A High-End Spotting Scope That Won’t Break The Bank
A high-quality spotting scope is essential for precision and accuracy. The Burris Signature HD 20 60×85 gives you the advantages of a top-class spotter for half the cost. Check out my review.
I personally hadn’t heard of the Burris Signature HD 20 60×85 until last weekend. My friend received this spotter as a gift and was more than happy to show it off as we set up for some target practice. Boy, am I glad that he did. This spotter is a game-changer with its many features and comforts. Here is my Burris Signature HD 20 60×85 review as a first-time user. Check out why you should get your hands on this product to improve the accuracy and precision of your glassing.
At first glance, the Signature HD seems like your average angled spotting scope with a 20x – 60x magnification range. After a quick Amazon search, you may realize that you can buy a scope with this power for less than $500. Trust me – these are all thoughts I had. While this is true, the Burris Signature HD 20 60×85 packs a punch you won’t find in the lower price ranges. After reviewing this spotter, it seems Burris operates under the principle that their product should work smarter, rather than harder. The features on the Signature HD are designed with comfort, efficiency, and user in mind. No matter your level of expertise, you’re going to love the usability and quality of this spotting scope, just as much as the price.
Right away, you’ll notice the 85 mm objective lens, which makes this spotter stand out from the crowd. Most spotters in the mid-level price range have an 80 mm objective lens. While this difference might seem insignificant, a bigger objective lens is going to provide greater light-gathering capacity and thus a brighter and clearer image. We’ll dig deeper into the importance of lens quality and what the Signature HD offers later in this article.
Another unique feature is its compatibility with the FastFire Red Dot – a red dot sight made by Burris. On either side of the spotter are removable plates where you can attach the FastFire and set your sight. This neat hack cuts down on time spent switching between observation tools to find your target and makes for easier glassing. The FastFire Red Dot is sold separately, and I didn’t get to use one, but it’s highly recommended for improving your accuracy and efficiency.
This spotter also gets you faster and more accurate target acquisition due to its strategic design. The coarse/fine focus adjustment is located on the forward-mounted knob. This placement allows for precision when making the tiniest adjustment for the perfect view. Since the focus is so close to the eyepiece, you can adjust with the smooth, swift motion of a finger.
The Signature HD Spotting Scope has great eye relief at 18 – 20 mm. I didn’t feel like I was moments away from losing view of my sight. The scope is designed with an adjustable and pleasantly soft eyecup. The adjustable eyecup makes this spotter attractive for folks like myself who wear glasses or goggles. The eyecup adjustment was intuitive and easy to get just right. A big plus for those who spend hours prone in the Texas Hill Country.
If you’re looking for an elite spotting scope, the Signature HD is truly an all in one package to meet your needs for much less than its competitors in the same class. Not convinced just yet for why you should splurge? Keep reading!
A deep dive into the eyepiece is critical to select the perfect spotter for your needs. For novices, you can know a lot about an optical tool just by its name, in this case the Signature HD 20x60x85. The first two numbers refer to the magnification power of the spotter, while the last number refers to the diameter of the objective lens. This spotter has fairly standard magnification, with a zoom range between 20x - 60x. However, it’s the 85 mm, low dispersion, high-definition lens that is going to give you a bright image before taking your shot. All three factors: magnification, lens diameter, and glass must be in harmony to produce a high-quality image. To understand the importance of lenses, let’s break it down:
It’s important to consider how you will be using your spotting scope to determine the magnification power you need. Spotting scopes have a much higher magnification power than binoculars and are better suited for hunting, target practice, birding, and surveying land. A common problem people run into with cheaper spotters is that image quality decreases as magnification increases. We’ll talk later why the Signature HD retains its crisp view even with high-magnification, but know this issue might arise if you choose to buy a lower-end spotter.
The field of view, or the amount of landscape you’re able to see through the spotter, also decreases as you increase the magnification power. This is crucial if you’re considering a cheaper spotter model. The only way to overcome this issue is to have an optimal optical system, like the Signature HD, so that the spotter can maintain a decent field of view even at the highest magnification.
The front lens, also called the objective lens, is measured in millimeters by its diameter. The bigger the objective lens, the more light-gathering capacity of the apparatus. This is critical because images will appear darker as you increase magnification. So for high magnification spotters, like the Signature HD, you want to ensure you have a lens that will boost the amount of light for a higher resolution image. Most spotters with power magnification similar to the Signature HD have an 80 mm objective lens. The Signature HD beats this at 85 mm and backs it up with high-quality views.
Another big consideration in objective lens diameter is thinking through the typical level of lighting as you use a spotter. If you’re glassing at dawn or dusk when the sun is low on the horizon, a bigger objective lens can handle low lighting and still produce sharp, bright images.
A larger objective lens is also going to provide a wider field of view. The Signature HD 20x60x85 has a respectable field of a view of 117 ft at 20x and 60 ft at 60x. While you can find spotters with a wider field of view, it will cost you a pretty penny.
Imagine a photograph from your last vacation. Your family is hugging and smiling for the camera in front of a gift shop. Notice where the foreground (your family) and the background (the gift shop) meet. Is it fuzzy? Can you tell where the building ends and your family begins? In the photography world, this is called color-fringing, and in the glassing world pain in the butt.
Color fringing happens when a lens doesn’t fully correct color waves. The problem is that color comes in different wavelengths to different focal points of the lens. A correcting lens bends these wavelengths so that they all appear in a single plane. The result – an image where you can differentiate textures, colors, and objects. Now that’s the kind of precision you want when glassing.
The Signature HD solves the problem of color-fringing by using an apochromatic lens with multiple coatings. Apochromatic lenses – sometimes referred to as APO – corrects color wavelengths. The low-dispersion glass also helps to correct color. In short, these lenses cut down on color-bleeding so that you can distinguish between objects. The Burris website actually refers to this as “edge to edge” resolution. I definitely co-sign on this after seeing their lens in action.
To translate this section, with the Signature HD 20x60x85 you’ll be able to see the fur on a whitetail from dawn to dusk whether you’re in a canyon or across a mountain. I can’t stress how important it is to invest in a spotter with high light-gathering capacity and a high-quality lens. Without these critical pieces, high magnification is useless. You’ll end up with blurry and distorted images. Not what I’m looking for when I’m out hunting. The truth is, you get what you pay for when it comes to a lens.
If you’re looking for a wider field of view, Burris also has a fixed 30x Wide Angle Eyepiece. This piece is sold separately, but worth the investment for folks practicing tactical and precision shooting. The eyepiece uses their trademarked SCR™ Mil reticle, which is great for competition training and long-distance target acquisition. Again, I didn’t get to try out this product, but the reviews sound great.
Of course, the downside of the bigger objective lens is the added weight. Many expert glassers look for spotters that weigh between 3 – 4 pounds, and reviews of other products show many fall in this range. The Burris spotting scope is on the heavier side for its class, at just over four pounds. Although this doesn’t sound like a lot, it can make a world of difference depending on how often you’re moving with your pack. However, the Signature HD is very compact and easy to transport with its case and shoulder strap. Not to mention, being half the cost of other luxury brands with similar features makes it worth its weight.
Design and Durability
Even while toughing it in the wild, comfort is still of the essence. This spotting scope understands what every outdoorsman is looking for in terms of design and durability. The magnesium body allows for a sturdy grip, so even if your spotter gets wet you won’t lose hold. The spotter also comes with a neoprene cover with a removable lens cover so that you can get full use of your spotter while still protecting it from the elements so that rain never slows you down. The cover will also guard your spotter against dings and scratches. Think of how many times you will inevitably drop this from the cab of your truck onto the rocky ground. Did I mention this all comes with a strap for easy portability?
The sunshade is also a feature you won’t find in a lower price range of spotters. The sunshade helps to reduce glare and extra light exposure. This makes for a much more pleasant experience when the sun is at that perfectly frustrating angle. The extra light exposure can screw up the perfect shot. The sunshade also helps protect the lens from rain and dust, so I prefer to keep mine extended all times of the day. The scope is also waterproof and fog proof so a good fit for a wide range of locales and weather conditions.
This spotter is also angled at 45 degrees. The angled spotter is especially good for glassing with friends so that you don’t have to continuously adjust your tripod. We experienced that with me being quite a bit shorter than my friend. The angle also makes for easy mounting on a tripod and standing or lying prone for hours on end. This model can be easily mounted on a tripod or a car window mount depending on how you need to use it. The rotating tripod mount was also useful and allowed for easy swiveling.
Why You Need This Spotter
The Burris Signature HD 20x60x85 review shows this is a high-end spotter that allows for precise long-range glassing, but at half the cost of other brands. Your other options are to spend several thousand dollars for a name brand spotter with similar features or to go for under $1,000 and take your chances on a poor quality lens. This spotter is a perfect balance for folks wanting luxury and while remaining budget-conscious. It’s worth the extra bit of money for comforts like the adjustable eyecup, sunshade, and picture-perfect views. This product is highly recommended for those who wear glasses or goggles when out in the field. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, this spotter has the features you need to bring down big game or hit your target while still being accessible and easy to use. My advice – get your hands on one of these soon.