Spotting Scopes

Discussion in 'Functional Gear & Equipment' started by Brokor, Jul 3, 2017.

  1. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    What are some spotting scopes you have tried and tested?

    What are some reasons you chose the spotting scope, i.e., affordability, quality, clarity, size and weight, weatherproofing?

    What are your intentions for a spotting scope? (Range use, tactical, hunting, astronomy, etc.)

    Spotting scopes can range in prices from very cheap to about what it costs to fill your tank with gas, and even thousands of dollars.


    My premise:
    I use a spotting scope for the range, primarily. I do not expect to analyze paper targets out past 300 meters/yards. I do realize the advantages to having a spotter assist with monitoring wind by use of mirage, and for following the bullet flight path, given suitable weather is present. But, mainly I am more focused on just clearly reading the paper target out to a max of about 300 yards.

    Celestron Landscout 12-36x60 --- $55.00 to $90.00

    Spotting Scopes:
    I've found some good quality entry-level spotting scopes with the Celestron series. : Celestron 52322 Landscout 12-36x60 Spotting Scope (Army Green) : Spotter Scope : Camera & Photo

    A 12-36 power zoom and 60mm optic is ideal for me, and since it's only going to be a range scope, the size, weight, and durability all factor in. The biggest factor, of course, is price. The biggest concern is always clarity of the scope. When I factor in the price for a rifle, all its components, and especially a good quality optic, how much is justifiable for a spotting scope just for range use? To me, anything in the sub-$100 price range is going to be pretty much limited to having the same general clarity and usefulness. In fact, much like rifle scopes, you won't begin to see the good stuff until you are willing to drop at least several hundred dollars. But, unlike rifle scopes, the pricing of the spotting scope genre is not quite as critical due to their separate features. A spotting scope will not have turrets which must track perfectly and return to zero the same as rifle scopes, for example; these components are not easy to manufacture and assemble at the level of quality one might expect and still not cost a great deal. But, with a spotting scope it all comes down primarily to the glass and how clear it will be on max zoom. Naturally, a wider lens, like a 60mm will allow more light to enter as opposed to a 40mm, so the size of the scope lens will be one determining factor which will also be reflected in its price. Therefore, as long as the spotting scope is of decent quality and maintains good enough clarity to fulfill your purposes, and in my case for range use to read zero targets out to a couple hundred yards or so, then it's a wise investment as long as you don't break the bank.

    Many of the brand names associated with scopes of any kind will buy from manufacturers of various origin, and some of them buy from the same manufacturers. A few of the best have even patented certain coatings and processes for their optics, and they will often charge a premium for their product as a result. This is why I've found that the Celestron spotting scopes are probably the best buy for these lower entry level scopes, in general.

    Stepping up:

    Vortex Diamondback 20-60x60 --- $400.00
    One of the best "mid-range" priced spotting scopes I am very interested in, is Vortex. If one can justify the expense, keeping in mind it is still far from being the highest priced, I would go toward this brand. : Vortex Optics Diamondback Angled Spotting Scope, 20-60x60 : Sports & Outdoors

    High Quality examples:

    Leupold - : Leupold Mark 4 20-60x80mm, Black Spotting Scope, TMR Reticle 110826 : Sports & Outdoors

    Vortex - : Vortex 27-60x85 Razor HD Spotting Scope : Rifle Scopes : Sports & Outdoors

    What are some of the spotting scopes you have used, or can recommend?
  2. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    This is identical to mine.
    20x. It's as old as dirt but the still clear and sharp.
    Good enough except .. it's as heavy as heck. Def. a range tool and not a 'take it with you hunting'

    I got it in trade from a friend.

    Mostly for target shooting as in this AO a 4x scope is plenty for hunting as the furthest open line of sight is under 200 yards.

    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017
  3. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grampa Monkey

    I have a Barska I picked up a few years ago, it was on sale for about $150:00 on Amazon! I find it to be very clear and bright, as well as light weight. It's a 20X60X60. I found that the mid price line from Barska uses Zeiss glass and prisms and that explains the quality of the image in all light conditions. It is also well sealed and has good anti fog coatings!
  4. Tempstar

    Tempstar Pray for BT

    I actually use an old Celestron mirror telescope with a 150mm lens. Don't know the power but you can see the raggedness of the bullet hole at 100 yards and easily count holes at 300. The best part, $25 yard sale find.
  5. M118LR

    M118LR Caution: Does not play well with others.

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  6. Merkun

    Merkun furious dreamer

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  7. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    I use two. One is an old Simmons 1200 15-45x that is completely covered in ratty camouflage tape and burlap. It's on a tiny little spindly tripod that folds alongside the scope body and is similarly fuzzy, with an old gun sock over it to prevent rattles. It's long and straight, made longer by the big Tenebraex killFlash anti-reflection device that's taped to the front. This scope is cheap, not terribly clear, and probably not one I'd recommend. But for its' intended purpose, finding wary targets at a distance while exposing me the least to their observation, it is ideal. The tripod is usually just along for the ride, since resting the scope on a log, or settling it in the mud at the crest of a little hill keeps it steady. I've been beating this thing up on hunts and banging it around in car trunks and truck beds for about 20 years and it's as good (or bad) as it was when new.

    My range scope is a Kowa tsn821m with a 20-60x lens. I had used lots of other scopes at the range, noting that bigger was better, and was shopping for something better than the $2 rental scopes. I picked up a pair of binoculars one day from a friends dashboard. Just laying up there, sliding around in the dust like so much other junk. They were Swarovski's. THIS was the defining moment when I knew that I needed a better optic! The clarity and color...amazing!

    The big Kowa and all of its' accessories I got used, in one of those pawn shop deals you always hear about, but you never find. It is supremely clear, powerful, bright and easy to use. I don't even have to put my eye to the lens to see the target. In its' zippered bag it is weatherproof, but the lens is not sealed to the scope body. I want to put a camera adapter on it now, because it is amazingly clear, (Purple Martin's look like little thugs with a bad attitude up close!) but I will never need more scope.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
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  8. M118LR

    M118LR Caution: Does not play well with others.

    No spotter required on a one way rifle range, with one of the previously mentioned rifle scopes.
    Hunting afield, I limit my shot's to a humane 300 yards. Still No spotter required.
    The Deep Sea Monocular is so versatile you need to try one afield. JMHO
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  9. Merkun

    Merkun furious dreamer

    What previously mentioned rifle scopes? None so far in this thread, and what do they have to do with a spotter?

    One must then ask why you take the hand held with you to the range? I do NOT see the connection given the original question. Perhaps RTFQ rings a bell ---
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  10. M118LR

    M118LR Caution: Does not play well with others.

    Previously mentioned S&B and Steiner. post #5.

    Compass, back up ranging device, redundancy and I can spy on the shooters at other range sights without anyone raising an eyebrow. LOL.

    Afield or at Sea, glassing an area with more than a magnification of 7 is problematic. JMHO.

    The approved two way spotting scope: M151 Spotting Scope |

    That RTFQ works both ways.
    What are?
    What are?
    What are?
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
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  11. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++
    (Kowa eyepiece adapter for i-phone)

    I'm curious to hear if anybody has tried anything similar to this on their scope? I have seen one in use at the range, and it was impressive. For range use I think it's leaning toward laziness, but for bird and wildlife photography it'd be fun.
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  12. PLA

    PLA Monkey++

    Swarovski BTX , Mag Extender with 65 and 95 mm lenses, definitely worth the price of admission for that glass.

    Yes its expensive, spend days looking through cheap glass and it gets worth it.
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  13. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    Swarovski was the brand that got me really interested in quality optics other than rifle scopes. A friend had brought his truck in for service and laying on the dash like just another piece of junk in his hunting truck, covered with dust and water spots was a pair of Swarovski binoculars. Oh what a memorable first look that was!

    Quality optics only seem expensive, and it only hurts for a little while. My J. W. Fecker target scope is near 100 years old, and still a joy to look through.
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  14. PLA

    PLA Monkey++

    I have a pr of EL Range binos as well. I wont look through any other glass after buying the excellent glass.

    I get people emailing me asking and really once you spend 10-12 hours looking through glass for Elk you cant appreciate the difference. I also tell them you spend a max of 30 seconds looking through a rifle scope but you live looking through your binos and spotting scopes. I love the BTX bino function, it makes it so easy to pick out animals
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