d utilized fully multicoated optics, but it probably wouldn’t matter because of my most common complaint with rangefinders – the LCD display isn’t backlit. You’ll probably be able to see your subject in low light conditions, but the black letters and numbers of the display will be almost impossible to read. In the early morning and late evening hours, I end up using the Coolshot 20 more as a 6X monocular than anything else.

How Good Are the Optics and Focus?

Nikon’s Coolshot 20 utilizes a roof prism optical system and multicoated lenses, and it will give you a very clear, crisp image with plenty of clarity, contrast, and resolution. Its auto-focusing mechanism works quickly and reliably, locking onto your target rapidly to get you a good measurement within a few seconds.

How Durable is the Rangefinder?

Nikon has built this device to stand up to a fair bit of abuse, making it shockproof, waterproof, and fogproof. The lenses are O-ring sealed, and the optical chamber is nitrogen purged. I’ve dropped mine out of a tree stand a couple of times, without any problems. Like the old Timex slogan says, this device should take a licking and keep on ticking.

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Nikon Coolshot 20 Rangefinder Review Summary

Thanks for stopping by to read about the Nikon Coolshot 20 rangefinder. This device might be inexpensive, but it’s definitely feature-packed. Don’t let the marketing of the device towards golfers fool you, though – it’s just as good for shooters and hunters as on the links. The only real drawback is the non-illuminated LCD display.

Conclusion Rating
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Jeff Byrnes

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Hi there! I’m Jeff, an avid outdoorsman and hunter who really likes exploring new technology. I’m especially into hunting optics, which is why I’m writing these reviews! I hope you find my articles helpful in your own shooting and hunting.

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