An Intro To Spotting Scopes
A spotting scope is a small and portable telescopic sight that is ideal for observing terrestrial objects like birds, game, shooting targets, and landscape features. In fact, spotting scopes are used extensively in birdwatching, hunting, and target shooting for tactical ranging and surveillance. Paired with the right rifle shooting tips, you can use a spotting scope to make you an amazing shooter.
Spotting scopes are more powerful than rifle scopes. They tend to have much greater magnification range (up to 60x) and bigger objective lenses for gathering light (up to 100mm). This enhanced resolution and ability to acquire targets at very far distances makes them a valuable asset for hunters and long range shooters.
The compact and portable design of spotting scopes also makes them ideal for hiking, camping, and hunting excursions that cover a lot of area. Basically, a spotting scope is best suited for any activity that requires higher magnification and resolution than a binocular.
The magnification and objective lens size will likely be the most important features that influence your purchase decision. For example, a “10-20x40mm” means the scope is capable of a 10-20x magnification range with an objective lens that is 40mm in diameter. This would be a smaller and less powerful spotting scope compared to others, and it will be able to fit nicely in the palm of your hand.
If you’re a hunter, keep in mind that a higher magnification will decrease your field of view. If you’re just wanting to cover your immediate surroundings then a lower magnification will give you a better overall picture.
The Best Spotting Scopes Reviewed
Bushnell Sentry Spotting Scope 12-36x50mm
The Bushnell Sentry Spotting Scope is a very affordable and ultra-compact optic that provides full-range brightness and clarity. With a 12-36x magnification range that makes it ideal for hunting or target shooting and multi-coated lenses to deliver great visual awareness from dawn to dusk.
It is designed for hunting applications where compactness is important. It is not the best option for long range glassing but it stays sharp and reliable up to 200 yards (you may need to make some adjustments beyond that distance to maintain focus). Other than that, the Bushnell Sentry Spotting Scope 12-36x50mm is an overall great quality package for the price.
This is a great budget spotting scope for casual hunters, shooters, or birdwatchers needing to verify shot placements without buying an expensive rifle scope; and it fits perfectly into a hidden gun coffee table.
Burris Signature HD Spotting Scope
This next-level spotting scope has been on the market for just a couple years and is probably one of the best spotting scopes you can buy for under $2000. The Burris Signature HD Spotting Scope takes glassing to another level.
Complete visual command of the landscape is at your hands. You will be evaluating prime targets from a mountain away with the 20-60x magnification range and HD apochromatic lens system provided by this amazing spotting scope. Premium HD glass for optimal resolution and light transmission from early morning to sunset — it delivers crystal clear edge-to-edge resolution and eliminates color fringing at any magnification. Burris scopes are always made of the highest quality materials.
You can see .30 caliber bullet holes at 300 yards. Additionally, the Burris Signature HD Spotting Scope features a built-in sun shade to reduce glare and provide protection from the elements, an angled eyepiece and rotating tripod, a forward mounted focus knob for coarse or fine adjustments, and a lightweight and durable design with an armor-protected magnesium body for toughness in the field.
Another great feature of this spotting scope is its ability to attach a Burris FastFire red dot sight on either side of the body to assist you in performing incredibly efficient target acquisition and verification. An optional fixed power 30x eyepiece is available with a SCR Mil or SCR MOA reticle (or no reticle) while still keeping the overall price of the scope below $2000.
The Burris Signature HD probably has the most features and best clarity for its price point. You can even view the craters on the Moon or adapt this optic for photography if you desire.
Konus KonuSpot-100 20-60×100 Spotting Scope
A great spotting scope for birdwatchers, the KonuSpot-100 is a powerful angled spotting scope that offers the best high image resolution and clarity/brightness in its category at a reasonable price.
This glass optic has multi-coated lenses and a special 2” high-definition eyepiece that can connect to any reflex camera. This spotting scope has a wide 100m objective diameter and powerful 20-60x magnification range.
The metal body has an anti shock rubber covering and a high precision mechanical construction guarantees precision and stability. Additionally, the Konus KonuSpot-100 has an eyepiece located at a 45° angle with respect to the optical axis and has extendable sun shades complete with a photo adapter (to be used with an optional T2 ring).
Excellent spotting scope for birding.
Sig Sauer OSCAR3
The Sig Sauer OSCAR3 10-20x30mm is a revolutionary mini spotting scope featuring all the advanced technologies you would expect from Sig Sauer’s riflescopes.
This remarkable piece of glass has a rugged and compact, lightweight polymer body design with durable rubber armor that gives a strong grip and fits snugly in the palm of your hand like a canteen. Unlike a lot of spotting scopes, the OSCAR3 features advanced electronic image stabilization that eliminates the need for a tripod.
This proprietary technology utilizes gyroscopic stabilizers to maintain optic focus and cancel out shaking and vibrations from hand movement. A low dispersion multi-coated glass with BAK4 prism offers maximum, crystal-clear optical clarity and ultra-crisp resolution. The optical focus on the front lens is about 1.5 times the size of an average range finder.
The OSCAR3 is ideal for backpacking, hunting, and wildlife observation, or military reconnaissance. Sig Sauer considers everything that a professional or civilian would use and develops it into a compact and sophisticated device.
This rock solid spotting scope is dependable and provides a stabilized image at all times for easy target acquisition. Its small size and extended range capabilities make it light enough to hang around your neck and ideal for scouting.
Leupold Gold Ring 10-20x40mm
The Leupold GR 10-20x40mm Gold Ring is a compact spotting scope that delivers relentless performance and quality that is comparable to larger, more expensive models. Check out more optics reviews.
Designed for professionals and civilians in mind, the Gold Ring is easy to use, has a wide view, and offers superior low-light performance and premium edge-to-edge clarity in a rugged body that is fully weatherproofed. Up to 30 minutes of extra glassing light at dawn and dusk is offered by the Twilight Light Management System.
A proprietary multi-coated lens system delivers optimal clarity, crisp resolution, depth, and color fidelity at all magnification levels. Assembled in the USA, the rugged and reliable Leupold Gold Ring will lighten your load wherever you go with its carbon fiber construction and scratch resistant lens.
Leupold pioneered waterproofing technology in their optical devices and the Gold Ring spotting scope is an example of extreme water and fog proofing, making it great for backpacking and scouting.
Spotting scopes can really take your hunting to the next level. And they’re essential if you’re an avid birdwatcher. These devices are supposed to be versatile and rugged optical tools that can be used in any terrain and consistently provide the user with optimal clarity, resolution, and depth. These best spotting scopes will deliver those features and more.
Remember to consider things like eye relief, magnification power, and glass quality when budgeting for one of these best spotting scopes. Some of the models may require a tripod and others can fit in your hand. The more expensive scopes tend to be the best, but there are perfectly capable budget scopes as well.