Rifle scope in place of a spotting scope?

slim9300

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This is a for sure yes. The higher end scopes blow most spotters out of the water when it comes to image clarity.

I don’t agree with this statement when you are talking 20x+ magnification and especially in low light conditions. High end spotters are superior to high end rifle scopes in nearly every regard. Especially when you are talking 65-85mm ODs. Comparing a mid-range spotter to a high end rifle scope is not a fair comparison.

At the same time, a rifle scope cannot be stabilized in many positions/terrain conditions where a spotting scope has zero issues being stabilized. See my comments above.


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slim9300

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Apparently spoken by someone who uses their Rifle Scope for spotting instead of using their Spotting Scopes for... um... spotting?

Your mental inflexibility on this topic is troubling. Did you read my response? How hard is it to identify the animal through your binos on a tripod before putting your rifle scope on the target for a closer look? If that can’t be done, you get closer. This is coming from someone that packs my Kowa spotter at all times when rifle hunting.

If you can’t identify a deer at 1-3 miles from a human with your binos, I question how much time you have spent glassing. And I primarily use my 8.5x42 EL’s. 10-15x binos would be far superior on a tripod.


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freddyG

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I don’t agree with this statement when you are talking 20x+ magnification and especially in low light conditions. High end spotters are superior to high end rifle scopes in nearly every regard. Especially when you are talking 65-85mm ODs. Comparing a mid-range spotter to a high end rifle scope is not a fair comparison.

At the same time, a rifle scope cannot be stabilized in many positions/terrain conditions where a spotting scope has zero issues being stabilized. See my comments above.


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I think you just haven’t used the right scopes. High end spotters are a bit better with regard to brightness, but the scenarios you wrote about just don’t happen. Anything you are going to spot using a spotter at last light isn’t close enough to get to before it gets dark anyway. Aside from that, some of these high end illuminated scopes are bright enough to hunt with all night, with a little bit of moonlight in open country.
I have no problem getting a rifle stable enough to look at what i plan on shooting, even at 25X. In addition to that, it takes much less time than setting up a spotter.
 

slim9300

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I think you just haven’t used the right scopes. High end spotters are a bit better with regard to brightness, but the scenarios you wrote about just don’t happen. Anything you are going to spot using a spotter at last light isn’t close enough to get to before it gets dark anyway. Aside from that, some of these high end illuminated scopes are bright enough to hunt with all night, with a little bit of moonlight in open country.
I have no problem getting a rifle stable enough to look at what i plan on shooting, even at 25X. In addition to that, it takes much less time than setting up a spotter.

I’m going to try and address this point by point because I couldn’t disagree more. I have used some of the best scopes on the market. What scope are you specifically referring to?

I have a NF 4-32x50 on my custom long range RBROS .300 RUM. I had a March 5-40x56 on my rifle before that. Before that I had a NF 5-20x56 SHV. I have also looked through Zeiss, Swaro and NF ATACR rifle scopes and compared most of them to my 85mm Razor (not the greatest spotter in the world) in low light. The Razor on 20x blows away any rifle scope I have looked through on 20x in low light situations. The 85mm Swaro 85mm ATX I have used on multiple occasions is noticeably better than my Razor, not to mention any scope on the same power.

Here is a scenario that has happened to me many times in the past decade. Deer at 500-700 yards. Binos identify deer but can’t tell antler size. Get down on rifle while my partner finds them with the 85mm Razor. Through my Nightforce NX8 4-32x50, March, or prior NF (because it has happened with all of them), the scope is not usable beyond 15x and 15x doesn’t allow me to see fork depth or any detail other than the frame. I need to know that before I make the easy shot. Through the spotter the detail is very clear on 20x and I can easily make the shot on 15x power if it’s the right buck. It’s the difference between killing an animal on a hunt and not killing an animal.

Illuminated scopes are garbage in low light. I don’t care if it’s an ATACR, my 4-32 NX8, the March, or whatever. Turning on illumination REDUCES your ability to identify targets in low light. In my opinion illumination should only be used when shooting into shadows and your reticle disappears, or with a FFP scope when you want to make the reticle more visible on low power.

I too shoot at 25x all the time and get totally stable from a prone position. But there are MANY hunting situations where you can’t get prone or support the rifle. With a spotter and tripod this is basically never the case.

Now I’m not trying to discourage the OP on using his rifle scope as a spotter, I’m just giving him both sides of the discussion. I have considered doing just this myself and might someday for spring bear.


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freddyG

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I use FFP NF Atacr/beast 5-25X56. At 500-700 yards, I have no problem seeing 1 inch kickers coming off the antlers in pretty much any light. Maybe Vision has to do with this, I don’t know.
As for the razor spotter(don’t know what eye piece was on it),IMO they are junk. My buddy borrowed one from his buddy, and we took it on an elk hunt two years ago. After looking through it at a herd of bulls about 2 miles away, we both looked at each other and laughed. It was that bad. There was a huge difference in glass from the before mentioned scopes. We couldn’t even decide if there was a shooter in that group with the spotter.
 

slim9300

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I use FFP NF Atacr/beast 5-25X56. At 500-700 yards, I have no problem seeing 1 inch kickers coming off the antlers in pretty much any light. Maybe Vision has to do with this, I don’t know.
As for the razor spotter(don’t know what eye piece was on it),IMO they are junk. My buddy borrowed one from his buddy, and we took it on an elk hunt two years ago. After looking through it at a herd of bulls about 2 miles away, we both looked at each other and laughed. It was that bad. There was a huge difference in glass from the before mentioned scopes. We couldn’t even decide if there was a shooter in that group with the spotter.

I have 20/10 thanks to LASIK. It’s not vision. I spend 60+ days per year hunting so it could be a function of having far more experiences than most hunting in low light. I also kill more animals than most can imagine in a single year.

I have roughly $25k in optics including Swaro, Leica, NF, Zeiss, Kowa, etc. While the Razor isn’t the best glass I own, seeing clearly at 2 miles with the 85mm is an easy feat unless the conditions would limit any spotter. My 85mm Razor crushes the 65mm Swaro ATS in every aspect other than maybe color, and while that’s not a fair comparison due to OD and weight, most backcountry hunters pack the 65mm Swaro and consider it to be the gold standard. Not sure if you looked through a 65mm Razor (not a fan), or something may have been wrong with the scope, but it doesn’t make any sense to me.


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freddyG

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I agree, something is off. Have you used a ffp 5-25x56 atacr/beast on a hunt? Shv/nxs glass sucks compared to atacr ffp. I know f1 nxs glass is worlds better than sfp nxs. I have never hunted/compared nx8’s. I have compared many high end scopes side by side in the same conditions, and can tell you swarovski glass in scopes isn’t that great(even though many here will disagree).

Getting back to the spotter topic, at the 500-700 yards you mentioned, I wouldn’t even think about using a spotter for that distance. To me, a spotter is meant to use at distance measured in thousands of yards.
It’s interesting to me how other people view/describe various optics. I think there is price bias built in automatically. I don’t consider price a factor ever, so maybe that is where the discrepancy comes from? I don’t know.
 

AZ_Hunter_2000

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At the risk of being called backwards, mentally challenged, lazy oh and retarded! I have made the switch on now two of my rifle scopes to a 7-35 atacr and won’t carry my spotter on some occasions! I always tend to carry my swaro 15s in my pack and a spotter then the 7-35 came out I grabbed one to try yes it’s a bit heavy but so is a spotter I didn’t carry my spotter much the first while to see if it could be affective well I have two of them now I feel that where I carry my 15s anyway I can glass deer up with them and if I need to see a little closer the 35 is most times enough to decide if I want to close the distance. I’m not by any means condoning laying down and scanning with a rifle scope I’m simply saying to be able to have an already must have optic attached to my rifle to take a closer look at a deer or elk I’ve already glassed up is a nice way to save a little weight and bulk in the pack!
This works if and only if you have 100% confirmed that it is a game animal before looking at it with your rifle scope. Not everyone is as safety concerned as yourself. And those dumb asses tend to breed a lot.
 

slim9300

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I agree, something is off. Have you used a ffp 5-25x56 atacr/beast on a hunt? Shv/nxs glass sucks compared to atacr ffp. I know f1 nxs glass is worlds better than sfp nxs. I have never hunted/compared nx8’s. I have compared many high end scopes side by side in the same conditions, and can tell you swarovski glass in scopes isn’t that great(even though many here will disagree).

Getting back to the spotter topic, at the 500-700 yards you mentioned, I wouldn’t even think about using a spotter for that distance. To me, a spotter is meant to use at distance measured in thousands of yards.
It’s interesting to me how other people view/describe various optics. I think there is price bias built in automatically. I don’t consider price a factor ever, so maybe that is where the discrepancy comes from? I don’t know.

How much time have you spent shooting in the final 10 minutes of legal shooting light at 500-1000 yards while using a spotter to reference your hits/misses? I can’t tell you how many times I have shot my rifle until I can no longer see well enough to make a shot at these distances. There is a 5-10 minute window where a rifle scope is useless on 15-20x and a spotter is totally fine. That is the window I’m speaking of and obviously it exists in the morning too. My good buddy I shoot with all the time has a 4-16x42 F1 ATACR and my 8.5x42 Swaro EL’s easily out perform his scope in that final 10 minutes especially at 500-1100 yards (obviously they have the advantage of two barrels). We have done the test twice now. Granted it’s not a 56mm OD, but I would take my 50mm NX8 over his ATACR in low light.


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AZ_Hunter_2000

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This is interesting, and I’m surprised there are such strong feelings. I’ve never been interested enough in another hunter to do more than look at them at 10x through my binoculars.
I had the same thought as OP, higher power scope for judging quality, and went with a maven rs3 5-30 on a new 300 wm.
Unfortunately I have been on the receiving end of other hunts deciding that it is a great idea to look at me through their rifle scope. I have also had some of these same idiots continue to look at me through their rifle scopes after clearly identifying me as a human. I have also been fortunate enough to have a subset of those safety minded hunters to continue to look at me through their rifle scopes while I am exiting the area.

It is fool hardy to trust that the douche bag won't accidentally shoot you since he has already proven that he has zero consideration for safety. They've already violated two of the main tenants around gun safety. It is not a stretch to then believe that they do happen to have a round chambered as well as their finger on the trigger.

I have no idea why some people are fine with someone pointing a gun at another human when hunting but it is not fine to point a gun at another person if they are not hunting. This is not directed at you personally.
 

Beckjhong

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The four rules of gun safety are meant to be inflexible. I’ve yet to find an “accidental” shooting that didn’t violate these rules.

There’s morbidity and mortality in the woods every year because someone thinks they’re smarter than the average bear.


  1. All guns are always loaded
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target
  4. Identify your target, and what is behind it
 

slim9300

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Unfortunately I have been on the receiving end of other hunts deciding that it is a great idea to look at me through their rifle scope. I have also had some of these same idiots continue to look at me through their rifle scopes after clearly identifying me as a human. I have also been fortunate enough to have a subset of those safety minded hunters to continue to look at me through their rifle scopes while I am exiting the area.

It is fool hardy to trust that the douche bag won't accidentally shoot you since he has already proven that he has zero consideration for safety. They've already violated two of the main tenants around gun safety. It is not a stretch to then believe that they do happen to have a round chambered as well as their finger on the trigger.

I have no idea why some people are fine with someone pointing a gun at another human when hunting but it is not fine to point a gun at another person if they are not hunting. This is not directed at you personally.

Nobody here is fine with that and your comment really isn’t valid once the OP responded to that point the first time.

I bet you have been on the receiving end of a shit load of bad drivers also. That’s not to say what we are discussing can’t be done safely. Not to mention it’s going to have zero effect on dumb hunters since they likely don’t spend the off-season discussing hunting on forums. Are you suggesting a person cannot safely use a rifle scope as a spotter when already carrying binos and a tripod?


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slim9300

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The four rules of gun safety are meant to be inflexible. I’ve yet to find an “accidental” shooting that didn’t violate these rules.

There’s morbidity and mortality in the woods every year because someone thinks they’re smarter than the average bear.


  1. All guns are always loaded
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target
  4. Identify your target, and what is behind it

Again... A rifle scope can be used as a spotter without violating any of those rules. Are you suggesting it can’t?


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rclouse79

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It is hard to believe the intent of this post wasn’t to get people riled up. I was thinking about starting a thread titled “Rifle scope in place of binoculars, spotting scope and range finder” to see if I could make someone’s head explode before they even opened it.
 

freddyG

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How much time have you spent shooting in the final 10 minutes of legal shooting light at 500-1000 yards while using a spotter to reference your hits/misses? I can’t tell you how many times I have shot my rifle until I can no longer see well enough to make a shot at these distances. There is a 5-10 minute window where a rifle scope is useless on 15-20x and a spotter is totally fine. That is the window I’m speaking of and obviously it exists in the morning too. My good buddy I shoot with all the time has a 4-16x42 F1 ATACR and my 8.5x42 Swaro EL’s easily out perform his scope in that final 10 minutes especially at 500-1100 yards (obviously they have the advantage of two barrels). We have done the test twice now. Granted it’s not a 56mm OD, but I would take my 50mm NX8 over his ATACR in low light.


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I have spent a ton of time, not just at last light, but at night. I hunt a lot of coyotes, and they are less wary at night. I don’t take shots at 1k yards in the dark though, limit is about 500. It’s all done on private land in the middle of nowhere for the nanny crew.

Obviously the 42mm ATACR isn’t as bright as a 56mm, not even close actually, so that’s where the difference in opinion lies.
 

freddyG

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It is hard to believe the intent of this post wasn’t to get people riled up. I was thinking about starting a thread titled “Rifle scope in place of binoculars, spotting scope and range finder” to see if I could make someone’s head explode before they even opened it.
It’s a legit question. Spotters are bulky, and fragile, and today’s top tier scopes are awesome, so I’m sure this has crossed many minds.
 

rclouse79

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It’s a legit question. Spotters are bulky, and fragile, and today’s top tier scopes are awesome, so I’m sure this has crossed many minds.
To each his own I guess. I don’t think I would ever hunt with someone a second time if I found they looked through their rifle scope for animals all day.
 

freddyG

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To each his own I guess. I don’t think I would ever hunt with someone a second time if I found they looked through their rifle scope for animals all day.
Nobody even mentioned looking at animals all day through a scope. It’s amazing that you even came to that conclusion. It’s pretty simple. Look through binoculars to locate/judge animals. Before you pull the trigger, confirm it’s what you want with a good scope. Easy peasy.
 
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