BY James Brown, 7 Minutes
There are a plethora of spotting scopes out there, out of all the models in the market, which one is the best spotting scope out there? How long will they last? Should I buy the expensive ones? or perhaps cheaper models are more suitable.
Whatever doubts you may have, it all comes down to, is it the best buy for your budget? However, before all this, why do you want the Spotting scope in the first place? Maybe because you are a hunter, bird watcher, a target shooter or engaged in an activity where you need an upgrade to your field of vision.
As you make a decision and go for the one that suits you the best, pay close attention to its features like magnification and range of the lens.
Due to their superior magnification and range capabilities than binoculars, it makes spotting scope ideal for spotting object at long range.
Therefore, we recommend you not to buy the cheap ones as they do more harm than good, putting a strain on your eyes during prolonged usage.
Cheap spotting scopes are not designed to watch anything beyond 100 yards; sure, they can be good at watching your bullet holes on a target at 40 yards but if you are serious about your passion for bird watching and hunting, not recommended.
Spotting scope comes in different quality mainly by the type of coating the lens has namely, fully coated, fully multi- coated and fully coated.
Below is our expert recommendation on which is the best spotting scope for the money and why it is a great choice.
Celestron ultima 80 is an entry level spotting scope which is designed for beginners and advanced hunter alike. That is why it is the one of the best budget spotting scope today.
This spotting scope can be used for various activities apart from hunting like bird watching and sightseeing.
If you are into bird watching, hunting, target mapping or medium range shooting, this spotting scope is an absolute bargain. It is packed with features at low price, makes it one of the most ordered spotting scope online.
It comes with a rubberized body armor and a 45 degree angled eyepiece, which is a great thing for those who spent a lot of time sitting because it is a lot easier to lean down into the sight piece than to adjust your body and get your neck in an uncomfortable position.
The Ultima 80 measures over 18 inches long and weighs 3.6 pounds. The rubber eyecup can be disengaged to represent an usual “T-thread” if you fix a camera. The device comes with a padded soft casing which is designed in a way that it can be attached to a to a tripod without removing the case.
It offers images that are crispier and brighter than the primary level spotters. The objective lens promises outstanding light transmission by its anti-reflection, multi layer coating is built with decent quality. Not too good but better than any other scope in the same range.
The objective lens is 80mm gives you an excellent magnification of 20-60 X zoom eyepiece, which is good for medium range birding and shooting of about 500 plus yards. It comes with a smooth zooming knob which takes you from 20X to 60X in just a fe turn.
You will be amazed by its field of view even at 1000 yards with 60X magnification. The whole scope is waterproof. And a bit of disappointment in terms of its near sight viewing capabilities, below 15 yards its blurry.
One of the best things about this scope is its rugged frame and its durability when you hold it, you can feel that the scope is quite durable. The tool is a well-built to withstand rugged conditions.
A nice addition with this spotting scope's the peep hole which makes it easy for you to find the target with no magnification.
The device comes with a porro prism design with a BaK-4 prism glass which is not the best out there but it still works fine.
If you are looking for a reliable spotting scope at mid range price, this is a wonderful product at an absolute perfect price if you’re just starting out bird watching or shooting where you don’t want to walk down to check where the gun hit the target or simply you to monitor game pattern from far.
Redfield is a well reputed company controlled by Leoupold and is mainly popular for designing high quality spotting scope while maintaining the budget.
The spotting scope has a good built quality with polycarbonate body, large objective lens and light weight.
Redfield Rampage is a 20X magnification to 60X magnification spotting scope developed by Redfield under its parent company Leupold & Stevens. zooming the view in and out is smooth with its front knob.
Rampage is not a high end spotting scope but still, it delivers great performance compare to another spotting scope in the same range. Delivering crisp clear images within its entire magnification range.
The Main purpose of the Redfield division is to create high quality scopes at minimum price possible.
It comes with a full kit including a tripod that mounts at the bottom of the scope giving you smooth viewing experience, a view through the case, eyepiece covers and objective covers.
The whole frame is made up of polycarbonate, a practically bulletproof material making it light and strong to withstand rugged weather conditions. Weighing only 37 ounces. The focus knob have n outstanding stippling to enable you to securely turn it without having to worry about slipping.
Redfield Rampage features a BX-4 prism glass for superior clarity and resolution, instead of a cheaper and more common BK-7, giving it an upper hand over other spotting scope at the price. In addition, the glass has fully multi coated lens for an enhanced image quality.
Due to the twilight feature in this spotting scope, which ranges from 34.6 to about 60 makes it a great tool even during low light conditions especially during the night. However, predominantly it depends upon the zoom settings.
The quality of the optics and zoomed in image is suitable for its price. The accurate color fidelity and sharp edge clarity makes the image rich in detail that helps you to differentiate target from its surrounding.
The magnification of the Redfield Rampage delivers big time performance, providing a rich field of view of over 50 feet at 1000 yards at 60X magnification. It’s waterproof and fog proof as well as shock proof.
The sunlight shade protector is pretty smooth and retractable helps reduce glare and increase visibility.
We’ve used this spotting scope early in the morning as well as late in the evening to our surprise it works great even at low light environment reminded me of my old Nokia phone back in the day.
The Vortex Viper HD is some of the finest mid-range spotting scope in the market. The design of Viper HD is similar to Razor HD in a lot of ways.
The ED glass, High definition image, multi-coated optics, you name it. The Viper HD has it all.
The only reason why this scope is not higher on the list is that we noticed Razor HD gives you a more premium feel and a better optical image than Viper HD but its surprisingly difficult to show on a blog review.
Anyway, viper HD is packed with features like Vortex Razor HD, offering high-end optical performance without the high-end price tag, essential for hunters, shooters or people who enjoy looking at nature.
Its most exciting feature is its HD optical system embracing premium component, which helps in producing high definition, larger than life images.
It also features an anti-reflective, XR multi coated air to the glass surface to achieve brighter views in low light situation conveniently increases the light transmission. The new model features a 85mm aperture which is an upgrade from its older model which has a 80mm aperture. This 5mm increase in size give a boost to the image quality.
The silky smooth helical ring focus dials in your image for remarkably sharp viewing while simultaneously maintaining a slim profile for ultimate pack ability.
Another great thing about a helical system is that it is more durable and robust than the knob system, they are ultra-smooth and engage immediately when you use them.
A multi position twist-in, twist-out eyecup provides a proper eye relief, which is great to maximize the custom fit for comfortable viewing providing the focus from 36 feet to infinity.
With superior image quality the spotting scope offers a fancy magnification of 20X all the way up to 60X. with nothing but great low light performance.
The bottom mounting foot conveniently snaps directly in and out of the Manfrotto Rc2 style tripod head and is easily removable.
Both straight and angled scope help you with quickly rotating the scope into different positions making it great for people of different height. In addition, the viper HD is a slim spotting scope so portability is not an issue with this tool. But you may find it a bit heavy than its previous version due to added 5mm lens size.
The device weight 76.6 oz compared to 67 oz to its older model, which can be justified if you look at the improved image quality, its low light performance and more precise focusing ability.
Strong O-ring seals and argon purging delivers waterproof and fog proof performance. In addition to this, it comes with a neoprene stay-on case offering good bump protection and it’s really good at keeping the dust off the scope.
Durable rubber armor guards against impact and rugged environment. Viper HD also comes with a built-in sunshade pulls out to reduce sun glare.
The coating on the front of the glass is coated with ultra-hard armor tech coating that protects the exterior lens from scratches oil and dirt.
If it’s important for you to find a scope that comes with a good warranty, Viper HD is covered for life by the vortex VIP warranty.
The vanguard Endeavor HD is a flagship series by Endeavor. The company has put so much time designing this tool, it is one of their best spotting scope till date.
The scope is relatively light weight, comes with a large objective lens and has sharp image quality is nothing but perfection. That is why experts call it the best long range scope for the money.
Endeavor HD is a top of the line yet an affordable spotting scope. When it was first released, it took the market by storm, making it one of the most advanced optic scope Vanguard has produced at the time of its release.
Endeavor HD comes in two models, Endeavor HD 65A which has 65mm objective lens and angled eyepiece at a 15X to 45X magnification and Endeavor 82A have an 82 mm objective lens with 20X to 60X magnification. With eye piece is connecting to the ain body at 45 degree which makes it quite comfortable to watch with as you don't need to keep the scope at eye level height.
It has an extra low dispersion glass to guarantee accurate color rendition eliminating color fringing which is a common optical problem occur when a lens is either unable to bring all wavelength of a color to the same focal plane or wavelength of different colors are focused at a different position at the same time.
As a result, the image looks blurry and you can notice colored edges around objects.
The lens in the Endeavor HD is fully multi coated to make sure there is an optimum light transmission which means less absorption and reflection of the light by the glass resulting in high quality images. This is due to the fact that it can better direct light to pass it through the lens.
Endeavor HD also features a phase coated back floor roof prism due to which no colors are reinforced or cancelled, giving a more accurate color reproduction.
The scope features a fine and coarse focusing knob which makes it easy to focus on the target very quickly and then zero-in very finely.
Like most good scope, the mounting plate is connected to the body using a circled collar that is connected the barrel which you can make adjustments on. The mounting plate is 6.5cm long and 3.5 cm wide, which combined with the groves on it gives it a sturdy look.
The dual focus wheel is perfect for coarse and fine adjustment. It also comes with an expandable rubber covered eyecup providing a splendid eye relief even at the highest zoom settings.
Both the Endeavor models features a magnesium body making it sturdy to tough weather conditions. Magnesium is considered superior to aluminium as its is tougher and light. On top of that, the scope is 100% waterproof and fog proof. To prevent the internal glass from fog and mist, the internal gas in the spotting scope is replaced with dry gas(nitrogen).
This also prevents the scope from corrosion thus prolonging its life
Most of its body is covered with rubber body armour while much of it is left exposed to give it a look of a rugged tool for your hunting needs which makes for a very high quality finish.
A built-in sun shield is included to eliminate glare caused by direct sunlight. It also comes with a padded raincoat with a sling protection.
We really like how the Endeavor HD mounts directly to any standard quarter twenty-thread bolts.
Endeavor HD Weights 63.8oz (1,810g) is reasonably heavy for a scope this size. However, unlike any other cheap scopes that use plastic, this one has a magnesium chassis like other top model, which maybe a bit heavier, but far superior and rugged.
Even though it cannot compete with high end scope but it’s a Great product at a great price.
The Barska Blackhawk spotter scope is an entry level spotting scope and the cheapest on the list, comes at under $100 making it best inexpensive spotting scope on the market.
This spotting scope does everything moderately well that you want in a spotting scope. Highly recommended if you are looking for a spotting scope around $100.
Comes with a hard and soft case for maximum protection with an angled eyepiece for easy and effortless viewing. It gives a magnification from 20X to 60X.
Even though we recommended not to buy cheap spotting scopes, but if you really are in the budget, blackhawk spotter is a prefect choice.
Its not very powerful but it does the job and will produce some good quality images, however, do not expect much from this scope because at the highest magnification it doesn’t perform as well as it should be.
The scope is waterproof with a 45 degree angled eyepiece. The spotting scope features a 60 mm objective lens. The close focus distance is 26 feet and it measures 13 inches long and weighs close to 2 pounds.
The scope does not have chromatic aberration thanks to its lens coating. In-addition, it has a field of view of 68.25 feet from 1000yards at maximum magnification.
Blackhawk uses BK-7 prism glass, which is a downgrade to BaK-4 prism resulting in the reduction of image quality.
But since its performance is decent it is without a doubt the best affordable spotting scope on the market today.
The Zeiss Carl Dialyt field is a premium spotting scope from Zeiss Carl, a company known for its age old reputation for manufacturing high-end scopes.
This scope features a monobloc construction with an extremely impressive image quality.
The Zeiss Dialyt is a completely waterproof, weather proof and shockproof spotting scope designed specifically for hunting, sightseeing and bird watching all in one scope making it one of the best spotting scope for long range shooting.
Due to its high price, it is not for everyone but those of you who can afford it will definitely love it, mainly because of its performance that is why this spotting scope has so few ratings online that not everyone can afford it.
On top of that, this spotting scope is the most advanced spotting scope designed by Carl Zeiss out in the market today which is under $2000.
The built-in eyepiece is detachable, which only complements the overall durability of this scope. The possibility of Damage with this spotting scope is close to none.
Moreover, the magnification ranges from 18X all the way up to 45X which makes it great for every hunter and birdwatcher for spotting animals and birds. Which is ideal which is ideal magnification range for Hunters Who wants a bit more magnification than what a Binocular have to offer. Don't take less magnification range for low quality as the image quality this device offers is one of the best we have seen in an optics.
At around 18X to about 30X the spotting scope provides an exceptional hands-free performance without much shakiness. Though from 35X to 45X it is crucial to use a well built tripod as the shakiness gets dysfunctional.
The device weights 42.15 ounces with a length of 15.55 inches makes up a very sturdy and burly tool with an unmatchable durability.
The scope doesn't have an angled model available, the reason for that is having a straight scope makes it easier and faster to locate target, track their movement and quick to work with. which makes this spotting scope a great choice for all the Hunters out there .
The heavy-built armor coating and its Monobloc construction makes it a durable tool that can withstand the harshest situation and toughest shock. Carl ziess have so much trust in their product that it doesn't come with a Cover case. Because it easily is one of the toughest Spotting scope out there.
The only downside with this spotting scope we have found is its narrow field of view of 69 feet at a 45X magnification which can hamper your game monitoring if looking at multiple animals.
The ED glass delivers solid performance by producing sharp, clear, vivid, larger than life images with minimum chromatic aberration.
This tool is a high-end premium spotting scope and a solid performer with little to no downside. Highly recommended for those you love the clear, bright, and authentic images.
Check more user review and price on amazon here
Leupold Mark 4 is an excellent spotting scope that comes with a reticle on it, which we don't usually see in spotting scopes.
It comes with a straight design with mil-dot or tactical milling reticle and works for variety of purpose.
The Leupold mark 4 is a top of the line premium spotting scope designed and manufactured by Leupold. This spotting scope is a compact, nice and small making it ideal for travelling, hunting and climbing.
Spotting scopes do not usually come with a reticle but Mark 4 is certainly an exception. The Mark 4 is a tactical and military grade spotter that is available only in straight design.
It comes with two options for reticle, which is either Mil-dot or tactical milling reticle. The mil-dot provides points on both elevation and windage to determine wind drift and bullet drop.
The tactical milling reticle design is deadly accurate, the accuracy with this one is on another level. It includes hash marks for both wind compensation and bullet drop spaced .5 mils apart instead of dots like in Mil-dot reticle.
The reticle is not illuminated but you can get it illuminated via Leupold’s custom shop. In addition, mil-dot does not come with a specified calibre. Make sure when you use mark 4 Spotting scope with a mil dot rifle scope to effectively measure the accurate adjustments.
This spotting scope features Xtended Twilight Lens system to maximize the blue and red wavelength of light wave during low-light conditions.
The external lens is coated with leupold’s diamondcoat 2 technology that provides abrasion-resistance properties which maximize light transmission.
The eye-relief with this spotting scope is incredible, the fold-down rubber eye-cups provides a 30 mm of eye relief making it ideal for people with glasses and without glasses alike.
This spotting scope is made up of aircraft grade aluminum which makes it lighter in comparison.
The rubberized body armor to provide an extra grip and sturdy feel. Mark 4 is completely waterproof, shockproof and weatherproof. The exterior of Leupold mark 4 features a soft, matt, outer covering that provides a nice grip and a premium feel and look
Another great feature this spotter has is its focus ring. It provides a great, smooth gripping for focusing. The magnification ring, behind the focus ring is smooth and large which can easily be identifiable because of their different texture.
This tool work really fine especially for target shooters and hunters. Check the user reviews and price on Amazon Here
Vortex has significantly up their game by producing one of the fines spotting scope in the market currently you can buy.
Razor HD is one of theirs premium product only for those who are serious about their passion and it is one of the best hunting spotting scope currently on the market.
Razor HD is one of the high end spotting scope making it expensive but the quality it delivers sets a new standard in high end optically technology, carefully designed with ultra-sleek functionality.
It also has a center balanced tripod mount and can easily be balanced on a flat surface.
Razor HD consist of a premium high-density extra low dispersion glass and a built in sun shade which also keeps the rain off the lens, as the light pass through the glass bends all the different wavelength of light at a single focal point to give a high quality image.
The lens is XR plus multi coated anti reflecting coating gives you maximum brightness, which can compete with a lot of higher end models in the market and ultra-hard coating protect the glass from scratch and dirt.
Another great feature Razor HD has is its focus system function, it has a crude focus and a fine focus.
Available in 22-48 at X 65 magnification and 27- 60 at X85 magnification models has a wide angle design that provides a much greater field of view. They come in both angled and straight eyepieces.
We really like how smooth helical style focus ring is; you can quickly focus on subjects with razor sharp focus for high resolution and optimal viewing experience.
The body is fully rubber armor for durability and purged with argon gas for waterproof and fog proof protection in any weather condition.
Best thing of all, it comes with a VIP warranty, which is the best in the business. Razor HD has a multi position eye cup which is great if you want proper eye relief even without glasses.
In addition, a locking collar which might be a good choice for those who want to rotate the scope to acquire the best viewing angle.
So there you have it, this is our top choice for a spotting scope.
One of the reasons why we did not include super expensive spotting scopes is because we think you do not want to break off your second mortgage to buy such a spotting scope. It’s better to keep things simple.
As you already know, there is a lot of different spotting scope in the market with some being of different sizes, different magnification, and different shapes.
But if you really want a spotting scope that is designed for you, ask yourself for what purpose you want it for? Are you going to be birding, hunting, target shooting or general sightseeing? There are different criteria for each of the category mentioned above.
One of the great things about spotting scope is its portability.
Spotting scope sits right in the sweet spot between telescope and binoculars in many outdoor situations. Basically, they are binoculars on steroids as they provide a clear image and greater magnification.
Certainly, they are robust and has better light gathering capabilities than a telescope.
If you’re looking for hunting spotting scope, you want to narrow your criteria to a few things.
You want the scope to be more compact and lightweight which can easily fit in a cargo pocket because you are gonna walk a lot with all those hunting equipment and you do not want anything that adds in unnecessary effort.
Magnification wise, you need a spotting scope with a magnification power of about 15Xto 45X. for the compact feel, the objective lens can also be a little smaller of about 50mm is enough for hunting.
Now if you are into birding, you already know quality optics is a game changer, spending extra bucks on those crystal clear optics will only goanna enhance your birding experience.
In this case, look for the quality optics. If you want bird watching in your backyard or park, you will need a close range spotting scope of 20 to 60 yards with 15X to 45X magnification.
Now there are two types of a spotting scope, straight body, and angled body. Straight body spotting scope is ideal for Digi-scoping, it’s easier to mount your camera to look into the lens for digital spotting.
While the angle body scope, it is easier to set it at a certain height where it’s convenient for people of different height.
It is also ideal for hunting, beach viewing, bird watching or nature watching since they are easier to use for an extended period.
For target shooting, there are a lot of different options out there, start with looking at the magnification of the scope, specifically as well as the objective size. Usually, target shooting is stationary so weight is not a problem.
Look for a scope with capabilities of at least 25 yards to as long as 600 yards with a magnification of a good 20X to 60X for most application.
Always have a big objective size for target shooting of at least 80mm, which allows better light transmission.
The eyepiece comes in different design, removable and non-removable. Removable eyepiece gives a freedom of upgrade while the fixed eyepiece magnifies witching a pre-set range.
In general, the spotting scopes gives a magnification of 15X to 250X. Basically, when they look through the scope, the image will appear 15 times to 250 times larger than if it were to be seen by a naked eye.
Fixed magnification generally comes in 20X, 25X and 30X.
The wide angled lens is popular amongst hunter due to their wider field of view when zooming.
If you wear glasses, look for a scope, which has an eye-relief suited for people with glasses, otherwise, you will not be able to see the the full size of the image.
What is lens Coating?
During light transmission, when the light hits the lens 55 of the light gets absorbed by the lens, this results in a less bright image, bad image quality, and increased glare.
To reduce the amount of glare and maximize the amount of light transmission, the lens is often coated with chemicals to achieve such perfection.
To reduce even more glare and increase light transmission, sometimes the objective lens is multi coated. A multi-layer coated lens is expensive than a single layered lens.
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