The Best Spotting Scopes of 2020 – Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Whether you’re a big game hunter or you enjoy target shooting, you get value with a spotting scope. Having it beside you at the shooting range, no matter if you’re photographing wildlife, shooting on a competitive level, or sighting your rifle, this scope saves time and effort. Most other types of scopes or binoculars don’t come equipped with the amount of magnification required to view a tiny target many yards away, even over 100 yards.

Spotting Scopes: Adding Value to Your Experience

Best Spotting Scope

To add to the value and use of the spotting scope, you can even purchase an adapter for certain types that could enable you to fasten the scope a digital camera . This provides you with a handy long-distance-photography type of telephoto lens, which is also termed digi-scoping.

Whether you’re an outdoor sportsman or professional, such as a hunter, target shooter, bird watcher, or photographer for a sporting magazine or blog, if you need HD-quality vision, the spotting scope will surely impress you and likely exceed all your expectations. Designed to serve with a tripod, these types of scopes surpass the uses comprising binoculars, but they’re not as portable. Nevertheless, spotting scopes provide superior magnification, and the clarity is ideal for all types of sporting optics.

The Advantage of Spotting Scopes Vs Rifle Scopes

Rifle scopes, like binoculars, can work nicely and give you enough viewing advantages to make do. But (and this is a big “but”), if your desire is to spot big game from a long distance, or if you want an up-close-and-personal kind of view point while capturing rare breeds of animals and birds, you’ll want the spotting scope to your handy tool.

Spotting scopes are commonly constructed with a rubber armor to absorb shock and defend against bumps and bangs when you’re out on a hunt. Not only made tough, these scopes are made specifically for what hunters and birders what to do. Also, they can be designed to be waterproof, and some models are constructed to fit conveniently inside of a backpack or bag; making it simple for you to pack and go on your next adventure. The high-end scopes are designed to supply HD quality and superior resolution with more vivid color. Some kits come equipped with carry cases; either hard or soft to address the specific needs of each user.

Options

When sorting through the options for your new spotting scope, you’ll want to determine its use and which features are more important to your end goals. Locate the spotting scope that features the highest quality possible and meets your budget.

For instance, if the scope is going to be utilized in a moisture free environment and carried to the spot by automobile, the weight, waterproofing and exterior armor will likely not matter. All of these features can be traded for a higher quality product with large aperture and higher magnifying capabilities.

If you’re going to be hauling your spotting scope up and down hills, on mountains, or deep in the woods, you’ll want the armor. This type of rubber armor will do its job at keeping your investment safe from weather mishaps or harsh, cold or dry conditions.

Get Spotting Scope Informed

You’ll want to be well-informed at the time you get ready to buy your very first spotting scope. It’s crucial that you understand the terminology used in the optics industry and all the meanings associated with functions and features. Specifications for a spotting scope tend to be listed in millimeters, such as 20 x 65 millimeters, and other variations. Make sure you know the numbers and their meanings so you have a clear picture of what you can expect from your purchase.

The specifications point out the magnification of the scope, which could be a variable amount, including numbers 18 through 36. It can also be listed as a set number like 20. No matter the specification, it signifies just how much closer the target looks in comparison to how close it actually is. Numbers that are displayed after the “X” all signify the specification of the diameter in relation to the objective lens, which is the lens that faces in direction of the actual target. When it comes to the lens that is located the closest to the eye, this is referred to as the ocular lens or even the eyepiece, and this number is going to be displayed in millimeters.

Power Levels with Spotting Scopes

With spotting scopes, the power is usually a variable or fixed (variable-power vs fixed-power). If a model is fixed, the magnification level is set permanently. Various other variables are adjustable within their specific set range. Although the ease of a fixed-power spotting scope is favored by many hunters, the options of a variable spotting scope is tough to surpass, and those models that range from 15 to 45x, 16 to 48x, and 20 to 60x currently lead in the industry. As soon as you see an animal that you want to take down, a variable-power spotting scope enables you to magnify to top setting to thoroughly inspect the details.

When scouting for game, you will need to ensure your scope is adjusted to a lower setting because the greater the magnification, the more reduced the scope’s field of view, which is also referred to as F.O.V. There are a number of scope models that come furnished with a basic external peep sight. This sight will allow for the target to be obtained before required you to view through a higher-powered lens.

Spotting Scope Lens Options

In terms of the scope’s objective lens, the sizes ordinarily list from 50 millimeters to 80 millimeters in diameter. The bigger the lens , the better the F.O.V., and this also means the bigger the lens, the brighter the scope. The spectrum can be influenced by the coatings utilized within the internal surfaces of the glass. Premium spotting scopes collect light into the scope and apply it so you could see better through darker conditions using the naked eye. The quality of the spotting scope will determine how good the final experience is.

To decrease glare and loss of all available light in the course of transmitting from the your eye to the actual target, specific coatings are utilized on the exterior of a lens. The level of quality, specification, and the placement of the coatings establish the amount of transmitted light. Listed below are the choices available and how beneficial these options are:

  1. Coated: a layer is used to coat one or more lens surface areas
  2. Fully coated: a layer is installed throughout all the air-to-glass areas
  3. Multi coated: several layers are used on one or more lens surface areas
  4. Fully multi coated: a variety of layers are placed on various air-to-glass areas

The more coatings used on the lenses, the pricier the scope is going to be, and high-class scopes are costly; nevertheless, you will benefit from the higher caliber product. Be prepared to spend around $200 to $2000 for a spotting scope. The guideline, with regards to optics, is to always purchase the best quality you can so you get the best experience. Premium quality optics more clear and much brighter, and they will not trigger headaches or eyesight stress from long periods of use.

Evaluating the Lens Coatings on Spotting Scopes

The value of lens coating simply cannot be over-emphasized as it strengthens the viewing experience drastically. Whether the lens is fully coated, fully multi coated, or multi-coated, the lens coating will determine just how well the light is transmitted into the lens. In terms of the prime viewing outcome, the coating you select can make all the difference. Higher quality spotting scopes are usually designed with fully multi-coated, which is a coating that can yield excellent image clarity.

Better Than Binoculars: The Perks of Spotting Scopes

Like binoculars, spotting scopes feature varied degrees of functions. Furthermore, if you’re looking for birding binoculars, you’ll probably want to choose the spotting scope as many models offer the fog- and water-proof options. Certain scopes have rubber armoring to safeguard their parts and give a tackier area to ensure users have a better grip.

More contemporary spotting scopes are made with convenient mounts that enable you to attach video cameras and other imagery devices from certain brands and manufactures. There are several types of spotting scopes on the market that also come equipped with adapters that allow you to connect a point-and-shoot camera and smartphone.

Spotting Scopes & Body Styles

Two types of spotting scopes are available on the market: Angled body and Straight body . These two types of scopes get great results for most situations, however, preferences vary based on the specific viewing needs. An angled scope aids looking up in the direction of a target or across a flat area. It’s also helpful for views outside of a vehicle. With the straight body, higher positions are viewed much better, like when you’re climbing a mountain to see down below in a valley or other lower lying areas.

Angled Spotting Scopes

The Good

Spotting scopes are perfectly angled for viewing if you have multiple people who must look through the scope. It’s more effective for various height set ups since you only need to adjust your head and eye with the viewpoint; no reason to bend over or get on your knees.

If you’re going to be looking through a lens for long periods of time, the angled spotting scope may also be the more comfortable choice. You’ll find the fit to be much more comfortable and the overall experience to be enhanced.

The Cons

The angled scope is significantly less useful when you need it to scope out objects while in a vehicle.

May be a bit more challenging to maneuver the best view for first-timers.

Slightly bulkier when compared to the straight angle, with regards to how well it fits inside of a bag or backpack.

Straight Spotting Scopes

The Good

The straight spotting scope ensures that locating an object is easier, and it’s simple to operate if you’re inexperienced.

The straight style foes work well when you need to attach the scope to a vehicle window mount.

Portable and requires less room in your bag or backpack.

A little more budget-friendly.

The Cons

Requires a tripod that stands taller for viewing

Continuous adjustments may be required when switching viewpoints

Components of Spotting Scopes

  • Objective Lens

The spotting scope delivers terrific options in terms of a superior objective lens. Composed of deluxe glass, a lot of spotting scopes come equipped with super-sized selections. Larger lenses on the scope will generate an enhanced image with a greater magnification in comparison with the smaller options of equal quality. Objective lens size, however, may be costlier, but, the cost is usually worth it.

  • Magnification

Made to enhance the viewing distance better than a set of binoculars, spotting scopes deliver a magnified viewing experience of 30-40-times higher. This means that most scopes can generate satisfactory images. Whenever the quality of the lens increases, the better the image you get.

Nonetheless, the environment surrounding you will play an enormous role in the quality of the image. Dampness, glare, the wind, and dirt and dust will all reduce the caliber of the view. Higher altitudes comprising dryer conditions often makes a better image at a higher magnification. With that in mind, the lower the altitude, the lower magnification will be necessary for sharper, more HD-quality images. Various different spotting scopes will not get higher than 60x, and this is a result of the limits caused by the atmosphere.

  • Lens Coatings

As stated above, “The value of lens coating simply cannot be over-emphasized as it strengthens the viewing experience drastically. Whether the lens is fully coated, fully multi coated, or multi-coated, the lens coating will determine just how well the light is transmitted into the lens. In terms of the prime viewing outcome, the coating you select can make all the difference. Higher quality spotting scopes are usually designed with fully multi-coated, which is a coating that can yield excellent image clarity. “

  • Eye Relief

Eye relief is the term used to express the distance from your eye and the spotting scope. This describes the necessity of close proximity of your eye in relation to the eyepiece, and how this impacts the F.O.V. If the user wears eyeglasses, this takes on a significant role in the final viewing experience. When the eye relief is sufficient, those who wear even thick lenses will have the ability to see the entire image. If you do wear eyeglasses, you’ll want to select a scope with 14-millimeter eye relief.

  • Prism

Refractors, which is what a spotting scope really is, typically has prisms inside that flip the image erect and also back and forth. Prisms are available in two different types; the roof prism and the porro prism. Roof prisms are thin and small, but they usually don’t provide the functions desired, such as interchangeable eyepieces. A portable scope, it’s suitable for those who are on the move. A porro prism scope works great and will not cost as much, which explains why this type is much more popular.

  • Eyepieces

As not all spotting scopes include the eyepiece, it’s vital that you research the product to see if you need to purchase a separate component. However, if it is included with your spotting scope cost, it may not be detachable. Better-quality spotting scopes come equipped with detachable eyepieces, however, if your choice of scope does not include this, there are other options on the market. Eyepiece options include:

  1. Single powered eyepiece
  2. Zoom eyepiece: the magnification is adjustable and produces a high-quality result
  • Close Focus

The closest distance a spotting scope can view, the close focus is not ordinarily included in the cost. Even though it’s not an requirement, a scope that has a close focus of under 20 ft is more useful. This function is good for bird watching and viewing tiny details on their feathers.

  • Fog-proofing & Waterproofing

Fog-proofing and waterproofing may not always be needed, but this function is designed to safeguard the scope from environmental conditions. If you’re caught in the rain or even in hot, clammy conditions, you’ll want this feature as it helps keep the lens and all other components dry and in proper working condition. The seals that are used in the construction will work to keep out dampness and help ensure that dust or other types of debris does not get into the spotting scope. This will also help to guarantee that the scope lasts.

  • Catadioptrics

When it comes to the catadioptric design, this feature is a mixture of a corrector lens with a set of mirrors functioning to focus the view of the image. This optical typically carries a lengthy focal span which is folded by mirrors fitting into the small optical tubing. Catadioptics can handle higher magnification and extraordinary telephoto lens functionality without unnecessary bulkiness. It has rather long focal length and is combined with a big aperture size of around 90- to 100-millimeters; producing a magnification up to approximately 200X, even more on other types of models.

  • Aperture

In terms of aperture, which is the size (diameter) of the objective lens, typically listed in millimeters, this function on the spotting scope is designed for hunting applications. The size of aperture typically varies from 50-millimeters to 90-millimeters. Although the aperture diameter is linked to the size and weight of the model, there are other factors to consider, such as optical design and focal length. The diameter of the objective lens is what determines the level of light entry from the optical system. This also has the potential of amplifying the image’s detail and clearness with aperture size. Actual observed image brightness is a function of several factors: the transmittance of the optical system (coatings), the relationship of the aperture to the magnification (exit pupil), eye pupil size, and focal length of the objective lens.

Spotting Scopes for the Avid Hunter

If you’re passionate about hunting for deer and other big game, the spotting scope you use to spot a target will make a world of difference. It will help you to have a much better look at a what can sometimes be a more challenging target, before you ever have to take the shot. This type of spotting scope provides you with the opportunity to select a deer or other animal from a large herd when you use the magnification function. Spotting scopes for hunters can vary and offer different accessories, so in order to choose the right one, have a look at this list below:

1. Swarovski Straight Spotting Scope 80-millimeter STS HD

Swarovski Straight Spotting Scope

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The Swarovski 80mm spotting scope is a straight body design that is great for hunters. It offers fully multi-coated lens and high density glass to generate a clear, sharp image. The rotating tripod ring offers the hunter some flexibility with positioning. This model features a close focus at 16 feet, which means that targets can be viewed perfectly no matter how close or far away. The lightweight aluminum alloy body also gives you a strong solution for hiking through the tough terrains, and it’s covered with a Swaroclean Coating for extraordinary protection from the conditions. This scope is both fog-proof and waterproof, and it offers a sunshade to reduce the brightness and glare from the sun. It also comes with an objective lens, but the eyepiece can be bought separately.

2. Vortex Razor Angled Spotting Scope HD 20-60×85

Vortex Razor Angled Spotting Scope

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An angled spotting scope, this Vortex Razor is available at 85 mm, and it offers a close focus at 16 feet. This scope delivers advanced images by usage of the triplet apochromatic lens. It’s portable and has a light-in-weight magnesium alloy body that has a modifiable eyecup and duel focus to guarantee you have access to even the most detailed of adjustments. It includes the ArmorTek Lens Coating that’s designed to prevent oil from coating the lens. This design is weatherproofed against water, snow, and fog, which suggests that all your hunting adventures can be successful no matter the condition. With an eyepiece that offers you 20x through 60x magnification, you’re sure to view any target with ease.

3. Upland Optics Perception Spotting Scope HD 20-60x60mm

Upland Optics Perception Spotting Scope

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Presenting Perception HD, the Upland Optics Spotting scope is produced by a highly reputable company that specializes in products for hunting. It weighs about 2.2 lbs, which enables you to carry it with no difficulty, regardless of how tough the terrain may be. It’s reasonably priced and also comes with a lifetime warranty; providing you with the extra protection and assurance you need to know that it’s covered should something happen.

4. Target Shooting Spotting Scopes

Target Shooting Spotting Scopes

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Distance is key when it comes to shooting targets, and the spotting scope with its magnification can produce the results you’re seeking. Whether it’s snowing, pouring rain, windy, or dusty outside, it’s vital that you have the appropriate scope on hand.

5. MINOX MD 50 W 16-30x Waterproof Spotting Scope

MINOX MD 50 W Spotting Scope

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The Minox MD is truly powerful, and it provides clear and bright images. It features a 16- through 30-X zoom eyepiece to ensure you can view even the smallest targets. This scope has a lightweight body, and it offers precision optics that protect against damage. The Minox MD is filled with nitrogen to prevent fog, and it’s waterproof so that you can view through the lens in virtually any condition. With an angled scope, you’ll get a more relaxed stance for optimal viewing experiences, and it’s equipped with a fully adjustable eyepiece that has 16x through 30x magnifications.

6. Swarovski ATX Spotting Scope Modular Zoom Eyepiece / Angled Viewing

Swarovski ATX Spotting Scope

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This spotting scope from Swarovski comes with fully multi-coated lenses, which is highly beneficial in transmitting light. It has multiple anti-reflective coatings along the air-to-glass surfaces, and it’s angled body style works perfectly for different heights; ensuring different viewing levels can be accomplished without needed to adjust a tripod. This angled design also works best for when you need to view targets at an upward angle. It features a sturdy but lightweight magnesium body that’s resistant to corrosion. The rubber armor can help secure your grip, and it’s multi-position and adjustable eyecup can twists up and down to give you a more comfortable view, whether you wear eyeglasses or not.

Bird Watching Spotting Scopes

Bird watching, or “Birding”, has become increasingly popular, and its popularity has truly transformed the advancement of the spotting scope. This is particularly true in relation to an angles body style, which is suitable for viewing intricate details from long distances away. Below you’ll find some great choices with regards to spotting scopes for birding.

1. Kowa TSN 883 Angled 88mm Prominar Spotting Scope

Kowa TSN 883 Angled 88mm Prominar Spotting Scope

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Useful for watching birds, the Kowa TSN 883 lens and optical features are superb. This spotting scope features dual focus and includes fluorite crystal lens that augments the clarity and sharpness of virtually any image. It has fully multi-coated lens for vivid color and image resolution, and it features porro prism that will take your viewing experience to an entirely new level, even while the setting is low. Birding at long ranges using this spotting scope can generate a sharp, non-distorted visual, and it provides you with more control with higher magnification levels. A lens of this caliber is somewhat heavy, but this is because the scope is crafted from a corrosion-resistant type of, magnesium alloy material to help with the impact of the weight. Eyepieces that work for this particular model can be bought separately, but the price includes a product that comes equipped with a locking mechanism to secure the detachable eyepiece.

2. Leica Televid APO 82mm Angled Spotting Scope

Leica Televid APO 82mm Angled Spotting Scope

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The Leica Televid APO angled spotting scope that works perfectly for bird watching. In comparison to earlier versions, this spotting scope features a 6% light yield which makes the resolution all the more distinct, no matter the lighting. The fluoride glass delivers radiant coloring and in-depth contrast, but this doesn’t take away from the viewing range. This Leica Televid spotting scope includes a fog and waterproof seal, and the AquaDura Lens Coating keeps out water. It provides you with a 12 ft close focus that’s ideal for all your bird watching needs.

If you’re the avid birder or hunter without a budgetary limit, consider one the spotting scopes listed below. These types of spotting scopes will offer you all the bells and whistles you could want, and most of them feature a plethora of accessories to enhance the experience even more:

3. Newcon Optik Spotter LRF Pro Spotting Scope/Rangefinder

Newcon Optik Spotter LRF Pro Spotting Scope

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The perfect blend of spotting scope and laser rangefinder, the Newcon Optik Spotter ranges targets to 3 kilometers with wavelengths to 1550 nm. It offers an integrated inclinometer, USB output, and it even has a compass. This must-have scope with a 15- through 45-x magnification, also features an etched mil-dot reticle that ensures you get fast action and a precise target acquisition.

4. Armasight Zeus Thermal Imaging Weapon Sight

Armasight Zeus 640 Thermal Imaging Weapon Sight

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Available with a 3-year warranty, this Armasight Zeus 640 also comes with a 10-year warranty on the FLIR detector. This high performance scope features a thermal imaging camera and fits virtually any Picatinny MIL STD 1913 and Weaver rails. It has an optical external power supply and boast a high-quality video recorder to ensure you can brag to friends with proof on-hand.

5. ATN Thor336-3-12X 60 Hz 17 Micron Night Vision Scope, 30mm

ATN Thor336-3-12X Micron Night Vision Scope

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With up to 3-times the magnification, this ATN Thor336 comes equipped with multiple color modes. It’s not only waterproof and fog-proof, but it’s also very light and compact, which means it will be easy to haul when you’re trekking up and down tough terrains. Specifications include the (VOx) Microbolometer Uncooled and 800 x 600 OLED color displace, and also the Polarity single-button type of modes: black and White with five unique color settings. If the e-zoom and multiple reticles functions appeal to you, then you’ll love the automatic adjustment and up to 8-hours of use with a warranty that this amazing spotting scope has to offer.

Tripods

The tripod is probably the most important things to consider when it comes to choosing and buying a spotting scope. As the foundation, the tripod ensures that the higher magnification works. It’s vital that you include the tripod in your planning; without it, you’ll have a tough time getting the view you want and need. Like other types of optics, the spotting scopes differs in design and size, so you’ll need to choose a tripod that’s compatible and sturdy enough to secure your scope when you’re on a hunt or out enjoying wildlife through a lens. Whether it’s the height, weight, or bulk you need to research, make sure that your tripod attaches correctly and fits your scope just right. If you choose based solely on price, and you don’t considered its value and use, you’ll end up spending more money in the end; having to purchase an upgraded version and losing the original cost for the cheap tripod.

Choose Your Spotting Scope Wisely

No matter which model, brand, or style spotting scope you choose, make sure you get the product that meets your individual needs. The specifications point out the magnification of the scope, which could be a variable amount, including numbers 18 through 36. It can also be listed as a set number like 20. No matter the specification, it signifies just how much closer the target looks in comparison to how close it is. Numbers that are displayed after the “X” all signify the specification of the diameter in relation to the objective lens, which is the lens that faces in direction of the actual target. When it comes to the lens that is located the closest to the eye, this is referred to as the ocular lens or even the eyepiece, and this number is going to be displayed in millimeters.

With spotting scopes, the power is usually a variable or fixed (variable-power vs fixed-power). If a model is fixed, the magnification level is set permanently. Various other variables are adjustable within their specific set range. Although the ease of a fixed-power spotting scope is favored by many hunters, the options of a variable spotting scope is tough to surpass, and those models that range from 15 to 45x, 16 to 48x, and 20 to 60x currently lead in the industry. As soon as you see an animal that you want to take down, a variable-power spotting scope enables you to magnify to top setting to thoroughly inspect the details.

Maybe the most challenging and misunderstood of all the optics; the spotting scope. Even though it is a must-have tool for shooters, birders, hunters, and overall wildlife lovers, newcomers to this wonderful scope tend to be at intimidated and unsure about the perks of using it, or even how to use it.

Considered to be the “terrestrial and daytime observation competitors of large telescopes, the spotting scope is light and so it can be transported easily and quickly. These high-grade magnifier devices are far more powerful than most binoculars, and they’re considerably more compact compared to telescopes. These scopes are strengthened to endure as many are made to be resistant to dampness of any form.

When scouting for game, you will need to ensure your scope is adjusted to a lower setting because the greater the magnification, the more reduced the scope’s field of view, which is also referred to as F.O.V. There are a number of scope models that come furnished with a basic external peep sight. This sight will allow for the target to be obtained before required you to view through a higher-powered lens.

There is a learning curve, so if you’re ready to purchase a spotting scope, consider the benefits and which functions mean the most to you. Your birding and hunting adventures can depend on the quality and functionality of your portable telescope, otherwise known as spotting scope. The added optics for viewing erect images better will increase your big-game hunting and birding catches. Optimized for observation, these types of scopes can determine if you end up reaching your goals or come home telling the story of the one that got away.

Related Article :

The Best Rifle Scopes of 2020 – Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

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