11 Best Spotting Scopes- Detailed Reviews & Buying Guide!

Hunters will understand that sometimes a pair of binoculars is never enough when you are in the woods. Maybe you require more magnification, or something that can be mounted on a tripod. You might also need long-distance photos with more magnification than a telephoto lens. It doesn’t matter what you’re using it for we’re here to guide you with the best spotting scope available in the market. We present to you eleven most popular models and their detailed reviews.

Please note like other types of optics, the spotting scopes too tend to come with a wide range of features and zooming options. They also vary widely in terms of quality. Therefore, you’ll see a lot of price variation in these products. Some tend to cost less than your phone bill while some cost as much as your car. But don’t worry, we’ve tried to cover a broad range of products. Read on and pick the one that suits your preference.

11 Best Spotting Scopes

  1. Vortex Optics Diamondbac

The Vortex Optics Diamondback Spotting Scope is crafted with an intention to provide the clearest possible image at an average price point. It’s body is nitrogen purged that eliminates humidity and cuts the chances of fogging. The dielectric prism coating on the lens increases light absorption without building a halo and it’s retractable sunshade helps in reducing the glare.

No doubt this is one of best spotting scopes that can be mounted on a tripod and focusses a minimum distance of 22 feet. Additionally it is waterproof and fogproof. That being said, this is purely a field scope and doesn’t possess the clarity for HD photography or target shooting beyond 150 yards. You need to carry your own carrying case.

Why is it recommended: The Vortex Optics 20-60×80 Diamondback Spotting Scope is a solid, middle-of-the-road spotting scope for finding game or short range target shooting

PROS:

  • Fog and waterproof
  • Dielectric prism coating
  • Nitrogen purged for clarity
  • Easily mount on a tripod
  • Retractable sunshade
  • Close focus of 22 feet

CONS:

  • Not clear enough for long-range target shooting
  • Not transparent enough for photography
  • No carrying case
  1. Vortex Optics Viper

The Vortex Optics Viper possesses an argon purged tube and a finely polished lens for true HD viewing. It’s XR coating on the exterior surfaces prevents glare in situations of low light, and the extendable sunshade deals with brighter conditions. The lenses are coated with Armortek in order to shield them from dirt and grease. The tripod ring can rotate 360 degrees, so you can easily use it to spot your game without having to move the whole tripod.

Other than that, it’s watertight, fogproof construction is just excellent for taking it outdoors in any conditions of weather. For the very reason this comes under the category of best spotting scopes. Although with this one you need to purchase your own case, it is quite pricey but worth spending the money.

Why it’s recommended: The Vortex Optics 20-60×85 Viber HD is a high quality hunting spotting scope that can also be used for nature photography or target shooting.

PROS:

  • HD lens
  • Argon purged tube
  • XR coated surfaces
  • Armortek coated lenses
  • Waterproof and fog proof
  • Rotating tripod ring
  • Extendable sunshade

CONS:

  • Less affordable
  • No carrying case
  1. Vanguard Endeavor

It is an affordable spotting scope that’s well equipped for scouting game locations. The Vanguard Endeavor has a durable magnesium body that is waterproof, fog proof and is rigid enough to be handled in the field. The low dispersion, prism coated lens provides a nice image for hunting, but it isn’t that crisp for photography or low-range target shooting. This scope has a built-in tripod mount and it comes with a carrying case unlike the other best spotting scopes.

It can zoom upto 15-45x which is comparatively less than most of the spotting scopes but is bold enough to serve many purposes.

Why is it recommended: The Vanguard Endeavor HD is the best spotting scope in its price range. It’s not perfect, but it gets the job done.

PROS:

  • Durable magnesium body
  • Waterproof and fog proof
  • Low dispersion, prism coated lens
  • Built-in tripod mount
  • Includes a carrying case
  • Decent range

CONS:

  • Relatively low zoom
  • Not crisp enough for photography
  • Not useful for long-range target shooting
  1. Pentax Spotting Scope

The Pentax Spotting Scope comes with a zooming range of 20-60x, and a 1.25 eyepiece. This makes it interchangeable with high-end telescope eyepieces, so amateur astronomers can also use it as a low-powered telescope. It’s coated lens musters plenty of light without any glare and the retractable sunshade further helps in cutting down the unwanted light.

The nitrogen purged tube and finely polished lens helps in forming an HD image that’s well suited for not just photography but for target shooting and hunting too. Moreover, this best spotting scope comes with a tripod mount. The only drawback we have encountered in this is that it has no carrying case so you need to purchase your own to carry it out in the field.

Why is it recommended: The Pentax PF-65ED II Spotting Scope is a mid-range spotting scope that’s equally useful for hunting, target shooting and photography.

PROS:

  • True HD lens
  • Nitrogen purged body
  • Includes a tripod mount
  • Coated lens
  • Retractable sunshade
  • Astronomical eyepieces available

CONS:

  • No carrying case
  1. Upland Optics

The Upland Optics Perception HD is created specifically for hunters. This comes with a durable body i.e waterproof, and fog proof. It is light in weight and weighs only 2.5 pounds making it all the more feasible to carry it out into the woods. You can mount this on the tripod, but we won’t suggest you to use for a long-ranging target shooting. Although it comes with a carrying case which makes it convenient to carry.

As the low dispersion lens is crisp enough to zoom 40x and beyond, it gets a little blurry. That still works for hunting, but not good enough to spot bullet holes at a distance of 200 yards. Moreover, this scope is affordable and comes with a lifetime manufacturing warranty.

Why is it recommended: The Upland Optics Perception HD is ideal for hunting or photography at low to medium zoom.

PROS:

  • Low-dispersion glass
  • Durable body
  • Lightweight
  • Tripod mount
  • Waterproof and fog proof
  • Includes a carrying case
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Affordable

CONS:

  • Poor focus at higher than 40x zoom
  • Not useful for long-range target shooting
  1. Vortex Optics Razor

The Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope is a high-end scope that comes at a reasonable price. The prismatic lens is exceptionally transparent and has an Armortek layer to protect it from dirt, dust and grease. The body has an anti-reflective coating to eliminate the chances of glare.

This scope is a best pick for long-range target shooting and photography. It’s pretty clear to spot any bullet holes in a plain paper target at a distance of 400 yards or in a splatter target at 500 yards. Additionally, this includes a carrying case for taking it into the woods. The only drawback is the poor eye relief. You need to touch your eye with the eyepiece in order to gaze at the full field view.

Why is it recommended: The Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope provides a clear, crisp picture even at very long distances.

PROS:

  • Armortek coated lenses
  • Anti-reflective body coating
  • Prismatic HD lens
  • Built-in tripod mount
  • Includes a carrying case
  • Clear enough for long-range target shooting

CONS:

  • Poor eye relief
  1. Leupold Ventana Spotting Scope

The Leupold SX-1 Ventana Spotting Scope is exceptionally crisp even at long distances. It’s Guard-ion lens from oil and debris, while the internals are water-resistant and fog resistant. The lens shade is retractable, so you can achieve glare protection in conditions of brightness. You can pull it back for more visibility in conditions of low-light.

Comes with a full kit and a carrying case and a tripod and for the very reason this is termed as one of the best spotting scope. It is an incredible value, but you might want to buy another tripod in case you’re using it for anything beyond 500 yards. The stock tripod has some play in it and it doesn’t hold steady enough when it’s zoomed in. The notable part about this is it comes with Leupold’s lifetime warranty.

Why is it recommended: The Leupold SX-1 Ventana is a full kit – tripod, case, scope – with excellent clarity even at long ranges.

PROS:

  • Guard-ion lens coating
  • Waterproof and fog proof
  • Retractable lens shade
  • Includes case and tripod
  • Lifetime manufacturer’s warranty

CONS:

  • Stock tripod is a bit chintzy
  1. Leica Spotting Scope
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The Leica APO-Televid 82 Spotting Scope is created to form crisp and vibrant images. The fluorite lens pushes the light intake by 6 percent as compared to other optics. The AquaDura lens coating guards the glass from dust and grease, even the nitrogen filled tube is water resistant and fog resistant.

Moreover, this scope has an insanely close focus of 12 feet so you can use it to get extreme close-ups of nearby games. It’s another boutique scope with a price tag of match and the eyepiece is sold separately.

Why is it recommended: The Leica APO-Televid is a boutique spotting scope designed specifically for wildlife photographers.

PROS:

  • Vibrant fluoride lens
  • AquaDura lens coating
  • Nitrogen filled tube
  • Waterproof and fog proof
  • 12-foot close focus

CONS:

  • Very expensive
  • Eyepiece sold separately
  1. Swarovski Spotting Scope

The Swarovski HD-STS Spotting Scope comes with a rubberized body that can stand up to bumps and bangs. It won’t transmit any noise or vibrations to the internals. It’s coated HD optics are exceptionally clear and form high fidelity images even at high zoom or low light.

Apart from that, this is one expensive optics and it doesn’t come with an eyepiece. It does have a tripod mount, so professional nature photographers should consider purchasing it. This spotting scope is ideal for long range target shooting, provided we get an eyepiece that’s as sharp as the rest of the optics.

Why is it recommended: The Swarovski HD-STS Spotting Scope is one of the clearest scopes that money can buy.

PROS:

  • Coated HD optics
  • Durable, rubberized body
  • Dustproof, waterproof and fog proof
  • Tripod mount
  • Includes a carrying case

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Does not include eyepiece
  1. Swarovski Objective Lens

The Swarovski ATX/STX 85mm Modular Objective Lens is one of the most powerful and best spotting scopes present in the market. At 30-70x, it’s certainly the most powerful one. Even at these high levels, the coated HD lenses create a pristine image that is good enough for long-range target shooting. It is also ideal for forming a perfect picture from a distance of 1000 yards. It’s surface is coated with an anti-glare coating, to limit light exposure to what you’re looking at.

Although this scope comes at an expensive range it’s built to serve in the field. Moreover, it is water resistant, fog proof and has a sturdy magnesium body with a rubberized grip. Can be easily mounted on a tripod that comes along with this. Having said that, it does not come with an eyepiece so you need to purchase it separately.

Why is it recommended: If you need a crisp image and more than 60x zoom, the Swarovski ATX/STX is the best choice available.

PROS:

  • Coated HD glass
  • Zooms from 30-70x
  • Coated body surfaces
  • Sturdy magnesium tube
  • Comes with a rubberized grip
  • Built-in tripod mount

CONS:

  • Eyepiece not included
  • Very expensive
  1. Kowa Spotting Scope

The Kowa TSN-880 Spotting Scope is created to deliver the most bright colors possible. It does this with a fluorite lens, which showcases true colors than other types of optics. The nitrogen filled tube adds clarity and the entire body is water and fog proof. It’s polycarbonate body is durable.

Other than that, this scope is a high-end boutique scope and is everything that most hunters will ever need. That being said, it’s one of the best spotting scopes in the market for wildlife photographers. One drawback in this is it doesn’t come with an eyepiece, but you’ll get a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.

Why is it recommended: The Kowa TSN-880 Spotting Scope is a wildlife photographer’s dream scope.

PROS:

  • Fluorite lens for vivid colors
  • Durable polycarbonate body
  • Nitrogen filled tube
  • Waterproof and fog proof
  • Lifetime manufacturer’s warranty

CONS:

  • Eyepiece not included
  • Not budget friendly

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q.1 What are the benefits of a spotting scope?

Spotting Scopes are a high powered single eye version of binoculars. If these are nothing but a version of binoculars then why wouldn’t you just use binoculars? Well here’s why:

  1. Magnification: the most powerful handheld binoculars come at 18x to 24x range. It is a pretty power range but it doesn’t touch the 80x or higher magnification that a spotting scope tends to provide.
  2. Weight: Some tripod-mounted binoculars are more powerful than this, but they’re extremely heavy thus making them inconvenient to take them into the field.
  3. Stability: this is somewhat related to magnification only. The more you zoom, the harder it is to keep your lens pointed at the same target. It is challenging to reacquire your target if you lower your glass for a second. Most spotting scopes are made to be tripod mounted, so you can easily focus on your target.
  4. Camera use: most binoculars aren’t created to be used with a camera, but spotting scopes are. If you’re trying to shoot animals with a camera, it’s best to leave them undisturbed. A spotting scope makes this easy by allowing you to take high quality pictures from a distance of hundred yards or more.

Q.2 What type of animals you aim for with a spotting scope?  

If you’re out in the field, the spotting scope helps in tracing the location of animals. Depending on various situations, this can be beneficial or different types of games.

In an open area: you can use a spotting scope to locate the animal virtually. Rabbits and coyotes can all be easily located from half a mile away with a powerful enough scope. This is majorly used for coyotes since it’s important to spot them before they suspect that you’re in the area. You can spot deer from a mile away with a powerful scope since they’re large enough to be seen from a distance.

In the woods: scopes can be useful or useless. As the trees and foliage will only permit you to see a short distance, most woodland hunters stick to a pair of binoculars.

You can use your scope to check nearby clearings or to look across a hollow space to trace the presence of a deer or an elk.

Q.3 Are spotting scopes useful for serious hunters?

There are a few hunting tools that are truly essential for a serious hunter. A weapon, reasonable camouflage can be considered essential equipment. A skinning knife is also important if you’re entering the field. For them, a spotting scope is a luxury. That being said, it is very useful specifically if you’re hunting a large area with clear sights. These help in locating the animals quickly, without wasting a lot of time waiting for the game. These make the hunting easier and it does replace common sense, accuracy or basic field craft.

Q.4 What is the most powerful spotting scope?

The most powerful spotting scopes are in the neighborhood of 70x magnification. Most tend to Max out at 60x. Over long distances, tiny particles in the air and even humidity can blur the image. To get a clearer picture, you need a bigger lens that captures more light. Bigger lenses and tubes mean more weight, which becomes impractical once you attain a much bigger scope.

Q.5 What is the best spotting scope for hunting?

The search for the best spotting scope depends on your personal preference. You’ll be needing a lightweight and portable scope. Ideally, you’ll require the one that can be mounted on a small Tripp, or you’ll be foregoing some of the benefits of using a spotting scope instead of your rifle scope.

Conclusion

As you read above, there is a brimming variety of best spotting scopes available in today’s market. But all dials down to what and how much you’re willing to spend. You can get a small piece that’s useful for target shooting and scoping out nearby games or even a larger piece for tracing game across a much wider ground.

Ultimately, the best spotting scope is the one that is easy to carry, and light enough that it is convenient to take it into the woods. If you need the scope for photography, you should not pay heed to weight but rather give attention to the sharpness of the image.

Additionally, don’t forget to think about the level of magnification. The further you zoom, the narrower your field of view will be. We’d suggest 60x magnification, even 30x us better for surveying a wider field more quickly. Everything comes down to your preference of the game. So post reading our review, consider your personal preference and then make a wise decision. We hope our reviews helped you find the ideal spotting scope that fulfills all your needs.

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