Table of Contents
- 0.1 Basics of Spotting Scopes
- 0.2 Uses of Spotting Scopes
- 0.3 Keep Your Budget in Mind
- 0.4 What is the difference between spotting or astronomical scopes?
- 0.5 What is the difference between a spotting scope and a telescope?
- 0.6 How do you maintain a scoping scope?
- 0.7 Best spotting scope for the money
- 0.8 Important Questions to Ask When Buying A Spotting Scope
- 0.9 Difference Between a Spotting Scope and Binoculars
- 0.10 Best Cheap Spotting Scopes
- 1 Features to Consider When Buying A Spotting Scope
In this article, we’re going to be discussing the best spotting scope for the money. This will be an overview article so you’ll get the right spotting scope that you’re looking for. We decided to combine a couple of our articles in this one guide.
If you’re looking for specific spotting scope reviews go to our main blog for more information. We post new articles weekly. If you have any questions, please ask them in the comment section. But, enough about that, let’s get to the article!
Disclosure: Sooke Outdoors, as an Amazon Associate, earns commissions on qualified purchases. This informative review article may contain affiliate links. Commission and earnings support our work. This means we may receive a commission if you purchase items from links embedded in the articles.
|Name||Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scopes||Leupold Mark 4 12-40x60mm Spotting Scope||Vortex Optics Viper HD Spotting Scopes||Celestron 52306 Regal M2 100ED Spotting Scope|
|Design||Angled and Straight||Straight||Angled and Straight||Angled|
|Magnification||33-50x or 60-85x||40-60x||15-45x or 20-65x||22-67x|
|Objective Lens Diameter||50mm||N/A||85mm||100mm|
|Close Focus Distance:||6.6-16.4ft||36 ft||36 ft||26.2ft|
|Price||High $$$$||High $$$$||Mid $$$||High $$$$|
|Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now|
Basics of Spotting Scopes
A spotting scope is a type of telescope, but it is not the same things as an astronomy telescope. There are several reasons why, but the most important are that spotting scopes have far less magnification, they are more compact, and they produce an image which is not reversed or upside down. When compared to binoculars, spotting scopes are generally more versatile, have a longer range, and produce a more detailed image.
Uses of Spotting Scopes
Although binoculars have been the go-to choice for most hunters, birders, and target shooters, a spotting scope offers unique advantages. For one thing, spotting scopes generally have more features compared to binoculars at the same price. But more importantly they fulfill a specific need when needing to see at considerable distances.
- More Details
- Better Focus Control
- Options for Viewing
The lenses of spotting scopes tend to be better overall compared to binoculars. This is because more care is taken to ensure that you can better see objects at a distance. This usually has to do with function. Binoculars are meant to get a closer look at distant objects while spotting scopes provide you with better detail, more focus options, and overall better variety of ways to view objects at a distance.
To put it another way, spotting scopes are far better for birding and particularly target shooting when you are remaining in one place. Binoculars are generally better when you are moving around, such as hiking for example. However, there are small spotting scopes that may actually be better in that regard. It will depend in large part on what you can carry and your specific needs for the situation.
One interesting feature of some spotting scopes is the angled view. This allows more than one person to look through the spotting scope without having to move the scope itself. By setting it comfortably for the shortest person to see, everyone else can come by and look through the scope with no issue.
Spotting scopes have become quite popular in recent years thanks to advances in glass and lens technology. You can find spotting scopes used for target shooting, birding, and even hunting. In addition, those who take long-range photography such as wildlife photographers will often use a spotting scope. To know more about spotting scopes so you can find one right for you, it helps to know the basics.
Magnification & Objective Lens
When checking out spotting scopes, you’ll normally see three numbers set in a row such as 15 – 45×60. The first two numbers are the magnification. In this example, the spotting scope will let you see 15 to 45 times closer than normal vision. The final number is the size of the front or objective lens. In this case, the front lens size is 60mm. The larger the front lens, the more light it lets into the scope, the greater clarity of the image.
One factor to consider when choosing a spotting scope based on magnification is that there are two limiting factors, atmosphere and the optical system itself. The air currents, heat waves, dust particles, and humidity all limit the clarity of a spotting scope once a certain magnification is reached. This means that 60x magnification is often the limit even on clear, calm days.
The optical system also inherently limits the magnification. In other words, you get what you pay for when it comes to the spotting scope. Cheap optical equipment may work at short distances, but it will let you down the further out you reach. So, if you want to spot details on objects at great distances, you will need more expensive optical gear in the scope.
While the larger the lens, the more you see is the standard. It also depends on the quality of the lens itself. After all, a good 45mm lens will be better than a mediocre 60mm front lens. So, your focus should be on the quality first and then the overall size.
Special glass such APO, ED, or HD can certainly help. These are features to look for if you really want top quality glass to make up the objective lens. However, you will pay considerably more for the better glass.
Understanding the basics of magnification and the size of the front lens is a great place to start. But there are other factors to consider when looking for the right spotting scope.
There are three basic types, full, multi, and fully multi-coated. You’ll find the fully multi-coated on the most expenses lenses. The coating allows for more light to enter through the lens which translates into seeing more details.
It may seem counterintuitive to have close focus when you are normally wanting to see distant objects. However, it can be quite handy if you have attached your spotting scope to a camera. This allows you to get clear details on animals, people, birds, and other objects from as little as 20 feet away.
In other words, the distance your eyes can be from the eyepiece and still see everything that the spotting scope is taking in. This can be really handy if you are wearing eyeglasses. For most people who wear eyeglasses, about 14mm is right. If you have really thick lenses, you may want a little more.
Keep Your Budget in Mind
A good rule of thumb is that you want the best spotting scope that fits within the budget you have set. Do not exceed your budget to pay for a spotting scope that has features you do not need. Conversely, do not go with the cheapest spotting scope as it may not deliver what you want.
In other words, paying for the right spotting scope should be like paying for any item of quality. It’s all about getting the best at a price you are comfortable with spending. With so many choices of spotting scopes, you can find one that will fit your needs along with your pocketbook.
What is the difference between spotting or astronomical scopes?
If you need more magnification, go for spotting scopes. They are used for various outdoor activities including birding, hunting, surveillance, tactical ranging, viewing wildlife, landscape, ships, and other distant objects. Enthusiastic beginners in astronomy can also use it. This article will help you to select the best spotting scope for the money.
A spotting scope provides magnification between 20X to 80X offering spectacular optics and if you want to take unforgettable pictures, you need a digiscoping adaptor. Simply connect it with your digital camera or smartphone and you are done.
What is the difference between a spotting scope and a telescope?
A spotting scope is very much similar to a telescope, but functions are quite different. A telescope is primarily used for astronomical viewing whereas a spotting scope is used when you want to take a clear image of nature, mountains, birds and many more. A spotting scope is usually lighter and more portable as compared to a telescope that is why moving a telescope might damage your results.
A telescope produces an upside-down image whereas a spotting scope provides an upright and tight round image. A telescope usually comes with stable zoom features, but the magnification of a spotting scope is in the form of a range.
How do you maintain a scoping scope?
Make sure your spotting scope is clean so that you can maintain top performance. To do that you the things you need are:
- Cotton swab
- Microfiber cloth
- Lens cleaner
- Lens brush
There is a right way to clean the spotting scope lens. Follow the mentioned below 5-step procedure to ensure it is clean and free of damage.
- Remove loose dirt – To do it you need to buy a cleaning kit. Do not use your mouth to blow dirt from the lens. Before you start washing your lenses, use the squeeze blower and soft brush from the kit to remove all the dust particles. Note: Avoid compressed air as it could corrode your lens coatings.
- Wash the lens – Use lens cleaner and a cotton swab, make a smooth, circular motion to wash the entire lens. Do not try eyeglass or window cleaner as they are too harsh for lens coating.
- Dry the lens – Use a microfiber cloth to dry the lens. Use separate cloth for all the parts.
- Clean the body – Clean the entire body using a blower and then use a clean, wet cloth to wipe the surface down. Do not stain your clean lens during this step.
- Store your scope carefully – Cover your lens with a cap. Put it inside a safe, dry and clean carrying case.
Best spotting scope for the money
There are several different spotting scopes available at the market but to buy one which pocket-friendly as well. After extensive research, we have summarized which is the best spotting scope for the money. But, we also included our runners up. A brief review of all of them is given below. Let’s have a look at them.
One of the finest spotting scopes you can buy is Razor HD spotting scope by Vortex Optics. It competes at the highest level of performance. It offers 20-60 X magnification and contains an objective lens of 85 mm in diameter.
The sophisticated triplet apochromatic lens delivers a linear field of view and angular field of view 117-60 ft/1000 yds and 2.2-1.1 degrees respectively.
Vortex HD spotting scope offers difficult to beat the quality for money. HD premium glass lens provides extremely high-resolution images of amazing clarity and color accuracy. Scratch-resistant XR coating provides optimal light transmission and extremely high resolution.
The body of the spotting scope is made of die-cast magnesium alloy along with rubber armoring that ensures durability, strength and lightweight performance. The overall construction is 100% waterproof, shockproof, dustproof and fog proof.
If you are in a competition, on the battlefield, or on the hunt, the Mark 4 spotting scope by Leupold will not let you down. It provides superior depth, resolution, and color fidelity with incredible clarity at all levels.
It offers 60X magnification, linear field of vision of 121 – 42 / 1000 yds and contains an objective lens of 60 mm diameter. The Mark 4 gives you the clarity and brightness necessary for positive target identification in any conditions.
Durable lightweight magnesium housing shrouded in a rubber Armor coating, scratch-resistant lens combined with prism-less folded light path design make this spotting scope tough and clear.
The back 4 prisms deliver a clear image with a perfectly round exit pupil and virtually no edge distortion and a crisp. Pioneered waterproof technology ensures 100 % waterproof and fog-proof design.
Viper HD spotting scope is a high-end spotter with a low-end price tag by Vortex Optics. It delivers 15-45 X magnification and contains an objective lens of 65 mm in diameter. Along with that, it provides you with high-end optical, incredible glassing performance.
The spotting scope has multi-position eyecups for proper eye relief whereas a locking collar allows you to rotate the scope in different viewing positions.
Comprised of premium components that generate vivid high-performance images while the exterior surface is coated with XR anti-reflective material that helps you obtain brighter views even in low-light surfaces.
The smooth helical focus feature helps you obtain ultra-sharp views. You can reduce glare by pulling out the built-in sunshade. The construction of the scope delivers waterproof and fog-proof performance.
If we talk about a complete spotting scope package, then Regal M2 80 ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) spotting package tops the list. The fixed magnification (27 x 80) Long Eye Relief (LER) provides a generous 32mm of eye relief that allows you to look through the eyepiece without removing protective eyewear or sacrificing your shooting position.
The ED objective lens provides exceptional color correction with razor-sharp images while eliminating chromatic aberration. The body of the scope is made of a magnesium alloy.
The multi-coated lenses feature Celestron’s proprietary XLT coatings which increase light transmission through the optical path and deliver high contrast, crisp images with outstanding resolution.
The wide field of view not only helps you bring subjects into the field but also follow subjects as they move. Due to its waterproof construction, you can use it in all climates and weather conditions.
One of the best spotting scopes for money is Alpen Optics spotting scope. It comes with a full-size 80mm diameter waterproof, fog-proof spotting scope of 20-60 magnification with a 45-degree eyepiece.
The BAK4 multi-coated optics deliver exceptional brightness, bright crisp images with high resolution and edge clarity. Whereas the retractable sunshade helps reduce glare. The eyepiece can be adjusted according to any viewing position.
The scope comes with a micro-adjustable vertical – horizontal tabletop tripod and durable attractive aluminum foam-filled case. The body of the scope is made of shock-resistant material and the scope is backed up by a lifetime warranty against defects in workmanship and materials.
If you want to read a more in-depth review of this spotting scope, go here.
Important Questions to Ask When Buying A Spotting Scope
A top-quality spotting scope will make your job easier. To pick a perfect spotting scope, always ask mentioned below questions:
Angled or Straight
Some people love straight eyepieces on their spotting scopes while others prefer scopes with angled eyepieces. Well, it is a matter of personal preference. We will recommend you to try one of each before making your purchase. Most of the hunters find the angled eyepiece spotting scope faster and easier as compared to a straight eyepiece spotting scope. The reason is that you can easily lower your binoculars and move your head straight down to the eyepiece.
Compact or Full-Size
Exceptional spotting scopes are available in both full-size and compact models. If you are a traveler and do your job from a vehicle most of the time, then you will find a full-size scope best for you. All you have to do is pair it with a good window mount and you are done. But if you do most of your spotting at the shooting range, a compact model is better. Keep in mind that full-size models are heavier than compact models.
Fixed or Variable
Eyepieces come in different configurations. Before purchasing a spotting scope, make sure which one you need – fixed or variable. Fixed eyepieces have only one power yet quite high whereas Variable eyepieces allow users to easily and quickly adjust the magnification – also called zooms. Variable eyepieces offer increased versatility and that is why most hunters opt them over fixed eyepieces.
Difference Between a Spotting Scope and Binoculars
The key difference between a spotting scope and binoculars is size and portability. Binoculars are usually smaller and designed to be held by hand while most spotting scopes are larger. The other difference is power and range. Spotting scopes are more powerful than binoculars.
Best Cheap Spotting Scopes
Let’s have a look at some of the best cheap spotting scopes available on the market. Below are some of our highly recommended spotting scopes for either beginners or hobbyist looking to get into scoping.
Barska Blackhawk spotting scope offers 18-36 X magnification and an objective lens of 50 mm in diameter. It produces images of high resolution. Complete waterproof and fog proof construction enhances the durability of the scope. It contains an angled eyepiece system that allows you to view in any position. FOV is 137ft / 45m @18x, 100ft / 33m @36x. Rubber armor designed body protects and absorbs shock.
Spotting scope by Emarth is another cheap spotting scope available on the market. It delivers 20-60 X adjustable magnification and 45-deg angled eyepiece so that you can view it according to your preference. FOV is 39-19m/1000m. Fully multi-coated lens increases light transmission and delivers clear, bright, high-contrast images even in low light conditions.
High-quality rubber armor provides waterproof, durable external protection and non-slip, shock-proof grip. Built-in retractable sunshade reduces glare.
The Firefield spotting scope is a practical yet sophisticated product that offers 12-36 X magnification with a 50 mm diameter objective lens. FOV is 168 ft/ 100 yds. The scope features a nitrogen purged tube with built-in sunshades for added protection.
Another cheap spotting scope is Barska Colorado. The scope provides 15-40 X magnification and an objective lens of 50 mm in diameter. The highest clarity range is at 150 yards. It features fully coated optics with added prism system. The body of the scope is made of shock-absorbing rubber armor.
While talking about cheap spotting scope, we cannot ignore the Celestron LandScout spotting scope. It offers 10-30 X magnification and an objective lens of 50 mm in diameter. The scope produces high-quality, clear, bright images even in low light conditions. FOV is 168-89 ft/ 1000 yds. Rubber grip provides easy magnification adjustment. Compact, lightweight construction makes it easy to carry around.
Features to Consider When Buying A Spotting Scope
You should always buy the highest quality spotting scope and to do so you have to consider some features that show how efficient the scope is. Let’s have a look at 4 important factors to consider when buying a spotting scope.
Spotting scope’s magnification usually ranges from 12X to 60X. Higher magnification enables you to see objects in greater detail. But keep in mind that the higher the resolution the lower the scope light performance. We prefer you to buy a spotting scope of variable magnification. So that you can select from those according to your preference.
The objective lens plays an important role in gathering light. The larger the objective lens, the more light it can transmit. But larger lenses usually weigh and cost more. So you should but one that is suitable for you.
Finish and construction of eyepiece are critical factors. Removable eyepieces are generally advantageous as you allow you to change the magnification range. But they compromise on waterproofing and usually costs extra.
Tripods allow you to spot at a steady position. Full-length tripods allow you to stand you to keep your spotting scope steady. Whereas a short but sturdy tripod works best at the windy mountainside. And window mount is best to perform spotting from a vehicle.
Best Spotting Scopes for Hunting
If you are a hunter and in search of the best spotting scope for hunting, then we have summarized some of the excellent spotting scopes that work exceptionally well for hunting.
We understand all hunters have different needs and budgets. In my opinion, the Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope is the best spotting scope for hunting. As an owner of this spotting scope, it’s probably one of the best scopes for the money. It has everything you need.
- Image clarity
- Excellent customer support
If you’re on a tight budget, the SVBONY would be the second choice. If you’re looking for the same quality as the Vortex than you’ll be disappointed. Honestly, it’s great for a person on a tight budget.
Best Spotting Scope for Target Shooting
Spotting scope for target shooting can save your time and money on targets. If you are looking for the best spotting scopes for target shooting, then you are at the right place.
The best spotting scope for target shooting in our opinion is the BARSKA 15-40×50 Colorado Spotting Scope. We found the image quality to be the best from our research. It’s the only spotting scope from our target shooting top 3 list we still use to this day.
Best Spotting Scope for Long Range Shooting
Long range shooting can be a daunting task but spotting scopes that are best regarding this come handy here. There are some best spotting scope for long shooting range available on the internet that are mentioned below.
Best Spotting Scope for Birding
If you enjoy birding very much, then the best spotting scopes regarding this is imperative. The best spotting scope for birding provides you an unforgettable birding experience. We have summarized some best spotting scope for birding that are mentioned below.
We believe the perfect spotting scope for birding is the Roxant Blackbird Spotting Scope. If you like to learn more about this spotting scope, check out our review article.
We have compiled the related information to find the best spotting scope for the money. The decision ultimately comes down to your needs but hopefully, the information provided here guided you to the right choice.
This article was a comprehensive guide to help you invest your time and hard-earned money wisely and purchase according to your requirements for the best possible experience. We hope this article helped!