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Used scope, Best value, recommendations?

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Old Tuesday 20th August 2019, 00:13   #1
tealboy1
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Used scope, Best value, recommendations?

I tried searching to avoid asking this question but I’m struggling to find a good thread on the subject so hoping you can help.

Here’s what I’m looking for, a high quality used scope in the 60-80mm objective range and a scope that has high optical qualities and very good low light performance. I will use the scope for viewing wildlife in the late evening but also some birding.

A bigger name scope like zeiss, Swarovski, hold their value too well so I’m looking for older and or lesser known scopes with high performance characteristics that I might be able to pick up at a bargain. I’m. It sure what my budget is, maybe up to $250-500 ish. I saw one thread suggesting a kowa tsn613 as an example of what I might be looking for but would like to see more evidence this is a great scope but also, need to be able to find. None on eBay when I looked.

Thank you for the suggestions, look forward to what and why you recommend what you do.

Last edited by tealboy1 : Tuesday 20th August 2019 at 11:44.
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Old Tuesday 20th August 2019, 06:27   #2
jring
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Hi,

as you already found, the teutonic alphas (Leica, Swaro & Zeiss) tend to be outside of your price range - otoh older Kowa and Nikon Fieldscope models can often be found with some luck & patience.

With Kowa the models ending in 3 (angled) or 4 (straight) have a fluorite or ED glass element and are preferred, as are the ED models of the Nikon Fieldscopes.

Since you want good low light performance, exit pupil is king (objective diameter divided by magnification) - you want it to be as large as possible for good low light performance.

With Kowa models built during the last 30 years or so, eyepieces are compatible and easily available for all but the 820 series which use different ones and those are rare (Kowa offers an adapter to use small body EPs on them but it's $100). The old Kowa 20-60 zoom with the rubber eyecup is not great and should be replaced - either with the ok current 20-60, with one of the fixed wide angle EPs or in some cases (single digit TSN series from the 80s and 90s) some Opticron zooms fit and are working great.

Nikon field scopes are out of production and EPs are getting rarer, so be prepared to search a bit if you didn't get the EP you want along with your scope. All Nikon EPs are quite sharp, but the zooms are fairly narrow. The fixed wide angle EPs are great.

Joachim
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Old Tuesday 20th August 2019, 08:09   #3
dwatsonbirder
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I agree with Joachim as usual, secondhand kowa and nikon scopes are the way to go. Opticron should also be considered at this price range, as they may some very good robust and optically sound scopes. On a side note, I actually sold my Swaro ATS65HD to buy both the Nikon ED82 and ED50 scopes, offering more flexibility and the same, if not better image quality.

Here are a few examples roughly within your budget from the UK, you may be able to organise international shipping if you felt like any of these are a worthy option; Kowa 824, Kowa TSN4, Kowa 823, Viking 80AV (same as the Opticron ES80 GA ED), Nikon ED78, and finally a Nikon ED82. All represent excellent value and deliver 90-99% of the view and handling of the very latest and greatest.

Hope this helps, and good luck with your search!
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Old Tuesday 20th August 2019, 11:00   #4
tealboy1
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Two excellent replies, very helpful, thank you. The model number recommendations is also appreciated. Will look into each of these and narrow it down. Assume eBay is the best place to look? Not sure where else I would go other than the this forums classified section. Strongly prefer buying in US so that limits me a little more.

Also, what about a used vortex razor? Would this be a value buy at the top end of my range?

Look forward to some additional feedback from members if other suggestions would help

Last edited by tealboy1 : Tuesday 20th August 2019 at 11:44.
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Old Tuesday 20th August 2019, 12:26   #5
jring
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Hi,

as for US second hand, craigslist might be worth a look for a lucky find within driving distance...

Never looked through a Vortex scope - they're kinda exotic over here...

Joachim
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Old Tuesday 20th August 2019, 13:25   #6
slingworks
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I like my little Kowa 613 and 614...And they're not excessively expensive (I paid $200 and $250 for mine within the past year, although one came without eyepiece). If you go for one, make sure you get a current model eyepiece. The older Kowa Eyepieces, fixed and zoom are just horrible...(Now,that being said I've always been partial to Kowa).

The Kowa TSN 821 is also great, very capable non ED scope as well. They routinely sell for $500 or so w/eyepiece.

Like mentioned above the Fieldscopes are pretty cheap used and work well. I've seen some Fieldscope 2ed's in 60mm angled for 300 and less online. That's a great option.

I might get pounced on for this next suggestion, but I've lately found the Bushnell Elite 20-60x80 to be a fantastic buy in an ED scope. They were once very pricey but I've seen them selling (used) in the $250-450 range.

They are a fantastic Japanese made ED scope providing you throw the factory zoom eyepiece in the trash and buy a Kowa TSN eyepiece....If you're diligent you can put together a world class package for $450-$550.

I'd at least suggest sticking to a known, long life brand in case you need service at some future time.

DWATSONBIRDER, I have noticed that some glass is cheaper in the UK...I've been looking for years for a pair of TSN 823M's and they hardly ever come up for sale. They always bring 1k and up unfortunately.....

Last edited by slingworks : Tuesday 20th August 2019 at 13:27.
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Old Tuesday 20th August 2019, 17:48   #7
Alexis Powell
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Like others above, I'd recommend a used Nikon Fieldscope or Kowa. Some less frequently encountered models from Bausch & Lomb/Bushnell and others can also be good.

Since you say you want to use it in very low light, an ~80 mm scope would be a better choice than a ~60 mm, but it will be more challenging to stay inside your $500 spending limit on a scope that size. If you want a straight rather than an angled model, you will find more available inside your budget.

I'm especially partial to the Nikon Fieldscope ED models. Their virtues are that they have superb optics, are nearly indestructible, and are widely available on the used market--especially easy to find on eBay, many with very reasonable "buy it now" prices (so you don't have to fool around with bidding) in superb condition from reliable Japanese sellers with free (or very reasonably priced) shipping from Japan. In the last year or two, I've seen a good number of Nikon 78ED scopes including the 25-75x zoom for $400-$500. That's what I'd be looking for (The 82ED, which is optically nearly equivalent, usually sells for two or three hundred dollars more). I'm not a fan of the narrow FOV of that zoom, but optically and as a tool it is otherwise superb, so is well worth owning if you get a Nikon scope. I'd also recommend getting a 30x eyepiece (from the WF, MC, or DS series--they're all good) for the nice FOV and eye-relief. It's my favorite for most scoping. Some Fieldscope eyepieces are harder to find than they used to be, but the 16/24/30x DS is widely available and probably will remain so for a good while, so you could wait and get one after you have more funds. Right now, it runs ~$200 new in box, and if you can find it or one of the other wide field 30x models used, it should be substantially less. The other DS eyepieces are also widely available, as are the two zoom models, but fixed magnification WF and MC eyepieces are getting harder to find. I very recently purchased a Nikon 60ED Fieldscope II "buy it now" for $258 (with free shipping) just to get the 20/30/38x WF eyepiece that was included.

Speaking of 60 mm scopes, although the 78ED or 82ED would be the best choice for very low light, given your budget you might be tempted by a 60 mm model. If so, and if buying a Nikon Fieldscope, be aware that the very first model (the Nikon "Spotting Scope", later in production re-named Fieldscope, and now sometimes called the Fieldscope I--all versions easily recognized for lacking black rubber on their prism housing), which is very easily found on eBay, may not be suitable for you. It can't fit either Nikon zoom eyepiece, or the wide-angle WF, MC, or DS eyepieces with the exception of the 24x WF or 24x MC. For those who don't need more magnification, and who don't need the brightest scope, the Fieldscope I is very nice in either ED or non-ED with the regular 20x MC or a 24x WF or 24x MC eyepiece. Other users should instead find a Nikon 60ED Fieldscope II or Fieldscope III, which have better coatings and fit the complete range of old (not EDG or Monarch) Fieldscope eyepieces.

--AP
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Old Wednesday 21st August 2019, 11:09   #8
tealboy1
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Alexis, excellent summary, thank you, and to slingworks and the others, very helpful
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Old Wednesday 21st August 2019, 19:02   #9
Boogieshrew
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tealboy1 View Post
Two excellent replies, very helpful, thank you. The model number recommendations is also appreciated. Will look into each of these and narrow it down. Assume eBay is the best place to look? Not sure where else I would go other than the this forums classified section. Strongly prefer buying in US so that limits me a little more.

Also, what about a used vortex razor? Would this be a value buy at the top end of my range?

Look forward to some additional feedback from members if other suggestions would help
Also, what about a used vortex razor? Would this be a value buy at the top end of my range?

Look forward to some additional feedback from members if other suggestions would help[/quote]

I use n old model Vortex Razor 65mm. Swarovski ATS e/ps fit it and give excellent viewing. The SW 30x is 24x on the Razor and the 45x equates to 36x.

The Razor is a very good scope but the SW eps take it too another level.

The SW zooms fit too of course.
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Old Thursday 22nd August 2019, 20:58   #10
sixtus
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Great information on this thread! I started a thread in a similar vein yesterday. Im a big fan of older spec but good performers. More and more these days I am going back to 2000's era items for the durability and reliability, including everything from GPS, tents, rifles, range finders, velocity chronographs, rifle scopes etc.

I think something happened after the GFC- companies started putting out more and more disposable garbage to push profits.

Getting tired of getting things delivered and finding it not work when it arrives.

My mother still has a box of old toys from the 1970's and early 80's that work just like new when batteries are inserted. They are now surviving a 2nd generation of kids playing with them, 40 years later. These days if an electronic item lasts 5 years you run about feeling like you have won the lottery.

The current generation is brainwashed into calling quick warranty returns, great customer service. In my day, 'great customer service' just meant the salesman was polite. You never had to deal with the company again because the item lasted decades

Last edited by sixtus : Thursday 22nd August 2019 at 21:11.
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