Kowa TSN-553 spotting scope review

elkeaterco

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I'm going to try and write a ongoing review of this new Spotter. I have a bunch of hunts planned this year, so it'll be tested in all sorts of environments. I start my season with OTC archery elk, followed by 2 bear tags, helping a buddy with a Mtn goat hunt, and a muzzle loader cow hunt. Then, I'll be heading out on my wife ewe hunt, run to southern UT for a muzzy deer tag, and back for the end of bear season. I have 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th season hunts with friends and family for elk and deer in CO. I'll end the year with a late Dec Cous deer hunt in southern AZ.

I initially was going to buy a Swaro 65mm HD scope for the year. However, Kowa had to come out with this little gem of a spotter. So, I pre ordered it and going to run the piss out of it all year. I'll be running Swaro 12x50 field pro binos along with it as my main optic system. With a Sig 2400ABS for ranging.

For my style of hunting and game species that are targeted. I decided, I didn't need the bigger glass. I might regret it but only time will tell. I'm really excited about the glass, size, and weight.

Tag along, I'll post up pics through the spotter with the Novagrade so you can see the quality. Please ask any questions and when I'm in service I'll try to reply to them.

Thanks
Jake
*grammer ain't my thing!
 
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elkeaterco

elkeaterco

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Couple quick pics before I leave town.


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twall13

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That sounds like an amazing season lined up. Nice set up of optics you are running too.
 
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mcseal2

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I just got back from 4 days of scouting for muleys with the straight version of this scope. I plan to do a review also, but I was impressed. My buddy was using a non HD Swaro 20-60x80 STS spotter and when glassing the same animals I could make out every detail he could under all the conditions we encountered. Not bad for a spotter this size!

The downsides I saw were a smaller field of view and the eye relief is not real forgiving. Neither is a deal breaker for me, I'll gladly use this little spotter rather than pack one twice as heavy.
 
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elkeaterco

elkeaterco

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My quick trip last weekend didn't really lean itself towards much glassing. The little bit I did get in was impressive. I was able to glass several minutes pass dark when you could no longer make out details on the hill side with the naked eye. I was comparing them side by side with a set of older 10x42 EL and the Kowa out ran them in both clarity and light gathering(no shit right, much bigger obj lense). To my eye they're every bit as crisp as non HD Swaros. (mcseal2 is spot on with that)

*My only complaint so far with the Kowa is a very sensitive micro adjustment wheel. It took me several back and forth adjustment to get the perfect focus set. I feel like the mini Razor had a finer micro adjustment to it. I'll play with it and get the other guys options on this.

My next trip is on the 4th, helping a buddy on a wilderness mtn goat hunt. It'll lean itself to a much better testing environment and digiscoping. You can expect a update around the 9th or 10th.

I passed a small dink opening morning and saw several bears opening weekend. The super secret wallow I planned to hunt. I found on google earth had 3 drunk rednecks camping right on it. They apparently own the private below it that blocks everyone from getting to it besides hiking from the far in. The joys of exploring new country and public land. Nicely played fellows and thanks for the warm beer, lol.

Jake
 
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elkeaterco

elkeaterco

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Just got back from my buddies Mtn goat hunt. The spotter was great in judging goats from a distance. The glass keeps impressing me with its clarity. Here are a couple pics from my Samsung s5 attached with a novagrade.

My only 2 complaints so far is the FOV and the micro focus wheel. It's not a deal breaker for me but it does take a few extra secs to get everything lined up and focused.


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luke moffat

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Nice Jake!!! I finally got mine out of the box once I got back from the moose hunt a few days ago. Look forward to using it for a caribou/grizz hunt next week.
 

Bowhunter50

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FOV is one of my concerns with purchasing this scope as the specs show it to be narrower than the vanguard endeavor 65 at the low range of the magnification range (144-69 for endeavor and 132-69 for kowa 55). Sometimes I feel like my vanguard gives me the "tunnel vision effect" some people mention. Not excited about spending a lot of money and getting a narrower field of view. But I am excited about the weight savings and increase in clarity.

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elkeaterco

elkeaterco

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FOV is one of my concerns with purchasing this scope as the specs show it to be narrower than the vanguard endeavor 65 at the low range of the magnification range (144-69 for endeavor and 132-69 for kowa 55). Sometimes I feel like my vanguard gives me the "tunnel vision effect" some people mention. Not excited about spending a lot of money and getting a narrower field of view. But I am excited about the weight savings and increase in clarity.

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It definitely has a narrow field of view. I was roughly 300 yards across the canyon and couldn't get my buddy and goat in the same frame. He was only 27 yards from the goat. I wish it had a smaller magnification range to off set the FOV issue.


My buddy was just out of view top left of the photo.


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1760yds

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Thanks for the write up and pictures. Your opinion of the glass still as high as it was originally? Do you wish you'd gone Swaro or does the weight or lack of weight make up for the field of view?
 
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elkeaterco

elkeaterco

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Thanks for the write up and pictures. Your opinion of the glass still as high as it was originally? Do you wish you'd gone Swaro or does the weight or lack of weight make up for the field of view?
It's awesome for packing and crystal clear glass. My only complaint so far is the FOV. It can be tough getting on critters in the 1000 yard and below range. Past that, it's not bad getting on target. Here are a couple pics from yesterday.


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elkeaterco

elkeaterco

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Well, the wife's sheep hunt went south. The weather kick our butt for 2 straight days. Strong wind, sleet, and heavy fog prevented us from making any moves. Our hike out we made a big loop up to where they should have been but they have moved out. Thank god for the heated tut, it dropped to 27 at night. The elk were blowing up on our hike out which made the trip a success.


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dotman

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Any more updates? How well did it work on he Tripod using the Outdoorsmans Bino Hand?
 

Bowhunter50

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I know this is somewhat of an older thread.

Would love to hear a summary of your thoughts on this scope and how it went on the rest of your hunts for the year. Sounds like we missed a UT muzzy deer hunt and coues hunt among a few others. Hope your hunts went great. Are you planning on using the same set up for your hunts this year?

Apologies if I missed this on another thread.


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elkeaterco

elkeaterco

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Sorry about the delay. It's been a crazy year building a new home, trying to sell the old, testing, and guiding spring grizzly hunts in ak.

I ended up selling the spotter. It was a hard decision but the fov was a deal breaker. I really liked the clarity but wished it started at a lower power to make scanning easier. I really liked the 11-33 range from vortex even thou I'm not a fan of the brand. Long story but I filled a rifle scope and mini spotter pack raft moose hunting. My leica 10x42 were still good to go.

I ended up picking up another kowa but much bigger. Kowa 773 prominar, since I'll be guiding Dall sheep hunts this fall. The bigger glass should help save some walking and judging a legal ram easier.


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elkeaterco

elkeaterco

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Found a cow for my 12yr old nephew. He made a great shot. We almost got a bull a couple days later.


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elkeaterco

elkeaterco

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UT was a bust for elk but had a great time with my cuz. I only had 36 hrs for my deer hunt and got a meat buck.

Found a small bull for my wife and she stoned him with my 7mm mag, yes they do work on elk. 14 bulls so far with it and no issues.

House is built and goats have a upgraded enclosure.

2 grizzlies down in Alaska.


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