Best Optic for Long Distances

Nick Don

Newbie
Joined
Sep 24, 2020
Messages
6
Location
Denver, CO
Hello Everyone,

I've been hunting for a few years but my glassing game has been pretty poor and I'm looking to work on that. I'm currently using Vortex Crossfire 8x42 binoculars and just recently got a tripod for my upcoming deer hunts. I hunt primarily in Colorado where most of my glassing opportunities are either less than 1/2 a mile or 2-5 miles. I don't plan to get rid of my current setup as I think there is some value for my 8x, especially while still hunting and archery elk. That being said I want to do some long distance glassing throughout the year (while hunting, winter/spring/summer scouting) and hopefully plan to do some high country mule deer hunting in the next few years.

Also, I don't plan to spend more than $1,000 and even that would be a stretch for me. I'd like to be able to see if a deer is mature in the high country and when it comes to elk I pursue anything legal, including cows. Would it be better to get a set of 12/15/18x binos or a spotting scope?

Thanks in advanced!
 

AkMtnRunner

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 24, 2016
Messages
367
I am not sure how much detail you'll need to see but I will say that a so-so spotter (less than $1000) is not much better than a great pair of binoculars. I think your game would be best helped with investing in great binoculars next, as you will always be helped by better binoculars. If you really really need to see far, try to borrow a spotter in the meantime but honestly with a great binocular on a tripod you will be amazed enough.
 

IrkedCitizen

Senior Member
Joined
May 28, 2013
Messages
190
Location
Littleton, CO
Honestly if you like your 8x I would suggest just getting a quality set of 8x and a spotting scope. Once you get out in the field with 8x on a tripod you will be able to spot game better. You might not be able see detail if super far but you can tell it is an animal. At that point you can switch out your spotting scope and zoom in. Quality binos on a tripod regardless of power is a game changer and you have yet to fully experience that.

So my vote is to buy better 8x binos and grab a less expensive spotter. People have been saying good things about the Athlon Ares spotter. Then sell your current 8x binos to recoup some money.

There is nothing wrong with buying gently used high end equipment. I hardly ever pay retail for gear. I will scour eBay/Craigslist/forums etc for deals. When you find a deal dont be afraid to make an offer either, worst case they say no, best case you get an even better price. You can find a solid deal on a set of 8x42 Swarovski SLC if you look around.
 

East2WestHunts

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 31, 2020
Messages
183
Location
Michigan
I’d upgrade the 8x42’s that you have or keep them and get yourself a 10x42 or 10x50 binos that’s really good quality.

Look at some Meopta meostars, swaro SLC’s, even some Japanese made Razor HD’s will do you well. Keep those crossfires for the thick stuff or some treestand hunting.

As @IrkedCitizen mentioned, the Athlon ares spotter in 65mm is excellent. I have one of those myself and it’s really solid glass for 1/2 the price of other spotters in its level.

I think you would be happy with your purchases and you will definitely see more game.

Don’t forget a good tripod. Don’t get anything cheap. The more stable your tripod, the more you will be able to see with your binos. Highest end binos are useless if they are shaking and not still while you are looking through them.
 
OP
N

Nick Don

Newbie
Joined
Sep 24, 2020
Messages
6
Location
Denver, CO
Honestly if you like your 8x I would suggest just getting a quality set of 8x and a spotting scope. Once you get out in the field with 8x on a tripod you will be able to spot game better. You might not be able see detail if super far but you can tell it is an animal. At that point you can switch out your spotting scope and zoom in. Quality binos on a tripod regardless of power is a game changer and you have yet to fully experience that.

So my vote is to buy better 8x binos and grab a less expensive spotter. People have been saying good things about the Athlon Ares spotter. Then sell your current 8x binos to recoup some money.

There is nothing wrong with buying gently used high end equipment. I hardly ever pay retail for gear. I will scour eBay/Craigslist/forums etc for deals. When you find a deal dont be afraid to make an offer either, worst case they say no, best case you get an even better price. You can find a solid deal on a set of 8x42 Swarovski SLC if you look around.

I can really only justify the purchase of one item. I haven't heard of Athlon, I will have to check them out. I was looking into the new Maven CS1 spotting scope but open to options. Would it really be more important to purchase a new set of binos (vs a spotter) even if they're so similar to what I already own?
 

Corvus Corax

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2019
Messages
171
Location
Washington State
Do you already have a tripod? If not, you’re going to need one, and that’s going to cut out a chunk of your budget on a spotter. You’ll get more out of the binos you already own with them mounted on a stable tripod.
 

IrkedCitizen

Senior Member
Joined
May 28, 2013
Messages
190
Location
Littleton, CO
I can really only justify the purchase of one item. I haven't heard of Athlon, I will have to check them out. I was looking into the new Maven CS1 spotting scope but open to options. Would it really be more important to purchase a new set of binos (vs a spotter) even if they're so similar to what I already own?

Not all glass is created equal. Vortex crossfire are low end in both glass and construction no matter how much you want to try and justify their purchase. Vortex is cheap. I have seen too many failures. You will end up using the warranty. Hopefully they dont break in the middle of your hunt.

I would rather have $1000 binoculars and a $300 spotting scope versus a $150 bino and $1000 spotter. For the simple fact that I am going to use my binos way more than the spotter. It's easier to find game using two eyes versus one.

Spotting scopes are just tools for judging antler size. Doesn't sound like you are a trophy hunter where you need to know from 3 miles away whether a deer is 195" or 200". So most sub $500 spotters will do the job fairly well. If you are unable to get a good look with your less expensive spotter then move closer to the animal.

So I recommend that you would be best suited with a used pair of Swarovski SLC's in 8 or 10x in the $1000-1250 range. Hell you can buy new ones for $1450. Then pick up a used spotter for around $300. Is this over your budget? Yes. But you would be better off with the extra money spent.

A member on here just posted a Vanguard Endeavor 82 HD for sale in the classifieds for $250. That's not a terrible option. I used the 65mm version for years and I still have it so friends and family can use it. They are a little heavy but they work.

That all said my glassing setup is pretty high end and out of reach for most every day hunters. I have Zeiss Victory 10x56 Rangefinder binos, Swarovski STS65 spotting scope, and Really Right Stuff 34L tripod with BH-55 ballhead. I'm just trying to help give you some guidance I have learned first hand.
 
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Nick Don

Newbie
Joined
Sep 24, 2020
Messages
6
Location
Denver, CO
Not all glass is created equal. Vortex crossfire are low end in both glass and construction no matter how much you want to try and justify their purchase. Vortex is cheap. I have seen too many failures. You will end up using the warranty. Hopefully they dont break in the middle of your hunt.

I would rather have $1000 binoculars and a $300 spotting scope versus a $150 bino and $1000 spotter. For the simple fact that I am going to use my binos way more than the spotter. It's easier to find game using two eyes versus one.

Spotting scopes are just tools for judging antler size. Doesn't sound like you are a trophy hunter where you need to know from 3 miles away whether a deer is 195" or 200". So most sub $500 spotters will do the job fairly well. If you are unable to get a good look with your less expensive spotter then move closer to the animal.

So I recommend that you would be best suited with a used pair of Swarovski SLC's in 8 or 10x in the $1000-1250 range. Hell you can buy new ones for $1450. Then pick up a used spotter for around $300. Is this over your budget? Yes. But you would be better off with the extra money spent.

A member on here just posted a Vanguard Endeavor 82 HD for sale in the classifieds for $250. That's not a terrible option. I used the 65mm version for years and I still have it so friends and family can use it. They are a little heavy but they work.

That all said my glassing setup is pretty high end and out of reach for most every day hunters. I have Zeiss Victory 10x56 Rangefinder binos, Swarovski STS65 spotting scope, and Really Right Stuff 34L tripod with BH-55 ballhead. I'm just trying to help give you some guidance I have learned first hand.

No question Vortex Crossfires are crap. My question is can I realistically spot a single deer 2-5 miles away with the 10x SLC? I'd just like to be able to spot them in the open around sunrise/sunset at that distance. And lets say spotting a bedded buck sub 2 miles away.

Would your answer change if I decreased my budget to $750ish? Oh and at that price I wouldn't be purchasing a spotter and I don't know anyone that owns one.
 

willfrye027

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2018
Messages
924
No question Vortex Crossfires are crap. My question is can I realistically spot a single deer 2-5 miles away with the 10x SLC? I'd just like to be able to spot them in the open around sunrise/sunset at that distance. And lets say spotting a bedded buck sub 2 miles away.

Would your answer change if I decreased my budget to $750ish? Oh and at that price I wouldn't be purchasing a spotter and I don't know anyone that owns one.

nope, to spot a bedded deer 2 miles away you’re gonna need a really nice spotting scope and even then, good luck! Maybe a skylined deer but you won’t be able to tell a smallish buck from a doe most likely.

10x42 works well out to about 1000 yards.

12x50 out to 1200-1500 yards

15x56 out to 1500-2000 yards.

add or subtract some distance depending on the terrain and time of year.

going from crossfires to $500 glass will make a huge difference in what you can spot.

going from $500 to $1000 will allow you to spot about the same, but without getting a glassing headache when looking for hours.
 

IrkedCitizen

Senior Member
Joined
May 28, 2013
Messages
190
Location
Littleton, CO
You can spot animals with 10x binos 2-5 miles you will not be able to detail but you can see them. You can spot bedded animals with 10x binos under 2 miles. You absolutely NEED to be 100% rock solid steady. Slow and steady when glassing regardless if using binos or a spotter. Period.

There is a multiple page thread on here titled something like "how to be better at glassing". It is worth the read.

I typically find them with my binos and then pull out the spotting scope for a better look.

$750 budget I still say upgrade binos. Anything above 10x for me is automatically restricted to tripod use. Hand holding most 12x binos is too shaky for a proper image. 15x good luck. 18x not happening. The same goes for riflescopes anything above 10x you better be supported.

Quality 8 or 10x binoculars on a tripod and you can be deadly.

Spotting scopes are nice to have but there are millions of people who get it done without them every year.

If I was you I would seriously consider that Vanguard Endeavor HD 82 spotter that posted yesterday for $250. Buy it, use it, dont like it? Sell it for the $250 you spent. But still upgrade your binos.
 

AKaDougie

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2020
Messages
19
Location
North Pole
Back when I was in your same position I upgraded binos and picked up a pair of Maven B1 10x42.
Great binos go so much further then a spotter for picking out game in my experience here in AK.

Two theories about glass 1) Buy what you can when you can or 2) Save and buy once cry once.

I can say I went with option 1 and sort of wished I went option 2.
Currently I run Zeiss Victory SF binos and a Meopta Meostar S2 on a Outdoorsman compact medium tripod.
 
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Nick Don

Newbie
Joined
Sep 24, 2020
Messages
6
Location
Denver, CO
You can spot animals with 10x binos 2-5 miles you will not be able to detail but you can see them. You can spot bedded animals with 10x binos under 2 miles. You absolutely NEED to be 100% rock solid steady. Slow and steady when glassing regardless if using binos or a spotter. Period.

There is a multiple page thread on here titled something like "how to be better at glassing". It is worth the read.

I typically find them with my binos and then pull out the spotting scope for a better look.

$750 budget I still say upgrade binos. Anything above 10x for me is automatically restricted to tripod use. Hand holding most 12x binos is too shaky for a proper image. 15x good luck. 18x not happening. The same goes for riflescopes anything above 10x you better be supported.

Quality 8 or 10x binoculars on a tripod and you can be deadly.

Spotting scopes are nice to have but there are millions of people who get it done without them every year.

If I was you I would seriously consider that Vanguard Endeavor HD 82 spotter that posted yesterday for $250. Buy it, use it, dont like it? Sell it for the $250 you spent. But still upgrade your binos.

Thanks I'll have to check that thread out. Would you recommend a 12x as a primary bino? I understand there is a lot more potential to be had out of a 8x bino, but I'm just skeptical when it comes to the 8x ability to spot game at a distance.
 

Browninglover1

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2015
Messages
243
Location
Northern Utah
Last week I had my 8x32 EL and 15x56 SLC deer hunting. I find I prefer the 8x for most glassing when deer are active but like the 15x when the action slows down.
I personally love my 8x32 and doubt I’ll ever get rid of them unless it’s to try a 8.5x42.
 

robby denning

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Feb 25, 2012
Messages
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SE Idaho
I personally wouldn't run a 12x bino for a primary but there are a lot of people who do.

Pretty sure @robby denning carries 7x or 8x binos and he slays big deer. Let's see if he'll chime in.
Yes 7 and 8x have served me well

to the OP, I’d jump on that Endeavor mentioned by @IrkedCitizen earlier in thread. One of the best values out there. See Darin Coopers review https://www.rokslide.com/vanguard-endeavor-hd-65s-spotting-scope-shocking-performance-value/ (I still remember when we published that, he couldn’t believe what a good spotter it was for the money. )

Use the savings to upgrade those binos to 8x or 10x in at least Vortex Razor or Maven (go used if you can’t afford new) and get ‘em on that tripod. I can’t imagine you’ll ever look through those cross fires again. Your handheld glass is going to get the most time in front of your eyeballs, so make sure it’s good. I don’t see any need for you to carry a 15X or 18X Bino.
 

AZ_Hunter_2000

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Messages
511
Spend your money on quality binoculars as you will use them significantly more than a spotter. Look for 12s or 15s. Stretch your budget a bit if you have to. Look online for used/demos. Give Doug (site sponsor) a call to see what he can do for you.

If you feel the need to use a spotter, just rent a quality spotter as needed until you can afford a good unit.
 
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Nick Don

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Joined
Sep 24, 2020
Messages
6
Location
Denver, CO
Yes 7 and 8x have served me well

to the OP, I’d jump on that Endeavor mentioned by @IrkedCitizen earlier in thread. One of the best values out there. See Darin Coopers review https://www.rokslide.com/vanguard-endeavor-hd-65s-spotting-scope-shocking-performance-value/ (I still remember when we published that, he couldn’t believe what a good spotter it was for the money. )

Use the savings to upgrade those binos to 8x or 10x in at least Vortex Razor or Maven (go used if you can’t afford new) and get ‘em on that tripod. I can’t imagine you’ll ever look through those cross fires again. Your handheld glass is going to get the most time in front of your eyeballs, so make sure it’s good. I don’t see any need for you to carry a 15X or 18X Bino.

I've never heard of that company, but that review makes it sound like a really good bargain. I will have to check that out.

Sounds like everyone agrees that I should focus on looking for a solid pair of 8x or 10x. Thanks for the advice
 

robby denning

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Feb 25, 2012
Messages
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SE Idaho
Spend your money on quality binoculars as you will use them significantly more than a spotter. Look for 12s or 15s. Stretch your budget a bit if you have to. Look online for used/demos. Give Doug (site sponsor) a call to see what he can do for you.

If you feel the need to use a spotter, just rent a quality spotter as needed until you can afford a good unit.

Great idea on the rental. See Guns n Gear rental, site sponsor.


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