Kowa 773 vs Swaro ATS 65 user review update

AZBULLCRAZY

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
115

Member​

I recently started a post titled another swaro vs kowa post. I wanted to share my review and thoughts on both over the next couple days through different settings. I do believe it will be mostly personal preference as I feel everyones eyes gravitate to certain colors and other factors.

I ended up purchasing both to compare. Below is a picture of both for size comparisons. I first purchased the swaro 65 ATS with the 25-50 wide angle eyepiece from a member here. I did this telling myself this was the one I wanted. I received it and was happy as it was in brand new condition. Using it that afternoon it was better than my previous Vortex as it should be. However I started to have that feeling of could the kowa 77 be better? My wife being the most awesome wife agreed to let me purchase the kowa 77 to compare each then keep the one I liked the most.

Today I received the kowa 77 from S&S Archery. After unboxing it I felt good as it didn't seem as big as I thought it would. Holding both the kowa and swaro at first I couldn't tell a difference in weight. I did weigh them both with the lens covers on and no cases. The swaro came in at 49.9 ounces and the kowa was 59.8 ounces.

I set them up on my tripod with my outdoorsman pistol grip attachment in my backyard. I have a mountain range behind me and was glassing anywhere from 1.5 miles to 3 miles away. It was about 90 minutes before dark and complete cloud cover due to rain in the afternoon.

I first used the swaro and picked out a tree with an opening at the bottom about 2.5 miles away. The swaro with this eyepiece I will say is very clear to me upto max 50 power. I could make out the shadow area below the tree but it was still dark. I then looked at some small openings next to the tree to get a sense of color and brightness. The swaro's image to me brings out the green colors very well. I then switched to the kowa and found the same tree. I placed the kowa at the same power being 50. The image did seem a little brighter but feel this shadow area was too dark for anything to see into. I then looked thru the same openings as I did with the swaro and again it appeared to be a little brighter. To me the kowa brings out brown colors more and the swaro brings out more green colors. I then focused on a dead gray tree about 3 miles away with the kowa. At 50 power its was extremely clear. As I zoomed to the max 60 power the image was still good but did distort some, however not hardly as bad as most other manufacturers at their highest settings. Using the swaro and looking at the same tree at the max 50 power the tree was also very clear with no distortion, but the overall image just a shade darker than the kowa. Now its hard for me to explain as im not a glass scientist but when I say a shade darker I feel it must be the objective difference as the whole fov of the swaro is very crisp to me.

I then used both to scan and grid with. This is where it I feel the swaro was better. The swaro to me has very good edge to edge clarity as I scanned and moved my eye around it felt very lasered in to the surroundings. I then switched to the kowa. Scanning with the kowa was good but to my eye did not have as good edge to edge clarity however the image in the center was really good.

As it was getting dark I glassed various distances at the same objects. I did have to turn the swaro down to 40 power to brighten up the image and the kowa just to 50 power. This should be due to the kowa having a 77 objective to the swaros 65. It was here where I still noticed the swaro really bringing out the greens and the kowa the browns so not sure if this is why the kowa appears brighter at times even before dark.

Up until 15 minutes before dark I was really struggling between the two. The swaros overall edge to edge gave it a very nice image making it comfortable to scan with but did appear darker. The kowa was brighter and the image was good but not as great edge to edge. As I mentally focused on the edge to edge with the kowa I feel that made it not as comfortable. Now during the last 15 minutes of light I will say the kowa did take the lead letting me see more detail at about 10 more power than the swaro.

To me its easy to say who cares about last 10 minutes of light as how will you get on that animal. However if your mountain hunting and glassing various ridges to gameplan for the next day those last 10 minutes can be vital.

As of now I am kind of torn but I am not done. I am going to examine both side by side for several days, morning, mid day and evening in clear bright sky, heat of day with mirage etc. Today was almost a toss up. At times the swaro seemed clearer and at times the kowa did. It very well might come down to whether that extra 10 power magnification and a little more lowlight is more important than size and weight.

As far as handling the scopes I do feel the swaro is more comfortable. I mentioned earlier both felt around the same weight. But while switching them out back and fourth, the swaro did feel lighter. It was also just easier to grab due to swaros rubber armor and slightly smaller size. The kowa has an aluminum body but a slightly rougher coat so I won't say slippery but on a cold morning grabbing the swaro would feel safer to me. The swaro is also more round throughout just making it easier to grab as well where the kowa with the focus dial makes it a little bigger. I know that sounds like a dumb complaint but I am just imagining switching out a spotter to and from binos alot during glassing periods. The eye cups on the swaro also felt tighter and smooth being able to adjust it right where you want it. The kowas have locking settings and was a little looser. They both worked fine but just preferred the swaros. The focus wheel on the swaro is their barrell adjustment. Its smooth as usual and since I am use to that it was easy to adjust it. The kowa has the finger wheel on top with the main and fine adjustment. It also worked well but due to me never using this type of focus took me some time to adjust to it. I will say I could adjust the swaros focus without causing the spotter to move or shake much. The kowas focusing wheel is a little tighter and found it would move the spotter a little more while adjusting. Again that could be me as I am not use to it. I will say the kowas focusing dial does feel like you can fine tune it to great accuracy where the swaro feels like once your there you are just there. Weight wise yes the swaro is lighter and smaller. The swaro to me can be packed in a spotter pocket without a case in my mind do to the rubber armor coating. The kowa I would definetely want a case and most are around 5 ounces I have found. That would take the kowa to right about 1lb heavier than the swaro. However size wise the kowa is not a deal breaker for packing as its the same length and just a little fatter.

Again I will compare these throughout the next week in different conditions and follow up on this thread. I am not a digiscoper but will see if they make universal scope mounts so I can capture some images to share. I really want to love the kowa and hope it wins mainly due to all the love it gets while comparing to the 65. Time will tell. Here are pics of the two side by side for size comparison.

20210728_213012.jpg
 

Dioni A

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2016
Messages
564
Location
Nampa, Idaho
Not sure why people throw the kowa in with the 65. It's a better match with the 80. I've had it next to almost every premium scope on the market and I lean swaro every time. Optically there's situations where the kowa seems better but 10 years from now I doubt their coatings and mechanisms work as well as the swaros I've compared them to.
 
OP
A

AZBULLCRAZY

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
115
Not sure why people throw the kowa in with the 65. It's a better match with the 80. I've had it next to almost every premium scope on the market and I lean swaro every time. Optically there's situations where the kowa seems better but 10 years from now I doubt their coatings and mechanisms work as well as the swaros I've compared them to.
I get that as I asked the same question about a year back. Its more about price as thats closer than say objective etc. I have been using them side by side and its been interesting to me, both habe positives and negatives.
 
OP
A

AZBULLCRAZY

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
115
Had both!! Kept the Swarovski ATS HD
Very same reasons!
I can see that. To be honest if the kowa extra weight and ergonomics just don't suit me for my idaho hunt this year, I can see selling and going to the ats 65. I was just amazed glass wise of kowa but still close.
 

Hefe1980

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2021
Messages
15
Great review. It's tough to get an idea of how scopes compare unless you have them side by side. This was articulated well and easy to understand. Thanks for the info.

Sent from my Pixel 5 using Tapatalk
 

TheGDog

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2020
Messages
2,250
Location
OC, CA
I just recently had the extreme pleasure of looking thru both the 77 one and the 99 one from Kowa! I went to my local Wetlands with the recently purchased used Zeiss 15x56 binos I bought on here.

I let them checkout the Zeiss 15's.... they let me checkout those kick-ass Kowa Spotters! It was crazy zooming in on, for example, the shorebirds resting on the marsh.

I could definitely see how you'd need a good stiff lightweight carbon fiber tripod for them, that can go nice and tall. But hold well against the wind shaking it. I was looking thru it from upon a planked bridge. and when zoomed in.. the motion just from someone walking past upon that bridge floor cause a surprising amount of shake to the image because of the high magnification zoom you're cranked up to and still seeing things with amazing detail!

That 99? Prominar setup didn't seem much heavier than the 773 Prominar setup, and I really like that they also have the two-stage focus knobs. I quickly learned to really like that from using my lil Vortex Razor spotter. And those spotters had significantly less perceived heatwave distortion at the same distances where my Zeiss 15's showed it to me as a little bit more visually present in the image. So that was very cool to notice! Overall I was very impressed with the image from those Kowa Prominar spotters! I was thinking the TSN 554 Straight model for light-weight and size. But after having looked thru those bigger Prominars... man I dunno now. I dunno if I'd be let down by lesser brightness and clarity from the smaller one. But man... now after having looked thru that 99 model... wow... I could totally see enjoying all day looking around at far-off points of interest, just because you can, ya know? And it's like watching the world in HD 8K, gotchu all feeling like the eye of Sauron! HA!
 
Top