Periodically, a product becomes available that is acknowledged by virtually every expert as being the best available at any cost. This describes the NightForce TS-82 Spotting Scope well.
Reputation precedes the NightForce TS-82 spotting scope. Long recognized as producing some of the finest rifle scopes, NightForce Optics decided several years ago, at the urging of enthusiastic customers, to begin producing spotting scopes that were on par with its existing rifle scopes. Thus far, NightForce has come forward with two excellent offerings. Most recently, they released the NightForce TS-80 20-60X spotting scope, which has been universally praised for the quality of its workmanship, its adaptability, and its versatility.
Before the TS-80 came along, however, the first spotting scope produced by NightForce was their awesome TS-82. So great has been the praise for this fine optic device that in 2014, Field and Stream Magazine awarded it the coveted “Best of the Best” award. In this article, we’ll take a look at just what makes the TS-82 the scope by which all others will be measured.
NightForce TS-82 20-70x Xtreme Hi-Definition Spotting Scope, Dark Grey, Angled Body
The physical makeup of this spotting scope gives some clues to its best in class distinction. Built on an angled aluminum frame that is heat and weather-resistant, the TS-82 boasts a massive 82-millimeter objective lens and a magnification range of 20-70X, exceeding the 60X range offered by most of the top of the line spotting scopes.
The lens glass is not the usual extra-low dispersion glass that is offered as a default in more high-end scopes. Instead, NightForce has chosen to use more expensive APO fluorite glass (apochromatic triplet glass) that uses a series of three lenses to focus blue, red, and green light wavelengths at the same point to avoid aberration and light dispersion, rendering remarkable light transference.
This management of light and magnification is enhanced by the TS-82’s use of a prism design, rather than the typical mirror design that results in color variances. The prism feature allows greater eye comfort, enabling the user to utilize the scope for longer periods. The tube is nitrogen purged to prevent fogging. The lenses are coated with multiple layers of a proprietary substance that NightForce calls a “hydrophobic coating.” The lenses not only repel water but resist fingerprints and smudges that might interfere with the working of the scope.
The entire spotting scope is waterproof and shockproof, adorned thoroughly with rubber armoring and full protective caps for the objective lens and eyepiece. The eyepiece is quickly removable and is fitted to a bayonet mount that prevents the eyepiece from becoming accidentally separated from the body of the scope. The operation of the scope favors the user, with an easy to use, large center focus ring. The TS-82 has a swivel feature that allows the user to rotate the body of the scope to suit personal preference.
With an amazingly large objective lens, the user will not be surprised to learn that the focal length at maximum magnification is as clear at the edges of the field of view as it is in the center. Surprisingly, however, the TS-82 can also be focused sharply at a distance inside of six feet. Throughout the focal plane, the light transmission is consistently brilliant and sharp. If you can produce an image of this quality, why not share it—which is something else the TS-82 is capable of through the use of digiscoping technology. This means digital phones can be attached to the scope, allowing for photos and digital streaming of the images seen through the spotting scope.
The TS-82 weighs four pounds. Its eyepiece diameter is 1.87″ (47.5 millimeters). It uses a barrel focus with 1.75 rotations. The TS-82 has a .7″ eye relief (14 millimeters) and an exit pupil of 4.1 millimeters at 20X and 1.2 millimeters at 70X. The 100 yard/meter field of view at 20X is 12.3′ (4.1 meters) and at 70X is 4.9′ (1.6 meters). A magnesium tripod platform is affixed to the bottom of the spotting scope and an adjustable sunscreen is attached to the objective lens.
In addition to the standard angular scope body, NightForce offers a straight body as well. Four additional kits of accessories are available for purchasers. These accessory kits offer items such as tripods, lens cloths, eyepieces, and fob and grommet kits. As a buyer would expect, being the “best of the best” spotting scope, the TS-82 is a high-end product.
The TS-82 at Work
Beyond the recognition of owning the best available spotting scope, the buyer will want to know what sets it apart. What is the purpose of a spotting scope like the TS-82? What distinguishes it from other scopes?
To be sure, a high-quality device like the TS-82 can be used for a great many tasks requiring the ability to see long distances with accuracy and clarity. It’s easy to see that naturalists, bird watchers, hikers, and conservationists would find this scope extremely useful. Many have pointed out its usefulness as a surveillance tool for law enforcement. Inescapably, however, the purpose that comes to mind quickest is target sighting for range shooters and hunters.
It’s been reported that the TS-82 is capable of spotting six-millimeter target impacts at a range of 600 yards. Whether in competition or simply used by a hunter sighting in a rifle for use in the field, this scope has the potential to take the guesswork completely out of targeting and reporting. For those familiar with rifle practice DOPE books (data on previous engagement), having a spotting scope with the capacity a TS-82 enables the shooter to keep immediate, accurate records of firing and impact grouping.
What about the hunter in the field? Is there much point in having such a high powered spotting scope? Is there any virtue of having a spotting scope or will binoculars do just fine?
To answer these questions, we must understand the principle of “glassing,” that is, using magnification to help us locate and study game animals. Even in a deer stand with a limited field of vision, glassing is an essential aid to the hunter in finding and evaluating game.
To determine if binoculars are an adequate substitute for a spotting scope, we need only remember the meaning of the numbers on any magnifying optic: 2X means the lens we are looking through doubles the range of our vision. A typical pair of binoculars might range up to 7 or 10X. This means binoculars can increase our ability to see by up to 10 times what the unaided eye can see. It’s a rare spotting scope, however, that doesn’t have 15 or 20X as its minimum magnification. The TS-82 has a maximum magnification of 70X, literally meaning this scope can magnify what the viewer is seeing 10X more than what the 7X binocular can accomplish, and 70X more than the unaided human eye.
Another issue that arises with binoculars is the difficulty in keeping them steady. As the saying goes, “With binoculars, you have the magnification, but also the jiggle.” It takes real skill to prop arms and elbows against one’s chest to hold binocular’s steady while glassing, and over time this can be quite tiring. Spotting scopes are heavier than binoculars, and by default, they are supported by tripods or other devices and therefore are not a weight on the user. Many spotting scopes are angled, like the TS-82, meaning the viewer looks down into the eyepiece, which also helps to prevent fatigue.
A common criticism of spotting scopes is made by those who use the unaided eye or binoculars, then transition to a scope when they want the closest possible view of an objective. Some complain that they lose sight of the objective during the transition then cannot quickly reacquire it. A simple fix for that, whether using the binoculars or not, is to associate the objective with its proximity to a landmark. Don’t try to keep your eye on the deer, but rather the 60′ tree behind the deer. Then use the scope to quickly find the landmark and thus the objective.
Beyond their preeminence over binoculars, spotting scopes have many great benefits that no other optic can offer the hunter. For example, the unaided eye or even binoculars can search an area of a few hundred yards, but scopes can allow the systematic search of an area of several miles. Because they are stable and mounted to tripods, scopes can easily be used by the viewer to make overlapping sweeps at a chosen pace. This enables the user while glassing to watch for slight movements, different colorations, out-of-place outlines that signal the presence of game that would otherwise be camouflaged.
Because certain game animals begin to move about just before dawn and just after dusk, the scope’s ability to gather light increases the possibility that the animal will be seen. Another tremendous benefit of the scope is the ability it gives the hunter to evaluate the game once in view and thus determine whether or not it’s an animal the hunter wants to take.
All these important qualities apply to a degree to all spotting scopes, but is there any reason to believe the TS-82 is any more worthy than the typical device? Is there something so special about this scope that would make a hunter willing to purchase a high-end device? The TS-82 excels in every regard and exceeds the potential of most every spotting scope in not one but many ways.
From its rugged, shockproof frame to its loss-proof eyepiece, there are many advantages this optic has over other devices. Perhaps the one that most sets it apart, however, is the APO lens that can gather low light and illuminate its entire field of vision without distortion at maximum magnification. In this, it seems to be simply unmatched.
One other comment should be made about the price structure of this NightForce scope, and that is an observation consistently made by hunters, firearm instructors, and optic techs: the serious hunter should invest in the best shooting scope he or she can afford. With scopes—and this has particularly proven true with NightForce products—the price of the device is a reflection of the materials used and the quality of the construction.
What Do Others Say About the TS-82?
The truest thing to say about those who have purchased this scope is that virtually everyone who has it is delighted with it. Most reviewers rave about its excellence, with comments like: “Іt’ ѕ аѕtоundіng, еvеn at full 70Х роwеr! Тhе іmаgеѕ аrе сrіѕр, ѕhаrр, аnd сlеаr!” “Almost perfect.” “Well worth the money and the last spotting scope I’ll be buying.”
It is uncommon to say that any one product in any specific area is simply the best of the best. We don’t have to say that about the NightForce TS-82 spotting scope because Field and Stream Magazine has said it for us. To be sure, there are many quality devices available in today’s market, but if one is seeking the finest available, the TS-82 has acquired the title and seems to deserve it.
When challenged to create a spotting scope worthy of their rifle scope reputation, NightForce responded with a superb optic. The company’s use of AOP fluoride glass and the development of hydrophobic emulsions to protect the lenses is a clear indication of integrity and a total commitment to the product they were developing.
In the field, the TS-82 has lived up to its potential for excellence, dependability, and durability. It is no stretch to say that this scope has set a standard that future scopes of any price range will struggle to attain. It is heartening to know there are those leaders in certain industries who commit themselves and their shared endeavors to the attainment of superior quality, such as the NightForce TS-82.