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Pros and Cons of Straight and Angled Spotting Scopes
By JD Ponciano
As owner of Sport Optics Northwest in Bend, Oregon I receive a lot of questions when it comes to purchasing optics for hunters. And one the most common questions I field is whether someone should purchase a straight or angled spotting scope. Here are the pros and cons:
PROS ANGLED: The majority of hunts in the West involve looking up or down hill and an angled spotting scope allows the user to easily drop their eye into the eyepiece. When glassing for extended periods this will eliminate the neck strain caused when using a straight eyepiece to look up or down hill. For situations where brush or tall grass make it difficult to glass from a seated position, an angled spotting scope allows the user to more easily attain standing height. At the shooting range, you can twist the eyepiece of an angled spotting scope so that you can fire a shot and quickly confirm your impact point.
CONS ANGLED: Rain and snow can be an issue with an angled spotting scope because it requires the user to cover the eyepiece in between glassing to prevent the image from becoming blurred.
PROS STRAIGHT: Straight spotting scopes allow for quicker target acquisition and are typically more user friendly for beginners. It is also much easier to use a straight eyepiece when glassing from a window mount out of a vehicle. Switching from your binoculars on a tripod to a straight spotting scope is a simpler transition than with an angled eyepiece. Straight spotting scopes are more packable because the shape allows them to fit in a more compact space inside your pack.
CONS STRAIGHT: The biggest downside to a straight spotting scope is the strain caused by extending your neck each time you look through the scope.
PERSONAL PREFERENCE: I use the modular X Series spotting scope from Swarovski. This system allows me to use an angled eyepiece for situations where I’m looking up or down hill and a straight eyepiece for when I’m hunting flat country or glassing from a vehicle. Choose the set up that works best for you. The debate will continue regardless of which side of the fence you are on, unless you use a modular system, then you can be on both sides.