We love optics here at Backwoods Pursuit, so naturally doing this Kowa TSN 773 review 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 all lined up next to each other, you can really start to see the differences. But when does anyone have tons of different spotting scopes at once to literally compare them all to each other?
Amazingly, that’s exactly what we got the chance to do for this series of spotting scope reviews. Our goal for this project was to find the best compact spotting scope, 65 mm class spotting scope, 85 mm class spotting scope, as well as the best values in each of the categories. Make sure you check out all of the other spotting scope reviews here on the website as well as over on the Backwoods Pursuit YouTube Channel!
Want to see how the Kowa TSN 773 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, volunteer participants, 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! Two years of work, research, and testing went into this review. You don’t want to miss this!
Dive into the details on every one of the spotting scopes in the review above by becoming a Backwoods Pursuit Member (TOTALLY FREE) and you can download the data we used to put this review together.
Kowa Optics – Taking the Hunting Industry By Storm
Kowa Optics may not be a brand you are all that familiar with in the hunting world, but you probably should be as they are growing quickly in recognition among hunters. A long time staple in the birding circles, Kowa features some top-notch optics, so we wanted to put together this Kowa TSN 773 review to test it out. We had heard some great things about the Kowa TSN spotting scopes (and I’d had the chance to test one in the past), so putting together this Kowa TSN 773 review was a must.
If you’ve been following us here at Backwoods Pursuit, you are probably aware that we love testing optics. A while back we set out to put together the biggest spotting scope test and review possible to help folks make an educated decision on what spotting scope will best fit their needs and budget. This test took two years to gather all of the spotting scopes, field test them all, and organize a large group of volunteers to help us rank these spotting scopes. Want to see how the Kowa TSN 773 Spotting Scope ranked in that massive test and review? Check out our enormous review: “The Best Spotting Scopes For Hunting!”
Kowa TSN 773 Review: The Testing
As mentioned above, we did this Kowa TSN 773 review as part of the huge comparison review, but we also wanted to go into more detail on the Kowa TSN 773 Spotting Scope than we could provide in that article. We were able to field test the Kowa TSN 773 throughout the 2020 scouting and hunting seasons, as well as include it in our group testing to get the opinions of 14 avid hunters.
Kowa TSN 773 Review: The Specs
The Kowa TSN 773 features a large 77 mm objection lens that gathers a ton of light for top-notch, low light performance. Make sure to see how the Kowa TSN 773 stacked up against the competition in our “Best Spotting Scope For Hunting” review! Here are some of its specs:
- 25-60x wide angle eyepiece
- Large 77mm objective lens
- XD lens
- Signature Kowa dual focus system
- Magnesium alloy body
- Sun shade
- Twist up 4 position eyepiece
- Weight: 59 oz
- 17 mm eye relief
- No rubber armor
- Price: $2,300
Kowa TSN 773 Review: XD Lenses
The Kowa TSN 773 features their XD glass rather than their premium pure fluorite glass that you find in the TSN 883 and TSN 553 spotting scopes. With that being said, you’ll be hard pressed to see much of a difference as the Kowa XD glass is incredible. In typical hunting situations you won’t likely be able to decipher a noticeable difference in performance, but you do get a bit more out of the pure fluorite glass that Kowa offers.
So why does Kowa make a 77 mm size when almost everyone else sticks to the 65 mm size? I’m not sure, but I do know that because of its construction, it weighs in at just a couple ounces more than the Swarovski ATX 65 mm even with the larger 77 mm objective lens. Pretty impressive! In our huge spotting scope review, the Kowa TSN 773 decisively stole the show in BOTH the size and price category we put it in. I was amazed at how it stacked up not only against the 65 mm class, but also how it stood up to the larger 85 mm class spotting scope. Check that out HERE.
Kowa TSN 773 Review: Eyepiece
The Kowa TSN 773 features a 4 position click stop eyepiece that is very comfortable. While it wasn’t my absolute favorite of ALL the spotting scopes we tested in our massive spotting scope review, it was right there near the top. The clicks are nice and crisp with no play, and the eyepiece has a nice, comfortable, rubber coating with enough resistance to keep it in place inside your pack.
When field testing for this Kowa TSN 773 review, I noticed that the rubber eyepiece cover always seemed to come off in my pack which was a bit annoying. It certainly isn’t a good thing to have the protective cover of your expensive optic come off when you don’t want it to.
Kowa TSN 773 Review: Dual Focus System
One of the most endearing things our group came to love through this Kowa TSN 773 review is Kowa’s fantastic dual focus system. This focus system is my favorite focus system of all the spotting scopes I’ve tested to date (over 20 that I’ve personally used in the field). I wasn’t the only one who loved the Kowa Spotting Scope dual focus system, it was hands down the favorite of our testing group as well.
People commented over and over again on how awesome the Kowa dual focus system was. The Kowa dual focus system allows you to fine tune the image with minimal disturbance to the object you are viewing, while we all found the barrel focus style to cause much more shaking during the fine-tuning process, especially at the highest magnifications when you really need to fine tune the image.
Kowa TSN 773 Review: Weight/Body Construction
The Kowa TSN 773 spotting scope is constructed of magnesium alloy to help keep the weight down while maintaining a super durable shell. This is evident when you see that this 77 mm spotting scope weighs in at just 59 ounces. That’s pretty impressive for such a large spotting scope. While it’s nice to have a rubber armor covering the outside of your spotting scope, after field use I found that it really isn’t necessary, especially with a magnesium alloy body. Durability isn’t a concern at all, it’s just a little less comfortable to hold and touch when using, especially in colder weather when a rubber armor doesn’t transfer as much cold as directly touching the magnesium alloy.
Kowa TSN 773 Review: Image Clarity/Low Light Performance
As we talked about earlier, you are getting some of the best image quality imaginable with the Kowa TSN 773 spotting scope. The image the Kowa TSN 773 gives you is so crisp and clear, it’s likely to blow you away as it did nearly every one of our testers. Kowa spotting scopes feature a warmer tint to the glass than something like the Swarovski ATX which makes for a more pleasant viewing experience in most lighting conditions.
The Kowa TSN 773 went neck and neck with the Swarovski ATX 65 mm and all of the 85 mm spotting scopes it competed against in its price class. In the end, it edged out the ATX in the 65 mm class and blew away the competition in the 85 mm class in its price class. The testers and I were once again blown away by this spotting scope’s performance and the fact that it not only beat out the ATX in the 65 mm class, but also decisively won the day in the $1,500 – $2,500 price class for 85 mm spotting scopes.
Kowa TSN 773 Review: Edge-to-Edge Clarity
Through the course of this Kowa TSN 773 review our team noted the excellent edge-to-edge clarity of the Kowa TSN 773, but the vote for best edge-to-edge clarity went to the Swarovski ATX by a slim extra vote. There was no notable loss of image clarity from the center of the field of view all the way to the outermost edges. You know you are looking through top-notch glass when this happens.
I also noticed that the Kowa TSN 773 offers a good amount of forgiveness, if you will, in the eyepiece. By that I mean that you don’t have to have your eye positioned perfectly to get the full field of view. Some spotting scopes, particularly less expensive models, tend to have less forgiveness and require perfect eye placement to use it, especially at full magnification. Not so with the Kowa TSN 773.
Kowa TSN 773 review: Chromatic Aberration
Chromatic aberration? What’s that? The Kowa TSN 773 has none that I could pick out. Edges of snowy banks transitioning to brown dirt and the outline of a tree leaf from 1000+ yards away were as clear and crisp as could be. Not many spotting scopes have no identifiable chromatic aberration, especially at this price point, but this is one of the exceptions.
Kowa TSN 773 Review: Field of View
The Kowa TSN 773 gives you a massive field of view second only to the Meopta Meostar at low zoom. (Granted the Kowa’s minimum zoom is 25x while the Meopta Meostar’s minimum zoom is 30x for the wide angle eyepiece.)
- Athlon Cronus: 117 ft-60 ft
- Kowa TSN 883/773: 138 ft-76 ft
- Swarovski ATX: 124 ft-68 ft
- Meopta Meostar WA: 146 ft-68.8 ft
What was particularly impressive during this Kowa TSN 773 review is how it offered a comparable field of view to the Swarovski ATX, even though the ATX starts at 20x vs the 25x minimum zoom of the TSN 773. As you can see, the Kowa TSN 773 is significantly better than the Athlon Cronus and Maven S1.A. The Maven S1.A tops out at 50x, thus why it has a larger field of view than others that have a max zoom of 60x, respectively.
It also maintained a huge field of view at maximum magnification (60x) compared to others at their 60x magnification, even the Meopta Meostar which has a larger field of view at lower magnification, so you get a huge field of view, crystal clear image, and near-perfect edge-to-edge clarity with the Kowa TSN 773.
Kowa TSN 773 Review: What We liked
I walked away from this Kowa TSN 773 review with so much to love. It’s such an impressive scope! The edge-to-edge clarity, dual focus system, comfortable eyepiece, super smooth zoom mechanism, and price point relative to the ATX all stand out with the Kowa TSN 773.
- Image clarity
- Dual focus mechanism
- Smooth zoom mechanism
- Edge-to-edge clarity
- Price point
Kowa TSN 773 Review: What I Didn’t Like
This list is very short, but there are a few things that could be better.
- No rubber armor
- Eye piece cover won’t stay on
- No Arca-swiss base
- Low light performance in snow
Kowa TSN 773 Review: The Perfect “Does it All Spotting Scope”
If you can only afford one spotting scope, and that’s probably most of us, the Kowa TSN 773 is a perfect option. It performs extremely well when compared to the best of the best (and even out-performs some of them), keeps the weight down, performs incredibly well in low light, and features a fantastic wide angle viewing experience. If you can only buy one, the Kowa TSN 773 is worth saving up for.
Kowa TSN 773 Review: The Warranty
Kowa Optics offer a lifetime warranty that is transferable. I’ve not had the need to test out the warranty, but it’s good to know that your purchase is backed by, what I hear to be, a solid warranty. You do want to register your purchase with Kowa to make sure you get the warranty coverage you want, but that’s nothing new.
check out All 3 of the Top Kowa Spotting Scopes!
How The Kowa TSN 773 Spotting Scope Ranked
Relative to Its Price Category
Low Light Performance
Edge to Edge Clarity
Kowa TSN 773 Review: Conclusion
At the end of testing for this Kowa TSN 773 review, I was left with an appreciation for top-notch glass. However, budget will likely determine if you can make the plunge for something like the Kowa TSN 773 spotting scope.
Is it worth the money? Well, that depends on how you use a spotting scope. If you spend long hours behind glass and look to your optics to save you hiking to size up critters before you take off after them, then absolutely! If you don’t particularly need to see if an animal is a certain class, size, or age group, then you can likely get by just fine spending less on your spotter and putting the money elsewhere. That’s a call you have to make for yourself.
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