HIGH END spotting scopes.

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Post by zanemoseley on 11/5/2018, 7:27 pm

First topic message reminder :

So there are countless discussions about cheap/budget spotting scopes but lets say you've got nice equipment and finally want to upgrade your scope, what's the best for our purposes? I know a lot of people like the old Kowa scopes, are the new ones as good? I have an inside track on Vortex products, they have a 11-33x50 Razor spotting scope I can get for $500 which is still quite high even with the discount.

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Post by Ray Bersch on 11/6/2018, 5:11 pm

Now there is the hammer head meeting the nail head.

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Post by SteveT on 11/6/2018, 5:18 pm

Spotting pistol shots doesn't really push the limits of spotting scopes. You don't need a big objective or high magnification. Quality glass (and coatings) will do more for you than a big lens.

Here's my opinions

Objective: The smaller the better. Unless you shoot under strange conditions, you don't need lots of light gathering. I am not near my box, but the area under the tray of a Gun-Ho box is probably less than 3" so 50-60mm is the biggest that will fit. A bigger will interfere more with other storage in the box.

Magnification: At 20x, I can see the whole target at 25 yds if I get close to the lens, and easily see the entire target at 50 yards. Some days a little more magnification might help spot 22 holes at 50 yards, but I don't think you will ever need more than 30x.

FOV: I don't know, it will work out if the magnification is in the right range.

Type of Glass: I am not an optics expert, but a good quality 20x 30mm scope will show you more than a cheap 30x 80mm scope. I know because I compared my NG against a Harbor Freight 80mm no-name scope at a recent match.

Eye Relief: more is better, minimum is maybe 8-10mm since we are wearing safety glasses when shooting.

Weight: Lighter is always better, but unless you are bringing a serious rifle scope, the ammo will weigh a lot more.

Eyepiece: Angled is much easier to see without breaking your position. If the scope is a big body rifle scope, the angle may stick out too far and you won't be able to put anything on that side of the box.

Min Focus Distance: 30ft for 10m air gun, 50 ft for many indoor bullseye ranges

Body length: smaller is better. Gun-Ho boxes are about 18" inside, so you can't be longer than that, but the longer it is, and the bigger the body, the more it will interfere with other storage in the box.

IMO Clarity is MUCH more important than anything else. All of the cheap scopes (Blazer, Barska, Konus and no-name brands <$100) have lousy image quality. You can't see 22 holes, doubles or tell if a shot is touching the line no matter the magnification. Unfortunately, unless you live near Champions Choice or a great optics store you probably won't have the chance to try a lot of scopes.
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Post by troystaten on 11/6/2018, 5:51 pm

Here is an angled version of the one I have, not a low end scope but not as expensive as some of the fancy Euro ones.  

https://www.minox-usa.com/spotting-scopes/minox-md-50-w

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Post by walt k on 11/6/2018, 6:00 pm

troystaten wrote:Here is an angled version of the one I have, not a low end scope but not as expensive as some of the fancy Euro ones.  

https://www.minox-usa.com/spotting-scopes/minox-md-50-w

I have this scope also. I would have liked the low end a bit lower in power but it will do. 
I use it indoors at 50'. It is a good scope.

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Post by Baydawg on 11/7/2018, 4:58 am

Coming from a Rifleman's perspective...

I spent many years with a Kowa TSN-1...great glass and reliable as the sun coming up. I was lucky enough to be in the position to buy a Prominar 77 a few years ago. It changed my life as I have a 20-60 zoom for across the course (I can see 22 holes at 300 yards most days) and a LER 25x for prone matches. I see mirage in multiple layers and it elevated my wind reading game to new levels.

with that being said...I had an old KONUS 20-60 scope from who knows when...I have been using it for practice sessions from 50ft to 50 yards and it does the job. At 50 yards I can see most holes and Im really just looking for ones in the white anyway. However, it does not fit in my shooting box. I just carry it separately.
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Post by PhotoEscape on 11/7/2018, 8:01 am

Folks,
Check your boxes for this dimensions - 19.5×8.5×4.5 in or 16.9×7.5×4.7 in.  If that works, and any of you want to be a guinea pig, there is a newcomer to spotting scope market - company from PRC (not the California though) - Levenhuk.  It has spotting scope line called Blaze.  Deminsions above represent two 70 mm models, Plus (preferred) and Base.  Both have glass lenses, Plus is nitrogen filled, while Base is just nitrogen purged.  Cost is sub-$200 for Plus, and sub-$100 for Base.  What you need to be aware - plastic casing!  This means that hermetic can be gone in the blink, and nitrogen evaporates in the most opportunistic moment.  The fact that product has life time warranty would be meaningless at that moment.  Of course brightness, twilight factor, and other parameters are not the same as more expensive scopes.  So, here it is - https://www.levenhuk.com/catalogue/spotting-scopes/levenhuk-blaze-70-plus/#.W-Lsm02WxN5  B&H carries this line, but it is special order.  I personally would not consider something like this, but that is because my personal preferences when it comes to optics.  The only reason I consider suggesting this company is because they have other optical product lines, that are gaining traction.  Please do your own evaluations.  
AP


Last edited by PhotoEscape on 11/7/2018, 9:42 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling correction)
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Post by 1joel1 on 11/7/2018, 9:38 am

PhotoEscape wrote:This one is "Mansutov" / Newtonian Reflector design, more useful for astronomy then terrestrial views. 
AP
Maksutov/Cassegrain is a scope with a small mirrored dot on the front correction plate. This allows for a longer focal length. The problem with astronomy scopes is that unless you get a prism finder, the image will be reversed or upside down. Best to stay with the prism style spotting scopes that are discussed here.

Konus has some budget scopes in 60 and 80mm that are China made, but certainly good enough for 50 yards. 

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Post by Slartybartfast on 11/7/2018, 11:07 am

1joel1 wrote:
PhotoEscape wrote:This one is "Mansutov" / Newtonian Reflector design, more useful for astronomy then terrestrial views. 
AP
Maksutov/Cassegrain is a scope with a small mirrored dot on the front correction plate. This allows for a longer focal length. The problem with astronomy scopes is that unless you get a prism finder, the image will be reversed or upside down. Best to stay with the prism style spotting scopes that are discussed here.

Konus has some budget scopes in 60 and 80mm that are China made, but certainly good enough for 50 yards. 

Joel
I don't know what negative reviews have been read, but I read some positive reviews from rifle target shooters.
Then you find the bad reviews.

I'll spend good money on a good scope, but as someone has already posted the question needs to be asked and answered differently. Various annectodtes and recommendations are helpful, but I'm never quite certain why one is actually better than the other and whether that better parameter will really benefit me.

I really want to have a spotting scope that I can digiscope to a tablet for viewing. I don't want to become any type of expert in optics or scopes or digiscoping. I've been watching the TargetVision Hawk Camera System, and that comes with good targetshooting software and just requires a "good enough" scope. And the Optex Redtail Digital Spotting Scope which is interesting, but a lot of money to spend to simply find out if it works adequately, and would be too high a magnification at 20, 25, and 50yds as far as I calculate based on angle of view.

I think my comments and questions are digressing from the thread and I'll keep out and create my own thread if I can get round to intelligently framing my questions.
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Post by tray999 on 11/7/2018, 9:37 pm

I use the Kowa TS501, it has good glass from Japan, is light and compact, and at 20 power good enough to see my 22 holes at 50 yards.  It is a perfect combo of good quality, light weight, compact size and fits great in my box!!!   I love the light weight of this scope to keep my box lighter.... 
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Post by bpm990d on 3/26/2019, 8:28 am

I'm mostly a rifle shooter, I dabble in pistol but my other serious hobby is amateur astronomy. I'm not going to get into the politics of Chinese optics, but I can tell you that the Chinese are fully capable of making outstanding optics. 

I use to have a KOWA TSN1 that was made in Japan. Five or six years ago I purchased a Chinese made Celestron Regal ED 80mm scope and did a side-by-side comparison. The Celestron was clearly better optically. It was also nitrogen purged which was a big upgrade because the Kowa would sometime get foggy if used in the rain. Build quality was not quite up to the Kowa but it was close. I also have the Regal 65mm and it's great optically, but the weight is not evenly balanced and it's way too big for a pistol box.
The Celestron also had ED glass, which basically makes for a slightly sharper image because more of the wavelengths of light come to focus at the same location. 

I have a fair number of Japanese made telescope eyepieces and lots of Chinese (both PRC and ROC) eyepieces and one of our favorite pastimes is doing comparisons. It's nearly impossible to see significant differences between the higher end Japanese and Chinese optics. The best Chinese optics are about 1/2 the price of the best Japanese optics and about 94% of the quality. Mechanically the Chinese stuff seems to be a notch below the very best Japanese stuff. 

I have a Minox spotting scope in my pistol box, but if I was going to do it over again I would get once of the Celestron Hummingbird spotters. They are the right size for a pistol box, are waterproof and nitrogen purged, have ED glass and also have a removable zoom eyepiece, so if you want to get a replacement LER EP you can. Close focus is 10 feet, so you are good to go for airgun. Only thing it does not have is a rotating band which would help with positioning the EP. Although if you have a rotating arm mount on your pistol box that's moot.

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Post by zanemoseley on 3/26/2019, 9:05 am

I remember looking at the Celestron Hummingbird, they look very interesting. I might pull the trigger on one soon. My current cheaper Celestron Landscout does fine at 25 but if the light is weird is really a challenge at 50 yards. I also have a larger 80mm Celestron Ultima that I've been very happy with.

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Post by messenger on 3/26/2019, 9:16 am

I am very happy with my NG scopes. I have a 20 power that I use at my indoor range (25yds) and a 30 power I use for matches. They have very clear glass which is amazing since they are made in China.
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Post by bpm990d on 3/26/2019, 10:18 am

zanemoseley wrote:I remember looking at the Celestron Hummingbird, they look very interesting. I might pull the trigger on one soon. My current cheaper Celestron Landscout does fine at 25 but if the light is weird is really a challenge at 50 yards. I also have a larger 80mm Celestron Ultima that I've been very happy with.

If you have any NRA instructor or coaching credential or are a veteran, you can get an account on ExpertVoice. Celestron uses the service and you can get a reasonable discount on their optics. If you would like an invite, send me your e-mail by PM and I'll send you an invite. 

B

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Post by WesG on 3/26/2019, 11:00 am

I 'replaced' my old Kowa 77mm TSN-1 with an 88mm a couple years ago. I rationalized the price with the idea that if I got as many years of use out of it as the old one, I wouldn't need to buy another until I was 80 years old. Its fatter, but roughly the same length and weight. Shockingly brighter, and a bit clearer.

I was using the 77 for pistol, mounted to a post I installed on my brass catcher. Kinda bulky, and I knew it wasn't going to fit in a box, whenever I get around to getting one.

I picked up one of the 50mm CC scopes for airgun, and it's working out fine for pistol as well. Nowhere near the eye relief of the Kowas, but it hasn't been a problem. And 22 holes at 50 yds aren't a problem to see. I don't use full power on it, makes the image a bit brighter and sharper. 'It goes to 30' ... but I probably use 15 to 20 at 50 yds, and 10 for airgun.

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Post by zanemoseley on 3/27/2019, 11:55 am

Gee thanks for bumping this thread lol, just ordered a Vortex Razor 11-33x50 angled spotter. Probably overkill but I didn't want to spend $200-$300 just to be disappointed. Also I have an "in" with Vortex stuff so I get a discount.

I really want to take my 50 yard slow fire seriously this year and plan on a lot of practice so this scope should make viewing it more fun. Given what I have in all my pistols I really shouldn't feel that bad about a decent scope, I do literally use it every week. And it's got an unconditional lifetime warranty so unless it gets lost or stolen I'll have it a LONG time.

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Post by Slartybartfast on 3/28/2019, 11:16 am

WesG wrote:I 'replaced' my old Kowa 77mm TSN-1 with an 88mm a couple years ago. I rationalized the price with the idea that if I got as many years of use out of it as the old one, I wouldn't need to buy another until I was 80 years old. Its fatter, but roughly the same length and weight. Shockingly brighter, and a bit clearer.
Wanting to "buy once, cry once" I had a quick look at what those cost. GOOD LORD! $3000 for the body $700 for the eyepiece (Canadian prices).

What would I be losing/missing going with a Vortex Razor HD 11-33x50 Angled Spotting Scope ($1500) if anything (as described previousl as "Probably overkill")? I have a Ray-Vin scope stand, so the rotating collar is unimportant.

My indoor range is poorly lighted and I don't shoot outdoors much. And I think I will definitely be digiscoping using a cell phone mount.
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Post by zanemoseley on 3/28/2019, 11:25 am

Slarty, not sure where you're looking but Optics Planet has a 12% coupon for spotting scopes now and you can get the 11-33x Razor for about $630. The larger 65mm and 80mm models get more expensive though. I wanted something that would fit well in my pistol box.

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Post by SMBeyer on 3/28/2019, 12:24 pm

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I have been using the Nikon Fieldscope ED50 13-30x.  Very similar to the Vortex.  Mine is a straight cause I cant use an angled.  They are not cheap but very very nice.  Eye relief not as good as my giant Kowa with the 25xLER but rarely do you need the entire view.  The Nikon is a good compact size, GREAT clarity, and relatively light.  I would recommend it to someone looking for a good small scope.
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Post by Slartybartfast on 3/28/2019, 1:01 pm

zanemoseley wrote:Slarty, not sure where you're looking but Optics Planet has a 12% coupon for spotting scopes now and you can get the 11-33x Razor for about $630. The larger 65mm and 80mm models get more expensive though. I wanted something that would fit well in my pistol box.
I'm looking at Canadian on-line stores and my prices are in Canadian dollars.
I'm concerned with weight and how much I packed in my box when I went to competition last year, but I'm not limited by pistol box dimensions. With legal triggerlock and separate box for ammo requirements I don't see a traditional pistol box as all that helpful. I'm using stacking boxes from RIGID. A big one for ammo and "stuff" and a smaller one for pistols.
So I'm looking for best options.

I've been considering getting a battery powered spotlight to help at the range if one could illuminate a target at distance. They've been quite bad at getting the lights all on. I think only two of the positions had the lights at 25m working last time I was there.
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Post by zanemoseley on 3/28/2019, 1:09 pm

Ouch, surely you can find a better CAD price than $1500... $630 in USD is only like $850 CAD.

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Post by Slartybartfast on 3/28/2019, 1:25 pm

zanemoseley wrote:Ouch, surely you can find a better CAD price than $1500... $630 in USD is only like $850 CAD.
I'm sure I can. Only quickly looked at MSRP for the Vortex.
Trying to get an idea of ballpark and whether to search out one scope or another.
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Post by zanemoseley on 3/28/2019, 1:27 pm

Looking at full MSRP is a bad way of ballparking price.

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Post by Slartybartfast on 3/29/2019, 9:06 am

zanemoseley wrote:Looking at full MSRP is a bad way of ballparking price.
It's fine for comparing one to another IMO. How one is then discounted over another may be variable, but you'll be looking forever at prices and options.
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Post by zanemoseley on 4/2/2019, 6:25 pm

Got the razor today, it seems to be just the right size for a standard 3 gun box. It feels substantial enough while not feeling like you're holding a steel bar. Glass seems very good, I was spotting some dogs across the street, at close to 200 yards on 20x I could see their eyes clearly, could even see some gnats in their pen the way the light was. My only complain is the eye relief is a tad short for me with glasses. It does have a rubber eye cup so you can peel the rubber cap to let you get closer.

In a week or two I'll give a range report with some pictures but so far it seems to be perfect for our uses.

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Post by mikemyers on 4/2/2019, 9:06 pm

This is what I bought.  I have nothing but good to say about it.  It's not going to fit in a  pistol box though.
Optics are excellent.
It comes with a protective case (rain?).
It comes from B&H Photo in NYC, who are good people to buy from.
There is probably no shipping, and depending on where you live, no sales tax.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/982186-REG/redfield_114651_20_60x80_rampage_angle_spotting.html

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