View Full Version : Spotting Scope Questions

Fuzzy Hole
07-03-2008, 12:26 AM
I am looking for a good (ED, HD, flourite or whatever name they call the low dispersion glass) spotting scope so I can see a 6mm bullet hole at 500 yards and perhaps even 600 yards. I understand even the best scope will not be 100% with heavy mirage, but I am looking for anyone who has actually compared different scopes and have determined what works best. I am leaning more toward Swarovski, Zeiss and Leica than Pentax and Nikon, but would not exclude any of them. Function is more important to me than the name on it. Also, is there an opinion on best size? My first reaction is 80mm or 75mm would be best, but the 65mm scopes are getting great reviews as well. Will 60x be OK or will I need higher power? On eyepieces, do the 1.25" ones used for astronomy work dowrange, or are they exclusively for celestial bodies? All help is appreciated.

Fuzzy Hole

Steve Shelp
07-03-2008, 08:06 AM
I have compared several brands/models of spotting scopes at 1000yd matches and here is the list of my favorites in ascending order of preference regardless of price.


Kowa and Bushnell are the best bang for the buck. Leica and Swarovski are simply the best if money is no object. I looked through a set of Swarovski 65mm (setup in a "bigeye" jig) with the special coated lenses one day at Quantico w/ 27x lenses (don't quote me on 27x though). I could see bullet holes using those 65mm scopes better than the Kowa's and a set of the older Bushnell (long tube) bigeyes that were on the line that day. The Kowas were 77mm.
I have done this comparison on several different occasions and that list above is my assesment over many years of observation. Also I must say that trying to tell the difference between good Swarovski's and Leica's is nearly impossible in my book.

These are my observations. FYI: I don't think I have ever had the chance to look through any Zeiss spotting scopes at LR matches. So I can't comment on them.

hope this helps.


mike in co
07-03-2008, 08:42 AM
to see a given size hole at a given distance, requires a certian size objective lens. this was covered in an article in precision shooting a couple years back.

how well you see the hole is then a function of atmospheric conditions and lens /coating quality.

i think i would look at the largest lens in each case and see what you can see. i was "told" ed coating was not a big deal with the typical target viewing shooters do. save a lot of $$$ without the ed coating.

i sold my kowa 60 and bought an inexpensive ($300) 100MM 22X66 CELESTRON for my normal 100-300 yd shooting. i have not used it at longer distances, do not know if it would perform or not. yes its big and bulky, but it gets the job done.

mike in co

jeff gates
07-03-2008, 10:35 AM
Several years ago I decided to retire my old Bushnell Discovery 15X60 and invested in a quality spotting scope. I found a dealer who carried all the top brands and was located in the country. On a dark dreary day myself and my shooting buddy went to try them. I posted a shot target with 6mm bullet holes in excess of 500 yds away. We quickly narrowed the field down to the Zeiss and the Swarovski. I went into this knowing I was going to buy the Swarovski. I left with the Zeiss. We both agreed it had slightly better reslolution when looking at holes in the black and seemed a bit brighter. I have been very happy with it. One surpise is that Ihave a pair of Leica range finding binoculars that are fantistic. When you look through them it's like someone tuned the lights on they are so clear and bright, but after looking through several of their spotting scopes the Leica lagged behind several of the others, in our opinion. I will say this, I have often said that for the money spent if I had do do it again, Imight just buy a premium rifle scope and use that on a tripod and have the option of using it on a rifle if the need arose. The new March variable comes to mind as a way to do this.

07-03-2008, 12:15 PM
IMO another part of this equation is, what dia. holes and how well 'lit' is the target? A black center thats not well lit is going to present a problem regardless of the scope and obj. dia..
A large dia. objective to gather the light is a start.

07-03-2008, 07:47 PM
Read this review:


07-03-2008, 11:03 PM
I have a swaro hd 80 mm and I can see 6mm holes most of the time at 500 there needs to be alot of mirage till they cant be seen. I had a leica and the swaro at the same time and right at dark I compared the 2 on a stripped building (green and white) about a half mile away and the swaro was brighter and clearer. As jeff said I never have tried to compare spotting scopes of swaro and ziess but my dad and I compared the 2 in binos and my ziess were brighter at dusk than his swaro. Just my .02.

Bill Bailey
07-03-2008, 11:16 PM
I'm not much of a BR guy but I can tell you the Swaro is simply the best out there. One morning I was shooting a white laundry detergent jug full of water @ about 960 yds. The guy spotting for me kept telling me I was shooting over the jug. I'd come two clicks down and he'd say I was too low. I wasn't buying it so I looked through the spotter, adj the focus just a touch and low and behold the jug was riddled w/bullet holes!!! The 105 Berger just didn't have enough pumpkin to bust the jug. Keep in mind that this was an absolutly perfect morning and the sun was rising directly behind us.

If money is of concern I'd look hard @ a Nikon Field scope ED 82mm (I think). Had the chance to compare one to the 80mm HD Swaro and struggled to justify the extra $ for the Swaro.

Law Dawg
07-03-2008, 11:49 PM
I have a Zeiss 85 FL Diascope which is rated as the best scope by the birders. It has a 20 to 60 zoom lens which is also rated the best zoom in the industry and has the best FOV of any of the zooms.

I use the scope for long range prone and it is exceptional. However, the 45 degree rear lens is in line with the scope, which is not as desireable as an offset eye piece if you are shooting prone. The glass is exceptional. The front lens has an extending shade and a clamp on cover. The rear lens has a thick rubber cup cover and the lens itself has an extending feature for use with or without glasses.

My scope also carries a black noeprene form-fit cover made by the same folks who make Scope Coats. I have all the attachments for Diascoping and a window mount as well. The scope came with a lens cleaning kit, and I have the hard case as well. Nice rig to say the least.

In long range prone at 1000 yards, you don't usually fine focus on the target. You find a hard surface or berm about 750 yards out and focus on that while still being able to distinguish the scoring dics. This allows you to read the mirage like a book if the wind stays around 12 mph or less. Above that, you can really only get a mirage read to confirm direction and you have to rely more on the flags. Sometimes you luck up and get a shooting assignment which allows you to focus on the mirage, see your dics and a dominate flag at the same time -- as well as other targets for signs of switches, etc.

A GREAT scope is a necessity -- and expensive. If you go cheap, you will do it at least twice. Cry once.

Just my $.02
Jim Hardy

07-06-2008, 11:19 AM
Eagle Optics,has them all.
do a search for their www.site.To me it seems something is always on sale.

07-06-2008, 10:18 PM
have any of you used a sightron spotting scope? would like to here any comments on them. I AM THINKING OF BUYING ONE.


07-07-2008, 08:30 AM
I had a less expensive scope and finally moved up to the Zeiss 85mm diascope. The glass is incredible. I use it often, and have had no problems with it at all.

the 6mmbr spotter review is excellent.


07-07-2008, 03:52 PM
I have owned both the Swarovski & Zeiss. Each had 20-60x eye pieces. The Swaro was a 80mm & the Zeiss is the 85mm. I feel that the Zeiss is superior for checking targets. The Zeiss is the one I use now with no intent on switching.
Semper Fi