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Extreme long range shooters will see the benefits of owning a spotting scope with a reticle. However, the choices are far and few between.
We’ve scoped out the market to compile a list of available spotting scopes with the ranging capabilities to make your next shot an accurate one.
It’s game-on for the long range hunter and the bench rest shooter. Here’s to a higher precision of accuracy with more extreme magnification than ever before!
Best Spotting Scopes with Ranging Reticles
Spotting scopes with a reticle are hardly new optics to the market, but they’re definitely not as commonplace as their plain spotter siblings.
But, you still might be wondering, why on earth would you need a reticle? It’s a good question since you’re technically not using the spotter to make your shot, you depend on your rifle scope for that. But, why couldn’t you give it such a role if it could dish out the numbers you need?
With a ranging reticle, you can guesstimate size and distance of your target, and you could also get the necessary adjustments for your rifle scope all from your spotter! If you’re lucky enough to have a spotter calling the shots for your long range shot, then let him do the work while you pull the trigger. Done and done.
But, there’s no getting around the fact that it’s the pros who are going to be interested in the ranging spotting scope. They’re often very expensive, usually only available from prominent brands, and it’s the long range shooters who will have the expertise to know how to integrate a spotter of this type into their shooting regimen. Needless to say, this kind of spotting scope is for serious shooters only!
|Swarovski STR 80 with MOA reticle 49832||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|Leupold Mark 4 with Mil-Dot Reticle 110825||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|Burris Signature HD with SCR-Mil or SCR-MOA reticle||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|Bushnell Elite Tactical LMSS with Horus H-32 reticle||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|Bushnell Legend T-Series with Mil-Hash reticle||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|Barska WP Tactical with Mil-Cross reticle||VIEW ON AMAZON|
Our 6 Top Ranging Spotting Scopes
Swarovski STR 80
Naturally, the best of the best tops our list in the #1 spot for the ranging spotter. The Swaro STR 80 spotting scope is no ordinary beast, and you can expect that it comes with an extraordinary price tag too.
It has the interchangeable eyepiece system, so expect to pay out more cash to purchase either the 20-60X or 25-50X W eyepiece to get glassing. With either eyepiece, you have the option of having a FFP MOA or MRAD reticles to get ranging immediately and make adjustments to your rifle scope.
With variable brightness intensity settings and an on/off feature, you’ll have all the benefits a spotting scope can offer available at your fingertips in any condition you find yourself in the hunt or at the range. Since it’s a Swaro, there’s no underestimating the glass quality. One look through this, and you’ll understand why better optics cost more.
Leupold Mark 4 20-60X80
Leave it to Leupold to put a ranging reticle into a spotting scope, after all, they do know reticles better than others. With over 90 reticles available in their arsenal, they sure know how to integrate them into optics exceptionally well.
One such example is the FFP Mil Dot and TMR (Tactical Milling Reticle) available on the Mark 4 20-60×80 spotter. Although it’s not illuminated, it does present an advantage on not having to have batteries and preventing failure when you need it most.
To really make this spotting scope a champion for glassing in low light conditions like dusk, it has Leupold’s Xtended Twilight Lens System, Diamondcoat 2, and folded light path technology. This spotter is every bit worthy of its price tag, and if you want sure-fire accuracy, the Mark 4 can dish it!
Burris Signature HD 20-60X85
Burris has released their only spotting scope to the market, and it’s brand-spanking new! The Signature HD line is the premium series for Burris’ observational optics that also extends to their binoculars. So, what can you expect from the premium spotting scope?
Like many high-end spotters, this one also has the interchangeable eyepiece system. Refreshingly, the price is easier on your wallet since it comes with an included 20-60x eyepiece. However, you can also purchase a fixed 30x eyepiece with either the SCR Mil or SCR MOA reticles. If you’re really not about the ranging reticle, you can get the standard 30x eyepiece, but why not go all out when you can?
With an angled design, course and fine adjustments, and the option to also purchase the compatible FastFire red dot sight, you’ll be crushing it in every condition that long range hunting, competition, and even Mother Nature can throw at you!
Bushnell Elite Tactical LMSS 8-40X60
Bushnell is your go-to brand if you want high-end optics for the best prices around. You won’t have to dish out thousands of dollars for the spotter and ranging combo in one. In fact, you’ll pay less than half of what its competitors are going for.
The Elite Tactical features a Horus H-32 reticle in the first focal plane measuring in mils. If you know anything about Horus, you know their reticles are top-notch, and using their patented 2nd Shot Correction feature will turn you into an accurate marksman in no time.
Bushnell was smart to incorporate such a fine reticle in their ranging spotting scope. Combine this with ED glass and RainGuard HD coatings in a lightweight and “tough as nails package”, you’ll never be without long-ranging sight ever again!
Bushnell Legend Tactical T Series
The only spotting scope in this line is the 15-45X60 spotter. While its magnification range might be on the lower end, so is its price tag. Bushnell really shows that a spotter of this caliber can be done for a low price well under $1000.
The power range is certainly ideal for the on-the-go hunter who needs a lightweight, fully weatherproof, and compact optic that isn’t without the features necessary for accuracy and ranging.
Speaking of ranging, it has a mil-hash reticle that’s perfectly compatible with mil-based rifle scopes. Making adjustments in the field will be faster than ever thanks to the first focal plane setting of the reticle.
However, the reticle isn’t its only high-end feature. The optics have been touched-up with ED glass, RainGuard HD, PC-3 Phase Coating technolgy, and an ultra wide band coating. For the price, there’s really no debate in which spotter is the most affordable while still being functional for the cost-conscious shooter.
Barska 11-33X50 WP Tactical Spotting Scope
We have to include a budget-buy in this lineup simply because prices can get outrageous for a ranging spotting scope. The Barska WP Tactical is your handheld ranging spotter that you can land for under 200 bucks! It’s almost unbelievable that it’s priced so low, but you’ll have to check out the full review to believe it.
First off, you can’t beat the lightweight and compact dimensions that can mean everything to a hunter in the field. The low power is just enough to get away with handheld convenience when you don’t have the time to mount up. On top of that, this tactical spotter is fully weatherproof – something you don’t always see in this budget range.
The second focal plane mil-cross reticle is simple and easy to use. Did we mention it’s also the cheapest ranging spotting scope on the market? With that, you know you’ll have some compromises in there somewhere, but still, you might be happy to have this Barska ranging for you out to 600 yards or so in the field or at the range!
Using a Ranging Spotting Scope
Every spotting scope may be a little different, but because it includes a reticle, you’re going to need to focus the spotter before any use.
Focusing a Ranging Spotting Scope
Typically, focusing a spotting scope is easy with the use of a focus wheel or knob. This will bring into focus a target at any given distance to provide sharp clarity. However, with a reticle, you’ll need an additional dioptric control to focus the reticle for your eyesight.
The dioptric control or diopter will be located on the eyepiece. Various manufacturers will have differing methods on how to adjust the diopter as this is typically a one-time adjustment. You may be able to adjust it with your fingers by rotating a ring around the eyepiece similar to binoculars. Or, you may have to use a tool to change dioptric settings with a coin-style opening. You’ll have to refer to the instruction manual provided with your ranging spotting scope.
The short of it is, the diopter will allow you to focus the reticle for your vision. You will then use the focus wheel or knob to focus for clarity based on your target and distance.
Using the Reticle
The reticle that you choose with your ranging spotting scope should correlate with the reticle in your rifle scope to achieve maximum effectiveness. For example, you should buy a spotting scope with an MOA reticle to match your MOA rifle scope.
The reticle is located in the eyepiece. This makes it extremely effective for users that have an interchangeable eyepiece system in their spotting scope. You can switch out eyepieces to cater to your preferences as to when you want a reticle, don’t want a reticle, or if you simply want a different power range for your needs.
You’ll also have to consider whether or not the reticle is in the first or second plane and which will suit your needs most. This feature will determine where the reticle sits in relation to the magnifying assembly. It also affects whether or not you can use the reticle for accurate ranging at varying magnifications. For more on subtensions and reticle use, check out our Reticle Subtension Explained article for guidance.
Benefits of a Ranging Spotting Scope
It might be a fancy trapping to many hunters to have such a feature. But, there are undeniable benefits to having a reticle available in your high-powered spotting scope. Of course, some reticles can provide more benefits with its added complexity.
- Ranging distances
- Verifying size of target
- Correlates with rifle scope adjustments
- Communication aid between rifleman and spotter
- May allow for determining target speed
What to Look For in a Ranging Spotting Scope
It’s no easy task to quickly determine which spotting scope is right for you, let alone deciding on one with added features like a reticle. As always, glass and coating quality and tripod systems are vital factors to consider when considering such expensive spotters.
Other than the obvious features that you’ll need to contemplate on such as design, durability, warranties, and the like, we’ll give you all the other things you’ll need to be aware of before you buy a ranging spotting scope!
- Reticle focus control – This is a must-have feature for a spotter with a reticle. You’ll want to see if you’ll need special tools to focus or if you want something simple like a diopter wheel on the eyepiece.
- Reticle type – Ensure your reticle measurements correlate with your rifle scope to get max use out of the feature.
- Illumination – Illumination might be an added bonus for better readability or use in various lighting conditions.
- On/Off reticle – Your spotter might have the feature to turn your reticle on or off without having to switch out eyepieces. Otherwise, you’re stuck with that eyepiece with the reticle at all times.
- Interchangeable eyepieces – Ensure the spotter has other eyepieces available. They may also be compatible with other brand eyepieces. It’s also a very expensive feature if you decide to invest in additional eyepieces.
- Cost – The most productive and effective ranging spotting scopes are those with hefty price tags to match. They mostly range upwards of $1,000.
Do More Than Spot, Range Away Too!
Ranging spotting scopes have their place in the market. The buying crowd may be sparse, but they’re irreplaceable once you’ve found your niche with them.
To have the ability for higher precision of ranging and accuracy with high magnification in one optic, it’s a spotter worth paying for!