Athlon Optics may not be a brand you are all that familiar with, but we wanted to put together this Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope review to test it, as we’ve heard some great things about the glass Athlon puts out. For this review, we tested the Athlon Cronus 20-60×86 mm spotting scope.
We love optics here at Backwoods Pursuit, so naturally getting to test and do a Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope review of their 20-60×86 mm model was an absolute privilege. When you are trying to decide what the best spotting scope is for your needs, there’s simply nothing better than getting to put it to the test in the field side by side with a number of other spotting scopes. When comparing right next to each other, you can really start to see the differences.
Amazingly, that’s exactly what we had the chance to do for this series of spotting scope reviews. Our goal for this project was to find the best compact spotting scope, the best 65 mm class spotting scope, the best 85 mm class spotting scope, as well as the best values in each of the categories. Make sure you check out all the the other spotting scope reviews here on the website as well as over on the Backwoods Pursuit YouTube Channel!
Want to see how the Athlon Cronus 20-60×86 Spotting Scope performed next to 18 of the best spotting scopes on the market? Check out our MASSIVE SPOTTING SCOPE REVIEW where we lined up 19 of the best spotting scopes we could find and put them to the test. Side by side with volunteer testers, no brand loyalties (at least as much as humanly possible), many lighting conditions, and 14 guys ranking these things. What an awesome project to put together! Over 2 years of work, research, and testing went into this massive review. You don’t want to miss this!
Don’s miss our MONSTER 26 BINOCULAR REVIEW. We lined up 26 pairs of the best binoculars we could find and tested them side by side!
Dive into the details on every one of the spotting scopes in the review mentioned above by becoming a Backwoods Pursuit Member (TOTALLY FREE) and you can download the data we used to put this review together. Make sure you check out all of our other spotting scope reviews as well! We’ve had the chance to test quite a few in recent years, and we just might be able to help you find the perfect optic for your style of hunting and wildlife viewing!
Check out the Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope In the Video below!
Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope Review: The Testing
With this Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope being part of that huge review, we also wanted to do a separate article to go into more detail about the Athlon Cronus 20-60-86 mm Spotting Scope than we could provide in that article. We were able to field test the Athlon Cronus throughout the 2020 scouting and hunting seasons, as well as include it in our group testing to get the opinions of 14 avid hunters.
Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope Review: The Specs
The Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope features UHD (Ultra Low Dispersion Glass), a unique profile, a dual focus mechanism that both myself and our test group loved, and a silky smooth eye piece and zoom mechanism.
- UHD ED Glass
- 20-60×86 mm
- Smooth twist-up eye cup (no clicks)
- Dual focus system
- No rubber armor
- Sun shade
- Weight: 66.5 oz
- Low profile eyepiece
- Sun Shade
- Price: $1,499
Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope: Weight / Body Construction
The Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope is built with magnesium alloy, keeping the weight to a minimum. Given that the Cronus features a massive 86 mm objective lens, the 66.5 ounce weight is pretty impressive and is only 1.5 ounces heavier than the Kowa TSN 883. (Kowa is known to be nice and lightweight.) Another win for the Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope!
Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope Review: Dual Focus System
Another fantastic feature of the Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope is its dual focus system. While some prefer a barrel focus style, most of our group, including myself, found that the barrel focus system made it slightly more difficult to bring the spotting scope into fine focus, particularly at higher magnification when you really need to be fine.
The Athlon Cronus dual focus system is super smooth with just the right focus speed in the fine and course mechanisms. Personally, it was almost as good as the Kowa dual focus system, which was a runaway favorite in our group testing. Again, that’s saying something in a spotting scope a fraction of the price.
Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope Review: Eyepiece
The eyepiece on the Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope is super smooth and can be micro adjusted to meet your eye relief needs. Rather than a multi-click adjustment option, Athlon Optics has a smooth adjustment with no click stops. The eyepiece has enough resistance to keep it from moving when in your pack, but not too much to make it difficult to adjust. The Athlon Cronus eyepiece reminded me of the Swarovski ATX eyepiece, and that is saying something. It was one of my favorite eyepieces.
Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope Review: Unique Design
One unique thing I wanted to point out is the unique design of the Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope. Most of your angled spotting scopes have an eyepiece that sticks out quite a bit, making things a tight fit in your pack. That’s not the case with the Athlon Cronus. Its low-profile eyepiece and the location where it attaches to the body make it fit in your pack more like a straight spotting scope, which is awesome! This huge 86 mm spotting scope easily fits in most of your nicer hunting pack side pockets, which is often a question with large spotting scopes.
Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope Review: Edge-to-Edge Clarity
The edge-to-edge clarity of the Athlon Cronus was excellent and produced a nice, crisp image almost to the entire field of view. You did lose a little clarity on the outer 3-4% of the Cronus field of view, but it wasn’t bad at all especially at its price point. The Cronus again scored exceptionally well in this department in our group review.
Athlon Cronus spotting scope Review: Color Temperature
The Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope gives you a pleasant, warm color temperature. Not as harsh as something like the Swarovski ATX, but not as much on the yellow scale as the Sig Oscar 8, and there was no grey tint like the Vortex Razor HD has. It really is a great balance of color to produce a crisp image.
Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope Review: Image Clarity / Low Light Performance
How was the image clarity of the Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope? That’s really what matters most in all reality. No one wants to lug around a couple extra pounds if the optic isn’t going to do what you brought it to do. The Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope once again impressed us with its overall optical clarity, not just with me but with our entire group. Make sure to see how it ranked among the group over in our “Best Spotting Scope For Hunting” review.
The image produced by the Athlon Cronus was crisp, clear, and produced a nice color contrast, even into the waning hours of the evening. While the Cronus did drop off in low light and image clarity testing vs the alpha glass, that’s no surprise given that those optics are more expensive. With that being said, it performed exceptionally well in its price category, and quite frankly wasn’t far behind the alpha glass. Spending that extra money on the Kowa TSN 883, the Meopta Meostar S2, or the well-known Swarovski ATX does get you some extra minutes of good viewing in low light, so whether that’s worth it to you is entirely your decision.
Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope Review: Tunnel Effect
The field of view is one area I’d love to see improvement on in the Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope. While the field of view isn’t bad and was better than the other spotting scopes in its class, it was narrower than the likes of the Kowa TSN, Meopta Meostar, and Swarovski ATX. Here’s a quick rundown at 1000 yards at minimum and maximum zoom: (all have 20-60 zoom)
- Athlon Cronus: 60 ft-117 ft
- Kowa TSN 883/773: 76 ft-138 ft
- Swarovski ATX: 68 ft-124 ft
- Meopta Meostar WA: 68.8 ft-146 ft
As you can see, you definitely lose some field of view with the Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope, but again, you could purchase almost three of the Athlon Cronus spotting scopes vs the price of the Swarovski ATX, and two for the price of the Kowa TSN 883 or Meopta Meostar. Is the extra field of view that the wide angle lenses in the others give you worth the extra coin? That’s entirely up to you.
Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope Review: Chromatic Aberration
Minimal chromatic aberration was noted during our testing, as we did see a hint of it from time to time. We had some great viewing conditions in which to test for this in our group testing as there were scattered snow patches in the hills over a mile away. There was a slight amount of that greyish/blueish blur around the very edges of snow line where the snow stopped and the brown dirt started. Again, not bad at all, but a little was noted.
Keep in mind that we had the luxury of having many, many spotting scopes side by side for hours at a time, going back and forth from one to the other to make out these differences. But hey, we’re talking optics here, so being nit- picky is part of the deal, right?
Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope Review: What We liked
There was so much to love about the Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope while testing it for this review, but here’s a quick rundown of the things we absolutely loved about the 20-60×86 mm Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope:
- Crystal clear image
- Great edge-to-edge clarity
- Fantastic value
- Dual focus system
- Silky smooth eyepiece and zoom mechanisms
- Low profile design
- Price point
Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope Review: What We Didn’t Like
There wasn’t a lot to dislike about the Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope, but there were a few things noted that we felt could be improved upon:
- Some chromatic aberration
- Narrower field of view (tunnel feel)
Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope Warranty
Athlon Optics backs its optics with a full lifetime, no-questions-asked warranty. Not that long ago this was unheard of and only one company offered that kind of backing to their optics. That’s no longer the case as a good number of optic companies now offer amazing warranties. Athlon Optics is one of those companies. You can get out there and glass with your new Athlon Optics without worrying about having an accident, as we all know can happen, where you are out a lot of money. That’s a peace of mind that is awesome to have!
How The Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope Ranked
Relative to Its Price Category
Low Light Performance
Edge to Edge Clarity
Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope Review: Conclusion
After putting this Athlon Cronus Spotting Scope to the test in the field and gathering 14 opinions on how it stacked up against other spotters on the market, we were not only extremely pleased with the Athlon Cronos UHD spotting scope, but very surprised. Athlon Optics had more than lived up to the good things we’d heard about it.
Sure, there are a few things to improve on, namely adding a wide-angle eyepiece, but you can’t have it all without spending a kings ransom. With that being said, the Athlon Cronus UHD 20-60×86 mm Spotting Scope is one to consider if you are in the market for a full-size spotting scope that will give you excellent performance without having to mortgage the farm.
Subscribe to Backwoods Pursuit to get Your FREE Backcountry Gear Worksheet!!!
Dial in your gear list, calculate your pack weight, and lighten up your pack with this handy tool!