Good Spotting Scope for 500-600 Yards


September 5, 2008, 12:02 AM
Looking for some suggestions for a good spotting scope for target shooting up to 600 yards. Does such an animal exist?


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Jim Watson
September 5, 2008, 12:11 AM
I have not seen a spotting scope that would pick out a bullet hole at that long range. A couple of us worked all one summer with different colors, and under ideal conditions could see most but not all .45-70 holes in a shocking pink background. Nothing you could depend on and not at all effective with smaller calibers.

It takes a pretty good scope to see the splash mark on a freshly painted steel plate at 600 yards.

For regulation target shooting, a 3" marking disk will be placed in the hole by the pit crew. That is easily seen with a 20-30X spotting scope of decent quality.

September 5, 2008, 12:19 AM
Anybody know of a way to set up a wireless webcam that a laptop can pick up from that distance? I would imagine 600 yards of USB cable would be cost prohibitive.

September 5, 2008, 12:48 AM
I spotted for a guy shooting a 30-378 at 500 yards and could see the holes ok. That was as far as the targets could be set. I tried with a 22-250 and could not see them. I was using 60x.

Jim Watson
September 5, 2008, 09:59 AM
I have been checking out the idea of a target camera.
A transmitter with 600 - 1000 yard range (actual, not just advertised) is not common or cheap.
The other problem is I don't know enough about video to buy stuff from a catalog description and be confident it would match up and do the job.

September 5, 2008, 10:03 AM

That's what I was afraid of. Thanks.

win71 - Leica would be a great one - I bet a 60x Leica would have a high price tag...

What are some of the better brands of spotting scopes in general? I suppose Leica would be one of the tops, but what about Leupold, Swarovski?

Thanks again.

Jim Watson
September 5, 2008, 10:09 AM
Spotting scopes I have seen at NRA Long Range and BPCR Silhouette matches amount to Kowa and The Others. The Others covers everything from High Priced European down to Bushnell. But we are looking only for a spotter on the target or a bullet splash on steel and watching the mirage to estimate windage. There is no requirement to see a bullet hole as you would like for solitary practice.

A smallbore shooter said he went to one range that set pieces of that white corrugated plastic used for campaign signs at a 45 deg angle behind the targets. The bright white showing through the bullet holes made it possible to spot 22s in the black.

September 5, 2008, 10:11 AM
I need a general spotting scope, anyway. I'll just adjust my expectations downward on the distances. Will something like a 20-60x80 Leupold work for 50-300 yards?

I was just looking on the SWFA site at the Leupold spotting scopes. I saw angled body and non-angled scopes. Is one more preferable than the other?

A 20-60x80 Leupold kit was $500.

The Leicas are way out of my price range (~ $4,000)

Interesting about the small bore shooters. Is it difficult to see a .22 hole at 50 yards with a spotting scope?

September 5, 2008, 10:23 AM
I've tried the "white paper angled behind the target" gig and it worked OK (not great) at 400yds. I could detect 7mm holes in a black bull with my 45x scope - but had to half-guess at distances on the bull. The main problem I have is that I bought the tripod seperate (read: "cheap") and really need to get a better tripod. Any recommendations would be welcomed.


Art Eatman
September 5, 2008, 11:24 AM
An old surveyor's tripod, or try hock shops for a good-quality camera tripod.

September 5, 2008, 11:54 AM
Don’t know if any one has tried it, but I was at Costco the other day and they had a celestial telescope on a tripod for display. The kids were playing with it and I did not think it would focus in the building. Low and behold the kids asked me to look and they had focused on a light across the building 100yards maybe, and I could read the letters on the light mount. Not sure of the power but it would focus to 600 yards and had to be in the 120X range. Did not think of it then but seeing this post it might work, around 200 bucks. If it did not work you can always take it back. Love Costco’s return policy.

September 5, 2008, 12:00 PM
I have an Astronomy scope and on a house that is at least 1000yds. away I can see the slots in the seperate plugs of an exterior power recepticle on the side of the house.

Not the most portable "scope" in the deer woods though.:D

September 5, 2008, 03:25 PM
I wondered about a telescope for long distances. Portability is not a big concern, since you can drive your truck right up the shooting area.

September 5, 2008, 08:55 PM
AT $20 for a 36 ft cable, for 50 cables, you'd be spending $1000 on USB cables that would reach 600 yards and would be a pain to wrangle. Just wanted to verify that the cable thing was a bad idea.

There are companies that will custom make one long USB cable and one might be able to deal with running it out on an ATV on a spindle and a having a hand crank to roll it back up, but it'd still be expensive and may not work anyway.

How about wireless relay booster thingies? Tech people? Surely it's doable at a reasonable cost.

September 5, 2008, 09:01 PM
Getcha one of these Konus scopes this fella sells. They're good stuff for the money. You'd have to go to a Kowa and spend a lot of money to get anything better. If this gentleman says they're good scopes, I believe him, being as he's a top notch coach and shooter.



September 5, 2008, 09:20 PM
there isn't enought voltage in a USB cable to push the signal very far.

as most USB devices are powered by the computer they are plugged into you'd have to send the electricity out to the device, and then the image back to the pc. so your actually going 2x the distance..

September 5, 2008, 09:37 PM
At those distances, the only way to see bullet holes is with a wireless video camera setup. I've heard the claims of some scopes, but I haven't seen one that will resolve small holes at 600 yards, ever.

The video system can be purchased for half the price of a quality spotting scope.

You would need the 2.4Ghz 3W model down the page here, for $389:

You simply use a car battery at the target with inverter connected, to power the transmitter. Same thing at the bench for the receiver and TV screen. It should get many hours on a charge. Just use a cheap security video camera to the side of the target, or in a ground trench in front of the target.

I'm going to do it myself. For that price, I'd like to know I am going to see bullets holes, rather than hope I will see them with a spotting scope. And keep in mind, scopes only work well in weather permitting conditions. Hot days with mirage is bad news for long-range scope spotting.

Howard Roark
September 5, 2008, 09:39 PM
Ray-Vin ( makes the gold standard of spotting scope stands.

The problem with standard eye pieces is the eye relief. Usually 6mm or so. Eye glasses tend to bump into the eyepiece and you have to get perfectly behind them to see through. Long eye relief scopes are 30mm of relief.

Also, mirage will make powers greater than 30x useless quickly. Spotting holes smaller than .30 cal is iffy at best past 200 yards because of mirage at any power. There are very few 20-60 power scopes on the highpower line because of this.

For our targets we cut out the center of the target backer (1" thick cardboard). We never staple more than one target thick and use white plastic garbage bags behind the targets to reflect as much light back through the holes.

September 6, 2008, 01:17 AM
Shawnee - Get the best tripod you can afford. Make sure it has the stabilizer legs part way up. If it gets too shaky you can add sandbags to help restabilize it. But if you buy a flimsy, cheap tripod, no amount of stabilizing is going to work, especially when the legs themselves begin to wobble.

I got a good one off of, but I knew what I was looking for.

Here is an example, but I would definitely go to a camera store and tell them what you want and what conditions you are operating under.

I needed one that would not shake with 10 MPH winds, which are standard fare at my normal range.

Claude Clay
September 6, 2008, 01:29 AM
Quester 3.5 inch with a terrestrial adapter. can see 22 cal holes at 1000 yards. they are not in production a trade for quite a premium. a 4 inch Schmidt folded optics with erector prism will do 30 cal at 1000 and 22 cal at 500 yards for under 400 to 500$.

Dave P
September 6, 2008, 01:56 AM

Isn't the serial bus a two wire RS422 interface? ( plus two wires for voltage that you don't need). Any old twisted pair might work here. Length might be limited by handshake speeds, not signal voltage issues.

September 6, 2008, 02:45 AM
I have one that winchester puts their name on; it goes up to 60 power and stays clear out to 500 plus yards, plus the adjustments on it are not so sensitive, that you cannot focus , or control it.

September 7, 2008, 12:50 AM
Quester 3.5 inch with a terrestrial adapter. can see 22 cal holes at 1000 yards.

This blows my mind that it can even be possible. I mean, looking through $2000 glass on 60X, I cannot see holes at 700 yards. And you say .22 at 1000? This can't be possible on days with any mirage at all. And wouldn't a 3.5" Quester be of lower resolution than an 80MM ED spotting scope, after all?

September 7, 2008, 04:59 AM
It's technically not a spotting scope or a cheap solution but I used to be into amateur astronomy and had a Meade ETX-125 telescope (127mm aperture:what:), multiple eyepieces & used their digital camera system and linked it to my laptop that give me a live feed, Video recording and Motion control of the scope. For fun I mounted it on top of my truck one day to get it above most of the heat shimmer effect, set up the laptop next to me on the ground and started popping targets while recording, Then replaying. :) Using the laptop to find more targets by panning and zooming in and out. It was way overkill but way awesome. I think I spent more time setting up the Telescope and laptop then actually shooting that day, was having to much fun with it. Sold the Telescope some time ago, Shouldn't have.:banghead:

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
September 7, 2008, 06:55 AM
Using Shoot-N-C type contrast targets can ADD 100 yards or so to the distance at which one *could otherwise see* the holes, given the limitations of the combination of lighting/ambient conditions, mirage effect, and spotting scope (including the components of glass grind quality, objective lens size, and magnification). The big boys in good spotters are Kowa, Brunton, Swarovski, Zeiss, & Leica. Trailing closely are upper end Leupolds and Nikons. Bigger objective=better. Higher magnification=better. Of the two, objective lens size is more important.

This may be one of your ultimate long-range spotters:

But then again, they're $15K.

Mr. Matt304's explanation of the camera setup sounds the most promising.

September 7, 2008, 02:40 PM
Kestrel: The Leupold 20-60X80 should work fine for your purposes. Yes, for a lot more money there are better optics to be had but if you need to find holes up to the 200 to 300 yard range, the Leupold will work o.k. From my experience and from what others have said, there aren't many half-way affordable scopes that will reliably discern .22 holes @ 600 yards.

I have and use the Leupold you referenced. Eye-relief is so-so; it has a rotational tripod mount; optics in the low to middle ranges of power are pretty darn good; the scope is waterproof and you can't beat the Leupold guarantee and customer service record. On the negative side, at sixty-plus ounces, the scope is a pretty hefty unit but nothing that a quality stand like the aforementioned RayVin can't handle.

At $336.45, plus $9.25 shipping, I think the 20-60X80 Leupold is hard to beat for value. The quoted price is sans the "kit".

September 11, 2008, 03:51 PM

Thanks for the info. For the approximate price range, is there another option with better optics?

And - should I go with the angled body or straight?

Thanks again.

September 11, 2008, 05:37 PM
I second the recommendation for a Konus spotter as a good value. Get a Kowa for a high end scope.

You can get Konus 80mm for $235 and for $135 a great stand.

September 12, 2008, 02:37 PM
Well, I got to see something which sort of surprised me the other day.

A side-by-side comparison of a $2000 Swarovski 80MM 20-60X spotting scope, against a $300-400 Bushnell 80MM 20-60X scope. I had them both on 60X, trying to figure out what that extra grand and a half gets you. I could only find one difference in the optical quality on the distant target...

The Swarovski seemed to have a better "area" that the image appeared in. I wouldn't say it was pupil exit, because they both should have around the same size pupil exit. But the Swarovski gave you an apparently larger pupil exit without added brightness, and you could move your eye around more without the edges cutting out. If you moved to the side at all on the Bushnell, you would get a weird doubling effect on the outside of the image from the focusing and see two images. But, looking straight down the center of both scopes, I can honestly say that I saw no difference in brightness, or clarity. Both images looked exceptionally clear, and displayed nearly the exact same colors and edges. I was switching back and forward really quickly between them to remember the image.

I would say, get one of those 80MM Bushnell scopes.

September 12, 2008, 04:10 PM
Can anyone advise - what are the benefits of angled body vs. straight body spotting scopes?


September 12, 2008, 04:14 PM
I have one of these and they are pretty good for the price.

September 12, 2008, 04:32 PM
Angled trumps straight.

Angled--lean over and look

Straight---get your butt behind it and look.

My friend has a scope stand mentioned above for $135.

I can tell you that the collar of the angled scope allows it to rotate while clamped to the stand and you can adjust the stand for position shooting (prone, sitting or standing). I can tell you that it really is the cat's ass. I'm going to get me one!

Dave B
September 12, 2008, 04:41 PM
I made this out of 5/8 sucker rod . Used with really good window mount ,it is very steady. The Konus scope pivots in it's mount so as to make height adjustments at the It's kind of crude, but it is the best table top tripod I've ever used.

September 12, 2008, 04:45 PM
The Hubble Space Telescope?

September 12, 2008, 06:39 PM
I am looking for bullet holes, not trying to sex a whippoorwill at 300 yards.

Kowa or Euro better = Konus or Celestron + Select grade M1 or other nice rifle.

September 14, 2008, 01:25 PM
Kestrel: A straight eyepiece is ok for hunting and other outdoor activities. But for the range, I'd go with the angled one.

And for the record, I've used various spotting scopes over the years, including Konus, Burris (I own a little Burris 20 power compact unit), Bushnell and Nikon but for the money, I don't think you can beat the 20-60X80 Leupold.

September 14, 2008, 01:36 PM

Thanks for the good info. Leupold it is, then.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
September 14, 2008, 01:53 PM
I am looking for bullet holes, not trying to sex a whippoorwill at 300 yards.

That'll get you arrested in some states.

I think the bottom line is that the OP, for that long distance, could either:

1. Use a remote camera setup, OR
2. Use the Fujinon 40x150, with Shoot-N-C targets, and go to the range only on bright, sunny days.

Option #1 is $12,000 or more cheaper to accomplish, AND allows more flexibility. It will take more work, planning, ingenuity, and setup time, however.

September 14, 2008, 09:57 PM
At $336.45, plus $9.25 shipping, I think the 20-60X80 Leupold is hard to beat for value. The quoted price is sans the "kit".

SwampWolf, where have you found the 20-60X80 Leupold?

I recently got one and will have to take an image of my set-up and post it.

September 15, 2008, 01:20 PM
hksw: I got it from Sinclair International ( Their price was lots cheaper than anyone else's that I checked.

September 15, 2008, 09:39 PM
Dang, oh well, if ever I need aother I know where to go now. Thanks for the heads-up.

September 15, 2008, 10:47 PM
Looking for some suggestions for a good spotting scope for target shooting up to 600 yards. Does such an animal exist?


Hubble? I don't think the present owners are quite ready to sell yet. :D

September 15, 2008, 11:01 PM
The best optic i've used for bullet hole spotting (in the right conditions) was my Kowa Highlanders with 32X eyepieces. I could make out some holes 6.5 and up at Rich Mertz Thousand Yard Handgun Comp. this year with this optic. This kinda' optic has very limited applications tho. I'd like to see what would be possible with it tho with the 50X eyepieces--problem is they sell for upwards of $1K just for the eyepieces!!

September 16, 2008, 07:49 PM
[QUOTE]problem is they sell for upwards of $1K just for the eyepieces!!
And that's the fly in that ointment! :)

September 17, 2008, 07:02 AM
This might be a possibility at less than $600 ready to go:

Perhaps some of the marks-persons here are also into RC or know someone that is.



September 25, 2008, 08:19 PM
The carry case I bought for my new spotting scope finally came in and I finally got off my fat butt to take photos.

September 25, 2008, 08:35 PM
A Questar is one of the best pieces of optics going, so yes, it can beat your ED (is that ED an APO?).

If you want the real deal, check out Will easily outdo the Questar at a fraction of the price, because it doesn't have the central obstruction. Changeable eyepieces to suit various magnifications. Will not distort.

All the spotting scopes sold by sporting companies (Cabelas, Winchester, etc etc etc) are total, 100% garbage.

September 26, 2008, 12:25 AM

What is the black rectangular thing in front of the eyepiece?

September 26, 2008, 12:38 AM
Looks like a camera.

September 26, 2008, 04:50 AM
Nice set-up hksw.

September 26, 2008, 01:32 PM
Sony T300 digital camera. This way, I can just glance over and look at the image without getting out of position. Have to touch the touch-screen once in a while to keep the camera from shutting off by itself though.

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