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IHMSA News Feature Article
Published in The IHMSA News, the Official Publication of The International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association
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Leupold Mini Spotter 10 X 20
By Todd Spotti
     My range bag has become something like the Roach Motel. Remember their jingle? It was something like “Roaches check in, but they never check out”. Well, I keep finding more and more things to take to the range, and so I keep stuffing more and more “important” junk in there. Once I put something in, it never comes out, except at the range. The sides of that poor bag are bulged out so much that it’s looking very much like some kind of weird farm hog with handles on the top. In fact, I’m thinking of naming it “Porky” or maybe “Big BoB”. 
     I don’t mind so much about its looks, but the weight is another matter. I haven't gone through the trouble of actually weighing it, but carrying Porky around is getting to be a chore. I just wish he had legs so he could walk himself to the firing line like a good self respecting hog. I was even thinking of buying one of these little red wagons to haul the big guy around, but the trunk of my car is already maxed out, but that’s another story. No, Porky would have to go on a diet.
     Spotting scopes are a major occupier of space in anyone’s range bag, and those 80mm types can be heavy as well. At the other extreme end of the spectrum is a new class of mini spotter which was developed primarily for use in the field. The Leupold 15 X 30 which I reviewed in these pages last year is just a scope. If you missed reading it, go to (Leupold Golden Ring 15-30X Spotting Scope). However, Leupold has another spotter which is even smaller i.e. the 10X20.

"Primarily designed for the field, this spotter also works well for silhouettes and is very compact."

     This is a very cool little scope that is tough, lightweight, and in the usual Leupold tradition, delivers fine optics. So how tough is it? For one, it’s made out of carbon fiber. That’s the same stuff that the F-117, and the B-1 bomber are made of because it’s very lightweight and stronger than steel. The scope is also completely rubber armored to protect it from getting scratched and dinged when out in the field or rolling around in the trunk of the car. It’s also 100% shock proof and waterproof.  
     To test the water proofing, I decided to do a little experiment and dunked the scope in a tupperware dishpan filled with warm water. The little sucker kept floating up to the surface so I weighed it down with a brick on the top. There were no tell tail trails of tiny bubbles indicating water leakage.I kept it in the pan for about an hour and then wiped the water off the lenses. The scope then got plopped in the freezer over night. When I took it out, it immediately frosted over. I then gently wiped off the lenses and saw that there was no internal fogging or other optical problems. This little guy is indeed tough.
     I mentioned that it was lightweight. I hate to admit it, but I have eaten burritos that were far heavier and bigger in overall size. The little guy weighs less than a pound and is only 7.5 inches in length, so carrying it around is going to be no burden - not even on an all day hunt.
     Well all of this is nice, but how do things look through the scope? Nice, very nice indeed. To check it out I took it to the public range where my club shoots. The first thing I wanted to know was whether there was enough magnification available to clearly spot the 200 meter targets. I lucked out in that my good friend Hulan Mathies was already there checking out loads on the 200 meter half scale swinger. Hulan was using a scoped 10.5” Merrill chambered in the very potent 270 Rocket. 

     While Hulan was doing his thing, I set up my gear and put the little Leupold on my bench  tripod. I had already set up my home made resolution target at fifty meters. I then cranked up the scope to it’s top magnification. That’s the toughest test for any optical product because doing so produces the worst resolution and the least bright image. Scopes always do their best at their lowest settings. However, it was interesting to note that there was very little loss in brightness when I cranked things up. This is usually a good indication of high quality optical design.

     I immediately noticed that the image of my target, which was printed on very high quality printer paper, was very clean and crisp. When I say clean, I mean that there was no yellow, green, or off color tinting in the image. Colored tinting is almost always an indication of impurities in the glass. The white portions of the target were a very clean, pure, bright white. 
     The image also looked very contrasty. To confirm my impression, I then swung the scope away from the target and started looking the range over. The image remained contrast rich. I was honestly surprised that this kind of performance was coming out of a 40mm objective lens. In a way though, it’s not so surprising as Leupold uses their “Multicoat 4” process on the objective and eye piece. This is the best that Leupold has. It works. In my resolution check I noted that the smallest line of type that I could clearly distinguish was 12 point which was really pretty nice. 
     The full size swinger ram was also set up, so I swung the scope around to check it out. I was primarily interested in seeing what kind of field of view I was going to get. The specifications said I should be seeing about 26 feet at 200 meters. After putting the ram in the center of the image, I would guesstimate you should be able to see around three or four rams in the image with reasonable spacing in between them with no trouble at all. Eye relief ran between 17 and 18 mm’s which is plenty, even for guys like me who wear glasses. 

     In the meantime, Hulan had been busy pounding on the half scale ram swinger with the 270 Rocket. When I moved the scope over to see how he was doing, I immediately saw that he had a very impressive two inch group right in the center of the ram. Two of the shots were even over- lapping each other. This told me two things, one - Hulan had found a really good load, and two - the Leupold at 20X had the magnification, brightness, and resolution to comfortably spot the targets. The grey colored shot group stood out in easy contrast to the black background of the ram. I had no problem at all counting the shot marks. 

      In summary, I can say that the Leupold 10 X 20 is a very handy, extremely portable, highly capable spotting scope that you can take anywhere. It was designed primarily to be taken on the hunt where its small size and light weight are obvious advantages. However even on a hunt, higher magnifications than what is available from the mini binoculars that so many people use is often required - like trying to determine whether that brown lump in the tall grass is a log or a doe bedded down. The 10 X 20 is perfect for that job. My wife also took the scope to our nephew’s graduation from Marine Corp boot camp so she could see everything she wanted to from the second to the last row in the bleachers. This is an optic that obviously can be used for many, many jobs - including silhouettes. Check it out at your local sports shop.  If you want excellent performance in a very small package, I know you’ll like it.
Good luck and good shooting. Todd

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Warning: All technical data mentioned, especially handloading, reflect the limited experience of individuals using specific tools, products, equipment and components under specific conditions and circumstances not necessarily reported in the article or on this web site and over which IHMSA, The Los Angeles Silhouette Club (LASC), this web site or the author has no control. The above has no control over the condition of your firearms or your methods, components, tools, techniques or circumstances and disclaims all and any responsibility for any person using any data mentioned. Always consult recognized reloading manuals.