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looking to upgrade my spotting scope, how high end do I need to go?


formernuke

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I'm starting to work my way up to extreme range shooting. I want a spotting scope for that purpose. Bullet holes for shorter ranges/ load development and wind calculation at long range when I'm not using the rifle scope.

Even though I will not be immediately needing the long range I believe in buy once cry once. I don't want to pay for brand or stuff I won't need.

Based on the reading I've done so far on the low end I'm thinking a celestron regal, pantax or viper HD, on the higher end a razor HD. I'm not sure though what I would need for these purposes.

Thank you for any inputs.

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FWIW, the Kowa line has served Highpower and Palma shooters very well for 25 or 30 years now .. so well in fact, that I haven't tried anything else or felt the need to!

"Buy once, cry once" is exactly correct with optics - you really do get what you pay for.

A really good stand is very important too since the clearest scope on Earth is compromised if it's swaying/shaking and most excellent scopes are quite heavy. Mine are on 1" Ewing stands.

My two cents

Mark

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I say not high. I've been an astronomer for a long time now, and I'm getting pretty damn good at doing serious technical evaluations on scopes like this. The ED barska line is serious good quality for cheap. The glass matter most, and they have that (mechanics is another story with barska). I've used chinese 80mm telescopes (usually $300 range) for terrestrial stuff before with good results, and the barska ED scopes have pretty much that same lens.

When you say "extreme long range" exactly how far and what size targets? For very extreme applications you might want to be looking at Nikon and Pentax glass. Both have spotting scopes so well built that the eyepieces (Pentax XW series, and Nikon NAV SW series) are highly coveted under the most extreme viewing conditions. I've got a Pentax or two that I quite like. The Pentax XO 5mm is known as the best ocular ever made in the history of mankind, but that one was made for targets millions of miles away...

In any case, you're going to need aperture to control the dimming required at very high magnifications. You should be looking only at 80mm+ scopes.

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I have a Konus Konuspot 20-60x-100 that has gotten very positive reviews on a number of sites. I got it on Dvor ( the Optics Planet discount site ) for about $200 IIRC. Couldn't pass it up at the price.

I have absolutely nothing to compare it to so I can't say that it is all that but for what I have used it for, spotting targets at 100 - 200 yds, I haven't had any problems seeing 223 holes at those distances.

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I've counted feathers on a hawk at 1000yd, anything's possible with the right (crazy Russian military) equipment ;)

That was while I was using a 102 f8 astronomy equipment to do a visual survey of microwave antenna on buildings near the DFW airport. I was reading the name brands off 2-3' dia dishes well, well over a mile away.

That setup wouldn't be practical (I was running binoviewers and stuff that won't focus in a spotting scope). But, the point is 300y bullet holes should be no problem with good lighting and enough aperture (and correct focal length).

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The problem with seeing bullet holes with standard spotting scopes is atmospheric disturbance. A decent 20x spotter is great for reading trace and general movement of trees, bushes, etc. A 30x spotter lets you see mirage well. Much more than that and you start to become too restricted in field of view to read wind signs.

A Celestron Regal 65mm scope is a good value. The 80mm is better. The little Vortex Razor is darned good for packing and their larger Razor is outstanding. The Pentax ED with a wide angle lens is great for viewing the shooting area and seeing the different wind movements at different distances - perfect for hilly terrain.

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I forgot to add vortex gives a very good veterans discount, so a viper HD will be a little over what a celestron regal will be. I just know if either will work and if the extra would be better for the viper, or do I need to save for really high end ones.

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I forgot to add vortex gives a very good veterans discount, so a viper HD will be a little over what a celestron regal will be. I just know if either will work and if the extra would be better for the viper, or do I need to save for really high end ones.

I'd suggest you first consider a number of things having to do with how you are going to physically be using the scope. In particular, size matters.

If you are going to be setting up near your car and won't be moving about, then size doesn't matter. If you are moving around or have to hike a ways, then small and light is important.

Are you going to be shooting by yourself or with someone else? If you are going to be swapping off spotting tasks with another person then you want to be able to get as close to them as possible to be able to see trace as well as mirage and wind movement.

If you are going to try and setup the scope right next to you so you can use it from your shooting position, then the right stand and an angled eyepiece are an advantage. But if you are acting as a spotter, an angled eyepiece can be problematic because it can be harder to scan terrain if you aren't used to them.

I have a small Vortex Razor 11-33x because it's a compromise. It has good glass, is small and easy to pack, and works well for me if I am spotting for someone. It also has an angled eyepiece so I can use it by myself but more often than not I would prefer a straight one.

As to the military discount, I had heard they had a program for active duty / leo at one time but am not sure if it goes beyond that. If it does, then as retired military I should look into it.

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I plan to use it near my car at a couple of ranges. So far I shoot mostly alone so I will have it next to me. Based on what you've said so far it looks like I might want a fairly high end scope

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I plan to use it near my car at a couple of ranges. So far I shoot mostly alone so I will have it next to me. Based on what you've said so far it looks like I might want a fairly high end scope

Not necessarily. I don't mean you can run out and get a $100 Barska and be happy, but it's possible to get a really decent spotter for under $500 - the Celestron Regal or Kowa are good examples. You will see a lot of these at matches. And don't blow all your money on the scope because you will want a really good sturdy tripod to put it on.

You will find that for the most part, reading trace and wind, you want the scope set somewhere in the 20x - 30x range maximum. Higher than that and you miss too much, plus the middle magnification range on a scope minimizes distortion.

Have a look at this video. It's a really good explanation of how to use a spotting scope.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjrJcA2gTIw#t=115

What a lot of people aren't aware of is that at the high power matches, the targets are in pits and there are people in the pits that lower, mark, and raise the targets. The spotter on the line is looking at a big marker that's placed on the target - they are not seeing the bullet holes.

The setups you see with a spotting scope next to a shooter are often setup so that the spotting scope is focused on something about mid-way downrange. Trees or grass or something, where you are looking for direction of motion. That same image will let you see the mirage at the targets.

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Are the $100 price range scopes OK for seeing holes in paper at 100yd? That is pretty much my extent for rifle shooting.

In all seriousness, if you want to see the holes on paper at 100yd cheaply, use the scope on your rifle rather than spending money on a spotting scope. Have you considered looking for something used instead?

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If you are going down range to set up the target anyway, why not buy a camera setup instead of a high end spotter? They are around the same price but you don't have to worry about atmospheric conditions and you can see bullet holes at north of 1500 yds.

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I've seen bullet holes at 600 with my 20-60 Razor HD. But only once has the air been clear enough to do it. I've had bad enough days that I couldnt see a hole at 200. It's great for seeing mirage, which is my main use in shooting F-Class.

I bought the Razor HD because I could get a zoom lense, and also a Mil or MOA reticle wide angle lense. I do not regret spending the money.

I've compared it side by side with the Kowa 883 and could only slightly tell the Kowa was better. It was NOT $1000 (plus $300-600 for an eye piece) better, and last I looked you cant get the reticle eye pieces for the Kowa.

Here's a couple for sale:

http://forum.accurateshooter.com/index.php?topic=3868513.15

http://forum.accurateshooter.com/index.php?topic=3868893.0

I got mine from Libery optics, he gave me a pretty good deal well below MAP. Not as good as the 2 above links though.

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