Help choosing a spotting scope


February 4, 2012, 04:29 PM
Hey all,Im looking for a budget minded (under $200) to get me started in NRA highpower and CMP matches. Most (98%) shooting will be from 300yrds and in. I was looking at a Barska Blackhawk if anyone can speak for it or throw me some ideas

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February 4, 2012, 07:51 PM
Hey all,Im looking for a budget minded (under $200) to get me started in NRA highpower and CMP matches. Most (98%) shooting will be from 300yrds and in. I was looking at a Barska Blackhawk if anyone can speak for it or throw me some ideas

February 4, 2012, 08:10 PM
A little over your budget, but Jim Ownes speaks very well of the Konous.

If you stick with HP you will eventually ditch the Barska.

February 4, 2012, 08:48 PM
Burris has a nice one that has Long Eye Relief for around $220 and is far superior to the Barska.

February 4, 2012, 09:03 PM
Barska is absolute junk. Stay away from it.

The Konus is the best spotter for the money, IMO. If you watch the sales at Optics Planet you'll sometimes see it for close to $200.

February 5, 2012, 07:21 AM
Konus and Zhumell are the only 2 to consider before you step up to a Kowa. Of the 2, I think the Zhumell is a little better glass and slightly more robust construction. Either can be found for $199 - 209 if you watch for sales.

Midway and Optics Planet have the Konus on sale from time to time and the link below has the Zhumell.


ETA: I've not seen the Barska spotter but from what I have seen of their other products, they're not likely worth whatever they charge.

February 5, 2012, 08:12 AM
I have heard of the Konus but not the Zhumell , I'll Hafta check into it

February 5, 2012, 11:33 PM
DNMCCOY before you blow away $200 dollars I would recommend you read this article. The prices are a little different now since the article is a few years old but the wisdom behind the article is always timeless. If I were you I would save a little more. Be patient, and make a onetime purchase instead of 2 or 3 times because your first purchase did not deliver to your expectations. Here is the link, and good luck on your purchase.

February 6, 2012, 01:03 AM
Harbor Freight sells a 20-60x60 for $60 (on sale now it seems for $50).

I picked one up. The included tripod is flimsy, so I just use a small camera one that kept it close to the bench. Clarity is nothing spectacular but I can easily see .223 holes at 100 yards and probably beyond. I used it for about a year and never had a problem.

February 6, 2012, 02:53 AM
Redfield make a 20-60x60mm spotting scope for around $200. These were out of stock when I purchased a spotting scope 6 months ago, so I went with the Bushnell 20-60x65mm for about the same price. You can see .17 caliber holes at 200 yards with the Bushnell. I've since had a look through a Redfield spotting scope & in my opinion the Redfield has a slightly crisper image.

February 6, 2012, 06:06 AM

I think this is a good deal.

The spotting scope is an important piece of your gear. I would get the best you can. Most shooters use a 27X as anything much bigger diminishes the ability to read conditions. Reading conditions is really what the scope is used for. The other things the spotting scope does is just a benefit but I will admit a spotting scope makes it easier to see sighters and scoring disks. Reading the chaulk board too.

I would let the older shooters know you are on the prowl for a scope. Maybe one of them will step up and let you borrow an old scope until you can get your own. Any HP shooter worth his salt will help when he or she can and be cheerful about it at least until you start beating them.

The scope stand is also important and one really needs to look past the first scope to make sure it will fit the new scope when that happens. One inch rods with three feet on the ground seem to be the standard. It’s not fun when your brand new $1k scope tips over because of the combo of a cheap scope stand and wind.

February 13, 2012, 07:33 PM
I'd be willing to part with my Redfield Rampage. I am thinking of upgrading.

PM me if interested

February 13, 2012, 08:21 PM
I use this
The tripod sucks but for the money the scope isnt bad

February 13, 2012, 08:52 PM
22-25x is about ideal. It's biggest use is in watching conditions, not spotting holes. An angled long eye relief eyepiece is ideal

February 13, 2012, 08:59 PM
If you can put off the purchase and save a little longer, you will be happier in the long run. You get what you pay for in optics. Buy once, cry once.

If you cannot exceed that budget, do some research on a birdwatching forum on what is good in that price range. Birdwatchers know more about what makes a good spotting scope than any of us. They're the ones who look through them 10 hours a day. We just occasionally glance after a string of shots.

March 14, 2012, 06:49 PM
The scope stand is also important

This is good advice. My pick for a "reasonably" priced spotting scope was the Leupold "Sequoia" 20-60x80mm model with the angled eyepiece ($336.45 from When it came to choosing a quality scope stand , there are several viable options, including Creedmore, Freeland, Saturn, Schneller, First Strike, Giraud, Ewing, and Ray-Vin. After examining features, quality of construction/materials and price I opted for the First Strike unit-and have not been disappointed.

March 14, 2012, 07:23 PM
Barska is total garbage! If you want a spotting scope that will make bullet hole identifiable at 300 yds. your going to need something fairly decent. Leupld has a 15x45 for around $300 that will do quite well.

Pat M
March 14, 2012, 07:25 PM
I've been using the Konus 80,Freeland Heavy Duty Stand (1" rod), and the Freeland swivel head. I'm happy with this setup.

March 14, 2012, 09:44 PM
Good Evening,

I have a Barska scope and it does exactly what I want it to do and does so cheaply. That's the good news.

I use it at 100 yards as I'm working on various powder/bullet combinations during load development.

The bad news is that I looked through another, more expensive, scope being used by another shooter at the range one day and the difference was dramatic. The better scope (I think it was a Bushnell) was really a lot better...more clarity and contrast...just easier all around to look through if that makes sense.

So I have no complaints with my Barska but I wouldn't want to use it at 300 yards. I recommend actually looking through a few scopes. More dollars spent may actually prove to be a bargin.

Good Luck!


March 14, 2012, 10:37 PM
Even with $1000 glass, spotting little holes at 300yds and further is tough under the best of conditions. On top of that, you probably want to see the shots in the black too, good luck with that.
For under $200 a birding scope suggested to me was the Celestron Ultima 80. It is excellent and has worked well for a number of years. As was mentioned in eariler posts, do get a good mounting system for what ever scope you get. Old and heavy mounts can be good. I have stand up tripod and table mounts. They are durable.Best

March 15, 2012, 12:07 AM
Once you get past a certain magnification range, even the best glass will start losing contrast and "gray out". However, with good glass, the image quality will always be better compared to mediocre glass so the viewing experience is more enjoyable. It depends how much time you spend behind it. Most people can get by with a generic spotting scope to get the job done. If you're more critical of the sight picture, then the extra money is worth it.

Again, I suggest checking out birdwatching forums for advice on spotting scopes because the birdwatcher demands accurate picture reproduction.

For a stand, I use a Giotto 9240 tripod with a pan head. It ends up being cheaper and sturdier than some of the shooting-specific stands and it doubles up as a camera tripod. A pan head allows very precise movement and lockup. I tried the spotter on a Gitzo tripod with a Markins ball head but the ball head didn't have enough precision at magnification. Maybe it's possible for smaller spotters to get away with a ball head. I run an 80mm spotter so maybe it's simply too hefty for that.

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