Best Spotting Scope – Top Picks by Shooting Authority
If you’re looking for the best spotting scope on the web, you’re not the only one because whether you’re a target shooter, bird watcher or hunter, a quality spotting scope is crucial for your success. While these devices have the same function, the clarity and magnification vary considerably as do their other features. To help you choose, we gathered the top rated and most efficient spotting scopes you can buy.
Here they are, our top selection for the finest spotting scopes.
1. Swarovski Spotting Scope HD-STS 80 High Definition Glass
The Swarovski HD-STS 80 is one of the best spotting scope online as its lens provides images with high contrast all the way to the periphery. Made to work in even low lighting conditions, the Swarovski HD-STS 80 HD produces sharp colors, and the rubber armor provides sufficient protection against bumps and shocks.
The Swarovski is waterproof and dustproof and it can be submerged to a depth of 13 feet without any problem. Oher notable features include the superior magnification power, powerful light transmission, focusing on long distance objects and more. The body is constructed from aluminum and the 80 mm diameter lens allows you to see objects in detail.
The scope does a terrific job in collecting light even when magnification is set high, and the HD lenses’ fluoride helps reduce chromatic aberration while delivering images with sharp contrast with clearly defined outlines. The lenses are ideal for standard viewing, but they’re also useful if you’re a photographer who likes to take quality snapshots with a scope.
The Swarovski HD-STS 80 sports a regular straight-angle housing that makes it convenient to find and track birds as they take flight, and overall the built is solid and reliable. The multilayered coatings ensure color reproduction is correct and the output isn’t affected whether it’s dusk or dawn. The coating is nonstick, and this helps reduce the amount of cleanup that you need to do as residues don’t stick to it.
- Weight: 42.15 ounces
- Length: 13.19 inches
- Objective lens filter thread: M82x0.75
- Dioptric correction: higher than 5
- Shortest focusing distance: 16.4 ft.
- Ocular lens and objective focal length: 460 mm
- Objective lens: 80 mm
- Sharp colors
- Solidly built
- Great for bird watching and other outdoor activities
- Eye piece is separately sold
2. Vortex 20-60×85 Razor HD Spotting Scope
The Vortex Razor is a good choice if you’re searching for the best spotting scope for the money. The high quality extra-low dispersion glass provides high resolution and the hard coated Armor Tek safeguards the exterior from dirt, oil and scratches. The Vortex Razor also boasts of dielectric prism coating so the images you get are clear, color accurate and clean.
The Vortex Razor also uses a patented XR anti-reflective coating to boost the transmission of light so the brightness is at the optimum level. Another notable feature of the Razor is the triplet apochromatic lens that minimizes problems with the display.
When in use, the Razor produces solid images. Just like the other scopes here, the Razor has sealed O rings that keep moisture, debris and dust at bay, and it is also waterproof. There is also argon gas purging here to keep the device from fogging.
What really sets the Razor apart from the rest is its versatility: you can use this scope for hunting, bird watching and even star gazing, and while it’s a bit on the heavy side, that is more than compensated for by its quality and built. When you take everything into consideration, it’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular spotting scopes for hunters and nature lovers today.
- Magnification: 20-60 x
- Weight: 65.7 ounces
- Length: 15.3 inches
- Exit pupil: 15.3 inches
- Eye relief: 20-18 mm
- Close focus: 16.4 feet
- Angular field of view: 2.2-1.1 degrees
- Linear field of view: 117-60 feet/1000 yards
- Objective lens diameter: 85 mm
- Dual focus feature works well
- Good balance
- Eye relief is good even if you’re wearing glasses
- Good value for the money
- Carrying case design could stand some improvement
3. Minox MD 16-30×50 Straight Spotting Scope
Spotting scope reviews for the Minox say it’s the ideal choice if you’re after an affordable but powerful spotting scope, and they are absolutely right. With a 16x – 30x eyepiece magnification the Minox is just right for shooting without compromising the view.
The optics have an O-ring seal so dust and moisture won’t get in the way, and the rotating tripod ring and adjustable eye cup provides a solid view all around. Aside from shooting, the Minox is ideal for viewing wildlife, birds and other activities. The lens on this scope has also been specially designed so there’s no glare even if it’s the middle of the day.
Mounting the scope is easy even if you don’t have a big tripod, and the field of view is quite good considering its size. The scope is bright and you can choose between the straight and angled versions. The Minox is not meant to take the place of the thousand dollar spotting scopes, but if you’re just after shot markers, wind flags or nature watching, the Minox will suffice.
- Dimensions: 2.5 x 4.8 x 8.4 inches
- Weight: 1.5 lbs.
- Magnification: 16x – 30x
- F.O.V. At 1,000 yards: 100′ at 30x, 142′ at 16x
- Eye relief: 15-11 mm
- Compact body
- Solidly built
- Tripod can be rotated
- Eye cups is easy to adjust
- Some find it a bit too light
4. Vanguard Endeavor HD Angled Eyepiece Spotting Scope
Any talk about the best spotting scope 2016 is bound to include the Vanguard Endeavor as it is feature packed and set at an affordable price. Colors are vivid and sharp thanks to the multi coating of the lens and the ow dispersion glass. The Endeavour has a magnification range of 15x – 45x and 14 feet close focus, more than enough to produce quality images minus any distortion.
The Endeavor is weatherproof and the rubber armor provides sufficient protection against damage. The eye relief is extended and the field of view should satisfy most users. Vanguard has manufactured quite a number of optical scopes through the years, but this is their most powerful product yet.
Its use of the extra-low dispersion glass helps ascertain color reproduction is precise and that color fringing is avoided. The lenses on the Vanguard provide sufficient levels of light transmission, and as is the case with other quality scopes, it uses BAK4 roof prism.
The 82 mm objective lens 20-60x zoom provides the desired effect and the eyecup is covered with rubber and the eye relief is adequately designed. A nice feature here is the sun shield that keeps glare away even if you use this under bright sunlight. The scope is also equipped with coarse and fine focusing wheels so you can make adjustments quickly and without any trouble.
Focusing is straightforward and overall, the system works well compared to those of other spotting scopes. It’s also good to see the wheels are sizable so adjusting is easy, and even if the weather is cold you won’t encounter any difficulty getting them to turn.
- Dimensions: 38 cm x 18 cm
- Weight: 1810 g
- Field of view at 1000 m: 110 m – 52 m
- 20-60x interchangeable eyepiece
- Eye relief: 19 mm – 20 mm
- Objective lens: 82 mm
- Magnification: 15x – 45x
- Weight is solid
- The angled viewfinder is well designed
- The cover is ideal for all weather use
- Some customers find the eye relief a bit difficult at maximum magnification
5. Celestron Regal M2 16-48×65 ED
The Regal M2 is one of the best hunting spotting scope, and we can cite several reasons why it’s a good buy. For one thing the scope produces sharp, distortion free images, and its use of low dispersion glass enhances the colors as well as the colors. Even when the M2 is set to the maximum magnification level, it doesn’t cause the image to get out of focus.
The built in dual focus feature allows for quick and easy adjustments and the light aluminum body means you can travel light. At the same time the body design ensures corrosion won’t occur, and there’s full protection for the optics too.
Aside from the magnification eyepiece, the Regal M2 comes bundled with a photo adapter so you can use it for digiscoping. The scope also comes with a tripod ring that rotates, allowing for increased flexibility when you’re using the scope and trying to avoid the sun’s glare.
Whether you use this during the day or night, the Regal M2 is capable of providing sharp images. As far as versatility goes the Regal M2 is capable of handling a wide range of activities like hunting, bird watching, astronomical observing, long distance viewing and more.
- Angular field of view: 2.5-1.3°
- Relative brightness: 16-1.7
- Prism glass: BaK-4
- Weight: 46.8 oz.
- Eye relief: 20 mm
- Exit pupil: 4-1.3 mm
- Linear field of view (@1000 yards): 131-68 ft / 43-23 m
- Magnification: 16-48x
- Objective lens diameter: 65 mm
- The coating is well applied
- Optics are good
- Mounting on the tripod is easy
- The bundled case is soft
Features to Look For
Here are some suggestions to help you get started:
- Budget: the simple rule is to set aside as much money as you can afford. At the same time you need to consider your goals and experience. If this is your first time to use one of these spotting scopes, there is no need to splurge as your goal should be to learn as much as you can about it.
- Optic quality: for beginners you will be fine with 15 – 30x magnification as the images at those levels are sharp and clear. If you are an advanced user and need to zoom in an image without losing quality, look for spotting scopes with a 60x or higher magnification.
In the past, these powerful scopes were beyond the reach of most people, but improvements in technology and reduction cost has made them more accessible and affordable. By reading the reviews above you can see there are a lot of new formulas used for glass as well as multilayered coatings go far in terms of increasing the color, clarity and details.
- Durability: since you’ll be using the scope in different environments, durability is a must. Fog proofing and waterproofing are mandatory, but all good scopes have these built in. The high quality and expensive scopes can take a good deal of punishment, but that doesn’t mean the affordable ones break easily. On the contrary there are some pretty solid but low cost scopes available today. While you’re checking it out, look up the warranty as well.
- Body style and objective lens: the bigger the objective lens, the more light it is able to collect and the more efficient it is when it comes to long distance glassing, digiscoping and viewing in low light situations. On the other hand if you’re looking to travel light, look for 60 to 65 mm lens as they are more compact and lighter to pack.
As far as body style goes there are two options: angled or straight. The angled type makes tripod setting up easier and users with varying heights won’t have trouble using it. Angled bodies typically rotate so the eyepiece is set low, making it easy for kids to use the scope. Straight spotting scopes on the other hand, are most useful for viewing down in a higher spot.
- The tripod: the tripod is an integral part of the entire scope set up, so don’t neglect it. At the very least you should get a tripod that is made from aluminum or some other durable material. While aluminum is stable it can be a bit heavy, so if you’re going to bring the scope with you a lot, look for something lighter like carbon fiber.
That’s all there is to finding the best spotting scope. Just follow these tips and guidelines and you’ll end up with the right scope.