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Looking for a spotting scope for hunting out west. Straight or angled view, size, brand ? Would be packing and setting up as I go. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also not looking to break the bank.
In a way that’s like saying I want a Corvette... an inexpensive Corvette. I say angled. Look at Vortex. But of you already know for sure that you have a legit use for one I’ld highly suggest buying the best you can afford even if it’s used. A spotter that doesn’t do the job isn’t worth carrying let alone buying.
Or spend the money on a better set of binoculars. My Leupold spotting scope spends most of its life in the case, at home or camp.
Minimum I would get a Swarovski 20-60x65. I like the angled spotter better but a straight spotter you can get on what your glassing a little easier. Take good care of a Swarovski optic and they really hold their value. I have a pair of Swarovski 12x50 EL’s and when glassing from a long ways off I need the spotter. I can see the animal good but need the spotter to really tell what it’s got.
I just picked up a Hawke Endurance ED scope in the 16-48x68 that I'm very happy with it for the price. I'm not counting sheep growth rings or anything like that, but the hawke will always be in my pack to determine if that buck 2 miles away on an opposite peak is worth a stalk.
Completely depends on how much money you are willing to spend as to the brand. Straight or angled is a personal preference.
Check the auction site I have been very happy with my Kowa.
For reference I own Leica, Leupold, Zeiss, Nightforce, Vortex, Swarovski
There is a Kowa Prominar Florite TSN-3 Angled 20-60 on there now for $724 Read the reviews on Kowa Florite scopes it’s pretty good glass.
Angled or straight.... it seems like if you're mostly a flat lander, people generally go with straight, angled for the mountains, in my opinion. I'm basically anti spotting scope.... I hate looking through one for any length of time. I do own a Vortex Viper 20-60×85.... it's a big scope, they retail for about $1k.... I'm sure you could find one for less on an auction site, or Rokslide classifieds. Not breaking the bank is fairly subjective..... but the Viper is the absolute "cheapest " scope.... or the equivalent Hawke/Althon, etc, that I would go with and expect it to be fairly usable. $500 scopes just don't cut it at all, except in broad daylight. That being said.... if you can swing a Swarovski, it's as good as you can get. Not everyone, including myself can justify or afford them.
FYI, I spent $400 or so on a bushnell elite spotting scope a number of years back. Kind of the beginning of the second price tier. In optimal viewing conditions I get closer to an animal with clarity. In almost any other situation I'd rather have my high quality 10x.
IMO quality in a spotter is way more important than binos and I did it wrong. It reminds me of a camera lens where as soon as you add zoom you lose a lot in the glass. In a spotter you have "zoom" which makes the glass so paramount. Don't do what I did. Either don't go in at all or go all the way IMO. You don't hear about a lot of super satisfied customers with cheap or middle of the road spotters. On contrast, binos have more of a linear cost/quality curve where I feel like it's more of an exponential curve for spotters.
A lot depends on the hunter. Do you just want to determine bull or cow? Buck or doe? Shooter or Not? Or do you want to really see the critter in detail to estimate the score or count age rings on a sheep? Most times I can tell shooter or not with my binos but the spotter has saved me lots of time & hiking miles by not having to get closer to an animal I don't want to shoot. I always carry mine, a Leica 65, just for those times. Had a Leica 62 for years but it got stolen awhile back. I prefer straight but lots prefer angled. If you get angled practice getting the scope on a target before you go hunting.
I bought the Swarovski ATX 65mm, my buddy bought the vortex razor 85mm. The only difference I see is the tripod and of course price. He has the vortex tripod which is not very stable, I have the outdoorsman that is rock solid. If I was to do it over again it would be the vortex on the outdoorsmen tripod for half the price...
There are way too many things to consider here. Will you be backpacking or truck camping? What species will you be hunting the most? The hard core sheep and muley guys will always say bigger is better. What if you go big and just can't bring yourself to carry them for miles and miles?
Since you said you don't want to break the bank, I would go mid sized and mid value. I really like the Leupold gold rings, which are 20 ounces lighter than the Swaravski 60's or 80's plus less than half price. Either that or a Kowa mid sized scope.
I find myself leaving the scope behind on a lot of hunts just to save the weight on the scope and tripod. If you are hunting high country muleys or sheep, you need a good scope but you can get used to using a second tier scope. I would go high on binos and mid range on a scope. I also prefer straight.
Thanks for the input. Never owned spotting scope, so all the information is helpful.
The best scope will have a crisp image and be the one that’s compact and light enough that you’ll have it with you when you need it.
95% of the time I use a Nikon ED 50 angled that I up graded to a 15X45 eyepiece. A lighter scope also means you can use a lighter tripod. And angled usually means you can get by with a shorter tripod too. Put a cup hook in the bottom of the center tube so you can add a mesh bag for a rock or two. Really helps with wind shake.