What’s your favorite part when it comes to hunting or hiking? For a lot of people, the thrill comes from sighting and spying objects in the distance. But how can you enjoy this thrill when you don’t own a spotting scope?
Spotting scopes are a great addition to take along when going hiking, birdwatching, or even hunting. Not only are they more powerful than binoculars, they also give you just the right amount of magnification you need for sighting objects in the distance.
However, buying spotting scopes isn’t exactly as easy as most people think. If you simply rush into a store with no idea of the type you want to get, you may get a little overwhelmed.
This review is here to help you get the best spotting scope that will not just suit your budget and needs, but also make you feel like a main character from Jumanji.
Here is a breakdown of our favorite spotting scopes:
The Best Spotting Scopes Are:
|1. Vortex Optics Diamondback 20- 60x60|
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|2. Vanguard Endeavour HD 65A||Check Current Price|
|3. BARSKA Gladiator||Check Current Price|
|4. Leupold Kenai HD Angled Spotting Scope||Check Current Price|
|5. Bushnell Sentry 18-36x50||Check Current Price|
|6. BARSKA Blackhawk 18-36x50||Check Current Price|
|7. Vortex Optics Razor Hd 27-60x85||Check Current Price|
|8. Celestron 52250 Ultima 80 mm||Check Current Price|
|9. Bushnell Legend Ultra Spotting Scope||Check Current Price|
1. Vortex Optics Diamondback 20- 60×60 — Best Spotting Scope for Hunting
When it comes to hunting, you definitely need all the help you can get. It can be an extreme sport and if you aren’t careful, you may end up with no target at all.
Let’s not even mention the fact that you could get injured if you do not watch your back. Luckily, we found the best spotting scope that would suit just about any hunting environment — from the toughest to the least dangerous.
The Vortex Optics Diamondback was specifically designed to withstand the harshest hunting environment. Remember how life throws lemons at you? Well, this spotting scope can take just about anything the hunting session throws at it.
What we love the most about this spotting scope (aside its tough build, of course) is the clear pictures it offers. This spotting scope comes with XR multi-coloured lenses that produce breath-taking images. Worried that your target may hide under the cover of natural camouflage? Trust us, this spotting scope will definitely “spot” any hidden target.
What we don’t like about this spotting scope is that it is quite pricey. If you’re looking for something cheap, then you definitely shouldn’t consider getting it. It may be too expensive and won’t fit within your budget. But hey! It’s still great value for your money.
- Manufacturer: Vortex Optics
- Material: Composite
- Weight: 2.12 pounds
- Size: 20-60×60
- Clear, high quality images.
- It is very expensive.
The Vortex Optics Diamondback can suit just about any hunting environment thanks to its waterproof and shockproof design. As such, it is obviously one of our best spotting scopes for hunting. With this spotting scope, you don’t have to panic when you accidentally drop it.
Overall Rating: 4.6/5
2. Vanguard Endeavour HD 65A — Best Spotting Scope Under 500
The Vanguard Endeavour HD 65A may not be as impressive as the Vortex Optics Diamondback, but it does offer great quality at a considerably lower price. The lenses are covered in MultiGuard coatings to help enhance light transmission. They also give vivid colour depiction. So, with this spotting scope, you don’t have to worry about dark images.
You probably think that this is all the Vanguard Endeavour HD 65A has to offer. Well, there’s more. Where this spotting scope really impresses us is in its user-friendliness. It is arguably one of the most user-friendly spotting scopes out there.
It can even be used by beginners or amateurs who know next to nothing about spotting scopes. It comes with a soft rubber cup for the detachable eyepiece and easy-to-use controls.
Like the Diamondback, this spotting scope is tough (although not half as tough as the Diamondback. So, it can withstand a few falls. But be careful not to drop it like it’s hot.
However, one flaw of the Vanguard Endeavour HD 65A is in the image quality. With this scope, images can be a little blurry around the edges. This is a forgivable flaw though as the Vanguard Endeavour HD 65A makes up for it with its budget-friendliness, great light transmission and of course, user-friendliness.
- Manufacturer: Vanguard
- Material: Aluminium
- Weight: 3.2 pounds
- Size: 65.mm
- Comes with a lifetime warranty
- It is very easy to use.
- Images are usually blurry around the edges.
The Vanguard Endeavour HD 65A is a great choice if you’re looking for something affordable yet impressive as well. Although it has a few flaws when it comes to image quality, it makes up for this forgivable flaw in other areas. Little wonder it is our best spotting scope under $500.
Overall Rating: 4.0/5
3. BARSKA Gladiator — Best Spotting Scope for the Money
For a spotting scope named “Gladiator”, this product sure does live up to its name. We hate to admit it but a lot of spotting scopes out there can be quite fragile. But apparently, this setting scope is just as tough as a Roman fighter.
It is coated with a rubberized armour that absorbs shock and external damage. It even comes with a sturdy, adjustable tripod that can be set up very easily and quickly. But that’s not the best part yet.
Why we love this spotting scope so much is because it is nitrogen-purged and o-ring sealed. Wondering why this is great news to us? Well, these qualities help to protect it from damages caused by fogging and moisture. If you’re going to be using this scope outdoors (which you obviously will), you definitely need these features.
Another reason why we love this setting scope is that it has a magnification of up to 20-60x. It is almost impossible to get a scope with this level of magnification at such a low cost. So, if you’re looking for a scope that offers you the best of both worlds (quality and cost-effectiveness), you have your winner right here.
On the downside, this spotting scope can be quite heavy. But don’t worry! You dont have to lug it over your shoulder. It comes with a really convenient carrying case that makes the job easier.
- Manufacturer: Barska
- Material: Aluminium
- Weight: 14.1 ounces
- Size: 100mm
- It is durable and shockproof
- Comes with a protective armour
- Comes with a convenient carrying case
- Too heavy
The BARSKA Gladiator is a great option if you’re trying to get great value for your money.
Overall Rating: 3.8
4. Leupold Kenai HD Angled Spotting Scope — Best Spotting Scope for Target Shooting
If you’re a target shooter, you probably already know that your best friend should be an impressive spotting scope. Luckily, Leupold has got your back with their sturdy Kenai spotting scope. Over the years, they have produced some of the best rifle scopes worldwide and this product is no different.
When it comes to spotting scopes for shooting, colour depiction is just as essential as learning how to shoot. Since you’d be scanning a full target, you definitely want a scope that gives you a clear, consistent picture. Fortunately, the Leupold Kenai does just this.
Our favourite feature of this spotting scope is that it helps to provide impressive colour reproduction and also lets you see the entire target clearly. What’s more, it comes in a lightweight design, making it easy to carry and haul.
This spotting scope is proof that you don’t have to sacrifice sturdiness for lightweight features. It comes with waterproof features and retractable lens shade for protecting the objective lens in all kinds of weather.
Target shooting can be exhausting but this scope will definitely make it seem like a breezy adventure.
- Manufacturer: Leupold
- Weight: 5.84 pounds
- Size: 25-60x80mm
- Clear images
- Very sturdy and waterproof
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- Mounting on the tripod can be a bit dicey
Getting the Leupold Kenai is one of the best decisions you’d make as a target shooter. Not only is it sturdy and durable, it also provides you with the right image quality for spotting targets.
Although the Leupold Kenai HD Angled Spotting Scope is a great choice, it may not be ideal if you’ll be viewing from a prone position. In this case, you can decide to go for the straight model.
Overall Rating: 4.0/5
5. Bushnell Sentry 18-36×50 — Best Spotting Scope Under 200
If you’re looking for an impressive spotting scope under $200, then you’d definitely love this one. The Bushnell Sentry 18-36×50 spotting scope is definitely a scope that lets you enjoy great quality without having to drain your pockets.
Although this spotting scope is very budget-friendly, this doesn’t mean that you’d be dealing with a substandard product. This scope — like several high-quality spotting scopes — is waterproof and can also survive a few accidental drops to the ground.
What we love about this pocket-friendly spotting scope is that it comes with multi coatings to prevent reflections. It also comes with impressive O-ring sealed optics to protect the interior from moisture. So, even if you go swimming with this spotting scope (although you really shouldn’t), the inner parts will still remain completely dry.
On the downside, the eye relief of this spotting scope isn’t exactly a prize if you get really close to the ground.
- Manufacturer: Bushnell
- Weight: 4.5 pounds
- Size: 18-36×50
- Completely waterproof
- Comes with a rubber armour that helps to absorb shock
- Provides full-size brightness and clarity
- Great value for your money
- Considerably heavier than other budget-friendly spotting scopes
- Poor eye relief when used close to the ground
The Bushnell Sentry 18-36×50 spotting scope is a great choice for people who want a mix of both great quality and pocket-friendliness. If you fall within this category, then you should go for this spotting scope. Although it isn’t the best scope out there, you’d still get great value for your money.
Overall Rating: 3.4/5
6. BARSKA Blackhawk 18-36×50 — Best Spotting Scope Under 100
By now, you probably already know that spotting scopes are a great addition to your hiking or hunting trips. But how possible is it to find a great spotting scope below $100? Well, we did it! We didn’t just find a great spotting scope below $100. We found the best of the best affordable spotting scopes.
The BARSKA Blackhawk definitely lives up to its name. Just like the bird it is named after, this spotting scope will give you a precise view of objects in the distance. It doesn’t matter whether you’re hunting or simply going hiking. This spectacular spotting scope will give you all the details you need in HD.
Want to hunt at dusk or dawn? No problem! This spotting scope helps to gather light even in low-light conditions.
The BARSKA Blackhawk spotting scope surely has a lot of impressive features but what made us fall in love with this scope was its protective design. For a scope so affordable, a lot of thought was put into its protective features.
For starters, it comes with a rubber armoured body that protects it from external damage. So, if you do trip and fall during your hunting or hiking session, your scope will definitely be safe. We hope you are too!
It is also nitrogen-purged, protecting it from water and fog.
What we don’t like about this spotting scope, however, is that the front lens cap is not so secure and could fall off easily.
- Manufacturer: Barska
- Weight: 1 pound
- Size: 18-36×50
- Offers a clear, precise view of objects in the distance
- Comes with a protective armour
- Can be used in low light conditions
- Front lens cap falls off easily
The BARSKA Blackhawk 18-36×50 spotting scope is a great choice if you’re looking for something cheap but of standard quality. It is our best spotting scope under $100. It may not be as impressive as other expensive models but it does hold its own.
Overall Rating: 3.4/5
7. Vortex Optics Razor Hd 27-60×85
Looking for a spotting scope that lets you perform in low light? Look no further. The Vortex Optics Razor Hd spotting scope comes with a triplet apochromatic lens, that helps to produce crystal clear images even in low light conditions.
On the other hand, this spotting scope also has XR Plus anti-reflective coatings for performing just as well in broad daylight. So, even if you decide to use this scope at the break of dawn or at midday, you’d still get quality images.
What we particularly love about the Vortex Optics Razor Hd 27-60×85 spotting scope is its versatility. This scope performs admirably at both close range and long range. In fact, it can focus on objects as close as 16.4 feet.
In essence, the Vortex Optics Razor Hd 27-60×85 is a very sophisticated spotting scope. But don’t let its sophistication fool you. This scope is as tough and durable as they come. It comes with coatings to protect it from oil, dust, moisture and of course, heavy falls.
What we don’t like about this spotting scope is that it comes with a bag of extremely low quality. However, this doesn’t detract from the scope’s impressive quality.
- Manufacturer: Vortex Optics
- Material: Composite
- Weight: 4 pounds
- Size: 27-60×85
- Performs well in both broad daylight and low light conditions
- Can focus on objects within close range
- Comes with protective coatings
- Low quality carrying bag
The Vortex Optics Razor Hd 27-60×85 is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a versatile and sophisticated spotting scope. We love this scope because it gives you great value for your money.
However, it’s a bit on the pricey side. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly spotting scope, you may want to try out other alternatives.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
8. Celestron 52250 Ultima 80 mm
We understand that you want a really inexpensive spotting scope but at the same time, you don’t want to sacrifice great quality. Fortunately, in this case, you can have your cake and eat it too!
The Celestron 52250 Ultima spotting scope is perfect for users who want a great spotting scope without having to pay through their noses for it. Despite its budget-friendly price, this spotting scope can rival many costly models out there.
The scope comes with multi coated Optics that will definitely improve contrast and make colours pop. It is a mid-range scope that may struggle at ranges beyond 200 yards.
Apart from its budget-friendly price, what we love about this spotting scope is that it provides you with the perfect setup for starting off. When you order this scope, you get a zoom eyepiece with T-adapter and a tripod-mounting plate. Now, these items may not exactly be of top-notch quality but they are a great way to get started.
- Manufacturer: Celestron
- Weight:3.56 pounds
- Size: 80 mm
- Comes with all the necessary gear without incurring extra charges
- Very budget-friendly
- It struggles at ranges beyond 200 yards.
The Celestron 52250 Ultima 80 mm spotting scope isn’t exactly the best out there. In fact, it definitely can’t be mistaken for a sophisticated scope. However, it does provide excellent quality for the price and is a great option if you’re looking for something cheap and not overly serious.
Overall Rating: 4.3/5
9. Bushnell Legend Ultra Spotting Scope
Finally! A spotting scope you can carry along with you without having to stagger under its weight. The Bushnell Legend Ultra Spotting Scope is an extremely portable model that is simply perfect for stashing in a backpack or even a duffel bag. But don’t let its small size fool you. This baby is just as powerful and tough as they come.
Thanks to its RainGuard HD water-repellent coating, you can use this spotting scope even in the wettest weather. The coating helps to protect your view during bad weather by diminishing large drops of water to microscopic droplets.
What we love about this compact spotting scope is that it works really well even at very close ranges. It also comes with a basic kit including a tripod but don’t raise your expectations. The accessories in the kit aren’t exactly breath-taking.
- Manufacturer: Bushnell
- Weight: 7.11 pounds
- Size: 20-60x80mm
- Compact and very easy to carry around
- Has protective RainGuard coating for inclement weather
- Annoying lens covers that don’t stay on for long
- Not so clear at long distances
The Bushnell Legend Ultra Spotting Scope is not exactly a primary choice but it is a great option if you’re looking for something simple and compact. What’s more, you don’t have to worry about the weather with this spotting scope. Despite its small size, it can take any raindrop hurled at it.
Overall Rating: 4.2/5
Buying Guide: Factors to Consider Before Buying a Spotting Scope
So you’ve decided to buy a brand new spotting scope — that shouldn’t be a hasty decision. You definitely don’t want to end up regretting your purchase. So, you have to do a lot of thinking before getting a spotting scope. But don’t worry. We’d make it easier for you.
Here are some key factors to consider when buying a spotting scope:
These days, most spotting scopes are either waterproof or fog proof or both. If you’d be using your spotting scope outdoors, you definitely need to make sure that it is both fog proof and waterproof.
Let’s admit it. Spotting scopes are a bit on the expensive side. To get the best of the best spotting scopes, you would need to spend extra money.
Thus, it makes perfect sense to ensure that the scope has a warranty before buying. Products with a warranty are your best bet since the manufacturer covers damages or malfunctions.
Set The Right Budget
Spotting scopes have varying prices depending on the specifications and brand. Their prices can range from as low as $100 to thousands of dollars.
Size really does matter in every context. If you plan on taking your scope on hunts or long hikes, a compact and lightweight spotting scope is your best option.
You definitely don’t want to pass out from the weight of your scope. However, you can afford to get a heavy-duty scope if you won’t be walking long distances.
Types of Spotting Scopes
Buying spotting scopes isn’t exactly an activity you should hop right into without prior consideration or knowledge. Think of it instead as an adventure, with the first stage being a crash course in the different types of spotting scopes.
As you’ve probably already figured out by now, spotting scopes come in different designs and you get to choose based on your preferences and needs. Let’s take a look at the two main types of spotting scopes to consider:
Straight Spotting Scopes
Straight spotting scopes typically have a clear, simplistic design that makes them easy to use. If you’re hiking on the mountains or scanning the surroundings, this type of shooting scope will definitely help to enhance your experience. It has a great ergonomic design that has endeared it to a lot of users.
What’s more, if you’re sightseeing from a moving vehicle, these spotting scopes are easier to use, thanks to their design.
However, straight spotting scopes also have their downsides. For example, if you’re crouching to acquire a target with this spotting scope, you would definitely feel uncomfortable after the first few seconds. They also require taller tripods and this can be a huge problem in windy conditions.
Angled Spotting Scopes
Angled spotting scopes are quite different from the straight models. Angled spotting scopes are arguably more comfortable especially when you’re in a prone position. If you’re going to be walking up a steep terrain, then this style of spotting scopes might be the best option for you.
With this type of scope, you can use just about any tripod, regardless of its height. You don’t necessarily have to go scouting for the tallest tripods.
Now, don’t just conclude that angled spotting scopes are a comfortable bed of roses. Just like the straight models, these scopes have their flaws and downsides. For starters, they are harder to store away, thanks to their design.
Unlike straight scopes that can simply be stored in a backpack, these scopes require more than just a backpack when it comes down to storage. Their shape does not allow for easy storage.
Straight vs Angled Spotting Scopes: The Big Question
For years, there has been a silent battle between the lovers of straight spotting scopes and angled scopes. Now, we wouldn’t want to wade into the heat of battle by picking sides (ahem, straight!). However, it is important to note that your choice totally depends on how you intend to use the scope in question.
Is Eye Relief Important?
If you wear prescription glasses, you’d admit that taking them off constantly just to look through your scope can be really tiring. This is why eye relief is so important.
It is basically the farthest distance from which your eye can be from the eyepiece without having to give up a full view. Usually, the recommended eye relief is at least 14 mm. However, 17 mm is great as well.
How to Take Care of Your Spotting Scope
Spotting scopes may be designed for rough and rugged terrain but deep down, they are big old softies. This means that no matter how sturdy your scope may seem, it still requires regular care and maintenance. If you care for your scope properly, you’d definitely extend its life and durability.
Usually, when you use your scope outdoors, dust particles tend to settle on the lenses making it fuzzy. When this happens, don’t just grab any cloth to rub it off.
You just might be rubbing in hard dust particles and damaging your lenses. Here’s how to do it in 5 steps:
- Start by removing loose dirt from the lens. You can use a squeeze blower and a soft brush to gently remove the dust particles.
- Use a cotton swab and a lens-safe cleaning solution to gently wash your lens. Make sure you go in circular motions.
- Use a soft microfiber cloth to dry the lens. Don’t use harsh cloth materials or tissue paper to avoid scratching the glass.
- Once again, use a blower to remove dust and dirt particles from the body of the scope. Then use a soft wet cloth to clean it properly.
- Store it carefully in a carrying case.
To us, the best spotting scope is the Vortex Optics Diamondback. It is not only the best for hunting, it also suits just about any purpose.
It provides clear, breath-taking images and can survive the harshest hits to its exterior. The Vanguard Endeavour HD 65A comes close to the Diamondback but offers lower quality images.
If these two scopes don’t fit into your budget or preferences, we also reviewed seven other spotting scopes that will definitely grab your attention.