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The Cabela’s CX Pro HD Spotting Scope is a competitively priced, advanced-grade spotting scope for hunting, target shooting, and birding. It comes in both straight and angled versions with both 65mm and 86mm objective lenses.
To get us a closer look at the CX Pro HD Spotting Scope, Cabela’s sent Man Makes Fire a 65mm angled 15x-45x review unit. This is what we learned:
Cabela’s CX Pro HD Spotting Scope Review: Price-to-Value Ratios
The Cabela’s CX Pro HD Spotting Scope boasts high-end features like a lightweight, rubber-armored magnesium-alloy chassis and fully multicoated ED lenses. The result is a ruggedized scope that offers very good light transmission, detail, and accurate color.
Basically, the overall quality and performance is very good.
Of course, there is a bit more to this story.
Cabela’s often shines in price-to-value ratios by producing a range of affordable Cabela’s-branded entry-level gear — like the company’s fly fishing rod and reel combos. But Cabela’s also produces what I would call midrange+ gear. This type of gear tends to perform well above average with competitive features . . . but costs less than most of the competition.
Cabela’s can do this because it has its own strong retail sales channel. To get gear produced, Cabela’s works with specialized manufacturers to get the products built to Cabela’s specifications. These expert manufacturers often sell their own branded offerings and have built up their own reputations for quality. Sometimes, but usually not, Cabela’s will share the name of the manufacturing partner. In the case of the CX Pro Spotting Scopes, Cabela’s isn’t sharing — but that fact may also be due to the manufacturer not wanting to reveal that it is building a product at a price point that might be lower than its own retail pricing.
Either way, the Cabela’s CX Pro HD line has a very similar build design to the now discontinued Cabela’s Krotos spotting scopes — which, by the way, had been very well received by many hunters for offering a great price-to-quality value.
The Cabela’s CX Pro HD Spotting Scope external build quality is fantastic, and we appreciate the gray and black color choices. The focus grip texture is understated but effective. The focus is smooth, as is the zoom and even the adjustable twist-up eyecup. Outstanding, actually.
I used the CX Pro HD Spotting Scope while elk hunting this year and found it to produce clear images with accurate color and generally low aberration.
For the price point, I think most hunters will be pleasantly surprised at the overall quality.
Cabela’s CX Pro Spotting Scope: Angled or Straight?
Cabela’s offers the CX Pro in straight or angled configurations. Straight versions are a bit easier to pack into the backcountry and can be a bit easier for extreme downhill spotting. Straight can sometimes be better for window mounting on a pickup truck, but angled versions that offer rotational adjustments can give you a wider range of angle options. By adjusting an angled spotting scope, you can sometimes view more land without moving your body much.
Finally, angled spotting scopes can be used with shorter tripods. So, imagine how and where you want to use your spotting scope most and choose the right angle for you.
How to Choose Magnification and Objective Lens Sizing
Magnification is a tougher choice. Many hunters tend to think more magnification is better, but that’s not necessarily the case. The more magnification you have, the smaller field of view you’ll have when viewing. Also, shakes, bumps and wind can make it harder to perceive an object under heavy magnification. If you dial it back, your eyes and brain might be able to process the image with greater clarity.
Twist-up eye cup.
Angle adjustment knob.
The angled version lets you use a lower tripod.
Included protective neoprene cover.
Of course, perceived clarity is also a factor of the size of the objective lens and the exit pupil calculation. Basically, bigger lenses at the end of your spotting scope let more light enter your pupil, making the image seem brighter. As you increase magnification, you decrease the amount of light that can enter your pupil, potentially making the image seem darker. To learn more about exit pupil, check out Binoculars 101: The Basics.
What does this mean with the Cabela’s CX Pro HD Spotting Scopes? Basically it means that the 86mm version will seem a little bit brighter at the same level of magnification compared to the smaller spotting scope in low-light situations. Another way to consider it is through exit pupil calculations and magnification. So at 20X, the 86mm version has an exit pupil calculation of 4.3 and will appear just as bright as the 65mm version at 15x, which has an exit pupil calculation of 4.33. But you get 5x more magnification with the 86mm version to get essentially the same amount of light delivered to your eye. Of course, there can be minor differences in light transmission and coatings, but that should be very similar between the Cabela’s CX Pro HD versions.
But wait, there’s more: The Field of View delivered by the 86mm version is smaller, which can sometimes make using a spotting scope to find animals harder. Basically at a 1,000 yards, you’ll see less landscape through the 86mm version.
Need help choosing? For most new or upgrading spotting scope users, the angled 15-45X 65mm version will be the most versatile. Straight versions could be better for backcountry hunters concerned about weight and packability. Meanwhile, for wide-open landscape Western hunters, the 20-60X 86mm version is likely the best choice.
Cabela’s CX Pro HD Spotting Scope: Excellent Price-to-Value
The question is more about your budget. If you can afford multi-thousand dollar optics, by all means, go with the best options you can afford. But, you should know that above average and very good spotting scopes will work well for most hunters. In addition, the increases in quality tend to become smaller and smaller as the price goes up. At a certain point, most hunters can’t tell a difference between a very good spotting scope and a very very good spotting scope that costs three times as much.
If you want high-quality gear that performs at price points above its cost, the CX Pro HD Spotting Scopes from Cabela’s turn into can’t-go-wrong purchases and will make great gifts for many big game hunters and shooting enthusiasts. The price-to-value ratio in the Cabela’s CX Pro HD Spotting Scope is simply excellent. Highly recommended.