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Are cheap spotting scopes useless?

5284 Views 62 Replies 29 Participants Last post by  Charlotte
The idea of paying $500 or more for a spotting scope bugs me. The Winchester scope at Big 5 ($249, on sale for $99) is priced right--but will it have any value to a .22lr beginner at 50/100 yards?
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While I'm not familar with that particular scope, it will have some value. Get comfortable using it and you will know what you want in a scope when you get ready to spend more money. The idea of spending $500 on a spotting scope a few years bugged me also. After using a lesser quality $150 scope for awhile, I'm getting closer to a better scope.

You have to also consider how often you'd use the scope. When I bought mine I was shooting maybe twice a month. Being retired, I now shoot 2-3 times a week.
 

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I have that Winchester scope, it comes in a hard case with a mini tripod and the scope is something like 15-45x50 right?

It works, but it's nothing special. The clarity is just OK, the brightness is just OK almost poor. You can see .22 holes at 100 yards with good eyes. The worst thing about it is the eye relief. You have to almost stick your eyeball directly on the lense or you can't see thru the scope. Literally. Forget about looking thru it with eye glasses or safety glasses because you have to get closer. You'll have to lift your glasses up, then stick your eye on the lense.

I got mine as a gift. It's OK for messing around with I suppose, but it's a poor choice if you plan on using it a lot. I rarely use mine just because the eye relief issue sucks so bad.
 

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Look into one of the Leupold windriver spotting scope, they are really decent for the $$ not in the same class as the 500+ dollar units, but would work well at the distance you are using them at.

I have a Burris Signature my self for rifle and a small Kowa in my pistol box. The little Kowa scopes aren't bad in the pricing, not sure what kind of power you are wanting.

Check these out. I have one of the TS501 45degree 20-40. I think it would work well at 100 yard. I know I can see 22 holes in the black at 50 yards.

The purple ones are being discontinued, big savings there, good people to deal with also.

http://www.champchoice.com/shop.php?action=clearsrch&class=KOWA
 

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spotting scopes

IMHO when it comes to spotting scopes you get what you pay for. That said the average person is not going to pay the higher price for the high end spotting scopes. I've looked through a couple of the winchester scopes and I like the larger scope the best.

Larry
 

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If you want a reasonable compromise scope, the Leupold 15-30X50 Golden Ring is very good, and compact. A fellow let me look through his at the range yesterday, and it was great.
My Cabela's 63mm is also respectable for the money, as is Leupold's "better cheaper" scope.
The Bushnell Spacemaster is old technology, but birders, who spend more on their hobby than we do, rate it highly, and you can buy a long eye relief eyepiece.

Maybe, like Fullchoke, after I retire, I will find use for one of the more expensive models.

If I could afford one, It would be the Pentax 80mm scope, and in second place would be the Kowa 65mm offering, with a long eye relief eyepiece. That's what Jarheadtop.com recommends for its shooters. The Swift company offers some interesting scopes, and their binoculars are tops.

In optics, you generally do get what you pay for, but a some of that is in quality control and GEE WHIZ factor. Zeiss, Leica, and Leupold scopes have been known to make shooters dance and sing! :p

I mean, have you ever been looking a the Tundra Swans at Yellowstone with your 8X binocs, and have some dude or dudette pull a Zeiss cannon out of their motorhome? Well, you either gut it out, and listen to them wax rapturous over the "inner feather detail", or go kick the tires on the Trailblazer, muttering ungentlemanly phrases.

It is possible to get a dog from a high end maker, but likely the dog will be better than some lower priced offerings. But! a $1,500 scope is not necessarily 5X better than a $300 one. There are lots of excellent scopes for between $300-600. :)
 

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I purchased a BSA catseye scope and sent it back--too muddy, dark at high power, poor resolution, eye relief short. But they gave me credit. So I got a BSA 8x32x50mm rifle scope in exchange. Now this is a relatively cheap scope but was hands above their spotting scope in brightness, eye relief is good, and resolving power allows me to see 22cal holes in the black easily at 100yds and good at 150yds. 45cal holes at 200yds are easy to see. So I mounted the scope on an aluminum bar with rings and put it on a tripod. It serves well as an intermediate spotting scope and is easy to use with the 3+ inch eye relief. Don't know or care how it is as a rifle scope though.


....................TM7
 

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In my experience, if you just grit it out and buy a good one to begin with, you will be happier in the long run. If you buy a cheapie now, after a few range sessions you will want something better, so you buy one a little better, then pretty soon you find yourself needing a good one. If you dont waste your money on the cheapies, you will have enough for a good one! A fine spotting scope is a lifetime investment; if you get it right the first time you will be happy. BTW, try shopping around on the price comparison websites and on ebay, you might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.
 

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check out Eagle Optics

They have a nice 80mm scope with a 20-60x zoom for $399.00. I have a little nicer one myself but have used this scope and have been very impressed with the quality. Let alone these guys are great to talk with and know there stuff. A couple of them are avid hunters on the staff, they'll point you in the right direction. http://www.eagleoptics.com/index.asp?dept=1&type=4&purch=1&pid=3190

good luck
Tim
 

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In my opinion, you get what you pay for in a spotting scope. Buy cheap and you will end up paying again when you get a good scope. If you are an NRA member and get the Rifleman magazine. There is a good article in the latest issue on what differentiates good optics from poor ones. Basically it deals with the resolving power of the optics.
Al
 

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A friend of mine has one of the Celestron scopes that Dwight mentioned earlier. His has the 80MM objective with a variable eyepiece that goes up to 60X. Its' one of the best scopes I've looked through, and he paid less than 150.00 for it. I don't know how long it'll last, but it's well worth the $. It beats scopes costing 3X as much, maybe more. I was suprised by the optical quality for the cost. I have one of the Wind River scopes I use for 50 yard sporter BR matches--a must have for sporter with the 6X scope, his Celestron is better. The Leupold ain't trash, but it's not as good as his Celestron. I don't know if all Celestron's are that good, but his definitely is a good one, and the guy can afford any kind he chooses, so that tells me he liked it better than some of the more expensive ones available. If you get a chance, look though one of the Celestron's with the 80MM objective.
 

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If Kent sez there good

it's enough of a recommendation fer me. I bought a Celestron. Waterproof and "no fault" lifetime warranty. I am going to compare it head to head with a Burris landmark tomorrow. Will report back. Indications are from me just holding scope and looking thru it is I may be well pleased with this one.
 

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Cheap Spotting Scope....

J Beede..

I just bought a refurbished Nikon 15x45x60 for $175..It's not bad , but does not give the resolution of the "Euro-priced glass".. However, it should be fine for the usage you mention ".22 rifle beginner at 50-100 yds "

You may check www.cameraland.com and ask for Doug.. The bunch at the 24hourcampfire site do a lot of business with cameraland and are more than satisfied..

Al..
 

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Dwight-
Sorry, I've been out of town and didn't see the post to answer you. My friend bought his scope on line, but I'm not sure where. He told me but I forgot. My memory's like that some days. Since he bought his, several of the other guys have bought one too, and seem pleased with 'em for the money they paid. I plan on buying one of the 80MM versions myself before next season. Take care.
Kent
 

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Hey guy's: I just got off the phone with the guy from Eagle Optics. He advised that the Celestron "is not" waterproof. They have the Fujinon 80 mm ED on sale for $599.00. The regular price is $1099.00 dollars. Just thought that you would like to know. Now I have to decide which scope that I want to buy.
 

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I just looked on the Celestron web sight and the scopes are listed as waterproof. I also was talking to a dealer in Ok. and he advised the Celeston started making the scopes waterproof around the spring of this year.
 

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Eye relief on Celestron

ronG said:
it's enough of a recommendation fer me. I bought a Celestron. Waterproof and "no fault" lifetime warranty. I am going to compare it head to head with a Burris landmark tomorrow. Will report back. Indications are from me just holding scope and looking thru it is I may be well pleased with this one.
Just wondering, how is the eye relief on the Celestron? Everyone wears eye protection (or should wear eye protection) when shooting, but I wear prescription specs and a lot of spotting scopes I've looked through just weren't a good fit eye relief wise. The price is certainly attractive. If it works as good as advertised, I'll definitely give it a look. BTW, where did you get yours?

Thanks

Mike in TN
 

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In my personal experience, no where is the mantra 'you get what you pay for' more true that in optics. Scopes, binoculars and spotting scopes.

Saying that, I went through this same exercise a year or two ago. I simply couldn't afford Zeiss or Leica scope, but wanted the best I could possibly get for around $500. I ended up with a Nikon 15-45x75 I think it is.

I bought it by phone just doing on line searches, but the guy said if you don't like it send it back. I took it to several of the bigger stores locally and asked if I could compare what they had to mine. Only one said no way. The others let me take them to the front door and look at objects a LOT further away than across the store.

I always tried to look in the darkest shadiest spots I could find and focus to the smallest object. The Nikon beat every brand I tried them against. Good eye relief with glasses, tough, very nice little tripod. I didn't do a side by side with the Zeiss or Swarovski or Leica... I have looked through those many times and I KNOW they are better. One day... some day.

Dwight... just curious... why do you rate the Kowa highest?
 
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