Lightweight Spotting Scope

ntodwild

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Dec 21, 2018
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Washington
Looking for input on selection of a lightweight spotting scope for backpack hunting. I have a pair of Vortex Viper 10x42’s I’m happy with for general use. I have been looking at the Maven Lightweight Spotter, Nikon ED50, Minnox MD50. I previously owned the Vortex Razor 11-33’s and thought they were too big and heavy for what they were. The Maven’s looked good at a trade show I recently attended but that was inside with good lighting. Some have said the low light performance is lacking. This would be for Idaho mule deer in the fall. I’m thinking I’ll be using the binoculars most of the time and I’m not trying to pick out drop tines or anything of that nature. Just looking for opinions, thanks.
So what is your idea of lightweight? What would be your threshold for ounces???? This may help you narrow things down. Personally I have found that any scope of real quality is gonna have some heft to it for the most part.
 

tomengineer

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Jan 14, 2019
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Kowa or Ed 50.

I liked the 11-33x razor quite a bit. But inferior glass than those two IMO.
I'm glad you said this. I just purchased an ED50 with a fixed 27x eyepiece. I wasn't impressed with the Vortex Razor 11-33 in terms of optical performance. We'll see. I may try the Leupold if I can find one to look through.
 

tomengineer

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So what is your idea of lightweight? What would be your threshold for ounces???? This may help you narrow things down. Personally I have found that any scope of real quality is gonna have some heft to it for the most part.
The ED50 I just bought is 20.1 ounces with the eyepiece. I'm not sure what the other models come in at but I'm not sure they get much lighter.
 

gouch

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SW Oregon
Something I have thought might work is to find an old non working Wild theodolite (working ones run about $500 to $600 so non working should be pretty cheap) tear it apart and mount a tripod bracket on the scope. It would be 30 power, weigh less than pound, take up almost no room in your pack and it is some of the finest optics ever made.
 

std7mag

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I'm in the same boat as mtmuley, I keep coming back to the 66mm prominar kowa and a fixed 30x eyepiece to start anyway. About a $1300 package with the fixed 30.
While my Celestron may not be the absolute top tier glass, it flat out works for me.
And at a little under $200, for the price of your top tier glass it would allow me put in for a tag in Wyoming and still give me about $400 for gas, food and such.

I'd rather be able to actually do the hunt, instead of equiping for a hunt that i can't afford afterwards.
 

brymoore

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Idaho
I had an Nikon ED 50 and used it for Idaho mule deer and other animals. Excellent glass.

However, you’re going to want glass with better magnification. Idaho is big country. I currently used a Swaro. 65 ATS. The ED 50 continually left me straining to try to see details.

When you want to go even further glassing, you’ll want a Swaro 15x56 too.
 

ScottP

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Jan 29, 2013
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Oregon
The Kowa would be a good choice, I haven't look through Nikon. Both get very good reviews. I was tempted by the lightweight option, but my first need was a sheep hunt, so I opted for the Kowa 774 with 25-50x. I have 12x bins, so starting at 25x with the spotter seems to work well for me, but the range on the 550 eyepiece (15-45x) isn't bad at all.
 

NoWiser

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Minnesota
I'm in the same boat as mtmuley, I keep coming back to the 66mm prominar kowa and a fixed 30x eyepiece to start anyway. About a $1300 package with the fixed 30.
Watch different classified sites. I got into a 664 with a variable eyepiece for under half of what you’re listed new cost is. The glass is in perfect shape. I’m thinking about going to the fixed 30x. I’m sure I could do it for little to no cost if I sell the variable eyepiece.
 

tomengineer

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I had an Nikon ED 50 and used it for Idaho mule deer and other animals. Excellent glass.

However, you’re going to want glass with better magnification. Idaho is big country. I currently used a Swaro. 65 ATS. The ED 50 continually left me straining to try to see details.

When you want to go even further glassing, you’ll want a Swaro 15x56 too.
Ok good to know. My ED50 setup is on the way. I think I'll try it this trip and make adjustments as needed.
 

fowl punishment

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Helena, MT
While my Celestron may not be the absolute top tier glass, it flat out works for me.
And at a little under $200, for the price of your top tier glass it would allow me put in for a tag in Wyoming and still give me about $400 for gas, food and such.

I'd rather be able to actually do the hunt, instead of equiping for a hunt that i can't afford afterwards.
I don't have the kowa, it is simply the scope on the top of my list. My current scope is a bushnell elite, not a bad scope for what I paid (nothing), but it has its limitations, most notably the poor eye relief and poor low light performance at any power. Hence the reason for the "top tier" glass on my list.
 
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