Calender Icon Last updated: May 13, 2020
Spotting scopes are a necessary piece of equipment for a pro hunter. Spotting scopes are able to increase the field of vision of the user substantially, which is very useful while hunting. While searching for the right spotting scope for you, you should look for one that has a tripod for stability. As well, at least 20x zoom is recommended to see all the possible game in the field. We put together a list of great spotting scopes that will serve you well on the hunt

In Hurry? I've Compiled List Of Best Spotting Scopes

sticker 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8)
Vortex Optics Razor HD
Why it is better?
  • Kit includes eye cap, cover, and a case
  • High density glass lens creates a clearer picture
  • APO system designed for color clarity and sharpness
13
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2.7K
REVIEWS CONSIDERED
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HOURS RESEARCHING
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PRODUCTS EVALUATED

Rank
Picture
Name
Score
Buy
#1

BEST OVERALL

Vortex Optics Razor HD read review
#2

Vortex Optics Diamondback read review
#3

Bushnell Trophy Xtreme read review
#4

Landove Prism read review
#5
Emarth 20-60x60AE

Emarth 20-60x60AE read review
In Depth Reviews
  • Vortex Optics Razor HD
  • Vortex Optics Diamondback
  • Bushnell Trophy Xtreme
  • Landove Prism
  • Emarth 20-60x60AE Emarth 20-60x60AE
Table of contents
  • Spotting Scopes FAQ
  • Spotting Scope General Information
  • Eyes On The Prize
  • Spotting Scope Video

Vortex Optics Razor HD

Benefits:
  • Kit includes eye cap, cover, and a case
  • High density glass lens creates a clearer picture
  • APO system designed for color clarity and sharpness

Spotting scopes are a must-have item if you’re not using binoculars.

The last thing you want is prey getting away from you in the woods because they heard a twig snag under your feet, and you weren’t able to spot them to make a proper approach.

Animals have better hearing than you, so you need the visual advantage.

As one of the best optical devices I’ve ever used, Vortex gives you stunning resolution and a glorious picture, partially thanks to the enhanced APO system. That allows you to see clearer colors, sharper images, and more accurately see your prey through the lens.

In most cases, we see HD and know what it means. With optics like these, it stands for high density. That means that the lens is actually built with a higher density glass to filter out light properly, and enhance color.

Vortex doesn’t stop there though. They include a proprietary coating on their lens that gives an anti-reflective design, and delivers better light transmission overall. This is called XRPlus, and it’s probably their most-guarded secret that sets them apart from the rest.

Vortex Optics Diamondback

Benefits:
  • Narrow size for easy portability
  • Fully waterproof rubber construction for exterior components
  • Includes case and tripod with purchase

Bushnell is basically a deity of tactical gear, as I’m sure you all know. Their spotting scope comes with a seriously attractive price point while still offering everything that you need from a proper scope.

They include a tripod and a case with your purchase, as well as the lens cap that helps out with protecting those coated lenses from getting all scratched up. That lens is what helps give you up to 60x magnification, despite the compact size. The prism is angled (visibly) from the back end of the scope to aid in keeping things ultralight and compact.

Bushnell put the pedal to the metal with this one, and honestly, they could be charging another 30% of the asking price. With a comfortable soft-side case, it’s arguably one of the most comfortable spotting scopes to hold in your hand.

Last but not leash, Bushnell gives it their lifetime warranty with absolutely no questions asked. They’re so confident (as they should be) that they’re making some of the highest quality, top caliber tactical gear, that they’re willing to put their money where the mouth is.

Bushnell Trophy Xtreme

Benefits:
  • Impressive 60x magnification scope for long-distance viewing
  • Cell phone adapter allows you to capture videos on your local storage
  • Multi-coated lens for crystal clear quality, anti-reflective properties, and better light transmission

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Landove’s spotting scope packs a serious punch with up to 60x magnification through a multi-coated lens. That lens coating is important, because it allows for better light transmission and sharper colors to come through.

With your purchase, you get a carrying case, but you also get a cell phone adapter that lets you plug in, and record video with your scope right to your local storage. It would be nice to bring home some footage of your trip for others to see, especially if you spot a whopper of a buck or elk.

You get a tripod with your purchase as well: they’re basically setting you up with a full kit right from the start. Utilize the digiscope adapter to align your scope to the right spot, and get back to aligning your shots properly. It’s not going to take the place of a laser rangefinder, but it’s pretty close.

Landove Prism

Benefits:
  • Impressive 60x magnification scope for long-distance viewing
  • Cell phone adapter allows you to capture videos on your local storage
  • Multi-coated lens for crystal clear quality, anti-reflective properties, and better light transmission

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Landove’s spotting scope packs a serious punch with up to 60x magnification through a multi-coated lens. That lens coating is important, because it allows for better light transmission and sharper colors to come through.

With your purchase, you get a carrying case, but you also get a cell phone adapter that lets you plug in, and record video with your scope right to your local storage. It would be nice to bring home some footage of your trip for others to see, especially if you spot a whopper of a buck or elk.

You get a tripod with your purchase as well: they’re basically setting you up with a full kit right from the start. Utilize the digiscope adapter to align your scope to the right spot, and get back to aligning your shots properly. It’s not going to take the place of a laser rangefinder, but it’s pretty close.

Emarth 20-60x60AE

Benefits:
  • 20×60 magnification for long-range scanning
  • Waterproof and fogproof design helps you against the elements, in any situation
  • Lifetime warranty and lifetime money-back guarantee

We’ve got one more on the list, and like I always say, I enjoy putting something that’s super budget-friendly to balance it out.

Emarth actually exceeded my expectations with this model, and the consensus online points to the same conclusion: it’s the most bang for your buck that you’re going to find.

You get a 20×60 magnification rating that’s completely waterproof, and also fogproof. Optics are easy to damage when moisture is involved, which is why Emarth made this as fortified as you can possibly get in this price range.

Built with what they call rubber armor, the outside is smooth to the touch (albeit it, a bit too smooth to get a good grip on), and the coated lens helps you get a crystal clear picture every single time.

I also have to mention that they offer a full lifetime warranty, but they also offer a lifetime money-back guarantee as well. If you end up choosing this one, I highly doubt you’ll want to return it at any point.

Between the comfortable eye piece and compact design, this might very well just be the last spotting scope you’ll ever need.

Spotting Scopes FAQ

Spotting Scopes Handle

WHAT IS A SPOTTING SCOPE USED FOR?

Spotting scopes can be used for bird watching or observing nature, but more commonly, they’re used for spotting prey during hunting.

That’s what I use them for. I have one for long-range, because I attach an ACOG scope for short to medium-range on my rifle. You get a bit of everything this way.

WHAT IS THE BEST MAGNIFICATION FOR A SPOTTING SCOPE?

Spot scopes need to be assigned to a function.

I’d say that if you were a bird water, you would need an entirely different scope than if you were a hunter, regardless of the fact that you’re tracking and viewing an animal either way.

Spotting scopes used for hunting should have around 4x for short-range, and 6-9x for medium to long-range.

Anything over this and you’re getting into military-grade gear, which you don’t really need for hunting.

One thing to remember is that the farther away you are from prey, the longer you have to walk to retrieve it. Find a balance between magnification and actually being closer to it.

WHAT IS BETTER: SPOTTING SCOPE OR BINOCULARS?

It depends on what you’re doing. Brush hunting for smaller animals, like pheasant and rabbit?

That’s what you need binoculars for. They’re better at shorter distances due to the variable zoom function. Spotting scopes are designed for targets at a farther distance.

The longer away a target is, the larger a prism needs to be within a telescopic lens.

This is why binoculars are compact but often limited in range, and spotting scopes are longer/larger and can see farther away.

You have to contour the method of long-range spotting with what you’re doing.

For a test, try to track a short-range target with a spotting scope, then do the same with binoculars.

You’ll see what you feel more comfortable with.

If you have excellent eyesight and tracking skills, you might be able to get away with a spotting scope for everything that you need during hunting.

For most of us (myself included), you should own one of each.

HOW FAR CAN YOU SEE WITH THE SPOTTING SCOPE?

On average, around 1,500 feet.

Anything over that and you have to take variable wind speed and direction into account, which can get a bit messy. It’s not easy to do, outside of official military training.

You should use a spotting scope for prey that is at least 300 feet away. Anything closer and it may be difficult to pinpoint where the animal is actually standing.

Spotting Scope General Information

Aligning Scope

ADVICE ON HOW TO BUY

Optical gear is expensive no matter what it’s designed for.

There’s precision engineering and some intense measurements that have to go into making and manufacturing optics, so you have to be prepared for the cost.

I say that you shouldn’t get more than what you need. You know your normal hunting grounds, you know how many wide open spots there are.

A long-range spotting scope is more necessary when you have wide open plains.

Animals can spot you from a mile away in those environments, but in a forested area, you have the advantage of close encounters.

Don’t get something with a 500 yard zoom if you can’t see yourself using more than 200. That’s the first thing.

Next is to focus on the lens quality and protection over everything else. Is there a scratch-proof coating? Dustproof finish? Waterproof or fogproof casing? It’s all important.

I’d take a 200 yard spotting scope with quality construction over a 500 yard spotting scope with an iffy design any day.

In this area, size matters for distance, but quality matters above all else.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A SPOTTING SCOPE

Magnification

Without proper magnification, you’re just spending hundreds of dollars on a big doorstop.

In my opinion, you should always get a spotting scope for long-range (200+ yard) viewing.

Higher magnification means more money though, so you’ll have to weigh distance versus cost.

Adjustability

Some scopes have a movable eyepiece cup for comfort, some have a smartphone mounting kit so you can inspect information when you’re setting it up, or magnification knobs so you’re not stuck on one level.

Find one that works for you and what you need. The less adjustable it is, the less expensive it will be.

Fogproof Lens

With any optical gear, from binoculars to camera lenses, fogging is a big problem.

Moisture is the biggest aggressor that can ruin your lens, regardless of what optical gear it is. Look for IP/IPX waterproof ratings, and fogproof labeling as well.

HOW TO ALIGN A SPOTTING SCOPE WITH A RIFLE SCOPE

You’re going to use your spotting scope to help you get laser rangefinders on target, and adjust your rifle scope (as well as binoculars if you brought them), and this is how you do it.

Start with the user manual. I know, I don’t like it either, but in the case of any optical equipment, it has important information.

In there, you’ll find alignment information. If you want to align it with your rifle scope, first make sure that they’re both capable of the same thing.

Use a sighter to find 100 yards (or whatever the preset on your spotting scope is).

From there, use the tuning pegs or alignment screws on your spotting scope to pinpoint the exact same area you can see in your rifle scope.

Eyes On The Prize

You’re able to see your prey for further away, plan out your tactical approach, and cover more ground with a quality spotting scope.

All that’s left to do is grab a stand for one, set up your spot, and begin the hunt. It can take a few hours to find your prey, but I’m willing to wager that you’ll spot them faster with a spotting scope than anything else.

Spotting Scope Video

Here is a great YouTube video explaining the basics of a good spotting scope: