There's always been a spot in my arsenal for a super-short 60mm, when you don't have space for an 80mm, which of course would be preferable. I've had Tasco 9VR, 99VR, Pentax J60C, and what beat them was the Vixen Mini-60s, basically a Vixen branded 9VR but with noticeable detail improvements. So when I saw this Towa T-300 on eBay, I watched it curiously. I also had a few bucks in my pocket from a recent big scope sale burning a hole in my pocket. I had never seen one and since it was late Towa I was highly skeptical of the optical quality, especially at f/5. It ended with no bids, but was relisted ten bucks cheaper, so I bought it. Almost immediately I had buyer's remorse, sure that I had bought something that Terra would unleash the howling hounds at. The low price didn't salve my conscience.
To my surprise, I found a very nice little setup. The mounting clamp was broken and unuseable but I think I can repair it, it appears to be reinforced thermoplastic. If not I have an alternative. For now I am testing it in my orphan Manon mount that serves many 60mm OTAs. This one surely has the record for shortness.
What I thought might be fungus turned out to be just dust and crud on R4. The objective cleaned off perfectly, revealing perfect coatings. It uses a plastic ring spacer between the elements so I wasn't hoping for much. However, on the test stand, it showed a very smooth figure with a 133lpi Ronchi. Daylight tests show very crisp images. The objective is not stopped-down internally to a reduced effective aperture. The focusing tube is oversized, I think it could be T-threads throughout. I need to test some T extensions in it on the weekend. The whole thing was optimized for photographers, not visual use with .965" eyepieces. The fully illuminated field is huge compared to the 10mm to 12mm on most long classic export refractors. The included .965" diagonal is a prism, in my opinion this objective is too fast for a prism. All of my hybrid diagonals use prisms, so until I can get a mirror diagonal to fit, I'll use the Parks hybrid.
The finder objective cleaned up well also. It needs new cross-hairs, not a hard task.
So I think the Vixen might have a run for it's money, but I still need to look at the sky with it so stay tuned. The Vixen sets a high bar though. The Towa is rock-solid on the Manon mount. The orange color is hard to get used to.
A late Towa with an objective this nice is so out of my experience. The universe got a little friendlier.