Best Spotting Scope Reviews: Find the Top Brands for the Money In 2020

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission if you purchase via these links.

Hunter in the Mountains Looking Through Fieldscope

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 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 top spotting scope for your needs the first time.

The best spotting scope for hunting is really only one review away.

QUICK LIST: Best Spotting Scopes in 2020

  1. Leica APO-Televid 82 25-50x82 Spotting Scope - Best High-End
  2. Meopta MeoPro 80 HD 20-60x80 Spotting Scope - Best Under $2000
  3. Vortex Optics Viper HD 15-45x65 Spotting Scope - Best Under $1000
  4. Vortex Diamondback 20-60x60 Spotting Scope - Best Under $500
  5. Redfield Rampage 20-60x80 Spotting Scope - Best Under $300
  6. Celestron Ultima 65 18-55x65 Spotting Scope - Best Under $200
  7. Barska Blackhawk 18-36×50 - Best Under $100
  8. Vortex Razor HD 11-33X50 - Best Compact
  9. NightForce TS-80 20-60x80 - Best Long Range
  10. Burris Signature HD 20-60x85 - Best With Ranging Reticle
  11. Leupold Mark 4 20-60x80 - Best For Target Shooting

How to Choose a Spotting Scope in 2020

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
ttcatpages-table__imageCOMPACT8 best compact spotting scopesCOMPARE NOW
ttcatpages-table__imageLONG RANGE10 best long range spotting scopesCOMPARE NOW
ttcatpages-table__imageWITH RETICLES6 best reticle spotting scopesCOMPARE NOW
ttcatpages-table__imageTARGET SHOOTING7 best target shooting spotting scopesCOMPARE 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
ttcatpages-table__imageUNDER $1006 best spotters below $100COMPARE NOW
ttcatpages-table__imageUNDER $2007 best spotters below $200COMPARE NOW
ttcatpages-table__imageUNDER $3005 best spotters below $300COMPARE NOW
ttcatpages-table__imageUNDER $5006 best spotters below $500COMPARE NOW
ttcatpages-table__imageUNDER $10005 best spotters below $1000COMPARE NOW
ttcatpages-table__imageOVER $10006 best high-end spotting scopesCOMPARE 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 brands do have something in common, they are among the best in the world at manufacturing good high-quality spotting scopes 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.

Barska

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.

Burris

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!

Bushnell

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.

Carson

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

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.

Leica

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.

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.

Maven

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

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

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.

Nikon

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.

Pentax

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.

Redfield

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

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

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.

Vortex

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?

Zeiss

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

How to Use a Spotting Scope Like a Legend

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.

1. Magnification

Choosing the Best Spotting Scope Magnification

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

Spotting Scopes Versus Binoculars

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.

4. Eyepieces

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

Straight VS Angled Spotting Scopes

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 from the right reviews, 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 reviews 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.

3 thoughts on “Best Spotting Scope Reviews: Find the Top Brands for the Money In 2020”

  1. Hi, I am hoping to get some recommendations for a very nice spotting scope for my father’s retirement present. I am thinking he would be using it primarily on a tripod on the patio of a hillside house overlooking beach/ocean, trees, nature, etc. The house is approximately 250 ft above sea level and the beach is about 650 ft off in the distance. He will want it for whale watching as well as for birds that will be both above the level of the house, at the same level, and below. My original thought was to get a 20-60 x80 straight scope(maybe Vortex Viper HD or Bushnell Elite(?), the thinking being the 80 is enough for him to see 1000ft out into the ocean for whales and I thought straight because at least 50% of the viewing would be down. Not being at all familiar with scopes, the angled one looks more comfortable but I am unsure if it would be the best for viewing from higher positions.
    I would greatly appreciate your thoughts/suggestions. I have a fairly wide budget of $600-900.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Jason

      Welcome to Target Tamers and thank you for trusting us to answer your question!

      A spotting scope is a great gift for a retirement present for your father, and you're spot-on with a high-powered platform for his needs.

      If he's an experienced spotter, the angled design won't pose any issues. If he's new to spotting, straight is always a safe bet, and it would be perfect for spotting moving targets quickly especially for the primary use of glassing below his eye level. To get a better idea of what design will work, I would recommend doing some in-store browsing to get a feel of both types to see what you think would work for him without spilling the beans of course.

      With the budget you have and the scopes that we've reviewed, we would recommend Vortex Optics as a brand you should consider.

      If you can stretch your budget a nudge or two, you may want to consider the recently upgraded 2018 Vortex Viper HD 20-60X85 spotting scope. Eye relief is 19.6-17.8 mm that should be adequate if he wears glasses. Plus, the Vortex warranty is the best we've seen from many manufacturers.
      However, it has a MSRP price of $1,099, and because it's so new, you won't see retail prices reduced to approx. $100-300 less with online vendors for at least another month or so putting it into the higher end of your budget. The Vortex Diamondback 20-60X80 does fall into your budget and is worth considering - we reviewed the 20-60X60 model of the Diamond back here - https://www.targettamers.com/spotting-scopes/vortex-diamondback-20-60x60-review/

      Other options include the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 20-60X80 spotting scope (https://www.targettamers.com/spotting-scopes/bushnell-legend-ultra-hd-20-60x80-45-review/), however, it's an angled spotter, but it's definitely more price attractive. The Bushnell Elite 20-60X80 ED spotter is available in straight. (https://www.targettamers.com/spotting-scopes/bushnell-elite-20-60x80-review/)

      Unfortunately, there's a wide gap in quality when shopping between brands. A spotting scope is typically a one-time buy, so ensure you're familiar with warranty info before you buy.

      Thanks very much.

      Reply
  2. Hi, I am hoping to get some recommendations for a very nice spotting scope for my father’s retirement present. I am thinking he would be using it primarily on a tripod on the patio of a hillside house overlooking beach/ocean, trees, nature, etc. The house is approximately 250 ft above sea level and the beach is about 650 ft off in the distance. He will want it for whale watching as well as for birds that will be both above the level of the house, at the same level, and below. My original thought was to get a 20-60 x80 straight scope, the thinking being the 80 is enough for him to see 1000ft out into the ocean for whales and I thought straight because at least 50% of the viewing would be down. Not being at all familiar with scopes, the angled one looks more comfortable but I am unsure if it would be the best for viewing from higher positions.
    I would greatly appreciate your thoughts/suggestions. I have a fairly wide budget of $600-900.
    Thanks!

    Reply

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Target Tamers As Featured On Image

Never Miss a Thing Opt In Picture

 

No, thanks!