Important Choosing Factors
You’ll need to think about a lot of different factors when selecting a target-spotting scope. Some of the most important considerations include those listed below.
Spotting scopes will typically come in one of two eyepiece configurations, angled or straight. This refers to the portion of the spotting scope you’re looking through.
The pieces come in both angled and straight. In general, this is a personal choice that individual shooters will have to look over and decide for themselves.
If you are completely in the dark regarding the differences between angled and straight I will gladly provide you with my opinions regarding the two.
Straight eyepieces are great for fast target acquisition and easier to accurately move between targets. Straight eyepieces work better for spotting downhill and is my opinion easier when using a bench rest to shoot.
Angled eyepiece spotting scopes can utilize smaller tripods, and smaller is lighter. They are also easier to use when spotting uphill too. People with neck issues may find spotting with an angled scope a little easier.
Magnification and Range
The goal of a target shooting spotting scope is to see very tiny holes in target very far away. This will somewhat limit your range compared to hunting.
If you are shooting distances of 100 yards or less, you don’t need any insane level of magnification. In fact, too much magnification is detrimental because every small movement made will shake and quake your scope’s view.
– 20x and under is solid magnification range for up to 100 yards.
– At 100 to 200 yards you need to step it up to 36x and higher, and you’ll need a high-quality scope to utilize that level of magnification. This means paying the price for premium optics.
– Up to 300 yards and you are going to need the highest quality optics out there, with a magnification range that can hit at least 60x.
– At 400 yards the magnification range won’t really grow, what grows is the necessary quality of the optic. You’ll also need a massive objective lens.
Even then you’ll need to have a nice bright day to really see bullet holes in the target.
– Beyond 400 yards and you are unlikely to find a spotting scope with enough range and clarity to see bullet holes without specialized splatter targets.
At this range, you are using a spotting scope to spot atmospheric and environmental variances like wind, heat variances, and dispersion.
Variable Magnification or Fixed?
Variable magnification offers you the ability to swap between magnification ranges. It’s typically represented by a set of numbers like 20 to 60x.
This means the lowest magnification range is 20-power, and the highest being 60-power. The advantages of variable magnifications are of course versatility.
You can use them at multiple ranges making them perfect for shooters involved in competitions like NRA High Power.
Fixed magnification spotting scopes are locked at one range. The main benefit is a cheaper overall spotting scope that’s often smaller and more durable.
Fixed magnification spotting scopes are much better suited for shooters trying to hit targets at one specific range.
Field of View
Field of view, or FOV, is a measurement of the observable world when looking through the scope. This measurement is derived from a particular range, often 100 or 1000 yards.
When it comes to target shooting Field of View isn’t exceptionally important. It’s unlikely you will need to scan or track moving targets when it comes to target shooting.
Objective lens size is a very important consideration when it comes to a target shooting spotting scope. Because you are trying to see very small holes you need the clearest picture possible.
A larger objective lens usually leads to a much clearer picture, as long as the glass is high quality. The objective lens in a spotting scopes description comes after the magnification rating.
For example, it will look something like this 20-60×82. The 82 is the measurement of the objective lens in millimeters.
The larger the objective lens the more expensive the optic will be. Larger objective lenses mean the spotting scope is heavier and larger, but this isn’t a major concern for target shooters who are mostly stationary.
I’ve never blown glass, or manufactured optics so it’s hard to speak for experience regarding the techniques, and even the materials and machines needed to manufacture high-quality glass.
I do know scopes, and I do know the terms used to describe quality glass.
- Look for the Following terms
- HD or High-Density Glass
- ED or Extra Low Dispersion
- APO or Anomalous Partial Dispersion.
When it comes to prisms you’ll need to understand two terms. In the spotting scope world, you need to pay attention to the terms BAK 5 and BK-7 prism. Without a prism, your image would appear upside down.
A prism turns the image the right way, and anything that involves the image affects its clarity.
Both BAK and BK-7 prisms provide clear images, but the BAK 5 prism provides the clearest picture and is a necessity in scopes being used to spot targets over 200 yards.
BAK 5 prisms will drive up the cost of the spotting scope but are well worth it.
Eye relief with a target shooting optic is more important than people think. I don’t of any range in the country that doesn’t require you wear safety glasses while shooting.
You’ll need enough eye relief to be able to keep wearing your glasses and look through the scope. This typically translates to about 15mm at the very least.
Anything less and you’ll be hugging the scope and constantly removing your glasses.
The satisfaction of hitting a target at hundreds of years is hard to replicate. It feels amazing to see when your round hits that sweet spot in the target. The problem is being able to see where you hit.
Without a spotting scope, it’s almost impossible past 100 yards. I mean you are trying to see a hole that at most is .5 inches in diameter. Without a good spotting scope, you aren’t seeing anything.
Always invest in quality, and use our guide above when you need help.