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Mirage can get the best of even the top spotting scopes on the market, but you'll still get better results going higher quality versus low budget.
Being able to resolve very small bullet holes in the black from 500 yards and further requires the absolute finest quality.
So when you need nothing but the best in contrast, clarity, and sharpness, these are the scopes that deliver.
QUICK LIST: 6 Best High End Spotting Scopes In 2023
- Meopta MeoPro 80 HD Spotting Scope
- Leupold SX-5 Santiam HD 27-55x80
- Zeiss Dialyt Fieldscope
- Kowa TSN-880 Prominar
- Zeiss Victory Harpia 85 Spotting Scope
- Swarovski ATX/STX 65mm Spotting Scope
Best Spotting Scopes Under $2000
|Meopta MeoPro 80 HD||CHECK PRICE|
|Leupold SX-5 Santiam HD||CHECK PRICE|
|Zeiss Dialyt Fieldscope||CHECK PRICE|
Our 3 Top Spotting Scopes Under $2000
If you want high-resolution, high-contrast, and color-rich images from long range distances, this $1000-$2000 price range is where you should be looking.
Amateur and beginner hunters and birders will appreciate the higher standard of quality in a premium spotting scope. And, it'll be their first-time purchase that will last them a long time - if you buy from the right brands.
But, those who will truly appreciate spotters this good are the veterans of optics and long-distance shooters. By tripling your budget, you're in a whole new world of options.
Since we don't want to skimp on quality for cost here, only the best and most competitive spotting scopes will earn a place after they've endured the harshest scrutiny we can dish out. No spotting scope can afford to lack even the most minor of features here.
Think flawless glass, APO lenses, award-winning status, and any innovative perks that keep the spotter in this budget.
1. Meopta MeoPro 80 HD - Best Overall
It's satisfying to see an underdog brand that's worthy of the same status as a NightForce, and other highly-revered brands, get recognized. The Meopta MeoPro 20-60X80 just barely won the upper hand over the NightForce TS-80 because of a few things the latter didn't have.
The MeoPro has CentricDrive Focus, a distinguished award from 2016, and we know for sure where Meopta gets their glass from - Schott. No speculation, no guessing, it's fact.
I told you the competition was tight, and this is what it came down to. The MeoPro will set you back about $1600 which is excellent value for its features compared to other brands.
2. Leupold SX-5 Santiam HD 27-55x80 – Best for Hunting
The Leupold SX-5 Santiam HD spotting scope may not have the highest magnification compared to flagship alternatives, but its crisp and sharp resolution right through to max 55x power is worth more than underperforming 60-80x competitors.
- Professional-grade optics
- Oversized eyepiece
- Good specs
- Extreme climate exposure
- Assembled in USA
The SX-5 Santiam isn’t overweight for a spotting scope weighing in at 68.7 oz, but it is comparable to some larger alternatives like the Vortex Razor HD 27-60x85. While this may be a concern, the optical quality makes up for it.
The Santiam HD has the Professional-Grade Optical System and Leupold doesn’t disclose what it means in terms of elements or coatings. But combined with calcium-fluoride lenses, FMC & PC (phase correction) prism coatings, and DiamondCoat 2 exterior lens treatment, the glass is certainly set up to allow for counting tines in lowlight and spotting bulls two miles away.
It’s primarily been used for hunting and guided hunts by buyers. Reports include functional fine focus integrity in -20-degree F conditions and that is thanks to its rugged build and climate testing to perform in -40 to 160-degree F climates.
With an oversized eyepiece and eye relief of 19.2-16.6mm, it’s forgiving and comfortable for even those who wear glasses. With high-end optical quality, there is no fatigue in sitting behind the eyepiece all day long. One standout feature is its close focus of 11 feet for birdwatching uses.
Like many other competing alternatives, the glass is Japanese, and the BX-5 is assembled in the USA. It’s warrantied for life, outfitted to handle harsh conditions, and its glass is virtually unparalleled for its capability to provide maximum performance up to max magnification. It’s quite literally an ideal spotter for hunting when you demand the absolute best.
3. Zeiss Dialyt 18-45X65
The Zeiss Dialyt 18-45X65 has a $1600 price tag that more than adequately fits this price range, as does the scopes superior quality.
It deserves a spot among the best high-end spotters for its unrivaled simplicity and its flawless glass quality that makes it an exceptional and first-rate tool for hunters.
With a robust build, German glass and an optimal magnification range for hunting, the Dialyt will be your perfect companion out in the field.
Best Spotting Scopes Over $2000
|Kowa TSN-880 Prominar||CHECK PRICE|
|Zeiss Victory Harpia 85||CHECK PRICE|
|Swarovski ATX/STX 65mm||CHECK PRICE|
Our 3 Top Spotting Scopes Over $2000
This high-end price range changes the playing ground - a lot. And, I don't know that you'd believe me if I told you that the market in this playing ground is actually larger than the $1000-$2000 category above.
With gross, high prices like what you're about to see here, I don't dare recommend anyone use these but the buyer. Amateurs can't afford them, entry level guys will borrow someone else's, and serious hunters might spend a year or two just saving up for one.
So, if you end up buying one, don't be daft and lend it out. This is a "it's mine and mine alone" kind of toy.
Here, we're dealing with nothing but the absolute best. Flawless, immaculate, and precision-cut glass. Top-secret and under heavy security are their proprietary coating formulas. These are the differences here.
The big boys in this budget realm don't reveal formulas, they don't hint at sources, and they don't waste time and money making inferior and low-ball optics.
These are the spotting scopes that are no joke.
1. Kowa TSN-880 Prominar – Best for Birdwatching & Digiscoping
Like many other ridiculously expensive spotting scopes in the high-end market, the Kowa TSN-880 is a body-only spotting scope where the eyepiece is purchased separately. The 883 model is the angled version and the 884 is the straight. Both are flagship spotting scopes from the respected Japanese brand.
- Fluorite crystal glass
- 88mm objective lens
- Magnesium alloy chassis
- Dual focus
- Locking eyepiece
- No rubber armor
Interestingly, the Kowa does not have an armor shield around the body. It won’t be as easy to grip or protect as armored spotters, but it does keep weight down. Incredibly, the 88mm body only weighs 53.61oz.
There were several things that Kowa did to provide its impressive, lightweight body. It has a magnesium alloy chassis, lightweight prism box, and a shorter 13.5” length. Optical quality was not compromised in the effort to bring a true, lightweight spotter to the field as it features pure fluorite crystal and Eco-glass lenses.
Going further than they need to but in order to provide the best, no ordinary concave lenses were used to make the achromatic assembly. Kowa built upon ED-glass and low-dispersion properties to provide first-class CA (chromatic aberration) elimination. Of course, special coatings are used on the prisms to further provide an extraordinary glassing experience.
It has an advanced inner focusing system that provides dual focus in what seems to be an older style knob considering the helical focus collars we have now. However, the sharpness and resolution can be taken advantage of for digiscoping and birdwatching.
The eyepiece bayonet system allows for full confidence in that the eyepiece stays in place exactly where it’s supposed to be. Although eyepieces are an extra cost, you can ensure you’re getting the right one for your needs.
For hunting, birdwatching, wildlife, and digiscoping, the Kowa stands unbeatable considering it doesn’t cost what a Swarovski costs.
2. Zeiss Victory Harpia 85
Seeing optics with this kind of price tag would be ridiculous if it weren't for the caliber and quality of parts, glass, and technologies that goes into making such a masterpiece. Craftsmanship and materials is of the world's absolute best. Let's harp on some more about the Victory Harpia with the whopping 85 mm aperture.
- World-class optics
- Wide angle FOV
- Dual-speed focus
- 3x zoom
No one can afford the Harpia - its well-deserving price tag is its downfall, especially when you must purchase the scope body and eyepiece separately. The reality is, this is a dream scope that will always remain a dream buy.
But, if you could afford it, and if you were brave enough to spend that kind of money, you'd have world-class images worthy of recording and being submitted to the world's most finest, peer-reviewed nature and science magazines - image quality is that good.
This thing has everything high-end and luxurious - dual focus, 72° wide angle viewing, magnesium materials, and elaborate glass materials, sources, and processes that are kept more secret than a bank's vault combination.
If you can get past the approximate 5 lbs of weight, it would still be overkill for humble deer hunting or sighting in your 100-yard zero at the range. This is a scope that's best saved for professional use in photography for wildlife observation where rare moments can be shared with the world - just our humble opinion, but if you have the cash, maybe then you can tell us what you would realistically use it for!
3. Swarovski ATX 65
Ah yes, here we finally see Swaro make an appearance and, not surprisingly, it's their pride and joy - the ATX/STX series.
While many hunters are familiar with interchangeable eyepieces, how about interchangeable objectives that governs the magnification ranges? Sounds interesting? Wait, I'm not done.
The ergonomics of this spotting scope makes it an incredibly user-intuitive piece of optical equipment. The focus ring is conveniently placed right next to the zoom ring - a feature I've yet to come across on another spotter.
There's no denying that Swarovski knows what optics are about. And, although this modular system might seem "out of the box" at first, you'll never be able to go back to a traditional interchangeable eyepiece system again.
Go ahead, I dare you - read all about their $4000 spotting scopes and begin your Swarovski love affair.
What to Look for in a $1000+ Spotting Scope
It's all too easy to get tunnel vision when looking for the best spotting scope on the market. While focusing on glass quality, ease of use, and size is important, you definitely can't afford to skimp on the spotting scope platform.
Without a solid tripod and mount, your $2000 spotting scope can be rendered useless in an instant - and you can just about guarantee that the instant will be the exact moment your trophy walks into sight.
Peruse over my quick considerations to add to your well-informed bank of knowledge.
Overall, you can find high-end spotting scopes for under $2000 and then spend well over $3000 for one. There may be little to set these scopes apart, but the main differences will be in the interchangeable eyepiece system and optical quality.
|Meopta MeoPro 80 HD||Under $1800|
|Leupold SX-5 Santiam HD||Under $1800|
|Zeiss Dialyt Fieldscope||Under $1800|
|Kowa TSN-880||Under $2500|
|Zeiss Victory Harpia 85||Under $4000|
|Swarovski ATX/STX||Under $4000|
Glass & Coatings
In general, these high-end spotting scopes are going to have the best of the best glass and coatings. From ED to fluorite elements and advanced FMC formulas, there’s a lot of glass to be had.
|Meopta MeoPro 80 HD||SCHOTT (ED/Fluoride)||FMC|
|Leupold SX-5 Santiam HD||Professional Grade (Fluorite)||FMC & Diamond Coat 2|
|Zeiss Dialyt Fieldscope||SCHOTT (Fluorite)||Zeiss T*|
|Zeiss Victory Harpia 85||SCHOTT (Fluorite)||Zeiss T*|
Magnification & Objective Lens Size (Configuration)
On average, the spotting scope configuration will vary between models since many will have interchangeable eyepieces. The objective bell and eyepiece are usually sold separately, so this must be considered when setting the budget and determining overall cost.
|Product||Magnification||Objective Lens||Interchangeable Eyepieces||Eyepiece Included|
|Meopta MeoPro 80 HD||20-60x||80 mm||No||Yes|
|Leupold SX-5 Santiam HD||27-55x||80 mm||No||Yes|
|Zeiss Dialyt Fieldscope||18-45x||65 mm||No||Yes|
|Kowa TSN-880||N/A||88 mm||Yes||No|
|Zeiss Victory Harpia 85||22-65x||85 mm||Yes||No|
|Swarovski ATX/STX||20-60x||65 mm||Yes||No|
Size & Weight
Full-size spotting scopes are intended for tripod mounting due to their high magnification. With that said, they’re excellent for most applications in the field or on your porch.
However, overall size and weight will determine if it’s better for stationary applications like astronomy and bird watching versus mobile applications like hunting and hiking.
|Meopta MeoPro 80 HD||14.33 inches||67.97 oz|
|Leupold SX-5 Santiam HD||15.7 inches||68.7 oz|
|Zeiss Dialyt Fieldscope||15.5 inches||42.15 oz|
|Kowa TSN-880||13.5 inches||53.6 oz|
|Zeiss Victory Harpia 85||15.1 inches||68.2 oz|
|Swarovski ATX/STX||13.3 inches||55.9 oz|
In total, all high-end spotting scopes will be waterproof and not just water-resistant. They will also be gas-purged for fogproof protection (against internal condensation) with either nitrogren or argon gas.
Though these spotters are usually rated for submersion, it’s best to avoid to those types of accidents. After all, these are expensive pieces of gear, but they’ll definitely hold up in inclement weather and against unintentional knocks and bangs.
|Meopta MeoPro 80 HD||Yes||Yes|
|Leupold SX-5 Santiam HD||Yes||Yes|
|Zeiss Dialyt Fieldscope||Yes||Yes|
|Zeiss Victory Harpia 85||Yes||Yes|
You Can't Go Wrong!
Any of these high-end spotting scopes are bound to please and perform. We've scrutinized every feature, shined light on every flaw, and been critical of every claim. The best you see here today have passed our interrogation process. You can't go wrong with any of our top picks.
However, every year we hear and read about the next bigger and better spotting scope. Save the date for some fun and games as we continue to put the best head to head for the ultimate title of the best premium spotting scopes in the world!
- Swarovski ATX/STX 65mm Spotting Scope Objective Review (& Eyepieces)
- Swarovski ATS 65 HD Spotting Scope Review (With & Without Eyepiece)
- Swarovski STR 80 Spotting Scope Review - MOA Reticle (49832)
- Leica APO Televid 82 Spotting Scope Review (25-50X Eyepiece & Extender)
- Meopta MeoPro 80 HD Review - 20-60x80mm Angled Spotting Scope
2 thoughts on “High-End Spotting Scopes in 2023: These are Some of the Best Long Range & Hunting Spotters in the World”
leica apo not in the top 3?
The Leica has featured in our top 3 at times. When this page was last updated, the APO Televids were unavailable so we choose options that were. Definitely worthy of this list if you can get them though!