Spotting Scopes?

Discussion in 'General Sako Discussions' started by icebear, Aug 27, 2021.

  1. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    Anyone have a recommendation for a good, moderately priced spotting scope? My Nikon Fieldscope that I bought in Hong Kong in 1982 is optically excellent and still in good condition, but it has only fixed-power eyepieces and I'd much rather have an angled eyepiece rather than straight. I'd prefer not to drop a grand on a Kowa unless there's no reasonable alternative. The Leupold SX-2 Alpine is attractively priced at $400, but it's gotten very mixed reviews and I think it's made in China. There's also a more upscale Leupold at around $7-800, but I don't know much about that one. Anybody have personal experience with either of those?


    My parameters are:
    Zoom eyepiece, preferably 20-60x but would consider 15-45x.
    Angled eyepiece.
    60mm objective. 80 is too big, heavy, and expensive.
    Strongly prefer NOT made in China.
    Price: Preferably under $500; would go somewhat higher if necessary. No cheap junk.

    Recommendations are welcome, especially if you have personal experience with the specific model.
     

  2. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    I have a Leupold Ventana 2 that you may want to check out. Got it on sale a few years ago for under $400. It's a straight tube but ,IIRC, it was available in an angled eyepiece. Comes in both 15-45x & 20-60x. I've had a 20-60x spotting scope before, but found at 60x mirage & atmospheric conditions can make it fairly useless & in low light they black out. I have the 15-45x and can see bullets holes in paper at beyond 200 yards. Not a super deluxe rig, but I'm very happy with it. Wasn't all that impressed with Leupold spotting scopes before I stumbled on to the Ventana 2, but comparing it to 4 other scopes at the time I ended up taking it home. I have a stand behind tripod that I gave more for than the scope, but I think it makes a big difference as the scope is rock solid under about any conditions. Don't short yourself on a tripod. The one that comes with it is for a table & not up to my requirements. Under $500 will get you a good scope from several different makers. I don't think spending more necessarily gives you any real benefit when it comes to spotting scopes, but other opinions may vary.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2021
  3. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    Thanks. I believe the Ventana 2 was the predecessor to the Alpine 2, which is a new model this year. Good to have a trusted source with personal experience.
     
  4. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    Did some more research. The Leupold Alpine is, indeed, the newer version of the Ventana. Unfortunately, it is made in China. The Alpine does not come in a 15-45x version, only the 20-60x. Usual selling price of the Alpine is $400; Midway currently has a promo for a $40 gift card, dropping the net to $360. There's a lightly used 15-45x60mm Ventana on eBay for $270.

    Kowa makes a 20-40x for a surprisingly low $350. It's only a 50mm as opposed to the 60mm of the Leupold, but in the Arizona sun I don't know that the difference is significant. The next step up in the Kowa line is a 60mm body for $500. The eyepiece is a separate purchase - $350 for 25-60mm for a total cost of $850. All Kowa scopes are made in Japan.

    I am now thinking that I'm going to go Kowa. The question is whether I want to spend the money for a bigger ocular and greater zoom range. My aging eyesight could use the 60x at longer ranges, but the difference in cost is substantial. On the other hand, it's still cheaper than the high-end Kowa, Swarovski, etc scopes that go for upwards of $1700. I really want to avoid China if I can.

    I'll post when/if I get a new scope and how it works out.
     
  5. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    My Ventana doesn't have anything on it to indicate where it was made & I don't recall seeing a "Made in China" on the box I no longer have, so sounds like Leupold has gone over to the Dark Side with the Alpine. I really don't think you will see all that much practical difference between the $350 Kowa & the $850 one. If the Ventana comes with the case & tripod that is a very attractive price. I've always said "buy the best optics you can afford", but with spotting scopes it can get more pricy than needed if most of what you use it for is looking at holes in paper in good lighting conditions. If you are going to attach a camera then a top quality scope should be given some serious thought. Good Luck!
     
  6. Bucktote

    Bucktote Well-Known Member

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    Hi Icebear & Mr. P, I just looked at reviews for spotting scopes & setteled on a " Celestron Ultima" . It is 20-60 X 80 mm and I couldn't find made in China data on the web site "Optics Planet". @ $245.55 delivered. What did you end up getting IceBear?. I will let you all know if I did ok. B/T
     
  7. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    I've decided to give the Kowa 20-40x50mm a try. For logistical reasons I won't be getting it until early October; will post my opinion when I have time to check it out.
     
  8. wombat

    wombat Well-Known Member

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    Hello Icebear,
    Have you considered the Vortex range? They make some compact models with the angled eyepiece. And over on your side of the pond you won’t be gouged as much as us in the Colonies!!
    They are made in China. I’ve noticed lately on the forum and other US forums that there appears a certain amount of disdain when “ made in China” comes up!!!!
    Jay
     
  9. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    I don't look at anything from Vortex, for two reasons. One is the vast amount of hype and "tacticool" advertising the company puts out. Their scopes have names like "Strike Eagle" etc. I don't want to be associated with that kind of promotion. I do collect military rifles (including a couple of Aussie L1A1's), but I'm not into "tacticool." The other reason is China. While I realize it's impossible to avoid Chinese goods entirely, if I can find something made in the USA or a friendly country (like Australia, or Japan in the case of the Kowa scopes), I will buy that in preference to "Hoo Flung Poo" from China. I have nothing against the Chinese people; I speak Mandarin and I spent two years in Taiwan, but the Chinese Communist government is the enemy of everything we stand for in the West and I conduct myself accordingly.
     
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  10. sakojim

    sakojim Well-Known Member

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    Thank you icebear. As a fellow American Patriot, I appreciate your statement of my sentiments exactly. Sakojim.
     
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  11. RRon

    RRon Member

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    I have a Pentax PF80 EDa. Been very satisfied.
    I share your China concerns.
     
  12. Bucktote

    Bucktote Well-Known Member

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    Many of the items we buy say" Made in U.S.A. but are really assembeled in U.S.A.. China has out worked us. Labor is cheap and while I don't know how WELFARE is administered in China I suspect it is not much or non-existant. Our sako rifles were built when the world depended on craftsmanship, knowlege, and wanting to make the best! have we out priced ourselves? I ask the only fair question I know,
    " how much is enough"??? Many veterans that served in the milatary feel our country is being stolen from us. Can the next generation save it???
    I am off subject sorry, I;ll quit!!! B/T
     
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  13. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    The question of where something is made is more complex than it looks. It is decided according to a concept called "added value," meaning that the value of each component or step in production is calculated and if the value from the USA exceeds a threshold set by the government, it can be marked "Made in U.S.A." Before World War II, a city in Japan famously called itself "Usa" so it could mark its products Made in USA - but that was before laws were passed regulating domestic content. Here's a modern-day example of added value. An Apple iPhone is assembled in China. However, the most important chips and electronics are made in either the US or Taiwan. Only low-end generic chips and components are procured in China. The glass, a very important part of the whole, is made in Korea, but some procurement will move to China later this year. The Chinese added value in an iPhone is actually well under half. Under US content rules, it's hard to determine where an iPhone is actually "made." To make things even more interesting, the company that contracts with Apple to manufacture the phones in China is registered and owned in Taiwan, not China.

    A minor defense contractor was recently convicted of fraud for selling the US government items that were labeled "Made in USA" but actually came from China.
     
  14. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Perhaps you saw the thread on Browning Safaris as compared to Sako Deluxes. Douglastwo noted that the Safari grade Brownings were marked "Made in Finland", whereas the higher grade Medallion and Olympians were marked "Made in Belgium". All grades had barreled actions made in Finland by Sako and stocks made in Belgium by FN. But the higher grades had engraving and stock embellishments done in Belgium which the Safari grade did not. Thus, it seems, the difference in where "made".
     
  15. Bucktote

    Bucktote Well-Known Member

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    Gentlemen,
    We all really know that laws are made by people that are motivated by some kind of influence. I leave it to you to decide where the influence comes from??? Again, "how much is enough" ?? B/T
     
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  16. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    You've got it. A career as an economist awaits.
     
  17. Bucktote

    Bucktote Well-Known Member

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    "Celeatron Ultra" spotting scope arrived & works well! Went to farm & shot rifles did not have any trouble seeing touching hits on target. I had a tripod that I fitted the scope on & it worked out well. Down side? Made in California, materials from China!! Is there no end to america's shipping all our mannifacturing out to China???
    B/T
     
  18. Old Hippie

    Old Hippie Formerly known as bloorooster

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    Is there also a city named Wisconsin in China? Vortex advertising says made in the USA proudly in Wisconsin..my range finder says China
     
  19. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    The closest they could come to "Wisconsin" in Mandarin would be the phonetic Wei-Si-Kan-Xin. I don't know if that's exactly how they do it, but that's the way they phoneticize foreign words.

    And I'm not aware of anything sold under the Vortex name that isn't made in China.
     
  20. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

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    That's why I'm probably going to order the 20-40x50mm Kowa, which is made in Japan. Not the USA, but at least a friendly country. I found a 16-48x60mm Nikon for a bit more money that I would have preferred, but it's made in China. I've been using Nikon optical equipment for 50 years, and I'm disappointed that many of their lower-priced products are being made in China. I passed on a 200-500mm Nikkor lens at a very attractive price because it's made in China. Fortunately, Nikon's higher-end products are still made in Japan, so I bought a D750 and 24-120mm lens without hesitation.

    My regular photo optics supplier (B&H) was closed last week for the Jewish holiday. When they reopen I'll call up one of their sales advisers and make a final decision.
     

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