If you’re a hunter or a bird watcher, investing in a spotting scope is a huge favor for yourself. But “Why do I need it anyway?” you ask. You need one because a spotting scope offers better magnification and clarity than any other optic equipment, making it the perfect tool for spotting animals from a long distance.
Ten years ago, I bought my first spotting scope and it was one of the best investments I’ve ever made in my whole life. It made my trips a hundred times more enjoyable and sighting has never been easy. During those years, I realized that my scope changed the way I literally and figuratively view my surroundings.
There are numerous spotting scopes available on the market today, but lucky for you I have narrowed and rated the models from various brands. This guide will include the specifications, features, and prices of the spotting scopes I recommend. I’ll begin with their specifications. After which, I will discuss each of them thoroughly to help you decide. So, let’s get started!
- Celestron 52306 Regal M2
- Magnification: 22-67x
- Lens Diameter: 100mm
- Weight: 8.6lbs
- Warranty: Lifetime
- Price: $$$
- Konus 7122
- Magnification: 20-60x
- Lens Diameter: 100mm
- Weight: 5.2lbs
- Warranty: Lifetime
- Price: $$
- Vortex Optics Razor HD
- Magnification: 16-48x
- Lens Diameter: 65mm
- Weight: 3lbs
- Warranty: Lifetime
- Price: $$$$
- Vortex 20-60×85 Razor
- Magnification: 20-60x
- Lens Diameter: 85mm
- Weight: 4.1lbs
- Warranty: Lifetime
- Price: $$$$$
- Vanguard Endeavor HD
- Magnification: 20-60x
- Lens Diameter: 82mm
- Weight: 4.2lbs
- Warranty: Lifetime
- Price: $$$
Top 10 Spotting Scopes in 2017
Like I mentioned earlier, there are numerous choices on the market. To make it easier for you, here’s a list of the top 10 spotting scopes worthy of your eyes.
#1 Celestron 52306 Regal M2 – The Best of The Best
As part of the series considered to be the next generation of the top performing F-ED spotting scopes from Regal, The Celestron 52306 Regal M2 100ED is the one of the greatest spotting scopes on the market. It is great for day and night use since it offers the sharpest images you need from a scope. You’ll definitely love owning this spotting scope. It’s perfect for long distance viewing, nature observing, and bird watching.
The M2 line of spotting scopes from Celestron gives you a great way of enjoying high-end optics from a great company at reasonable prices. Regal 100ED brings all features that you can find in the rest of M2 scopes. This time, however, it has an added lens diameter which gives better light gathering abilities when compared to the 80mm or the 65mm versions. This results in some of the clearest images of the targets, birds, and limited astronomy viewings. It completely beats the competition in the same price range because of the affordability and the quality of the construction, two of which Celestron is popular for.
The Celestron 52306 Regal M2 100ED also boasts of its specs which, in many ways, can match those of the rest of the members of the M2 lineup. The features give a better look at what makes this particular series of spotting scopes well-reviewed and desirable as far as scopes are concerned. With a bigger lens and improved field of view which promises better images for the serious nature aficionados, you can never go wrong with the Celestron 52306 Regal M2 100ED. Personally, it was one of the first spotting scopes I ever bought and I still use it to date.
#2 Konus 7122 20x-60x100mm Spotting Scope – A Bargain
With its full 100mm objective lens, you’d probably wonder why it comes at an extremely affordable price. If you’re looking for a cheap spotting scope that has the ability to work wonders, the Konus 7122 20x-60x100mm Spotting Scope is the scope that will end your search. This is one of the best spotting scopes you can get within this price range. Not everything offered with a cheap price tag mean they’re not good. Take it from this spotting scope that offers outstanding performance—something you simply cannot find in another scope.
Even in a low light situation, this spotting scope still has the capability to deliver exactly the same image brightness as that of a full-size binocular. The only difference is that you’ll have a much higher magnification.be
The new and improved version of this spotting scope features better prisms and a green exterior. Plus, it’s completely waterproof. With a magnification up to 60x, this scope can reveal fine details that can barely be seen with other 60mm spotting scopes in its price range.
If you are fed up with witnessing how the quality of image disappears every time you zoom in using a small spotting scope, then, you are in for a big surprise. One of the main reasons this Konus scope is hailed as the best spotting scope for the money is simply because the view is nearly as clear at 60x as when it is at 20x. Pretty cool, huh?
Armored with an alloy metal body for better protection, the Konus 7122 20x-60x100mm Spotting Scope is not only a cheap spotting scope that delivers a great experience, but it’s also a durable and reliable one.
#3 Vortex Optics Razor HD – A Fantastic High-End Scope
The Vortex Optics Razor HD Angled Spotting Scope easily exceeds the performance expectations of its users, earning raving reviews among the spotting scope aficionados. You will surely appreciate the Vortex HD system that comes with a remarkably sophisticated apochromatic lens system which comes with ground HD optical glass. This HD optical glass enhances the resolution of images and eliminates almost all chromatic aberrations. The Vortex Optics Razor has an extremely lightweight, tough body made from magnesium alloy. Combine its HD system with its fog proof and waterproof optics and you have one of the best spotting scopes on the market. With the scope’s lifetime warranty, you can be sure that it will be your buddy for a long time. Since it’s such a revolutionary scope, we can proudly say that this particular model will stay on the market for many years. Going hunting or bird-viewing? It’s the ideal scope for you.
One thing you’ll love about the Razor is its high-density glass that helps in enhancing the contrast, color, and resolution of every image. Its fully multi-coated lenses also increase the light transmission with several anti-reflective coatings on every air to glass surface which comes with broadband lens coatings. Not to mention it also has baK-4 prisms that optimize the transmission of light through the prisms. The Razor also has a rubber armoring that offers a non-slip grip. The dual focus feature also allows precision with fine and coarse adjustments. It also highlights its magnesium alloy body that is resistant to corrosion and guaranteed sturdy. If you are looking for a quality spotting scope at medium price, the Vortex Optics Razor HD Angled Spotting Scope should certainly be your go-to choice. Because of its revolutionary specifications—the light weight and the fantastic functionality—it truly deserves to be on this list.
It’s definitely worth your money. If people would ask me which all-around scope they should get, I’ll always recommend this bad boy. Since there is a lifetime warranty on almost all spotting scopes, I highly recommend that you go with one that has high-quality. There’s no worse feeling than buying a scope that doesn’t live up to your needs. And I can promise you that you’ll love this fantastic scope.
#4 Vanguard Endeavor HD Angled Eyepiece – Perfect For The Hunter
Dubbed as the most advanced optical equipment piece that has been produced by Vanguard, the Vanguard Endeavor HD Angled Eyepiece Spotting Scope is a must-have for all hunters and game enthusiasts.
This spotting scope’s optical system makes use of extra-low dispersion glass to guarantee exact color rendition while virtually eliminating any color fringing. Its lenses are also completely multi-coated to assure optimum transmission of light and it also features a phase coated BAK roof prism.
Vanguard Endeavor HD has been constructed with an extendable eyecup covered by rubber and an impressive eye relief even when it’s set in its highest zoom. It also offers a remarkably outstanding field of view. The built-in sun shield is great for eliminating any glare when you are using the scope under direct sunlight. It even includes a padded raincoat that conveniently comes with a sling, both for protection purposes and for easy carrying. Vanguard Endeavor HD has been equipped with coarse and fine focusing wheels for precise and quick fine tuning adjustments. You can mount it directly not only on your Vanguard tripod heads but also on others which have been equipped with a universal mounting plate with no need to use any quick shoe.
Spotting scopes are now gaining more and more popularity. With all the available options right now, it isn’t advisable to just settle for the first option that you find. You should also explore. And one thing’s for sure, the Vanguard Endeavor HD Angled Eyepiece Spotting Scope is one of the good choices that will never leave you disappointed. To make it short, this is one of the greatest spotting scopes for hunting.
#5 Vortex 20-60×85 Razor HD (HIGH-END)
The top-tier Vortex 20-60×85 Razor HD Spotting Scope is undoubtedly one of the finest and most reliable spotting scopes that you can find on the market today. It can compete at the highest performance level you cannot expect from the similar models in its price category. One of its well-known features is its sophisticated triplet apochromatic lens system that helps in delivering an exceptional high definition view across the whole view field, without any color fringing, dilution of the color fidelity or degradation of the resolution.
You’ll even be amazed at the elements of high density and extra low dispersion of its glass that have been carefully chosen and precisely crafted to the standards to produce the true-to-life images—from startling color accuracy, resolution, up to clarity.
Its exterior lenses are also being protected by ArmorTek, which is a scratch-resistant and ultra-hard compound that can repel dirt, oil, and the fingerprints’ corrosive salts. It also boasts of its fully muli-coated, scratch-resistant XR coatings for an outstanding light transmission and excellent high resolution.
Vortex 20-60×85 Razor HD Spotting Scope also has a die-cast magnesium allow body that comes with the rubber armoring that is strategically placed for ensuring ultimate strength, lightweight performance, and durability. This spotting scope is also 100% waterproof, dustproof, fog proof and shockproof.
Using Vortex 20-60×85 Razor HD is easy-as-pie and foolproof as well. The eyepiece’s magnification is easily adjustable and the unit’s dual focus knob offers fingertip-adjustable fine and coarse focus. Perfect to use on your tripod, this spotting scope will surely be a great investment.
#6 Leupold SX-1 Ventana – Perfect For Target Shooting
Leupold SX-1 Ventana Spotting Scope is a special type of long-range scope that features a weather-sealed and rubber-armored housing with multicoated optical path complete with the BAK4 prisms. The company has yet again improved their Ventana series optics with the addition of their Multicoat 4 lens coating that can reduce the reflected light and help in maximizing the light amount that is being transmitted to its eyepiece. In addition, the BAK4 prism glass also allows the spotting scope to render clear images that are rich in contrast and fine details. The zoom eyepiece that comes with the unit has a 26-24mm eye relief and the twist-up rubber eyecup that offers a comfortable viewing distance for those users who are wearing eyeglasses.
The scope has a wide 20-60x magnification range and an objective lens at 80mm making it one of the top choices when it comes to target shooting.
Apart from the optical performance, Leupold SX-1 Ventana Spotting Scope has also been equipped with several handling features which provide a user-friendly glassing experience. The knurled ridges that can be found on the focusing dial and the zoom ring offers tactile feedback which is particularly useful, especially when wearing gloves or making some adjustments in the field of view under wet conditions. The integrated sunshade of the scope also comes with a raised gripping surface. It does not matter if you want to get a close-up look at an exotic deer or want to spot a target downrange because the nitrogen filled fog-proof housing, the built-in tripod mounting socket, and the zoom eyepiece all help in making Leupold SX-1 Ventana Spotting Scope a full-featured type of spotting scope for all glassing tasks.
#7 Celestron 52252 100mm Ultima Zoom
Taking great pride as the bearer of the biggest aperture scope from the Ultima line, the Celestron 52252 100mm Ultima Zoom provides over 50% brighter images compared to the 80mm that allow better performance even under low light conditions.
It has a 100mm refractor that features remarkable multi-coated optics packed with a durable and portable refractor design. This also comes with the standard 22-66x zoom eyepiece. The series has been designed to perform exceptionally even under a wide range of viewing situations. This remarkable feature is what makes this scope an amazing, all-around optical instrument that is worth adding to your collection.
You will also love taking it with you every time you engage in long distance spotting or when you are observing nature firsthand. Having a subtle observation amidst nature environments is now possible thanks to Celestron 52252 100mm Ultima Zoom’s green optical tube. Its sight tube, combined with the 100mm aperture, is ideal not only for wildlife study but also for shooting targets that move at high speed since it has an outstanding efficiency. This spotting scope does not just promise great performance but more importantly, it delivers exactly what it promises. Its 100mm aperture is by far the highest aperture offered by Celestron and this is undoubtedly sufficient in handling almost all types of scenarios and situations.
#8 Redfield 114651 Rampage 20-60x80mm Angled Spotting Scope
For those who are searching for a good and dependable spotting scope that can help in shooting a target, I’m sure you’ll be happy to know that the Redfield 114651 Rampage 20-60x80mm Angled Spotting Scope exists. This scope can suit your needs, whether you are at a shooting range or you are out hunting in the wild. It’s a great addition to your personal collection of rifles. With its affordability, durability, and high-quality, you will surely be pleased with the results you’ll get from this scope. Plus, it comes with remarkable features that you will absolutely love.
The Redfield 114651 Rampage 20-60x80mm features a smooth focus and many users appreciate how the scope has been tailored for the glasses through the eyecups. With its fantastic brightness and great clearness, it is not a big surprise that this is among the most in-demand scopes these days.
It is a full-sized spotting scope that has an oblique eyepiece and comes with a 20x-60x magnification range. Its sharp lens is 80mm wide and is also complete with the multi-coated optic, giving you remarkable light transmission. It has a standard tripod adapter and can fit on all tripods and window mounts. It even comes with the specialized-grade BAK4 prism. Developed with a tough polycarbonate body, the Redfield 114651 Rampage can offer you an extensive view field. It also includes a retractable lens shade that can help in reducing the glare of light. Backed by Redfield Limited Lifetime Warranty, you will surely have peace of mind knowing that it is a spotting scope that can stand the test of time.
#9 Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 20-60 x80 Spotting Scope
Without a doubt, Bushnell is a leader in the industry, thanks to their high-quality scopes and top notch viewfinders. Bushnell, a well-known, recognized brand, always satisfies their customers from avid huntsmen to military and recreational users. And now, they’ve once again proved their worth with the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 20-60 x80 (45 degrees) Spotting Scope that definitely lives up to the expectations of their customers.
Offering all the things that you can ever ask and look for in a good spotting scope, the Legend Ultra HD 20-60 x80 from Bushnell allows you to spot that rare bird species that you have long been wanting to see up close and personal. Legend Ultra HD 20-60 x80 comes with three primary ingredients which help it stand out from the rest of the crowd: the fully multicoated optics, ED Prime Extra-Low Dispersion glass, and the patented RainGuard HD water-repellent coating from Bushnell.
Because of its ED Prime glass, it can provide a high resolution and color-tuned viewing experience, offering the utmost in terms of clarity complete with color fidelity in normal and low light situations. It also features its fully multicoated optics that decrease the light loss and the glare from reflection. This results in a higher and brighter contrast image with lesser eye strain. Its RainGuard HD coating also serves as a protection for your view under an inclement weather by decreasing the big drops of water into almost microscopic specks. Created by a company that is dedicated to offering only the most reliable, most affordable, and highest quality of sports optics products, you can expect that the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 20-60 x80 (45 degrees) Spotting Scope is nothing less than the ordinary.
#10 Barska Blackhawk Spotting Scope 20-60x 60mm with Tripod
Easily portable, efficient, and remarkably durable, the Barska Blackhawk Spotting Scope 20-60x 60mm is the best tool that you can bring with you for your outdoor adventures. The 600mm objective lens of this Porro prism spotting scope allows optimum transmission of light even under low light conditions. Its lens has also been multicoated for bright, clear, and high contrast images. One thing you’ll love about this 20-60x 60mm spotting scope is its ergonomically designed body to provide maximum comfort. Plus, the model is totally fog proof and waterproof. This scope also features a durable and shockproof rubber armor designed for protecting it from any form of shock. The variable focus of the spotting scope also makes customized viewing possible and the additional sunshade decreases the glare.
There are many other spotting scopes you can find on the market today but this one from Barska makes itself different from all the other scopes with its set of remarkable features. One of those is its multicoated optics that allow superior clarity and brightness. Its massive objective lens can also increase its light gathering ability and deliver brighter images under low light conditions.
Portable and convenient, the Barska Blackhawk Spotting Scope 20-60x 60mm boasts of its ergonomic design for enhanced, overall handling. Complete with a limited lifetime warranty, you can be sure that it will give you more than the value of your money.
Things To Consider When Buying a Spotting Scope
Getting a Spotting Scope would be a great decision since there are so many benefits to having one. What’s really important when getting a spotting scope is that it suits your needs. Before purchasing one, you must first consider a few tips. It may get real tricky when figuring out which brand to go with, but don’t worry about that. We’ll discuss the brands in a bit.
If you’re looking for spotting scope reviews focused on birding, then take a look at our comprehensive birding scope reviews.
Consider and identify your priorities
So you are thinking about purchasing your own spotting scope, but what exact features are you looking for in a spotting scope anyway? A great rule of thumb is that a spotting scope is used when you need a magnification greater than what a pair of binoculars can provide you with. There are generally many uses for a spotting scope but they are often used for hunting, birding, archery and spotting wildlife activity. A spotting scope can also be used to magnify a beautiful view. Spotting scopes can also be attached to long ranged pictures of a beautiful animal without disturbing it. What’s also really awesome is that you can spy on the animal before you shoot it resulting in fewer missed shots. You can also use it for checking if you hit the animal before closing in on it. Clearly, there are tons of possibilities with spotting scopes, all you have to do is identify what specifications and features you’ll need.
Style Of The Body
There are two different types of spotting scopes—a straight body scope and an angled one. They both work fantastic in most situations, but one may be preferred in certain situations. The straight body scope is ideal for viewing from a high position. This could be beneficial if you’re mountain climbing and you want to get a glimpse of the valley below. The angled body scope is recommended for those whose heights are shorter than the average. With the tripod, you can lower it to the preferred viewing height allowing the viewer to rotate the eyepiece for the best viewing position. The angled body scope generally works really well from the window of a vehicle.
An objective lens is the core of a spotting scope. Therefore, the quality of the lens will greatly affect your viewing experience. You should always go for the lens quality (high-quality performance) over the lens size. This is because a larger lens with poor quality will result in a mediocre view when compared to a smaller lens with high quality.
The magnification levels of the spotting scope are designed for viewing objects at long distances that normal binoculars won’t be able to reach. Most observation carried out with a spotting scope requires a magnification level of 30x – 40x, which results in a scope that is capable of producing good pictures. The higher the lens quality, the higher the quality of the image. Some quality will be lost at very high magnifications, but with a high-quality spotting scope, you should have no problem with the image quality.
Eye relief is the distance the viewer’s eye should be away from the eyepiece without losing any field of view. This feature is especially important for people who wear glasses. With an eye relief big enough, people who wear glasses with very thick lenses will be able to see the full image without issues. If you require glasses to see, it is highly recommended to have at least 14mm of eye relief on your spotting scope.
Proper lens coating is an important feature of a spotting scope. This especially applies for viewing images at high magnifications. The lens can be: fully coated, fully multi-coated, or multi-coated. All the lens coating is made for improving the light transmission into the lens. However, the quality received depends on the coating chosen for the specific scope. High-quality scopes are usually fully multi-coated to produce the perfect viewing experience for you.
Waterproof and Fogproof
It would also benefit you if your scope is waterproof and fog proof. A scope with these features can withstand any unexpected fall into the river or a little rain. With these features in your scope, your spotting won’t be disturbed.
If you’re looking for a list of the top spotting scope tripods, we highly recommend that you read our comprehensive tripod guide.
It is important to note that a lot of spotting scopes come with a tripod, so make sure to check that out. They are essential in keeping your scope steady during the viewing process. A car mount can do very well if you’re viewing from your vehicle. What’s great about tripods is that all spotting scopes should fit all tripods. There is basically no need for a specialized tripod. Just make sure that the tripod is able to support the weight of your spotting scope and you should be good to go. If you are going for long hiking trips, it is highly recommended to get a lightweight tripod for easy transport and handling.
Set your budget
An important factor to consider when buying a spotting scope is to consider your budget. How much are you prepared to spend for a spotting scope? Once you know the price range you are looking for, you should narrow down the list of models. If you have a low budget you should be aiming for cheap brands that are equipped with only the most basic features. A good rule of thumb for spotting scopes, is the higher price you pay, the better quality spotting scope you get. This can clearly be seen from the reviews, and the tests we have concluded on spotting scopes. This is the case for most spotting scopes. However, you can also grab a budget spotting scope, but don’t expect too much on the quality. We highly recommend you not to go below $300 since the scope you will end up with will not be nearly as good as one above $300. On the other hand, If you are looking for a cheaper spotting scope we highly recommend you to take a look at our “budget” pick.
So how much does a spotting scope actually cost? The prices vary from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. As previously said, we highly recommend not going below the $300 mark. We have tested several models below the $300 mark, and very few of them actually seems promising. You can, however, sometimes grab a nice deal on Amazon where you can save some money.
Choose the brand
Choosing the brand can be a rough task. There are many brands to choose from. We highly recommend choosing a recognized brand, as it’s a proof of quality, credibility, and good future customer support. Among the best brands are Celestron, Leupold, Bushnell, Vanguard, Konus, and Vortex.
Where to buy a spotting scope?
It is never easy to find yourself the perfect spotting scope for your needs. However, with the advanced technology, you no longer have to check all the stores that sell spotting scopes. You can simply buy one online. We highly recommend Amazon for online buying since they provide high-quality products. Plus, their inventory of spotting scope is huge, their prices are good, and they allow you to see real user feedback before you make your purchase. Here you can often find a cheap spotting scope on sale if that is what you are looking for.
Regarding spotting scope reviews, you should read the ones on our website to aid you in finding the best spotting scope. You can also check out customers’ feedback of your chosen scope on Amazon. Each product is reviewed by everyday users of the spotting scope, so you can get a clear picture of how the product performs. The feedback from users of the spotting scope is usually a very good indicator of how good the spotting scope is. You are simply not going to make a bad purchase by buying a product that is rated at 4.5-5 stars.
Having a great warranty on your product is part of making sure that you will have an awesome experience with the product. You obviously want a spotting scope that is going to work for a very long time. So check out the manufacturer’s warranty for the spotting scope before you buy it.
Do prior research
Do not just buy the spotting scope because it looks great. Look deeper to ensure that the spotting scope you want is actually as good as it looks. Consider the following elements:
- Durability and Design. Of course, you want to use your spotting scope for a long time. So check its durability. It should be robust and made of sturdy materials. Also, check if the size of the spotting scope would fit for your bag.
- Features and Functions. Make sure that the spotting scope you have in mind has the features you want in your future scope. Does it live up to your needs, or do you need a few more features and functions?
Obviously, there are so many factors to consider. However, we hope that with this guide, decision-making would be easier for you. After all, we strive to provide honest insights so you can find the best spotting scope for your needs. We may cover everything from the best budget spotting scope to the best performing spotting scope, but at the end of the day, the choice will still be in your hands.