Q I’m thinking of getting a spotting scope for deer. Is it worth it?
A Chris says: Yes – if you get the right one. Like cheap riflescopes, cheap spotters will distract you from their terrible image resolution by advertising huge levels of magnification. Time after time when I use a spotting scope, I find myself winding it down to the base setting to gain eye relief, field of view and minimise eye strain.
Regardless of what you spend, give serious consideration to the tripod you use. A wobbly spotter is almost useless. Also, use a scope with enough eye relief to keep your face off the scope body, itself initiating vibration.
Think about why you want the unit. Will you have it on the range for shooting? If so, with what calibre (bullet holes are easier to see in a big calibre), and from what position? I find angled eyepieces are better for the versatility on a short range, especially if prone and sited alongside you, but for spotting when not shooting, a straight unit is advised.
If you want a value-for-money brand, try Hawke, Minox or Meopta. I have three spotting scopes but the petite Minox MD50 lives in my range bag for daily use from 100-400 metres – though I’m using it to assess larger targets, not see bullet holes. If I want to see bullet holes (and my eyes aren’t great), I will use larger, heavier and costlier scopes.
Chris Parkin – Target sports journalist and optics reviewer
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