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Spotting Scope Decision

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Post by Rick H. 9/22/2020, 3:10 pm

Hello:  This is my first real post here which is hard for me to believe, but here goes.  I shot bullseye years ago, plus 25 or so, but gave it up and went with long guns and shotguns.  I put all my "stuff" for pistol shooting away and recently decided to get back into shooting pistols as a stress reliever and when I didn't have the time or inclination to drag out all the rifle equipment to the range.  The one thing over all those years that I can't put my fingers on is my original Pachmayr pistol box.  I had a straight tube B&L scope mounted to the inside cover which doesn't help me feel any better either.  I managed to come up with an almost identical Pachmayr Deluxe replacement pistol case that I found at a car swap meet of all places, but no scope.  The pistol case is a 4 gun style in great shape.

I would like to get a scope for the case and have been looking around at vintage stuff on Ebay and the like and have even gone as far as ordering a couple of them.  The problem is they are in no where near the condition of my old scope in terms of clarity and finish and apparently my definition of "excellent condition" is not the same as some others.  Time has taken a toll on many things, shooting scopes being one of them.  As a result of wasting more time and money I thought about getting a more updated spotting scope for my case, but it would have to fit in the provided space on the bottom of the box and of course weight is an issue in my advancing age.  My two top choices are the Kowa TSN-501 (angled eyepiece) and the Celestron Micro also with angled eyepiece.  My questions to the forum follow, does anyone have any experience with these two spotting scopes, good or bad, and will they fit in the lower provided space in a Pachmayr Deluxe pistol case when attached to the door?  Does wearing prescription glasses a  present a problem?  Can you "see" .22 caliber holes at 25 yards on paper?  Just as a point of information, the Kowa TSN-501 is about $275.00 and will focus down to about 8'.  The Celestron Micro is about $325.00 and will focus down to about 10'.  I have a Kowa TSN-821M that I have had for many years and it is a great scope, just too darn big for my pistol box.  Thanks in advance for any help in my quest.
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Post by jimsteele 9/23/2020, 8:38 am

I don't think you will have any trouble seeing .22 holes at 25 yards with almost any $100 scope.
My vintage Bushnell competitor 20x40 straight tube does fine at 25 yards.
    It is at 50 yards or poor lighting that my scope leaves me looking for missing holes.

So if you never shoot farther than 25 yards, any old $ 100 scope should work for you.
As for me, I am considering upgrading to a TSN-501 although I have never looked thru one.

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Post by Rick H. 9/23/2020, 9:14 am

Thanks Jim for the reply.  I just threw down 50 bucks on an almost new looking Bushnell Competitor same as yours.  Hopefully the glass is in good shape.  If it isn't I think I will drop the money on a Kowa and call it a day.  Just hope it fits in my case.
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Post by CrankyThunder 9/23/2020, 10:15 am

Hey Rick:

Lately I have been shooting a lot of matches at various ranges and was finding that my old ancient Champions Choice spotter with the 23x eyepiece just was not cutting it anymore, especially that one match where we had to line the trucks up behind us to illuminate the targets as the sun was going down. As such, I have been looking for a spotter to fit in my box and have not had much success yet. 

I do own a Kowa 501 and unfortunately, it does not deliver on two counts, the optical quality is not adequate in low light conditions, and it does not rotate in its mount which is important to me for easy setup and viewing.  

I also purchased a NG 20x30 based on the recommendations posted here on this forum, and while it does have a rotating eyepiece, the optical quality is average and the eye relief is unacceptable for me.  

I do have a athlon 20x60x80 spotter which I just purchased and am very impressed with the optical brightness, clarity, and quality and the eye relief of 0.7 inch works pretty good for me. I am considering their smaller 50mm scope with similar eye relief but am concerned about the non rotating design.  

I have examined the small champions choice spotter available specifically for bullseye shooters and it is ok, probably deliver 95% of the time but I am not sure I would be satisfied with it.  

I am looking for a Minox 50 mm angled spotter because the reviews are very good on BHphoto although the eye relief is concerning.  

Most 50 mm spotters will fit into my box but a number of them that rotate have the adjusting lock ring knob sticking out the side which eliminates them from consideration.  

Currently, I am using my Kowa TSN-601 with the 25x LER eyepiece and optically it is perfect, the eye relief is a dream, the only problems is that it does not rotate in its mount and at 60 mm, it does not fit in my box. Using the Kowa 601 has highlighted how much I would like a rotating eyepiece, although I have mounted a Manfrotto Ball Head in my box to accommodate the fixed eyepiece.  Unfortunately, after using the Kowa 601 with the long eye relief eyepiece, not much is going to measure up in comparison.   

Maybe a younger shooter can make the cheaper scopes work but I have not been so fortunate.  

Hope this helps in your consideration and good luck!

Cranky


Last edited by CrankyThunder on 9/23/2020, 10:17 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Misspellings added to verify authorship by engineer)
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Post by CrankyThunder 9/23/2020, 10:21 am

Hey Rick:

Another thing for consideration is that some of the new ranges that I have been shooting at has the shooting bench very high off the ground in front of you.  I have not measured it but I am 5 foot 8 and some of them are almost as high as my armpits.  The woman shooting next to me was shooting off a wood platform she had made and stored at the range for her use.  She was not quite 5 foot tall.  

In these cases I would not be able to use the spotter if it did not rotate down, seeing how when mounted in the lowest position I am still cranking my head upwards to peer through the spotter.  Not sure if you travel to unfamiliar ranges or if you do all your shooting at one location but the height of the shooting bench is something to consider.  

Regards, 
Crankster
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Post by TonyH 9/23/2020, 11:23 am

George,
They make a Bullseye accessory to help with that problem.
Tony
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Post by radjag 9/23/2020, 11:31 am

TonyH,

From your private wardrobe no doubt?

lol! lol! lol!

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Post by Rick H. 9/23/2020, 2:16 pm

Thanks Guys!!  Love the shoes, just not my color!
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Post by TonyH 9/23/2020, 3:26 pm

radjag wrote:TonyH,

From your private wardrobe no doubt?

lol! lol! lol!

Roy,
Yes! This is from my Safari "Master" Collection!  Not sure if you noticed but it has an added feature where you can roll the dice for your next shot, and make it a part of your shot process.
I was just trying to help a fellow Michigander and shooter  out....but if you would like a pair, I'm sure we can arrange that.  tongue
Tony
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Post by CrankyThunder 9/23/2020, 6:19 pm

Tony, only you would have a pair of zebra skinned snake eye dice disco shoes in your closet.  Cannot wait for you to strut out out to the bullseye line standing tall and proud with your dogs wrapped up snugly in those brogues.

I betcha they came in handy waddling through the mud at perry though, will give you that!  You cleaned em up good!


Regards, 
George
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Post by Rick H. 9/28/2020, 2:41 pm

Well it certainly isn't easy trying to find what I am looking for that's for sure.  I thought I was sold on the Kowa TSN-501 scope, but it doesn't appear to rotate on it's built in tripod mount.  That's a killer for me if there is no rotational adjustment when mounted to the lid of my shooting box.  My next thought was the Celestron Hummingbird Mini, but that one doesn't rotate either in its holder.  I ran across a Minox MD-50 which does appear to rotate, but they don't make them anymore.  Found a used one at $230.00, but I hate buying used optics.  It almost never works in my favor as something is sure to be wrong with it.  The rotating scope body or eyepiece is a near impossibility on the market right now in a small spotting scope.  So at this point I think I will buy the NG spotting scope and hope for the best with it.  Many here seem to like it.  Thanks to all for the help.
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Post by CrankyThunder 9/28/2020, 3:08 pm

Hey RickH

Check out B&H Photo.  They show as out of stock but they have a notify me when it is back in stock. 

George
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Post by CR10X 9/28/2020, 4:36 pm

I'm using the Kowa 501 45 degree and NG 20 x 30 scopes. The non rotating issue with the 501 is not a problem for me with the Hebard scope mount. And i get enough light to see .22 holes on first relay at Perry, although not in the rain if it's really overcast. The NG leaves a lot to be desired in low light conditions, but ok in normal / bright light for me.

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Post by radjag 9/28/2020, 4:46 pm

I ordered an NG recently - tried it at 50 yards on Thursday - it was just about OK in bright daylight, but I can't believe that it would be any use on a dull/rainy day. I was also surprised to discover that the magnification adjustment ring is fixed to the eyepiece body - when you want to adjust magnification the entire eyepiece assembly rotates - very peculiar.

I will be returning it tomorrow. I've seen many others using them on the line - and presumably they are satisfied - but it is not for me.

I also have a Minox MD-50, nice scope. Not good enough for my eyes to clearly see 22 holes at 50 yards on a dull/rainy day. But very convenient size/design and I am keeping it just in case.

I tried a Celestron Hummingbird:-
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01FRAJXZ0/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Over $300. Not good enough - returned.

I then carefully measured my box and found that one of these Vanguard Endeavour scopes would just fit (but I can only house one gun inside the box).
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BJFAYKQ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
$400 - but I am now satisfied.

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Post by CrankyThunder 9/28/2020, 4:51 pm

You were able to stuff a 80 mm inside your box?

More information that I wanna know...........


Last edited by CrankyThunder on 9/28/2020, 4:52 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Misspellings added to verify authorship by engineer)
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Post by radjag 9/28/2020, 5:35 pm

I designed and built my box. Using ~1/2" thick Thai Rosewood and offcuts of US Maple. The carrying handle is a length of HD 1/2" steel pipe covered in HVAC closed cell foam insulation. The box is quite heavy, but very, very strong.
The "front door" swings up and I have a brass bolt to secure it firmly open.
Spotting Scope Decision Bullse11
The "back door" folds down to give easy access (this was useful when I had the Minox scope fitted and a different tray in which I could fit 3 or 4 guns).Spotting Scope Decision Bullse10
The big scope mounts on to a Hebard type mount - but I swapped the plastic hand wheels for just steel bolts and carry a small wrench in my kit to tighten it really solid - I have, so far, never had to re-tighten it - I leave the scope in this position and just rotate it so that the eyepiece is at my preferred height. If I need it to be back off the bench a little I carry a strong bungee and/or a small clamp to resist tipping & wind. But have never really had a problem.
Spotting Scope Decision Bullse13
Spotting Scope Decision Bullse12
"Ah, but you can only fit one gun into it!", I hear the old guard cry!

True, but in fact, I usually only have a gun in there when I'm going locally for practise. Typically when I go to any match I have to drive at least 3 hours and stay the night before. I prefer to keep all of my guns in "Pelican" style plastic boxes so that I can conveniently carry them into my hotel room at night - I do not like leaving my guns in a hotel parking lot overnight.

Having only recently done my first "Ohio Swing" by car, what I now know is that if I do a long trip again in the future I will fly/drive. This box is not convenient for that and I am currently customising two Pelican style cases for that purpose. The big scope will be carried in a separate bag/box and can be set up without opening the gun box, so that I can get everything ready at any range even during the "no open boxes" period.

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Post by New2BE 10/9/2020, 7:41 am

Kowa 501. Not sure why some have issues, both of mine (2 boxes) work great. If you want optical clarity, Leica is tops, but you will pay.

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Post by bpettet 10/11/2020, 9:52 pm

Roy, I never would have guessed you could fit that scope in the box.  That's wild.  No issues gathering light in that objective!  Just curious how heavy your box and scope are without a gun inside it...30-40#?  Looks beefy.  

I have top of the line glass from Swaro, Leica, Vortex and Kowa (hunting and target applications but too large for a gun box) but I've been perfectly happy with the cheap Champion's Choice 12-50x55mm 45 degree spotting scope in my gun box this season.  It doesn't get much press around here but it's only $115 and has worked well for me this year...2-3x per week and lots of different lighting conditions.  Works fine for seeing .22 holes at 50 yards in low conditions.  Just another option for you to consider.  

The little NG scope didn't work for me for the reasons mentioned above and in other topics here.

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Post by messenger 10/12/2020, 7:32 am

I have two NG scopes. I use the 20 power at my local indoor range which is 25 yards. I have trouble seeing 22 holes at fifty so I use my 30 power at matches. I was lucky and bought mine years ago before they were popular and expensive.

Bill
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Post by radjag 10/12/2020, 12:24 pm

[quote="bpettet"]Just curious how heavy your box and scope are without a gun inside it...30-40#?  Looks beefy.[/quote]
Bryan, good question, I never though to weigh it before.

Box, 80mm scope, tools, magazines, down range clip board, 2 sets of glasses, etc., etc. Everything except a gun. Total weight 30lbs.

The handle of the lift up side is designed to slip over the pull up handle of a wheeled pelican box or carry-on bag. That works fine when there is a paved walkway to the firing line, but failed me at Canton (and I'm told would be useless at Perry) so I bought one of those collapsible 4 wheel carts from Walmart and that works great. Throw in this box, my ammo box/catcher, pelican gun case, fold up chair, umbrella, water jug, etc.

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Post by TonyH 10/12/2020, 5:43 pm

My arm was getting longer as I watched Roy wrestle that box at Canton....lol!
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Post by bpettet 10/12/2020, 6:15 pm

Roy the Beast.

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