How To Choose a Spotting Scope
As most hunters know, spotting scopes are extremely important. A high quality spotting scope can be the difference between a trophy kill and a bunch of wasted time. However, with the number of spotting scopes available, it can be quite overwhelming. While any spotting scope is better than nothing, having the right spotting scope can make a huge difference.
For those that don’t know, a spotting scope is essentially a telescope that is meant to be used by hunters. It functions the same as a telescope, except it’s designed to be more durable.
When looking to buy a spotting scope, keeping your specific type of hunting in mind is going to be extremely important. If you are doing any long-distance treks, you probably are going to value a smaller, more lightweight spotting scope.
Most hunters are familiar with the big name brands, such as Swarovski, Leupold, and Vortex, but many people don’t know that there are many other options available. While some of the other available brands may not be as high quality, they are certainly less expensive. As you will see, some brands make scopes that fit specific needs better than some of the big name brands.
1. Backpackable Spotting Scopes
If you do much hunting that requires any hiking, this class of spotting scopes is probably what you are looking for. The biggest feature of these scopes is that they are all small, shockproof, and waterproof. With any of these scopes we recommend, you can throw them in your bag and take them out as needed. However, they are also generally pretty expensive. Making complex optics shock proof takes some added costs.
SIG Sauer Oscar3
This spotting scope from SIG Sauer is a high quality option. It has an image stabilizer to allow for easy use without a tripod, and the objective diameter is 30mm. The magnification range is between 10 and 20x, and it is extremely easy to adjust. It is a small, lightweight scope that is durable and waterproof. It weighs 16 ounces and measures 6.7 inches long, and is somewhat reasonably priced.
Leupold Mark 4 Tactical Spotting Scope
If you need a little more magnification than the SIG can provide, this spotting scope has a magnification range of 20-60x with an objective diameter of 80mm. This scope measures 15.5 inches long and weighs 61.8 ounces. While it is definitely on the larger side, this one makes our backpackable list because of its durability. It is waterproof and shockproof, meaning it is great for a mobile spotting scope. Be warned, it is more expensive.
Vanguard Endeavor XF Spotting Scope
If you’re looking for something on the more affordable side of things, this scope from Vanguard is an excellent option. It is available with either a 15-45x or 20-60x magnification range. They are both extremely similar in size to the Leupold, but are about 20 ounces lighter. However, similar to the Leupold it is shockproof and waterproof, but the quality is not as high.
2. Small Spotting Scopes
If you aren’t doing any hunting out of a backpack, you can get a little more scope for probably less money. If you have a short walk to the stand, getting a shockproof, compact scope isn’t as necessary. If this sounds like your kind of hunting, check out these recommendations.
Nikon PROSTAFF 5 Fieldscope
This spotting scope from Nikon has one of the highest quality pictures. It has a magnification range of 20-60x, with an objective diameter of 82mm. It is 17 inches long and weighs 33.5 ounces, which is lighter than some of the backpackable scopes. It is compact and lightweight, but not as durable as the previously mentioned backpackable scopes. Due to the quality, it is slightly more expensive.
Athlon Ares ED
This scope is available with three different magnification ranges: 7.5-22.5x, 15-45x, and 20-60x. Dependent on the range selected, it is more affordable than some of the scopes on this list. It is waterproof, and offers an excellent quality picture thanks to the very nice optical components used.
Similar to all of these other scopes, just at a much more affordable cost. It offers 20-60x magnification, is a good size, and is waterproof. It comes with a compact tripod, and has a decent image without too much glare. While not the nicest scope on the market, this is a good option for the price.
3. Digital Spotting Scopes
These spotting scopes would be excellent for hunting out of a vehicle, or any type of hunting that doesn’t require much movement. They require a tripod, and have a huge magnification range. However, with the digital features come some added responsibilities. Check out our recommendation below.
Optex Redtail Digital Spotting Scope
This spotting scope is technologically advanced. The camera can pan and tilt, and can link to your smartphone to broadcast both photos and videos. It has a pretty good connectivity distance, meaning you don’t have to be sitting right on top of your scope. However, one thing to keep in mind is that with all of the technology comes batteries that must be charged. While this won’t be for everyone, it does offer an excellent image and extreme magnification, from 45-135x. Using your phone is another nice feature, although some people will absolutely prefer a true scope.
Product: Optex Redtail Digital Spotting Scope
Eric John is the founder of LifeUnderSky.com. This blog focuses on hunting/shooting/survival. As in his experienced, He will guide you through the Do’s and Don’ts of the hunting world and transform you into a better hunter. Whether you are an experienced hunting or an absolute beginner, you will find a gem!