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Angled Vs Straight Spotting Scope: Know The Difference

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Often you’ll find two almost identical spottings scopes with exact features, build material, optical clarity, and more but with one major difference the eyepiece style.

For example, spotting scope eyepieces come in two styles and can either be straight or angled – they are often labeled as STX and ATX, respectively.

One of the first things people considering a spotting scope will face is the decision between straight or angled scopes. The scope’s optical system is usually unaffected by the same brand and model.

The difference in eyepiece design shows in the position of the prisms and how you can view them. Understanding the two eyepiece designs will ensure a better viewing experience.

Conversations about straight vs angled spotting scopes may never end. Still, we can do justice with this guide detailing these two eyepiece styles, including their features, differences, similarities, and use cases.

Angled Spotting Scope

Angled Spotting Scope
Image Source: vanguardworld

Angled spotting scope design features an angled eyepiece, typically around 45 degrees. Here the eyepiece is not in the same plane as the scope, with the eyepiece higher and pointing upwards.

This inclination allows the viewer to look into the scope. Since angled scopes do not have to be on the viewer’s eye line, you can use a smaller tripod.

With Angled pieces, the body is relaxed, and there’s no need to strain to look through the lens, leading to a more comfortable viewing experience. Add a rotating tripod mounting collar to the eyepiece, and you don’t have to only look into the eyepiece.

Instead, you can look up to it, look through the side, and any comfortable viewing angle by turning the eyepiece along the collar without shifting the scope from its focus.

Pros & Cons of Angled Spotting Scope

Pros

  • Comfort: Angled spotting scopes are extremely comfortable to use as you can view through the scope without straining any muscle. You can also share the scope with a friend since you can turn the eyepiece in different directions with the help of the rotating tripod mounting collar.
  • Lightweight: Angled spotting scopes are lightweight but hardly compact since the angled part moves away from the scope’s plane. Its lightweight ensures the weight of your gadget bag does not significantly increase when you add the scope.
  • Great digiscoping setup support: Attaching your smartphone to the digiscoping setup at the eyepiece becomes easier with angled spotting scopes since the phone’s screen is tilted upwards. With the phone’s screen facing upward, you can easily see and operate it.
  • You can use a small tripod: Smaller mounts have shorter heights which may not be great for all viewing conditions; however, it fits an angled eyepiece.

Many spotting scope brands add a small tripod mount to their package, which means you may not even need to buy the tripod. Lower tripods are also sturdy since winds will not easily blow them away.

  • It can be used for longer: Since it is more comfortable, using this scope for a more extended period will not prove difficult as the body is relaxed while viewing.
  • Great for upward viewing: Angled spotting scopes are great for activities involving upward viewing, like birdwatching and astronomy.

Cons

  • Harder to view Downhill: If you’re targeting down the hill, the angled piece will be a difficult experience. It becomes a challenge to view extreme angles downhill since you’ll need to tilt the scope itself.
  • Challenging to pack: Due to the shape, you’ll need a larger space to pack the scope. You’ll also find that the scope is harder to pack and unpack in its small case.
  • Can collect water: Due to the angled eyepiece facing downward, using this scope in wet conditions can see water collecting at the top and obstructing vision. It gets even more challenging if you leave your scope for a while, snow and water may have blocked the lens.
  • Expensive: Angled spotting scopes tend to be more expensive, so you may have to budget more to get an angled piece.
  • Steep learning curve: Angled spotting scopes are difficult to use and require more than basic spotting scope knowledge to master.

Also Read:- 5 Best Spotting Scope Under $500 {Expert’s Choice}

Straight Spotting Scope

Straight Spotting Scope
Image Source: bowhunting

Straight Spotting scopes feature eyepiece designs on the same plane as the scope. There’s no elevation or depression here, as the body is on a single plane.

Straight spotting scopes do not have to be on a single horizontal plane since Porro prism scopes with eyepieces slightly above the scopes plane but still maintain the straightforward design.

Straight-scope designs have been here for longer, with more scopes having straight designs. What this means is that most people are used to the working system of the straight scope. Straight scopes are also easier to use, requiring little experience.

The straight scope is perfect for picking up targets on the same level as the shooter or lower. The military use straight spotting scopes because it’s easier to stay hidden while using straight scopes.

People that use binoculars and spotting scopes on the tripod will find straight scopes very effective since they do not need to make adjustments when switching.

Also Read:- 6 Best Simmons Scope Review (2022)

Pros & Cons of Straight Spotting Scope

Pros

  • Easy to pack: packaging a straight spotting scope in its case or your backpack is easy since it has a streamlined body. You can quickly take the scope out when you need to, likewise packing the scope wouldn’t require a lot of space.
  • Fast target acquisition: switching from binoculars for locating your target to spotting scope for a clearer view of the target is relatively easy since they are in the same line of sight. You can make your switch and pick your target within a short time. You do not have to make any adjustments.
  • Easier to use: no need for any special experience since using a straight eyepiece is intuitive and further increases the speed of picking up a target.
  • Great for picking up targets downhill: if your target is downhill, you’ll find it extremely easy to use straight spotting scopes.
  • The eyepiece is protected from the elements: glare, snow, and moisture will not obstruct your view through the eyepiece in a straight scope. Here the eyepiece is not facing the sky, so it doesn’t gather moisture or dirt. You can use the straight spotting scope in challenging weather without fear of a blocked eyepiece. 
  • Can mount higher: mounting higher above the ground can take your view above thick bushes and obstacles, helping you get a clear view. Higher above the ground also means you’ve raised the scope above things that can cause mirages and obscure your view.
  • Cheaper: straight spotting scopes are cheaper and easy to get since it is the more common type of spotting scope eyepieces. Being more affordable means viewers on a budget can get a spotting scope without breaking the bank.

Cons

  • Less tripod stability: since you have to raise the scope to the eye level, the higher tripod length means less stability to the setup. It is exposed to the wind.
  • Difficult to share with others: to share a straight scope with other people of different heights, people may have to stay in an awkward position to see through. It isn’t easy to share a straight scope because the eyepiece has to be on the viewer’s eye level.
  • Difficult to view higher targets: viewing targets more elevated than the eye level is challenging since you’ll have to be viewing from an ineffective position.
  • Neck discomfort: viewing through a straight scope is stressful, with many strained muscles, especially those on the neck. Viewing through straight spotting scopes will strain your neck and cause discomfort.
  • Heavy: straight scopes are generally heavy, thereby increasing the weight of your backpack and set up.

Similarities Between Angled and Straight Spotting Scopes

Similarities Between Angled and Straight Spotting Scopes
Image Source: bowhunting

Angled and straight scopes are not always at loggerheads as they share some similarities, especially in the other parts of the scope, aside from design. Here are some of the similarities between the two if they’re from the same brand and model:

Optical System

The optical system of the two scopes is the same when dealing with the same brand and model. This means you do not have to worry about one of the scopes packing a higher optical system than the other.

Build Material

The scopes will typically be made from the same material having the same stand-alone durability. Often when brands make these two scopes, it feels like a duplicate till you’ve seen its eyepiece.

Differences Between Angled and Straight Spotting Scopes

Differences Between Angled and Straight Spotting Scopes
Image Source: feathersoptics

Angled Vs straight spotting scope is a conversation that has refused to go no matter what, and this is down to people struggling to differentiate between the two. Here’s how you can differentiate between the two:

1. Shape

As the name implies, straight spotting scopes typically have straight scopes, with Porro prism scopes the only exception, and even that carries an overall straight shape. Angled spotting scopes, on the other hand, features scopes with an almost L-shaped look. The eyepiece comes at 45 degrees to the scope.

2. Price

Angled spotting scopes are expensive and require a higher budget, unlike a straight spotting scope, which is more affordable. But remember, a cheaper scope doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality since we’ve discussed that they share the same quality.

3. Size and Weight

Straight spotting scopes are generally heavier, making them a significant addition to the weight of all your gears and gadgets. Angled spotting scopes are lighter than their straight counterparts. The lightweight design makes moving the scope easier.

4. Packability

The ability to fit into spaces is one that angled pieces struggle with, as their shape makes it challenging to enter small spaces in your backpack. It is also difficult to unpack an angled scope. On the other hand, packing the scope is easy for straight scopes as they can fit into available spaces without much stress.

5. Balance

Angled pieces have a more sturdy setup since they usually use smaller tripod stands leaving little room for wind to destabilize the scope. On the other hand, straight pieces can be mounted higher above the ground, which means less protection from strong winds.

When to Use Angled and Straight Scopes?

The vast differences between angled and straight spotting scopes make them unsuitable for some uses and ideal for others. So which uses will each of the scopes thrive? Let’s find out.

Angled spotting scopes are great for astronomy, birdwatching, and generally when targets are high above the ground. It is easy to view targets high above the ground due to the position of the eyepiece.

Straight spotting scopes are great for hunting, tactical operation, and generally when targets are closer to the ground. The eyepiece position of the straight spotting scope makes it easy to focus on lower targets.

Final Thoughts

Angled Vs straight spotting scopes invoke deep conversations among spotting scope users. The discussion between the two focuses on the shape of the scope and what this shape means for aiming. You can also see each scope have its strong point and best uses.

About Author

James Towndrow, a NRA-certified Firearms Instructor. During a career of 18 years had won several shooting competition including major leagues. Taking all those experience down the road, is now a successful Shooting Instructor in Texas, US.


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