Are you trying to spot legal game from a mile away before deciding to hike over that way?
Maybe you want to want to safely watch wildlife from a distance?
Having difficulty spotting groupings at the range?
A spotting scope can be the difference between seeing usable detail from several hundred yards away or being no better than what your binoculars can offer.
Here’s our lineup of the spotters that can bring all the details you need right to where you’re standing!
Best Spotting Scopes for Long Ranges
Everyone wants to be able to see far away, and with premium glass, it’s a luxury. But, it’s that glass that makes all the difference. This begs the question, “How far is long range?” Most spotters will be good for up to 200 yards at the range despite its purchase price. But, we’re talking about much further ranges than that. That takes us out of the mediocre class and into premium range.
Let’s get this straight from the beginning. In order to see long range, you’re going to have to spend some decent money. Cheap, full-size spotters don’t have the optical build necessary to provide usable detail at max power making it unusable for long range applications. Budgeting too cheaply will only leave you with cheap optics. You may end up feeling ripped off and unsatisfied with poor image quality. If you’re serious about seeing usable detail at extended ranges then get serious about your budget range.
But, we do hear what you’re saying too. The more affordable spotters get more reviews and have a heavy online presence, but it doesn’t mean they’re the best spotter for the job. Can’t pull the trigger on a high-end spotter? Then settle for one that’s better than average. We know it’s more money, but more cash will get you a better scope. If you think about it this way, you can spend more money on a scope versus all the splatter targets you’ll end up buying just to see impact with a poor quality scope. Point made.
Since we do acknowledge that budget is a legitimate restraint, we’ve included a few options that should fit your budget needs while still pumping out max performance for long range viewing. First things first, before we get into the actual lineup, here’s our list of the best of the best long range spotting scopes that are most definitely out of most of our budget ranges. But, if you have the one-time chance to splurge, feel free to get crazy on our quick links to these premium spotters!
Long-Range Spotters for a Variety of Budgets
|Viewing Configuration||Price Range|
|Meopta MeoStar S2 82 HD||20-70X 82mm||Straight||Over $2500||View on Amazon|
|NightForce TS-80||20-60X 80mm||Angled||Under $2000||View on Amazon|
|Vortex Viper HD||20-60X 85mm||Angled||Under $1000||View on Amazon|
|Pentax PF-80ED-A||20-60X 80mm||Angled||Under $1500||View on Amazon|
|Bushnell Elite 20-60X80 ED||20-60X 80mm||Angled||Under $1000||View on Amazon|
|Nikon Prostaff 5 20-60X82||20-60X 82mm||Angled||Under $600||View on Amazon|
|Celestron C90 Mak||32X 90mm||Angled||Under $400||View on Amazon|
|Gosky 20-60X80||20-60X 80mm||Angled||Under $200||View on Amazon|
|Swarovski ATX/STX 65||25-60X 65mm||Angled/Straight||Over $3000||View on Amazon|
Our 9 Top Long Range Spotting Scopes (+1 Honorable Mention!)
Zeiss Harpia 85
Spending this kind of money on an optic is no joke, but neither is the glass. FL glass and other custom glass elements come together to create an elaborate lens system to provide a flawless experience.
Expect everything from the Victory Harpia as it’s the ultimate hunting, target range, birding, and wildlife observation spotter!
Meopta MeoStar S2 82 HD
This brand may not be well known to individual buyers, but it’s definitely made itself known to optics snobs, acclaimed media sources, and to Target Tamers!
This scope is certainly in the lightweight category for a full-size spotter making it a great long range spotter for the range, in the hunt, or for general wildlife observation.
It sports every feature you could want on a premium spotting scope including five-star Schott glass. The reason it ranks so high is because it’s a high-end scope for literally half the price of its competitors.
When the quality and price is right, it’s the right buy. Meopta with their prodigious optics are now known to the world – get on board!
NightForce TS-80 – Best Under $2000
Another long range trooper is the TS-80 20-60x spotter, and if there’s a brand that knows how to get extreme ranges done, it’s NightForce.
The TS-80 sports some excellent features, but it’s the price that’s more attractive to potential buyers. Of course, if you’re more feature-obsessed, then the TS-82 might be worth the extra grand it’ll cost you.
However, the TS-80 holds its own with its simplicity but precise performance and clarity in the field. Weighing in the 4 lb range, it’ll shine best in a stationary position for the range or glassing wildlife.
Vortex Viper HD 20-60X85 (New 2018 Model!) – Best Under $1000
We promised to keep prices in the more affordable range to include viable options, and the new to 2018 Viper HD spotting scope absolutely fits the bill! Of course, there’s the extraordinary Razor spotters that are feature-packed to the max, but if you want to stay under $1000 for long range performance, the Viper is your best pick.
It’s an excellent long distance scope for any activity from shooting at the range to watching birds on your patio. With its specs and glass quality, it’s going to make an ideal, full-size scope for spotting legal game several hundred yards off to make the call on getting closer or moving on.
As a Vortex, it’s got our full support behind it, not just for quality and exceptional warranty coverage, but also for cost! It can’t get better than this.
Pentax PF-80ED-A – Best Under $1500
Pentax – they’re not cheap, but they’re cheaper than some other high-end brands, and that’s why the PF-80ED falls into our lineup. Do you want to see groupings at 500 yards or more? The Pentax can definitely do that!
Equipped with ED glass, lightweight magnesium alloy body, and a 19 feet close focus distance, it’s a “go-everywhere” type of spotter. Since it’s a Pentax, there are several types of eyepieces available that are compatible with the spotting scope. Pick your range and you’ll never be without distance reach again.
If you’re a precision shooter that needs instant feedback at the range, the Pentax might definitely fit your needs!
Bushnell Elite 20-60X80 ED
Bushnell ranks pretty high in our lineup with its Elite 20-60×80 spotter. The ED glass, RainGuard HD coatings, and long eye relief are definitely positive benefits of the scope.
Being able to glass out past 1,000 yards is crucial for an extreme long ranging spotter, and the Elite can do it. It shouldn’t be that surprising since the Elite is the flagship series for Bushnell’s spotters. At the range, groupings can be seen clearly up to 300 yards which is not possible with many other scopes.
We’re glad to see Bushnell makes the ranks with a spotter that’s true to its name – an Elite spotting scope!
Nikon Prostaff 5 20-60X82 – Best Under $600
The Prostaff 5 isn’t the extraordinary EDG VR, but it’s certainly a long ranging spotter with a much friendlier price tag. It’s got the right amount of power range and aperture to get even closer to those far-reaching distances with glass quality that overshadows other spotters.
For long distance ranging, it caught our eye for a few, unique features it sports. Namely, it’s 2.5 lb weight, two mounting attachments for versatility in flat or mountainous terrain, and its included, removable peep sight!
Even though it has an interchangeable eyepiece system, it’s refreshing to see the 20-60x eyepiece included. This makes this Nikon buy an affordable buy for sure!
Celestron C90 Mak – Best Under $500
You read that right! The C90 Mak made it into the lineup because it’s a nifty, little thing. We never said that long range spotting was limited to use only in the field or at the range. In fact, this spotting scope is a hybrid made to get extreme long range distance into the heavens too!
However, with that said, there are many buyers who swear by the Mak that it’s an excellent tool for the range. Spotting those holes at 300 yards is right up the Mak’s alley. Want to try even further? Be our guest.
With an 8×21 finderscope attached, you have the ability to access a wider field of view to scan out the area before honing in through the spotter. Additionally, as a hybrid, you can purchase many eyepieces to cater to your hunting, target shooting, or celestial viewing needs!
Gosky 20-60X80 – Best Under $200
A “Choice” optic definitely found room in the rankings. With high magnification and an 80mm aperture, the Gosky blew us away. It’s not that heavy for a full-size spotter weighing in at just over 2.5 lbs.
Its praise is all deserved when it comes to performing well enough at the range to spot groupings for close to intermediate ranges. Glassing beyond that for wildlife and bird watching is its expertise. Since it’s digiscope adaptable, memorializing moments can be done in an instant!
It’s by far the cheapest spotter in our lineup, and if it’s the best of what you can afford, you won’t be disappointed.
As a highly sought-after spotter with proven efficiency in performance, it’s a keeper!
As a personal favorite, the Swarovski ATX/STX 65 Spotting Scopes definitely gets a mention.
They’re a one-of-a-kind type of spotting scope with its modular platform – without even having to mention its world-class glass!
But, because this type of system can easily put you into debt several thousands of dollars for all the parts, it’s not a value buy.
But, hey! It’s a Swaro – all the value is in the quality!
What to Look For in a Long Range Spotting Scope
While we’ve focused largely on high magnification and large apertures, you should also know that big isn’t always better. Full-size spotters can limit portability and convenience if you’re a hunter or someone who has some hiking to do before setting up. If this is the case, your best bet is to go with a mid-range power spotting scope with superb glass. It will most likely cost you a pretty penny for the glass quality, but the weight cut won’t affect performance when long range glassing is desired.
If extreme long ranging distances is your primary need, consider your priorities. The best spotters are going to be premium optics with matching but well-deserved price tags. If it’s for competition use, in the field when that first-shot means everything, or for professional photography, the high-end prices might be well worth it. If it’s for recreational use, cut yourself some slack and stick with the recommendations in the lineup where most of them cost under $1000.
- Design: Consider whether angled or straight is for you.
- Quality glass: Includes premium glass elements, glass source, and glass types. These features must be expected the more the spotter costs. This is the most important feature that determines optical performance at long ranges.
- Quality glass coatings: Includes layered coatings, mirror and phase-correction coatings, and weather, scratch, and debris repellent coatings. These features should be expected the more the spotter costs.
- Magnification: 20-60x is the standard, full-size power range for most spotters where portability is desired. However, going down in magnification to a range of 15-45x and improving glass quality can provide better long ranging performance than a poorly-made 20-60x spotter.
- Eyepieces: Going premium might mean you have to pay extra just for the eyepiece. However, interchangeable eyepieces provide the option to change power range for versatility in various activities.
- Size/Weight: Consider your style of activity to best choose a size and weight. Stationary use like at the range or observation means weight won’t be too much of a concern. Hunting will require a lighter weight spotter.
- Tripod systems: Protect your investment and maximize its potential with a high quality tripod and mount.
- Quality warranties: Have the assurance that your premium spotting scope is fully covered for any unforeseen damage.
Long Ranging Priorities to Consider
Just because you may have a long range spotter, it doesn’t mean you’ll always be able to see out to 1,000 yards and further the way you want to – no matter how much you paid. Atmospheric and terrain conditions have a huge role to play in clarity at distances that far. Remembering a scope’s limitations might enable you to work your way around mirage, wind, and unpredictable terrain. Not only does it take a good spotting scope to see long distances, it takes a good user too!