View Full Version : spotting scopes
05-26-2005, 02:11 PM
I am giving some thought to replacing my 40 year old Bushnell. I am only going to use it to find holes in paper and have no need to spend hours scanning for elk. So a few seconds at a time are all I need. I guess what I'm saying is that I see no need to break the bank for one. I thought the Leupold Sequoia looked good and Midsouth has it for under $300 as a kit. I've also heard that Nikon has some good ones for under $400. I am curious what others are using in that price range and how you like it. Thanks...
05-26-2005, 03:37 PM
I'd like to know the answer to this one myself. I'll bet most of the brethren here are too damned tight to even bother owning a spotting scope...hehe!I want a Kowa..........and a Lexus......and several other high dollar toys. Sad thing is, good optics cost plenty, but you should only have to spend it once. I'm not worried about weight because the spotter would be a bench queen only. I just want clarity, eye relief and solid construction. Worse thing you can ever do is look through a quality scope....and then not be able to afford one! Even the 'pretty good' scopes pale in comparison and I just won't settle for them. Until I can have what I want, I'll do without. Maybe you're not so discriminating. A fine spotter starts at about $600......you may find a deal somewhere and save a bundle.
05-26-2005, 04:22 PM
I guess I have bad eyes cause I never had to spend more than the cost of a rifle to get a spotting scope good enough to see .17 holes at 100 yards or see bullet hits on steel animals at 500 meters. Course I never felt I had to have a Cadillac or Mercedes to get me out to shoot either. In other words I never felt I had to buy overly expensive equiptment just to prove I had more money than someone else. I have yet to see a Bushnell spotting Scope that wouldn't define .22 caliber (or smaller) holes at a hundred yards. Most of the Tascos and Simmons work well enough too. As a matter of fact, one of the clearest scopes I ever used was a Tasco that I bought on closeout at $17! I bought 5 of them (about 20 years ago) and last I heard the guys I sold them too are still happily using them. Did you ever think of using your video camera as a spotting scope? If it has a lot of zoom, you can focus it on your target and actually get a shot by shot picture as your group forms. Sometimes there are things to be learned by doing it that way.
mike in co
05-26-2005, 05:19 PM
i too own a bushnel (40 mm) spotting scope. when i went to hp shooting, i managed to break the bushnel, and broke down and bought a kowa....a small one. 60 mm with a 25 long eye relief eye pc, and a aluminum telescoping stand...
i got more money in than most of my rifles......
the long eye relief is not required for casual bench shooting, and thus you can pop for a higher power. it is hard to see holes in the black of most targets at 200 yds or more period.
as in most thing you get what you pay for......
while the bushnel is small, has a small eye relief, and aint precise i can still see holes with it( i sent it in and for shipping cost they repaired it !)
most of the gun name brand scopes can be had for less from the mfg without the "gun" name on it....
05-26-2005, 05:44 PM
Here is a thread you might be interested in from the National Match forum.
05-26-2005, 06:39 PM
OK, I have a couple of extra spotting scopes:
One is a B & L Discoveror, 15X to 60X by 60MM. Perfect condition, comes in a neat leather carrying case. This is a heavy scope, great for bench work but too heavy for hunting:
The other is a Burris Landmark 20X by 50 MM. Only 8 inches long (yes, honey, that is really 8 inches...) and very light, perfect for hunting. I think it is new. It has a carrying case and one of the seams in the case is open.
05-26-2005, 06:49 PM
Here is a thread you might be interested in from the National Match forum.
not allowed in to read the message!!!!!
05-26-2005, 08:43 PM
05-26-2005, 08:50 PM
I have been on both sides of buying cheap optics and better quality (higher dollar stuff). Wasnt a matter of trying to impress someone with my money. That would be like trying to impress someone with a Pinto. In the end,the higher dollar stuff was cheaper. Bushnell may have produced good optics in the distant past,but ALL my experience with them and their product has been very negative. Years ago I bought some cheap binoculars and best I can figure,a fly must have lit on them and knocked them out of whack. I then paid atleast 6 times the amount for a good pair. They were more than I paid rent per month. That was 35 or so years ago,they still work great and I saw a pair on EBAY go for twice what I paid. During that 35 years I have no doubt I would have easily gone through more than 6 pairs of the cheaper ones and not enjoyed any of them as much. I notice a marked difference in eye strain using better stuff vs lesser quality stuff. You get what you pay for.
05-26-2005, 09:45 PM
Has Bushnell gone downhill in the last few decades? I have a pair of 7X35 Bushnell, individual focus fortunately, binoculars that have been used on land and sea from Alaska to Mexico. I got them in 1963 and the only thing wrong with them is that I lost one of the plastic lens caps a couple of years ago. I also bought a Bushnell Spacemaster spotting scope in 1974 for an antelope hunt and it is still going strong, too. I did have a small problem with the tripod/pistol box threads stripping. I Dremeled the hole out generously and epoxied in a long aluminum nut, twice. Just before the Winnemucca shoot the threads pulled out again, so this time I used a steel coupling nut. I imagine I won't have to fix it again.
05-27-2005, 03:12 AM
I was told many years ago that a 20X spotting scope was all the power needed. I have 2 Bushnell Sentry spotting scopes, and have looked through every other spotting scope I've been allowed to for about 25 years now. This mostly at matches, where my Bushnell Sentry is set up. I have never found a substantially better spotting scope. Some are brighter, some adjustable power scopes seem clearer, some big scopes may give you a better picture of the holes. But.
The Bushnell Sentry allows me to see 22 holes in the black, easily, except in the most unusual conditions. It allows me to see 30 caliber holes in the black at 200 yards most of the time, maybe 98% of the time. There are surprises. It allows me to see 22 holes in the black at 200 yards some of the time, maybe 60-70% of the holes. Everything depends on conditions-when the bullet makes a clean hole through the backer and there's snow on the ground, I can see every 22 hole.
On any given day, I never found anybody's other brand of scope that would consistently do better than the Bushnell. Others include the nice Unertls.
I don't think that any reasonably priced/sized scope will reliably pick up holes at 300 yards.
mike in co
05-27-2005, 06:06 AM
midways june flier has several on sale for under 200
05-27-2005, 07:31 AM
NVCurmudgeon---Has Bushnell gone down in the last few decades? In my books it has. Bausch & Lomb for example use to be the Rolls Royce of optical stuff. Go get your eyes checked and all the equipment was B&L. B&L was made in the USA back then. I think B&L and Bushnell combined and I do know Bushnell stuff is made in several countries to include China and Japan. B&L no longer made in USA. I bought my .223 used with a Bushnell scope missing the covers. Simple deal right? Ordered new ones and Bushnell sent me a form to complete to order them. They wanted amongst a whole lot of other info,serial number and country of origin. I'd thought the serial number would identify it---apparently not. Form completed and wrong covers sent--not only wrong but used(full price charged)---covers no longer available and lucky me,they just happened to have the used ones(that didnt fit). Later when scope was sent in for repairs,they did come up with new covers for it. My experience has been,it will be sent in for repairs and not necessarily fixed when returned. I do hope they have gone down hill and have not always been that way.
My burris landmark 12x24x50 compact spotter arrived yesterday ($80.00 off of ebay). I will be taking it to the range on Sunday for spotting silhouettes. Couple quick impressions. Not quite small enough for a fanny pack, but definitly small enough for a day pack. Weighs about a pound. I could easily read 1" letters off of a license plate at 50 yards. The 1/4" letters were not readable. I will see about using on paper targets Sunday. Need to sight in my son's .22.
05-27-2005, 08:02 AM
NVCurmudgeon---Has Bushnell gone down in the last few decades? In my books it has. Bausch & Lomb for example use to be the Rolls Royce of optical stuff. Go get your eyes checked and all the equipment was B&L. B&L was made in the USA back then. I think B&L and Bushnell combined and I do know Bushnell stuff is made in several countries to include China and Japan. . I do hope they have gone down hill and have not always been that way.
From the looks of the B&L website, it only makes optometry related products now
05-27-2005, 09:16 AM
Beagle suggested a Celestron spotter. I think they have a good reputation in scopes for astronomy, but no idea about spotters. And it is kind of apples and oranges as the designs are different. I will say this, they are priced right as you can get an 80 mm objective for about the price of the 60 mm Leupold. Yeah I know, objective size is not everything, but it is a factor. I think an angled eyepiece will work better for me from the bench. Does anyone know if you lose any optical quality by going to angled eyepiece instead of a straight eyepiece? BTW, I do have a pair of Leica 8X42 binoc's and they are worth every penny. TIA...
Ballistics in Scotland
05-27-2005, 11:10 PM
Telescopes are a very much easier thing to do right than binoculars, since they don't have the problems of optical alignment and spacing. When Japanese optical devices have failings, it isn't often an optical one, but something to do with the metal parts. Basically producing an upright image requires a something, lens if it is straight or prism if it is right-angled, and I doubt if there is any difference in image quality unless one of these if of poor quality. Some very large astronomical telescopes have angled eyepieces, and they don't even need an upright image.
If you have a telephoto camera lens, you should be able to find an eyepiece adaptor with an erecting prism to give an upright image. I found my Pentax own-brand 400 mm. lens very effective with a fairly cheap adaptor. It has its own tripod bushing under the where the point of balance, with camera body, would be. What I normally use, though, is my British Army Telescope, Signals and also General Service, Mk. VI, which I bought in the antique market in Bombay for Â£40. It has uncoated lenses, but the only effect of this I can see, when looking at the moon, is to produce a slight halo in the surrounding blackness. I can see doorknobs in buildings six miles away, if they are black, which may translate to bullet-holes at 1000 yards in perfect conditions. I wouldn't mind seeing what it has seen.
05-28-2005, 03:12 AM
I can see doorknobs in buildings six miles away, if they are black, which may translate to bullet-holes at 1000 yards in perfect conditions.
When we shot at 1000 yards in PA, on some days, we could almost see 30 caliber holes at 1000 yards with 20X scopes. If there was a group in the white, we could sort of see the group-not count the holes, but see where it was. Checking the targets we found it pretty reliable. I know it sounds crazy, but true. Our first time there they got us on the paper by watching our bullets in flight with binoculars made from 2 20X Bushnell Sentry scopes and some clever machine work. When a person watched the bullets for the first time, he invariably laughed. It is funny to be able to see the bullet, or the disturbance in the air, all the way to the target.
C A Plater
05-28-2005, 04:42 AM
I picked up a used 20x Kowa and nearly everyone that has looked through the eyepiece for the first time say "oooohh" as they focus in. I have no trouble seeing .22 caliber holes @ 200 yards unless there is a lot of heat mirage. Bear Basin sells them, along with many others, and are worth the price.
05-28-2005, 09:32 AM
Ballistics in Scotland---a 400 MM lens on 35MM camera would be about 8 power. Many binoculars exceed that. Would seem a little underpowered for most spotting scope applications.
05-28-2005, 05:09 PM
My spotting scope was stolen and I all I needed was to spot holes at 100 yards on the bench. I bought a 40's vintage Argus complete with Freeland stand on Ebay for $80.00. Good clear optics and works like a champ. It the field is not as flat as on more recent scopes, but plenty good enough for what I need it for.
I would suggest a fixed power eyepiece instead of the zoom feature because, the fixed power seems to be sharper to my eyes. I have a Nikon 15-40x-60mm and a Champion's Choice 60mm with both a 25x long eye relief, and 18-40x zoom eyepiece. The 25x is sharper than the zoom but, the Nikon is sharper than either.-JDL
My burris landmark 12x24x50 compact spotter arrived yesterday ($80.00 off of ebay). I will be taking it to the range on Sunday for spotting silhouettes. I will see about using on paper targets Sunday. Need to sight in my son's .22.
Great day for silhouettes on Sunday. Took the spotter out. I could make out the .22 holes in the black at 100 yards. I had to have the focus dead on and had to be looking through the middle of the lens though. There was an outers target with the 1" grid on the backer. I had no trouble reading the numbers on the grids. I also was able to pick up the rimfire bullets before they hit the silhouettes at the 75 and 100 yard line when the conditions were right and I didn't blink.
On the negative side, I am using a Wally World special tripod. It is very light and prone to jiggle in the wind. This scope is so short, it is hard to use with a camera type tripod while sitting in a chair. The eye piece is about 3" away from the attach stud and you just can't get your legs in under the tripod enough to make it comfortable. It was great for spotting people that were standing and would work great off of a bench.
Overall, I think it was a pretty good buy for $80.00.
05-31-2005, 08:51 AM
My Bushnell 45 degree Spacemaster with 15x eyepiece is still the best spotting scope for silhouette I have looked through. It is about 15 years old now, and has been blown over on concrete a couple of times. If I could get another one like it, I would buy it in a heartbeat. The angled eyepiece is a big plus when using a camera tripod.
I have a compact Kowa 20x50 that I would like to sell for a reasonable price. It is about new in the box. A very nice little scope, but short on eye relief. Fine if you don't wear glasses, but that eliminates silhouette use.
05-31-2005, 04:22 PM
The cheap scopes will "see" a bullet hole at 100 yards. But not much farther. I've seen quite a few Swarovski and Ziess scopes on the range, and they were definitely NOT owned by anyone trying to impress other shooters.
They are usually owned by serious competitors, and professionals.
I've never understood why someone would be willing to spend $1,500-$2,000 on a rifle, and then cry about $800-$1200 for decent optics.
I personally use a Nikon 20-60 X80MM. It's not bad, but I have always regretted being a tightwad and not spending the extra money on a Swarovski.
And I have no desire to impress anyone. I just want to be able to "see" those .338 holes "way out there!"
Ballistics in Scotland
06-03-2005, 11:29 PM
Carpetman, that is perfectly true about the magnification you get on film with a 400mm. lens, but when adapted to a telescope it is magnified by the power of the eyepiece. My eyepiece was a fairly cheap one, and it would be worth finding out if anything better is available in astronomical circles. For a cheap one, it would be better to have less power than the 4x to 5x I estimate mine was, for the more the magnification of a single lens or group of lens, the more dubious quality shows up. But with either this or high but pre-coated lens quality, I got about as good a performance as most people need.
In much the same way, when I remove the eyepiece and attach a camera without lens to my 1935 British Watson microscope, the power is considerably reduced. With a 48mm. objective I can fill the frame with a firing-pin indentation. Now there is a fascinating instrument, and perhaps the best value you can find on eBay, for what you get. I wish comparable guns came as cheap.
Being basically monocular myself at ranges beyond eight inches, I can't estimate total magnification by aiming at a brick wall or evenly spaced railing, and superimposing one image on the other. It's a skill I'm perfectly prepared to believe other people have, like calculus.
For the same reason I was reluctant to buy and carry a pair of binoculars for game spotting. If I'm on my own with a scope which adjusts up to 9x, I shamelessly use that, after opening the bolt and placing the rifle butt on top of my shoulder. For use when others might be around and get nervous, though, I have an 8x Pentax monocular, which I carry attached to a sort of want like an Edwardian pince-nez, to reduce hand movement. It comes with a close-up lens and a sort of clear plastic tripod, and has graduations which you can use for measurements either at long range, or in tenths of a millimetre at around four inches distance. On the US market there might even be a model in civilized inches.
07-28-2008, 11:13 AM
Looks like there are some "seasoned citizens" here...like me!
I have a 1974 model Bushnell Sentry (NOT a "Sentry II") 32x50 spotting scope. About 1975, I recall seeing an optional eyepiece that doubled the magnification to 64X.
Does anybody have such an eyepiece for sale, know where I might find one?
07-28-2008, 03:30 PM
Ive got a leupold and believe me optics quality shows in a spotting scope even more then in binoculars or a rifle scope. When your trying to look at 22 holes at 200 yards you need all the optical quality you can afford to buy.
The 45 year-old scope on my pistol box is a Bushnell, and it is a dandy. Sharp, clear, 45* eyepiece making it easy to use in a match. I would usually get it adjusted so that I could just swivel my head a little and see what I needed to see, from a standing position with my eyes maybe 18-24 inches from the eyepiece. And a chum could watch the 22's going downrange if I let him (in practice). (He said 'The bullet drops!" Well, yes...)
On the other hand, I have made the decision to get into HP shooting, and needed a good spotting scope, so bought a 25-power LER Kowa off Ebay. Paid a lot for it, but know that a cheap scope GENERALLY is a poor buy.
mike in co
07-29-2008, 03:51 AM
gentlemen and ladies,
since i posted on this thread three years ago some changes have been made. first i read a great article on optics resolution( the ability to clearly see a object). this is a simple basic statement about optics. : to observe an x dia hole at y distance, then you need z diameter objective lens. period...yes there are exceptions where ideal conditions MAY allow one to see x with a smaller lens. the clarity of the hole is then based on lens quality. i shoot mainly at 100/200 with 22 to 32 cal. i have had a 40 mm and a 60 mm objective lens spotting scopes. always an issue that ocassionally could not see holes. so i sold my kowa 60mm with two eye pcs and bought an inexpensive celestron(china) scope( with money left over). it is a 100mm 22/66x scope. it is benchrest only. it is heavy, at 22x i can see holes at 100, at 66x i can see the details of the hole! at 200 no problem with holes....one exception. when the sun just clears noon, it cast a shadow on the face of the target. the black in the shadow is tuff to see holes in at that point...not impossible..just tuff.
is this a quality scope..no, but it did not cost $1000 it cost $309 delivered !( from the optic zone . com). yes the lens is not crystal clear on the edges, but in the center on targets at 100/200 it is quite good.
some day i'll have a leica....probably only an 80mm.
mike in co
Does anyone have any experience with the BARSKA range of spotting scopes?
07-29-2008, 07:09 AM
Mine's a 50mm Bushnell "Trophy" acquired in the late '70s with a 12x-36x eyepiece. Resolution deteriorates a bit if you crank it up past 24x but, if the light is right, I can pick out 6mm holes in the black at 200M and .30 cal. at 300M.
However, I DO agree that Bushnell's quality has deteriorated considerably in the past few years. I've got a couple of old 4 X 32 Bushnell "Banner" scopes and, after looking through some recent Bushnells at gunshows/dealer shops, I wouldn't swap my old ones, even up, for NIB!
07-29-2008, 09:51 AM
I was l ucky enough to get a Carl Zeiss 15x-45x 60 MM scope off Ebay for $500.00. It was a lot of money for me to spend but I believe in Ziess optics. 2nd time I used it one of the lenses came loose and I had to send it back. BUT.. due to Ziess' lifetime transferable warantee it was fixed free. I've used Tasco in the past and wouldn't give them houseroom. I believe that when it comes to optics, you only get what you pay for............
07-30-2008, 12:42 AM
I picked up a Barska 20-60. Clear and bright. Very short eye relief. Not much good with eye protection on. Works OK at 20x. I would not buy another.
07-30-2008, 01:15 AM
I'm looking for another spoting scope. I had an old Bushnell Spacemaster 15-45 that was getting foggy. I replaced it with a Barska 20-60. The Barska is ok, but it has no eye relief at all. I liked the Bushnell, but hard to see through the fog.
I've been looking at a Bushnell Sentry 18-36 or a Simmons ProSport 20-60.
Anyone have one, or both, of these????
I'd like to know how far the eye relief is.
Anyone know of a site that has the eye releif of different spotting scopes listed????
I have not had opportunity to use either Ziess or Swarovski spotting scopes but have used Kowa to some extent. A friend has a Nikon 80mm (Earth and Sky?) and I found resolution with it to be equal to Kowa, if not better in some instances< and for half the price. I now have impaired vision and needed more scope than my Champion's Choice 20x60mm. Paying for the top level scopes is no longer even a remote possibility. A friend who is a long time HP competitor and Kowa owner told me about Konus spotting scopes. He had seen one and was impressed with how it compared to his Kowa and had bought one. I got one for myself and will recommend it to anyone whose budget will not allow buying the "best". Price is $200 +/- at Optics Planet. Mine is 20-60x80mm. They also make a 100mm model.
Trying to resolve .22 bullet holes at 200 yds has made many a spotting scope owner/user moan, and that includes all makes I have any familiarity with.
mike in co
07-30-2008, 03:26 AM
don..the konus is the basic model out of one factory that produces a series of "name" brands. the difference in cost is just how much time is spent on quality control. konus started with a good rep in high power, but as more scopes go out quality issues showed up. this is why i went to the celestron brand...just more quality control.
abin...if you go to the optics zone, once you have a selected a scope you can look at its specs. typically for a variable if will list both ends of the eye relief. if not call optics and ask..they are great to deal with.
mike in co
Below is a good tutorial on spotting scopes:
And this is the scope I would recommend, if I remember right Optics Planet has a good return policy, a try for so many days thing.
I bought a Nikon with a 80 mm objective, I had a 60 mm objective Nikon scope and was curious on the difference between a 60 and an 80, it is a world of difference. The resolution is much better, easier to pick up smaller holes at a distance.
Sure scopes seem expensive but it is cheaper in the long run to spend all you can afford on one.
Wish they would have had the 82 mm when I was in the market for one.
Read the tutorial it is good.
A scope is only as good as the last lens it is looking through, and that lens is the atmosphere we live in.
07-30-2008, 08:23 AM
don..the konus is the basic model out of one factory that produces a series of "name" brands.
Can you name some of those brands?
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