Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Arrow Can you folks help me out with a spotting scope recommendation?

    My previous 20-60x Cheap-O, auction purchased at $130 spotting scope crapped out on me at the end of last year. The threads to screw in the eye piece were probably on their way out when I purchased the scope, and it's no longer possible to screw it in with any positive traction, even with plumber's tape.

    It was a CELESTRON - yeah, I know, top of the line...

    Whoever was behind the scope could call out adjustments to the shooter out to 600 yds. from behind it's mini-table-mounted tripod.

    So I've spent the last winter shoveling my driveway and deck, and looking at alternative spotting scopes as possible replacements.

    I've looked at SWARO's, KOWA's, LEUPOD's, etc. and honestly, while I'm pretty adept at quoting the number of grains of powder to drop behind a bullet, I'm pretty confused and need the help of all the brain-trust folks here who have a favorite or have researched the matter better than I.

    There's no hunting "spotting" involved, so it's totally for the range. We used to shoot just out to 600, and the deceased scope did just fine (God rest her soul), but we're going to go out several hundred yards further, and I'd rather not make another cheap mistake - or an expensive mistake either!

    No, we don't plan to shoot at Camp Perry, but we have many rifles that could...

    The budget ranges from "Buy once, cry once" for something that will burn through mirage to something that does the job and is more affordable. Comes with a guarantee and will last for at least 20 years.

    Well, even if the guarantee doesn't last that long, hopefully the scope would.

    The thing that vexes me is that some packages include just the main body of the scope - and then you have to pay additional for the ocular that lets you actually see through it. And if you need a stand, and in most sights I've searched, THERE ARE NO RECOMMENDATIONS for the stand. And then you need the scope cover if you're shooting in inclement weather.

    What works for you?

    Do I need a 20x80?

    I just don't know, so I'm respectfully turning my problem over to the erudite members of PAFOA and hoping that you can recommend something that works for me.

    While I'm not a prolific poster, I usually learn something new every time I log-in to PAFOA because of folks like you, many who have long-ago become embedded in my DNA.

    Thanks to each of you who have taken the time out of your day to read this post for "HELP!"
    - bamboomaster

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Can you folks help me out with a spotting scope recommendation?


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    south hills, Pennsylvania
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    Default Re: Can you folks help me out with a spotting scope recommendation?

    what is your budget for spotting scopes?
    are you looking to see bullet holes on paper at 600 yards or more or are you using the scope to see spotters at 600-1,000 yards as well as wind conditions,bullet splash, and mirage?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    SEPa, Pennsylvania
    (Bucks County)
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    Default Re: Can you folks help me out with a spotting scope recommendation?

    You may benefit from browsing this man's site.

    http://www.jarheadtop.com/default.htm

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Can you folks help me out with a spotting scope recommendation?

    Quote Originally Posted by usmc21 View Post
    what is your budget for spotting scopes?
    are you looking to see bullet holes on paper at 600 yards or more or are you using the scope to see spotters at 600-1,000 yards as well as wind conditions,bullet splash, and mirage?
    Don't need to see the bullet holes at 600, for we measure them after the fact. My wife's best ten shot group from our AIAW (proned out) was 2.62" @ 600. But to see spotters at 600 - 1000 yards, wind conditions, bullet splash, and mirage would be great, for if I can read it, she can hit it.

    The budget is anywhere from "buy once, cry once" to just something that will just do the job, even if it isn't a brand name.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to offer your remarks...
    - bamboomaster

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Can you folks help me out with a spotting scope recommendation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brick View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pacer View Post
    You may benefit from browsing this man's site.

    http://www.jarheadtop.com/default.htm
    Thanks so much for each of you pointing me in a direction where I could at least read about possible recommendations that you have already perused.

    I'm very grateful! And am gonna be offline for a while clicking in to your recommended links.

    Kindest regards,
    - bamboomaster

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Bridgeville, Pennsylvania
    (Allegheny County)
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    Default Re: Can you folks help me out with a spotting scope recommendation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pacer View Post
    You may benefit from browsing this man's site.

    http://www.jarheadtop.com/default.htm

    He definitely has good prices on Kowa's. I've had mine for about 15 years, doubt it'll ever give up but if it does, that's what I'd buy again. I like their long eye relief because of my prescription glasses. Almost everyone who shoots Black Powder Silhouette (200 - 500 meters) eventually picks up a Kowa. Clear optics, easy to see mirage, bullet splash, bullet wake.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Can you folks help me out with a spotting scope recommendation?

    kowa spotting scopes are top notch and they do have the option of the LER for an extra $350.

    i know you have down the celestron road before, but take a look at the regal 80 M2 ED...it got an 80MM obj lens, wide FOV, you can interchange any standard optical lens, and also has the LER.

    it's right around $700..

    it reads mirage on your target and you can also see the mirage from 4 other targets around yours. no problems reading spotters also.

    compare kowa, celestron and see what best suits your needs.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Can you folks help me out with a spotting scope recommendation?

    I wrote this a few years ago for another forum as a guide to purchasing a spotting scope that a rifle competitor would use for shooting CMP and NRA high power rifle matches and added some stuff from other forums. This assumes the shooter will use the spotting scope on his own while shooting the rifle on the firing line without a spotter.

    The Spotting Scope For target shooting, look for a scope that has:
    Angled eyepiece to allow you to look through the eye with minimal head movement so that your position on the rifle is maintained.
    Long eye relief is very nice to reduce head movement and allow you to keep your glasses on while shooting.
    The 60 to 80mm objective is the size to get, 100mm sizes are available but they are heavy and tend to tip over on the stand since they make the stand top heavy while shooting in the offhand or standing position. Smaller objective lens sizes are available but they do not transmit as much light and so are difficult to use early in the AM or late in the PM.
    A scope that allows one to rotate the rear of the scope body and the eye piece is very nice to help you adjust the scope so that minimal head movement is required to shift you gaze from the rifle to the spotting scope and back again.
    Most target shooters use a fixed power eye piece with extended eye relief at about 25x or 30x. If you want a variable power, you give up the extended eye relief. Most shooters with scopes that are variable power use 20-60x eye piece. Most never use more than 30x, at higher power the mirage on the range will become so visible that you’ll not be able to see the bullet holes. It does no good to magnify a poor image.
    Water proof and fog proof is naturally a requirement since the match will continue if there is no lightning.

    All scopes focus out to infinity; make sure that the scope you purchase will focus on objects as close as 10 meters. This will enable you to shoot anything from Blow Gun (air rifle) to High Power Rifle and still be able to see the target. When I purchased my scope, I made sure that at 50 feet (indoor small bore rifle distance) I could see an entire target card without having to move the scope.

    Seeing bullet holes is nice, but the primary reason to have a spotting scope is to read mirage for sight adjustment in the wind. Focus the scope on the target then turn the focus knob about 1/8 to 1/4 turn to the left. You are now focusing on the mirage about the mid-range and with practice, can turn the windage knob on your sights to compensate for the wind that is apparent due to the mirage. Turning the spotting scope focus to the right allows you to see the mirage behind the target. Since that wind has no effect on your bullets desired flight; that information is of no value to you. Watch the wind between you and the target. Watch the up wind mirage for let offs and pickups. Watching downwind mirage is a waste of time since that wind is already past the target. Try to never shoot in a boil, when the mirage is running straight up. The mirage will stretch out the target and you’ll miss the X ring due to errors in elevation.

    Eagle Optics has a good website to compare scopes.

    I use a Kowa scope, mine is the older 821 model, now discontinued. I have never had a problem with the Kowa. I have a 27x extended eye relief eye piece.

    I see many Konus scopes on the range and have looked through several and they are ok but to me, they lack clarity. I hear that the Minox is a good scope. Kowa seems to be the standard by which the others are judged.

    Lastly, for hunting and photography, the straight body spotting scope is easier to use.

    One could probably take all the Scope Brand names out of this discussion and boil it down to 3 categories:
    $200 or less If you’re a new shooter starting out and/or on a limited budget you can get by spending around $200 or less on an entry level scope. It will allow you to see the shot spotters and scoring disks so you can compete and score for other shooters. You could stay with this scope forever unless your aspiration is Distinguished or President 100 achievements.
    $400 - $600 For the more advanced shooter that is trying to move up in classification and needs to see mirage to stay closer to the middle. Added benefit: Resale Value when Upgrading.
    $800 and up For the shooter that has the funds right from the start to buy once/cry once over the initial cost of the scope. Or the shooter who has been at this game for a few or more years that can now afford it so he treats himself to the scope and the benefits it provides in; Brightness and Clarity for Seeing & Reading Mirage to save points, Durability & Resistance to fogging... These are also the scopes you will see on the line @ Perry in the President 100 shoot off in the hands of the best in the country. Added benefit: Resale Value when moving on to another hobby.

    Scope stand and head
    Look for a stand that is about 48” tall; at 6ft tall this stand height works for me. They make a taller stands but they will be top heavy and the scope will fall over, and wind will make it wobble, so the scope will be difficult to look through. You will want a one inch diameter stand rod for strength. There is a First Strike stand and head that is showing up on the firing line more and more often and the stand owners are pleased, http://www.first-strike-products.com/ . Creedmoor makes a fine stand and scope head as well. Both of these companies are owned by shooters that have vast experience http://www.creedmoorsports.com/store/home.php. Giraud Tool Company makes a nice stand. I have never used one but have seen them at nationals; it looks very well made and functional. http://www.giraudtool.com/index.html Dave Holub makes his HMR scope stand and head. I have seen one but never used it. I would say it would be good for occasional use or for a junior shooter trying to decide if he/she wanted to shoot in competition. http://newhighpower.com/hmr.html
    You should avoid the use of a camera tripod style stand for rifle competition. In the standing position, the legs will be splayed out and use up all the room on your firing point; you will not be able to stand close enough to the tripod to look in the scope. If you turn the tripod so that you can stand close enough then the legs will be in your neighbors firing point and the range officer will have you move your stand out of their way. In prone the camera tripod will not allow the scope to be low enough to the ground for you to use the scope. The little three legged things that some manufacturers include with their scopes are OK for bench use but they are mostly cheap pieces of junk that will not last; there are several broken one in the lost & found at my club. I set up my scope next to the bench on my scope stand so that the vibration from recoil and muzzle blast does not cause the scope problems.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Wayne, Pennsylvania
    (Chester County)
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    Default Re: Can you folks help me out with a spotting scope recommendation?

    Quote Originally Posted by X Hunter View Post
    I wrote this a few years ago for another forum as a guide to purchasing a spotting scope that a rifle competitor would use for shooting CMP and NRA high power rifle matches and added some stuff from other forums. This assumes the shooter will use the spotting scope on his own while shooting the rifle on the firing line without a spotter.

    The Spotting Scope For target shooting, look for a scope that has:
    Angled eyepiece to allow you to look through the eye with minimal head movement so that your position on the rifle is maintained.
    Long eye relief is very nice to reduce head movement and allow you to keep your glasses on while shooting.
    The 60 to 80mm objective is the size to get, 100mm sizes are available but they are heavy and tend to tip over on the stand since they make the stand top heavy while shooting in the offhand or standing position. Smaller objective lens sizes are available but they do not transmit as much light and so are difficult to use early in the AM or late in the PM.
    A scope that allows one to rotate the rear of the scope body and the eye piece is very nice to help you adjust the scope so that minimal head movement is required to shift you gaze from the rifle to the spotting scope and back again.
    Most target shooters use a fixed power eye piece with extended eye relief at about 25x or 30x. If you want a variable power, you give up the extended eye relief. Most shooters with scopes that are variable power use 20-60x eye piece. Most never use more than 30x, at higher power the mirage on the range will become so visible that you’ll not be able to see the bullet holes. It does no good to magnify a poor image.
    Water proof and fog proof is naturally a requirement since the match will continue if there is no lightning.

    All scopes focus out to infinity; make sure that the scope you purchase will focus on objects as close as 10 meters. This will enable you to shoot anything from Blow Gun (air rifle) to High Power Rifle and still be able to see the target. When I purchased my scope, I made sure that at 50 feet (indoor small bore rifle distance) I could see an entire target card without having to move the scope.

    Seeing bullet holes is nice, but the primary reason to have a spotting scope is to read mirage for sight adjustment in the wind. Focus the scope on the target then turn the focus knob about 1/8 to 1/4 turn to the left. You are now focusing on the mirage about the mid-range and with practice, can turn the windage knob on your sights to compensate for the wind that is apparent due to the mirage. Turning the spotting scope focus to the right allows you to see the mirage behind the target. Since that wind has no effect on your bullets desired flight; that information is of no value to you. Watch the wind between you and the target. Watch the up wind mirage for let offs and pickups. Watching downwind mirage is a waste of time since that wind is already past the target. Try to never shoot in a boil, when the mirage is running straight up. The mirage will stretch out the target and you’ll miss the X ring due to errors in elevation.

    Eagle Optics has a good website to compare scopes.

    I use a Kowa scope, mine is the older 821 model, now discontinued. I have never had a problem with the Kowa. I have a 27x extended eye relief eye piece.

    I see many Konus scopes on the range and have looked through several and they are ok but to me, they lack clarity. I hear that the Minox is a good scope. Kowa seems to be the standard by which the others are judged.

    Lastly, for hunting and photography, the straight body spotting scope is easier to use.

    One could probably take all the Scope Brand names out of this discussion and boil it down to 3 categories:
    $200 or less If you’re a new shooter starting out and/or on a limited budget you can get by spending around $200 or less on an entry level scope. It will allow you to see the shot spotters and scoring disks so you can compete and score for other shooters. You could stay with this scope forever unless your aspiration is Distinguished or President 100 achievements.
    $400 - $600 For the more advanced shooter that is trying to move up in classification and needs to see mirage to stay closer to the middle. Added benefit: Resale Value when Upgrading.
    $800 and up For the shooter that has the funds right from the start to buy once/cry once over the initial cost of the scope. Or the shooter who has been at this game for a few or more years that can now afford it so he treats himself to the scope and the benefits it provides in; Brightness and Clarity for Seeing & Reading Mirage to save points, Durability & Resistance to fogging... These are also the scopes you will see on the line @ Perry in the President 100 shoot off in the hands of the best in the country. Added benefit: Resale Value when moving on to another hobby.

    Scope stand and head
    Look for a stand that is about 48” tall; at 6ft tall this stand height works for me. They make a taller stands but they will be top heavy and the scope will fall over, and wind will make it wobble, so the scope will be difficult to look through. You will want a one inch diameter stand rod for strength. There is a First Strike stand and head that is showing up on the firing line more and more often and the stand owners are pleased, http://www.first-strike-products.com/ . Creedmoor makes a fine stand and scope head as well. Both of these companies are owned by shooters that have vast experience http://www.creedmoorsports.com/store/home.php. Giraud Tool Company makes a nice stand. I have never used one but have seen them at nationals; it looks very well made and functional. http://www.giraudtool.com/index.html Dave Holub makes his HMR scope stand and head. I have seen one but never used it. I would say it would be good for occasional use or for a junior shooter trying to decide if he/she wanted to shoot in competition. http://newhighpower.com/hmr.html
    You should avoid the use of a camera tripod style stand for rifle competition. In the standing position, the legs will be splayed out and use up all the room on your firing point; you will not be able to stand close enough to the tripod to look in the scope. If you turn the tripod so that you can stand close enough then the legs will be in your neighbors firing point and the range officer will have you move your stand out of their way. In prone the camera tripod will not allow the scope to be low enough to the ground for you to use the scope. The little three legged things that some manufacturers include with their scopes are OK for bench use but they are mostly cheap pieces of junk that will not last; there are several broken one in the lost & found at my club. I set up my scope next to the bench on my scope stand so that the vibration from recoil and muzzle blast does not cause the scope problems.
    I'm very grateful you took the time to move us along on our search for a spotting scope that works for us. Once you get past the marketing, a shooter knows the devil is in the details and many thanks for providing the details!

    Kindest regards,
    - bamboomaster

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