Sightron Spotting Scope Review – Spot Your Hits At Long Ranges!
In this review, we’re looking at a Sightron spotting scope – the SII Blue Sky 20-60 x 85 model.
Today’s increasing increasing interest in long-range airgun shooting is driven by the improvements in PCP air rifles. The growing popularity of slugs is playing a big part, too, as their improved Ballistic Coefficients really help-out at longer ranges.
All of this means that we need ever-better optics to achieve and record our long-range shooting accuracy. That makes a spotting scope an essential item of equipment. That’s why Sightron was the official spotting scope provider for Extreme Benchrest 2021, for example, and will be again in 2022!
Spotting Scope Benefits
The riflescopes attached to our rifles are often very capable. Some of them can have very high magnifications as much as 50 x.
However, spotting scopes give additional capabilities for pure observation of events as they happen downrange. They also make it easy for a spotter to help call the shots and thus can be a very useful training tool for the dedicated long range shooter.
The spotting scope is a completely different animal from a riflescope! Even if you have an outstanding scope mounted to your air rifle, you can still find huge benefits from using a high quality spotting scope as you shoot.
This is because spotting scopes generally have larger objective lenses, higher magnifications and larger exit pupil than riflescopes. They are also larger and heavier than scopes. A riflescope needs to incorporate a reticle and turrets: it’s an optical instrument designed to help you aim the gun with precision – a spotting scope does not.
And, of course, the spotting scope is not mounted on the rifle. Duh!
In addition, spotting scopes can be used for birdwatching, nature observation and similar tasks. That makes them useful for a wide range of outdoor pursuits. So maybe a spotting scope can be used by other members of the family for other interests when you’re not using it for shooting!
But today we’re interested in the specific purpose of observing shot placement downrange.
The SII Blue Sky 20-60 x 85 is a large, heavy piece of equipment. It weighs-in at 4 Lbs 2 Oz and is 17 Inches long with lens hood and eyecup closed. That means that it’s essential to mount this Sightron spotting scope on a substantial tripod – an extra-cost item – if you are to achieve the benefits it offers.
Using the SII Blue Sky 20-60 x 85 spotting scope mounted on a tripod, I was able to resolve the individual lines of the “5 block” indicated by the arrow of the USAAF Test Target at 60 Yards distance on 60 x magnification in bright shade.
The lines were clearly defined with sharp black and white edges. In seeing this target, we’re actually resolving lines that are just 25 Thou wide. At 60 Yards! That’s outstanding…
This performance made it incredibly easy to observe .22 caliber – and even .177 caliber – hits on a paper target at that range.
Sightron explains that this SII Blue Sky spotting scope is constructed with ED (Extra low Dispersion) glass. This is said to reduce the potential for chromatic aberration and reduce color fringing. It also provides increased contrast, resulting in improved image clarity and crispness.
The individual lenses are also multi-coated to allow maximum quality and light transmission, Sightron says.
From our observations, that would be correct. This level of quality has to be experienced to be believed!
The specifications for the Sightron SII Blue Sky 20-60 x 85 spotting scope call for a Field of View of between 96 and 48 Ft at 1,000 Yards, depending on magnification.
At more typical airgun ranges, the Field of View translates as follows…[table “617” not found /]
The closest focus distance is just 8 Yards!
Spotting Scope Operation
As previously explained, you’re going to want to use a spotting scope on a solid tripod. So this Sightron spotting scope has a tripod mounting base built-in. This allows a (photographic) industry-standard 1/4 x 20 threaded screw to be used to mount the spotting scope directly onto a tripod or tripod mounting plate.
In addition the spotting scope can be rotated around its axis to find the most convenient position for observing through the angled eyepiece. There’s a clamping screw to keep it there.
Using this spotting scope is simple, but different to that of a riflescope. Magnification changes are made using a rotating collar on the eyepiece.
Focusing is undertaken using the knobs – two of them – on top of the spotting scope rather than at the front or side, as is common with riflescopes.
There’s a fast focus knob and one for fine focus. I found it easiest to find the target on low (20 X) magnification and focus. Then increasing the magnification to the full 60 X, only a very slight change to the fine focus knob was required for absolute sharpness of view.
Another difference to most riflescopes is that the eyepiece has a twist-in/out eyecup. This provides additional glare reduction while retaining proper eye relief for those of us not afflicted by the need to wear glasses – as I am!
Spectacle users can set the eye cup right in for use.
The 3-Inch long lens hood pulls out to improve contrast in bright light. It also protects from raindrops. The built-in aiming marks to help with rapid target acquisition.
Spotting Scope Accessories
Even though Sightron makes the spotting scope waterproof, Nitrogen-purged and fog proof, it’s still good to have additional physical protection.
So push-on end caps for the objective and eyepiece lenses are included.
In addition this spotting scope is supplied complete with a stay-on soft case. This is a remarkably sophisticated piece of clothing that protects the spotting scope in inclement weather even when mounted on a tripod.
When fully wrapped-up, almost complete protection from the elements is obtained. That’s a vital feature because spotting scopes are often used in all weather conditions for extended periods.
The MSRP is $740. Sightron supports this with it’s limited lifetime warranty.
Sightron also offers a dedicated, high-end SII Blue Sky tripod. This makes it light, yet robust. The weight is just 3 Lbs 5 Oz, it will accept a weight of 7 Lbs (way more than this spotting scope) and has a maximum extended height of 5 Ft 8 Inches.
More than that, this tripod is currently on sale at $170 off the regular $460 price. That sounds like a great deal!