If you’re a hardcore hunter like me, nothing beats getting an up close look at your quarry in its natural environment. Even better is recording the whole thing for replay at family functions and deer camps down the line. What better way to record your hunt than through your rifle scope, binoculars or spotting scope using your smartphone? Like it or not, smartphone technology has been creeping into the hunting world for years and if the possibilities intrigue you, check out iScope.
With a marketing campaign led by redneck powerhouse Jeff Foxworthy, the iScope company has been competing with Phone Skope brand for market share in this growing industry. Whereas Phone Skope engineers their products for specific brand and model spotting scopes, binoculars, telescopes and microscopes, iScope sells the end user one model that’s more one-size-fits-all and covers rifle-scopes and shooting optics.
iScope makes devices that will fit rifle scopes, an iSpotter adapter that dresses spotting scopes, iScope EO adapter for holographic and reflex sights, and even an iSpotter Sport that is its own self-contained monocular unit. Users simply slide the device over the optical end of the scope and adjust it to fit by turning the multiple rubber-backed finger screws, then snap their phone or tablet firmly into the backplate made for that particular device. One backplate is included with each iScope adapter. All you’ll need to know when buying an iScope product is your smartphone or tablet model.
iScope makes backplate mounts for the most popular devices from three makers: Apple, Samsung, and Motorola. What’s nice about these is that when you upgrade your smartphone, you won’t have to buy a whole new unit, but rather just another backplate. All iScope products come with a one year warranty and are made of durable materials, with polymer backplates and metal mounts. Depending on configuration, the iScope retails for $99.95, iSpotters for $79.95, the iScope EO for $79.95 and the new iSpotter Sport for $69.95. Backplates for different phone models are $19.95.
Function and recoil
The flagship product of the iScope brand is naturally the one that mounts to a rifle scope. With minimal practice, the device is pretty easy to line up on just about any rifle scope and then center in the viewer after activating your phone’s camera. You can even use the zoom on your camera to enhance the view and or enter a “full screen” mode (this makes shooting, for better or worse, seem more like a both-eyes-open video game).
One of our biggest concerns with using smartphones in conjunction with rifle scopes is the associated recoil. In speaking with company reps, they assured us that they “fully tested the Smartphones” for which they make mounts “and no internal or external damage has been detected.” They do advise, however, that if you plan to use something like a magnum shotgun or a rifle with “an extreme amount of recoil,” that you use the provided Rubber Recoil Bands, which look like nothing more than heavy duty rubber bands. All they seem to do is secure the smartphone to the backplate so the smartphone cannot pop out of the housing during recoil.
We mounted the iScope with our iPhone 6 to a Sig Sauer Whiskey5 atop a Tikka T3x in 7mm-08, a Nikon Pro Staff 7 atop a Ruger Precision Rifle in .308, and we did the bulk of our shooting with Vortex Crossfire II on board a Mossberg Patriot in .300 Win Mag. Even after significant firing with the iScope mounted on guns with a significant amount of recoil, the phone showed no ill effects whatsoever and we never used the rubber bands. One really nice touch however is that iScope makes adapters that accommodate smartphones in Otterbox Defender or LifeProof cases, which in hindsight, would have been a much safer idea.
Other uses for iScope products
While filming through a rifle scope lends itself to some of the most graphic and live action kill-shot videos, there is plenty of great footage from spotting scopes, binoculars, and the standalone iSpotter Sport as well. While I enjoy using the iScope for varminting, plinking and small game hunting, I find it a little awkward and encumbering when going after trophy big game. In those cases, I much prefer using an iSpotter mounted to the spotting scope beside me. Then all I have to do is get the general aim with the spotter and hit record. Of course, all of this is even easier to achieve with a hunting partner, and, even it you’re already recording with a standard digital camera, these iScope products offer another interesting action angle.
Though we have not experienced it firsthand, we’ve heard the iScope and iSpotter adapters really excel when taking handicapped shooters afield. If hunters are incapable of shouldering a gun to align the sights, they may either be capable of looking at the smartphone or allowing assistance from a mentor in sighting the shot. If you don’t believe me, check out iScope’s blog that documents multiple legally blind hunters being able to use the product to harvest their first animals and the ensuing joy. If that’s not enough to make you buy one, the devices are also great for recording events like sporting games, graduations, or other distant events.
Regardless of your target, iScope mounts make it easy and affordable to record some quality memories. While they specialize in and excel at covering the market for hunters and outdoorspeople, there are iSpotter adapters for everybody. Technology on a hunt is not for everybody, to be sure, but if you want to record a hunt, iScope is the way to go. The proof is in the video and photo end results. Now get out there and show us some pics and video from your latest outdoor adventure.