Need advice on spotting scopes...

Darmento

Private
Minuteman
Apr 17, 2022
15
3
Atlanta
I am new to the long distance shooting game... grew up hunting with a good old Remington 700 in .270 and never shot more than about 150 yards over the years. I just purchased a Nosler Model 21 in 6.5 Creedmoor and put a Schmidt and Bender PMII 5-25 on it, which I purchased from a SniperHide member. The reticle on this scope is the MSR reticle. The gun club I belong to here in GA has a 500 yard range, which is pretty good for this part of the country.

I am getting passable at 200 yard shots. Pretty soon I am going to venture out to the 500 yard range and try my hand at that.

Here are my questions....
Do I need to get a spotting scope, or can I use S&B scope to see the results of my shots?
I was thinking of starting with shoot'n'see paper targets, so that I can tell if my shots hit the target. Is this a good idea, or is there a better way to do it - like maybe a larger metal target that I can put out there, so that I can see it moving after I (hopefully) I hit it? What kind of targets to people usually use when they are doing long-range shooting? I have never purchased a metal target before.....

If I do need to buy a spotting scope, what make and model is best for this kind of shooting? Some suggestions would help me. I know a decent amount about rifle scopes but I know nothing about long range spotting scopes....

Just want to get the advice from people who have done a lot of long range shooting.... sorry for the Newbie questions. I appreciate any advice you can give!!! Thanks in advance......
 

Part Timer

Subject Matter Enthusiast
Minuteman
Nov 29, 2020
43
68
Alberta
What kind of targets are up at the 500 yard line? If they have steel hanging, just paint the gong and be done with it. Save the money that you would have spent on a spotter and put it towards ammo, or whatever else. The Schmidt will be more than enough to see impacts on a freshly painted gong at 500. There should be plenty of AR500 gongs available that you can hang up out there yourself.

Additionally, what does budget allow for a spotter? Consider that you may be spending a large chunk of change to get a spotter that will outclass the Schmidt enough to make a justifiable difference for that purpose at that distance. Need is very subjective.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I find that the majority of my time spent behind a spotter is when someone else is shooting, not to check where my impacts are after I shoot. Are you going solo or with a partner?

I will caveat that by saying I'm in no way an authority on anything. Hope that all makes some kind of sense.
 
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johnrice

Sergeant of the Hide
Full Member
Minuteman
Mar 19, 2018
113
67
i use binos. so much easier on the eyes and finding tgts.
 
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Darmento

Private
Minuteman
Apr 17, 2022
15
3
Atlanta
Thanks for the good advice. I think you are right.....my scope can probably get the job done at 500 yards if i use a painted gong. I will be most of the shooting myself and putting the targets out myself. I think I got worried that I would need a spotting scope because I saw all these bench-rest shooters at my club and they all had these giant Kowa sighting scopes - I think the reason they use them is because they want to see how small their sub-1 MOA groups are. I am just trying to make good contact with a 12" target at 500 yards, so using a gong and my scope, it should probably do the job.

If anyone has ever purchased their own long range targets and they have advice on the type of stand and the size and make of the gongs, feel free to share any advice you have. There are a LOT of choices out there, and think I should get one that is portable, stable and easy to assemble.

Thanks again for your advice!!!!
 

Part Timer

Subject Matter Enthusiast
Minuteman
Nov 29, 2020
43
68
Alberta
There are lots of kits out there that come with the gong, frame, and chains for hanging it. You could always make your own frame, too.

Some out there can be hung off of a T-post, which means you don't need a flat surface to set it on. See below.
Gong.PNG
 

OHBowhntr

Christian, veteran, father, shooter, Patriot 🇺🇸
Minuteman
Apr 27, 2022
5
3
SE Ohio
A 20-60x80mm spotting scope will show you things that you may not necessarily be able to see at 25x through a rifle scope, there are a variety in the under $200 range that are actually pretty good. I was digiscoping with mine today, and realized I could actually use it to be my own spotter, triggering a video when I wanted to run a string of shots, then stopping and watching the video to determine impacts.

As far as gong hanger material, the t-post hangers are great, you can also use rebar and nylon tie-down/load bearing straps and hardened steel hardware to hang them. I bend them into "U" shapes and can hand a couple on a section, you can make a shepherd's hook hanger, or a triangular styled hanger where you bend it in half, then bend legs back on the ends to create a fulcrum style triangle hanger. I've also used a couple t-posts, and chains between them, and t-posts to support the rebar hangers to prevent falling back after being shot a bit.
 

mrmarklin

Private
Minuteman
Mar 11, 2021
20
25
Burney, CA
Spotting scopes are becoming less useful for long range target shooting. Camera systems, in conjunction with your phone, give superior spotting possibilities, particularly out past 300 yards.
I have a Leica spotter, but the camera beats it every time at longer ranges.

On another note, it’s hard to see how a $200 spotter would be in anyway superior to a S&B 25 x scope.
 
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OHBowhntr

Christian, veteran, father, shooter, Patriot 🇺🇸
Minuteman
Apr 27, 2022
5
3
SE Ohio
Spotting scopes are becoming less useful for long range target shooting. Camera systems, in conjunction with your phone, give superior spotting possibilities, particularly out past 300 yards.
I have a Leica spotter, but the camera beats it every time at longer ranges.

On another note, it’s hard to see how a $200 spotter would be in anyway superior to a S&B 25 x scope.

I had my spotter set up today with a digiscope adapter, and could see the knots on trees and the leaves at 900-ish yards (actual yardage is 911+). I could focus on individual leaves on trees, and could easily use it, especially with steel targets on video mode, as a spotter to give data to make corrections without any problem. Take your spotting scope and put a good digiscope adapter and a decent phone camera to it, and you may be very surprised! 60x and 80mm objective offer a lot to see vs. a 25x and 50mm, plus the digital zoom can make it even higher magnification if need be...
 

OHBowhntr

Christian, veteran, father, shooter, Patriot 🇺🇸
Minuteman
Apr 27, 2022
5
3
SE Ohio
Wow, we need to know the brand of this $200 scope....
Athlon Talos 20-60x80... Amazon deals $130 delivered... The clarity was actually very impressive, can't get a file to come across without it losing clarity, but it's much more clear than this on the original device, and this is 900+ yards away...
 

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smoothy8500

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Full Member
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Oct 10, 2012
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646
South Orange County, CA
I have to admit, it's much better than I would have thought for the price. Athlon does have a good reputation.

As to the OP question, I use spotting scope for mirage and observing trace for calling correction.
 
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OHBowhntr

Christian, veteran, father, shooter, Patriot 🇺🇸
Minuteman
Apr 27, 2022
5
3
SE Ohio
I have to admit, it's much better than I would have thought for the price. Athlon does have a good reputation.

As to the OP question, I use spotting scope for mirage and observing trace for calling correction.

I didn't expect this to be as good as it was using a digiscoping adapter, but I'm grateful that it is, because now I can get more range days in because I can be my own spotter, using the video mode... I wish the "www" and various sites didn't compress stuff as much as they do, because the actual clarity left me amazed. I'd digiscoped a little before with other stuff, but this set-up is much better than the other stuff I'd tried.
 

Darmento

Private
Minuteman
Apr 17, 2022
15
3
Atlanta
First of all.....THANK YOU to everyone who has replied. This just show the level of knowledge on this site regarding all things shooting!!!

At the risk of sounding like a super-newbie, I have one follow-up question...
A couple of people have said that they use their spotting scope for mirage..... so my question is this: How does the spotting scope help with mirage? Can it do something that a 25 power rifle scope can not do? I live in GA, where is gets pretty hot in the summer. Even on my "short" 200 yard range where I have been practicing, I can see some heat waves coming up off the grass on the range. I am guessing that this is low-grade mirage. I don't think it is distorting my view through the scope, but maybe I am wrong.

If anyone can give me any advice on mirage and how it should be managed while shooting 200 - 600 yards, I would be indebted.

As always, Thanks for the advice!!
 

smoothy8500

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Full Member
Minuteman
Oct 10, 2012
1,089
646
South Orange County, CA
The mirage waves rising are very sensitive to wind changes. We can use that information to judge wind speed at the target, or become aware of a change in wind speed. To do this we set focus about 100 yards short of the target. However, the mirage will "lay flat" or move horizontal at about 10 mph, but the amount of movement still increases with wind speed. So it still indicates a change.

Here's a little "chart" from a score book that gives an idea.
url
 
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Trevor

Sergeant
Full Member
Minuteman
Jul 29, 2007
204
10
North of You
How to manage Mirage; the quick and dirty...Mirage is wind you can see, it is also the most responsive. It reacts to wind (speed and direction) quicker then everything else wind flags, leaves, grass, rain. Reading the wind chart (pg 7) Here is a link how mirage and flags react to different wind strengths. Print page 7 and being it with you to the range.

Shooters use spotting scope to allow them to focus on the mirage. Your rifle scope needs to be focused on the target but your spotter can be focused on a point between you and the target. When you look at your target with an out of focused spotter you will see wavy lines of mirage. Depending on the wind direction and strength mirage will be 1 of 4 directions Vertical, leaning on a angle, horizontal or missing. You will note in the link there is a 5th picture, there is a second horizontal picture this is the strength of the horizontal wind (lazy or strong).

Setting up a spotter pick a distance between you and the target.
1) focus on the target
2) pull back and focus on a shorter distance between you and the target. IF you focus beyond the target you WILL GET FALSE readings.
3) the focus distance should be on an area that has the most wind.
4) Check the terrain of your range, walk or drive the lane to survey open areas, open areas allow the most airflow. if you are driving set your speedometer on ZERO and note how many yards it is to the unique feature. If walking break up the walk in sectors first half / last half and further by quarters, if lucky they will have yard markers.
5) if there are wind flags (telephone pole height) focus your spotter at the same distance and watch the mirage to flag relationship. the flag ideally needs to be on the upwind side of your target. downwind flags show wind that has already past and are less accurate.

Wind velocity drop offs are twice as much then wind pick ups. However everyone can see a wind drop off mirage identifies it first, flags, leaves, grass, rain move less with lower wind strength. Pick ups (wind increases) are harder to notice and it is why shooters hold edge of target or for F class the up wind side of the 10ring.

Cheers
Trevor
 

HMRamateur

Will work for powder
Full Member
Minuteman
Feb 9, 2019
635
757
I can see mirage just fine with my scope, I personally don't see the need for a spotting scope just for mirage. If you're worried about the barrel heat giving you false mirage, just put a jacket or sweater over it when you aren't shooting.

For me, a spotter is only useful for 100-200yds when I'm looking to see more detail in my group size that the magnification range on my scope can't give me, or when spotting for another shooter. At 300 and beyond a spotter doesn't give any reliable increase in the ability to see shots on paper, and I can see impacts on steel through my scope no problem at 12-15x