Top Spotting Scopes for the Avid Hunter
If you’re passionate about hunting for deer or other big game, a proper spotting scope can make a world of difference. Spotting scopes, thanks to their magnification function, provide the opportunity to single out a deer or other animal from a large herd. There are many varieties and accessories for spotting scopes; in order to choose the right one, have a look at this list below:
Upland Optics Perception Spotting Scope HD 20-60x60mm
The Upland Optics Perception HD Spotting Scope is produced by a highly reputable company that specializes in hunting products. It weighs about 2.2 lbs., which means it is easily portable, regardless of rough terrain. It’s reasonably priced and comes with a lifetime warranty, providing extra protection and assurance if damage does incur.
Swarovski Straight Spotting Scope 80-millimeter STS HD
The Swarovski 80mm spotting scope has a straight body design that is great for hunters. It offers fully multi-coated lenses and high-density glass to generate a clear, sharp image. The rotating tripod ring offers the hunter some flexibility in positioning. This model features a close focus at 16 feet, which means that targets can be viewed perfectly no matter how far away. The lightweight aluminum alloy body is great for hiking through tough terrain, and it’s covered with a Swaroclean Coating for extraordinary protection against the elements. This scope is both fog-proof and waterproof, and it offers a sunshade to reduce the brightness and glare from bright rays. It also comes with an objective lens, and an eyepiece can be bought separately.
Vortex Razor Angled Spotting Scope HD 20-60×85
An angled spotting scope, this Vortex Razor is available at 85 mm and offers a close focus at 16 feet. This scope delivers advanced images using the triplet apochromatic lens. It’s portable and has a light-weight magnesium alloy body that has a modifiable eyecup and duel focus to ensure even the most detailed of adjustments. It includes the ArmorTek Lens Coating that’s designed to prevent oil from coating the lens. This design is weatherproof against water, snow, and fog. With an eyepiece that offers 20-60x magnification, you will be sure to view any target with ease.
Best Target Shooting Spotting Scopes
Navigating distance is key when it comes to shooting targets, and a spotting scope with good magnification can help to produce the best results. No matter the weather or terrain, the proper spotting scope can help you better adapt to your surroundings.
MINOX MD 50 W 16-30x Waterproof Spotting Scope
The Minox MD is a truly powerful scope that offers clear and bright imaging. It features a 16-30X zoom eyepiece to ensure clear view of even the smallest targets. This scope has a lightweight body and precision optics that protect against damage. The Minox MD is filled with nitrogen to prevent fog, and is waterproof, meaning the lens is visible in virtually any conditions. The angled scope will provide a more relaxed stance for optimal viewing experiences. This scope comes equipped with a fully adjustable eyepiece with 16-30x magnification.
Swarovski ATX Spotting Scope Modular Zoom Eyepiece / Angled Viewing
This spotting scope from Swarovski comes with multi-coated lenses which are highly beneficial for transmitting light. It has multiple anti-reflective coatings along the air-to-glass surfaces and an angled body style that works perfectly for different heights. This means different viewing levels can be achieved without the need to adjust a tripod. This angled design is also beneficial for viewing targets at an upward angle. This scope features a sturdy, yet lightweight magnesium body that is corrosion resistant. The rubber armor can help to secure your grip and its multi-position and adjustable eyecup can twist up and down to offer a more comfortable view, whether you wear eyeglasses or not.
Top Bird Watching Spotting Scopes
Bird watching, or “Birding,” has become increasingly popular, and its popularity has truly transformed the advancement of the spotting scope. This is particularly true in relation to an angled body style which is suitable for viewing intricate details from long distances. Below are our top picks for spotting scopes for birding.
Kowa TSN 883 Angled 88mm Prominar Spotting Scope
The Kowa TSN 883 Angled spotting scope has superb lenses and optical features. This spotting scope features dual focus and includes a fluorite crystal lens that augments the clarity and sharpness of virtually any image. It has fully multi-coated lenses for vivid color and image resolution, and it features porro prism that will take your viewing experience to a new level, even on a low setting. Using this spotting scope at long ranges can generate a sharp, distortion-free visual, and provides even more control at higher magnification levels. A lens of this caliber is somewhat heavy, mostly because the scope is crafted from a corrosion-resistant type of magnesium alloy material. The price includes a locking mechanism to secure the detachable eyepiece and eyepieces can be bought separately.
Leica Televid APO 82mm Angled Spotting Scope
The Leica Televid APO angled spotting scope works perfectly for bird watching. In comparison to earlier versions, this spotting scope features a 6% light yield which makes the resolution even more distinct, no matter the lighting. The fluoride glass delivers radiant coloring and in-depth contrast, but this doesn’t take away from the viewing range. This Leica Televid spotting scope includes a fog and waterproof seal, and the AquaDura Lens Coating keeps out water. It provides a 12-foot close focus ideal for any bird watching scenario.
If you are an avid birder or hunter with a substantial budget, consider one of the spotting scopes listed below. These spotting scopes offer a higher quality, additional features, and a plethora of accessories to enhance the experience even further.
Newcon Optik Spotter LRF Pro Spotting Scope/Rangefinder
The perfect blend of spotting scope and laser rangefinder, the Newcon Optik Spotter ranges targets up to three kilometers with wavelengths to 1550 nm. It offers an integrated inclinometer, USB output, and even has a compass. This must-have scope with a 15-45x magnification also features an etched mil-dot reticle that ensures fast action and precise target acquisition.
Spotting Scopes: Adding Value to Your Experience
Professionals and outdoorsmen from a variety of fields value spotting scopes as an essential piece of gear. Hunters, target shooters, bird watchers, and photographers for sporting magazines and blogs are among the most frequent users of spotting scopes benefitting from the HD-quality vision. Designed to operate on a tripod, these scopes far surpass the functions of standard binoculars. That being said, they are not as portable.
Nevertheless, spotting scopes provide superior magnification and clarity for all types of sporting optics. In some cases there are even additional accessories, such as adapters, that allow connection to a digital camera for long-distance-photography with a telephoto lens, also known as “digiscoping.”
Spotting scopes are commonly constructed with a rubber armor to absorb shock and defend against bumps and bangs when you’re out on a hunt. They can also be designed to be waterproof, and some models are constructed to fit conveniently inside of a backpack or bag, making it simple to pack for your next adventure. The high-end scopes are designed to offer HD quality and superior resolution with more vivid color. Some kits come equipped with carry cases, either hard or soft, to adapt to the specific needs of each user.
Spotting Scope Options
When sorting through the options for your new spotting scope, it is important to consider how it will be used and which features are most important for your specific goals. Whether you will be using the scope in dry or moist environments and if you will have to carry the scope long distances or through rough terrain are a couple key questions to ask yourself. These considerations can help you locate the highest quality spotting scope within your budget.
Get Spotting Scope Informed
It will be beneficial to be well-informed before you make a spotting scope purchase. It is crucial to understand optics terminology and the meanings associated with functions and features. Specifications for a spotting scope tend to be listed in millimeters, i.e. 20 x 65 millimeters. Make sure you can conceptualize these numbers to have a clear picture of what to expect from your purchase.
The specifications point out the magnification of the scope, including numbers 18 through 36. They can also be listed as a set number, such as 20. These numbers signify how much closer the target looks in comparison to how close it actually is. Numbers that are displayed after the “X” all signify the specification of the diameter in relation to the objective lens, which is the lens that faces in direction of the actual target. The lens that is located closest to the eye is referred to as the ocular lens, or the eyepiece, and will be displayed in millimeters.
Spotting scopes will have either variable-power or fixed-power. If a model is fixed, the magnification level is set permanently. Various other variables may be adjustable within the specific set range. Although the ease of a fixed-power spotting scope is favored by many hunters, the options available for a variable spotting scope are tough to surpass, and the models that range from 15 to 45x, 16 to 48x, and 20 to 60x currently lead in the industry. As soon as you see an animal that you want to take down, a variable-power spotting scope allows you to magnify to the top setting and thoroughly inspect the details.
When scouting for game you will need to ensure that your scope is adjusted to a lower setting. With greater magnification comes a reduced field of view (F.O.V.). There are a number of scope models that come furnished with a basic external peep sight. This will allow you to spot the target before using a higher-powered lens.
In terms of the scope’s objective lens, the sizes usually range from 50 to 80 millimeters in diameter. The bigger the lens, the better the F.O.V. The spectrum can be influenced by the coatings applied to the internal surfaces of the glass. Premium spotting scopes collect light into the scope and apply it so you can see better in darker conditions.
To decrease glare and loss of all available light in the course of transmitting from your eye to the actual target, specific coatings are utilized on the exterior of a lens. The level of quality, specification, and the placement of the coatings establish the amount of transmitted light. Below are the choices available:
- Coated: a layer is used to coat one or more lens surface areas
- Fully coated: a layer is installed throughout all the air-to-glass areas
- Multi coated: several layers are used on one or more lens surface areas
- Fully multi coated: a variety of layers are placed on various air-to-glass areas
The more coatings used on the lenses, the pricier the scope will be, and high-class scopes can be costly. Nevertheless, you will benefit from a higher caliber product. Be prepared to spend anywhere between $200 and $2000 for a quality spotting scope. With regards to optics, we recommend purchasing the best quality you can afford for the best experience. Premium quality optics are more clear and much brighter, and they will not trigger headaches or eyesight stress from long periods of use.
Evaluating Lens Coating on Spotting Scopes
The value of lens coating cannot be over-emphasized as it strengthens the viewing experience drastically. The lens coating will determine just how well the light is transmitted into the lens. In terms of the prime viewing outcome, the coating you select can make all the difference. Higher quality spotting scopes are usually designed with a fully multi-coated lens, which yields excellent image clarity.
Better Than Binoculars: The Perks of Spotting Scopes
Like binoculars, spotting scopes feature various functions. If you’re looking for birding binoculars, you’ll probably want to choose the spotting scope as many models offer the fog and water-proof options. Certain scopes have rubber armoring to safeguard their parts and give a tackier area to ensure a better grip. More contemporary spotting scopes are made with convenient mounts that enable you to attach video cameras and other imagery devices from certain brands and manufactures. There are several types of spotting scopes on the market that also come equipped with adapters that allow you to connect a point-and-shoot camera or smartphone.
Two types of spotting scopes are available on the market: angled body and straight body. An angled scope is ideal for looking up in the direction of a target or across a flat area. Straight body scopes are better for higher positions such as looking down to a valley or lowlands from a mountain.
Angled Spotting Scopes
Angled spotting scopes are perfectly angled for multiple viewers looking through the scope. They are more effective for changing height set ups since you only need to adjust your head and eye with the viewpoint; there is no reason to bend over or get on your knees. If you’re going to be looking through a lens for long periods of time, the angled spotting scope may also be the more comfortable choice. You’ll find the fit to be much more comfortable and the overall experience to be enhanced.
The angled scope is significantly less useful when scoping objects from inside a vehicle. They also may be a bit more challenging to maneuver for first time users and are slightly bulkier compared to the straight angle.
Straight Spotting Scopes
Straight spotting scopes make locating an object much easier and are simple to operate for the inexperienced. The straight style foes work well when you need to attach the scope to a vehicle window mount. They are portable and require less room in your bag or backpack while also being more budget friendly.
Straight spotting scopes require a tripod that stands taller for viewing; continuous adjustments may be required when switching viewpoints.
Components of Spotting Scopes
Spotting scopes deliver terrific options in terms of superior objective lenses. Composed of deluxe glass, a lot of spotting scopes come equipped with super-sized selections. Larger lenses on the scope will generate an enhanced image with greater magnification in comparison with the smaller options of equal quality. Objective lens size, however, may be more expensive.
Made to enhance the viewing distance beyond the power of binoculars, spotting scopes deliver a magnified viewing experience of 30-40 times higher than usual binocular options. This means that most scopes can generate more than satisfactory images. Whenever the quality of the lens increases, the better the image will be.
Nevertheless, the environment surrounding you will play an enormous role in the quality of the image. Dampness, glare, wind, dirt and dust can all reduce the caliber of your view. Higher altitudes with dry conditions often make a better image at a higher magnification. With that in mind, the lower the altitude, the lower magnification will be necessary for sharper, HD-quality images. Some spotting scopes will not function above 60x; this is a result of the limits caused by the atmosphere.
Eye relief is the term used to express the distance from your eye to the spotting scope. This helps you to determine the necessity of close proximity of your eye to the eyepiece, and how it will impact the F.O.V. If the user wears eyeglasses, this takes on a significant role in the final viewing experience. When the eye relief is sufficient, those who wear even thick lenses will have the ability to see the entire image. If you do wear eyeglasses, you’ll want to select a scope with 14-millimeter eye relief.
Spotting scopes are really just refractors. Typically refractors have prisms inside that flip the image vertically and horizontally. Prisms are available in two different types: the roof prism and the porro prism. Roof prisms are thin and small, but they usually don’t provide all the functions desired, such as interchangeable eyepieces. A portable scope is suitable for those who are on the move. Porro prism scopes work great and are more affordable, which explains why they are much more popular.
As not all spotting scopes include the eyepiece, it’s vital that you research the product to see if you need to purchase a separate component. Additionally, if it is included with your spotting scope cost, it may not be detachable. Better-quality spotting scopes come equipped with detachable eyepieces, however, if your choice of scope does not include this, there are other options on the market. Eyepiece options include:
- Single powered eyepieces
- Zoom eyepieces: the magnification is adjustable and produces a high-quality result
Close focus is the closest distance a spotting scope can view. A scope’s close focus is not ordinarily included in the cost. A general rule of thumb is if a scope has a close focus of under 20 ft. it will be more useful. This function is good for seeing close up detail, such as for bird watching.
Fog-proofing & Waterproofing
Fog-proofing and waterproofing may not always be needed, but this function is designed to safeguard the scope from environmental conditions. If you’re caught in the rain or even in hot, humid conditions, you’ll want this feature to help keep the lens and all other components dry and in proper working condition. The seals that are used in the construction will work to keep out dampness and help to ensure that dust or other types of debris do not get into the spotting scope. This will also help to guarantee that the scope lasts longer.
The catadioptric design feature is a mixture of a corrector lens with a set of mirrors functioning to focus the image. This optic typically carries a lengthy focal span which is folded by mirrors fitting into the small optical tubing. Catadioptics can handle higher magnification and extraordinary telephoto lens functionality without unnecessary bulkiness. They have a rather long focal length and have a big aperture size of around 90 to 100 millimeters. This combination can produce magnification beyond 200X.
The aperture is the size (diameter) of the objective lens, typically listed in millimeters. This function on the spotting scope is designed for hunting applications. The size of aperture can typically vary from 50 to 90 millimeters. Although the aperture diameter is linked to the size and weight of the model, there are other important factors to consider, such as optical design and focal length. The diameter of the objective lens is what determines the level of light entry from the optical system. This also has the potential of amplifying the image’s detail and clearness with aperture size. Actual observed image brightness is a function of several factors: the transmittance of the optical system (coatings), the relationship of the aperture to the magnification (exit pupil), eye pupil size, and the focal length of the objective lens.
Tripods are an important consideration when it comes to choosing and buying a spotting scope. As the foundation, the tripod ensures that the higher magnification can do its job. It is vital that you include the tripod in your planning; without it, you’ll have a tough time getting the view you want and need. Like other types of optics, spotting scopes differ in design and size, so you will need to choose a tripod that’s compatible and sturdy enough to secure your scope when you’re on a hunt or out enjoying wildlife through a lens. Whether it’s the height, weight, or bulk you need to research, make sure that your tripod attaches correctly and fits your scope securely. If you choose a tripod based solely on price without considering value and use, you’ll end up spending more money having to purchase an upgraded version and losing the original cost for the cheap tripod.