Kowa Prominar High Lander 82mm
Is this the ultimate spotting scope from the land of the rising sun?
Kowa Highlander 82mm bino Spotting scope – probably the best in class spotter of it’s kind in it’s weight category.
Kowa has been around long-range shooting for many years. In 1946, following the end of World War ll, technicians and drafted workers from the Optical Department of the Toyokawa Naval Arsenal combined their collective advanced technical skills and established the Optical Product Division at Kowa. Their history is well documented, and expertise acknowledged. Look around on any birding, shooting, archery or surveillance discussion board and the brand Kowa will be there.
It was one of the first brands recommended to me by target shooters over 15 years ago when I started looking for a spotter to get me to practice long range rifle shooting.
The need…everything starts from there
After our trip to Coldbore range in Denmark, we were on a quest to find the best spotting scopes we could get our hands on. Cold bore range near Skjern, in Denmark offers a military range with targets to 3200m, putting to test the best kit you can bring with you. At the time, I had brought with me my ATS 65mm Swarovski spotting scope. A highly portable spotter to which I had added 2 vortex MOA and MIL 30x eyepieces so that I could spot for either.
This spotting scope is ideal for spotting shots to about 1300m although it has served me to a mile in good weather conditions. However when the weather conditions went south, I could not quite see the impacts at 2000m, I was really pushing the conditions for which the spotter I had was built and I felt I was straining my eyes trying to pick up that small puff in the wet soil.
Kowa Prominar High Lander 82m – First date
During the King of 2 Mile show of 2018, I was watching legendary shooter David Tubb doing spotting work. He was sporting a huge pair of binoculars which reminded me of the naval ones I use to look through as a kid when visiting some war time museum. After a brief search through the websites of manufacturers I came across the KOWA PROMINAR HIGH LANDER spotting scope 82mm. Ok I thought, if David is using it, there must be something to it that appeals to this shooting discipline.
This spotting scope is a heavy weight lifter, its size is considerable and approaching that of similar size and power spotting scopes yet it comes in the form of a binocular. This makes spotting really comfortable and enables you to use both eyes which is natural.
Target acquisition with Kowa High Lander 82mm
Its shape makes it highly pointable enabling it to acquire targets instantly. This is very important especially in long range shooting where you may be looking at a timed course of fire. The Kowa High Lander sports a front sight to enable you to line it up with your intended target much like that you would have on a shotgun. I’ve tried using this at numerous distances to 1 mile and it works brilliantly, point and shoot sort of thing. At 6.2Kgs, these binoculars need a solid rest however they are not tripod-only. You can equally use them on a rucksack as their wide stance enables them to ride comfortably on a bag.
Kowa Highlander 82mm and tripod
If you’re mounting them on a tripod, you will need a dedicated tripod. I opted for the Norwegian made, Ulfhednar UHHD40 which can carry upto 40kg. They are superb, you may swap heads quickly and can open up to the size of a human being. Even when fully retracted, the tripod remains solid and little effected by wind.
Kowa Prominar High Lander head
Kowa provides its own head for the spotting scope. Originally I had though I would use one of my own but they assured me that they made a top notch head which fits this spotter perfectly. Indeed they did. The head is heavy but simple to use, it mounts in a dedicated notch in the spotting scope enabling you to tilt the angle of the spotter. It also turns 360 degrees enabling you to easily swing onto your intended object.
This PROMINAR model (BL8J3) is equipped with pure fluorite crystal objective lenses for those seeking the highest optical performance. The included 32xW eyepieces are designed to provide a wide field of view and long eye relief for comfortable viewing without eye fatigue. All lenses, prisms, and dustproof glass are fully multicoated, ensuring a clear visual range and sharp images. The body comes with an integrated carry handle. I carried it around for the last couple of months, it will fit perfectly in a small bag pack (40lts) that is also cabin approved. I flew with it to France and Germany without issues. Everyone knows you’re serious about optics when you pull this thing out of your sack.
Digiscoping with the Kowa Highlander 82mm spotter
Kowa in Europe makes over 140 smart-phone adapters individually made to suit your phone, just give them your phone model. Tailor made adapters
ensure you get the best digiscoping experience. We can attest to that.
Digiscoping is becoming ever more popular with young and old alike. How does it benefit us as shooters? Here you go:
- You can record your shooting sessions enabling you to go back and watch your shooting session.
- You can film your ladder tests and follow how different loads hold out. I filmed my 308Win ladder test last month at 600m. You can easily see the shots in paper at 600m.
- You can use these videos to instruct new shooters and show them what you’re looking for.
- The bullet trace shows up very easily. During training you can go back and watch the video clip if you haven’t managed to see the impact.
- You can also record different wind conditions, mirage and foliage movement to help your team train and become better spotters.
Watch Qualifying string of Gineste Benjamin – King of 1 Mile in Caylus 2020 digiscoped through the Kowa High Lander 82mm
The Kestrel sits perfectly in between the eyepieces of the Kowa High lander 82mm spotter. It’s a spotting station.
What sets the Kowa High Lander 82mm apart as a digiscoping platform?
The eyepiece on the Kowa High Lander is 50mmwide. This enables you to mount the phone-specific digi scoping kit seen above. This means the attachment is ULTRA stable. It does not move and once you set your phone for hands free pictures, you will make some of the most amazing footage. Your phone will adjust to the image automatically but make sure the picture is already in focus.
I’ve not yet tried a digi scoping platform as stable as this. As the phone is in it’s own protective housing, you can remove it or mount it as you please. There is no chance that water gets in between the lens and the housing so your spotter scope eyepiece will remain dry. I’ve tried others on different spotting scopes and water seeped between the phone camera and the eyepiece. At King of 1 Mile in Caylus France, this was the only way I could film because it kept the lenses dry and we were out filming shots for hours on end. The housing style digiscoping kit ensures that the distances from your phone camera to the spotting scope lens is always consistent. This provides for great filming.
At the last shooting session in Sicily, we were out training during rain and shine. We recorded our shots on balloon sized targets to 1.5km. As you can see, the Kowa did a great job. Remember, when you attach your phone, you may also add the digital zoom of your phone this while also using the other eyepiece to look for targets if you need it. What more can you ask for?
Anything Missing in the Kowa High Lander 82mm spotter for us shooters?
- MOA / MIL reticle option
Not much, surely not from an optical perspective. I have asked Kowa if they are willing to add a reticle to this already amazing piece of kit. So far, it’s not yet in the pipeline but you never know. If sufficient demand is there, it may turn the tables and make this product appeal to a wider audience.
I’ve used it to 1.8km with 30cal bullets. It’s super easy to spot your shots. Once you’ve seen the impact, you can direct the shooter to read the correction off his reticle or else direct him using target size. While using it, I’ve not missed an impact. I’de love to have a spotting scope cover for it to prevent scratches when carrying it around and travelling with possible flip up canvas covers. These are more readily useable in the field than threaded covers.
I can’t wait to be able to take it to Northern Italy for some 2km plus shooting. If you’re in the market for a serious spotter for your shooting facility, your rifle team or your personal needs and you don’t mind the large size but want absolute comfort in spotting, do give the Kowa Highlander 82mm a try, it will change the way you spend your time at the range.