How To Choose a Spotting Scope

Spotting scopes

As most hunters know, spotting scopes are extremely important. A high quality spotting scope can be the difference between getting your game 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, knowing how to choose a 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.

How To Choose a Spotting Scope

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.

Hunter glassing with a spotting scope.

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. The SIG Sauer Oscar3 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. The Leupold Mark 4 Tactical Spotting 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.

Glassing with a small spotting scope

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. These spotting scopes would be excellent for hunting out of a vehicle, or any type of hunting that doesn’t require much movement.

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 Spotting Scopes

The Athlon Optics Ares family of spotting scopes were designed with advanced optical quality and ease of use in mind. Designed with bright, razor-sharp imagery and a rugged, weatherproof design. 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.

Redfield Rampage

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.