Leupold SX-1 Ventana Spotting Scope Review

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Leupold SX-1 Ventana Spotting Scope Review

Check out this Leupold SX-1 Ventana review where I discuss it’s advantages and disadvantages.

In case you haven’t noticed already, I have now added a “Gear and Outfitter Review” page to the blog and today is my first review on a piece of hunting gear. I recently purchased a Leupold SX-1 Ventana 15-45×60 Angled Spotting Scope and this article is a Leupold SX-1 Ventana spotting scope review.

The Leupold SX-1 Ventana is Leupold’s entry level spotting scope and is available in both a 15-45x60mm and a 20-60x80mm configuration as well as with both straight and angled eyepieces. Leupold also sells each scope configuration in a kit for an additional $40-50 that includes the scope itself, a hard carrying case, a soft case, a carrying strap, and a small tripod. For the record, I purchased the Leupold SX-1 Ventana 15-45x60mm angled spotting scope kit.

All variants of the scope have an eyepiece that has adjustable eye relief for users who wear glasses. Additionally, the scope has an extending lens shade for use on exceptionally bright days and detachable lens covers for both lenses to protect them when the scope is not in use. The scope will work on any standard 1/4-20 size tripod. Finally, the scope is also guaranteed 100% fog proof and waterproof by Leupold and comes with their full lifetime warranty.

Having used many different types of Leupold optics in the past, I knew that they manufacture very high quality glass that perform well in low light conditions. This scope is no different and does not disappoint. I was very pleasantly surprised at how well images looked through such a reasonably priced scope. While images are the most clear, crisp, and bright at low magnification, they still look great at 45x. The scope is also rugged and durable, which is a plus for people like me who are hard on their equipment.

I even compared the Leupold SX-1 Ventana to a higher end (and significantly more expensive) Vortex scope at a local sporting goods store. While the Vortex definitely produced images that were brighter and clearer, the difference between the two scopes was not nearly as great as the price would make it seem. You really get your money’s worth out of the SX-1!

Shortly after I purchased this scope, I was able to test it out on a trip to Mount Rainier. While there, I spotted four mountain goats on the side of the mountain. They were barely visible as white spots with the naked eye, but they appeared in full detail while looking through the scope. Even at maximum magnification, the image was still bright and clear with just a little mirage.

The Leupold SX-1 Ventana is best used when sitting or kneeling behind it.

The Leupold SX-1 Ventana is best used when sitting or kneeling behind it.

I purchased this scope primarily for use at the range but also to use occasionally for hunting when the situation called for it. The scope focuses easily and produces a very sharp image. At the range, it performs very well and I have no problem identifying bullet holes in targets at 200 yards. This scope works so well that it is now a standard piece of equipment that I take with me on each trip to the range.

As expected from a low priced scope, it is not perfect. The scope is a little on the large and heavy size for a serious hiker or mountain hunter. I have a Badlands Clutch hunting backpack with two dedicated pouches for a scope and tripod. My Leupold SX-1 Ventana Spotting Scope will fit (barely) in the designated pocket on the backpack. The tripod fits in the other pocket with no problems.

I’ve made several hunting trips with the scope and it has worked well for me, but that is partly due to the fact that I wasn’t going very far or carrying much other gear. If I were a serious mountain hunter or guide after mountain goat or sheep, I would spend the money and get a smaller and lighter scope like the Compact Leupold Gold Ring scope. At the same time, if I were a serious bench rest shooter, I would also invest the money in a scope with better quality optics that would produce higher quality images at longer ranges than the Leupold SX-1 Ventana.

Additionally, the angled variants of the scope do NOT have an eyepiece that rotates 90° to the side like some higher end scopes do. This can make the scope more complicated to use when looking at something at a significantly lower elevation or when using it with a window mount in a car. While this is not necessarily a deal breaker, it is something to keep in mind when getting ready to purchase one.

The biggest problem I have with my purchase is the quality of the tripod that came in the kit. It looks and feels very cheap and is not as sturdy as I would like. At its lowest setting, it is a little bit too high to use comfortably when sitting at a shooting bench. However, even at its highest setting, it is too short to use while standing so it is best used while sitting or kneeling behind it. I have since replaced it with a Vanguard MAK 203 tripod that is significantly more versatile and works much better for me.

I would recommend Leupold SX-1 Ventana spotting scope for bird and nature watchers, shooters, and some hunters. As long as weight and size are not a serious concern, this scope works well for identifying and scoring game at long range. There were several occasions in Namibia where it would have been nice to have like during my hartebeest hunt, during the mountain zebra hunt, or for just observing game while sitting over a water hole. Since purchasing this scope, I’ve found that I use it all the time for all sorts of things not involved in hunting or shooting, like just looking wildlife or at the moon or the stars. I’m sure that if you purchase this scope, you will also be pleased and find yourself using it all the time as well.

If you like what you’ve read and you want a reasonably priced scope, then I highly recommend purchasing a Leupold SX-1 Ventana spotting scope for yourself.


Affordability: 5/5
Availability: 5/5
Performance: 3/5
Reliability & Durability: 4/5
Size & Weight: 2/5
Overall: 3.8/5

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