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, cheap 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 scope because you didn’t do your due diligence. Instead, read our spotting scope reviews to get the right buy the first time.
The best spotting scope for hunting is only one review away.
Best Low Budget Spotting Scopes Under $200
Not everyone needs the optical precision a long range marksman needs from a $2000 spotting scope. Sometimes, all it’s going to take is a nice, crisp $100 bill, give or take a little, to get your glassing done.
If you’re a hunter or shooter that needs to see bullet groupings at around 100 yards or you just need a little more reach than what your 10X42 binos can get you out in the field, low budget spotting scopes is where you want to look.
Hunters, target shooters, and even birders who want the best value spotting scope for their sport will appreciate the qualities that we’ve pored over in the best low budget spotting scopes. We took into account the ease of use, optical performance, and low price tags.
Leupold SX-1 Ventana 15-45X60
It should be no surprise that Leupold claims a number one spot with the SX-1 Ventana 15-45X60 for having the best hunting spotting scope under 200 big ones – well, it’s technically right at about $200.
And, what’s even more impressive is, it’s not even the newer 2016 SX-1 Ventana 2, it’s the older model. This is a classic, entry-level spotting scope with quality and precision written all over it.
It passed our optical performance testing with its fully multi-coated optics – a pleasant surprise in the low budget arena. And, ease of use is a breeze since its low power range makes it an extremely nifty, free-hand tool when you’re not quite ready to set up.
And… there’s more. The Ventana spotting scope has a warranty worth more than the cost of the scope itself and a few other little secrets I’m not going to spill. You can find out yourself by reading all about it in our complete review.
Celestron Ultima 18-55X65
Celestron certainly impresses with all of their spotting scope series, and the spotter to snatch up second place in the low budget category is the Ultima 18-55X65, and it certainly deserves it too.
While coated or fully-coated coatings are typically the standard for entry level spotting scopes, Celestron ups the ante by playing in the big boy’s park with equipping their low budget spotters with fully multi-coated optics. Score one.
Then, they further impress with their low cost of around $120 and over 500 online reviews on the Ultima series. Now that customer review base should be shouting loud and clear that there’s something to consider here. Score two.
But, I think it’s the fact that the Ultima spotters are excellent tools for long range glassing. It’s been purported, not once, not twice, but many a time that this low budget spotting scope can have you seeing out over 1000 yards away. It’s a win!
Spoiler alert! This particular Ultima has the highest recommendation in our Celestron Spotting Scope review which you can get up-to-date on right now.
Celestron LandScout 10-30X50
Yep, Celestron sneaks up again with the LandScout 10-30X50 to claim the third spot for the best hunting spotting scope under $200 in this buying guide review. Why? Because it’s the best compact spotting scope for the entry level and low budget crowd.
It’s small, lightweight, and cheap – in price that is. It can be handheld even though a tripod is thrown in with the roughly $50 purchase of the spotting scope. Not too shabby right?
But, if you’re looking for glass that can get you seeing clear and sharp groupings at and beyond 200 yards, you’d be asking too much. This spruce, little gadget can only give you 100 yards before the quality tuckers out.
However, Celestron really knows how to kick up the game when it comes to punching out some of the best value spotting scopes you’ll find in the market. Just check out our complete Celestron review to see the rest of the line up if they’ve peaked your curiosity.
The Simmons 20-60X60 spotting scope is under $100, and it’s a fair-priced low budget optic that will do great for many beginner hunters. Its strengths lie in the 20-40X range, it’s fully weatherproof, and it has full-body armor.
Best Medium Budget Spotting Scopes Under $500
When it comes to spotting scopes, manufacturers either do it well or they don’t. Many of our top brands that are many hunters’ mid-level, go-to companies had some disappointing hits and misses – mostly misses.
When putting together the line-up for this medium budget category, it was tough just to come up with the top three, let alone any honorable mentions. So, you’ll have to forgive us if we throw in an option that slightly bends the mid-level qualifications – it’s just going to have to do.
We took into account the grade quality of the glass, any special coatings, and its ability to see groupings clearly in the 200-400 yard range. Let’s take a look at what we came up with.
Vortex Razor HD 11-33X50
Ta-da! The best spotting scope under $500 is actually not under $500 at all. This compact Razor HD 11-33X50 spotting scope is actually in the $600 price range and it’s deserving of high-end and premium status.
But, since it’s not going to make the top three for the best high budget spotting scopes, and with the tough luck we’ve had for decent mid-level ones, I’m giving the very deserving Vortex first place here.
It has everything, and I mean everything, that you would want to see in the glass quality – special dielectric phase coatings, Extra Low Dispersion glass, APO lenses, ArmorTek, and more.
While its magnifications are on the lower end to match its hand-held and compact design, it has a dual focus system to really get you the resolution you need for that distant glassing.
So, I’ve gotta hand it to Vortex for picking up the buck where others didn’t even bother. For $600, you need to read the full review to get the best value for the best quality in this mid-level optical limbo.
Vortex Viper HD 15-45X65
Vortex has really stepped up to the mid-level plate here, and they’re actually deserving of more. This Viper HD 15-45X65 is just barely a notch below the Razor HD in optical quality.
But, it’s still decked out with XR coatings, Extra Low Dispersion glass with High Definitions, and the dual focus system.
It’s also sporting a couple features that even the Razor HD lacks, which you’ll know about if you read our Vortex Spotting Scope Review.
If you’re looking for a hunting spotting scope for 200-400 yards, this is your guy.
Celestron Regal M2 65 ED
The specific Celestron I’m talking about here is the Regal M2 16-48X65 that’s retailing for about $400 on online.
The Regals are the flagship line for Celestron, and it’s impressive that they’ve snagged another highlight in this spotting scope review. There seems to be a pattern here of surprising quality for the low prices.
It pretty much has everything you want to see here – Extra Low Dispersion glass, XLT fully multi-coated optics, and a dual focus system.
Although this particular spotter is on the more compact side of things, its sibling the Regal M2 20-60X80 is still in the roughly $500 price range – check out the full review to learn more about them.
Best High Budget Spotting Scopes Under $2000
It would seem like the best hunting spotting scope under $1000 should be the next category, but unfortunately, between $600-$1000, the market is pretty much non-existent.
Yes, there might be a couple of options, but the real high budget spotting scopes that are anything near worth reviewing are in the $1000-$2000 range. And, if you want high-resolution, high-contrast, and color-rich images from long range distances, you’re going to have to spend around this much.
Amateur and beginner hunters and birders will appreciate the higher standard of quality in a premium spotting scope. And, it’ll be their first time purchase that will last them a long time – if you buy from the right brands.
But, those who will truly appreciate spotters this good are the veterans of optics and long distance shooters. By tripling your medium scope budget, you’re in a whole new world of options.
Since we don’t want to skimp on quality for cost here, only the best and most competitive spotting scopes will earn a place after they’ve endured the harshest scrutiny we can dish out. No spotting scope can afford to lack even the most minor of features here.
Think flawless glass, APO lenses, award-winning status, and any innovative perks that keep the spotter in this budget.
Meopta MeoPro 80 HD
It’s satisfying to see an underdog brand that’s worthy of the same status as a NightForce, and other highly-revered brands, get recognized. The Meopta MeoPro 20-60X80 just barely won the upper hand over the NightForce TS-80 because of a few things the latter didn’t have.
The MeoPro has CentricDrive Focus, a distinguished award from 2016, and we know for sure where Meopta gets their glass from – Schott. No speculation, no guessing, it’s fact.
I told you the competition was tight, and this is what it came down to. The MeoPro will set you back about $1500 which is excellent value for its features compared to other brands.
For more on the brand that deserves the spotlight when they deliver quality optics like the MeoPro spotting scope, you just need to check out our Meopta review.
NightForce TS-80 20-60X
Yes, the NightForce TS-80 20-60X did earn a spot in the high budget category, and it’s definitely worthy to join the ranks of these masterpieces.
Its Extra Low Dispersion glass and hydrophobic coatings endow the new 2016 TS-80 spotting scope, and it was listed and ranked in Outdoor Life’s Magazine in 2016.
But, here’s something interesting for you… If you love the MeoPro 80 HD, then you’re probably going to love the NightForce TS-80 too. Take a look, they’re almost eerily identical, in specs too.
Apart from the differences mentioned above, NightForce is a brand worth drooling over while you save for it.
And, since there’s also the TS-82 yet to be explored, you might just want to hop right into our NightForce Spotting Scope Review for the full run-down.
Leupold SX-2 Kenai 30X, 25-60X80 Kit
Are you surprised to see that this isn’t Leupold’s flagship Golden Ring series? The SX-2 Kenai impressed me enough with its features versus cost ratio.
It’ll cost you anywhere between $800-$1300 online depending on whether you want the just the spotting scope or the kit.
But, it’s loaded with Leupold’s high-end features – not their absolute best, they save that for their $2000 plus spotters, but it’s got enough to justify its $1000 price.
It has the Index Matched Lens System, High Definition Lenses, is Synergy Built, and it comes with two eyepieces as a standard buy – kit or no kit.
But, there are a couple things you might want to be aware of if you’re enticed by the well-balanced Kenai design. We have all the gossip there is to know before you buy in our review.
Best Premium Spotting Scopes ($2000 – $4000)
This high-end category changes the playing ground – a lot. And, I don’t know that you’d believe me if I told you that the market in this playing ground is actually larger than the $1000-$2000 category.
With gross, high prices like what you’re about to see here, I don’t dare recommend anyone use these but the buyer. Amateurs can’t afford them, entry level guys will borrow someone else’s, and serious hunters might spend a year or two just saving up for one.
So, if you end up buying one, don’t be daft and lend it out. This is a “it’s mine and mine alone” kind of toy.
Here, we’re dealing with nothing but the absolute best. Flawless, immaculate, and precision-cut glass. Top-secret and under heavy security are their proprietary coating formulas. These are the differences here.
The big boys in this budget realm don’t reveal formulas, they don’t hint at sources, and they don’t waste time and money making inferior and low-ball optics.
These are the spotting scopes that are no joke.
Leica APO-Televid 82
The Leica APO-Televid 82 is the big kahuna in the spotting scope industry. Both the 82 and the 65 Televids are incomparable models of perfection. And, if you know Leica, you know that’s no exaggeration.
They’re both equipped with interchangeable eyepiece technology, ASPH eyepieces, and the option to buy an additional 1.8X magnification extender eyepiece.
But, I can’t go into all the fine details here because I’ve got to save the good stuff for the Televid-82 Review.
If you’re prepared to read about a spotting scope that’s going to cost you about $4000, I wouldn’t blame you if you’re ready to leave this page and head to the reviews right now. Leica is totally worth it.
Zeiss DiaScope 65
The DiaScope series is the perfect example of a fully-integrated and innovative interchangeable eyepiece spotting scope. Of course, you’re dishing out the cash for the smooth user experience, but you won’t be disappointed.
It has multiple eyepieces available, and the glass completely meets all the expectations required to be a premium spotting scope.
On top of all its optical prowess, it’s super light weight and compact. For this scope, start thinking in the heavy $2000 range.
To learn more about it and its 85 mm counterpart, our Zeiss Spotting Scope Review is only a click away.
Swarovski ATX 65
Ah yes, here we finally see Swaro make an appearance, and by no surprise, it’s their pride and joy – the ATX/STX series.
While many hunters are familiar with interchangeable eyepieces, how about interchangeable objectives that governs the magnification ranges? Sounds interesting? Wait, I’m not done.
The ergonomics of this spotting scope makes it an incredibly user-intuitive piece of optical equipment. The focus ring is conveniently placed right next to the zoom ring – a feature I’ve yet to come across on another spotter.
There’s no denying that Swarovski knows what optics are about. And, although this modular system might seem “out of the box” at first, you’ll never be able to go back to a traditional interchangeable eyepiece system again.
Go ahead, I dare you – read all about their $4000 spotting scopes right here in our Swarovski Spotting Scope Review.
Zeiss Dialyt 18-45X65
While the Zeiss Dialyt 18-45X65 has a $1600 price tag that more than adequately fits the High Budget Spotting Scope category, it’s quality is far superior to be just plopped in there. It deserves a mention right here for its unrivaled simplicity and its flawless glass quality that makes it an exceptional and first-rate tool for hunters out in the field.
A-Z of the Best Hunting Spotting Scope Brands
Don’t just settle for an off-brand or an after-market spotter that you picked up from some optics show. You want quality in exchange for your hard-earned cash.
When shopping for a hunting spotting scope, consider a brand that we’ve reviewed, set a budget, and price-match for the best that you can afford. You won’t regret it.
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.
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.
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.
And, they operate at one of the most 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
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 spotting scopes.
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, the unbeatable value of their scopes, and their rising spirit of competitiveness in the market, you might find you won’t have to shop anywhere else.
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.
They keep their optics simple and streamlined, up with the latest features, and easy to use – everything a hunter wants out of a scope.
Nikon delivers quality and value in return for your trust and loyalty.
They wouldn’t still be around today if they couldn’t deliver.
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.
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 spotting scopes than them?
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.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Spotting Scope
For more information on additional and premium features, see our article Straight VS Angled Spotting Scope Design & Other Features to Consider.
You can also find information on digiscoping, setting up and using a spotting scope and extra tips on choosing the right spotting scope for your needs in our article, How to Use a Spotting Scope Like a Legend.
Magnification is often more emphasized than any other feature of a spotting scope – 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 scopes 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 spotting scope buying process, your hunt, and your target shooting, read our Best Spotting Scope Magnification 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 spotting scope.
But, for most hunters, either 60mm and 80 mm apertures are the most preferred sizes. For an 82 mm option, the Leica APO-Televid 82 is surprisingly lightweight for its size.
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 our Spotting Scope vs Binoculars 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 scopes 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 reading our Best 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. Take the Zeiss DiaScope spotting scope eyepiece system for example.
I should also warn you that many high-end spotting scopes 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 Spotting Scope 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 spotting scope you should buy, our article Straight VS Angled Spotting Scope Design & Other Features to Consider 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.