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May 19th, 2021

Bullet Holes at 1000 Yards — The Ultimate Optics Challenge

Pentax PF 100ED
Coalinga Range in California. At dawn we could clearly see 7mm and .30 Cal bullet holes at 1000 yards.

Pentax smc-xw 10mmWhile attending the CA Long Range Championship a few seasons back, we had the opportunity to test the performance of a high-magnification (63X) spotting scope in near-ideal conditions (maybe the best I’ve ever witnessed). On the event’s last day we arrived at 5:45 am, literally as the sun was cresting the horizon. I quickly deployed our Pentax PF-100ED spotting scope, fitted with a Pentax SMC-XW 10mm fixed-power eyepiece. When used with the 100mm Pentax scope, this 10mm eyepiece yields 63X magnification. Befitting its $299.00 price, this eyepiece is extremely clear and sharp.

At the crack of dawn, viewing conditions were ideal. No mist, no mirage, no wind. The first thing this Editor noticed was that I could see metal nail heads on the target boards. That was astonishing. As soon as the first practice targets went up, to my surprise, I could see 6.5mm, 7mm, and 30-caliber bullet holes in the white at 1000 yards. No lie…

That’s right, I could see bullet holes at 1000. I know many of you folks may not believe that, but there was no mistaking when I saw a 7mm bullet cut the white line separating the Nine Ring and Eight Ring on the target in view. (I was watching that target as the shot was fired and saw the shot-hole form). And when I looked at the 30-cal targets, the bullet holes in the white were quite visible. In these perfect conditions I could also make out 3/8″ bolt heads on the target frames.

The Human Factor — Good Vision Required
When viewing the bullet holes, I was using my left naked eye (no safety glasses or magnification). I also had a contact lens in my right eye (needed for distance vision). To my surprise, while I could see the bullet holes without much difficulty with my left eye, things were fuzzier and slightly more blurry with the right eye, even when I re-focused the scope. That contact lens was degrading the fine resolution.

Pentax smc-xw 10mmThen I invited 3 or 4 shooters to look through the scope. One younger guy, with good eyes, said immediately: “Yeah, I can see the holes — right there at 4 o’clock and seven o’clock. Wow.” Some older guys, who were wearing glasses, could not see the holes at all, no matter what we did to the scope’s main focus and diopter adjustment.

The lesson here — if you have to wear glasses or corrective contact lenses, just that extra bit of optical interference may make a difference in what you can see through the scope. Basically anything that goes between the scope eyepiece and your eyeball can degrade the image somewhat. So… you may be better off removing your glasses if you can still obtain good focus sharpness using the diopter adjustment and focus ring. I did the left vs. right eye test a half dozen times, and I could definitely see small features at 1000 yards with my naked eye that I could not see with my right eye fitted with a contact lens. (I did have to re-focus the scope for each eye, since one had a corrective lens while the other did not.)

Mirage Degrades Image Sharpness and Resolution
The “magic light” prevailed for only an hour or so, and then we started to get some mirage. As soon as the mirage appeared I was no longer able to see raw bullet holes, though I could still easily see black pasters on the black bulls. When the mirage started, the sharpness of the visible image degraded a huge amount. Where I could see bullet holes at dawn, by mid-morning I could barely read the numbers on the scoring rings. Lesson: If you want to test the ultimate resolution of your optics, you need perfect conditions.

Chromatic AberrationChromatic Aberration Revealed
As the light got brighter and the mirage increased I started to see blue and red fringing at the edges of the spotting disk and the large numerals. This was quite noticeable. On one side of the bright, white spotting disc you could see a dark red edge, while on the other side there was a blue edge (harder to see but still present).

The photo below was taken through the Pentax spotter lens using a point and shoot camera held up to the eyepiece. The sharpness of the Pentax was actually much better than this photo shows, but the through-the-lens image does clearly reveal the red and blue fringing. This fringing is caused by chromatic aberration — the failure of a lens to focus all colors to the same point. Chromatic aberration, most visible at high magnification, causes different wavelengths of light to have differing focal lengths (see diagram). Chromatic aberration manifests itself as “fringes” of color along boundaries that separate dark and bright parts of the image, because each color in the optical spectrum cannot be focused at a single common point on the optical axis. Keep in mind that the Pentax does have “ED” or low-dispersion glass, so the effect would be even more dramatic with a cheaper spotting scope.

CLICK HERE to view LARGE PHOTO that shows aberration more clearly.

If you wonder why top-of-the-line spotting scopes (such as the $2980 Swarovski ATS-80 ) cost so much, the answer is that they will deliver even LESS chromatic aberration at long range and high magnification. With their exotic apochromatic (APO), ultra-low-dispersion glass, a few ultra-high-end spotting scopes can deliver an image without the color edging you see in the photo above.

The Pentax PF-100ED is a heck of a spotting scope. Any scope that can resolve bullet holes at 1000 yards is impressive. But if you want the ultimate in optical performance, with minimal chromatic aberration, you may need to step up to something like the 88mm Kowa Prominar TSN-884 with Flourite Crystal lenses ($2450.00 body only), or the 82mm Leica APO ($3899.00 with 25-50X eyepiece).

EDITOR’s NOTE: The purpose of this report is to show what is possible… in IDEAL conditions. With this Pentax 100mm, as well as a Swarovski 80mm, we can often resolve 6mm bullet holes at 600 yards. But again, that performance requires really good viewing conditions. By 10:00 am at my range, even with the 100mm Pentax at 75 power, seeing 6mm bullet holes is “iffy” at best. So don’t go out and mortgage the house to buy a $4000 optic with the hope that you’ll be able to spot your shots at 1000 yards. If conditions are anything less than perfect, you’ll be lucky to see bullet holes at 500 yards. The real solution for very long-range spotting is to set up a remote target cam that broadcasts a video picture to a screen at your shooting station. Among the target cams on the market, we recommend the LongShot LR-3. It boasts excellent resolution and incredible range. The LongShot LR-3 target cam is used in major ELR competitions.

Pentax PF 100ED

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October 26th, 2018

NEW High-Performance 27-55x80mm Leupold Spotting Scope

Leupold Stevens Santiam SX-5 Spotter spotting scope HD 26-55X 80mm

Leupold recently annouced a new, premium spotting scope with outstanding low-light performance. Leupold’s new Santium SX-5 Spotter features a jumbo 80mm objective with a 27-55X zoom eyepiece. The SX-5 is offered in both straight and angled versions. Suggested retail price (including eyepiece) is $2339.00. Best “street price” should be around $1800.00. That positions Leupold’s SX-5 above Vortex, Burris, and Pentax price-wise, but the SX-5 is over $1000 less than high-end, 80mm-class Swarovski and Leica spotters which approach $3000 with eyepiece.

We’re interested to see how this new Leupold stacks up against the Kowa TSN-880 Prominar spotter ($2450.00 on Amazon) which has been a benchmark in the 80mm class. Leupold worked hard to give the SX-5 “second to none” low-light performance. The goal was to create a truly superior optic for hunters who may spend long periods “glassing” for game at dawn and dusk.

Leupold Stevens Santiam SX-5 Spotter spotting scope HD 26-55X 80mm

The SX-5 features High Definition (HD) glass with proprietary lens coatings to maximize light transmission and color fidelity. Zac Bird, Product Manager for Leupold states: “The human eye is most sensitive to colors outside the middle of the spectrum during dawn and dusk, when game is moving — the Twilight Max HD Light Management System literally helps you see more in less light. The superior glare reduction it offers ensures the maximum amount of usable light gets to your eye. Our proprietary lens coatings and superior optical design help deliver the very best contrast and resolution”

Features of New SX-5 Santiam HD 27-55x80mm Spotting Scope:
– Full-Diameter Focus Ring for smooth and precise focusing
– Oversized Eyepiece for reduced fatigue
– Guard-Ion Rain-Shedding Lens Coating
– Built-in Retractable Lens Shade
– Tough Rubber Armor Coating
– Full Lifetime Warranty

Leupold Stevens Santiam SX-5 Spotter spotting scope HD 26-55X 80mm

Price vs. Performance in the Field
Should a hunter spend a couple grand ($2000) on a spotting scope? It depends on your priorities. Leupold says: “Don’t underestimate the importance of a quality spotting scope. Your spotter can mean difference between tagging out or going home empty-handed…. Ultimately, you can’t shoot what you can’t find.”

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June 3rd, 2018

Less Is More — Kowa’s Compact TSN-500 Series Spotting Scopes

Kowa spotting scope TSN-501 TSN-502 500 series close focus
This Kowa TSN-501 optic is small and affordable. You can order from Creedmoor Sports.

The photo above tells the story. Kowa’s new TSN-500 series spotting scopes are VERY light — just 14.1 ounces (400 grams) and VERY compact — 9.4 inches in length (239mm). This is a game changer for hunters, varminters, PRS shooters, and anyone who wants a spotter that is easy to pack and carry. And for long-range competitors (F-Class, Palma) who use a spotter mainly to watch mirage, the TSN-501 (angled) may well do the job. That’s a big deal because this spotter costs less than $350.00 complete with 20-40X zoom eyepiece. Put the money you save into a new barrel, or a stock upgrade.

Kowa spotting scope TSN-501 TSN-502 500 series close focusKowa offers both an angled model TSN-501, and a straight model TSN-502. Both have a 50mm front objective. We think most rifle shooters will prefer the angled model, but hunters and pistol shooters may favor the straight model. Creedmoor says: “It’s the perfect spotting scope for 10 meter air rifle, 50 ft or even 50 meter smallbore. Its weight and size make it convenient to carry with your gear and allows you to have a lighter scope stand to hold it.”

Close Focus Capability
Kowas’ TSN-500 series scopes will focus down to 2.5 meters. Read that again — this is a really big deal for those who use their scope for nature observation (as well as shooting). With the ability to focus so close (inside 3 yards), this optic can perform many roles.

TSN-501 SPECIFICATIONS: Polycarbonate body; 239mmx125mmx72mm; 400gr (14.1 oz.); 50mm Objective; 20X-40X Magnification; 2.5mm to 1.3mm Exit Pupil.

Kowa spotting scope TSN-501 TSN-502 500 series close focus

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August 21st, 2017

Save 50% or More on Amazon Purchases with Auto Price Tracking amazon savings Camelcamelcamel price tracking

UPDATE: Some readers did not understand how to most effectively use this price-tracking service. They wondered: “What good does it do for me to know past prices?” Well you can set a price target, and will email you (in the future) when the price has dropped to that level. That’s a powerful tool that WILL save you money!

Take the time to read this article and we bet you’ll save $100.00 or more this year. Honest. This article explains how to find the right time to buy a product from at a super-low price. Amazon price trend graphs, updated by the hour, show exactly when prices have been slashed on your favorite Amazon items. With this “insider info” you can save big — often 50% or more. This applies to everything Amazon sells — optics, reloading gear, tools, electronics, you name it.

Here’s how it works — find a product you want on Then go to and enter the product in the search field. Usually the product name is enough, but you can also enter the Amazon URL. When the product appears in the search results, click on the product name. Then a chart will appear that shows the price trends for a given time period (All Time, 1 Year, 6 Months etc.). You can see right away if it’s time to buy, or you need to wait for a price reduction.

Here’s one example. Steiner makes a black version of its 8×30 Military-Marine Binoculars called the AZ830. We found these on sale for about $120.00 and posted that on our Deals of the Week. Later the same binoculars cost over $280! Yet some months before, this Steiners cost just $75.87! You could save $204.71 by buying at just the right time — that’s a 73% savings! Check out the 1-year price history from amazon savings Camelcamelcamel price tracking

Here’s another example, the popular RCBS Rock Chucker press. In the last year, the price has fluctuated between $166.68 and $112.49, a $54.19 difference! By using the CamelCamelCamel price checker website, you could snag a Rock Chucker for $112.49, saving over 32%. amazon savings Camelcamelcamel price tracking

Track Third-Party Prices As Well for Ultimate Savings
CamelCamelCamel will also give you the lowest third-party price on Amazon. This option shows products sold on Amazon but fulfilled by third parties. Check out this chart for the Kowa TSN-880, one of the best spotting scopes on the market. The third-party price is in blue. In the last year it bounced between $849.95 and $2450.00! That’s a difference of $1600.05, or 65%. Even measured vs. the Amazon direct sale high price ($2254.00), the savings is over 60%. amazon savings Camelcamelcamel price tracking

Set Up Your Own Price Watch Page with Notifications

We have no affiliation with but we know it can help you save big money on Amazon purchases. We have subscribed to this service, and you may want to do so as well. When you subscribe, you can create a Product Price Watch List. Let’s say you’re looking to snag a Leica Rangefinder, Lyman BoreCam, and Vortex Scope. Put those items on your watch list and you can see price trends instantly whenever you visit

In addition, you can have email alerts sent to you when the price of a “watched” product hits a “trigger” price you set. For example, we told the site to let us know when the AZ830 binoculars hit $120.00 again. And we snagged a nice Seiko titanium watch recently, saving $90 on the price.

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August 22nd, 2016

Bargain Finder 49: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.

1. — 15% Off Discount on All Products

Bargain Coupon Code Kelbly Kelbly's Panda Action stock

Looking for a Panda or Atlas Action, or a complete match rifle? Here’s a great promotion from our friends at Kelbly’s. Now through Tuesday, August 23, 2016 you can get 15% of ANYthing on the website. That includes rifles, actions, stocks, barrels, scope rings, muzzle brakes, Berger bullets, accessories and more. To save big, use code 15ALL at checkout. Don’t delay — this offer expires at 11:59 pm on September 1, 2016.

2. — Tikka T3 Liquidation Sale, Huge Discounts

Tikka T3 sale inventory closeout reduction discount truckload

Looking for a great price on an excellent hunting rifle? Here is the Tikka Deal of the Decade. has received nearly 3,500 Tikka T3 rifles, which will be sold at deep discounts as part of an inventory clearance program by Beretta, Tikka’s parent company. The Tikka T3 is a good, stout rifle with a smooth, 3-lug action, crisp trigger, and quality barrel. Accuracy is typically well under 1 MOA (for three shots). T3 barreled actions also are a good “core” for a tactical build. The strong T3 action handles detachable magazines, and fits a variety of third-party stocks.

3. Monmouth — Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor Brass, $34.95 for 50

Deals Week Kowa Spotting Scope TSN-61

The 6.5 Creedmoor has become one of the most popular chamberings for tactical/practical shooting. This mid-sized cartridge offers excellent ballistic performance with 120-140gr bullets, with moderate recoil and excellent inherent accuracy. Now you can get Hornady-brand 6.5 Creedmoor brass at a very good price: $34.95 for 50 cases (that’s $69.90 per 100).

4. Amazon — Kowa 60mm TSN-601 Spotting Scope Body, $259.00

Deals Week Kowa Spotting Scope TSN-61

If you are looking for a rugged, reliable, and affordable spotting scope to watch flags, mirage, and shot spotting discs, this angled-body Kowa TSN-61 will do the job. And $259.00 with free, fast Prime Shipping is a great deal. These Kowa spotters have been used successfully for years by prone and High Power competitors. Sure the glass can’t rival the latest top-of-the-line HD spotting scopes, but the TSN-61 is a small fraction of the price of high-end models which cost $2000 or more. The money you save can buy four premium hand-lapped barrels. NOTE: Eyepieces are sold separately — expect to pay $275.00 – $300.00 for a Kowa 20-60X Zoom eyepiece.

5. Midsouth — $15.00 HazMat Fee with 15-lb Powder Purchase

Midsouth discount sale hazmat feed $15.00

When you purchase powder, it makes sense to buy in bulk. That way you get powder from the same lot, and save on the HazMat fees. Now you have even more incentive to place a big order. Right now Midsouth is offering $15.00 Hazmat with orders of 15 or more pounds of powder. Get 15 one-pounders or two eight-pound jugs and you’ll qualify. Midsouth has a large selection of popular powders in stock, including Hodgdon Varget, H4198, H48931sc, and the new IMR Enduron powders. With this special HazMat deal you can save up to $20.00 (many vendors charge $35.00 HazMat per order). Don’t hesitate — this offer ends 8/25/2016.

6. Amazon — Tipton Gun Vise, $30.32 (free Prime Shipping)

Tilton Best Vice reloading bench rifle

This is an awesome deal on a durable, well-designed polymer Gun Vise that every rifle owner can use. Your Editor has one of these units which has served well for more than a decade. The base has compartments for solvents, patches, and tools. The cradles and pads contacting your gunstock are a soft, rubber-like material that is gentle on fine finishes. This vise is relatively light in weight, but sturdy enough to support big, heavy rifles.

7. Amazon — Mildot Master Ballistics Calculator, $29.86

Mildot Master Amazon scale bargain

A Mildot Master is one item every tactical/practical shooter should own. This handy tool has been used successfully for years. It doesn’t require batteries, no keypad data entry is require through a keypad is necessary, as the device is purely analog. No complex calculations for determination of telescopic sight adjustment or hold-over at various ranges are necessary, as the scales of the device convert drop/drift figures directly into both MOA and mils.

8. Amazon — Ten-Pack of 2″-Diameter Splatter Targets, $8.99

Bargain Coupon Code Kelbly Kelbly's Panda Action stock

We use these splatter targets for fun shoots and practice at 300 and 400 yards. When hit, each shot displays as a bright, neon-green/yellow circle. That makes it easy to spot your shots, even with relatively low-power optics. These targets also work great for handgun practice at shorter distances. For just $8.99 you get ten sheets each with 16 stick-on circles — a total of 160 target bulls.

Permalink Hot Deals, New Product, Reloading 1 Comment »
March 21st, 2016

Bargain Finder 27: Accurateshooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

At the request of our readers, we have launched a “Deals of the Week” feature. Every Monday morning we offer our Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.

1. Defender Outdoors — Rem 700 .300 Win Mag M40, $639.99

Remington Rem 700 .300 Winchester Win Magnum Mag Bell & Carlson M40

Come on, admit it — who wouldn’t like to have a .300 Winchester Magnum in their personal arsenal. Here’s a chance to pick up a nice Rem 700 in .300 WM for under $650.00. The Model 700 Long Range features a 26″ heavy varmint barrel mated to Remington’s Long Action. This model comes with a Bell and Carlson M40-type tactical synthetic stock with dual front swivel studs for a sling and bipod. The 700 Long Range also features an aluminum bedding block for accuracy. The trigger is the externally-adjustable X-Mark Pro, factory set at 3.5 pounds.

2. — Nikon ProStaff 4-12x40mm Rimfire Scope, $99.95

graf nikon rimfire prostaff rock rimfire sale coupon dicount

Right now Nikon is running a “Rock your Rimfire” promotion with instant savings of up to $50.00 per scope. With this program, you get a super-low price at time of purchase — there are no rebate forms to fill out or delays. While a variety of Nikon rimfire scopes are on sale currently, we think the most attractive deal is the Nikon 4-12x40mm Prostaff scope with BDC (bullet drop compensation) reticle. Right now, this scope is just $99.95 at That’s a steal.

3. Amazon — RAVPower 16750mAh Portable Charging Pack

Amazon Ravpower battery charger USB high-output battery pack LadRadar Bart Sauter

Bullet-maker Bart Sauter used this RAVpower portable charging unit to power his LabRadar chronograph at a short-range shooting match. He reports: “I bought a RAVPower pack from Amazon. It was the most powerful cell phone charger they had and it was reduced to $31. It was able to run the LabRadar for two full days without recharging and still had juice.” This unit has impressive specs: “4.5A Output: Highest output in the market, featuring a 4.5A total output capable of simultaneously charging two tablets, making it faster and more powerful than the rest. Exclusive iSmart Technology… ensures fastest and most efficient charge.”

4. — Norma .22LR Ammo (Match 22 & Tac 22)

Norma Match 22 Tac .22 LR Ammo rimfire ammunition

Need quality .22 LR rimfire ammo at an affordable price? Consider Norma. Most folks think Norma only produces centerfire ammo and cartridge brass. As a result, people haven’t been looking for Norma rimfire ammo. Their loss is your gain. Accurate, reliable Norma .22 LR ammunition is in-stock right now at leading online vendors. This is good quality ammo, made in Europe. has Norma Tac-22 ammo in stock at $5.25 per 50-rd box (SKU: BL7819). In addition, offers Norma Match-22 ammunition at $7.50 per 50-rd box (SKU: BL11887).

5. CDNN Sports — Browning Stainless .22 LR Buck Mark, $379.99

Browning Buckmark Stainless Camper UFX Pistol Handgun .22 LR 22 rimfire

Everyone needs a good .22 LR rimfire handgun, and the Browning Buck Mark is a classic. This stainless, bull barrel version is marked down this week to $379.99. That’s a very good price. Buckmarks, with their excellent triggers and great ergonomics, are fun to shoot and VERY accurate. This is a pistol you can keep for a life-time and pass on to your kids. Browning says: “Every Buck Mark starts out as a solid piece of aircraft-grade 7075 aluminum alloy, and then is CNC machined to exacting tolerances. The crisp single-action trigger, hand reamed chamber, target crowned barrel and finely adjustable target sights mean the Buck Mark comes ready for fun straight from the box.”

6. Widener’s — Norma 203B and 204 Powders on Sale

Wideners Norma alliant powder discount sale 203B Reloder 16 Norma 204

Looking for an excellent powder for your .308 Win, 6BR, or other small-to-midsized cartridge? You should consider Norma 203B. This Bofors-made powder is essentially the same as Alliant Reloder 15, which has set many records in the 6mmBR and 6mm Dasher cases. Right now Norma 203B is on sale at for just $19.95 per pound. That’s a great deal for an outstanding propellant. Other vendors charge up to $29.00 per pound for Norma 203B. Widener’s also has 8-lb jugs of Norma 204 powder is also on sale now for $139.00 (which works out to $17.35/lb). Norma 204 has a burn rate similar to H4350.

7. Amazon — Kowa 60mm TSN-601 Spotting Scope Body

Deals Week Kowa Spotting Scope TSN-61

If you are looking for a rugged, reliable, and affordable spotting scope to watch flags, mirage, and shot spotting discs, this angled-body Kowa TSN-61 will do the job. These Kowa spotters have been used successfully for years by prone and High Power competitors. Sure the glass is not as sharp as the latest top-of-the-line HD spotting scopes, but the TSN-61 is a small fraction of the price of high-end models which can run $2000 or more. The money you save can buy four premium hand-lapped barrels. NOTE: This item is the scope body only. Eyepieces are sold separately — expect to pay $260.00 – $300.00 for a Kowa 20-60X Zoom eyepiece.

8. Harbor Freight — Ammo Box and LED Light Super Savings

Harbor Freight plastic ammo can Harbor Freight LED light Safe lamp flashlight

Here are two great deals from Harbor Freight — both coupons are good through the end of March, 2016. We like these plastic ammo boxes better than metal .30-cal milsurp ammo cans because the plastic boxes are lighter, don’t rust, and they are much kinder and gentler to human shins and vehicle interiors. This $2.99 compact LED light works great to illuminate the interior of your gun safe. At this price you can buy three and keep a spare for your Emergency kit or vehicle glove compartments.

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November 29th, 2013

Kowa Spotting Scopes and Binocs on Sale at Kowa Holiday Sale Discount Spotting Scope BinocularsForum members have asked “what’s the best option in a spotting scope in the $500 to $1000 price range?” We’d certainly have to include Kowa spotting scopes on the “short list” for value-priced, high-performance spotters. And now Kowa spotting scopes are cheaper than ever, thanks to’s Holiday Kowa Promotion. Kowa Spotting scope and binoculars are on sale at for up to 26% off regular list prices.

If you need an affordable spotting scope for High Power matches or hunting, consider the 66mm or 82mm Kowas. If you want a no-compromise, ultra-low-dispersion glass, category-leading spotting scope, take a look at the 88mm Kowa Prominars. These have been rated among the “best of the best” in a variety of independent spotting scope comparison tests. is also discounting a wide range of Kowa binoculars. Kowa Holiday Sale Discount Spotting Scope Binoculars

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November 25th, 2013

Spotting Scope Package Deals from Creedmoor Sports

Konus Spotting Scope Creedmoor Sports package discountCreedmoor Sports is offering two Holiday Specials with complete Spotting Scope systems, including Spotting Scope (with eyepiece), Scope Cover, and Scope Stand. You can choose between two price levels. If you are on a limited budget, go for the Konus 80mm bundle (item ID Konus-bundle). This includes Konus 80mm spotting scope, Scope Cover, and 3/4″-diameter Polecat Stand with two stand extension rods. These items would normally sell for $607.75, but now you can get them all for $545.00 with Holiday Special Pricing.

Creedmoor Sports also has a Holiday Kowa Scope Package (item ID SCOPEPKG) that can save you $112.65 off the regular $1487.65 price. This is really a nice bundle that should meet the needs of even top High Power competitors.

KOWA SCOPE PACKAGE — For $1375.00 you get all the following:

  • Kowa TSN-82SV 82mm Angled Spotting Scope
  • 25X Long Eye Relief Eyepiece
  • Creedmoor Scope Cover in blue
  • Creedmoor 1″-diameter PoleCat Scope Stand
  • Two Extension Rods for Stand
  • Creedmoor Scope Stand Bag
  • See-Through Objective Lens Cover
  • Kowa Eyepiece Cover

Konus Spotting Scope Creedmoor Sports package discount

The regular price for all this hardware is $1487.65, so you save $112.65 with this Kowa Scope Package. That’s a pretty significant savings you can put back into bullets and brass.

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June 8th, 2011

Optics Review: Kowa TSN-884 Prominar (PFC) Spotting Scope

Kowa TSN-884 Spotting Scope Review
by Danny Reever
It has been a couple of years since I wrote the review of high-end spotting scopes for In that time there have been some advances in technology and unfortunately some hefty price hikes to go along with that technology. Not too long ago, few top-end scopes exceeded $2300.00 with eyepiece. Now some premium spotting scopes top the $4000.00 mark with eyepiece! My Pentax PF100-ED, once a top-of-the-line product (but now discontinued by Pentax) would now be considered a mid-price spotting scope, given the current pricing of premium spotting scopes from Kowa, Leica, Zeiss, Swarovski and other top brands. “Street Price” for the Kowa TSN-884 reviewed here, is roughly $2800.00 with eyepiece. That’s a serious investment by any standards.

“The Kowa Prominar (TSN 88X series) is quite simply the best spotting scope I’ve ever looked through. In all instances the Kowa out-performed everything I was able to compare it to. The Kowa had unrivaled clarity, and I could resolve 6mm bullet holes at 500m with it better than with my 100mm Pentax. After testing the Kowa, I sold my Pentax PF100-ED, and I’m planning to purchase a Kowa TSN-884.”

kowa Prominar 883 884 scopeBeing like many shooters out there I’m always looking for that better mousetrap in regard to seeing 6mm bullet holes at extended yardages. That’s how I ended up with the Pentax PF100-ED. Recently I had been hearing rumblings here and there from other shooters and on various websites raving about the Kowa TSN 883/884 spotting scopes. In fact right here on’s Daily Bulletin it was reported that the Kowa Prominar was rated number one by the Cornell Ornithology lab in their 2008 Scope Quest — a detailed review of 36 spotting scopes. However, they did not compare all spotting scopes that were available at that time. The super expensive Leica 82mm Televid APO HD was missing, along with my Pentax PF100-ED. The Cornell test also was geared more toward birders than shooters, but it was enough to pique my interest in regard to the Kowa, which features an 88mm objective with Pure Flourite Crystal (PFC) main lens elements.

I had to find a Kowa 883/884 to review and compare to what shooters were currently using out there. I contacted Kowa USA, which graciously agreed to furnish me one to review for Accurate Shooter. I requested the Kowa TSN-884 straight body along with the 20-60X zoom eyepiece that Kowa had redesigned for the 77-88mm spotting scopes. I chose the straight body over the TSN-883 angled version. With a straight spotter you can easily monitor flags and conditions downrange without moving your head very much. I admit the TSN-883 angled model may be more user-friendly for some applications, such as prone and F-Class shooting. With an angled body you can also set the scope slightly lower on your tripod. Straight or Angled — you need to choose what works best for you in your particular application.

kowa Prominar 883 884 scope

Kowa TSN-884 Highlights
Even though the Kowa has a large 88mm objective I was struck by the compactness of this scope. With a length of a little over thirteen inches without eyepiece it is compact indeed. Weight (without eyepiece) is a trim 53.6 ounces due to the use of Magnesium alloy for the scope body. With the 20-60X eyepiece installed, length is 16 3/8 inches, and weight is 65.1 ounces. Compare this to my monster-sized Pentax PF100-ED which is 23 ¾ inches long and weighs 111.1 ounces (6.94 pounds!) with eyepiece. The Kowa is 7 3/8″ shorter overall, and the Kowa is an amazing three and a half pounds (56 ounces) lighter in weight! The smaller size and weight of the Kowa allows you to use a much lighter and more compact tripod for this scope if you so desire. (Note: You might think the Pentax’s weight might actually stabilize the unit. However, the problem is that much of the weight of the Pentax is way out front, where it is cantilevered far forward of the mounting bracket. We’ve found that just a light touch on the front end of the Pentax will cause it to shake and wobble. Because so much weight is cantilevered way out front, the Pentax can wobble easily even on a massive tripod.)

kowa Prominar 883 884 scope

The most impressive quality of the Kowa 883/884 is its bright, ultra-sharp image. This super-sharp, distortion-free image comes from superior glass. The objective lens of the TSN 884 incorporates Pure Fluorite Crystal (PFC). Kowa claims 99% or higher light transmission and after looking through the scope I have no reason to doubt that claim. One focuses the Kowa via a system of two focus controls along one axis. The larger-diameter knob provides course adjustment to rapidly bring the subject into focus. The smaller-diameter control fine-tunes the focus for the sharpest image. This system works well in practice and one adapts quickly to the dual controls.

Like most high-end spotting scopes, the Kowa 883/884 is designed to function in all weather conditions. The nitrogen-purged body is fully sealed, and Kowa claims the “housing” is waterproof — but no you don’t want to dunk your scope in a river. Note: Even though this scope is robustly constructed, I must point out that the Kowa does not have any rubber armor coating. This does keep the weight down, but if you are tough on scopes, you may prefer a different design, such as the new Zeiss Diascope which boasts full rubber armor over the entire scope body. Kowa does offer a padded cover for an additional $125.00 which would help protect the scope. Given the high cost of the TSN 883/884, the padded cover is probably a smart investment.

Kowa TSN-884 Field Test Results
Initially I set up the Kowa and my Pentax PF100-ED on separate tripods side by side on my front deck. I was immediately impressed with the optical clarity of the Kowa, especially at the lower powers. I aimed both scopes at my neighbor’s log house, perhaps 150 yards away, focusing on a particular log end cut. With both scopes set at 60-power I could easily count the growth rings on the log with both scopes. However, the Kowa, without question, was clearer. How much clearer? I can best describe it this way. Imagine looking through a car window with the window up. Now imagine rolling the window down and looking again. With the Kowa, it was like having the window rolled down — contrast was a bit better, colors were a bit more vibrant, things seemed slightly sharper — as if a thin haze had been removed.

Using the Kowa TSN-884 at the Range
I have taken the Kowa to the range on numerous occasions over the past few weeks. I’ve used it in many different environmental conditions, comparing it to as many different spotting scopes as were available. In all instances the Kowa out-performed everything I was able to compare it to. Sometimes (but not always) the difference was startling.

kowa Prominar 883 884 scope

One of my tests included a Snellen Eye Chart, just like the one at your optometrist office. Instead of it hanging on a wall, I placed the Snellen Chart at 500 meters along with some previously-shot paper Ground Hog targets. Conditions were hazy and humid with moderate mirage. My Nightforce 12-42x56mm Benchrest riflescope set at 42X could read line 6 on the chart and I could distinguish only a few of the 6mm bullet holes. My Pentax PF100-ED set at 60X (to match the Kowa’s maximum power) was better. With the Pentax I could read line 7 on the chart and see more of the bullet holes. With the Kowa set at 60X, I could read line 8 on the chart and see all of the bullet holes on the white parts of the targets.. FYI, line 8 on the Snellen Chart defines 20-20 vision at 20 feet. Reading that at 500 meters (1641 feet) is pretty impressive!

I could make out perhaps one-third of the bullet holes in the black parts of the targets with the Kowa. That’s not that great, but the Kowa did better than the Pentax or the Nightforce. Rodney Smith, another Shippensburg shooter, had his own Pentax PF100-ED on site. Comparing his PF100-ED with the Kowa, Rodney agreed that the Kowa TSN-884 was markedly better. (It is interesting to note that both Rodney’s Pentax and mine were optically identical in every respect when compared side by side. And the Kowa out-performed them both.) Another shooter, Bob Chamberlin, had the smaller Pentax PF80-ED on site so we could compare the smaller Pentax with the Kowa as well.

kowa Prominar 883 884 scope

Since then I’ve tested the Kowa in some really severe mirage. When the mirage is really running it’s a hard test for any optic. When the mirage is building, I’ll say that the Kowa can perhaps give you a longer timespan or “viewing window” — starting when you start to lose sight of 6mm bullet holes until you lose them all together. How much is the “viewing window” extended? That depends on the environmental conditions, your eyesight, and your age. My son Logan, who is fourteen with eyes like a hawk, can see 22/6mm bullet holes when I can’t see a thing. Youth and 20/20 vision trumps old eyes every time.

Kowa TSN-884 Performs Great in Ground Hog Match
I used the Kowa at the Shippensburg, Pennsylvania Ground Hog Match on May 28, 2011. At that match, I managed to set a new course record for the 200/300/500 meter distance. Here’s the important fact — using the Kowa I could easily see my 6mm bullet holes at all yardages. That sure helped my shooting and contributed to setting the course record. But then, “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then.”

Overall Assessment — Superior Performance, and a Hefty Price
The Kowa is a truly outstanding spotting scope. I’ll go on record and say it’s the best I’ve ever looked through. However, this level of optical performance does come with a hefty cost — “street price” is about $2800.00 with eyepiece. Is the Kowa TSN-883/884 worth almost $1000 more than a Pentax PF100-ED (if you can find one)? Is the Kowa worth $1700.00 more than the excellent Pentax PF80-ED (a ‘best buy’) which costs around $1100.00 with 20-60 zoom eyepiece? Only you can decide that.

In my situation, I decided that the Kowa was worth the price. After testing the Kowa TSN-884 and using it successfully at a match, I decided to purchase one. I have sold my Pentax PF100-ED, and I’m shopping right now for a Kowa TSN-884. So far, the best price I’ve found is on — $2100.00 for the TSN-884 body only.

Three Eyepiece Options Available
Kowa offers three new eyepieces designed for its 77-88mm family of scopes: a 25X long eye relief; a 30X wide angle; and a 20-60X zoom. These current eyepieces are held securely within the body by means of a locking button on the scope body that needs to be pressed while un-mounting an eyepiece, so accidental removal is prevented. (Older Kowa eyepieces may be used with the purchase of an adapter for those upgrading their scope bodies.) The new generation 20-60X zoom eyepiece will be of most interest to shooters. This has a field of view (at 1000 yards) of 115 feet at 20 power and 55 feet at 60 power. Minimum eye relief is 16.5mm — that’s pretty good for a spotter with 60X magnification. Exit pupil size ranges from 4.4mm to 1.5mm. The shortest distance at which the TSN-884 can focus is 16.5 feet — so, yes, you can use this for handgun spotting duties.

The eyepiece features a twist-up eyecup with four detents. One possible annoyance is the eyecup can come unscrewed when you are trying to adjust it due to the fact that the digiscoping adaptor is designed to fit in the place occupied by the eyecup. I didn’t really find this a problem but it is worth mentioning in cases where multiple users are constantly adjusting the eyecup. If I had to suggest anything to Kowa to make the TSN-884 better it would be to increase the magnification to 75X for those times when you could use the extra power. Rumor has it that Kowa just might have a higher 70- or 75-power eyepiece on the drawing board. That would make the TSN-883/884 an even more impressive product.

Disclosure: Kowa provided Danny Reever with a temporary “loaner” TSN-884 (with eyepiece) for testing and evaluation. Kowa provided no compensation to the reviewer.
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December 20th, 2009

Bargain Kowa Spotting Scopes from the CMP — $280.00

The CMP has made a special purchase of a limited number of KOWA TS-501 20X spotting scopes, specifically designed for Rimfire and Air Rifle usage. These 20-power scopes are available for $280.00 plus S&H (or $250.00 for CMP-Affiliated clubs) through the CMP online E-Store. See item 832 under the “Equipment & Accessories” tab. You can also purchase the Kowas at the CMP’s two “brick and mortar” stores.

Kowa Spotting Scope TS-501

Kowa 20×50 Spotting Scope – Item ID: 832
TS-501 Offset 45 Degree, gray body
50mm objective lens and a built-in 20X eyepiece.
Focusing Range: 19.68 to Infinity
Scope Length: 9.6 inches
Scope Weight: 14.8 oz
Specifically designed for Rimfire and Air Rifle usage.

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April 13th, 2009

Kowa Introduces TSN-82SV Spotting Scope

Kowa spotting scopes are highly regarded, particularly among High Power and long-range prone shooters. You’ll always find many Kowas on the firing line at High Power matches. Many shooters get their Kowas from retired Marine Msgt. Jim Owens, who offers excellent prices on his website.

Kowa 82sv spotting scope

Kowa is replacing the venerable TSN-821M spotting scope with the newly redesigned TSN-82SV, which will be more compact with upgraded optics. The new TSN-82SV weighs 52.5 ounces, and is just 15.1″ long. The 82SV is waterproof and nitrogen-filled to to help eliminate lens fogging.

The 82SV has a 45-degree angled eyepiece (puchased separately). Four optional eyepieces are offered: TE-9Z, TE-14WD, TE-9WD, and TE-17HD. Specifications are listed in the chart below. Prone shooters will probably prefer the 27x TE-17HD long-eye-relief (LER) eyepiece. It offers a 2.0˚ real field of view (105 feet at 1000 yards), with about 1.25″ of eye relief.

Kowa 82sv spotting scope

The MSRP for the new TSN-82SV is $805.00 (body only), while the “street price” is currently about $650.00 without eyepiece. See: Eagle Optics, $645. By contrast, Kowa’s larger TSN 881 88mm spotter runs $999.00 without eyepiece.

Permalink New Product, Optics No Comments »