This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission if you purchase via these links.
When you're shopping for the best hunting spotting scopes, how do you choose a good one that is right for you?
Do you narrow it down by budget, features, or glass?
How about by weight, size, and its recommended use? Does it need to be waterproof?
With our buying guide, spotting scope ratings, 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 on to get the top spotting scope for your needs the first time.
QUICK LIST: Best Spotting Scopes in 2021
- Leica APO-Televid 82 25-50x82 Spotting Scope - Best High-End
- Meopta MeoPro 80 HD 20-60x80 Spotting Scope - Best Under $2000
- Vortex Optics Viper HD 15-45x65 Spotting Scope - Best Under $1000
- Vortex Diamondback 20-60x60 Spotting Scope - Best Under $500
- Redfield Rampage 20-60x80 Spotting Scope - Best Under $300
- Celestron Ultima 65 18-55x65 Spotting Scope - Best Under $200
- Barska Blackhawk 18-36×50 - Best Under $100
- Vortex Razor HD 11-33X50 - Best Compact
- NightForce TS-80 20-60x80 - Best Long Range
- Burris Signature HD 20-60x85 - Best With Ranging Reticle
- Leupold Mark 4 20-60x80 - Best For Target Shooting
How to Choose a Spotting Scope in 2021
With so many options available and more great spotting scopes being pushed off the production line on a regular basis, it can be hard to narrow down your options - let alone decide on the perfect one.
To make your decision easier, we have hunted down the best-of-the-best and presented our top spotting scope picks for a range of budgets and uses. When choosing a spotting scope you need to therefore first ask yourself a few questions; What is your budget? What will you be using the spotting scope for? Do you have a preferred brand?
Once you know the answer to those questions, all of the information you need to make an informed choice is accessible right here from this page! So, check out the extensive lists of our top picks via the links in the tables below and we are confident you will find the right spotting scope for you in no time!
|BEST SPOTTING SCOPES|
|COMPACT8 best compact spotting scopes||COMPARE NOW|
|LONG RANGE10 best long range spotting scopes||COMPARE NOW|
|WITH RETICLES6 best reticle spotting scopes||COMPARE NOW|
|TARGET SHOOTING7 best target shooting spotting scopes||COMPARE NOW|
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 picks 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 spotting scope, 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 good spotting scopes 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 FOR THE MONEY|
|UNDER $1006 best spotters below $100||COMPARE NOW|
|UNDER $2007 best spotters below $200||COMPARE NOW|
|UNDER $3005 best spotters below $300||COMPARE NOW|
|UNDER $5006 best spotters below $500||COMPARE NOW|
|UNDER $10005 best spotters below $1000||COMPARE NOW|
|OVER $10006 best high-end spotting scopes||COMPARE NOW|
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 top brands do have something in common, they are among the best in the world at manufacturing good high-quality spotting scopes and fieldscopes. The selections 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.
- Barska 15-40x50mm Colorado Spotting Scope Review (Straight – CO11500)
- Barska Tactical 11-33x50mm WP Mil-Cross Rangefinding Reticle Spotting Scope Review
- Barska Blackhawk Spotting Scope Review (Angled Body 18-36×50)
- Barska 20-60x65mm WP Level Angled Spotting Scope Review
If you ever only though that Burris was an entry-level brand, you'd be dead wrong. Let us correct your attitude with their line of spotting scopes that can easily compete and claim victorious over other high-end spotters in the market.
Don't believe us? Check them out for yourself. You won't be left wanting after you've seen what Burris can dish out.
It's time to eat your words and redeem yourself with adding a Burris spotter to your arsenal!
One of America's "golden children" in the optics field, the nearly century-old brand tries their hand at delivering good 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.
- Bushnell Legend T-Series 15-45×60 Tactical Spotting Scope  w/ Mil-Hash Reticle
- Bushnell Elite Tactical LMSS 8-40×60 Spotting Scope with Horus H-32 Reticle (780841H)
- Bushnell Elite 20-60×80 ED Spotting Scope Review (45° Angled)
- Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Spotting Scope 20-60x80mm (Angled)
- Bushnell Trophy Xtreme Spotting Scope Review – 16-48x50mm
- Bushnell Trophy XLT 20-60x65mm Spotting Scope (Compact)
There's a lot of affordable spotting scopes in the market, and you'll find issue with almost all of them. But, Carson takes pride in being meticulous with the details that matter in the long run. What does this mean?
It means, a spotting scope should be clear, bright, easy-to-use, and versatile in every way. This includes fluid use, sharp focusing, and low light clarity through the entire magnification range. That's what you're looking for in a spotting scope, right?
This brand scores perfect when it means getting your money's worth out of your optics. Don't buy a cheap spotter ever. Buy a Carson - your money is better spent here!
Celestron the 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 products.
Celestron is worth a browse and perhaps a buy, they might end up surprising you.
- Celestron Regal M2 65ED Spotting Scope Review (Angled Model 52304)
- Celestron Ultima 65mm Spotting Scope Review (Straight Spotter With 18-55X Magnification)
- Celestron C90 Mak Spotting Scope & Telescope Hybrid Review (Ideal for Celestial-Viewing)
- Celestron LandScout 10-30×50 Spotting Scope Review(Angle Bodied For Under $100)
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 top Leica can do for you.
- Leica APO Televid 82 Spotting Scope Review (25-50X Eyepiece & Extender)
- Leica APO Televid 65 Spotting Scope Review (Angled Model – 40129)
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 good quality, variety, and value all in the same boat.
- Leupold SX2 Alpine HD Spotting Scope Review (Angled)
- Leupold Mark 4 Spotting Scope Review – 20-60x80mm Tactical Spotter with Reticle
- Leupold SX-1 Ventana 15-45×60 Spotting Scope Review (Both Models Compared)
- Leupold Compact Spotting Scope Review: GR 10-20x40mm (For Free-Hand Glassing)
This small Western American company stands proudly among the giants in the optics industry.
With hunters and outdoorsman just like you on their payroll, Maven knows exactly what the average hunter wants - great quality optics at an affordable price point.
We recommend you peer through a Maven spotting scope and check out the clarity of that Japanese glass for yourself.
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.
- Meopta MeoStar S2 82 HD Spotting Scope Review (Interchangeable Eyepieces)
- Meopta MeoPro 80 HD Review – 20-60x80mm Angled Spotting Scope
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.
- NightForce TS-82 Spotting Scope Review (20-70X With Amazing Image Quality)
- NightForce TS-80 Spotting Scope Review (20-60X HD Angled)
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.
- Nikon Prostaff 5 20-60×82 Spotting Scope Review (Angled Body)
- Nikon ED50 Fieldscope 13-30×50 Straight Body Spotting Scope Review
With just over 100 years in the optics industry, Pentax produces world class spotting scopes for the bird watching enthusiast and the hunter alike.
Snapping contrast, crisp resolution, outstanding brightness and true color fidelity without chromatic aberration are all features you can expect from a Pentax spotting scope.
If you are into photography and plan to do some digiscoping, Pantax should be on your short list of brands to choose from.
- Pentax PF80 ED Angled Spotting Scope Review (Eyepiece Not Included)
- Pentax PF-65ED II Spotting Scope Review (Interchangeable Eyepieces)
Don't compromise on quality if you're stuck with a restrictive budget!
Redfield's vision is to provide great optics at great prices - no excuses. They're experts when it comes to designing a spotting scope that will fit your budget requirements without compromising on quality where it matters most - the optics.
Let Redfield do the hard work in figuring out how it gets made. You get to enjoy spotting without breaking the bank!
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.
- Swarovski STR 80 Spotting Scope Review – MOA Reticle (49832)
- Swarovski ATS 65 HD Spotting Scope Review (With & Without Eyepiece)
- Swarovski ATX/STX 65mm Spotting Scope Objective Review (& Eyepieces)
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 Diamondback is one of the mainstay optics in their lineup.
The family-owned, veteran-owned, and American-owned company are active hunters and marksmen themselves. Who better to trust for your hunting spotting scopes than Vortex?
- Vortex Razor HD 27-60×85 Spotting Scope Review (RS-85A) – Angled with Wide Angle Lens
- Vortex Viper HD 20-60×85 Angled Spotting Scope Review (Helical Focus)
- Vortex Razor HD 11-33×50 Spotting Scope Review (Angled Model – RZR-50A1)
- Vortex Viper HD 15-45×65 Spotting Scope Review (Straight)
- Vortex Diamondback 20-60x60mm Spotting Scope Review (Angled)
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.
- Zeiss Victory Harpia Spotting Scope Review – 85mm Angled with Dual Speed Focus System
- Zeiss Conquest Gavia 85 T Spotting Scope Review (Ideal for Birders)
- Zeiss Dialyt 18-45x65mm Spotting Scope Review (A True Hunters Tool)
5 Features to Consider When Buying a Spotting Scope
The large part of the cost of your scope is highly dependent upon the features it has. So, for your benefit, we'll cover the factors you'll need to consider before you buy.
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 our how to use a spotting scope article.
Low power, high power, fixed, zoom? Which do you go with and how do you maximize your power settings without reaping the viewing discomfort that consequently follows?
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 guide to spotting scope magnification.
2. Aperture/Objective Lens Size
The larger the objective lens size, the more light-gathering capability your optic has. But, how do you choose between the most common sizes? 50mm, 60/65mm, or even 80/82mm?
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 spotting scope versus binocular article a quick read.
3. Quality Glass
While magnification power has a lot to do with 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 good 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 our spotting scope magnification 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.
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.
5. Angled vs Straight
What body style you want is going to be one of the very first factors you'll have to address when you're ready to buy a spotter.
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 straight vs angled spotting scope article will compare them side by side.
Buy The Right Spotting Scope The First Time Round
Choosing the best spotting scope for hunting doesn't have to seem like you're navigating alien territory. With a little of the right information you'll soon know exactly what you want in a good quality spotting scope 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 article with everything you need to know to make the most well-informed decision.
Don't make the mistake of buying a dud - buy the right spotter the first time around.