Spotting scope 101 questions

Here's my deal. My club only has a 100yd range, and I've gotten by with a Bausch & Lomb Discoverer to this point. I just bought a Tikka T3X in .223 (post and pics at some point). I *may* at some point be looking for a longer place to shoot, but being New England, that probably won't ever exceed 300 yds. I need something that I can see small holes on paper with my old eyes. However, I also travel to National Parks regularly, would use the scope for wildlife viewing as well, maybe digiscoping capability, but not a must have by any means.

I'm not a competitive shooter, and don't shoot a great deal, so I don't need a top of the line scope. On the other hand, I don't mind spending for quality, buy once, cry once. I'd love a Swarovski because Consig has one (probably more than one).

The center point of my research has settled around the Vortex Diamondback 20-60x60 or x80. Am I looking in the right range? Chould I get away with less? Should I be looking for better?

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Joined: 1/30/06 3:34 PM - Location:MA

Original Post

Have you checked out Kowa?  I had one and it was very good, only sold it because I stopped shooting Highpower and needed the money.

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Joined: 4/22/09          Location: WI

Kowa gets a lot of chatter on Snipershide, but I've never seen one in person.

---------------------------------

It's not that life is so short, it's that you're dead for so long.

The .45-70 is the only government I trust

"I was raised in a place called America...
It's gone now, I wish you could've seen it"
- a WWII vet

 

Joined: 1/30/06 3:34 PM - Location:MA

Kowa makes good glass. You will pay for it though.

IRC there is also a nice adapter system to "up glass" a DSLR camera for the Kowa's as well.

------------------------------------- "A True Warrior knows neither Left or Right"  Looking for a doc who can fix my allergies.. Stupid People and IED's...

I have more spotting scopes than any one person deserves to have. Most of them suck because I got them on sale and it was a slight upgrade from the last one I had. So, my last spotter cost me north of  $2K, but was bought for a very specific purpose. I needed a reticle, and I wanted it to be large and heavy for use at the range from a static position. But if I had spent money earlier I would have spent a lot less in the long run.

Glass quality and eye relief are everything. A 100mm objective with crap glass doesn't allow you to see better. You have to pay for glass. And it isn't cheap. But if you want to see clearly, you have to pay for it. A headache after a few minutes, much less hours, behind a scope is your reward for being cheap.  If you wear glasses, eye relief is not good on most spotters.

You also have to figure out how you will use it and mount it. That determines whether the body is straight or angled. Spend money on a good tripod too (tabletop for bench, hipower style for prone or sitting, and a big heavy bastard for sitting in a TLC (tactical lawn chair) or standing.   

Kowa has very good glass for the price if you dont have to do HD glass. HD glass increases the price quickly, but is nice. The TSN-601 and -660 series are good entry level scopes that will cost you less than $1k but with very good performance. I have a 601, 45 degree body with the fixed 25 power long eye relief eye piece (real long eye relief) that I love. In fact my two favorite spotters are fixed power (Kowa and a new Burris). The kowa was for high power, and is a great little scope. If you look around you can find one used from someone who is getting out of high power or upgrading. 

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Joined: 12-2005          Location: Central OK

For the dollar the 60 and 77mm Kowas with ED or HD Fluorite crystal lenses under the "Prominar" label are very, very hard to beat.  Bird-watching spotting scope forums have lots of comparison charts as they are very picky about picking out plumage coloration.

The 60s and 77s pack up small but have incredible clarity and color fidelity.  Long eye relief eyepieces keep you from having to crowd right up on the scope and is less annoying if wearing spectacles, eye protection, or sunglasses.

I prefer a 45-degree head vice a straight tube as I'm usually in a variety of different shooting or spotting/coaching positions and it's easier on my neck. 

I've looked through more than a few spotting scopes over the last few decades and can recommend Kowa without reservation. I particularly like the 45 degree  883 with a 20-60 eyepiece. which is why I bought one. Best of luck on your research and purchase.

 

Keith

The upper Kowas get a lot of pub on the Hide.  There is a thread going on with Swaro's best vs. Hensoldt 45 or 60.  I was surprised how many Kowa guys jumped in.  None of these fuckers are cheap but I would at least do HD glass.  If you get it before the CBS, bring it so I can take a peek through it.  I am currently in savings mode as the spotter is the last thing I need for a complete rig.

Of course you know that even if the Kowa can read the mileage on the Lunar Rover, there's no way I'm getting anything that doesn't say Hensoldt on the side.  Yep, I'm a shallow, name appeal snob.  What?  It's not like you didn't know that already.

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 Joined: 28 Nov 2004: 0037hrs        Location: The worst run state in the U.S

Consigliere posted:

The upper Kowas get a lot of pub on the Hide. 

I've noticed this as well. I often wondered if it was fan boy behavior because one the vendors/supporters/prolific posters is a Kowa dealer, or if the quality is actually there.

---------------------------------

It's not that life is so short, it's that you're dead for so long.

The .45-70 is the only government I trust

"I was raised in a place called America...
It's gone now, I wish you could've seen it"
- a WWII vet

 

Joined: 1/30/06 3:34 PM - Location:MA

Malpaso posted:
Consigliere posted:

The upper Kowas get a lot of pub on the Hide. 

I've noticed this as well. I often wondered if it was fan boy behavior because one the vendors/supporters/prolific posters is a Kowa dealer, or if the quality is actually there.

No, it's there for sure.  I don't know the exact model but there is a lot of talk about an HD version with an 88mm objective.  That model is beginning to sniff Swaro/Hensoldt territory, so it's not a money thing as I noticed there is an astonishing amount of money on the Hide which makes sense if you add everything up in this hobby.

BTW, I am going to post a pic of my current Swarovski spotter which I am sure will bring a ton of laughs.  Has to be late 80s, early 90s.  Looks like 1/2 a LAW with a leather sling, covered in green rubberized armor.  To use it, you pull a Horatio Nelson and telescope the thing out to about twice its length.  I think it is fixed but I forget the power.  There is no reticle of any kind of course but I'll still put the glass up against anything made now.

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IT'S A COLT.  THEY'RE LIKE THE HK OF GUNS.

HRH (Ret.) The Most Reverend Consig

 

 

 

 

 Joined: 28 Nov 2004: 0037hrs        Location: The worst run state in the U.S

I bought a Leupold 12-40x 60mm off of DRMO. It works well for what I wanted it for- spotting shot impacts in the field and looking at animals while being short and easy to carry. I like it, but it is not the scope I would choose for looking at bullet holes in paper. It runs out of resolution past about 100 yards for small holes like .223 in certain lighting conditions. Larger holes like .308 are good to at least 200, again depending on lighting conditions.

The High Power guys I know swear by Kowa.

So what kind of expenditure is one looking at to get something that could readily resolve both 5.56 and 7.62 holes at 300 yards? I know what I don’t know and I don’t know jack about spotting scope prices. 

Mojo/Mark
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Joined: 9/30/09
Location: Northern Nevada (Reno/Sparks)

Mojo: there is no amount of cash that will let you see .22 and .30 cal holes in paper at 300 yards. With only rare exceptions with lighting, no spotter will do that.

We shoot steel at those ranges, use KD pits, or walk.

A good spotter will do it out to 200. 

JS7SFGA posted:

Mojo: there is no amount of cash that will let you see .22 and .30 cal holes in paper at 300 yards. With only rare exceptions with lighting, no spotter will do that.

We shoot steel at those ranges, use KD pits, or walk.

A good spotter will do it out to 200. 

I do shoot steel most of the time but unfortunately rarely get to go further than 200. And with my eyesight the near instant feedback of steel is appreciated the older I get.   

Mojo/Mark
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Vincent from "Collateral"
__________________________
You want the good life, you break your back, you snap your fingers, you snap your neck... Prong/Demon Hunter
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Joined: 9/30/09
Location: Northern Nevada (Reno/Sparks)

JS7SFGA posted:

Mojo: there is no amount of cash that will let you see .22 and .30 cal holes in paper at 300 yards. With only rare exceptions with lighting, no spotter will do that.

We shoot steel at those ranges, use KD pits, or walk.

A good spotter will do it out to 200. 

Makes me appreciate the old military ranges.  One squad was shooting, the other was in the pits, pulling targets, putting in marker discs and running them back up.  The sound of supersonic bullets cracking overhead.  Curses and admiration for the shooter who consistently split the markers.

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Joined:  2/24/2003                          Location:  Nevada, USA

FWIW I own Zeiss, Leica, Kowa, and Leupold Mk 4 spotters.

The Kowa is the equal of any of the euro glass.

The Mk4 tactical (the only Loopy product I still recommend) is the most versatile and handiest. The H37 reticle is awesome.

Forums are full of questions like "when will Kowa offer an eyepiece with a reticle?"

The world waits for a reply.

Longeye posted:

Probably 5$ per yard....

Interesting formula. Is that an industry standard, or your back of the envelope calculation, because it makes sense.

---------------------------------

It's not that life is so short, it's that you're dead for so long.

The .45-70 is the only government I trust

"I was raised in a place called America...
It's gone now, I wish you could've seen it"
- a WWII vet

 

Joined: 1/30/06 3:34 PM - Location:MA

Yeah, as soon as I read that ($5 per yard) it got me to figurin’. 

Works out to be in the ballpark.  

I have a few. The first one I got was with the stuff my dad had, and used ehen he shot competitively back in the 40’s-50’s. USGI B&L fixed 20 power with tripod. (I don’t know what model “M” number is was/is.) I have used the living shit out of it over the years, and on numerous occasion others have remarked how clearit is, even compared to current ones.  I have a Vortex that I like, but I’m not real thrilled about having to spend  a considerable amount of mo’ money for a reticle in the eyepiece.

Me thinks being able to see .22 holes in paper at 300 is going to be a challenge.        .30 holes is a different story.

I went down the digiscope path with a Kowa Prominar and DSLRs.    Save the hassle and buy a $70 phone adapter instead.   You need a very stiff tripod and head to deal with the extra camera weight.   Then even with a good Canon body, the image quality just isn’t there because of the amount of light that reaches the camera thru the spotter.   

Grizz sibling yearlings, greater Yellowstone ecosystem OCT 2016 using TSN-884 with TSN-IP5 phone adapter.   About 250yds out.   

 

 

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Malpaso posted:
Longeye posted:

Probably 5$ per yard....

Interesting formula. Is that an industry standard, or your back of the envelope calculation, because it makes sense.

It is a rule of thumb based on my experience. A certain price range of glass will perform at a certain level. As JSSF7GA points out there are effective limits in practice. Back lit targets with a single face and no backer inside the 9 ring helps with observing holes. That said, I do not shoot much paper. I use the MK4 spotting scope to score or call corrections on steel, based on dust from bullet strike. I have been known to position the spotter on the range at a distance capable of spotting paper holes then shooting past the scope and tripod from the actual firing point further back. It saves walking a few hundred yards.


It is similar to my rule of thumb that laser range finders cost a dollar per effective yard of ranging, and my similar rule that the price of the optic should exceed the price of the base rifle to match performance levels.

Quote from Longeye: "Back lit targets with a single face and no backer inside the 9 ring helps with observing holes." 

 

Longeye,

That's my recipe when checking new glass, loads, boom sticks, etc. Sun coming up from the 1000-1100 angle works very nicely. That's even with the 883 spotter.

Keith

I went away from traditional spotting scopes (having gone through several of them), and bought a small telescope:

https://www.amazon.com/Celestr...Black/dp/B0038QYRDO/

I changed out the eyepiece for an 8-24mm adjustable, and now get over 100x of magnification if I want.  That huge objective lens really sucks in light, which is critical with magnified optics.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0007UQNV8/

I paired it with a dinky little desktop tripod for bench work. 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CRL0M8K

And it was only like $300 bucks total. 

Now, I wouldn't use it out in the rain, because I'm pretty sure it's not at all weatherproof, but it does show hits out pretty far. 

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HomoSepian posted:

I went away from traditional spotting scopes (having gone through several of them), and bought a small telescope:

https://www.amazon.com/Celestr...Black/dp/B0038QYRDO/

 

Now, I wouldn't use it out in the rain, because I'm pretty sure it's not at all weatherproof, but it does show hits out pretty far. 

You use it for finding exo-holes?

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