Spotting scopes?


New Member
Aug 9, 2002
Any suggestions on a quality spotting scope? I will be hunting Coues Whitetail, elk, and mule deer in AZ. I have been looking at the Leupold but am unsure as to wether I really need to spend $800.00. Also, I would appreciate any feedback on stores that sell these scopes at a good price.
You may want to do a search on bird watching scopes. Bird watchers are just as picky as us and they outnumber astronomers 12 to 1.
The market for spotting scopes for birdwatchers is very lucrative. And they use them for looking at things much like we do.Astronomy is nothing like long range hunting.Try this link.It is a review of spotting scopes. Spacemasters were ok but not at the top of the list.

IMO, you couldn't go wrong with Leupold. I don't need to reinterate their benefits as the name speaks for itself. With regard to needing it, again IMO, a spotting scope is an essential piece of gear for the hunter. It allows the hunter to cover a farther piece of area as well as selecting/identifying game.

Stores that I have done business with include: and Both have a very large selection of spotting scopes and service is first rate.

If you are an user, there are always people selling the Leupold Golden Ring spotting scope. Typical prices in the $500-600 range.

As an alternative you may want to look into the Wind River (Leupold) variable spotting scope for about $250-300.

Good Luck

The Leupold 15x45 is a good scope, I had one and it was very clear. But I did sell it and went for a scope with more power so I could see them 22 caliber holes on the paper at 200 yrds.
The Leupold is very compact and that I liked also.
One more thing, do a lot of searching for different sites that may carrier them. I had bought mine about 3 years ago and paid $603 shipped to my door and that was the cheapest I could find them then. I got them from aaacamera. There ad was in the Shotgun News and it still might be. I just checked for a web site and it looks like they will be having it up and running soon.

Good Luck

[ 08-10-2002: Message edited by: Coyote Hunter ]
I use the 12-40x60 variable Leopold too. I wanted a scope with the lower power setting of 12 for a large field of view and power beyond 40 is rarely even used anyway. What 40 power sees, 60x only sees dimmer and with more heat waves to distort the picture and unless your into a Swarovski or the like, you won't even have the clarity to begin with even though the Leopold is as close to them as any will get.

Forget the Burris 18-45 Signiture too, it's eye relief and strain is ten times that of the Leopold at the same setting although the glass was clear. The Nikon seemed to be it's twin. I used the Burris for two years before buying a Leopold for the extra field of view. I wish I would have glassed around plenty with both before buying the Burris at first, as it was no small chunk of change either. Once focused at 40x, the Leopold stays focused while adjusting the power ring up or down. The Burris was said to do the same but always needed to be fine tuned in the end, not the case with the Leopold. Much of these great little details I learned about the Leopold were just a bonus and not even noticed until later after using it in the field.

A spotting scope up here for moose hunting is very important now days. For several years now we have had to see well enough to count the brow tines of the antlers and estimate overall width too. They must have 3 or 4 brow tines depending on the area being hunted or be wider than 50 inches. You can shoot spikes or forks too but let them have one too many points and your *** is grass. If you don't have a great spotting scope, your range is severely limited and even if you do it sometimes can be in many circumstances. You can't just shoot any bull in most areas like we could just ten years ago.
Thanks for all the respones. One more question before I make the purchase. Has anyone had any experience with high powered binoculars and a tripod. I was told that this is easier to use regarding eye strain.
I have tried many spotting scopes and a single tube just doesn't cut it for my needs. Within minutes, one eye is twitching and the other is strained. The only benefit to a regular spotting scope is that they are light and can be thrown into a back back. If you will be hunting long range style, from a stationary position, a "big eyes" set up is the only way to go. This is 2 spotting scopes in a bracket and mounted on a tri-pod. Bushnell SpaceMasters are very popular for this and work well, they can be bought ready to go in a bracket for around $750. I recently purchased a set of Swift tubes in a bracket for $900 and can't believe I ever went without them. You can get either pair with various power eye pieces from 12x all the way up to 40x or higher. The field of view is tremendous and there is no eye fatigue. I have looked at high power bino's and didn't like them as much.
These would not be the way to go if you are hunting in a typical fashion and need to remain mobile. For long range shooting though, they are very, very nice.
Just out of curiosity, how about the Kowa's? I've been eyeballing one for a while now, as they seem pretty popular on the Highpower/DCM scene. Had a chance to look thru an older one a while back at the Boomer Shoot, and it was nice. Old and heavily used, but still nice. I think the Leupold 12-40x would be a better packable 'hunting' scope, but I'm curious what you guys think of the Kowa for 'stationary' stuff, like (relatively) long range varminting from a bench, 1k BR, etc.

I have a Kowa 821 with the zoom eye piece and I like it very well. They have now come out with a new verison which of course the price is higher.
Go to and check the models and the prices.
For you guys that use the bigeyes. What is the difference between them and say a pair of fixed or variable binos with a 60mm obj. that are for sale quite a few places? Some are only 30 power but some are higher, but most are only a fraction the price of the bigeye setup costs.

I have had a couple lower end Bushnell spotting scopes and was not impressed in the least at power settings above about 35. Are the Spacemasters really all that better, or do they just seem better because of the comfort in viewing factored in?

The reason I ask is that most people can't see or even appreciate the difference between a Bushnell, Nikon, Leopold or a Swarovski unless first told there is a difference.

How do the Kowas rate?

Any way to mount two Leopold 12-40x60's up like you do? I'd only have to buy one more and a bracket too. The glass is great in it on top of the very low 12 power setting also. The field of view is comfortable and just plain huge compared to the 20x of all the others.

When building Bigeyes, we try to stay with a fixed power. There is no way to adjust "exactly" two variables when you try to put them in a bracket.

The best power for the bigeyes and for extended viwing is 20X to 32X. The best diameter objectives are from 60mm to 82 MM.

The big difference between the hand helds and the bigeyes is the eyepiece diameter of the spotting scopes in a bracket (Bigeyes) and the focal length. They will outperform ANY handheld made for extended viewing and less eye strain when using the same power.
I have put 45 sets of these together and anyone who has bought them, can't believe the differance compared to their handhelds.

A small problem is size of the bigeyes. They are a bit bigger then some of the handhelds but not much bigger then the Steiner 20X 80 MM. The 60 MM Spacemasters in a bracket with a 22WA eyepice will outperform ANY 20X 80mm on the market.

You can wrap the bigeyes in Bubble wrap and put them in your back pack with a small tripod if your going out on an observation point or hunting spot.

You will pay more for a good set of Zeiss or Swavorsky hand helds then you will for a set of bigeyes. You will have better viewing for extended time and less eye strain with the bigeyes.

I sell the Bushnell Spacemasters in a Bracket with 22X Wide angle eyepieces for $750.00 when I can find the Spacemaster tubes.

Darryl Cassel
I have to say that Darryl builds a mean set of Bigeyes everyone that has seen mine has tried to beg barrow and steal them even threatend me with bodley harm to get them or just leave me on a river bed till I come to see the light and agree to sell them well it will have to be a really cold day here for me to part with them when you look through then it is like you have seen the light
I am one happy wolf hunter have a great day >>Coyote Slayer
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