Gear Review – Bushnell Elite 20-60X 80MM Spotting Scope

By: Tink Jackson

If you want to be consistently successful hunting in the west, then you must have good optics. This simple fact is not debated among top hunters in the western states. Those of us that chase Coues Whitetails, Elk, Mule Deer and Sheep know that the choice of optics may even be more important than the choice of weapons we carry. I know from years of experience that if you are glassing the area you are hunting with binoculars during a Coues hunt, they have already seen you and are long gone. During our winter hunts here in New Mexico we used Bushnell’s Elite 20-60X Spotting Scope on our hunts. We quickly found this item to be another top of the line product from Bushnell.

The technical specs:

• Weight (oz. / g) = 53/1484
• Lens Coating = Fully Multi Length (in / mm) 17/432
• Close Focus = 15 ft.
• RainGuard® HD
• Exit Pupil (mm) = 4.1@20x 1.4@60x
• Magnification = 20-60x
• Prism Glass = BaK-4
• Water/Fog Proof
• Objective = 80MM
• Other Eyepieces Available
• Field of View (ft@1000 ft. / m@1000 m) = 98/32@20x 50/16.5@60x

Bushnell Elite 20-60X 80MM Spotting Scope - Can You Say Cadillac?

In reviewing spotting scopes, we look at a lot of aspects of the scope. Below, I will break down each one of these components, explain what they are, and how the scope compares to industry standards. The components we looked at are as follows:

• Close Focus
• Lens Coating
• Magnification
• Exit Pupil
• Prism Glass
• Objective Size
• Field of View
• Eyepiece
• Extra Features

Close Focus – The close focus of a spotting scope is the minimum distance an object must be from the scope for it to be seen clearly in the spotter. The close focus of the Elite 20-60X 80MM is 15 feet or 5 yards. With this spotter, you can count the hairs on the fleas of the animals you are watching at that distance. The Elite 20-60X 80MM provides clarity at a significantly closer distance than most other scopes on the market.

Lens Coating – Coatings on lens surfaces reduce light loss and glare due to reflection, resulting in a brighter, higher-contrast image with reduced eyestrain. For those of us that spend hours and hours looking through scopes, eyestrain is a big issue. Bushnell spotting scope lenses are coated with a microscopic film of magnesium fluoride. The fully multi-coated specification means that multiple layers of coating have been placed on all air-to-glass surfaces. This keeps your view brighter and crisper. The multi-coating also extends the durability of the glass, thereby extending the life of the spotting scope. Bushnell does a huge service to their customers with their coating system on the spotting scopes. We spent many, many hours looking through the Elite 20-60X 80MM during all of our hunts, but especially on our sheep hunt. The brightness, clarity and lack of eyestrain made using this scope a real pleasure!

Magnification – Spotting scopes are often referred to by numbers separated by an “X”. The numbers are 20–60X 80 on this Elite spotting scope. The first numbers (20-60) indicate the power or magnification of the spotting scope. So, with this 20–60X 80 variable power spotting scope, the object being viewed appears to be 20-60 times closer than you would see it with the naked eye. Set it on 20, and the animal appears 20 times closer than it is. Set it on 60, and the animal appears 60 times closer than it is. OK, so what magnification do we need? Well, anything in the 15X range is basically about the same as using your binoculars. Obviously, we want more than that then, right? So the bigger the second number the better, right? Not always. It is important to remember that third number (in this case 80). Without an 80MM objective lens, anything over 40X will start to lose image quality. In the case of the Elite 20-60X 80MM, the 80MM objective lens is large enough to keep images sharp and clear at 60X. We experience no image quality issues with this spotter. Everything was sharp and clear!

Exit Pupil – The exit pupil refers to the size of the column of light that exits a spotting scope. The larger the exit pupil, the brighter the image. To determine the size, divide the objective lens diameter by the power. Thus, this 20×60 model has an exit pupil, or useable light, of 4.1@20X and 1.4@60X. So basically, what we are looking for here is a larger number which tells us that we will have a brighter and clearer image. Compared to other spotters on the market, the exit pupil in the Bushnell Elite 20-60X 80MM is larger, and that means better image quality and clarity!

Prism Glass – The Elite 20-60X 80MM prism glass is BAK-4. BAK-4 is the highest quality prism glass available in hunting spotting scopes. Prism glass quality is extremely important as it determines how clear and accurate your image is. Our use of the Elite 20-60X 80MM was a true pleasure. No blurry images, no problems focusing. Everything we viewed was clear, sharp and easy to view.

Objective Size – The size of the objective lens determines the light gathering capacity of the spotting scope. More light gathering capacity means more clarity and detail which equates to a brighter, clearer, sharper image. The industry standard for hunting spotting scopes is 60MM. The Elite 20-60X 80MM uses an 80MM objective which obviously means it has more light gathering capability. Obviously, most would recognize that when hunting sheep this would make a big difference because of the distances the sheep are viewed at. But this is also important when glassing deer, elk or other critters in forested areas. Think about it. We normally use spotting scopes to find animals after they have bedded down for the day. Most of the time, they are bedded in the shade of a tree, bush or rock outcropping, meaning their reflective quality is diminished. The more light the objective will gather, the sharper the image of that animal will be, and the easier it will be to tell if it is the one we are looking for. Take it from me, the larger objective size can save you a lot of stalking time on animals that were not what you thought they were when you finally get up to them. The objective lens on the Elite 20-60X 80MM is one of its greatest benefits.

Field of View – The linear field of view (FOV) is measured as the width of area visible at 1,000 feet or at 1,000 meters from the spotter. As magnification increases, the field of view normally decreases. Both numbers are important. A wide FOV is normally better for following moving targets, or for scanning an area looking for your target. Once a specific target is sighted, we “zoom” in and look closer. When we are “zoomed” in, we want the smallest FOV possible so we can see more of our target. The Elite 20-60X 80MM at 20X provides an FOV of 98 feet at 1,000 feet, decreasing to 50 feet at 60X, providing plenty of scanning capabilities at 20X and extra detail at 60X.

Eyepiece – The eyepiece is what determines the magnification power of your spotter. The eyepiece is also a major factor in determining FOV and exit pupil size. When buying a spotter, you normally have to choose which eyepiece the spotter will come with. Choosing a high quality eyepiece is just as important as every other component in the spotter. The Elite 20-60X 80MM obviously came with a variable power eyepiece. As discussed above, this is important to be able to go from a “scanning” to “detail” view. The eyepiece in this spotter is top of the line, and performed perfectly in all of our varied uses.

Extra Features – The Bushnell Elite 20-60X 80MM has Rain Guard HD coating as well. This coating is applied all over the external surface of the scope, including the lenses. Rain Guard HD helps guarantee a clearer picture by splitting drops of rain into tiny droplets that do not interfere with the clarity or function of your spotter. It also has a heavy case that stays on the spotter with zippered ends to allow easy access and use.

Our Elite 20-60X 80MM also came with a SLR Camera Adapter. In just a matter of seconds, the spotter became a monster lens for our digital camera. The setup took high quality pictures and added a significant amount of function to the spotter, while adding a whole new dimension to our scouting and hunting trips!

Bushnell Elite 80MM SLR Camera Adapter

Overall, we would highly recommend the Bushnell Elite 20-60X 80MM. This spotting scope is truly the Cadillac of spotters! Bushnell has done a fantastic job in designing this spotter. It will do everything you will want or need in the field, and so much more. No more blurry objects, no more guessing trophy size or quality. The Bushnell Elite 20-60X 80MM is not cheap. Spotting scoped are an investment in this industry, The Elite 20-60X 80MM is well worth every penny you put into it and more.

For more information please go to: Bushnell Optics or shop Amazon below!