Mid Priced Compact/Lightweight Spotting Scopes

brcfo_outdoors

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I am curious what people's thoughts are on mid priced ($650-$1200) spotting scopes which are compact and lightweight for backpack hunting and some target shooting. I have been eyeballing the Kowa TSN-554 for a while, and even though I can afford it, I am having a hard time justifying the expense for the amount I will use it. This had me looking at more affordable alternatives and I came across the Nikon Fieldscope ED50 which has had my attention for a while with its very positive reviews. Then just last night I came across the newer Maven CS.1 which is a little heavier but has a larger objective and more magnification out of the box. Now I have no illusions that either are even close to the Kowa, but I find the price tag more justifiable and am less worried about them getting damaged or thrashed in the backcountry.

Any thoughts or experiences with the above mentioned optics? Any other recommendations for scopes in this price range?

Essentially looking for:
2.5lbs or less
Under a foot long
ED glass
<70mm objective
At least 30x, but preferably more, or have the ability to change eye pieces.

I know this is a fairly specific criteria, but I appreciate any help.
 

muleystalker

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The KOWA 663 Prominar is what I run for a pack scope, I had the 55mm and got rid of it, its a nice piece of glass but it is too light so its hard to hold steady, and its not much more power than my rifle scope and same objective size basically. Bumping up tho the 66mm made a big difference in usability but still much lighter than a 77mm or 80+mm.
 

Wolf76

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I use the vortex razor hd 16-48x 65mm. The only requirement is misses is the weight (3#). Glass is very clear and also is good for range work.
Screenshot_20201005-051617_DuckDuckGo.jpg
 

brcfo_outdoors

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The KOWA 663 Prominar is what I run for a pack scope, I had the 55mm and got rid of it, its a nice piece of glass but it is too light so its hard to hold steady, and its not much more power than my rifle scope and same objective size basically. Bumping up tho the 66mm made a big difference in usability but still much lighter than a 77mm or 80+mm.

I hadn't even thought about a little extra mass and weight for usability. I have had tripods blow over in the wind which is part of the reason I am nervous about spending close to $2k on something just to have it topple when I let my guard down for a second. I will take a closer look at the 663/664, which eye piece do you run with it?
 

brcfo_outdoors

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I use the vortex razor hd 16-48x 65mm. The only requirement is misses is the weight (3#). Glass is very clear and also is good for range work.

I am always a reluctant fan of Vortex, and do run their scope on my precision rifle. How is clarity and usability on yours at the upper end of the magnification range? I also see that Vortex has an 11-33x version with a little tighter footprint.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/999170-REG/vortex_rzr_50s1_razor_hd_11_33x50_spotting.html
 

muleystalker

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I hadn't even thought about a little extra mass and weight for usability. I have had tripods blow over in the wind which is part of the reason I am nervous about spending close to $2k on something just to have it topple when I let my guard down for a second. I will take a closer look at the 663/664, which eye piece do you run with it?
I run the 20x60x eyepiece on a TSN663 Prominar (which is the angled eyepiece) for hunting and run the 25x long eye relief on my on my KOWA TSN82sv for F-class shoots for reading the wind, with the LER 25X I can set the scope up on my left as I am prone and just look into the scope without even touching it or really breaking position. those 2 eye pieces are interchangeable on both scopes.

You can also add weight to your tripod for stability while in the field with a rock bag, you fill with rocks or sand and hang it under the center of your tripod. They also sell a tripod shelf, it is cordura with 3 velcro straps you attach to the legs and its like a hammock under your tripod, you can put rocks, sand bags or heavy items out of your pack to add stability to your setup. But Weight on the scope itself helps while you are adjusting the scope and bringing it to focus, the 55mm was just to light fore my liking.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0051OGJQE/?tag=lrhmag19-20
 
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brcfo_outdoors

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Seems like Athlon has been getting great reviews lately and have come a long way. In my head they are still cheap Chinese made junk which is a hard hurdle for me to get over. I did have one of their entry level scopes on a .22 when they first came out and was pleasantly surprised by the glass clarity for the money.
 

Wolf76

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I am always a reluctant fan of Vortex, and do run their scope on my precision rifle. How is clarity and usability on yours at the upper end of the magnification range? I also see that Vortex has an 11-33x version with a little tighter footprint.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/999170-REG/vortex_rzr_50s1_razor_hd_11_33x50_spotting.html
glass is great throughout magnification. many people have commented how clear the glass is. I'm not a vortex fan except for the "razor" series.
 
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I run the 20-60x85 vortex razor, have had it for about 6 years and love it, 60 zoom is a lil tough for clearity, that’s usually also a very long ways away. I know that’s not what your asking about, but I bet the 11-33x is quite good. My cousin dropped Mine out of the back of a truck and it broke the part that mounts to the tripod, sent it back and they put a new piece on, and gave me new scope cap covers I lost. I agree with Wolf76, only the razor line, I run the brick they call a scope, and their binos . The 11-33x is something I see in my future, customer service, quality and price point is in my realm for their gear.
 

DMP25-06

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I highly recommend the Leupold Gold Ring HD 12x40x60 spotting scope . 12.4" length . 2# 5oz .
12x up to 40x magnification . 60mm objective .
Extremely clear optics , edge to edge .
$1299.99 at Cameraland .
Or , with the Impact reticle $1399.99 .
I have one with the Impact Reticle which is First Focal Plane with elevation and windage marks in MOA for knowing how far your shots have missed the target .
 

muleystalker

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Returned a Vortex Razor 11x33- 50mm for the same reason I sold the Kowa 55mm, it is too light weight and not enough mass , it shakes with the slightest touch making it hard to focus and look through. The Kowa 55mm Prominar was way clearer than the Razor and when it was all said and done neither did anything my 5-25x56mm ATACR wouldn’t do. I have to say I do love my 12x50 Razor binos.
 
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KU_Geo

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Leupold 12-40 gold ring HD is a pretty nice scope for the price. Super compact, decent weight, great eye relief, and good glass. I have one I would sell if you are interested. Only reason I upgraded was to be able to age sheep by ring counting at a longer distance.
 
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