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Old July 26, 2010, 07:49 AM   #1
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spotting scope or monocular? double duty?

The reason I ask is this:

I don't like accumulating too much stuff... and I'm not a big time firearms hobbiest... so I'm drying to get double-duty out of any stuff needed for a basic firearms setup.

At the range yesterday... trying to zero my new AR-15 at 100 yards.... I could not see the target with the range's provided scopes. They were foggy and just could not resolve the distant target holes.

I'm not sure what distinguishes a monocular from a spotting scope, but I'm wondering if I can get something that will serve both purposes nicely.

I'd probably use the thing as a monocular (looking at critters... far away) much more frequently than as a spotting scope. I think that is a safe bet for sure.

Well, that's the idea anway.

Are there any problems with getting a good monocular to serve as a spotting scope?

I have noticed that spotting scopes have that "hump"...and they usually come with a tripod. Not sure what the "hump" is all about, but I'll probably use my camera tripod.

..and if a monocular is a fine idea, what do you recommend?

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Old July 27, 2010, 10:17 AM   #2
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A monocular is basically 1/2 a pair of binoculars, so it needs to be hand-holdable as it is designed as a portable device.

A spotting scope is built for power of magnification & sharpness of image. It is (compared to a monocular) huge & not easily portable as it is designed to be attached to a really solid support & not moved in use. That's why they come with some kind of tripod as well.

OK part of the problem here becomes the laws of physics.
High magnification & high image quality mean honkin' big front end glass, much bigger than a monocular would have because of the portability problems it would cause. The rough rule says that you need a minimum of 1" of front glass width for every 10X of magnification, this limits the designers so they simply lie about the "power" of the scopes 99% of the time. Will a small diameter scope go to 100X ? Sure, but the image will get fuzzy before you get there so anything over 30X will be so fuzzy as to be useless, (except for advertising).

(The "hump" is usually prisms designed to fold the light path within the scope to keep the length down to something reasonable BTW, if they weren't there a good spotting scope would be 6~7 feet long).

So if you're going to try for both you have design limitations you're going to have to deal with.
How much of a compromise will you have to make? It's up to you but I would suggest really try before you buy under field conditions before plonking down a lot of cash.
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Old July 27, 2010, 10:28 AM   #3
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I have an 8X monocular. It is good for up to 50 yards with muzzle loading calibers. Meaning big ones, .45 to .60 and such. But for modern rifle calibers it is not very helpful. Power isn't everything, hand shake is a big factor.
My spotting scope is a Redfield 15-50X I mount on an old professional camera tripod. You can, literally, see a fly on paper at 100 yards with it.
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Old July 27, 2010, 10:31 AM   #4
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Thanks for the response!

I spent some time googling and reading articles... mostly by birdwatchers.

When I noticed that spotting scopes are popular with "birders", I was very happy.

I thought that spotting scopes were specifically designed for looking at targets and, for some reason, were not designed for any other task. Then, I come to find that they are excellent tools for things other than just zeroing the rifle!

Very cool.

After reading some reviews, I ended up paying nearly $300 for a Bushnell Spacemaster 20-40x zoom. The reviews do a good job of describing the compromises.

Basically, this Bushnell is close or at the bottom of what a birder finds to be acceptable.

A birder, apparently, doesn't even start to smile until the you get to the $800 range of scopes...and even then... the act like they are getting off cheap. $1,500 is "middle ground" for most of them.

This Bushnell can resolve tiny holes at 200 and 300 yards, so that will work... and it should be very cool to use for other things, too.

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Old July 27, 2010, 10:33 AM   #5
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I don't like accumulating too much stuff... and I'm not a big time firearms hobbiest...
I'm a shooting fannatic, but I HATE bringing so much stuff out that it takes a half hour to unpack and set up.

I'd love to have a spotting scope and range finder, etc. But it gets to the point where it too much work to pack up and go shoot.
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Old July 27, 2010, 11:15 AM   #6
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It is odd.

I love gear, but don't like to jostling around with the stuff ... packing, unpacking, carrying... discovering that I forgot something. Lovely.

Anyway, I just bore sighted my AR...and used a very cool idea. I think it is my own creation, but surely others of created the same solution.

Take a look at the "art of the rifle" section and tell me what you think. It should be one of the newest posts because I just posted it.

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