Best all around spotting scope?


Well-Known Member
Dec 21, 2001

For all the high end scopes and binos I have, I am ashamed to admit I am using one of those low budget Russian import spotting scopes. Does an OK job at 100 yds. at the range but obviously not the right tool for the long range work, or in the field.

I use Leica binos but think their spotting scope is really bulky..a range instrument only in my estimation.

What about the Leupold 12-40x50?

I know Kowa's are real popular for range work. They seemed to dominate the blackpowder silhouette competition I visited near Big Timber, MT a few years ago.

Anyone using the big 20x80 Steiner binos?

Thanks in advance, oh gurus of the LR.
Regular binoculars are usually not real good for day long glassing for animals. The bigger the optics the less eye strain you will develope.
Normally the type that are tripod mounted are the ones used the most.

There are many types of optics used, from the WW2 Military German and Jap to those we put together ourselves. We take two of the Bushnell Spacemasters, the Kowas or the B&L Turrets and put them in an adjustable bracket. I believe I have put together at least 40 sets of these over the years.

If the pics make it, you will see what is used the most.

Darryl Cassel


[ 02-09-2002: Message edited by: Darryl Cassel ]
Check out the two Nikon ED Fieldscope models, in 78mm and 60mm. I have been using the 78mm since it came out, it is just plain superb. I have taken it on many hunts (arctic to mountain trips in BC) and the guides all said it was the best that they had ever seen. The 60 is also a great scope, just a bit smaller for hunting use.

Bobby Whittington and Steve Suttles at the Badlands Tactical Training center are using Nikon 60mm ED scopes and they are completely happy with them - those guys are looking at 1000 yard targets a bunch.

I have taken the 78mm ED to shooting classes and it just plain takes over, everyone preferres to use it including the Leupold owners.

If you like playing with toys the Nikon ED's can be used with a video system that lets you watch a 4" color tv monitor instead of looking through the eyepiece. Not as tacky sharp but real neat.

Can't compare this scope to the "bigeyes" that Daryll uses, but I can assure you that it is a great spotter.
I must echo Ian's words on the Nikon scope. They are GREAT. We have not had one problem out of them, the quality of the glass amazed me when I first looked through one, and with Ian's help, was able to secure some for BadLands.

Interestingly, I came across a very detailed review of the Nikon units at a site devoted to optics for birding. The reviewer raved about the 60mm Nikon. Is the unit weatherproof enough to take hunting?

We use our scopes teaching classes in Long Range shooting. They have taken some serious abuse and been exposed to all kinds of weather conditions. To date, no problems with foggy lenses, etc. I am quite pleased with our Nikon's!!!!
I love Nikon products but am sticking with the "big eyes". It would be nice to throw a pair of Nikons together but that would cost too much for me. The Spacemasters in a bracket are pretty darn hard to beat. A buddy has a pair and they make glassing all day pleasurable. I tried my single scope and after a few minutes, my right eye starts to twitch and the left eye starts to sweat and shutter. Basically, the only way to view is with both eyes and most binos just won't cut it. You can buy a set of big eyes for around $700. Take care
Best place to price out Nikon fieldscopes:
Check out a couple of the big camera dealers in New York - particularly Addorama and B&H. Easiest way is to go to the magazine store and look at a copy of Outdoor Photography or any other big photography magazine - Addorama's ads are usually outlined in a blue margin around each page.

I have dealth with the above companies in the past and if you can get past dealing with rude, impolite New Yorkers you will save a bunch of money.
Eagel Optics has the 60MM ED field scope III with the angled body for $688. This is for the the body only. Is this a good price?

What eyepice do you guys reccomend?

I am using a 20-45 and it is usually set on the lower end of the power range. They also sell a fixed 20 or 25 that might be all a person really needs. Usually in summer mirage prevents going very high with the power.

The angled eyepiece is very nice for range work, particularly prone shooting. I prefer a straight one as I use mine for hunting and prefer to point the scope where I am looking.

Not sure about the price, I would shop around as deals can be found on most optics if you work at it.

When you buy one I suggest a good tripod, we use a couple of different ones depending on what the scope is being used for. Obviously you need a low one for prone shooting and we also use taller camera tripods when the scope is being used back of the firing line.

There was a kit from Nikon including two tripods and a carrying case, not sure if it is still available.

Good luck.
Here's a question. How important is the ED glass? A person could almost put two NON ED FieldScopes with 20x eyepieces together as BigEyes almost as cheaply as an ED scope with a variable eyepiece...

The way I see it, there are some considerations that will dictate the scope you should get.
Mobility - are you using them from one position, near a vehicle, or for hiking and climbing. My impression of big-eyes is that they are for situations that don't involve a lot of hiking, climbing etc. vs a rugged, smaller packable scope that will go into a backpack.
Optical quality - there are junkers, good spotters and superb spotters - your pocketbook will have to decide that one. If you are going to use it a lot the best optics are much easier on the eyes and really do offer performance that the others cannot.
Last might be versatility - not sure that I would use big-eyes at the range, prefer a smaller scope beside me on the bench.
Don't get me wrong, big-eyes serve a purpose, particularly for extended-use type hunting and shot-spotting. My 78 ED is a big scope, but I figure it is worth the bother to pack along on hunts. Wouldn't want anything bigger tho.

ED or non-ED - definitely worth it in my opinion. I have seen my ED Fieldscope blow away all of the current big name non-ED models - the owners admitted that their scope was not as sharp and bright under field condidtions. On several hunts the guides flat-out took over the ED scope, left theirs at camp.

I guess marketing dictates that Swarovski, Nikon etc. offer both non-ED and ED versions - under optimum light conditions the difference is not always as apparent as when the light is poor or when looking at a dark object against a dark background for instance.

Not sure that this will help with your decision, good luck.
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