Tag Archives: spotting scope

Nikon Monarch 82ED-A Fieldscope

I do a fair amount of glassing on average, not just for hunting but also for target shooting. The Rocky Mountains tower over my home to the east and the animals I hunt are tantalizingly close. I found it necessary to get a good spotting scope, a good multi-purpose scope that would suit both my hunting and target shooting needs. Is it possible for one scope to do everything? I’d like to think I found one that can.

Features
The Nikon Sport Optics Monarch Fieldscope boasts an 82MM objective lens, which gathers every detail of the landscape before it. The image is reflected through a coated prism in the aluminum body of the scope. There is a focus ring around the body that allows the user a tactile touch to finesse the image into perfect clarity. At the rear of the scope, you find the angled eyepiece, and that is where the magic happens.

The quick-release of the eyepiece allows you to use any of the available eyepieces from Nikon. There is a 20-60 power option, a 30-60 power option, or my favorite, the 30 power option with either the FX Mrad reticle or the FX MOA reticle. The same reticle I use in my riflescope is now in my spotting scope, giving me the ability to call misses and judge distances with exactness.

Having two eyepieces would be a bit superfluous, but it sure is luxurious to be able to zoom in to sixty power and inspect a nice buck. Then swap over to a thirty power eyepiece with a reticle so I can measure his spread if that’s what you want. I love the 20-60 zoom eyepiece, but my shooting style would find the reticle more useful than the extra power.
The fixed thirty power eyepiece does have a focus ring around it, this focuses the reticle against the target giving the user the best possible image to call shots, measure adjustments, as well as range targets.

The angled eyepiece is complemented by a rotating body, giving you several angle options. There is a set screw on the side that allows the scope body to rotate 360 degrees, offsetting the angle to whatever suits you. The body has a spring detent to hold the scope every 90 degrees during the rotation.
The scope also has the extendable shade around the objective. I like shades for two reasons, one is obvious, keeping direct sunlight from coming into your view while glassing. The other is to keep dirty hands and fingers away from the lenses.

The Monarch Fieldscope also came with a nice bikini-style soft cover that zips over the scope body. It also has soft plastic lens covers to protect the glass which goes on under the snap over lens covers, to double up on your protection.
It also comes with a shoulder strap should you want to carry it that way, though I think I am more comfortable carrying it in my pack. The only gripe I might have with the cover is that it limits your ability to rotate the scope body, its not much of a gripe as I feel I won’t use that feature very often.

The FX MRAD reticle is a very good companion to the Monarch Fieldscope. Some reticles can get pretty busy, leaving some observers feeling a little cluttered. The FX MRAD reticle is a perfect mix of simplicity and subtensions, it has both whole, halves, and .2’s all represented on all four posts. Whole MIL’s are only numbered on the evens to simplify, and there is even a small one MIL square in the lower right quadrant that has .1’s both vertical and horizontally.

The FX MRAD reticle as seen through the Monarch Fieldscope

In The Field
Taking the Monarch Fieldscope into the Rocky Mountains was a long-awaited venture for me. I couldn’t wait to see how my favorite varmints looked through this scope, and to see how well it would function as my main spotter.
A couple of my very good friends came along with their rifles, and we took shots from six hundred yards all the way out to fourteen hundred yards. The Monarch performed my every expectation, allowing me to see all the little details of hits, misses, and all the trace as well. I glassed across miles of canyons and shady draws, and pictures just don’t do it justice. As my friend crossed over a ridge spine some three miles away, the light was just right as I watched him stop to look at flowers, and even pick one. Clarity is absolutely top-notch with this scope, I cant wait to take it on a mature bull Elk hunt this fall.

Conclusion
I’ve used many high-end spotting scopes from most of the big names, and to be fair, I have loved every one of them. They all have a few things that I like, and a few that perhaps I would change. The Monarch Fieldscope is right up there with most all of them, the image quality is outstanding, and with it’s multiple eyepiece offerings it leaves many scopes of significantly higher price far less desireable to at least this frequent user.

I can’t imagine what it would cost to build a scope like this out of carbon fiber or something similar, but reducing the weight of it seems like one of the only things I could change to make it even better. But until they do, I will be transfixed behind this eyepiece, enjoying the view.

CBM

Sig Sauer Electro Optics Oscar 3

I am a sucker for optical doodads, and usually anything that is heavy and comes in a small package. That said, I’ve never been a huge proponent of large or bulky spotting equipment. Sure, there are advantages to them, but for the kind of shooting I usually do and am involved in, they are a bit more than necessary. Most times, another rifle scope of similar magnification and quality will do, especially if it is mounted to someone else’s rifle, who can tell what I’m doing wrong.
I do have a small field spotter, it works very well for what I need, and it has a handy reticle for making corrective calls a “breeze”. Other than that, the scope on my rifle, and a good rangefinder, I have never felt much of a need for more. Once again I was forced to challenge my own prejudice regarding equipment, when a friend handed me a small package with the instructions to “try it out”.

As I opened up the box which I had been told contained a spotting scope from Sig Sauer Electro-Optics,I thought for sure that I had the wrong package. But further investigation revealed it was indeed a spotter, just a more compact one than I had expected. It was the new Oscar 3, which is a handheld 10-20X image stabilizing scope.
Perhaps some of you are thinking the same as I did, “what good is a handheld spotter at 20X?” but having been surprised by Sig Sauer on more than one occasion, I decided to save my judgement until after a good field testing. I took it straight to the roof, and began scanning the neighborhood for hostile looking deviants. Like many other quality optics, the view and resolution through the Oscar were very clean, and bright. The warm sunshine that bathed the neighborhood made for crystal clear recognition of tiny minutia on a wide variety of prospective targets. There was of course, one pending issue. The problem that I had first imagined the second I heard “20X handheld spotter” and that of course was the inability for a wobbly twerp like me to hold still long enough to do any good while spotting. Even with my best efforts, it was difficult to hold still enough to read license plates at the end of the street, I could see the characters, and almost tell what they were. But the shaking caused by the slightest breeze, or perhaps even the beating of my heart, made it just barely beyond the grasp of my eyes.

The time had come to test the core function of this handy little scope, I reached with my index finger across the top of the Oscar, and engaged the stabilization function. I was amazed as the auto induced jitters quickly disappeared, and the picture I had struggled to see just a second earlier, suddenly became a floating image. A clear image, centered between my eye and the object that reflected it. No longer did I have to concentrate on holding still, instead I could focus my attention on interpreting the images. The license plates that I couldn’t read, were now steady and clean, not only could I read the plate numbers, but the state identified on it.

I had quickly become less skeptical about this little scope, and couldn’t wait to get it into a real field shooting position to see what it can really do. Easily operated, the Oscar has an adjustable zoom from 10-20X on the ocular end, and the focus is done by turning the objective end of the scope. The switch on top of the unit turns on the stabilization.
Fast forward a few days, and I found myself surrounded by hundreds of miles of Utah’s west desert. Myself and a few friends had made our way up the steep edge of a rocky ridge, overlooking a seemingly unending sage brush flat. Our quarry that day was any number of jackrabbits who called the sagebrush home. We had already spotted several, and knew they were out there, hiding among the brush. Their color matching almost perfectly the plants and ground that they inhabited. So many times one would spot a rabbit, and until it moved, you could never be sure what exactly it was.

It was time to put the Oscar to work, laying down in tumbleweeds and rocks to look through my rifle scope was just too cumbersome, at least to spot the rabbits. My rangefinder was handy, but with only 8X, it made target investigation a little tedious. The Oscar’s ability to zoom in to as much as 20X, and its image stabilization would be perfect for picking out the slightest movement. The quick nature of engaging rabbits made for some challenging transitions from a spotting to a shooting position. But one after another, we found the jackrabbits, sneaking about through the brush. Some of them were quite close, others were as far as three or four hundred yards away. The fate of the former was quite “dispersed” no thanks to my SRS, who has grown quite a taste for large rodents.
As the rabbit population either “aired out”, or burrowed furiously out of sight, and I sat there picking the rocks and tumbleweed stickers from my elbows, I continued to test the Oscar. Taking pictures of a nearby cattle herd through it, as well as scanning the surrounding area. The only gripe if any I might have about this little scope, is that when engaged, if you look really hard at some things, you can almost see a “boiling” impression. An effect I assume must come from whatever tech Sig uses to stabilize the image, I didn’t find it to be a detrimental factor, nor did it impede my ability to spot my targets.

I’ve taken the Oscar from the hot dry desert, and its mirage laden plains, to the snow covered tops of the rocky mountain’s peaks. The Oscar 3 from Sig Sauer has certainly proven itself to be very valuable in my opinion. I think I would even trade a good set of binoculars for it. As a hunter, I think it would be a very valuable tool to inspect potential targets. And also as a hunter, I can greatly appreciate the compact size and weight it comes in. Giving me an on the go kind of spotter, quick to deploy and keep tabs on a moving target. All while providing an outstanding image with which to judge by.
I wonder if, even with the image stabilization, would it be worth it to add a coarse reticle to the Oscar. To provide corrective calls and range/size estimations. I suppose that would be a question for the engineers at Sig.
As for me, I plan on keeping this little handful of help as close as possible, for as long as I can. It has already proved to be a valuable tool to keep in my pack, and I intend on using it thoroughly as this season comes in.
-CBM