Kowa 773 vs Swaro 65 ATS update review

AZBULLCRAZY

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I recently started a post titled another swaro vs kowa post. I wanted to share my review and thoughts on both over the next couple days through different settings. I do believe it will be mostly personal preference as I feel everyones eyes gravitate to certain colors and other factors.

I ended up purchasing both to compare. Below is a picture of both for size comparisons. I first purchased the swaro 65 ATS with the 25-50 wide angle eyepiece from a member here. I did this telling myself this was the one I wanted. I received it and was happy as it was in brand new condition. Using it that afternoon it was better than my previous Vortex as it should be. However I started to have that feeling of could the kowa 77 be better? My wife being the most awesome wife agreed to let me purchase the kowa 77 to compare each then keep the one I liked the most.

Today I received the kowa 77 from S&S Archery. After unboxing it I felt good as it didn't seem as big as I thought it would. Holding both the kowa and swaro at first I couldn't tell a difference in weight. I did weigh them both with the lens covers on and no cases. The swaro came in at 49.9 ounces and the kowa was 59.8 ounces.

I set them up on my tripod with my outdoorsman pistol grip attachment in my backyard. I have a mountain range behind me and was glassing anywhere from 1.5 miles to 3 miles away. It was about 90 minutes before dark and complete cloud cover due to rain in the afternoon.

I first used the swaro and picked out a tree with an opening at the bottom about 2.5 miles away. The swaro with this eyepiece I will say is very clear to me upto max 50 power. I could make out the shadow area below the tree but it was still dark. I then looked at some small openings next to the tree to get a sense of color and brightness. The swaro's image to me brings out the green colors very well. I then switched to the kowa and found the same tree. I placed the kowa at the same power being 50. The image did seem a little brighter but feel this shadow area was too dark for anything to see into. I then looked thru the same openings as I did with the swaro and again it appeared to be a little brighter. To me the kowa brings out brown colors more and the swaro brings out more green colors. I then focused on a dead gray tree about 3 miles away with the kowa. At 50 power its was extremely clear. As I zoomed to the max 60 power the image was still good but did distort some, however not hardly as bad as most other manufacturers at their highest settings. Using the swaro and looking at the same tree at the max 50 power the tree was also very clear with no distortion, but the overall image just a shade darker than the kowa. Now its hard for me to explain as im not a glass scientist but when I say a shade darker I feel it must be the objective difference as the whole fov of the swaro is very crisp to me.

I then used both to scan and grid with. This is where it I feel the swaro was better. The swaro to me has very good edge to edge clarity as I scanned and moved my eye around it felt very lasered in to the surroundings. I then switched to the kowa. Scanning with the kowa was good but to my eye did not have as good edge to edge clarity however the image in the center was really good.

As it was getting dark I glassed various distances at the same objects. I did have to turn the swaro down to 40 power to brighten up the image and the kowa just to 50 power. This should be due to the kowa having a 77 objective to the swaros 65. It was here where I still noticed the swaro really bringing out the greens and the kowa the browns so not sure if this is why the kowa appears brighter at times even before dark.

Up until 15 minutes before dark I was really struggling between the two. The swaros overall edge to edge gave it a very nice image making it comfortable to scan with but did appear darker. The kowa was brighter and the image was good but not as great edge to edge. As I mentally focused on the edge to edge with the kowa I feel that made it not as comfortable. Now during the last 15 minutes of light I will say the kowa did take the lead letting me see more detail at about 10 more power than the swaro.

To me its easy to say who cares about last 10 minutes of light as how will you get on that animal. However if your mountain hunting and glassing various ridges to gameplan for the next day those last 10 minutes can be vital.

As of now I am kind of torn but I am not done. I am going to examine both side by side for several days, morning, mid day and evening in clear bright sky, heat of day with mirage etc. Today was almost a toss up. At times the swaro seemed clearer and at times the kowa did. It very well might come down to whether that extra 10 power magnification and a little more lowlight is more important than size and weight.

As far as handling the scopes I do feel the swaro is more comfortable. I mentioned earlier both felt around the same weight. But while switching them out back and fourth, the swaro did feel lighter. It was also just easier to grab due to swaros rubber armor and slightly smaller size. The kowa has an aluminum body but a slightly rougher coat so I won't say slippery but on a cold morning grabbing the swaro would feel safer to me. The swaro is also more round throughout just making it easier to grab as well where the kowa with the focus dial makes it a little bigger. I know that sounds like a dumb complaint but I am just imagining switching out a spotter to and from binos alot during glassing periods. The eye cups on the swaro also felt tighter and smooth being able to adjust it right where you want it. The kowas have locking settings and was a little looser. They both worked fine but just preferred the swaros. The focus wheel on the swaro is their barrell adjustment. Its smooth as usual and since I am use to that it was easy to adjust it. The kowa has the finger wheel on top with the main and fine adjustment. It also worked well but due to me never using this type of focus took me some time to adjust to it. I will say I could adjust the swaros focus without causing the spotter to move or shake much. The kowas focusing wheel is a little tighter and found it would move the spotter a little more while adjusting. Again that could be me as I am not use to it. I will say the kowas focusing dial does feel like you can fine tune it to great accuracy where the swaro feels like once your there you are just there. Weight wise yes the swaro is lighter and smaller. The swaro to me can be packed in a spotter pocket without a case in my mind do to the rubber armor coating. The kowa I would definetely want a case and most are around 5 ounces I have found. That would take the kowa to right about 1lb heavier than the swaro. However size wise the kowa is not a deal breaker for packing as its the same length and just a little fatter.

Again I will compare these throughout the next week in different conditions and follow up on this thread. I am not a digiscoper but will see if they make universal scope mounts so I can capture some images to share. I really want to love the kowa and hope it wins mainly due to all the love it gets while comparing to the 65. Time will tell. Here are pics of the two side by side for size comparison.

20210728_213012.jpg
 

tdhanses

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Now you need to get the Kowa 55, the 77 series doesn’t have the fluorite glass like the 55 and 88, to me the 55 is the best backpacking spotter out there if you aren’t counting rings for a legal animal and use it to get a better look but not constantly scan.

I had the swaro 80hd ATS and sold it when I got the 55, it has a zoom range to 45x, I now have the 77 in addition to the 55.

One other thing to note there is an extender that will take the 77 to 96x zoom while the ATS does not have this available, have to step up to the ATX/STX to have that option.

But otherwise I’d say the Kowa 77 is very similar to the swaro ATS/STS spotter.
 

JNDEER

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Good stuff- always nice to hear unbiased opinions when it’s their hard earned $$$ going towards the review

when I did my comparing at distance I found small branches or twigs to simulate antlers to help with the low light comparing- for what it’s worth.

Looking forward to the follow up report
 
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AZBULLCRAZY

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Good stuff- always nice to hear unbiased opinions when it’s their hard earned $$$ going towards the review

when I did my comparing at distance I found small branches or twigs to simulate antlers to help with the low light comparing- for what it’s worth.

Looking forward to the follow up report
Great advice I forgot to mention I did that at times last night. That is where my eyes were torn. In thick green areas it seemed the kowa was a little more crisp on branches and in more brown brush areas the swaro was. But can't say for sure as I am going to reassess that tonight.
 
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AZBULLCRAZY

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Now you need to get the Kowa 55, the 77 series doesn’t have the fluorite glass like the 55 and 88, to me the 55 is the best backpacking spotter out there if you aren’t counting rings for a legal animal and use it to get a better look but not constantly scan.

I had the swaro 80hd ATS and sold it when I got the 55, it has a zoom range to 45x, I now have the 77 in addition to the 55.

One other thing to note there is an extender that will take the 77 to 96x zoom while the ATS does not have this available, have to step up to the ATX/STX to have that option.

But otherwise I’d say the Kowa 77 is very similar to the swaro ATS/STS spotter.
I can totally believe that 55 is amazing. The only reason im not going that route yet is I do like to scan with a spotter at times too. However I need to get my eye into that 55 as so many say once you do its amazing. And it might be what I need as wearing contacts I find scanning too long with an eye closed it messes up my contact to where I spend too much time fixing it. I have used eyepatches and helps a little. So for that I can see the 55 being the just point and shoot to verify quickly being a good option. Thanks
 

tdhanses

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I can totally believe that 55 is amazing. The only reason im not going that route yet is I do like to scan with a spotter at times too. However I need to get my eye into that 55 as so many say once you do its amazing. And it might be what I need as wearing contacts I find scanning too long with an eye closed it messes up my contact to where I spend too much time fixing it. I have used eyepatches and helps a little. So for that I can see the 55 being the just point and shoot to verify quickly being a good option. Thanks
Yeah Im not a fan of too much time behind a spotter and keeping one eye closed, I got an eye patch even, lol.

I prefer to do 90% of my glassing through binos using 2 eyes.

Great write up, so now what color would you prefer in fall when there is a bunch of brown/tan as the green dies off?
 
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AZBULLCRAZY

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Yeah Im not a fan of too much time behind a spotter and keeping one eye closed, I got an eye patch even, lol.

I prefer to do 90% of my glassing through binos using 2 eyes.

Great write up, so now what color would you prefer in fall when there is a bunch of brown/tan as the green dies off?
Great question as I was thinking the same thing last night. Im kinda debating keeping both for my October Idaho mule deer hunt. Using one each day. Im kinda thinking the swaro maybe due to me feeling it has a darker tone in thick green areas where in browner areas it pops a little better. I don't know if that explanation makes sense. And I could be wrong as tonight I am going to find an area with some dead spots from drought to compare more.
 
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AZBULLCRAZY

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Now you need to get the Kowa 55, the 77 series doesn’t have the fluorite glass like the 55 and 88, to me the 55 is the best backpacking spotter out there if you aren’t counting rings for a legal animal and use it to get a better look but not constantly scan.

I had the swaro 80hd ATS and sold it when I got the 55, it has a zoom range to 45x, I now have the 77 in addition to the 55.

One other thing to note there is an extender that will take the 77 to 96x zoom while the ATS does not have this available, have to step up to the ATX/STX to have that option.

But otherwise I’d say the Kowa 77 is very similar to the swaro ATS/STS spotter.
Super quick have you looked thru that extender? Does it get pretty distorted / fuzzy out past say 80 power? Curious as that could be a reason to go with the 77 if it stays pretty clear.
 

tdhanses

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Super quick have you looked thru that extender? Does it get pretty distorted / fuzzy out past say 80 power? Curious as that could be a reason to go with the 77 if it stays pretty clear.
I have and I leave it on most of the time as it adds very little length. It will depend on the heat as it’ll produce more mirage but I’ve been able to easily zoom way out there and make out exactly what I’m looking at as long as the mirage isn’t too bad.

I want to say it goes from 40-96x in range but that’s just off memory.
 

as.ks.ak

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If you like the 77 that much, you need to pony up and get the 88. The fluorite glass is next level. I have a 77 on the shelf at the house now.....you know, just in case I break the 88. (And also nobody wants to buy it ).

But seriously. The 88 is my end all be all. I love it very much.


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AZBULLCRAZY

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If you like the 77 that much, you need to pony up and get the 88. The fluorite glass is next level. I have a 77 on the shelf at the house now.....you know, just in case I break the 88. (And also nobody wants to buy it ).

But seriously. The 88 is my end all be all. I love it very much.


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Man right after buying the 77 I hear this? Lol. No actually I knew that 88 is hands down amazing. I thought about it but space wise the 77 is about as much as I want to pack. My thought always has been I pack the kifaru reckoning which has the meat hauler. So I try to not jam a ton of stuff in my pack so I can atleast get a good load out first trip before grabbing my main meat pack. Sucks solo hunting at times but is what it is. With that the 88 would be amazing but then id find stuff too far away that I couldnt even get too lol. Figured the 65 and 77 was safer. But good on ya as that 88 looks sweet.
 

Matt G.

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Man right after buying the 77 I hear this? Lol. No actually I knew that 88 is hands down amazing. I thought about it but space wise the 77 is about as much as I want to pack. My thought always has been I pack the kifaru reckoning which has the meat hauler. So I try to not jam a ton of stuff in my pack so I can atleast get a good load out first trip before grabbing my main meat pack. Sucks solo hunting at times but is what it is. With that the 88 would be amazing but then id find stuff too far away that I couldnt even get too lol. Figured the 65 and 77 was safer. But good on ya as that 88 looks sweet.
Especially when there is one in the classified priced around the the 77 series!

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FlyGuy

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Well, shut. This thread just cost me $315. I have the 77 and love it, but I Had no idea kowa made a doubler for it. It’s on the way now from cameraland! Going to give it a go on my AZ early archery MD tag in a few weeks


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AZBULLCRAZY

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Well I have made a decision after several glassing sessions with both. Here is my assessment and again its all personal as I have found with glass everyones eyes are just different.

The Swaro:
Overall it just works. Ergonomically it just feels better from the easy focus adjustment to the rubber armor to the smooth eyepiece. Weight is great at 49oz and size is great. The clarity is good all the way maxed out to 50 power. In good light I feel the swaro keeps up with the kowa 77 and being a smaller objective that speaks pretty well. When things get darker then thats when the power has to be backed off and the kowa starts taking over.

Kowa 773:

Overall a great piece of glass. Ergonomically to me not as good as the swaro. The focus adjustment knob works well and I have gotten use to it but will say it does take longer to get it to the sweet spot vs the swaro. However once there it is very clear. My biggest gripe is the aluminum body it has over the swaro rubber armor. Now this probably keeps its weight down so a toss up. It is slightly roughed up for a little grip but its one you want to make sure you have a hand on. The eyepiece just has 3 locking spots and not as smooth as the swaro. The kowa isnt bad but again prefer the swaros. Weight wise yes 59oz so 10 more than swaro. The swaro I feel can go in a spitter pocket without a case but not so with Kowa. With a 6oz case for kowa we are now talking 1lb heavier than swaro.

Now the kowa image. Amazing to me. What you get with the kowa over swaro is 10 more power in their wide angle eyepiece and a bigger objective which does better during id say last 30 minutes of light. Scanning lower power both are great. The swaro like I have said has a little darker image like it gravitates towards the green colors. The kowa has a lighter image like gravitating towards light browns. At low power being 30 power at times during good light I actually preferred the swaro for scanning image. But when power goes maxed out the kowa takes the lead even good lighting.

One night about 30 minutes before dark I glassed up a deer on the mountainside about 2.5 to 3 miles away. It was partially clear skies minor cloud cover. I first had the swaro on it at 50 power. At first I could tell okay its a doe or a small small buck I wouldn't have cared for anyhow. I backed the power to 40 and although image was a little better I definetely wouldn't be able to tell buck or doe. I then grabbed the kowa 77 at about 25 minutes before dark. I found the deer at 50 power. Due to the larger objective it did trump the swaro at 50 power. I could see more detail due to more light. I then cranked it up to kowas max power at 60 and could definetely see everything being a doe 100%. I then at about 20 min before dark went back to the swaro. I could only make out the body at this time and nothing else that would tell me anything. This was at 30 to 50 power adjusting it. Again back to the kowa at about 15 min before dark and at max 60 power could tell it was getting darker but could still see detail. When I backed it to 50 power I could again see enough detail to tell me I was looking at a doe.

After this I was pretty amazed by this kowa 77. Now back up to 30 min before dark. The swaro would have probably told me if this was a decent shooter buck had it had a rack. The kowa would have better given me details of the rack though. And of course as light diminished the swaro wouldn't have given me much where the kowa would have. Also goes for mid day in dark shadow areas. The kowa was brighter in these situations compared to the swaro. The swaro was still good but the kowa did outperform it there in my eyes.

This takes me to what I feel is a hard decision but one I am making. The swaro like said just feels and handles better but that glassing session with the deer swayed me to the kowa 77 and thats what I am going to keep. Now the bad part is not as ergonomical and a full pound heavier. I get guys that say just shed a pound somewhere else or its only a pound suck it up. But lets be honest we all want the lightest pack we can have. On day 1 and 2 not a big deal but deep into hunts it all catches up. So call me a wimp but weight does matter.

I actually see why some keep this comparison going with the swaro 65 and kowa 77 being the price is within a couple hundred bucks. Also being that the 65 does pretty dang well for being 12mm smaller. I feel the kowa 77 should be compared more to the swaro 80 ATS where to me after looking thru the swaro 65 the 80 would trump the 77 atleast to me. But at about 800 more dollars with the 25-50 eyepiece.

For these wide angle eyepieces. Yes both are great and gives a great fov. But atleast me you have to be right on them perfectly compared to a regular eyepiece. With that being said I have been the type who hated scanning with a spotter. It tires me out, bothers my eyes as I wear contacts. But with both of these spotters for the first time I enjoyed scanning with a spotter and did so for upto 2 hours each time. If I still had my old feeling I would sell both and get the kowa 55. But enjoying them made me feel good.

In all I did this for guys like me. That is guys who pull their hair out and buy glass then sell it buy something else and wonder what if etc etc. Lets face it 10 to 15 years ago this wasn't an issue but today there is alot of good glass out there. To me its about what catches your eye and what size and weight wise you want to carry.

Even though im listing that swaro tonight do not discard that. First its alot lighter and smaller and just works. Easy to focus and built so dang well. I can see why backpack hunters and even just day pack hiking hunters gravitate to them. Time will tell with the kowa and my only concern is we know the swaro will keep going many years internally so will the kowa though?

I appreciate everyones feedback and I do truly hope I have helped some out. Now anyone who is wanting the swaro 65 let me know. Its in new condition. If your interested in the kowa I went through S&S Archery and got a great deal as they are on sale plus the rokslide discount.

Thanks
 
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Moserkr

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For a pound more than the 65mm, I wonder how the 85mm swaro would compare. The extra glass definitely lets the light in more. Great review, appreciate the intel!
 
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AZBULLCRAZY

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For a pound more than the 65mm, I wonder how the 85mm swaro would compare. The extra glass definitely lets the light in more. Great review, appreciate the intel!
The 85mm would be the ATX so think it would be about 1.5 lbs to 2lbs more. The 80mm swaro is the ATS. Honestly after seeing this 65mm swaro I think that 80mm ats is probably the ticket for a guy like me. But this kowa was 500 dollars off with the sale and rokslide discount. So 1800 bucks for this kowa or 3200 for the 80mm swaro. Yes that 80mm swaro probably is a little better than this kowa but to me only worth it when the kowa isnt on sale. I thought about it honestly but also bought a pair of 8x42 NL pures. The swaro NL is pretty dang amazing. Got a good deal on them. Almost wish I would have gotten the 10s but due to my hand tremor I needed the 8s as I run the 15 slcs on a tripod anyhow. The fov on the pures is where its at. That is what makes them so good. Seems brighter than the el's.
 

Moserkr

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With that price difference, I can see where the kowa makes more sense. All good intel. Thanks again! I had a chance to look through my buddy’s NL 10x last weekend next to my 10x SLCs. They were nice but a lot of coin for that little bit better glass/fov/ergonomics. Ill be hanging onto my SLCs for a while.
 

tdhanses

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As for your wondering about Kowa durability/reliability I haven’t had any issues and I can’t think of hearing about many others as well, I can think of seeing more swaro threads with issues but I don’t know if Kowa sells as many as swaro, overall your good with either brand, they are both alpha glass and top tier.

Now get an extender and your golden, lol. Really though if you want to backpack a spotter you really should give the 55 series a look, just go into it knowing it’s not great to use to scan, it’s more of a verification tool. It has a better imagine then the ATS/sts swaro and only 5x less zoom then the wa swaro eyepiece but it’s fov is short.
 
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AZBULLCRAZY

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As for your wondering about Kowa durability/reliability I haven’t had any issues and I can’t think of hearing about many others as well, I can think of seeing more swaro threads with issues but I don’t know if Kowa sells as many as swaro, overall your good with either brand, they are both alpha glass and top tier.

Now get an extender and your golden, lol. Really though if you want to backpack a spotter you really should give the 55 series a look, just go into it knowing it’s not great to use to scan, it’s more of a verification tool. It has a better imagine then the ATS/sts swaro and only 5x less zoom then the wa swaro eyepiece but it’s fov is short.
I think your right. I have sold some gear and stuff I don't need anymore and bought this 77 spotter and some NL pures. My budget next year is to buy that kowa 55. Then I should be complete, well until something else comes along lol. Too many good companies anymore.
 
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