Best Spotting Scopes of 2020 – Complete Guide

Nature is both exquisite and appalling, yet it is very difficult to experience its full beauty with your naked eyes. A good spotting scope can come in handy. It will act as your gateway to enjoying the full splendor of nature.

These allow for better close-up images as well as better resolution. You can not only view moving birds closely but also appreciate the magnitude of distant things. But more on this later. Let's first discuss a couple of things essential for a good investment.

This review will not only include a list of the best products, but it will also include a well-researched and thorough buying guide. Make sure you give this a quick read before you decide on your final choice. Since there is a lot to discuss, let's get started.

Comparison of the Best Spotting Scopes

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Multi-coated objective lens reduces light interference
  • Cellphone adapter allows video recording
  • Equipped with quality built-in sunshade
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  • Durable and waterproof design
  • Tripod offers stable observation from any angle
  • Shock-proof grip for better viewing
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  • Comfortable viewing with ergonomic design
  • Bright images with multi-coated lens
  • Non-slip grip thanks to rubber armor
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  • Enhanced color rendition with LED glass
  • Ergonomic rubber eye cup for comfort
  • Completely fog and waterproof
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  • Durable non-slip rubber with textured focus ring
  • Military-grade optic performance
  • Equipped with quality metal mounting screw
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  • Able to easily fit into coat pockets
  • Clear, sharp images with LED lens optical system
  • Boasts with 9-27x magnification range
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  • Comes with extended tripod mounting-plate
  • Zoom eyepiece allows clear and detailed views
  • Equipped with 80mm objective lens
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  • HD optical system produces high-definition images
  • Glare reduced with built-in sunshade
  • Good eye relief thanks to multi-position eye cup
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What is a Spotting Scope? 

Many people have never even heard of a spotting scope. This means that they are missing out on a lot of important stuff. It is similar to a telescope that can be used for hunting, hiking, or mere bird watching. 

These tiny devices are also much stronger and durable than binoculars and offer a relatively higher magnification. All in all, you can spy on distant objects easily with the help of a good model. 

What Does a Spotting Scope Do?

Spotting scopes are quite popular, and one reason for their unparalleled reputation is their high diversity. They are suitable for a range of uses like range shooting and hunting. They provide a target of up to 100 yards. However, if you want to cover a greater distance, you should look out for a unit with greater magnification.

These are also used for birding. It is an extremely fun activity, and the usage of scopes makes it a lot more entertaining. You can use the same unit for all your bird-watching activities. 

Moreover, a good unit can also be used for photography, mainly of wildlife. You need to buy a specific model that comes with a T-mount adapter. This will allow you to attach your DSLR to your scope. Having a greater magnification will also help you watch small wildlife creatures easily. 

How to Choose a Spotting Scope 

The market is bombarded with all kinds of products. This hence makes it extremely difficult to find a good model that fits your criteria. But don't worry; here is a list of all the things you need to consider before you finally choose your favorite spotting scope. 

Magnification

All scopes offer different magnification, and you shouldn't just blindly get one with the highest magnification. For a beginner, a good scope will be the one with up to 60x magnification. This is ideal for sharp and crisp images. As you get some experience, you can move up to higher magnifications as those allow you to see more details. 

Aperture

The aperture of your scope is vital and should be considered a top priority. An aperture of up to 80mm is ideal for beginners. This is because it allows them to view the objects. Moreover, very high apertures tend to be more expensive. You should also remember that the scopes with bigger apertures will offer less portability.

Waterproofing 

This comes in handy when you have to face the consequences of bad weather. A waterproof spotting scope will retain its functions and allow you to capture images even in stormy or cloudy weather. Moreover, it will increase the longevity of the model.

Lens Coating

If you want to ensure that you get greater durability and hence greater strength retention, you should opt for a smoother lens coating. A good option is HD glass that is either fully or multi-coated. This also provides anti-reflective abilities, thus ensuring a good color and contrast in all your images.

Waterproofing Spotting Scopes (Source)

Quick Take | Best Spotting Scopes

Review of the Best Spotting Scopes

The above information might seem a lot, and at this point, it is fairly certain to assume that you are pretty confused. But we won't leave you hanging. Below is a list of the best products in the market. You just have to compare the features of these scopes and find one that best fits your criteria. 

LANDOVE 20-60X80 BAK4 Prism Spotting Scope-Waterproof Field Scope for Birdwatching Target Shooting Archery Hunting-with Tripod Carrying Bag & Digiscoping Adapter-Grab the Beauty into Screen

PROS

  • Comes with a good carrying bag
  • Allows for clear and brighter images in low light
  • Offers high and variable magnification for diversity
  • Comes with a fully coated green lens for greater durability
  • BAK4 prism reduces any stray light from entering your eyes

CONS

  • Slightly heavier than some other units

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers didn't have an ounce of doubt when they bought this model. The actual scope is as promising as it looks. Buyers love the presence of a carrying bag that makes portability easier. Moreover, they have praised the variable magnification. This allows them to use the same scope for multiple purposes.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It is extremely difficult to point at one singular feature that stands out with this Landove unit. It comes with multi-coated and green colored lenses that offer a high definition of magnification. Not just that, but it also comes with a special roof prism that increases light transmission and ensures that all your images are clear and bright. 

Moreover, the presence of variable magnification diversifies the scope's usage. You can use the same model for bird watching, outdoor sporting, camping, and astronomical observations. Since the material used to form the exterior is durable, you can rest assured that you won't need many repairs in the long run. 

Bottom Line

With its exceptional features, there is no surprise that this model sits at the very top of our list. It not only comes with a strong exterior, but its interior is as powerful. You can get higher diversity as well as magnification through these spotting scopes. Moreover, since there is an adequate carrying bag, you won't have to worry about its safety.

Gosky 2019 Updated 20-60x80 Spotting Scope with Tripod, Carrying Bag and Smartphone Adapter - BAK4 Angled Telescope - Newest Waterproof Scope for Target Shooting Hunting Bird Watching Wildlife Scenery

PROS

  • Exterior is fully water and fog-proof
  • Allows for better color contrast view
  • Angled at 45 degrees for better viewing
  • Offers a magnification range from 20x to 60x
  • Comes with the fully coated film eyepiece lens

CONS

  • Carrying bag is not very adequate
  • Difficult to store because of the angled shape

What Recent Buyers Report

Nearly all users are delighted to get their hands on this unique model. They not only like the durable framework but also praise the variable magnification. This, they say, allows them to use the same model for multiple purposes. Moreover, the presence of a large objective lens also adds clarity to the view.

Why it Stands Out to Us

With so many great features, it is difficult to point one. Gosky is one of the most reliable models out there, especially in the angled scopes category. It is inclined at a 45-degree angle which makes bird watching a fun sport. 

Moreover, it comes with a tripod that allows rotation of your eyepiece easily. You can opt for a sideways position and adjust your viewing angles easily. But that's not all; the unit is fully shockproof. This means that even if it falls during hunting or otherwise, you can rest assured that it won't be damaged. 

Bottom Line

If you want to protect your eyes and back, whilst also enjoying an unparalleled day on the outside, this model is the one for you. Equipped with a retractable sunshade and a waterproof body, you can use these scopes in the roughest of weather.

Best Spotting Scope for the Money:
Emarth 20-60x60AE Waterproof

Emarth 20-60x60AE Waterproof Angled Spotting Scope with Tripod, 45-Degree Angled Eyepiece, Optics Zoom 39-19m/1000m for Target Shooting Bird Watching Hunting Wildlife Scenery (20-60x60) Green

PROS

  • Offers a lifetime warranty
  • Covered with rubber armor to provide a non-slip grip
  • Roof prism can increase light transmission for more clarity
  • Has consistent performance even under rugged conditions
  • Features a very powerful and strong zoom magnification range

CONS

  • Repair costs are often high
  • Does not come with a smooth carrying bag

What Recent Buyers Report

Emarth is one of the very few names that buyers trust absolutely. They didn't need to look very deep into the features because they knew that the brand delivers on its promises. And they surely have. With this product’s lifetime warranty, you can rest assured that you are given a reliable product. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This Emarth scope has stood out in the crowd for quite some time now. It comes with a very high-quality rubber armor that protects the exterior of the lens and provides you with a non-slip grip, which ensures greater comfort. 

Moreover, its body offers greater water resistance, which means that you can use it in rainy weather as well. Not just that, the built-in retractable shade also helps reduce glare. This ensures less eye strain and allows for longer viewing times. Furthermore, the tripod rotation of the eyepiece is made easier with an angled shape. 

All in all, if you want to save some money without compromising on the quality of the product, this one is the one for you. 

Bottom Line

With a good and long magnification range, there is nothing much that you can't do with these spotting scopes. They not only offer consistent performances but also offer greater comfort. They are also relatively affordable, which means that you can get a reliable product at a lesser price.

Best Spotting Scope For 1000 Yards:
Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A

VANGUARD Endeavor HD 65A Angled Eyepiece Spotting Scope, 15-45 x 65, ED Glass, Waterproof/Fogproof, Black and Gray, 65mm

PROS

  • Allows for minimal fringing
  • Dual focus wheel allows for course adjustments
  • Comes with modern ergonomics for greater comfort
  • Rubbered magnesium body eliminates any unnecessary glare
  • Comes with an extra-low dispersion glass for good color retention

CONS

  • Not suitable for hunting
  • Slightly heavier than other models

What Recent Buyers Report

Users were annoyed at not being able to find a scope good enough for 1000 yards, but they are at peace after using Vanguard. The unit not only comes with multi-guard coatings, but its protective layering also helps reduce glare. Moreover, the built-in sun shield ensures that you can view objects for longer durations.

Why it Stands Out to Us

If there is one thing that no one wants to compromise on, it is most definitely ease of usage. Vanguard has gone through considerable lengths to ensure that all its customers enjoy their experience to the best degree. The inclusion of modern ergonomics allows for better usage. 

Moreover, the rubber armored body will keep your hands feeling warm and comfortable. But the comfort doesn’t end there; there are also dual-focus controls that allow for quick adjustments. You can also use these controls to shift viewing angles and increase or decrease magnifications. 

All in all, if you are looking for a comfortable piece of equipment, you wouldn’t find one that is better than this.

Bottom Line

This might be a slightly expensive choice, but the sheer number of brilliant features justifies the extra cost. This scope is suitable for bird watching and hunting and makes astronomical observations a true possibility. So, if you are looking to see anything within 1000 yards clearly, opt for this option.

Best Spotting Scope For Target Shooting:
Roxant Authentic Blackbird High Definition

Roxant Authentic Blackbird High Definition Spotting Scope with Zoom - Rubber Armor, Fully Multi-Coated Optical Glass Lens + BAK4 Prism. Includes Tripod & Case + Lifetime Replacement

PROS

  • Offers a lifetime replacement warranty
  • Metal mounting strap is safe and won't snap
  • Relatively less expensive than other products
  • Contains all the necessary accessories needed
  • Uses high-level military-grade optics for better target acquisition

CONS

  • Controls aren't very easy to understand
  • Not suitable for astronomical observations

What Recent Buyers Report

It is not easy to convince and please recent buyers. These are the people who have had firsthand experience of using the product. But reading the reviews of these customers, we too are convinced that Roxant is indeed a reliable model. They not only praise their lifetime warranty but also appreciate the company's focus on durable construction. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

You won't find military-grade level optics in the market, especially at a low price. The exterior optical glass comes with a superior BAK4 prism and is fully coated, which increases the amount of light entering the lens at any given time. This helps ensure that you see objects much more clearly. 

Another thing that is appealing is the high compatibility the unit has to offer. Unlike other models, this one can be used for several different tripods. You can also adjust the heights as well as the widths of the unit to make it fit the tripod better. 

Lastly, it is also important to mention that the eyepiece is fully retractable and can hence help reduce the glare to a significant degree.

Bottom Line

Roxant is a small company that produces all its products at the same location. The manufacturing is done with the utmost care and diligence to ensure there are no errors in the optics. Among other reasons, the high reliability of the products is another reason that adds to the appeal of these spotting scopes.

Best Spotting Scope For Birding:
Celestron Hummingbird 9-27x56mm ED Micro

Celestron Hummingbird 9-27x56mm ED Micro Spotting Scope - Birder Friendly - Close Focus Distance

PROS

  • Provides sharp and very clear images
  • High magnification range makes usage diverse
  • Offers a helical focus dial for more convenience
  • Extremely lightweight which assists in portability
  • Provides full resistance against water in harsh weather

CONS

  • Requires frequent maintenance
  • Does not offer good compatibility

What Recent Buyers Report

The majority of buyers were quite fascinated by this product early on. They couldn’t understand how a unit as tiny as this one could prove so beneficial and extraordinary for bird watching. All their confusion was cleared the day they used these scopes to view the enormous sky. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

Celestron has established its reputation as a household product, and any person looking to up their game prefers having this model. It is both small and compact and hence offers ease of usage. 

But more importantly, it is quite powerful in its ability to capture images. The full multi-coatings are another feature that is much loved by users. This not only produces realistic images but also helps retain the original colors of the objects. There is also the helical focus dial that offers greater accuracy and precision. 

Bottom Line

If birding is the only thing in your mind, then this brand will prove to be a miracle. It not only comes with a very comfortable design, but its relatively smaller size makes storage convenient. Moreover, it comes with diverse magnifications that come in handy when you have to look at distant objects.

Best Spotting Scope Under $200:
Celestron Ultima 80 Angled

Celestron – Ultima 80 Angled Spotting Scope – 20 to 60x80mm Zoom Eyepiece – Multi-Coated Optics for Bird Watching, Wildlife, Scenery and Hunting – Waterproof and Fogproof – Includes Soft Carrying Case

PROS

  • Angled shape helps view things clearly
  • Multi-coated lens adds to the durability
  • Comes with an extended mounting tripod plate
  • Comes with a very sharp and steady zoom eyepiece
  • Allows for much better color and contrast in images

CONS

  • Requires frequent maintenance
  • Repair of the eyepiece is difficult

What Recent Buyers Report

If you read what the buyers have to say, you would be amazed. There is nothing that they don't like about the product, except for maybe its need for frequent maintenance. They love the cost-efficiency of Celestron. Moreover, buyers think that color retention allows them to view objects with much more clarity than before.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Angled models are extremely durable and easy to use, but what sets this model apart is its ergonomic design and controls. The exterior is padded to ensure long time usage. You won't get tired after using it for a short while. You can use the unit for hours and hours without getting tired or anxious. It is perfect for observing nature, even when there is low light

It is also important to note that Celestron Ultima comes with an extended plate that makes tripod adjustments easy. You can also get images that are extremely bright and colorful. 

All in all, any person looking to spend a day or two outside with their families will love getting their hands on this one-of-a-kind model.

Bottom Line

Affordability and compatibility come together to make this one of the best models the market has to offer for under $200. It comes with a special tripod plate and allows for much better color retention, even in low light settings. Also, the zoom eyepiece is extremely durable and hence suitable for outdoor use. 

Best Spotting Scope Under $1000:
Vortex Optics Viper HD Spotting Scopes

Vortex Optics Viper HD Spotting Scope 20-60x85 Angled

PROS

  • Offers a flexible viewing angle
  • Has easy eyepiece adjustments
  • Shades are adjustable and retractable
  • Ensures better focus in low light settings
  • Allows for incredible glossing and some high-end performance

CONS

  • Repairing might not restore the original quality

What Recent Buyers Report

Whether it's hunting, bird watching, or astronomical observations, buyers all over the world are overtly content with the model. They have highlighted that the high-end performance of the scope is due to the extra strong and durable construction. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This spotting scope comes with an O-ring sealed body, which ensures that no leakage occurs at any time. But this is just one of the many features that make it stand out in the crowd. The presence of a rubber armor also provides you with a better grip and hence a better viewing angle. 

Flexibility is another feature that is highly appreciated by users. The tripod mounting collar allows you to rotate the scope properly and align it with your eyes. Moreover, you can simply turn the thumbscrew in a counter-clockwise direction to adjust the lens. All this provides you with additional comfort.

Bottom Line

This might be one of the most expensive products on the list, but the extra cost is justified when you look at the many features it has to offer. These include adjustable shades and eyepieces, a flexible viewing angle, and, most importantly, a diverse magnification range. All this helps create an unforgettable experience for you.

Best Spotting Scope Under $500:
CREATIVE XP HD

CREATIVE XP HD Spotting Scope with Tripod 20-60x80mm - BAK 4 Prism Spotting Scopes for Target Shooting Hunting Astronomy Bird Watching - 100% Waterproof Shockproof IP67 - Phone Adapter and Clicker

PROS

  • Relatively lightweight unit
  • Come with all necessary accessories
  • Offers greater compatibility with tripods
  • Offers a lifetime warranty on all its scopes
  • Does not produce blurry images at high zooms

CONS

  • Controls are harder to adjust
  • Accessories are less durable than the scope

What Recent Buyers Report

Most buyers need to have greater peace of mind. This is why they always demand that their investment be a bit reliable. Thanks to the company's commitment, the spotting scope is one of the best ones in the market for less than $500. It not only comes with a lifetime warranty but its repair and replacement costs are also significantly lower.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The most annoying thing with most spotting scopes is that they are difficult to move around. But luckily for you, this won't be an issue. With Creative scopes, you can rest assured that portability will be really easy. The model is extremely lightweight, which means that you can carry it around easily. 

Moreover, the unit doesn't compromise on durability. The model is nitrogen purged and specially sealed to prevent any damage by fog, water, or shock. Moreover, the presence of shock-resistant prisms also helps to prevent any damage to the eyes. 

Bottom Line

If you are still unsure of which product to buy, you can look at the many amazing features this model offers. Unlike other brands, Creative doesn’t produce blurry images at high magnifications. You can get crisp and bright images, even at a magnification of 60x. What's even better is that you get all the important accessories of the scope within the package.

Pros and Cons of Spotting Scopes

Spotting scopes are generally considered to be extremely beneficial pieces of equipment that add excitement to your life. That being said, it would be wrong to assume that they don't come with their fair share of cons. Here is a list of the pros and cons of scopes to help you make an informed decision.

Pros

Here are some prominent pros of spotting scopes 

In-Depth Views

The biggest advantage of using a scope is that it offers greater magnification and hence a better field of view. You can watch small and distant birds easily. This feature also comes in handy while hunting as it allows you to easily capture your prey.

Durability

This is essential because it allows for greater strength retention. Higher durability will keep the unit safe in all kinds of conditions. Other features like water resistance and fog resistance also aid in ensuring longevity.

Good Warranties

The prices of most spotting scopes aren't very high. But what makes this stand out is the good warranty that most companies offer. This puts the user's mind at peace because they don't have to constantly worry about repairs and replacements. 

Cons

Meanwhile, some limitations that you will have to deal with include:

Weight

Viewing birds or wildlife animals with a scope can be hard, especially if you are spending a lot of time on the activity. Most units are heavy and hence less portable.

Diversity

Although the average units aren't very expensive, the problem comes when you wish to use the same scope for multiple purposes. Since all units offer a fixed magnification, diversity is an issue. 

Comparison Overview

Drawing comparisons between different products is a good way to make a wise investment. Many people are still confused regarding the main differences in spotting scopes and other similar products. Here is our attempt to explain these differences.

Spotting Scope vs. Binoculars

The biggest difference between the two is that a spotting scope will come with a single lens as well as a single eyepiece. On the other hand, binoculars come with two lenses and two separate eyepieces. The latter is also more compact and, in many instances, offers less magnification. Moreover, spotting scopes are relatively lighter hence allowing for greater portability.

Angled vs. Straight Spotting Scope

A straight scope comes with an eyepiece that is in line with your lens. This also resembles a long and stretched tube. These scopes are easy to use and hence good for beginners. Moreover, transporting them is easier because of their simple shape. 

On the other hand, an angled scope comes with the eyepiece at an angle of 45 degrees. These allow easier viewing positions, but they aren't very easy to store and carry around.

Rangefinder vs. Spotting Scope

These two come with huge differences as a spotting scope is relatively cheaper and is more portable. Due to the smaller size, such a unit is also easy to move around during hunts.

The rangefinders are relatively large and use a laser beam to measure the accurate distance between you and the object.

How to Use a Spotting Scope 

Take the time to choose a spot with the right view. 

Using a spotting scope is fairly easy. This is major because of the simplistic design. Manufacturers have included easy specs to ensure that users don't face any difficulties in setting the product up. Here is a simple guideline to follow if you are using scopes for the first time.

1. Selecting the appropriate location is the first step to achieving success. Make sure there is ample lighting so you can view your objects easily.

2. Make sure there is ample support for your scopes. Since the unit offers very high magnification, even a small shake will blur your entire view.

3. You can find a good tripod to pair with your scope. Make sure both the units are compatible to prevent any accidents.

4. You can use a pan head to help you scan the environment better.

5. You can also get a tripod with adjustable legs so you can adjust the height of your scope. This will prevent any back pain or neck strain.

6. Be extra wary of your atmosphere, because, on days with a lot of humidity, you may face additional glare.

7. You can adjust both your technique and your position to help get the clearest view.

8. Since looking through such high magnification can be daunting, you need to take care of your eyes and ensure that you give them proper rest.

9. Moreover, if you are not wearing any glasses, you can also extend the eyecup.

10. If you start at the lowest magnification, you can achieve clarity easily.

If these guidelines aren't enabling you to set up your scope, make sure you check out this video below. It contains all the information regarding usage.

Conclusion 

Hunters and birding enthusiasts can't spend a day without spotting scopes. This is a testament to the amazing benefits that the product has to offer. A good model will enhance your experience and provide you with good durability and warranty.

But a lot of people make choices in haste and end up regretting their decisions later on. To help you prevent that, we have included a pros and cons section. You can simply check the points listed in those to make a good choice. So, buckle up and buy a scope today; we promise you an unforgettable birding experience. 

People Also Ask

People, especially those who are used to using binoculars and large telescopes, are extremely excited to try these promising spotting scopes. They have bombarded the internet with questions. We picked a few to help make them understand these optics better.

What is the Best Magnification for a Spotting Scope?

This depends on the type of activity you want to indulge in. For a birding experience, a magnification of up to 30x would be good. However, for activities like hunting, you might want to up your magnification twofold.

Are Spotting Scopes Worth it?

These small pieces of equipment are great at enhancing your otherwise ordinary experience. You can use them anytime and any day. Most of these products will also offer greater water resistance, thus ensuring diverse usage.

Can Spotting Scopes Be Used for Stargazing?

Like with most other things, spotting scopes can also be used by astronomers to look at stars. You can look out for small and easy astronomical observations. These will not allow you to look for deep sky objects. For that, you will have to use a telescope.

How Much Does a Good Scope Cost?

Whether a scope is good or bad depends on the usage you are buying it for. But generally, models that are less than $150 tend to be used by family members for bird watching. Those that cost up to $300 often come with a multi-coated lens and are more durable. There are also ones that cost more than $1000. These come with adapters for attaching cameras and are great for hunting and shooting.

Spotting Scope Reviews

Below are all our buyer guides surrounding spotting scopes. To make your experience a bit smoother, we have organized them in one place. Feel free to browse through a few and find exactly what you're looking for.
Thanks for reading.