Spotting Scope Basics
A spotting scope is a basically a small telescope used by birdwatchers, outdoor wildlife enthusiasts, and hunters. That being said, a spotting scope is almost always less powerful than your traditional astronomical telescope and for good reason because spotting scopes are transportable and are often carried long distances in the bush. Most avid hunters will carry a spotting scope in addition to binoculars and of course their rifle scope. Spotting scopes are also used by shooters at the target range because it will allow you to see your bullet hole at long distances. By seeing where the bullet leaves its hole, you are able to get that much more accurate and confident when shooting at the range which will translate into making more shots that count when hunting.
For a hunters purpose, your spotting scope magnification will usually begin where binocular magnification ends. What I mean by this is that often binoculars provide something like 20x magnification at the top of the range, whereas a good spotting scope will usually start at 20x and go to something much greater than that such as 60x magnification.
They will usually have much larger objective lenses than your binoculars and rifle scopes because their purpose is to gather much more light and provide greater optical clarity at long distances. A good spotting scope for hunting will allow you to see distances in excess of 1000 yards and provide a clear and concise image across a large field of view.
Spotting scopes come in all sizes and shapes and are produced by most of the top rifle scope manufacturers. The best spotting scopes will provide a large magnification range, provide high light transmission, and still be compact and portable enough that it won't be a huge burden to pack it in when hunting.
Spotting scopes for hunting range in prices and you can find them from $50 to $500 depending on the its quality and available and features. On the higher priced spotting scopes, you can buy them with mil dot reticles which will allow you to estimate distances. The purpose of this post is to provide you with information and reviews of the best spotting scopes for hunting and shooting. I often bring a spotting scope to the range when target shooting with my 30-06 or .308 because it allows me to see exactly where the bullet hits at 500 yards. You can even see .22 lr rounds at 200 yards with a good spotting scope.
Best Spotting Scope for Hunting Reviews
BARSKA 20-60x60 Waterproof Straight Spotting Scope Review
This is a popular spotting scope for the price and features a 20-60x magnification which still allows you low enough magnification to find your target but has the extra zoom to get a good close up. This Barska is part of their Colorado series and is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts as well as hunters. It is housed in rubber armour which makes it 100% waterproof and fogproof however still durable in those harsh conditions. It comes with a tripod and a soft carrying case for storage while carrying it.
The Barska 20-60x60 has a fully coated lens which provides great image contrast with solid colors and sharp resolution. Barska also provides a lifetime warranty on their Colorado series spotting scopes and for the money this spotting scope is a good buy. Total weight is just over 2lbs so it is still very portable for those long distance hikes while hunting. For the money, this is a good spotting scope.
The tripod that comes along with the Barska 20-60mm spotting scope from Amazon is not great as these are budget accessories provided by Barksa. Most serious users will likely want to mount this on a different tripod however some recreational users may find that the tripod stands up to their usage.
Objective Lens: 60mm
Bushnell Trophy XLT 20-60x 65mm Waterproof Compact Review
The Bushnell Trophy XLT 20-60x65mm is a slightly larger spotting scope that the Barska 20-60x60mm featuring premium optics and a larger objective lens which increases the light transmission and ultimately provides a clearer image with the ability to see more color and contrast, especially in low light conditions. This particular Bushnell spotting scope has stunning HD clarity due in part to the fully multi-coated optics, delivering a superior view of your target. It includes a compact tripod and premium hard-side case for transportation. Note that it is a smaller more compact tripod so if you are looking for a larger stand up one, you will need to purchase it separately. The tripod is definitely step or 2 above in terms of quality than the Barska however you would expect an all round better product for the money.
The Bushnell Trophy spotting scope has a clear view with a great zoom and is a good spotting optic for the money. Although it will cost you more than the Barska, I would suggest that this is a higher quality spotting scope that will be more versatile and durable in most hunting conditions as it is 100% waterproof.
Objective Lens: 65mm
Celestron 80mm Ultima Zoom Spotting Scope Review
Celestron has been building quality sporting optics, including good spotting scopes, for decades. Their popular Ultima 80mm Zoom spotting scope features an 80mm objective lens which produces images that are noticeably brighter and sharper as compared to an entry level 60mm. It has a magnification range of 20-60x. The Ultima 80 has a slick, waterproof design and includes a padded soft case for ease of transportation but note that this Celestron doesn't include a tripod from Amazon. It is noticeably heavier than some of the 60mm objective lens spotting scopes however it is still manageable to carry on hunting trips.
The Celestron 80 Ultima is a good spotting scope for the price and has solid construction and offers a clear image with a wide field of view allowing the hunter to see a vast area in the distance. Depending on the conditions that you are in, you should be able to see very clearly at 500 yards which is impressive for the money of this spotting scope. Great value!
Objective Lens: 80mm
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 20-60x80mm (45 degree) Spotting Scope Review
Bushnell has been producing high quality scopes and viewfinders for as long as I can remember. The beautiful Bushnell Legend HD 20-60x80mm has quality multicoated optics that produce stunning HD clarity. It has their ED Prime extra-low dispersion glass that offers color tuned and high resolution viewing. It is built with a RainGuard coating on the lens which helps bead the water off the front when using in harsh conditions that hunters so often find themselves in.
In clear conditions, you'll have no problem spotting a .223 round at 500 yards which is impressive for this value spotting scope. For avid bird watchers or serious hunters, the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD is a "must" have for the money.
Objective Lens: 80mm
Vanguard Endeavor HD Angled Eyepiece Spotting Scope Review
The Vanguard Endeavor HD comes in 2 different models from Amazon which are the 15-45x65mm and the 20-60x82mm. Both featuring extra-low dispersion (ED) glass for accurate color and durability. It is waterproof and fogproof with a rubber armored magnesium body with a built in sunshield. The Vanguard Endeavour also comes with a premium lifetime warranty which gives additional confidence to any buyer. Note that both models are not shipped with a tripod however they will fit on any tripods with a universal mounting plate.
Although more expensive than the other spotting scopes that have been reviewed, the Vanguard Endeavor HD is impressive with very crisp and vibrant colors and the clarity at long distances in great. If you do a lot of hiking and camping, this spotting scope will be your best friend.
Magnification: 15-45x (20-60x)
Objective Lens: 65mm (82mm)
Conclusion - Best Spotting Scopes for Hunting
A good spotting scope is worth its weight in gold. Ok, maybe not literally because you will most likely be packing the thing around when hunting in the outdoors but a quality spotting scope is a great addition to any hunters arsenal of tools. It not only allows you to appreciate the outdoors and spot wildlife at long distances, but it also plays a crucial role at the range. I most often use a good spotting scope when target shooting at the range because it allows me to see the exact spot that the bullet is hitting on the target. I can really fine tune my rifle scope this way.
If you are looking for a decent spotting scope but are on a pretty lean budget, then go with the Barska 20-60x60mm spotting scope. It is a decent quality scope and for the money, it can't be beat. If you have a little more to spend, but still don't want to break the bank, try the Celestron 80mm Ultra Zoom spotting scope. It offers superior field of view and has great light transmission which adds to the spotting scope's versatility.
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