Meopta's MeoPro 80 HD Spotting Scope
Meopta (then Optotechnika) was founded in Czechoslovakia in 1933. The Company, which specialized in producing high quality optical lenses, quickly expanded into producing high quality binoculars, cameras and projectors. They were a thriving company when the occupying German Wehrmacht compelled them to make riflescopes and other optics during WW II.
While Swarovski and Leica were fortunate to fall under U.S. occupation after the war ended, Meopta was locked into Soviet occupation. There, because of their ongoing ability to produce great optics, they became the key supplier to the Soviet military for periscopes, riflescopes, night vision devices and anything optical.
With the fall of Communism and the breakup of the Soviet Union, independence came to the Czech Republic and Meopta was finally free to develop and market their products without political domination. The Rausnitz brothers, who had immigrated to the United States in 1946, returned to their homeland in 1992 and successfully purchased the Company. With a considerable investment in facilities and R&D, Meopta became a major supplier of optics to many European companies.
In 2013, Meopta expanded their Meopta brand optics to the U.S. market, launching a complete line of high-quality binoculars, riflescopes and spotting scopes. Meopta, USA is strictly focused on the American market. They are not a European company with an American branch. They are strictly American and their products have been developed to meet the wide range of unique American needs and wants. Their glass is produced at their own factory in the Czech Republic (where it has been since 1933).
It is no secret that Mary and I are a bit partial to Meopta products, owning their MeoPro 8x42mm binoculars and a MeoPro 3-9x50mm riflescope. However, that will not keep us from conducting an thorough and in-depth review of the Meopta 80 HD spotting scope.
We have had a lot of experience with spotting scopes competing in 600-1,000-yard F-Class shooting. Over the years, we have seen some of the worse spotting scopes ever dumped on the American consumer, as well as some of the best. Where does the Meopta 80 HD fit in?
We own and have used a variety of spotting scope brands over the years, from an entry level Meade TravelView 20-60x60mm scope to a high end Leopold Mk. 4 12-40x60mm tactical scope that came to us right off the battlefield in Iraq. We have a fairly good frame of reference with which to compare the MeoPro 80 HD.
MeoPro 80 HD Features
MeoBright - a proprietary ion-assisted lens multi-coating applied to all air-to-glass optical surfaces. Developed by Meopta, MeoBright ion-assisted multi-coatings eliminate glare and reflections and deliver an industry leading 99.8% light transmission per lens surface. This is the highest transmission possible with today's technology.
MeoShield - ion-assisted coating protects external lens surfaces and delivers enhanced resistance to scratching or abrasion in extreme conditions. MeoShield meets military specifications for durability and surface hardness.
HD Lens Elements - High-definition, extra-low dispersion, fluoride objective lens elements eliminate chromatic aberration or color fringing in challenging lighting conditions and deliver pin point resolution, increased contrast and vivid color fidelity.
CentricDrive - An oversized, mid-body focus control features a large rubberized wheel that is easy to manipulate when changing rapidly from close subjects to extended distances.
Integrated Sun Shade - An integrated, retractable, anodized aluminum sun shade keeps moisture and stray light off lenses in challenging lighting conditions.
Twist-up eyecup - Accommodates all users.
1. At first glance, due to the 45 degree eyepiece, it would appear that this unit would be uncomfortable to use with a table top tripod. Granted, you want to make sure that you have a solid tripod, but that is a given with all spotting scopes. The 80 HD tripod collar rotates 360 degrees for viewing in any orientation, including a bench rest table. After rotation to the desired position, it securely locks into place. This translates into not hunching over the scope, or straining the back muscles.
2. There is no question that the Meopta 80HD is manufactured to the highest quality standards possible. The controls operate smoothly, without sticking. The zoom ring is clearly marked at 20x, 30x, 40x, 50x and 60x intervals. The potential for over-rotation of the 20x lower range or 60x upper range has been eliminated with positive internal stops.
3. The tough magnesium alloy body is typical of all Meopta optical products. They are built to withstand just about anything thrown at them. Meopta products are tough. Jim dropped our MeoPro 8x42 binoculars from his hunting blind in Texas last year (a distance of about 20 feet) and they were just fine. The olive-drab green and black rubber armored surface on Meopta products (including the 80 HD Spotting Scope) is the toughest in the industry.
4. The interior of the 80HD and ALL Meopta riflescopes features a flat black finish to eliminate unwanted reflections and/or aberrations from the side walls. This is not unique to Meopta, but none of our other spotting scopes have this feature and some of them are very pricey.
5. The color rendition is perfect with excellent resolution and contrast. The edge sharpness is superior to all of our other spotters, including our tactical model from Iraq.
6. We are great fans of the 20x setting for 100-200 yard spotting. Resolution, contrast and sharpness appeared perfect. When we increased the magnification to 40x for use at ranges of 300-400 yards, there was a slight loss of contrast, but it was not significant. We reserved the 50x and 60x settings for 600-1,000 yard distances. At these higher magnifications, the mirage (boil) effect becomes a significant factor in all spotting scopes. Experienced observers limit the higher magnifications to calm and cool atmospheric conditions.
7. The built-in aiming element, located behind the sun shade, was pretty much useless. It did not allow us to locate the target any faster than by just eye-balling the target. We suggest Meopta eliminate this aiming element and replace it with a small finder scope mounted on the side of the main body.
8. Some folks would consider the weight of the Meopta 80 HD to be a drawback. At just over four pounds, it is heavier than most of its competitors. The robust and durable design of the HD80 comes with a little more heft, but when compared to other premium hunting and range spotters, the difference in weight is negligible. If you have ever used lighter scopes on the range and became frustrated with them moving off target at the slightest touch, or accidentally knocked your spotter while trekking to your tree stand, you will appreciate the robust design of the Meopro HD80.
9. It would be very nice if this scope had a separate fine-focus control. The absence of a separate fine-focus adjustment requires some getting used to with magnifications greater than 30x. However, with a bit of practice, we had no difficulty focusing at magnifications up to 40x. Focusing was more difficult at the higher magnifications, 50x and 60x. However, the image was still adequately sharp for practical purposes.
How does the Meopta 80HD compare to the other spotting scopes we have used? There is no comparison! The 80HD is clearly superior in quality and performance to every scope we have ever used. Our other spotting scopes will now be loaners to friends and/or dust collectors in the gun room.
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