December 24th, 2008

Spotting Scopes — Straight vs. Angled

We’ve looked through many different types of spotting scopes. Initially we thought angled was the only way to go. This lets a shooter mount the spotting scope at his side and easily glance through the lens with the scope body rotated 30 to 90°. However, at matches where you spot for a partner, the straight scopes seem to work better. You don’t have to bend your neck down or remove your hat and your “free” eye can scan downrange for wind changes. When spotting for your partner (while seated or standing), a tripod-mounted straight scope was definitely the most “user-friendly” set-up.

Straight (in-line) Spotting Scope

Danny Reever, author of our Spotting Scope Review, tell us: “Straight vs. angled? Man, that’s a tough call! Having used both personally for over a year I’d have to say this: I feel the straight gives you a clearer, sharper image. One less mirror to contend with. If you have a dealer that can give you a side-by-side look at a couple of hundred yards the difference is apparent. That’s one reason Chip Allen chose the straight Zeiss over the angled. On the other hand the angled gives you more options in the way of setup which can be a bonus between cramped benches, when you’re spotting for yourself. I don’t shoot prone, but I think the angled would be the way to go for a solo prone shooter, again more setup options. Another benefit of the angled is that you can keep the tripod lower, a plus on a windy day. The 100MM scopes like the Pentax and Optolyth do not offer an angled body option — maybe there are some engineering issues, or perhaps that’s just to control costs.”

Angled Spotting Scope

Scope Stands for Bench Use
It you plan to use an angled spotting scope on the bench, Ray-Vin has a great clamping system that allows you to position the eyepiece exactly where you want it. The clamp mount Ray-Vin Benchrest Scope Stand allows you to easily adjust the scope height and horizontal position relative to the shooter. A twist handle with a ball joint on the end then lets you set the scope (and angled eyepiece) to any angle you want. It’s a very slick system. At $199.00 for the complete system (not including scope) shown below left, it’s not inexpensive. However, if you already own a Ray-Vin scope head with ball joint, the Benchrest Clamp is just $119.00. Another option for bench use is the Ray-Vin C-2004 “Tactical Tripod” (photo below right). This low-profile, $199.00 unit can be used on the bench or on the ground. Note: the Tactical Tripod uses a 3/4″-diam. vertical shaft, while the Benchrest Scope Stand has a 1″-diam. vertical shaft. Accordingly, the scope heads are not interchangeable between the two units.

Ray-Vin Scope StandRay-Vin Scope Stand