Four Excellent Spotting Scopes

Four Excellent Spotting Scopes
For years I suffered through poor-quality spotting scopes, and for years it made my range trips less efficient and fun than they could have been. Too often I’d have to give up on a string at 200 yards (and sometimes even at 100) because I wasn’t sure what was happening at the target—and then make the walk of shame to check it. Don’t be like me, and don’t handicap yourself by trying to spot your shots with binoculars or your riflescope. Get a good spotting scope.

I was able to obtain samples of current spotters from four companies and compared them. My test was not overly scientific, but it is practical enough for comparison purposes. I highly recommend borrowing as many scopes as you can from your friends and evaluate them side by side in whatever venue you plan to use them. “Trying them on” inside a store isn’t going to tell you much.

The test had two components. I took them all to the range and hung targets of varying colors and grid patterns at 200 yards. Some targets were pre-shot, which I used because they had small groups or doubled holes, and I also shot holes during the test and judged the scopes as I went. Bullet holes were .223 and 6.5mm in diameter. Because the Leupold topped out at 40X, all scopes were set at that power —although with the Nikon it was a best guess since the power ring is marked only “Low” and “High.”

Because a lot of you are hunters, the second component involved taking the scopes out into the mountains and using them to glass as you would while hunting. Close to dark, my wife (tester B) and I (tester A) were fortunate to have a couple mule deer feeding nearly 900 yards away to judge field clarity.

Two things of note. Tester A is a male who wears glasses. Tester B doesn’t wear glasses and is female. This latter charateristic is important because women perceive colors differently than
men. You may think color is of secondary importance, but it does affect your overall perception of what you’re seeing through an optic. Eyeglasses versus no eyeglasses is important because it affects eye relief, and readers should view the following results with that in mind. Plus, everyone sees things differently, and your mileage may vary, as they say.

SHARPEST- Leica APO Televid

http://content.osgnetworks.tv/rifleshooter/content/photos/Leica-APO-Televid.jpg

The apochromatically corrected fluoride glass and coatings in this scope deliver premium performance. Color and brightness were excellent—as was the sharpness, as evidenced by the 200-yard range evaluation—and both testers found Leica’s focus and power-change controls to be superior. The Leica features twin wheels at the top, as opposed to focus ring encircling the body. This allows the focus to be fine-tuned easily with much less scope movement, which makes it faster. While tester B thought the eye relief was fine, tester A found it to be lacking, especially at higher power. It’s the most expensive of the four, and its optical performance reflects that.

Objective: 82mm
Length w/eyepiece: 15.5 in.
Weight w/eypiece: 4.2 lb.
Body: magnesium, rotating
Lens: HDC, Aquadura coatings; fluoride glass
Waterproof: yes
Tested eyepiece: 25-50X WW, quick-release bayonet
Exit pupil: 3.3 mm (25X), 1.6mm (50X)
Eye Relief: 18mm (25X), 9mm (50X)
Field of view: 135 ft. (25X), 92 ft. (50X) at 1,094 yds.
Price: $3,548

MOST CONVENIENT- Leupold GR

http://content.osgnetworks.tv/rifleshooter/content/photos/Leupold-GR.jpg

While it’s not as powerful nor seemingly as sharp as the other three, the Leupold is undeniably handy thanks to its small footprint and the well-designed case it comes with. It fits easily into a range bag or backpack, and the case itself does away with scope caps—a zippered front and a drop-down rear portion protect the lenses when you’re not using the scope and stay out of the way when you are. Truth be told, the Leupold delivered solid performance in all testing. It was bright and clear enough for range work and field work, even at distance in low light. However, the other scopes just seemed better optically.

Objective: 60mm
Length w/eyepiece: 12.4 in.
Weight w/eypiece: 2.3 lb.
Body: magnesium, fixed
Lens: Xtended Twilight lens system, DiamondCoat 2 coating
Waterproof: yes
Tested eyepiece: 12-40X, fixed
Exit pupil: 4.8mm (12X), 1.5mm (40X)
Eye Relief: 30mm
Field of view: 56 ft. (12X), 18 ft. (40X) at 1,000 yds.
Price: $1,690

BEST OVERALL- Meopta Meostar S2
 
http://content.osgnetworks.tv/rifleshooter/content/photos/Meopta-Meostar-S2.jpg

Tester A went back and forth between the Meopta and Leica numerous times during the range test before judging the Leica to be slightly sharper. Tester B also thought the Leica was sharper, but both testers found the Meopta to be brighter and sharper as the day darkened and the distance increased, which would be more important in the field than at the range. The selling point for tester A was the eye relief; the Meopta allowed a great field of view without him having to remove his glasses. The body-ring focus on the Meopta moved freely enough that scope disturbance wasn’t a hindrance, and with it and the Leica so, so close in optical quality, it really came down to eye relief and low-light clarity.

Objective: 82mm
Length w/eyepiece: 15.75 in.
Weight w/eypiece: 3.9 lb.
Body: magnesium, rotating
Lens: MeoBright, MeoShield, MeoDrop coatings; ED glass
Waterproof: yes
Tested eyepiece: 30-60X WA, quick release bayonet
Exit pupil: 2.8mm (30X), 14.mm (60X)
Eye Relief: 18mm
Field of view: 114 ft. (30X), 63 ft. (60X)
Price: $2,699

BEST VALUE- Nikon Monarch 82ED-A

http://content.osgnetworks.tv/rifleshooter/content/photos/Nikon-Monarch-82ED-A.jpg

The Nikon was not quite as sharp or bright as the Leica or the Meopta, but it is a truly capable scope and one that won’t break the bank. Resolution at the range was good enough it had no trouble discerning the difference between a single shot and a doubled one at 200 yards, and at long distance in low light it provided plenty of clarity and color. So it’s good glass. Tester B didn’t like the eye relief and wasn’t a fan of the controls. Tester A also found eye relief to be somewhat lacking but had no issues with the controls. Another advantage to this scope is the carrying case it comes with, which provides snaps and small D rings that would allow it to be lashed to a pack.

Objective: 82mm
Length w/eyepiece: 16 in.
Weight w/eypiece: 3.5 lb.
Body: aluminum alloy, rotating
Lens: Advanced Apochromat Optical and Field Flattener systems; multicoated ED glass
Waterproof: yes
Tested eyepiece: MEP 20-60X quick release bayonet
Exit pupil: 4.1mm (20X), 1.4mm (60X)
Eye relief: 16.1mm (20X), 15.3mm (60X)
Field of view: 111 ft. (20X), 51 ft. (60X) at 1,000 yds.
Price: $1,600

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Mossberg Patriot Predator 6.5 PRC Revew

Mossberg Patriot Predator 6.5 PRC Revew

Mossberg Patriot Predator 6.5 PRC Revew

Delta 5 - Daniel Defense

Delta 5 - Daniel Defense's New Precision Bolt Action Rifle

Those looking to explore precision rifle shooting without going broke will be well served by Daniel Defense's new Delta 5.

Gun Clips with Joe Mantegna - BULLPUPS

Gun Clips with Joe Mantegna - BULLPUPS

Joe Mantegna talks about the origins of Bullpups.

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

David Fortier talks with Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills Ammunition about the evolution of the .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match bullet.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Rifle Shooter editor Scott Rupp provides a comprehensive list of ideal Father's Day gifts. Accessories

Rifle Shooter Father's Day 2019 Gift Guide

J. Scott Rupp - May 07, 2019

Rifle Shooter editor Scott Rupp provides a comprehensive list of ideal Father's Day gifts.

If you're a serious shooter with deep pockets, these Leica products are worthy of consideration. Accessories

Three Rangefinder Products from Leica

J. Scott Rupp - May 08, 2019

If you're a serious shooter with deep pockets, these Leica products are worthy of...

Smith & Wesson's M&P15 SPORT II OR rifle with Crimson Trace CTS-103 optic will be on display at the Smith & Wesson Booth at the 2019 NRA Show. MSR

M&P15 SPORT II Rifle Available with CTS-103 Optic

Rifle Shooter Digital Staff - April 23, 2019

Smith & Wesson's M&P15 SPORT II OR rifle with Crimson Trace CTS-103 optic will be on display...

The handloading question: With large availability factory ammo on the market, why bother with reloading? Craig Boddington offers a few answers. Reloading

Reloading Ammo – Why?

Craig Boddington - March 26, 2019

The handloading question: With large availability factory ammo on the market, why bother with...

See More Trending Articles

More Optics

Hawke Optics' Endurance 30 WA 1.5-6x44mm offers solid performance and a lighted dot reticle for a very reasonable price. Optics

Hawke Optics Endurance 30 WA 1.5-6x44mm

J. Scott Rupp - October 16, 2019

Hawke Optics' Endurance 30 WA 1.5-6x44mm offers solid performance and a lighted dot reticle...

If you're looking for a rugged, economical red dot sight, the Freedom RDS from Leupold has you covered. Optics

Leupold Freedom RDS

J. Scott Rupp - April 06, 2020

If you're looking for a rugged, economical red dot sight, the Freedom RDS from Leupold has you...

Enter Leupold's new Mark 5HD, which is up to 20 ounces lighter than comparable optics. Optics

The Leupold Mark 5HD

J. Scott Rupp - November 30, 2018

Enter Leupold's new Mark 5HD, which is up to 20 ounces lighter than comparable optics.

The Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x40mm CDS ZL is a feature-packed, versatile and affordable scope that's just the ticket for a wide range of hunting. Optics

Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x40mm CDS ZL

J. Scott Rupp - January 14, 2020

The Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x40mm CDS ZL is a feature-packed, versatile and affordable scope...

See More Optics

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Rifle Shooter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now