Pentax is a Japanese company that has been in the optics business for nearly a century. In 1919, the company was formed as Asahi Kogaku Goshi Kaisha (or Asahi Optical Joint Stock Company) in the Tokyo suburb of Toshima. Originally, the company manufactured only corrective eyeglass lenses but gradually began selling photography lenses and other equipment. In 1938, the company rebranded itself as Asahi Optical Company, Ltd.
In 1952, the company produced its first camera and the first Japanese SLR to use 35mm film, the Asahiflex. Five years later, Asahi Optical purchased the rights to the name “Pentax,” which they have primarily been known as ever since. The company was acquired by Hoya Corporation in 1998 and is now considered a Hoya division and brand. Though Pentax is best known for its photography products, the company also creates a variety of other products including astronomy and sport optics equipment.
Pentax manufactured several sporting products, including binoculars, spotting scopes, and riflescopes. One of their most popular products was the PF-80ED series of spotting scopes. This was the first completely waterproof spotting scope and has been revered for its ease of use. The PF-80ED featured a large 80mm objective aperture, to allow more light to filter in and make the scope easier to see through.
It was considerably larger than most competing spotting scopes but was only a slightly heavier weight. Both straight and angled varieties were available in the series, which retailed for bargain prices next to competitors’ scopes like Kowa or Zeiss. The Pentax PF-80ED spotting scope series has also received favorable reviews from several sources, including magazines Outside and Outdoor Life.
Another notable product from Pentax was their series of riflescopes, including the following versions:
- Gamekeeper scopes
- Lightseeker scopes
- Lightseeker XL scopes
Pentax Gameseeker Scopes
The Gameseeker line of scopes was Pentax’s entry-level series designed for hunters and shooters who wanted a good quality scope at a reasonable price. These scopes are generally regarded as an excellent scope for the money and have received excellent reviews from publications and users alike. Gameseeker riflescopes are built to last for even the most rugged use, featuring a durable body, full waterproofing, and nitrogen filling to prevent fog.
Pentax riflescopes are known for their wide objective apertures, which let in more light than competing scopes and provide optimum viewing. These scopes are very light, easy to set up, and make for effective shooting.
Many Gamekeepers come equipped with Pentax’s famous Penta-Plex reticle, a longtime favorite for accurate shooting. Pentax scopes are highly prized for their high-quality lenses, which are treated to be scratch resistant and are often several times more durable than industry standards.
The series also includes the Gamekeeper Dot, a red dot sight for poor lighting conditions where a traditional riflescope won’t be enough. Pentax also sells a kit including a Gameseeker 4x-12x 40mm riflescope and a set of 10×42 Gameseeker roof prism binoculars.
Like their spotting scopes and many other Pentax products, these rifle scopes are also very reasonably priced. A Pentax Gamekeeper scope provides comparable or better quality than competitors, but generally only costs 25-50% of the cost of competing brands’ products.
An interesting feature among Pentax products is that they are typically built for universal fit. Their scopes, camera lenses, and a number of other items are designed for universal use, making it possible for enthusiasts to use vintage or specialty Pentax models in different configurations without needing additional equipment.
Since Pentax scopes are no longer being manufactured, your best bet for finding one will be on the pre-owned market.