When the game of pushing bullets into the next zip code gets serious the addition of a spotting scope is a must have tool of the trade. Now, with the scope comes the mounting system, and here again the use of the correct unit and in this case a tripod system is also a major part of the equipment inventory.
Over the past 50 years or so I have actually worn out several tripod systems just because of the number of hours they have been deployed on a rifle range, or even in the field when taking on a whole valley with an ultra long range rifle. The following are some examples of spotting scope tripod units that can be working both in the field and on the rifle range as well.
The primary issue with a spotting scope tripod system is the fact that a budget system can go to pieces quickly when used as a field unit. Buying into an almost overbuilt unit is a good idea, and that light systems in general will not work out to a satisfactory level in even moderate wind conditions and tend to start to see parts off of them quite early in their life span.
The following are some examples of possible options when considering a tripod system for your target spotting and even game locating needs.
Amazon Basics 50-inch Lightweight Camera Mount Tripod Stand With Bag
In this unit, we have a tripod that is lightweight and best used on the shooting range under controlled conditions. While it is easy to pack afield it will not do well in high winds, or under extreme weather conditions found when in high country or even low land marsh areas.
This tripod by Amazon Basics is at a low price and should only be considered as a starter unit, or for occasional use versus professional or when assigned avid hunting shooting status.
The unit retains an adjustable upper head, is built of lightweight aluminum, and weighs in a just over a pound. The three-way head allows for fit and swivel motion and is workable for camera mounting as well as a light spotting scope system.
This unit is designed using the quick release mounting plate and I have learned to rely on these many times of for both camera work and spotting scope application as well.
With a flick of a lever, the upper base plate accepts the pre-mounted plate on the scope with ease and is up and running in seconds versus some complicated and modified hardware being used by the shooter.
This tripod uses the three-position leg extention system making it flexible if needed on a bench rest or standing alone on the ground or deck.
Compressed the unit measures 16.5 inches and fully extended 50 inches. The total spotting scope weight should not exceed 4.4 pounds in terms of mounted carry weight on the units basic frame.
With the extended use of the cell phone on a camera mounting base, today tripod units are being sold as ultra-lightweight systems. Stay away from these as a primary tripod for use with spotting scopes. Because the scope retains very high magnification levels and any vibration or movement given off by the tripod will cause some major issues when trying to spot a bullet hole on a target 300 through 1000 yards downrange ( Depending on the given scope power settings and quality .)
Geekoto 56” tripod
This unit is a quick setup system with locking legs that are fully adjustable to 56 inches.
The tripod is not a heavy-weight unit but seems to be well built and liked by buyers of the system as well.
The leg locks are quick release, will adjust down to 19” for on the deck shooting bench placement, and lightweight for taking into the field. The total weight of the unit is 2.2 pounds, I do not believe the tripod is configured for heavyweight spotting scopes, but better used with closer range smaller glass systems.
Tube constriction is aluminum, and the mounting system is the flat pan hub style locking base. In my opinion, I would not own a tripod without this style of camera or spotting scope mounting systems. With the base plate attached to the spotting scope base, the mount the on and off as an install very fast The tripod will rotate a full 360 degrees if required, and the system retains a bubble level when great care is required during viewing setup.
The tripod carries a full one-year warranty and can be returned within 30 days free of charge.
Geekoto 77” tripod
Moving up in price a bit but also in quality is the Model 77” Geekoto tripod.
The manufacturer indicates that this tripod is lightweight but very workable as a heavy lift system, as well as being easy to take into the field. Paying attention to how the legs are secured and locked as well as the materials used in the units construction says that this is a better grade unit that should last a while. Over the past four decades, I have gone through three tripods in that sooner or later they all will find a spot in the graveyard of spotting scope equipment.
This until will not make use of an extension control arm but works for the ball mounted upper base itself when adjusting for the correct angle on a target being spotted. The legs are aluminum and fully flexible in terms of being adjusted for use on uneven ground. The unit weighs in at 3.3 lbs making it very portable for packing into some remote areas of the countryside.
This unit is designed to carry heavy weight spotting scopes or at least do better than some of the lower priced models in terms of returning a very stable image of the target downrange.
Built tough and listed as designed for spotting scopes this tripod unit is built heavy for a reason. Priced with the mid range units it is affordable and with good design as applied to leg locks and extension parts. This system should be a winner among riflemen to say the least.
Using the locking extension arm for fine adjustments the shooter can lock in the spotting scope with ease even with something else in his or her hands. I use this system on all three of my tripod systems. One of my tripods never leaves the truck, as some of the best photo work and spotting opportunities come along right from the front windscreen of my work truck.
Built of high grade aluminum, and non-slip rubber feet, the package makes use of the slicing center column with tension control. The tripod adjusts from 18.3 inches to 61 inches and is workable as a free-standing unit or set up on the shooting bench as well.
The tripod is offered with full length foam leg extensions to save cold hands and other discomforts when handling, packing or setting up the tripod for service.
I would suggest this unit for the shooter that wants to work afield a great deal and not worry very much about needing a replacement unit over the short haul.
The unit retains a free exchange warranty and is guaranteed for 365 days free of any charges whatsoever.
RetiCAM Tabletop tripod
The tabletop tripod is designed for use from a bench rest setup or downrange shooting house gunning surface. The units are smaller and do not extend to standing and spotting applications.
The unit uses the 1/4” tripod mount that fits all spotting scope base designs. The tripod retains a full three way tilting head, quick release mounting plate, with a built-in level attached. The quick snap leg locks make for fast height adjustments on the shooting bench.
Equipped with a long handlebar that also serves to tighten the primary shaft on the tripod, making one handed operation is easy to accomplish. Being lightweight and very portable this is a great mini pod for use when traveling to shoots, or packing it afield for long range spotting when using the prone shooting position.
Minimum height is 10-3/4 inches, with a maximum high of 19 inches. The total weight of the unit is 1.5 lbs, and it can hold a maximum load of 6.0 lbs.
Pricing on a system like this is very affordable in terms of any level of shooter or funding options.
PHOSNOVA 75″ New Heavy Duty Tripo
When spotting scopes get big as in 1000 through one mile units the tripod needs to be up gunned as well. This Phosnova tripod is an example of just such an upgrade. What this unit amounts to is a giant in terms of fittings and strength and best suited for use on heavy ultra long-range glass spotting tubes.
This unit retains multiple tube legs for strength and wobble reduction in higher wind situations. The height of the system is at 72 inches making it very workable for the tall guys that are trying to find those bullet holes at 1000 yard downrange against the white-faced steel targets. The name of the game here is bulked up and beefed up as well, which makes for a tough field functioning tripod system.
The system retains a 75 mm base plate, bubble level built into the base, and a hard
oxidization treatment making the head highly rigid. This treatment also gives the surface of the tripod a textured look and feel.
Built with non-slip rubber feet this unit is stable on soft ground or against flat rock surfaces. I have used a system like this in high mountain shooting events with great success. In this case, seeing targets well into the next time zone is a must event.
Viltrox VX-18M Professional Heavy Duty
Again here we have a heavy duty tripod that can work as a spotting scope mount or any one of for or five additional tools ranging from cameras to video recorders that are of professional size and design.
This tripod will allow the use of heavy-weight spotting scopes in just about any size limit. The unit can support 13.2-pound pieces of equipment, with a total load weight of 22 lbs. Designed with a built-in bubble and being a heavyweight design the tripod is very workable in wind conditions that can throw off smaller system in terms of maintaining a clear target image.
The unit retains a QR plate and slide lock system at the head of the tripod. The plate retains a release latch of 1/4”-20 and 3/8”-16 camera screws. This is a very stable unit when compared to other standard size tripod systems.
Total carry weight 22 lbs, metal and rubber materials throughout.
This unit exceeds the price of less robust models in tripod systems.
I have been writing firearms and outdoor material of over 50 years to date. I have hunted across the world including Russia and a great deal of time professional hunting in Australia. I currently live in the American west and hunt all across the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the Big Horn mountains. I have specialized much of my work as a load developer in shotguns and rifles. I have run a small company that builds suppressor barrels of my design, and load tests for writing purposes and consulting. My commercial names include Ballistics Research & Development / Metro Gun Systems.TM. Web site www.metrogun.com.