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Need some optical education...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/10/2004 at 16:28
milanuk View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
Optics GrassHopper

Joined: October/10/2004
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 10
OK.  I'm pretty close to pulling the trigger on a new spotting scope, a decent one finally (Kowa 661).   In the past I've had a Sightron 20-60x80, a Bushnell 'Birder' series 15-45x straight tube, an old Champions Choice CC45 w/ fixed 22x and 30x eyepieces, and have played w/ some other 'cheap' spotting scopes... a couple B&L and Burris scopes.  Add together the Sightron, the Bushnell, and the CC45 and I'd pretty much have paid for the Kowa, but this took place over 5-6 years.

Anywho, what has been bugging me is that most of these scopes, w/ the exception (usually) of the CC45, while being nominally higher magnification than my rifle scopes (fixed and variables, topping out at 16x, 20x, and 25x), have bigger objective lenses (biggest one I've had was a couple Leupold LRT's w/ the 50mm objective), yet... they don't show the target *nearly* as well.  Kind of aggravating when you have a .30 cal rifle w/ a 10 or 16x scope, bring along a spotting scope w/ 45-60x available, and still have to hike out to the 200 or 300yd targets to find the bullet holes.  Not even talking about 'in the black' here, just in general, even on the big orange-n-white Redfield sight-in targets.  Other times, I've been shooting w/ a fellow and he had me use his big Burris or B&L spotter so I could see his bullet trace and spot his shots.  Problem was, I had to switch back to my little Bushnell Birder cuz I couldn't see squat w/ his scope.  Turns out, that when he spotted for me, he ended up using my scope as well, as

Similarly, the other thing that has perplexed me is looking thru a riflescope (say, a 8.5-25x Leupold) at a target, then looking at it thru a spotting scope on 60x.  Beer logic would indicate that the target should look twice as big in the spotting scope as compared to the rifle scope, but it never seems to (and yes, I made sure I turned the eyepiece the right way).

So what I'm not grasping here is: why (as in physically) do these spotting scopes not show the target well enough to resolve individual bullet holes even in the white at 200-300yds, bullet trace, mirage, etc., and why does the target not appear proportionately bigger than when viewed thru a rifle scope of lower magnification?


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/01/2004 at 15:32
lucznik View Drop Down
Optics Master
Optics Master

Joined: November/27/2004
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 1436

Obviously I can't say for sure what is causing your difficulty, but I think I can make a stab at a decent enough semi-educated guess.


Just judging from the names and models you have mentioned, you are making a really unfair comparison between your optical devices. Your Leupold LRT rifle scope costs almost three times as much as some of the spotting scopes you list. Magnification is not an absolute. Quality of lenses, quality and quantity of lens coatings, exactness of alignment of both lenses and prisms, and a host of other things all affect the ability of your scope (whether it be a binocular, spotter, telescope, rifle scope, or whatever) to resolve the down range image.


Once you get past the quality issues you also have to deal with atmospheric elements like mirage (the wavy-like image you see when looking at images in the heat of the day.) Such things usually limit the resolving capacity of a spotter to magnifications no greater than 25X or 30X.


I have a Bausch and Lomb Discoverer 15-60X50 spotting scope that I regularly use to spot bullet holes at 300+ yards. This is not a terribly  expensive scope, (costs around $250) but it is built with good lenses, multiple high quality coatings, and exacting tolerances. Its ontly problems are that it is really big and heavy and it is also not waterproof. I also have the Leupold 10-20X40 compact spotting scope and it also provides fantasticly sharp images. Of course it cost more ($350.)


The long and the short of it is that if you want to use a spotting scope to see bullet holes down range, you need to use a scope whose optical quality is at least comparable to your rifle scopes.

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