In this article, we’ll be reviewing the eight best spotting scopes. So if you’re in the market for a new one, you’ll have some solid information to base your decision on. We’ll also present some guidelines on what you should be looking for in a good spotting scope so you can find the right spotting scope for you and your needs.
Best Spotting Scopes
Celestron 52250 Spotting Scope
This is probably the all-around best pick for the best-bang-for-your-buck type of spotting scope that you can buy. It can be used to great effect in determining the size and gender of any target, and you’ll also be able to get a close look at whether or not you actually hit the target. This spotting scope provides 20-power to 60-power magnification, and it has an angled view eyepiece, along with a number of adjustments you can make to bring the target picture into focus.
This spotting scope is waterproof and fog proof and comes with a soft carrying case so it can be easily transported. The objective lens is 80 mm in length and the lenses are multi-coated for better preservation. Altogether, this spotting scope weighs about 3.5 pounds, so it won’t have a significant impact on the weight of any gear you carry with you out into the field.
Nikon Monarch Spotting Scope
The Nikon Monarch spotting scope provides very clear images and a great field of view. It’s equipped with a flip-down lens cover to protect the 82 mm objective lens, and you can count on magnification between 20-power and 60-power. It’s a little bulky to carry, and it does have a hefty price tag, but it’s worth the money for its high optical performance and reliability. Nikon has an excellent reputation for producing high-quality rangefinders, scopes, and binoculars, and this entry into the market for spotting scopes won’t disappoint you.
It’s equipped with an optimal focus system that allows you to quickly adjust focus and zero in on the target. There are actually two focusing speeds on a single focus ring, one of the speeds being for distant objects, and one for those closer to you. The body of the Nikon Monarch spotting scope is extremely durable, making it perfect for use on rugged terrain like you would encounter on hunting trips.
The Vortex Diamondback is capable of delivering 20-power to 60-power magnification, and its objective lens is 60 mm in diameter. It’s a fairly lightweight device that won’t bog down your hunting gear, and it’s also fairly compact, so you can squeeze it in almost anywhere. It’s a straight view eyepiece, which many hunters prefer. Despite the relatively smaller objective lens, the Diamondback can deliver some very bright and accurate images, in part due to the special anti-reflective coating on the lens.
This coating is intended to reduce light loss on your high-power spotting scope, and a second coating protects the scope from scratches. You can also expect accurate color reproduction using the scope, so you have an even clearer picture of the target and all the details. The closest focusing distance for the Vortex Diamondback is 6.1 meters, and the field of view at 1,000 meters is 34.7 meters. This scope gets a top-notch grade from a number of hunters who find it convenient to take with them on expeditions, and great for use in the field.
The Burris Signature spotting scope has an objective lens of 85 mm and magnification levels of 20-power to 60-power. At 1,000 meters, the field of view is 117 feet, and the closest focusing distance is 19 ft. It has diecast magnesium housing, and an HD and apochromatic lens, an angled eyepiece and tripod mount, and fantastic focusing power.
This is a high magnification spotting scope which will allow you to easily track an object from practically any distance when using the 20-60-power zoom range. It’s quite well suited to hunting in the field because of its HD lens and the apochromatic lens system. Together, these help you eliminate colorized edges and provide broad resolution at any level of magnification.
This particular model comes equipped with the Burris Fastfire Red Dot system, which can easily be attached to provide additional functionality. It will help you to focus in on a desired target much more quickly, and when time is of the essence, that can make the difference between bagging your target and missing out. Altogether, this is a great value for the money, although the price tag is a bit hefty.
Leupold SX4-Pro Spotting Scope
The magnification level you’ll get with a Leupold SX-4 is 15-power to 45-power, and the objective lens is 65 mm in diameter. At 1,000 meters, your field of view would be 131 feet, and the closest focusing distance will be 11 feet. It has robust construction and a really great level of functionality, both of which make it ideal for a hiking or hunting trip in just about any kind of weather. It’s totally waterproof and it also resists fog, so you shouldn’t have any interruptions in spotting targets that come into view.
The scope lenses are resistant to all kinds of scratches, so you won’t have to worry about them becoming damaged if you should drop the spotting scope. It comes equipped with a proprietary lighting control system which provides an optimal sighting experience for all users. Because of its Twilight Max HD lighting control system, you’ll have as much as 30 extra minutes of shooting light, and this will give you more opportunities in those critical pre-dawn or late-dusk times.
The Leupold Pro Guide is capable of eliminating up to 90% of all stray light which might interfere with targeting your quarry. It doesn’t have some of the impressive capabilities of the really high-end scopes, but on the other hand, it costs less than half of some of those high-end scopes as well.
Zeiss Carl Dialyt Spotting Scope
This spotting scope provides 18-power to 45-power magnification, while its 65 mm objective lens serves as the primary focusing lens. At 1,000 meters, you’ll have a 40 meter field of view, and the closest focusing distance will be 10 meters. It’s a compact unit that’s very convenient to use and has extremely durable construction that will allow it to last for quite a few hunting trips.
This spotting scope was originally developed for European Alpine hunters, who needed a compact spotting scope that could be used in extreme climate conditions. If you’re looking for a compact and lightweight spotting scope that can be used with equal success by tourists and hunters, this is probably your best bet.
This model is ready to use right out of the box, in comparison with draw-tube scopes that require some preparation. It’s also 100% waterproof and is highly resistant to both dust and fog. That means you can take this handy little spotting scope with you in almost any rugged terrain and in any weather that you care to go hunting in.
Sightmark Latitude Spotting Scope
This spotting scope has an 80 mm objective lens, and you’ll be able to benefit by its 20-power to 60-power magnification levels. That makes it suitable for all kinds of activities such as hiking, hunting, bird watching, or competitive shooting. With a large objective lens and superior magnification capabilities, this spotting scope is perfect for long-distance targeting of quarry, and for helping you to achieve a higher level of success.
It’s easy to read the mil-scale on all axes because of the modified ranging crosshair reticle. This extra capability will allow you to accurately define ballistic drop, so that your shot accuracy can be increased. It will also help you to estimate the distance to your target and provide a rough estimate of its size. It has extra-low dispersion glass, with a rubber coating that keeps out almost all moisture and dust.
The Swarovski HD-ATS-80 is a premium spotting scope equipped with an 80 mm objective lens and 20-power to 60-power magnification. It has fantastic resolution and extremely high color accuracy, so you just won’t get a better picture of a target than you will with this spotting scope. If you’re looking for the ultimate spotting scope in the premium class, this is the one you should go with.
You’ll be getting a scope that works in all kinds of lighting conditions, as well as all possible weather scenarios. The eyepiece will give you an extremely wide field of view with a good amount of eye relief. It’s very easy to detach and attach the eyepiece, so you won’t have any difficulties with transportation or storage.
You also won’t have to worry about any damage occurring to your spotting scope because the O-ring is sealed, and the body is filled with nitrogen. In addition, the rubberized construction protects the spotting scope against water, fog, and a number of other miscellaneous weather conditions.
Things to look for in a spotting scope
There are two characteristics that are important to check on any new spotting scope you’re considering buying. Here are some of the most important qualities you should be checking for, so you end up with the most useful and functional spotting scope:
- Usage – if your hunting expeditions are primarily focused on long-range targets, it will definitely be advantageous for you to purchase a spotting scope with higher magnification and a bigger objective lens. The only drawback to this is that the extra glass means that it will be heavier to carry and will cost you more money. Hunters targeting sheep and goats in the far north are generally obliged to make an accurate determination of gender and size before bagging their target. In addition to the certainty aspect, you can save a lot of mileage by not pursuing ineligible targets.
- Magnification – you might be a bit confused by all the numbers you see in the catalogs for a spotting scope, but they are all important numbers that you should understand. For instance, 20-60 x 80, means that the objective lens is 80 mm in diameter and has a zoom magnification between 20 power and 60 power. This is enough to give you plenty of magnification, and the lens is large enough to gather in all available light. That can be important at the beginning or ending of a hunting day when very little light is available.
- Eyepiece – spotting scopes are generally equipped either with an angled eyepiece or a straight view eyepiece. For most hunters, it’s easier to pick up a target using a straight view eyepiece. However, there are situations where an angled eyepiece is better to use. When using an angled eyepiece, it’s easier to lock in on a target by just looking down through the scope, and this can be a huge time saver. When time is of the essence, an angle eyepiece may be more advantageous. One last part of the eyepiece that’s extremely important is the exit pupil. When holding a rifle scope or a spotting scope at arm’s length, try to line it up and look through it to see a little white disk. The diameter of the disk you see is considered to be the pupil exit diameter. That should be approximately the same length as the diameter of your own eye’s pupils. This provides for a little flexibility, relative to how close your eye has to be to the eyepiece in order to get a full view going through the scope. For the most part, the bigger the exit pupil, the better view will be obtainable.
- Weatherproof – it’s an absolute must to have a weatherproof spotting scope, and this is true not just for rain and snow, but for dust as well. If you’ve ever gone hunting in the Midwest or the Far West and experienced a windstorm, you’ll know how dust and dirt can get into everything you own. You’ll also need to be sure that your scope tube is free of moisture to the greatest extent possible. If any moisture is inside the scope at all, it may become fogged up, especially when taking the scope from a warm cabin into the cold outdoor temperature. That might be just the time when you spot a target off in the distance, unable to determine its gender because your spotting scope is fogged up. Of course, the fog will subside over a period of time, but in the meantime, it’s basically non-operational and you may even miss out on some choice opportunities.