Nikon Coolshot 80 VR and Nikon Coolshot 80i VR Golf Rangefinders Review

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Nikon has always been a pioneer in imaging technology, not only in the field of photography but also in sports. This certainly rings true after the brand’s entry in the world of golf with their own rangefinders. And recently, Nikon released its new Coolshot rangefinder lineup, which includes the Nikon Coolshot 80 VR and Coolshot 80i VR.

These latest iterations of the previous Coolshot 40 series come with new and exciting features, one notable example of which is the vibration reduction technology. Furthermore, both the Nikon Coolshot 80 VR and Nikon Coolshot 80i VR are relatively the same in build and standard functions. But, the two also have differences.

Nikon Coolshot 80 VR
Nikon Coolshot 80 VR golf rangerfinder

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Nikon Coolshot 80i VR
Nikon Coolshot 80i VR golf rangefinder

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Like mentioned above, in terms of standard build and utility, these two new Coolshot golf rangefinders of Nikon are quite similar. Both have the same 6x magnification power, as well as identical dimensions and weight. Each model can be powered by a CR2 lithium battery, and feature an auto-power off function.

Measurement range are the same for both units, at 8-1,000 yd. The biggest difference between the Nikon Coolshot 80 VR and 80i VR is in their distance displays. As stated by Nikon, the former is specifically made for actual distance measuring, whereas the latter is adjusted for slope calculation.

Nikon Coolshot 80 VR and Coolshot 80i VR golf rangefinders - specifications

The COOLSHOT 80 VR is designed exclusively for measuring actual distance while the COOLSHOT 80i VR incorporates ID Technology which displays the slope adjusted distance (Horizontal distance ± height), making it ideal for use on golf courses with uphill and downhill slopes.

Nikon Coolshot 80i VR golf rangefinder - ID technology - slope adjusted distance
Nikon Coolshot 80i VR golf rangefinder - compact and easy to use


Build-wise, both the Nikon Coolshot 80 VR and Coolshot 80i VR have the same ergonomic design, for an easy hold, even with just one hand. Button and lens placements are also the same for these two models. The only obvious distinctions that separates the two units apart are their colors and labels.

The standard Coolshot 80 VR comes with a white body and a black and blue accents. The 80i VR on the other hand sports an all-black look and a blue accent. Both models also have their respective names and the Nikon logo shown on the left hand side. Apart from these, the other differentiations of the two devices mainly comes from their inner workings and functions.

Before we dig deeper into the two model’s dissimilarities, it would be best if you get familiar with their parallel standard features first. This will give you a better perspective on the two item’s intended use.

Nikon Coolshot 80 VR golf ranger finderFirstly, these two laser rangefinders feature Nikon’s latest innovation in the field of golf, which is vibration reduction, hence the VR in their names. Just as its name suggests, this revolutionary feature aims to reduce the vibrational input on the device. This will be most useful if your hands are not that steady, or if your target is quite small and hard to aim at.

If you’ve ever tried using a camera with image stabilization, which is also present in Nikon’s camera lineup, then you already have some grasp on how this new vibration reduction feature works. Moreover, this VR function is not only efficient at keeping your aim steady, but it also helps align the irradiated laser directly on the object that’s at the center of the viewfinder’s crosshair.

There are two main benefits that you can get from this VR feature. One, you can aim faster and acquire targets more easily. And second, miscalculations are prevented, which is usually caused by accidentally capturing the background distance instead of the target (i.e. flag), or misalignment of the laser.

Another feature that can be found on both these new Nikon Coolshot rangefinders is the Lock On technology. This tech works remarkably well with VR. It ensures that the measurement you see on the display is that of your intended target.

If you have some experience with other golf rangefinders, particularly older models, you might have encountered getting the wrong yardage of the flagstick. This is because you had no means of confirmation whatsoever that what you locked on is really the flag, and not the background. But with the Lock On feature, you now have that form of validation.

The way the Lock On technology works in the two new Nikon Coolshot 80 VR and Nikon Coolshot 80i VR laser rangefinders is quite simple. Generally, when you look through the viewfinder of either the two models, what you’ll initially see is just the crosshair icon, which indicates the center. But, when you aim at the flag and fire the laser, a new circular icon (Lock On) within the crosshair will be displayed, ensuring that you’ve acquired the right target distance. If there’s no Lock On sign, it means you’ve measured the background.

Nikon Coolshot 80 VR golf rangefinder - locked on technology

Apart from the abovementioned VR and Lock On technologies, Nikon also uses its own First Target Priority algorithm in these two gadgets, to also help with accurate aiming. This technology guarantees that if you’re aiming at a target with an overlapping background, the subject that is closest is prioritized. A great use for this is getting distance of a flag on a green, while tall trees makes up majority of the back drop.

In terms of magnification, both Coolshot 80 VR and Coolshot 80i VR by Nikon provides a high-quality multi-coated monocular finder that is capable of 6x magnification power. This will not only give you a view that is 6 times closer, but it will also show the images with optimal brightness and clarity, giving you a perfect picture of the course ahead.

The highest distance that you can measure with these two devices is at 1,000 yards, which is high enough as far as premium rangefinders goes. Even though there are other brands that can reach as far as 1,300 yards, going for the extra 300 means you’ll be sacrificing the remarkable precision that the Lock On and VR technologies can bring to your game. What’s the use of distance when the measurement you’re given isn’t that accurate, right?

Nikon Coolshot 80i VR golf laser rangefinderThese two golf rangefinders also incorporates Nikon’s own HYPER READ algorithm, which processes distance data at incredible speed. How fast, you ask? Well, according to Nikon’s own standard testing, as well as legitimate confirmation from first-hand users, both the 80 VR and 80i VR Coolshot models are capable of reading and displaying distances in just around 0.5 seconds.

If you’re playing for fun and are not bothered by any time limits, this 0.5-second reading might not appeal to you significantly. However, if you want to get back into the game as soon as possible and have more time for planning your shot approach, then every millisecond you save from measuring distance to a target becomes critical.

The Nikon Coolshot 80 VR and Nikon Coolshot 80i VR golf laser rangefinders are also capable of either single or continuous measurement, similar to previous Coolshot iterations. But this time, both measurement modes are further improved thanks to the new Lock On and VR technologies.

The former mode provides quick target distances in just a button’s push, while the latter gives you more leeway (approximately 8 seconds) as you hold the fire button and measure towards the closest subject. Nevertheless, both modes will give you accurate readings, so it all boils down to your personal preference. Or, you can just do both if you have the time.

When it comes to ease of use, these two golf rangefinders from Nikon are relatively straightforward, despite how sophisticated their inner workings may be. They are also quite comforting to the eyes, thanks to the large ocular lens (18mm). Furthermore, if you happen to wear glasses, the long eye relief design of these two models won’t strain your eyes as much.

When you first set your eyes on the viewfinder, there’s a chance you might find the picture blurry. But, this is an expected scenario that can happen in almost every similar device upon initial use. You can easily correct this via the diopter adjustment dial.

Nikon Coolshot 80i VR golf rangefinderAs for the power source, both items can be fitted with a CR2 lithium battery (DC 3V). Battery life also depends on the brand, and whether it’s single use or rechargeable. However, the Nikon 80 VR and 80i VR do use an auto shut off feature after 8 seconds of being idle, to save energy. Both unit’s battery compartments are also rainproof.

Speaking of rainproof, these two rangefinders are also rated waterproof and fogproof. But, keep in mind that they are not submersible.

Finally, the main difference between the Nikon Coolshot 80 VR and 80i VR comes with the slope feature, which is exclusive on the latter model. To be more specific, the Nikon Coolshot 80i VR has an added ID Technology in order to measure slope distances on the course, so you can properly adjust your club selection. Basically, this feature will display the estimated distance that you must cover in order to overcome the given uphill and downhill slope measurements.

The distance displayed with slope is usually a combination of the actual distance (horizontal) and the newly added height distance. With your eyes on the viewfinder, the former distance should be displayed on the upper right, while the total is shown at the bottom of the crosshair where the actual distance used to be when slope is not used.

Do keep in mind that using slope is normally prohibited in competitive setups. But, you can disable such feature in the 80i VR, making it viable for tournament play, according to recent USGA changes.

Final Verdict

Nikon Coolshot 80 VR
Nikon Coolshot 80 VR golf rangerfinder

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BUY the Nikon Coolshot 80 VR NOW
Nikon Coolshot 80i VR
Nikon Coolshot 80i VR golf rangefinder

Click Here for Reviews

BUY the Nikon Coolshot 80i VR NOW

These two golf laser rangefinders have a lot in common but also have a few differences. It really comes down to what you need that determines if the Nikon Coolshot 80 VR or the Nikon Coolshot 80i VR is going to be your next game buddy on the green. Apart from some minor differences, the biggest difference between the two golf rangefinders is the slope adjusted distance technology (ID technology). If you would like that feature, you should certainly opt for the Nikon Coolshot 80i VR golf laser rangefinder.