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Spotting Scopes

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Vortex Recon Review

Vortex Recon

Here is my review of the Recon R/T  15×50.  First here is a bit of background on myself. I am a Staff Sergeant in the U.S Army Infantry and know all about the abuse equipment must be able to handle to survive in the field with us. I am currently deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to the mountains of Afghanistan. I use the Recon R/T daily on combat missions. I have drug it through the rain, snow and mud at 10,000ft above sea level without incident. The Ranging reticle is a real life saver……literally. Recon gives  you the ability to rapidly acquire targets and within seconds get an accurate range on human silhouettes without having to push buttons or worry about not getting a reading from a non-reflective target which commonly happens with laser range finders. If you’re faced with a non silhouette type target you have the option of using the MRAD reticle to MIL your targets. The clarity of the Recon R/T is unrivaled by any handheld monocular I have ever used. The crispness of the image really makes a difference in my line of work. The anti-reflective coating on the lenses is key when being used in a combat environment; the Recon R/T lets you see without being seen. Vortex has given you the choice on which side you want to mount the hand strap on to accommodate both right and left handed people. There are also 3 mounting options for the utility clip which leaves the user options when mounting the Recon R/T to their kit. Though I have not used the tripod or the picatanny rail mount I’m sure those will perform just as the rest of the kit, flawlessly. The Recon R/T is worth its weight in gold when it comes to a piece of combat gear that I would not go on mission without. I would recommend this optic to any war fighter or sportsman alike. Last but not least is the unconditional warranty provided by Vortex Optics which I personally have had the pleasure of dealing the customer service of Vortex Optics which is second to none. I give the Vortex Optics Recon R/T 15×50 a 5 stars, 2 thumbs up review.


A Soldier and a Sportsman

Webyshops Witnesses a Winning 2011

ARLINGTON, TX, February 10, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ — 2011 Witnessed Webyshops.com having a record setting year. While every company works to improve sales each year, Webyshops.com saw their formula of outstanding customer service, quick shipping, wide selection of quality products, knowledgeable associates and low prices push their sales to quadruple 2010′s sales. This sales growth even surpassed anticipated forecast by twenty percent. Webyshops doesn’t anticipate the records to stop with the 2011 year, they are trending to double sales again in 2012.

“2011 was a pivotal year for us. We had to prove to our vendors that we knew what we were talking about when we asked them for support in terms of financing and inventory. We also had to prove to our customers that we could deliver the level of service they expect from the likes of Zappos and Amazon. We even joked internally, that we ARE the Zappos of the outdoor industry. In the end, it was through patronage of our customers, support of our vendors and relentless dedication to each and every customer by our small, but committed crew that we were able to exceed all the goals we set for ourselves in spite of tough economic and retail conditions. We look forward to another great year in 2012, as we build upon the projects that were launched last year,” states Mikhail Orlov, Webyshops.com.

Sales weren’t the only thing that showed tremendous growth. The Webyshops.com team also grew to double its original size. The team growth hasn’t stopped yet. In order to keep up with the sales growth, staff will also increase at least twenty-five percent in 2012. Another key factor of Webyshops success is the positive encouragement for both professional and personal growth.

Customer Service Quarterback, Renee affirms this stating, “I especially like working with the customers and my coworkers. I find selling scopes both interesting and challenging. I, also, like the way we can grow with the company. Starting from the ground up is a good feeling.”

Kerri, Webyshops’ Warehouse Warrior affirms Renee”s statement “I started here about 4 months ago, didn’t have a clue about the business the patience of the people that work here is phenomenal.” She went on to say, “The warehouse has blown up with inventory over the last month business is good.”

The unexpected but welcomed growth saw the warehouse and offices reach beyond capacity. So much so, Webyshops.com is already scouting for a new location and anticipating a move during the first quarter of 2012.

www.Webyshops.com is a Texas-based sporting goods retailer, specializing in outdoor gear such as riflescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, flashlights, trail cameras, night vision, rangefinders from all major brands,including Nikon, Bushnell, Leupold, Trijicon, Eotech, Burris, Crimson Trace and others. Based on overwhelming requests from our loyal customers, we continue to expand our product offering with recent additions of categories such as sunglasses and eyewear to dog training collars and beyond. Connect with us on Facebook to stay plugged into your personal outdoor gear connection.

For Sale: Showroom demo BURRIS Landmark 15-45×60 Spotting Scope

For Sale: Showroom demo BURRIS Landmark 15-45×60 Spotting Scope, Black (300125) $110 by Webyshops.com.
Call 800-851-9329 or email info@webyshops.com.

Bushnell Expands its No-Risk Money Back Guarantee

JPG (lo-res) – JPG (hi-res)
January 2012
Mike Capps
(573) 898-3422/ mcapps@howardcommunications.com
Paul Arnhold – Bushnell Outdoor Products
(913) 752-6105 / parnhold@bushnell.com

Bushnell Expands its No-Risk Money Back Guarantee

Overland Park, Kan. Bushnell Outdoor Products, an industry leader in high performance sports optics for more than 60 years, has expanded its Bulletproof Guarantee to include several leading lines of binoculars, riflescopes and spotting scopes and its entire line of hunting laser rangefinders. With the peace of mind that comes from a no-risk, money-back guarantee, consumers can choose Bushnell with added confidence.

Originally introduced with the Legend Ultra HD binocular product line in 2011, Bushnell guaranteed that if customers were not completely satisfied with the product, the company would buy it back, no questions asked for up to one year from the original date of purchase.

For 2012, Bushnell has expanded the Bulletproof Guarantee to cover the Elite, Excursion EX, Legacy WP, Legend Ultra HD and Trophy XLT families of binoculars; Elite, Legend Ultra HD and Trophy XLT families of riflescopes and spotting scopes; and all hunting laser rangefinders.

“At Bushnell performance is everything, and our new Bulletproof Guarantee lets consumers validate that firsthand,” said Phil Gyori, Bushnell Outdoor Products executive vice president of marketing. “Consumers have trusted Bushnell to deliver quality and dependable products for more than 60 years. Now they can try Bushnell risk-free, knowing that we are so confident in our products we stand behind them 100 percent,” added Gyori.

For more information about the Bushnell Bulletproof Guarantee, visit ______________. To learn more about Bushnell Outdoor Products and its complete line of sports optics and outdoor technology, visit www.bushnell.com or call 1-800-423-3537.

Bushnell Outdoor Products is a global manufacturer and marketer of branded consumer products based in Overland Park, Kansas. Bushnell Outdoor Products sells its products worldwide under the Bushnell®, Tasco®, Serengeti®, Bollé®, Uncle Mike’s Law Enforcement®, Stoney Point®, Hoppe’s®, Butler Creek®, Cébé®, Millett®, Uncle Mike’s®, Final Approach® and Simmons® brand names.

Meopta USA Presents MeoPix iScoping Adapter

Hauppauge, New York, November 21, 2011 – Meopta USA announces the MeoPix iScoping Adapter. Developed to allow the iPhone 4 or 4s to interface with any binocular or spotting scope eyepiece, the MeoPix transforms a smart phone into the ultimate, long-range photo and movie capturing tool.

The patent pending and Apple approved MeoPix iScoping adapter attaches securely to the iPhone and is incredibly light and low profile for easy carrying. Its proprietary technology guarantees a secure fit, precise alignment and incredible image quality.

“The latest smart phone technology combined with our revolutionary MeoPix adapter will render traditional camera based Digiscoping and Binoscoping obsolete,” says Meopta USA GM Reinhard Seipp. “iScoping” harnesses the power of the iPhone to capture, edit, organize and upload images from the field. When paired with our premium spotting scopes and binoculars, the MeoPix adapter provides extraordinary close-up photos and movies with clarity and resolution that rival traditional photography.”

Meopta signed an exclusive global distribution agreement with Base One Labs, LLC the designer and patent holder of the smart phone adapter.

A formal introduction of the MeoPix will be made at SHOT 2012 and IWA 2012 where show attendees can experience a live demonstration and a chance to win a Meopta spotting scope and MeoPix iScoping adapter.

If you would like further information or additional product photography please contact:

Reinhard Seipp, General Manager
Meopta, USA, Inc.
50 Davids Drive, Hauppauge, NY 11788
Tel. 631-436-5900
Fax. 631-436-5920

About Meopta USA:

Meopta USA is the U.S. affiliate of the Meopta Optika group. Founded in 1933, the Prerov, Czech Republic based company is the leading manufacturing partner to many of the World’s finest optical brands. Meopta conceives, develops and manufactures precision optical and electro/optical systems for semiconductor, medical, aerospace, military and consumer industries at their state of the art Prerov development and manufacturing campus and New York manufacturing and distribution facilities.

FOR SALE: Nikon Clearance and Closeout items. From Webyshops.com

FOR SALE: Nikon Clearance and Closeout items. SAVINGS GALORE on the Nikon items listed below.

You may place the order by emailing us at info@webyshops.com and copy the product name and price into the subject line. Put the name of the forum in the parentheses for our reference. Please include your address if you want us to quote you shipping time and cost. You will receive an email back with an estimate or notification that it has been sold. If you approve, we will email you a PayPal payment request that you can pay securely in the privacy of your own home. If you prefer, you may call to check availability or to place your order, 800-851-9329.

NIKON Prostaff 20-60×82 Spotting Scope, Camo (8313)

Was $629
Now $499

NIKON Fieldscope III 20-60×60 Spotting Scope (8336)


NIKON Prostaff 16-48×65 Spotting Scope, Camo (8310)


NIKON 16-48×60 Spotter XL II Spotting Scope, Camo (6893)

Now $339

We look for the best deals to pass the savings on to you. All items are brand new sealed in original packaging.

Compact Spotting Scopes

Before I start here, I have to admit that until fairly recently I had very mixed feelings about spotters as small as the ones I tested for this article.  In some ways, I still have mixed feelings about them, but the introduction of miniature Vortex Recon spotters definitely made me perk up and pay attention.  Minox MD50 is also comparatively new to the scene, although it takes up the price range previously occupied by Kowa’s 50mm spotter that appears to have been discontinued.

Before these models from Vortex and Minox showed up, selecting a compact spotter was a pretty straightforward affair: if you wanted the best one available, you had to pony up the cash for Nikon’s smallest Fieldscope.  If $700 was beyond your budget, then either Leupold’s $400 Gold Ring spotter or the now defunct 50mm Kowa was the way to go.  In the lower price bracket were (and still are) a myriad of cheap Chinese spotters like Burris Landmark.  Those are, and I am being generous here, a bit of a hit and miss.  The only other 50mm spotter I can think of is Kruger Lynx 7-25×50 which retails for ~$1000.  It was not immediately available to me, and it is appreciably bulkier than the spotters I am looking at in this case (it does look interesting and may be worth testing in the future).

Here is the spec table for the spotters I compared for this article:


Recon Mountain



Recon R/T Tactical



Fieldscope ED50



Gold Ring





Weight, oz 15.2 15.2 19.6 21.5 23.3
Length, in 7 7 11.2 11 8.4
Field of View, ft@1000yards 215 280 157@13x 136 – 89 160 – 100
Eye Relief, mm 16 19.5 12.9@13x 17.5 – 17.1 15 – 11
Close Focus, ft 12 12 9.8 13.5 16.4
Eyecup twist-up rubber rubber rubber twist-up
Price $590 $550 $700 $400 $300

All of these have straight eyepieces, although Nikon and Minox are also available with angled eyepieces.  The Fieldscope is the only one that has a detachable eyepiece.  However, there are not all that many options for it: aside from the 13-30x variable that comes with the spotter, I have seen a fixed magnification eyepiece that works out to be 27x.  I did not have it on hand this time around, but I have played with it in the past.  It provides for a very nice image, but 27×50 configuration does not appeal to me all that much unless paired with a low magnification eyepiece.  The exit pupil is simply too small for anything but middle-of-the-day use.  I think that a longer eyerelief eyepiece with magnification somewhere below 20x would make a killing if it was available (I have seen a 20x eyepiece mentioned on Nikon’s website, but never ran into it live and never heard of anyone using it).

Looking at the numbers in the table, several things stand out.  One is that the 10×50 Vortex Recon is an odd duck in this group: the magnification is too low for a meaningful apples-to-apples comparison.  However, it is still worthwhile to look at it from the standpoint of usability vs magnification.  10×50 Recon also has the longest eyerelief, by a solid margin.

The two Vortex spotters clearly have the widest fields of view.  Even the 15×50 model has much larger FOV than the other spotters here when set onto the same magnification.  In all fairness though, it is to be expected for fixed power eyepieces.  I suspect that fixed power versions of the other spotters would also have much wider FOVs.

It is also worth noting that the 15×50 Vortex and Minox have twist-up eyecups, while the other three spotters have fold-down rubber eyecups.  Which you prefer comes down to personal preference.  I can live with either if it is reasonably well-executed, but generally prefer twist-up designs.  With Vortex offerings, Recon Mountain model comes with a twist-up eyecup, while the Recon Tactical comes with a reticle and rubber eyecup.  I ended up looking at the 10×50 Tactical and 15×50 Mountain versions.

Size-wise, Vortex Recon spotters are clearly the more compact pieces, with Minox being similarly short, but much heavier.  Leupold and Nikon are both quite a bit longer and a touch lighter than the Minox.  Still, Vortex Recon look quite svelte in this group.

One other thing worth noting is that the 10×50 Vortex Recon Tactical I had was the only scope that came with a ranging reticle.

Here is a picture that gives you an idea of the comparative size of the spotters (they happen to be sitting on the roof of my car in the heart of Malibu hills where I did a lot of the testing):
compact spotters

From left to right: Leupold Gold Ring 15-30×50, Minox MD50 16-30×50, Vortex Recon Mountain 15×50, Vortex Recon Tactical 10×50 and Nikon Fieldscopes 13-30×50.

Note that Leupold and Nikon utilize porro prisms (hence the characteristic dogleg shape), while the other three are roof prism designs.

The means of focusing the image vary across the board, with Nikon having the most conventional layout of the bunch: it has a small focusing knob sticking forward out of the prism housing.  Leupold also has a small knob, albeit of a different shape, on the side of the prism housing (it is adorned with the Leupold logo in the picture above). Focusing the Minox is accomplished via a large dial (that is the ribbed rubber ring) around the midsection of the spotter’s body, while both Vortex Recon models have wide rubber dials right in front of the eyecups. Vortex Recon spotters equipped with a reticle also provide the means for focusing that reticle (a narrow dial between the eyecup and the focus adjustment ring).  The Recon models with the reticle have a rubber eyecup, that folds down for use with glasses or with a doubler.  The rubber used for the eyecup on the Vortex is notably stiffer than that used for Nikon and Leupold that have soft rubber eyecups.  I suppose that with the longer eyerelief of the Vortex, a rather stiff rubber eyepiece is a necessity.

The allure of small spotters like these is primarily linked to their small size and weight, with the implication that you will take one of these with you when you are packing light.  With that in mind, I set out to see how well these work without a tripod.  First I attempted to determine if any of these are useful handheld.  In this regard, the 10×50 version of Vortex Recon is clearly easier to use than the other spotters in this group owing to its lower magnification.  Between the rest of them, ease of use offhand largely comes down to how you prefer to hold them.  The way I use them, the only one that kinda worked for me was the Minox, although the 15×50 Vortex came close and would have been right up there if it wasn’t for a particular quirk.  That quirk is the feel and weight of the focusing knob.

In order to use a high magnification monocular or a small spotter handheld, I usually try to grab a hold of it with one hand near the objective and press it against my eyesocket.  That gives me a little extra stability, and if I can lean against a wall or a tree trunk, it becomes very manageable for anything but lengthy observation. Once I find an adequately stable position, I use the other hand to operate the focusing knob.  Since, this is a somewhat fragile arrangement to start with, a heavy focusing knob tends to impede my ability to hold still.  Another thing that really does not work for this type of a hold is a rubber eyecup.  It does not allow me to make firm contact between the eyepiece and my eyesocket while maintaining proper eyerelief.

The 10×50 Recon has sufficiently low magnification, where it was usable despite the rather stiff focusing knob and the rubber eyepiece.  Still, operating the focusing knob was a bit difficult due to the stiffness and due to that large flat carry clip getting in the way.  After some use, the focusing knob did get smoother although not much lighter, and, thankfully, the clip is removable and reconfigurable.  However, I wish that it was mounted lower on the spotter body as it is quite handy for carrying the spotter with you.  In the picture below, you can see the clip overlaying the focusing knob.  I found that uncomfortable except in one particular  configuration (more on that later).  Also, the Recon scopes come with a carry strap (see picture below).  For the life of me, I could not figure out why it is located in that exact spot, rather than a little further down on the body of the spotter.  On the other hand, there really isn’t all that much space on these very compact monoculars, and the strap does not get in the way all that much.  In actual use, I found myself not using the strap, so I took it off completely for a lot of the handheld testing I did.  Vortex does provide a long single point strap as an alternative.

While the 10×50 Recon gets away with a moderately stiff focusing knob due to lower magnification, the 15×50 model is a lot more susceptible to vibration so it was a bigger problem there.  I did find the retractable eyecup on the 15×50 model to be very good and with a lighter focusing knob, the combination would have been superb.  Unfortunately, Vortex Recon spotters that have a reticle (which I liked) are only available with a folding rubber eyecup, so you have to pick what is more important to you: twist-up eyecups or a ranging reticle.  One other thing to note before I move on is that all this whining I do about a stiff focusing knob is, in many ways, due to how light the Recon spotters are.  Were they heavier, they would be less susceptible to accidental disturbances, but that would defeat some of the purpose behind getting a compact spotter.

Ultimately, at 15x, the Minox was by far the easiest spotter to use handheld.  I suspect it was greatly helped by its extra heft, which adds stability.  However, the focus ring was well weighted and the twist-up eyecup helped stability.

Both Leupold and Nikon would do well offhand if it was not for those soft rubber eyecups.  I just could not maintain proper eyerelief with those in handheld use.  Nikon did have an exceptionally smooth focusing knob that often came in handy.

Once the time came to mount these on a tripod, the various handling quirks became less important, although the quality of the focusing mechanism continued playing a large role.  Nikon was easiest to use on a tripod, edging out Leupold and Minox ever so slightly.  Both Vortex spotters, were very easy to set-up with both a conventional and quick-detachable tripod mounts available, but they are so light, that a stiff focusing knob really got in the way.  Still, once I developed some familiarity with them, I was able to use them without too much difficulty.  The quick detach tripod mount that came with the Recon spotters, while handy, was not as steady as a more conventional tripod attachment.  It worked well with the 10×50 Recon, but turned out to be less than optimal with the 15×50.

Since they were mounted on tripods, I spent some time going through different magnifications on the three spotters with variable eyepieces: Minox, Leupold and Nikon.  Generally, Leupold had the longest eyerelief across the board and was fairly easy to use.  Minox did better than I expected, and while I was wearing contacts did not give me any trouble.  When wearing glasses, Leupold was clearly easier to use at high magnification.  Nikon…. well, I have tested a few Nikon Fieldscopes over the years and I always come up with the same conclusion: awesome spotter with infuriatingly crappy zoom eyepiece.  The little Fieldscope was very hard to use at any magnification while I was wearing glasses and even when wearing contacts, it got challenging at higher magnifications.  Another little quirk with the Fieldscope eyepiece is that it comes with a plastic cap that fits inside the rubber eyecup.  As I was testing the spotter, I had to fold the rubber eyecup down a number of times.  After a little while it got so loose, that the plastic cap would no longer stay put and would fall out at the slightest provocation.  If I were to buy this spotter, I would have to come up with some sort of an alternative arrangement to keep the eyepiece protected.  Conversely, Leupold that also has a fold down rubber eyecup comes with an eyepiece cap that fits very snugly on top of the folded eyecup.  That seems to be a better arrangement.

Both of the Vortex scopes have plenty of eyerelief for use with or without glasses.  Since these came with fixed magnification eyepieces, I experimenting using both of them with a doubler.  If you intend to do that, I suggest you stick with a 10x Recon.  Boosting it to 20x with a doubler was surprisingly useable.

Ultimately, spotters, even tiny ones like these, are there to let you see things far away; hence, once I got a reasonable grip on the best way to use them from an ergonomics standpoint, I spent a lot of time looking through them both at resolution charts and at natural targets.

As far as image quality goes, Nikon stomps all over the competition fairly convincingly.  I did comparisons in the following way:

1) Compare all scopes at 15x (aside from the 10×50 Vortex, obviously).  Note that Minox is listed as a 16-30 variable, while the spotter itself is actually marked 15-30x.  I did not bother to check actual magnification and assumed that this is close enough.  Here is a snapshot of Minox’ magnification ring:

2) Compare all scopes at 20x (aside from the 15×50 Vortex, obviously).  For 20x test, I used the 10×50 Vortex with a doubler.

3) Compare all scopes at 30x.  Naturally, that excluded the 10×50 Vortex, but gave me a chance to look at the 15×50 one with a doubler.

4) Based on the results from steps above, look at variable magnification scopes at intermediary magnification ranges.

I did all of the above in varying lighting conditions and at the end did some specific flare testing.

Nikon had negligible flare and clearly showed the most detail whichever magnification we were looking at.  However, it had the biggest edge at 30x.

At 15x, the Vortex and Minox actually got kinda close to the Nikon, but at 30x there was little doubt that the Nikon was better.  The one knock on the Fieldscope is that the field of view is fairly narrow, similar to the Leupold.  All of the variable magnification spotters, have a wide black ring around the image at low magnifications which gradually disappears as you increase magnification.  Fixed power Recon spotters, conversely, have no trace of that effect and the image looks a lot more relaxed simply because you do not see the black circumference around it.  For prolonged observation, I found looking through the 15×50 Vortex easier than through the other scopes here at 15x.

Here is an overall optical performance matrix for each magnification with “1”indicating highest performance and “5” lowest.  These are my subjective evaluations, so the number only make sense in the context of this article.

15x 15x 20x 20x 30x 30x
Resolution Contrast Resolution Contrast Resolution Contrast
Nikon Fieldscope 13-30×50 1 1 1 1 1 1
Minox MD 16-30×50 3 2 2 2 2.5 3
Leupold Gold Ring 15-30×50 4 2 3 3 2.5 3
Vortex Recon Mountain 15×50 2 1 NA NA NA NA
Vortex Recon 15×50 with 2x doubler NA NA NA NA 5 5
Vortex Recon 10×50 with 2x doubler NA NA 4.5 4 NA NA

The little Vortex spotters did not do all that well with the doubler with 15×50 being particularly useless when boosted.  10×50 with a doubler, while not great was actually serviceable and occasionally useful.  I suspect that if Vortex were to look a little bit into improving the performance of the doubler it could be even more viable. Even as is, I think it is useful.  There is an interesting tradeoff in the works here.  With the variable eyepiece spotters here, the image at 20x is clearly better.  However, the downside is the tunnel-like effect at low magnifications.  With the 10×50 Recon, I get a wide and relaxed view at low magnifications (where I am likely to spend the most time), but sacrifice some of the image quality at high magnification once I add the doubler.  I suppose it comes down to individual preference.  The doubler is small and light and can be carried separately.  Here is a picture of the 15×50 Recon with the doubler on top of it.
The one downside of the wide field of view of the little Vortex spotters is the increased susceptibility to flare.  That is not uncommon for wide field of view designs and in this group, both Recons had the most sensitivity to bright light sources just outside the field of view.  Veiling flare, interestingly, was not very prominent on any of these spotters, with Leupold being a little worse than the others.
Geometric aberrations were adequately well controlled across the board.  Besides, for spotters in this price range, my official position on geometric aberrations is as follows: “if it does not jump out at me, I do not care very much”.  Chromatic aberration was virtually non-existent in the Nikon and hard to find in both of the Vortex spotters.  Minox and Leupold showed some CA, especially at higher magnificaiton, but for the money I am not going to complain too much.
Nikon and Leupold had somewhat deeper depth of field than the Minox, with the Vortex having the shallowest DOF of the bunch (at the same magnification, naturally).
With all this out of the way, here are some conclusions in no particular order.
Nikon Fieldscope 13-50×50
If you are after the most optical quality (or do not have a larger spotter for range and/or long distance use), the little Fieldscope is still your best bet, provided you can live with the limitations of its eyepiece.  If Nikon offered a couple of different fixed power eyepieces for it with at least one being 15x or so, I would have owned one of these by now.  Alternatively, they could redesign the zoom eyepiece, but that does not look  very likely.  Still, image quality is better than you would imaging looking at how tiny the thing is and the focusing knob is both light and precise.  When used as a traditional spotting scope, in this size range, this is the one to beat.
Would I buy this one? As is, probably not, but that is largely because I own a slightly larger (65mm) spotter, so my needs from a compact spotter are different.  However, if Nikon were to rework the eyepieces…

Minox MD50 16-30×50
This is easily the champ in the “bang for the buck” contest.  Form factor-wise, it looks like a scaled down full-size spotter with a proper “foot” for a tripod mount.  It has a very solid feel, owing to it being short and moderately heavy.  It is easily the heaviest spotter in this group.  Eyepiece cover is somewhat unusual: it is a threaded metal cap that fits over the whole eyepiece providing a lot of protection in case I were to just throw the spotter into the backpack. Here are a couple of snapshots with the cover on and off.
Optically, the spotter is very good for what it costs.  It is a bit cheaper than the Leupold and outperforms it in most ways, while being more compact: FOV is wider, low light performance is better and overall image quality is better from 15x up to 22x or so.  At higher magnifications, eyerelief gets a little short and Leupold is easier to use.  However, the FOV advantage carries over across all magnifications.  The focus ring is on the body of the spotter and the large diameter offers a fair amount of adjustment precision. I do not have any particular preferences on how the focusing mechanism is implemented as long as it is executed well.  This one is quite good.
Finally, would I buy one of these? I am actually thinking about it.  It is sufficiently inexpensive to be worth looking at.  While I am unlikely to drop the cash on the Nikon, this one is much easier to swing and it does most things I need in a compact spotter quite well.  I probably would have liked it even more if the magnification range was 12-24x or thereabouts.  Over the years, I found exit pupil of 2mm is about as small as I am willing to go under most circumstances, so 24x top magnification is just right for me with a 50mm objective lens.  On the other hand, having a little less magnification on the low end would help both handheld use and low light performance.
Leupold Gold Ring 15-30×50
This a pretty decent spotter in its own right, although I feel it is a bit behind the competition.  Eye relief is pretty long and the scope has good depth of field.  However, FOV is fairly narrow and the cheaper Minox is better optically.  On the plus side, the way the focusing knob is set-up makes it easy to keep the scope undisturbed and it gets high marks for ease of use.  Bottom line is that this is a perfectly decent spotter that could use a bit of a refresh.
Would I buy one? Not when I get the Minox for $100 less.
Vortex Recon 10×50 and 15×50
When I first wanted to look at these, I thought that the 15×50 model looked far more interesting.  After spending some time with them, I found the 10×50 more to my liking.  10×50 was a lot easier to use handheld and performed well in low light.  On top of that, in a pinch, it offered fairly decent performance with a doubler.  As pure spotters go, these are somewhat limiting.  Truthfully, they should be in a category of their own: somewhere between a small monocular and a mid-size spotter.  Neither one of these is going to replace a mid-size spotter any time soon, and I do not think they were ever intended to do so.  What they do best though is pack very respectable optical performance into an unusually compact and lightweight package.  Additionally, I think the 10×50 is best viewed as a basis for modular system, rather than as a standalone product.  It offers a number of different carry options, additional mounting accessories, different attachment points for the clip and a doubler.  In my case, I already had a doubler, so for me it was a no-brainer.  For example, after all that complaining I did earlier about ergonomic compromises, I did find a way to use the Recon that fits me so well, that I think I will actually buy one.  What I did was the following: I took the strap completely off and repositioned the clip to the right hand side of the spotter body, where the handstrap was originally.  On the left side of the spotter, I attached the quick-detachable tripod mount.  I like to support the spotter with my right hand and use the left hand for operating the focusing knob.  With this setup, I can comfortably operate the focusing knob handheld, while maintaining the capability of quickly attaching the spotter to a tripod.  Here are a couple of pictures of the set-up I ended up with.
This is the side of the scope where the tripod mount goes:
And here is the view where the tripod mount is rotated alongside the spotter body for handheld use:
With the 15×50 configuration, I found that I gravitate toward using the tripod a lot more thant I do with the 10×50 version.  Well, the way I see it, if I am going ot have it sitting on the tripod all the time, I might as well go for a proper small spotter, like the cheaper Minox or the higher performing Nikon.  On top of that, the 15×50 version is much less useable with a doubler which further limits my options.
The best I can tell, the Recon spotters are essentially single barrel versions of the Viper binoculars Vortex has: 10×50 Recon is simple one half of a 10×50 Viper binocular.  Given a choice, I would have liked to see the 15x Recon based on the 15×56 Kaibab binocular instead.  I think that would give it a significant boost in optical quality and a larger objective bell diameter to help with boosted use.  On top of that, even wit ha 56mm objective lens, it would still be comfortably smaller than the more traditional 50mm compact spotters.
Bottom line, would I buy a Recon spotter? Yes on the 10×50.  No on the 15×50.

ZEISS Dialyt Field Spotter Wins Field & Stream and On Target Magazine Awards

CHESTER, Va., August 19, 2011 – The new Dialyt 18-45×65 Field Spotter from Carl Zeiss has just won two prestigious industry awards, Field & Stream magazine’s coveted Best of the Best award in the hunting optics category for 2011 and On Target magazine’s 2011 Editor’s Choice Award. These highly regarded annual awards programs are designed to find and honor the absolute best new and innovative products each year. Here is what these publications are saying about this product:

Field & Stream: “For hunting, the Dialyt could be one of the purest, most rugged spotting scopes in quite some time. Tester Van Buggenum certainly believed so, writing in his evaluation that “this is what I think a spotting scope should be!” Clearly, the scope says retro with its straight metal body armored in ribbed black rubber and its built-in variable eyepiece, but without the dust or moisture issues of traditional drawtube scopes…..”. – T.M.”

On Target: “The new Dialyt Field Spotter from Zeiss is a compact, powerful, top-quality spotting scope for use in the field without a tripod. Measuring 15.55″ L x 3.07″ H x 2.99″ W, and weighing 42 oz., it is designed to provide high mobility for observation in difficult or mountainous terrain. Its premium optics permit the hunter to pick out fine detail, even against confusing backgrounds and in low light situations…..”

“We are honored to receive recognition for our innovation and continued efforts to produce top-quality optics that not only meet but exceed hunters’ needs and expectations in the field,” said Michael A. Jensen, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Carl Zeiss Sports Optics. “The Dialyt is a great addition to our spotting scope offerings and is the perfect choice for those who need to glass distances quickly while keeping weight to a minimum.”

The ZEISS Dialyt 18-45×65 Field Spotter is lightweight and especially popular with western hunters in the U.S. and those hunting in mountainous areas throughout the world. This straight, rubber armored scope with built-in variable eyepiece features premium optics and is fully waterproof and dustproof, unlike draw-tube scopes. It fits easily into a backpack, it is tripod adaptable, and, if necessary, can be rested on a pack or rock, or leaned against a tree for further stabilization at higher magnification.

About Carl Zeiss:
Carl Zeiss is an international group of companies in the optical and optoelectronic industries. The company has representatives in more than 30 countries. Carl Zeiss is a stock corporation which is wholly owned by the Carl Zeiss Stiftung (Carl Zeiss Foundation).

The products and services from Carl Zeiss set the standards in the Medical and Research Solutions, Industrial Solutions and Lifestyle Products markets. The ZEISS brand has stood for innovative ideas, precision and quality for more than 165 years. More than 24,000 employees work for Carl Zeiss around the world. During fiscal year 2009/10, they generated revenues of EUR 2.98 billion. As part of the Carl Zeiss Group, Carl Zeiss Sports Optics is responsible for sales, marketing and distribution of its state-of-the-art binoculars, spotting scopes, riflescopes and laser rangefinders throughout the United States and Canada.

For more information, visit: zeiss.com/sports or call 1-800-441-3005.

Shannon S. Jackson, Press Relations, (804) 343-3608 or sjackson@shannonjacksonpr.com

Kowa TSN-884 Spotting Scope

Sight is paramount in making accurate decisions afield, and the folks at Kowa have created a spotting scope that won’t disappoint.

On AccurateShooter.com, reviewer Danny Reever stated, “The Kowa Prominar (TSN 88X series) is quite simply the best spotting scope I’ve ever looked through. In all instances the Kowa out-performed everything I was able to compare it to. The Kowa had unrivaled clarity, and I could resolve 6mm bullet holes at 500m with it better than with my 100mm Pentax. After testing the Kowa, I sold my Pentax PF100-ED, and I’m planning to purchase a Kowa TSN-884.”

Featuring a large 88mm objective, the Kowa TSN-844 is an incredibly compact scope slightly exceeding 13 inches in length, excluding eyepiece. The scope body constructed of magnesium alloy, affords a trim weight of 53.6 ounces. Including the 20-60X eyepiece, length is 16 3/8 inches, and weight is 65.1 ounces. When compared to other scopes such as the Pentax PF100-ED, the Kowa is an amazing 3 1/2 pounds (56 ounces) lighter allowing you to use a more compact and lighter tripod if you so desire.

Kowa offers three new eyepieces designed for its 77-88mm family of scopes: a 25X long eye relief; a 30X wide angle; and a 20-60X zoom. These current eyepieces are held securely within the body by means of a locking button on the scope body designed to be pressed while removing an eyepiece preventing accidental detachment. The shortest distance at which the TSN-884 can focus is 16.5 feet — perfect for handgun spotting duties.

Bright, super-sharp, distortion-free images come from superior glass. The objective lens of the TSN 884 incorporates Pure Fluorite Crystal (PFC) giving you 99% or higher light transmission. One focuses the Kowa via a system of two focus controls along one axis. The Kowa 883/884 is designed to function in all weather conditions with the nitrogen-purged body fully sealed and the “housing” waterproof.

On AccurateShooter.com’s Daily Bulletin, the Kowa Prominar was rated number one by the Cornell Ornithology lab in its 2008 Scope Quest – a detailed review of 36 spotting scopes.

Set your sights on something extraordinary this year with the Kowa TSN-884.

Trophy XLT Spotting Scope – The Trophy XLT Spotting Scope From Bushnell Helps Hunters See What They Have Been Missing

785015 Trophy XLT Spotting Scope

785015 Trophy XLT Spotting Scope
JPG (lo-res) – TIF (hi-res) JPG (lo-res) – TIF (hi-res)

786520 Trophy XLT Spotting Scope

786520 Trophy XLT Spotting Scope
JPG (lo-res) – TIF (hi-res) JPG (lo-res) – TIF (hi-res)
May 2011
Mike Capps
(573) 898-3422/ mcapps@howardcommunications.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Paul Arnhold – Bushnell Outdoor Products
(913) 752-6105 / parnhold@bushnell.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

New Trophy XLT Spotting Scopes from Bushnell
Helps Hunters See What They Have Been Missing

Overland Park, Kan. — The new Trophy XLT spotting scopes from Bushnell Outdoor Products offer hunters and outdoor enthusiasts a durable, high quality spotter at an affordable price.

The Trophy XLT spotting scopes are built to withstand the toughest tests from Mother Nature and the demands of the field. Built with a rugged, rubber-armored housing, the spotters are fully waterproof and fog proof. The spotting scope’s porro prism design and fully multi-coated optics deliver exceptional clarity and light transmission from sunup to sundown.

Each scope includes a quick-detach objective cover, soft-sided case and a compact tripod. In addition, a premium, hard-sided case is included to provide added protection during travel and transport.

Two models are available in the Trophy XLT line, a 15-45x 50mm version with an MSRP of $318.95 and a 20-60x 65mm model that is available for $364.95.

For more information about the Trophy XLT Spotting Scope, visit the product section online. To learn more about Bushnell Outdoor Products, visit www.Bushnell.com or call 1-800-423-3537.

Bushnell Outdoor Products is a global manufacturer and marketer of branded consumer products based in Overland Park, Kansas. Bushnell Outdoor Products sells its products worldwide under the Bushnell®, Tasco®, Serengeti®, Bollé®, Uncle Mike’s Law Enforcement®, Stoney Point®, Hoppe’s®, Butler Creek®, Cébé®, Millett®, Uncle Mike’s®, Final Approach® and Simmons® brand names.