I can see my hits if I use a 4-16 or higher power AND use a shoot n see type targer (by the way are there any cheap versions of these???). But I'd like to be able to see the hits with regular paper targets. Would a 6-24 scope do the trick here?
Seems like spotting scopes are pretty pricy. Is there a good spotter that won't break the bank?
Curious if there's any other good method I'm overlooking.
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October 17, 2013, 12:35 AM
I've often wondered the same. At my local range, the range is hot in 15-minute intervals. If I'm shotting normal paper targets (as opposed to shoot-n-see), my only option is to fire a couple shots and sit around and wait to see where they landed during the next interval. The range has rental spotting scopes and I tried one once, but still couldn't tell where my bullet holes were.
October 17, 2013, 12:36 AM
20-30x50 spotting scope
October 17, 2013, 01:18 AM
A $60 Simmons spotting scope from Wally World. Does the trick out to about 150, get's pretty fuzzy after that. 20-60x60, comes with a tripod, but I use the one I use for photography. Much more solid.
Though for the most part, even a cheap scope on 9x is usually enough for me to see .243"+ holes.
October 17, 2013, 01:22 AM
I use 6.5-20x44 scopes on my rifles (good deal on a closeout sale at Natchez). No problem seeing 22cal holes at 100yds on regular beige target paper.
October 17, 2013, 01:57 AM
I went with a cheaper spotting scope and it was a pure waste of money. OK, it worked decently for 100 yards but that was about it. But even then it was a strain on the eyes to see the holes.
I then went shopping and it was a tossup between a new $400 Bushnell and a used Nikon for the same $400. I went with the Nikon.
Now I can clearly see my .375 size holes even out at 300 yards. At 100 yards I can clearly see .22 size holes even at less than full magnification. It's like the targets are simply moved to about 10 yards away.
There simply are some things in life where it is not worth going cheap. It cost me $120 to find out that this is clearly true when it comes to spotting scopes.
October 17, 2013, 06:41 AM
My Zeiss Conquest 3-9 I can see my holes at 100 yds. I have a Horus Vision 26 power and could see holes at 300 where my buddy couldn't with his spotter. The only issue is my targets are red on white. Sometimes it's hard to see the holes if they are 1/2 on red and 1/2 on white.
Glass quality, not magnification is the answer IMHO.
October 17, 2013, 07:05 AM
Out to 100 yards, most reasonable spotting scopes will work fine but there is no panacea. An expensive scope may not see bullets holes any better than a bargain priced one at 100 yards. Beyond a 100 yards, scope quality probably will come into play.
I would get as high a power as possible. At least 40x but 60x is better.
Search some of the forums and see what folks are using. Check the competition shooting threads.
Regardless of the scope you use, there are some cercumstances that make seeing bullet holes difficult.
Small caliber holes on black targets can be difficult to see.
Sometimes if you cut the target backer out behind the black makes the holes easy to see. Just have the thickness of the target paper to look through.
A light back stop behind the target helps as well particularly if the target backer is cut out.
There are Shoot-n-See target pasters that can be used to extend the life of a target at a price less than the original target. I do not think you will find Shoot-n-See style targets in the same price range as paper.
Hope this helps.
October 17, 2013, 07:11 AM
In my experience, I have found the most critical variable is to have the scope properly tuned for your eyes, especially the ocular lens. Being able to see one's hits at distance is one reason I prefer to shoot steel targets (AR500), painted white. Seeing the hits is easy. On paper targets, I seldom set my Nightforce 12-42X56 past 12X. Even at 12X, I have no difficulty seeing my hits at 300 yards. I can say the same for my Leupold 3.5-10X, set at 10X.
October 17, 2013, 07:38 AM
I have a 20X from Champion's Choice and can see my .223 holes out to 300 easily. The trick mentioned above about cutting out the backer and using a light colored plastic bag behind the target really helps.
October 17, 2013, 07:46 AM
I had a VERY nice Swarovski spotting scope and you could see 22 holes like they were held at arms length. That scope cost more then the car I bought for my son....something screwed up there, but that is the one he wanted.....anyway, we started using some more inexpensive scopes and have found them to be very nice....started playing with a bushnell scope we picked up for under $100....works darn good....point is you don't have to mortgage the house to see where you are putting holes in paper at 100.
October 17, 2013, 08:09 AM
October 17, 2013, 08:10 AM
Clarity > Magnification. Lots of people don't understand this, as evidenced by the amount of 24x Barskas mounted on so many people's bolt guns.
At 100 yards I use a $40 set of 10x Alpen binoculars. The optics are clear enough that I can see .22 cal holes at 100 yards easily. The trick is to set them on something stable when viewing.
October 17, 2013, 08:51 AM
I have found that cheap glass doesn't always mean bad clarity and sometimes it's nice to have high magnification.
I have a Bushnell Elite 4200 in 2-10x40 and it's VERY hard to see .22 or .270 hits at 100 yards on a white paper backed with cardboard. With my Centerpoint 4-16x40 I can adjust the objective for 100 yards and see them (not easily but if they're in the right place on the paper I can see them). I didn't like the CP scope initially because at 16x at 10 yards (do a lot of pellet shooting) it was fairly fuzzy. I realized at 100 yards 16x is clear as can be. It's probably close to the Bushnell Elite on max power at long range under good light conditions. The elite is also fuzzy at 10x on 10 yard targets by the way and actually worse than the CP since it doesn't have an AO.
I'll have to look into a good spotting scope. I always saw those at the range when I was a kid but when I looked recently the good ones seem to be WAY out of my price range. I've seen enough really bad cheap scopes that I know not to waste my money on cheap without knowing what I'm buying first. As I found with the glass on the CP scope, cheap doesn't always equal terrible or worthless. But it sure can at times as I've learned going cheap on other glass in the past.
Steel Horse Rider
October 17, 2013, 09:44 AM
I usually shoot by myself at a private range so I walk out and mark the hits every 5 or 6 shots. Keeps me in good shape too! Seriously, I am glad you asked this question because I have been kicking around the idea of buying a spotting scope also. Good information from the pack as usual.
October 17, 2013, 10:39 AM
bausch&lomb discover 15x60-60 spotting scope, bought used at a gun show for 75.00,.22 holes at 300yds on a cool clear day. get a good solid tripod for what ever you get. eastbank.
October 17, 2013, 10:43 AM
Of course the NRA and the Army use the MattSchlock system with pits for target pullers. Except it is usually a relay of shooters taking turns marking the targets.
I have looked through some very high end spotting scopes and picking a bullet hole out of the black at any great distance is a matter of lighting, atmospherics, and luck.
There is a video spotting system available... if you want to see your hits at any distance $550 worth.
October 17, 2013, 10:56 AM
agree with Jim. it's about contrast, and making larger impacts. you can improve it by backlighting the target so light shines through the hole. you can't control that on most ranges though.
mostly, i shoot freshly painted steel
October 17, 2013, 11:00 AM
Swarovski 20x60x65 Spotting scope. I can clearly see .308 holes in paper at 600 yards UNLESS there is a heavy heat mirage then you are SOL.
I've found that in most cases anything over about 40X is useless, unless the atmospherics conditions are perfect clarity and high magnification really picks up mirage. I've had my Swarovski for about 12 years and it was expensive back then. But now they are unobtainium expensive to buy new. If I was looking for superior quality euro glass I'd look at a Ziess, Leica or Swaro and I'd get a quality used scope.
Leupold Gold ring stuff is pretty darn good too!
October 17, 2013, 11:03 AM
Shoot N C targets if its longer range than 100 yds. At 100 I can usually see the group with the scope on 9x.
October 17, 2013, 01:20 PM
Just walk closer. :)
October 17, 2013, 01:41 PM
I like orange bullseye stickers for spotting bullet holes. They only have small black areas in the center, so spotting holes in the orange or the white target paper is easy with my rifle scopes or a spotting scope.
Sometimes mirage makes it tough to see bullet holes beyond 100 yards in the black, regardless of scope.
October 17, 2013, 02:06 PM
Lighting is critical. Making out hits at an indoor range or late in the day is a challenge. In bright sunlight I have no issue identifying .223 hits with a mid level 4X optic on white paper plates. However, it is much easier with a 9x. Its a breeze to see shots with a Nikon Prostaff at 9x when outside before dusk.
October 17, 2013, 03:15 PM
I use a Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 20-60x80mm spotting scope sitting on an Alpen tripod. It's good for 17 and 22 cal holes out to 200. past that the 17's become indistinct. the 22 holes are good for another 70-80 yards. I know the clarity isn't up to Swarovski standards but at under $400 works well.
October 17, 2013, 03:22 PM
Check out the Barska 20-60x60 ED spoting scoe at Midway USA Only place you can buy it with the ED glass. They run about $200.00 and they are worth 3 times that !!! I live across from a school and from my house I can look out on to the playground and at 300 yds. I can see the nail heads on the slide frame work. I have been in the gun buss. for over 40 years and this is a great scope.
you can read what people think about them in the reviews on Midway.
October 17, 2013, 03:42 PM
I have a 60x spotting scope that I picked up for $30 at Cabellas on sale with a rebate. My goal was to try it out in case it was "good enough". It's good enough. In fact I've knocked the thing off the bench onto the concrete at the range three times and it's still good enough. Best $30 I've spent.
October 17, 2013, 03:50 PM
October 17, 2013, 03:57 PM
20-60x80 angled eyepiece Celestron, Shoot-N-See or similar targets up to 250meters.
Would get a 1000yd Bullseye camera system or similar if shooting practice at longer ranges regularly. I also have access to an 800 meter range.
In competition the pit crews mark my targets with indicator discs, and I mark theirs when I'm working the pit. :-)
October 17, 2013, 04:09 PM
Spotting scopes are the best bet, wish I could afford a much better one than what I have. But I heartily recommend mounting it on a good, sturdy camera tripod! I set mine up next to the shooting bench where I can just look in it easily, rather than on the bench with my rifle and other stuff. It's not in the way and doesn't get knocked off target either.
Hang a weight in the center of the tripod like a shotbag or sandbag, and that'll help a lot with vibrations and wind. The more solid and stable it is, the easier it is to use and see through. And the more you can keep from having to touch it, the better also.
October 17, 2013, 04:19 PM
I can spot my shots with a 4-16x44 scope on regular white paper with .223. Try moving the crosshairs and looking in the upper corners of the scope.
I have a 6-24x50 scope and the eye relief just goes to crap at higher magnifications(budget/midrange scope market).
October 17, 2013, 04:35 PM
I walk out and look.
I'll probably get a spotting scope eventually, but glass isn't cheap enough to spend money on when isn't necessary, for me, at the moment.
October 17, 2013, 04:56 PM
With my cheap spotting scope I can just make out 22 caliber holes at 100 yards when it's at 45 magnification.
When I shoot my 45-70, I can turn the magnification down somewhat.;)
October 17, 2013, 05:32 PM
I use the Leupold gold ring out to 200 yds which is not bad for a 10X20x40. It is great for bench shooting and hiking, great glass. If temperatures are above 90 degrees it is hard to see 22lr bullet holes at 200 yds with the mirage but still doable. At 100 yds it is great even for rimfire without shoot n c targets.
October 17, 2013, 08:20 PM
I use a bright white paper plate with stick on dots in the middle for targets. Using quality scopes made by Zeiss, Burris or Leupold I can easily see .30 cal holes to 200 yards on 7X or greater. At 300 yards I can sometimes see the holes, but not clear enough to be certain. I always have to walk or drive up to the target see at that range.
Quality is certainly more important than lots of X's. As well as knowing how to focus your scope. Lots of guys don't even know they need to do so. I've looked through some quality scopes belonging to other shooters so out of focus that I couldn't see holes at 50 yards.
Our range is pretty informal and If I go during the middle of the day on a week day I almost always have it to myself. If other shooters are present anyone shooting beyond 100 yards is encouraged to hop in their truck or ATV to ride down and replace targets during breaks in order to speed things up.
October 17, 2013, 08:47 PM
I have one similar to this, it fills all my needs out to 200 yds, don't know about beyond this as that's the limit of our range.
I use a 20x scope to work up loads on all of my rifles. After I am done with the load work up, I take it off and install the scope I am going to use on that rifle. A nice spotter helps, I have a couple. Plus, I also only use those 1" orange dots on white paper. With the 20x I can center the crosshairs in the middle of em and see where I am hitting.
October 17, 2013, 10:02 PM
Decades back I bought an el-cheapo telescope, 20X to 60X zoom. It works just fine up to 40X before getting fuzzy. Adequately sharp at 40X and below.
October 17, 2013, 10:13 PM
I have a Kowa with a 20x fixed magnification eyepiece. It's crystal clear, and 30 cal holes are visible most of the time out to 300yd, and I can see them on the white sometimes at 600yds.
Clarity and brightness beat magnification any day. Zooms are generally lower quality optics than fixed lenses at the same price point.
Mirage and poor lighting trump everything else though.
Some day I'll get a 20-60x zoom eyepiece for the scope, but I doubt that it will help much with seeing bullet holes.
October 18, 2013, 12:09 AM
I have a couple Swarovski ATS 80mm HD's with 20-60X eye pieces. They are pretty good pieces of glass though a bit pricey. I use Manfrotto tripods with pistol grip heads when out in the field. Also have a mount that goes directly on my benchrest.
Or you can go cheapskate like I do and mount your digital camera on a tripod and focus in, assuming you have the zoom to support it. Most cameras have ample digital zoom and you won't be taking pictures anyway. My HX9v has 16x optical zoom good to about 50m and 64x digital that will snap lower quality photos where heat distortion starts to play up to two miles out. By that point any real photography has gone to crap, but that's not our goal here. We're only looking at 100y through a lower resolution LCD, through which spotting is easily achievable.
October 18, 2013, 07:12 AM
I understand that you need glass to see the holes if you have difficulty walking or are shooting in a group.I belong to a rural club and have the range to myself most weekdays.I take a shot,walk out and mark it,walk back and repeat.Its my fitness program for hunting as I participate in deer drives in mountainous country.It simulates the hunting situation where you are walking and jump a deer.I did this 35 times with two rifles 3 days ago.My calves were a little sore as I'm 70 years old.
October 18, 2013, 08:03 AM
Make your own shoot and see targets. There are lots of sites, and you tube videos on how to make your own. Basically, take some fluorescent poster board and cover it with clear shipping tape. Then spray the tape with flat black paint. When you hit the target, the impact flakes off some of the paint and the fluorescent color of the paper beneath it shines through. They work great and are very cheap to make. Give 'me a try and you'll never again purchase targets. You the money you save for ammo and components.
October 19, 2013, 04:54 PM
1. STOP using black targets. You can't see holes in black targets.
2. I like the florescent orange or lime printing. The bullet holes show up on these. Look for a WHITE or off white background
3. I have had great luck using a Hi Liter instead of a black magic marker for 'home made' aim points. The Blue, Orange and Pink all show well on white poster board all the way back to 600 yards. I like a 2 in x 2 in solid square of color Hi Liter in side a 6 or 8 in box that is one inch wide. It is very much like the 14 x 14 inch gridded Scope Sight In targets. The known inner and outer square sizes help you estimate shot distances from center for plotting.
4. The 14 x 14 inch Gridded (1 inch grid) Scope Sight in Targets that are printed in Orange work very nicely out to 300 yards, even out to 600 yards.
With a 20X Kowa Scope it is no problem recording 300 yard groups ( as in 1.4 inch Left; 2.8 inch Low from center) on white backgrounds with Hi Liter Aim Points or Commercial florescent printing. It's possible to see hits on these targets at 300 yards with a 7x35 or 8 x 40 binocular.
October 19, 2013, 04:57 PM
I have had pretty good luck making my own shoot&see type targets using neon light green or neon pink poster paper sprayed over with black stencil spray. You can find at most printing supply stores, or places that sell surveying equipment and supplies. It sprays on dry on contact and flakes off really easily. Just use a white paint pen or silver sharpie and different size round pie pans, saucers, etc. to trace your rigs onto it.
October 19, 2013, 05:34 PM
use a shoot n see type targer (by the way are there any cheap versions of these???).
Midway regularly has the Birchwood Casey Shoot n See 5.5 inch targets on sale for $7.99 per 50. The add says they are "defects" or "seconds". We order 250 at a time when they go on sale like that and I've not yet seen one that didn't work like it was supposed to. We use the 5.5 inch target for everything from 10 yards to 300 yards.
October 19, 2013, 06:51 PM
when i go to the range i go early and drive out and put my targets up 5-10 depending on how many guns i,m going to shoot. i then set my spotting scope up(B&L discover 15x60-60) and get my record book and rifle rests out along with my rifles, now i am ready to start shooting and recording my results in my book. i start with one gun and work thru the rest i have along. after i have shot the rifles and recorded the results i drive out and pick up the targets when another shooter-shooters put their targets up. i then go to a burger king and have coffee while going thru my record book to check my results. eastbank.
October 21, 2013, 09:32 PM
Want to see your shots better? Steel is the way to go. I use a 1/2 inch AR500 steel upper torso and head target from Wideners that is painted with brown rustoleum primer. The color contrast is perfect for me and everyone else that shoots at my place. Even with a 4x scope I can see the silvery "splash" marks. Of course I live in the country so my range is out back and my back porch is my shooting platform:D
October 21, 2013, 11:05 PM
My new Nitrex TR1 3-9X scope has no problems resolving .6mm and up bullet holes at 100 yards. Haven't tried the .22's with it yet. It has a tougher time at 200 yards, but my old Tasco 25x50 fixed power spotting scope has no problem with .277 holes in white paper at that range. My Nitrex scope was only $99.99 in gloss finish, and I paid $58 for that Tasco spotter, (of course it was 30 years ago, but am still using it!) I believe it was actually made in Japan back then.
October 21, 2013, 11:43 PM
The Konus 80 is really nice scope and at a reasonable price.
October 22, 2013, 12:15 AM
Konus is better than a lot for the price.
Besides the scope what is is mounted on makes a difference. Do not touch the scope when viewing. Heavy wind or mirage does not help either. You need a stable stand. Everything seems to work against you making out holes. Image quality / clarity beats magnification.
Most of what the scope is used for is reading mirage to determine prevailing wind.
1oo - 200 is not that hard almost anything will do. Keeping track of what was the last shot is the hard part after too many shots.
October 22, 2013, 01:53 AM
I use 10-22x50 Nikon binoculars.
October 23, 2013, 12:57 AM
I use a Vortex Viper PST 4-16x50 FFP on my .308 bolt gun and a Bushnell 4200 Elite 6-24x50 FFP on my .308 semi-auto. Both allow me to clearly see .308 holes @ 100 yds on white paper targets. Of the two, the Viper PST provides a better view of the target, even though it has less magnification. The difference in quality is apparent, IMO.
October 23, 2013, 09:27 AM
I use a "Vortex® Impact RA 25-75x70 mm Angled Spotting Scope" for most things past 100 yards. In my experience any of my 9x and higher scopes work fine for 100 yards holes on things .22 and larger.
Did no one else find this creepy? Guy watching the school playground with a spotting scope... :scrutiny:
David Clark - I live across from a school and from my house I can look out on to the playground and at 300 yds.
October 23, 2013, 09:54 AM
I find you a little creepy to even think what you might be thinking I'm 73 and was a gunsmith for over 40 years and have used that end of the playground as they keep it mowed for checking out all types of optics in that 40 years.
October 23, 2013, 10:11 AM
I can see individual .224 bullet holes at 100 yds with a 6.5 x 20X Leupold rifle scope or a pair of 15X binoculars I have.
October 23, 2013, 04:58 PM
I use a Celestron spotting scope.
October 23, 2013, 08:03 PM
October 23, 2013, 10:32 PM
Simmons 20-60 spotting scope with short bench tripod. $69 and you can see holes on black targets at 100 yds easily.
October 24, 2013, 02:08 AM
I use a spotting scope when the target is out past 150 or so. But for 100 yds. a 3x9 Leupold is plenty of magnification to cleanly recognize groups if completely stabilized. And the upper class rifle scopes out to 18x will do the trick out to 200 yds. and even a bit more. Magnification isn't the only issue though, which is why a pair of 10x or 12x glasses on a tripod is certainly adequate for 100-200 yds, they are stabilized.
October 24, 2013, 07:24 PM
Make your own shoot-n-see targets.
October 25, 2013, 08:21 PM
A 45 power spotting scope used to be enough for me to clearly see my .30 holes. Haven't shot at 100 yards in years, so I don't know if it is still good for me, though I'll be finding out next year for sure.
October 27, 2013, 02:44 PM
I use a children's 300x astro telescope and a phone adapter on the eyepiece. Lock it on target an all you have to do is glance down an its right there on the screen works great out to at least 300 yds;):cool:
October 27, 2013, 03:14 PM
I use either my Kowa 821TSN with 20-60 eye piece, or an older Swarovski I bought while stationed in Europe. Most of the time when I’m shooting past 300 it’s on steel, so there’s no issue seeing the splash.
Until i buy the proper equipment: ie, a spotting scope (which is probably never considering it's been like 5 years since I should have one)
a, big caliber, big holes (lol) but I don't shoot my big-bore gun at long range.
b, don't shoot paper since it's boring and I can't see my hits
c, shoot steel targets and listen for the 'ping!'
d, use the 4-16x scope i have on my two target shooting rifles- marlin 22 and savage 11 223.
a spotting scope isn't expensive, i've seen Big 5 have them for as low as $60 on sale, I just keep pushing it off.
I favor steel targets, especially at longer distances because if you're doing it wrong you won't hear the ping. it's not precision but I don't have scopes on the other rifles so I'm not shooting precision if I can't aim precisely.
I don't really do precision shooting, it sucks the fun out of shooting. What makes me happy is when I challenge myself and hear the ping shooting rifles at ridiculous ranges they're not designed for- ie, SKS at 700m, wasr at 600 yard, mosin at 500m. A good day means I manage more than 3/4 of shots hit the target. From this I know i'm more than capable of doing tiny groups at 100 yards, I just don't care for it.
I would get as high a power as possible. At least 40x but 60x is better.
I would go as high a quality as possible. As long as it provides at least minimal magnification, optical quality is more important to being able to see small bullet holes at long range than brute force magnification. There are occasional bargains, but for the most part you get what you pay for in spotting scopes.
October 28, 2013, 08:39 PM
Well today I printed the targets with the most white space (Lee Precision free printable targets) and stapled them to the black rubber target holder at the range and on 16x (Centerpoint 4-16 scope), I could see the holes clear as day. I guess that's the key... targets with LOTS of white space and less black then that on top of a black backstop. Worked amazingly well.
October 29, 2013, 03:21 PM
I have the cheap $120 Barska Blackhawk 20-60x60 spotting scope and it works great spotting 6.5 bullet holes at 100/200 yards on white paper. It works ok even at 300m if the light is decent. My paper targets are blank white paper with a 1" round orange dot in the center.
October 29, 2013, 09:09 PM
I regularly shoot at a range which regardless of scope, you cannot see 30 caliber holes at 200 yards. The mirage is so soupy.
Range conditions vary greatly. Camp Perry has some of the cleanest air and I have seen 30 caliber bullets holes at 300 yards, during rapid fire, but such things are rare.
Eventually the mirage and heat waves totally ruin your ability to discriminate a bullet hole from the target face.
I am very pleased with my “for the money” Celestron Ultima 65, though I mostly use it the low end of the 18X -55 X zoom adjustment.