When you’re shopping for the best hunting spotting scopes, how do you choose the right one for you?
Do you narrow it down by budget, features, or glass?
How about by weight, size, and its recommended use?
With our buying guide, spotting scope reviews, and info-packed articles, you’ll know exactly how to answer these questions by the time you burn a hole in your pocket.
Don’t risk buying the wrong spotter because you didn’t do your due diligence. Instead, read our reviews to get the right buy the first time.
The ideal spotting scope for hunting is only one review away.
Best Spotting Scopes for the Money
Considering that some of the best spotting scopes in the world have price tags in the multiple thousands of dollars, it might be more helpful for you if we look at the best of what you can afford.
We understand that everyone has a different budget to work with and whether you are limited to spending $100 or less, or can afford to put down over $1000 on a premium spotter, there is something that will suit your needs – and your budget.
With that in mind, we have scoured the optics world, and with an eye on maximum bang for your buck, have assembled a list of the spotters we consider to be the best-of-the-best in their price category.
So, to get the best of what you can afford, make sure you check out the resulting lists below.
Best Spotting Scope Brands
If your budget is still undecided and you are just beginning to navigate the spotting scope field, you might find the below A-Z list of optics brands helpful.
Some of these companies are known for producing affordable optics for the everyday hunter and outdoorsman, others are undeniably top-notch with price points that put them way out of reach of most of us.
But, each of these brands do have something in common, they are among the best in the world at manufacturing high-quality spotters and fieldscopes. The reviews below are of those optics that we consider to be the top picks from each of the companies spotting scope lines. There is something here for everyone.
This low budget optics company has good intentions – to provide a variety of features at the lowest cost possible, and they do.
If you’re new to optics and you want to get some practice with some entry level optics that won’t hurt the bank, the tactical and hunting optics brand Barska is a good place to start.
One of America’s “golden children” in the optics field, the nearly century-old brand tries their hand at delivering spotters for the avid hunter and enthusiastic birder.
With a variety on-hand, decent low budget prices, and their name behind their workmanship, Bushnell may just be your “go-to” brand once again.
This telescope optics giant has really come out of its shell when catering to the hunter and naturist outdoorsman. They have been providing entry level optics for decades, and it shows strongly in their spotting scopes.
Celestron is worth a browse and perhaps a buy, they might end up surprising you.
Leica is the optics giant of the world, not just in sport optics, but cameras and everything else lens-related. And, they operate at one of the highest levels of secrecy to protect their optical reputation.
When you’ve been around for as long as they have, you can’t help but wonder what a Leica spotting scope can do for you.
Leupold & Stevens
Another favorite American brand of hunters is Leupold. Their Oregon roots are American, their Gold Ring optics are American, and their optics for military service has always been for Americans.
Their optics are what you want when you need quality, variety, and value all in the same boat.
Meopta is proving itself to the world with their new optics, and in this case, with their spotters. While they’ve been a relatively quiet brand among the lips of hunters in the past, those days are long gone.
With a deep history in optics, unbeatable value, and their rising spirit of competitiveness in the market, you might find you won’t have to shop anywhere else.
NightForce has answered the demands of the hunters, and it’s been made manifest with their excellent, indestructible optics.
Their spotting scopes are the epitome of the supply and demand principle, so if you want quality with the reassurance of other hunters’ approval, NightForce is your brand.
This long-trusted brand needs little introduction since they’ve been a favorite among optics users for eons. They keep their optics simple and streamlined, up with the latest features, and easy to use – everything a hunter wants out of a spotter.
Nikon delivers quality and value in return for your trust and loyalty. They wouldn’t still be around today if they couldn’t deliver.
Simmons is a preferred brand when you want affordable, practical, and intuitive optics.
When you’re low on cash but you don’t want to compromise on optical size and performance, Simmons can get it done.
For a low budget and credible alternative to other disreputable brands, you can trust Simmons.
Swarovski is all class, panache, and swagger. And, they can afford to be confident about it too – they’re the best. They think outside the box, they excel in their engineering feats, and they deliver quality and innovation like no other brand can.
When you spend big with them, you only have to do it once.
For a range of quality optics from low budget to premium, Vortex has it all. With American expectations for optical performance as its standard, you won’t be disappointed in price, brightness, and sharpness.
The family-owned, veteran-owned, and American-owned company are active hunters and marksmen themselves. Who better to trust for your hunting spotters than them?
When you think of the authority of global glass, you can’t help but conjure up Zeiss. It’s their technology, their engineers and scientists, and their glass that sets the standard for the world.
If you want the best and you’re willing to pay for the best optics, Zeiss will deliver it on a silver platter.
5 Features to Consider When Buying a Spotting Scope
For more information on additional and premium features, see our article Straight VS Angled Design & Other Features to Consider.
You can also find information on digiscoping, setting up and using a spotter and extra tips on choosing the right one for your needs in the article found here.
Magnification is often more emphasized than any other feature of a spotter – whether it’s due that kind of attention or not. And, you may be one of those hunters that have been sucked into the snares of not-entirely-truthful advertising and marketing tactics…
But, we’re here to tell you that not all magnification specs are created equal. A 20-60X80 may not be as powerful, luminous, or as far-reaching as an 18-45X65. But, then again, high powered spotters are extremely convenient for when you need eyes on that extra far away object.
To get an in-depth understanding of how magnification will affect your buying process, your hunt, and your target shooting, check out this article.
Aperture/Objective Lens Size
You’ll need to weigh up the priorities of what your hunting style is and then consider the sheer size and weight a larger objective lens packs onto the overall spotter.
But, for most hunters, either 60mm and 80 mm apertures are the most preferred sizes.
But, if you’re still not sure if a larger objective lens is for you over the lightweight and convenient binocular sizes, you should give this article a quick read.
While magnification power has a lot to do with a spotting scope’s reach, you’d be surprised by how much more of a role the quality of the glass has over it than anything else.
High powered spotters without the quality optics to support its most basic function, to provide a clear and magnified image, are practically a waste of money. Make sure you know what to expect from coatings and glass elements by checking out this article.
Is an interchangeable eyepiece system for you? With those, you can change the power range from zoom to fixed or even to a different range of magnification levels. Take the Zeiss DiaScope eyepiece system for example.
I should also warn you that many high-end spotters don’t include the eyepiece in the scope purchase – you’ll have to buy it separately, and they can become quite costly.
You might want to up your budget if you need the versatility an interchangeable eyepiece system provides. And, if you think you could use the extra glassing distances, our Choosing the Best Magnification article will set you straight.
Angled vs Straight
But, what are the advantages of one style over the other? Will one body style suit you better in the field than in the car? What about when you hunt with others that need to share your optics?
For a full discussion on what body style of you should buy, this article will compare them side by side.
Buy Right First Time Round
Choosing a hunting spotting scope doesn’t have to seem like you’re navigating alien territory. With a little of the right information from the right reviews, you’ll soon know exactly what you want in a spotter and how you’re going to implement it out in the field.
We’ve done the research, the testing, and the comparisons to jam-pack our spotting scope reviews with everything you need to know to make the most well-informed decision. Don’t make the mistake of buying a dud – buy right the first time around.