Talk me into or out of kowa spotter, 554 vs 773 vs 883

Best kowa spotter to do it all/all around spotter size/model

  • 554

    Votes: 3 6.7%
  • 773

    Votes: 32 71.1%
  • 883

    Votes: 10 22.2%

  • Total voters
    45

Tall_Vol44

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2021
Messages
28
Location
Tennessee/Kentucky
I've read soooo many pages of threads on spotters, Swaro vs Leica vs meopta vs kowa etc... I understand the Swaro atx is probably the best optically on the market, but I don't think I necessarily need the very best of the best at that price point. I've also got a solid deal right now on new kowa's and from my reading I think they will be at least what I need (or want). There is a kowa dealer near where I live but they don't have anything in stock so my purchase is going to have to be blind.
My only experience with a spotter is with a Leupold kenai 20-60x80 that I use when I shoot at the range/long distance. Honestly Ive never been super happy with it & while it works at the range, idk if I would ever want to to try it hunting. At 60x it's not very sharp or clear, and it's not very bright at any magnification. I've never tried using it hunting because I'm just not sold that it is worth the size/weight to carry along. And I'm REALLY hoping that the kowa's will be a significant improvement over this Leupold. Just upgraded binos from viper hd 10x42 and Nikon my 8x42 to a maven B2 9x and a kowa Genesis 8x33. After upgrading my bipod and throwing the new binos and old spotter on it, I realized that my kenai spotter is not going to cut it going forward.

I live in Tennessee/Kentucky and primarily hunt there, but next year will start going out west to hunt whatever I can get tags for, &/or help buddy's that draw tags - & that will be at least once a year. Hopefully I'll be able to move west somewhere in 2 years, when the old lady is done with residency... Arizona, new Mexico, Colorado, or Utah are the short list states currently.

So my uses for this spotter will be literally a little bit of everything- range use, vehicle glassing, glassing from large comfy hunting blinds, & eventually backcountry/backpack hunting, and for anything and everything I can get an opportunity to hunt where a spotter would be advantageous to have.
Currently the farm I hunt has the very large power lines dissecting the 500 acres and I'm only limited in range to what I can comfortably shoot. There have been many, many, many times in the evenings where If I could've identified the deer as a big/shooter buck, I could have easily closed in and gotten a comfortable shot. But without knowing for sure, I would have to cross through feeding plots to close the distance thus ruining chances if something were about to pop out closer.

The yardage where my current optics began to fail me in darker conditions were probably around 400-500 or so. I could make out antlers, but couldn't tell if it had 6-8 points or 12-14 points... Just antlers or no antlers. So my immediate hunting uses will be for that, but again plan on using it for everything in the future when opportunity arises.

I also understand that for my current uses this level of spotter is completely overkill, but I'm looking forward and have decided that the buy once cry once is the best action to take for this purchase.
I'm not married yet, but that will happen probably sooner than later and I want my nice toys purchased before that. 😁😁

Reading all I have, it sounds like the 55 series might not cut it in low light for what I'm wanting, but the price, weight, and reviews are attractive.
My next thoughts are:
1) is the 88 series really worth $600 more than the 77 series?
And
B) is the size/weight of the 88 close enough to the 77 to make that aspect a non issue when I start to backpack hunt? I realize it's like 6ish ounces heavier and maybe an inch longer. (But I've never back pack hunted before, and ounces do equal pounds.
I've done a lot of back country fly fishing and from that I learned some things are worth the extra weight and some aren't...)

Money isn't a huge concern, but less is more and if the 77 series will do everything I want and more, I don't really want to drop another $600 on the 88 series. I feel like there's a point of diminishing returns somewhere... Just not sure where that line is.

I think I've covered everything, and being an over-analyzer, I've thought about this way too much. I'm looking forward to hearing opinions and experiences from everyone & thanks in advance!
 

Matt G.

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2017
Messages
305
Location
Ohio
The 55 is a pretty sweet rig although I sold it to keep the 77. The eye piece that the 77 and 88 have is great. Also the zoom is fully usable on the scope but at 45x on the 55, the eye relief not so good. But 60 ounces I am hesitant to carry where I would carry the 55. I think the 55 or 77 would be your best option. Sorry for not helping much.

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk
 

Firehawk

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2014
Messages
587
Location
Northern Utah
I ran a Kowa 774 this fall. Amazing view from it and excellent throughout the power range most of the time. I definitely had to move to a stiffer tripod with this spotter as the extra heft made the image shaky on my XCM-25 Promaster Carbon tripod. Yet that tripod was perfect for my 9x mavens, 15x Meopta Meostars and the 65mm Maven CS.1 I already used on it. But the extra weight of that bigger spotter definitely warranted the stiffer/heftier tripod.

My buddies both have the 55 series and they are amazing for their size, but at low light you definitely see them drop off well before the 77 series. One of those same buddies also has an 88 series and he makes room for it in his pack unless it is a legit backpacking scenario. The Florite glass in the 55 and 88 is supposed to be even better than the 77 series. The 88 is definitely a bigger scope than my 774. My buddy is likely selling his 88 to get the new 99 sometime soon. He figures that he has the 55 for real backpacking. For a normal daily hunt which is a combination of short hikes to glass from points, glassing from the vehicles, two tracks, camp etc, the extra weight won't matter.

Anyway, I don't know if that helps you or not, but what he noticed. The view is outright beautiful from his 88.

FH
 

Cameron.25

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2021
Messages
442
Location
Oregon
I might not be much help cause the kowa 77 is the only spotter ive ever had, i really like it tho. Judging from your description, either the 77 or 88 should be a major upgrade for ya. Been using mine a lot the past couple years, i usually only use it with a phonescope adapter tho. It seems like it'd be hard to beat the 77 or 88 for an all around backcountry spotter, especially considering the price, weight and quality of glass. My 77 has served me well, it doesn't seem to have quite as good of light gathering as either of my swaro binos which isnt surprising to me. Id be interested to see what other say, especially if they have any of the bigger kowa spotters. Ive been eyeing the 99 pretty hard myself lol. If its only a half pound heavier and the money isnt a big deal id get the 88 for sure if i was you. You might wanna call or PM Rob from s&s archery, he's great to work with and carries all the kowa stuff i think. He should be able to help you decide which one to get too. He gave me a discount for being a member here
 

AZ_Hunter_2000

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Messages
1,311
I love my 554 and the fluorite glass is legit. It does not give up much to my STX 65. I do find the 554 provides a better picture than the older STS 65. As much as I love the 554, it is not enough to make me sell my STX 65/95. Will replace the STX 65 on some hunts though.

The 77x is well regarded. Beats out most 80mm scopes. Lags behind the 88x and ATX/STX 85.

Spending the $600 buys you no doubts that you have one of the two best spotting scopes out there. It’s a coin toss between the Kowa 88x and the Swaro ATX/STX 85. Boils down to personal preference.

Not spending the $600 buys you a damn good spotting scope. Frees up some cash for a new tripod and head (if needed).

Great issue to have.
 

AZ_Hunter_2000

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Messages
1,311
From the Rokslide review. Great job at showing the sizes. The big boys do take up a ton of space in your pack. But the views… love my STX 95 but it’s a space hog.
6-Size-Comparison.jpg
Here you can see the TSN-99 (2nd from the right) next to a Swarovski ATX-95 on the right, and TSN’s 88, 77, and 55 on the left in descending order.
 

Rick M.

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2018
Messages
185
Location
Vancouver, WA
The 883 Prominar is the best glass I've peered through. It's incredible. I just put mine up for sale a few minutes ago if you're interested.

 
OP
Tall_Vol44

Tall_Vol44

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2021
Messages
28
Location
Tennessee/Kentucky
But the extra weight of that bigger spotter definitely warranted the stiffer/heftier tripod.
Recently got the slik 733 with sirui va5 head. I'm 6'7" and wanted the extra height to be able to stand and glass if needed. I *think* that should be able to handle the 88 if I'm sitting, and maybe standing.

From the Rokslide review. Great job at showing the sizes. The big boys do take up a ton of space in your pack. But the views… love my STX 95 but it’s a space hog.
6-Size-Comparison.jpg
Here you can see the TSN-99 (2nd from the right) next to a Swarovski ATX-95 on the right, and TSN’s 88, 77, and 55 on the left in descending order.
That is a great view right there! I have not seen that picture before and that gives me a good comparison!
Those 90s are freaking huge!! Im not sure I'd want to lug those things around all day!!
 

fatrascal

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2013
Messages
543
Location
Spring Creek, Nevada
If Kowa made a 66mm then thats where my vote would be. I owne the angled 55 and its nice and I plan on using it on backpack hunts when I get older. But for now I cannot leave behind my swaro 65. I've read many good things about the Kowa 77 and I'm sure they are true but thats almost equivalent to an 80mm scope. Too big in my opinion for backpack hunting. Your age may help to be a determining factor as well. If you are young then get the 77. It would be a great all around size. If you are older then maybe a 65 may be a better choice. Nevertheless, the buy once cry once quote always makes me laugh. Once you spend a couple of years with your scope you will know exactly what you want. Or you may want to upgrade because optics get better and better every few years. So lastly, my vote goes for the 77. But only because Kowa does not have a 66. Fatrascal
 
OP
Tall_Vol44

Tall_Vol44

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2021
Messages
28
Location
Tennessee/Kentucky
Your age may help to be a determining factor as well. If you are young then get the 77. It would be a great all around size. If you are older then maybe a 65 may be a better choice
I'm 37, 6'7" and a fluffy 320#. Have lost about 25 pounds in the last 4 months, with an end goal to be around 265-275 (which is very lean for my build) by next September.
So I'm not sure if that's considered older or younger 😂😂.

Thanks for all the insights so far!
 

fatrascal

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2013
Messages
543
Location
Spring Creek, Nevada
Tall_Vol44, you are a young man. You have many good years of hunting ahead of you and carrying a 77 will be like carrying pocket change for you. Goodluck with your decision. Can't wait to see what the majority of votes will be. Fatrascal
PS, go Gators!
 

AZ_Hunter_2000

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Messages
1,311
Recently got the slik 733 with sirui va5 head. I'm 6'7" and wanted the extra height to be able to stand and glass if needed. I *think* that should be able to handle the 88 if I'm sitting, and maybe standing.


That is a great view right there! I have not seen that picture before and that gives me a good comparison!
Those 90s are freaking huge!! Im not sure I'd want to lug those things around all day!!
Sucks lugging the STX 95 but damn the image is nice. I bring it when I’m helping a friend (no tag for me), scouting, or some day hunts with minimal hiking.

The 554 is about the same size as the STX 65 but about half the weight.
 

as.ks.ak

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2015
Messages
483
Location
AK
I've read soooo many pages of threads on spotters, Swaro vs Leica vs meopta vs kowa etc... I understand the Swaro atx is probably the best optically on the market, but I don't think I necessarily need the very best of the best at that price point. I've also got a solid deal right now on new kowa's and from my reading I think they will be at least what I need (or want). There is a kowa dealer near where I live but they don't have anything in stock so my purchase is going to have to be blind.
My only experience with a spotter is with a Leupold kenai 20-60x80 that I use when I shoot at the range/long distance. Honestly Ive never been super happy with it & while it works at the range, idk if I would ever want to to try it hunting. At 60x it's not very sharp or clear, and it's not very bright at any magnification. I've never tried using it hunting because I'm just not sold that it is worth the size/weight to carry along. And I'm REALLY hoping that the kowa's will be a significant improvement over this Leupold. Just upgraded binos from viper hd 10x42 and Nikon my 8x42 to a maven B2 9x and a kowa Genesis 8x33. After upgrading my bipod and throwing the new binos and old spotter on it, I realized that my kenai spotter is not going to cut it going forward.

I live in Tennessee/Kentucky and primarily hunt there, but next year will start going out west to hunt whatever I can get tags for, &/or help buddy's that draw tags - & that will be at least once a year. Hopefully I'll be able to move west somewhere in 2 years, when the old lady is done with residency... Arizona, new Mexico, Colorado, or Utah are the short list states currently.

So my uses for this spotter will be literally a little bit of everything- range use, vehicle glassing, glassing from large comfy hunting blinds, & eventually backcountry/backpack hunting, and for anything and everything I can get an opportunity to hunt where a spotter would be advantageous to have.
Currently the farm I hunt has the very large power lines dissecting the 500 acres and I'm only limited in range to what I can comfortably shoot. There have been many, many, many times in the evenings where If I could've identified the deer as a big/shooter buck, I could have easily closed in and gotten a comfortable shot. But without knowing for sure, I would have to cross through feeding plots to close the distance thus ruining chances if something were about to pop out closer.

The yardage where my current optics began to fail me in darker conditions were probably around 400-500 or so. I could make out antlers, but couldn't tell if it had 6-8 points or 12-14 points... Just antlers or no antlers. So my immediate hunting uses will be for that, but again plan on using it for everything in the future when opportunity arises.

I also understand that for my current uses this level of spotter is completely overkill, but I'm looking forward and have decided that the buy once cry once is the best action to take for this purchase.
I'm not married yet, but that will happen probably sooner than later and I want my nice toys purchased before that.

Reading all I have, it sounds like the 55 series might not cut it in low light for what I'm wanting, but the price, weight, and reviews are attractive.
My next thoughts are:
1) is the 88 series really worth $600 more than the 77 series?
And
B) is the size/weight of the 88 close enough to the 77 to make that aspect a non issue when I start to backpack hunt? I realize it's like 6ish ounces heavier and maybe an inch longer. (But I've never back pack hunted before, and ounces do equal pounds.
I've done a lot of back country fly fishing and from that I learned some things are worth the extra weight and some aren't...)

Money isn't a huge concern, but less is more and if the 77 series will do everything I want and more, I don't really want to drop another $600 on the 88 series. I feel like there's a point of diminishing returns somewhere... Just not sure where that line is.

I think I've covered everything, and being an over-analyzer, I've thought about this way too much. I'm looking forward to hearing opinions and experiences from everyone & thanks in advance!

So I haven’t seen one important thing listed, I can def help here...I have both the 77 and 88...I will be selling my 77.

The 88 has fluorite glass, the 77 does not. The 88 is simply on another level than the 77. No question. The $600 is WELL worth it IMO. Depends how much you spend behind it to justify it or not. For me? I’d do it again in a heartbeat. 88 for life.

Get the 1.5 extender too, that thing is incredibly beneficial. Love my Kowa. Love love love it.

Here’s a fun example of what the extender paired with the 88mm is capable of. 14” diameter steel plate. 500 yards.

2d72768610b2423303c60780a2d6d713.jpg



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Last edited:

AkMtnRunner

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 24, 2016
Messages
522
It sounds like low light conditions are important to you so I would encourage you to go with the larger objective 88. You'll be glad you did. It really is incredible far into dusk. I doubt you ever feel the need to replace it, which is a nice feeling too.

Just make sure to have a very good tripod, not a 'backpacking' tripod that gets good reviews because they work well for 65mm class spotters. The moment of inertia of a 85 mm vs 65 mm class spotters is A LOT.

But, on the other hand, I have to wonder how you might be served with a pair of 56mm objective binos on a tripod for the low light work close to home and a midweight scope when you head out west where there will likely be more light available for most of the hunting time.
 
OP
Tall_Vol44

Tall_Vol44

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2021
Messages
28
Location
Tennessee/Kentucky
It sounds like low light conditions are important to you so I would encourage you to go with the larger objective 88. You'll be glad you did. It really is incredible far into dusk. I doubt you ever feel the need to replace it, which is a nice feeling too.

Just make sure to have a very good tripod, not a 'backpacking' tripod that gets good reviews because they work well for 65mm class spotters. The moment of inertia of a 85 mm vs 65 mm class spotters is A LOT.

But, on the other hand, I have to wonder how you might be served with a pair of 56mm objective binos on a tripod for the low light work close to home and a midweight scope when you head out west where there will likely be more light available for most of the hunting time.
I'm curious what your opinion is on a very good tripod that would accommodate an 88 size(and head)? Like what would you say are some examples? I've considered the bigger binos, and they sound like they have a solid role to play out west. They'd probably work for my current hunting needs, but they won't fit my immediate range/shooting needs. I'll probably end up with 12-15x50+ bins in the future after I have some Western hunts under my belt.
Thanks for your thoughts!
 
OP
Tall_Vol44

Tall_Vol44

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2021
Messages
28
Location
Tennessee/Kentucky
So I haven’t seen one important thing listed, I can def help here...I have both the 77 and 88...I will be selling my 77.

The 88 has fluorite glass, the 77 does not. The 88 is simply on another level than the 77. No question. The $600 is WELL worth it IMO. Depends how much you spend behind it to justify it or not. For me? I’d do it again in a heartbeat. 88 for life.

Get the 1.5 extender too, that thing is incredibly beneficial. Love my Kowa. Love love love it.

Here’s a fun example of what the extender paired with the 88mm is capable of. 14” diameter steel plate. 500 yards.

2d72768610b2423303c60780a2d6d713.jpg



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
That's pretty dam good! My current spotter could not give me a picture similar to that quality at 500 yards. What would you say the 77 gives up to the 88 if you were comparing the views of this sight picture?
 

lundellhunting7

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
254
I have a 773 and have used it this last hunting season. It’s up for trade in the classifieds…
The glass is great in it! Can’t complain about that. But the wide angle eyepiece I just can’t get used to finding things 2-300 or closer on that 25x idk 🤷🏻‍♂️ maybe I’m weird
 
Last edited:

tdhanses

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2018
Messages
3,829
I have both a 55 and 77, if I could only have one I’d go 77. If I was a guide or one that used a spotter constantly I’d go with an 88.

The 55 is what i use for hunting the 77 for everything else.
 

as.ks.ak

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2015
Messages
483
Location
AK
That's pretty dam good! My current spotter could not give me a picture similar to that quality at 500 yards. What would you say the 77 gives up to the 88 if you were comparing the views of this sight picture?

The quality of image. The 88 is very clear edge to edge. And the colors are more vibrant through the fluorite glass. I’ve found I find ear twitches/glints off horns (that type of detail) much better in the 88.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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