Get Your Hands on the Best Spotting Scope in 2021

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Being a professional hunter in 2021 is not as easy as it used to be. The technological advancements have thwarted the overall experience and knowledge that used to be enough for an average hunter, so adaptation is practically necessary. Therefore, we’re here to ease you into the transition.

Aside from reviewing your everyday hunting equipment, we’ll also dabble with spotting scopes that are becoming essential tools with each passing day. We’ve found the best spotting scope in 2021, and we’ll share our knowledge with you.

Stay with us, and we’ll throw in a hefty buyer’s guide.

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Top 3 Picks

The later reviews will deal with the best premium and budget scopes on the market. If you’re not a big fan of going through long texts, here is some basic information regarding some of the best units we could find.

Quick Note
best spotting scope for the money

We’ll start with the premium models, but before we do that, it’s important to clarify some basic differences between premium and budget models. Obviously, the price is the first thing that comes to mind, and that’s a valid point, but the real question is - Is it worth it?

It depends on several things; if you’re serious about hunting and think of it as more than a sport, a premium spotting scope will surely be a fantastic pick for you. On the other hand, it’s quite an investment, to say the least. Therefore, if you hunt for pleasure and occasionally, it’s probably best to go for a cheaper model since it’ll do the job it’s made for, and you won’t spend a lot of money.

Premium spotting scopes have a wider objective lens diameter, and consequently, stronger abilities. Also, they are usually more durable as they are military-grade tools that are made to endure most inconveniences that you may encounter on the field. We’ll talk more about this in the buyer’s guide, so let’s dig into the reviews!

Best Premium Spotting Scopes on the Market

Best Feature

Product Name

Price

The Best Overall

Kowa Prominar Spotting Scope

The Runner-Up

Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope

Reliability

Vortex Viper HD Spotting Scope

Smooth Focus

Leupold SX-5 Santiam HD Spotting Scope

Kowa Prominar Spotting Scope - The Best Overall
  • Manufacturer: Kowa
  • Magnification: 1x (depends on the eyepiece)
  • Lens Diameter: 88 mm
  • Weight: 3.34 lb
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Waterproof: Yes

As we dive into our list of reviews, we’ve decided to open it up with the best overall spotting scope we could find. Let’s talk a bit about the Kowa Prominar Spotting Scope.

In general, you can tell a lot about a spotting scope by the diameter of the objective lens. If it’s wider than the average, which is usually around 80 mm for premium scopes, then you have a very special product, which is a case in point. Having a wider lens means that the overall resolution and light-gathering resources will be significantly higher, so naturally, we found an 88 mm Kowa Prominar.

Moreover, the magnification is not fixed, meaning that you have the opportunity to establish the specs of this device on your own accord by getting a zoom eyepiece that fits your criteria. The standard eyepiece has 30x magnification properties, but you can also get the 25-60x if you have higher goals.

As far as design is concerned, you’ll have no trouble holding, using, or taking care of this phenomenal product. It has a ruggedized design with a body made from magnesium alloy, which accomplishes two things - relieving some extra weight and creating a durable unit. It’s waterproof and made to endure most fall damage.

Of course, we cannot forget to note that you’ll get a fully multi-coated C3 lens system that not only protects the objective lens but also increases the sharpness and clarity of the image. Also, all Kowa units, including this one, come with a lifetime warranty, so you’ll get your money’s worth.

Pros
  • Powerful optics
  • Durable build
  • Lightweight
  • Lifetime warranty
Cons
  • /

Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope - Runner-Up
  • Manufacturer: Vortex
  • Magnification: 27-60x
  • Lens Diameter: 85 mm
  • Weight: 4.1 lb
  • Warranty: Unlimited lifetime
  • Waterproof: Yes

If you liked the previous spotting scope, there’s no way you’ll turn your eyes away from this one. They’re both quality units and in a league of their own. Say hello to the Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope.

If you know anything about spotting scopes and optics in general, you’ve must have heard about Vortex and its influence in this market. They are an American manufacturing brand that specializes in optics, and you’ll see later on that we included more than one of their products, and there’s a reason for it - they’re phenomenal.

When it comes to this spotting scope, in particular, there are multiple reasons why you should at least consider it as your next piece of hunting equipment. Namely, this Vortex Razor HD spotting scope was one of the most desired scopes in 2020, and it’s still the rage in 2021. It is a premium unit, so you will have to set aside an extensive amount of money, but it’ll pay off later on.

As far as its specs go, it has an 85 mm objective lens whose resolution and quality will undoubtedly astound you. The magnification properties of this Razor HD unit are well in the range of the best products on the market - 27-60x. One of the things that we liked the most was the color accuracy, which is a common problem with budget scopes. Thanks to the Razor HD glass lenses, the overall viewing experience is spectacular.

Of course, an important focus point is design and durability, considering spotting scopes are field units that are exposed to whatever environmental factor you can think of. Therefore, the Razor HD will certainly come in handy as one of the rare, durable pieces on the market. It’s fog and waterproof and will sustain fall damage up to two meters.

Price aside, we couldn’t really find anything wrong with it, even in terms of ergonomics. Therefore, the conclusion is quite obvious - it’s a fantastic product that you should own!

Pros
  • Highly demanded unit
  • Quality glass lenses
  • Natural colors
  • Durable
Cons
  • Price

Vortex Viper HD Spotting Scope - Reliability
  • Manufacturer: Vortex
  • Magnification: 20-60x
  • Lens Diameter: 85 mm
  • Weight: 4.8 lb
  • Warranty: Unlimited lifetime
  • Waterproof: Yes

As you can see, the following product also comes from the Vortex industries, and it’s another fantastic unit to have in mind. Here’s the Vortex Viper HD Spotting Scope review.

The most prominent feature that we included in the heading is reliability, which is a vague term that requires clarification. Essentially, why is the Vortex Viper HD reliable? Well, there are a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the thing to know is that the body of this spotting scope has an ArmorTek finish. For those of you who don’t know, ArmorTek is a leading manufacturer when it comes to metal model kits. All their designs are extremely durable and usually consist of strong alloys. The downside is the weight, but it’s not a significant increase in comparison to the previous and following units since it weighs 4.8 lb.

Also, the Vortex Viper HD features XR multi-coating that offers an incredible experience when it comes to image resolution and lens durability. Moreover, the magnification is variable, and it’s your standard 20-60x range.

The image-erecting system features a Porro prism with an extra-low dispersion glass, which makes the image highly accurate and natural. Besides, we were genuinely amazed by the coloring as it holds true to the viewer’s eye.

Furthermore, even though this is a premium spotting scope, the price is quite reasonable, which is a refreshment considering that all premium scopes tend to cost over $1000. The biggest issue that we had was the weight, so it’s best to find a suitable tripod if you plan on purchasing it. Otherwise, it doesn’t come with a strap, so it can be hard to keep a steady hand while observing the prey.

Aside from the weight, this is a top-of-the-line spotting scope that’ll do you good in the long run.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Quality optical system
  • ArmorTek finish
Cons
  • Weight

Leupold SX-5 Santiam HD Spotting Scope - Smooth Focus
  • Manufacturer: Leupold
  • Magnification: 27-55x
  • Lens Diameter: 80 mm
  • Weight: 4.3 lb
  • Warranty: Unlimited lifetime
  • Waterproof: Yes

We have one last product up for review in the premium section. Here’s the amazing Leupold SX-5 Santiam HD Spotting Scope.

As you can see, all premium spotting scopes resemble one another. They offer extreme quality, excellent features, and skyrocket prices. However, this angled spotting scope serves as a reminder that not all good products have to be unbelievably expensive.

Truth be told, it’s not as good as the previous spotting scopes, but it is still more than you’d expect from an average scope. For example, it has a variable magnification range that goes from 27x to 55x, which is more than what the average Amazon scope has to offer.

Also, the focusing system is incredible as you don’t have to rely on an automatic focus, and you can adjust it with a turn of the knob. It doesn’t seem that attractive, but once you use it for the first time and try it out, it comes as a relief.

If you’re a fan of bird watching, target shooting, or just an enthusiastic hunter, you’ll undoubtedly appreciate the abilities of this unit. Furthermore, the Leupold SX-5 Santiam HD Spotting Scope comes tripod-ready, and you can order a window mount for a relatively low price.

As we said, this is an angled spotting scope, so the field of view is set to 2 degrees maximum. On the other hand, the linear field of view rests at 73 feet at 1000 yards. Don’t forget that this is a fog-proof and waterproof unit, so you can carry it wherever and whenever.

Personally, we’ve been amazed by how it performed in low-light conditions, as it’s one of the major concerns that come with buying a spotting scope. The image was extremely clear, with no shadows and blind spots.

Pros
  • Magnification range
  • Universal
  • Smooth focus
  • Field of view
Cons
  • No case included

Best Budget Spotting Scopes on the Market

Best Feature

Product Name

Price

Lightweight

Vortex Viper HD 65mm Scope

The Best for Low-Light Conditions

Barska WP BlackHawk Spotting Scope

Ruggedness

Redfield Rampage Spotting Scope

Photo Capture

Vanguard Endeavor HD Spotting Scope

The Best for The Money

Celestron TrailSeeker Spotting Scope

Durability

Leupold SX-2 Alpine HD Spotting Scope

Vortex Viper HD 65mm Scope - Lightweight
  • Manufacturer: Vortex
  • Magnification: 15-45x
  • Lens Diameter: 65 mm
  • Weight: 3.67 lb
  • Warranty: Unlimited lifetime
  • Waterproof: Yes

It’s quite obvious that Viper industries are dominating the market when it comes to optics and spotting scopes, so it’s no surprise that we have yet another product that comes directly from their facilities. Without further ado, here’s the Vortex Viper 65mm Scope.

In many aspects, this spotting scope resembles its premium brother based on features, design, and specifications. For example, it also has an ArmorTek finish that serves to improve the overall durability and stability of the unit. Moreover, it’s designed to be extremely resilient in a natural environment in the sense that it’s water, dust, and fog proof.

It does have a 65 mm diameter objective lens, which is a downside in comparison to Viper HD, but the price is significantly lower, so it evens out. However, the objective glass lens is quality-made, so if you’re not worried about lower resolution, this is definitely the unit to consider.

Another thing that is quite terrific regarding not just this one but all Vortex units is the Vortex VIP warranty that offers many benefits of being a proud member of this family. Namely, being a VIP member comes with perks such as an unlimited lifetime warranty, no need to fill out a warranty card before purchase, and you’ll never have to keep track of any receipts.

We should also mention that it has an adjustable eye relief with a 19.6 mm maximum and 17.8 mm minimum, which comes off as a relief for people wearing glasses as you won’t have to take them off when observing through the Vortex Viper.

Overall, we couldn’t find anything wrong with it. Aside from the sole fact that this is a budget pick and it can’t really stand its ground with premium picks, this is one excellent spotting scope to have in your arsenal.

Pros
  • Adjustable eye relief
  • Vortex VIP
  • Resilience
  • ArmorTek finish
Cons
  • /

Barska WP BlackHawk Spotting Scope - The Best For Low-Light Conditions
  • Manufacturer: Barska
  • Magnification: 20-60x
  • Lens Diameter: 60 mm
  • Weight: 2.87 lb
  • Warranty: /
  • Waterproof: Yes

Moving on, we have another excellent scope for you that arguably deserves a spot on the premium list. However, there are some details that led us to place it in the budget list, but more on that later on. Here’s the Barska WP BlackHawk Spotting Scope.

Let’s start with the features that truly amazed us. Firstly, we have to mention the price to quality ratio, which is unbelievable. This Barska unit costs under $200 and still offers a 20-60x magnification range alongside a 60 mm lens diameter. Not only is it impressive, to say the least, but when you count on the fact that there are units with these specs that cost well above $500, you get the recipe for one fantastic product.

Moreover, this spotting scope has proved to work efficiently in low-light conditions thanks to its high-resolution objective lens and multi-coated optics. One of the common issues that hunters face is the lack of night-vision equipment on the market. Now, even though you can really use this unit at night, you’ll surely enjoy its benefits at dawn and at the brink of night.

Also, we should mention that it’s quite lightweight compared to the premium models that weigh well above 4 lb. This unit, however, weighs 48.5 oz, which is 2.87 lb.

Even though it has a 60 mm lens diameter, it is still equipped to give you zoom magnification up to 60x, which will result in a clear image. As for the flaws of this unit, there aren’t many, but you should still know them.

The eye relief is not that practical, so you’ll probably have to remove your glasses before using them. Also, using it at 60x magnification can sometimes offer blurry images if the light conditions aren’t that beneficial. Aside from these small hiccups, you’ll own one terrific scope.

Pros
  • Price to quality ratio
  • Lightweight model
  • Quality lens
  • Excellent in low-light conditions
Cons
  • Non-practical eye relief
  • 60x magnification

Redfield Rampage Spotting Scope - Ruggedness
  • Manufacturer: Redfield (Leupold)
  • Magnification: 20-60x
  • Lens Diameter: 60 mm
  • Weight: 2.87 lb
  • Warranty: Full lifetime warranty
  • Waterproof: Yes

This spotting scope is simple proof that you don’t need to set aside enormous amounts of cash to get a quality unit. Here’s the Redfield Rampage Spotting Scope.

The Redfield brand was first founded in 1909, and it was one of the first optics industries in the US. As they progressed, they were bought out by the Leupold brand and quickly became one of the best manufacturers in the world. Suffice it to say; this product is just one of the examples of why you should put your trust in Redfield.

It’s incredibly rare to find a spotting scope that can accommodate most hunters’ wishes and still maintain a reasonable price. That’s why the Redfield Rampage is undoubtedly an admirable scope. It possesses premium specifications, such as magnification range and build quality, and still has a low price to its tag.

The objective lens diameter is 60 mm, which is on par with the best units in the world, and it has a 20-60x magnification range, which is again the standard in the business. Also, you can set the eye relief to 17 mm if you wear glasses, which is a nice bonus overall.

The build quality is astounding for two reasons. Firstly, its rugged design helps preserve the finish and the internals from fall damage. Secondly, it’s a nitrogen-filled scope, which is a top-of-the-line characteristic. Therefore, you can rest assured knowing that water, dust, or fog won’t damage or affect the functionality of this device.

What we didn’t like was its accuracy at longer distances. You will be able to zoom in, but the clarity is concerning, especially at low-light conditions. Therefore, it takes third place on our list, but it’s still a fantastic spotting scope.

Pros
  • Reliable manufacturer
  • Build quality
  • Affordable
  • Rugged design
Cons
  • Clarity at longer distances

Vanguard Endeavor HD Spotting Scope - Photo Capture
  • Manufacturer: Vanguard
  • Magnification: 20-60x
  • Lens Diameter: 82 mm
  • Weight: 4 lb
  • Warranty: Full lifetime warranty
  • Waterproof: Yes

We’ll drift a bit away from the standard scopes you’re used to seeing in online stores and move on to a new and exciting product, the Vanguard Endeavor HD Spotting Scope.

What’s so special about this scope? Well, this is the first digiscoping spotting scope that we’re covering that features an adapter for a digital camera. If your sole purpose isn’t hunting and you love bird watching and long-distance sports such as golf, you’ll undoubtedly love this feature. Thanks to its lens diameter, you’ll be able to capture high-quality images.

Furthermore, the adaptor is incredibly easy to attach in a matter of seconds. Therefore, you’ll get a 2-in-1 digiscoping product - a scope and an efficient, high-quality camera. Also, you generally have to invest a bit more money for a tripod as they’re usually sold separately from the main unit. In this case, you’ll receive the Vanguard VEO 2 tripod in the package, which is not that expensive.

When it comes to the specs of this fantastic scope, you’ll also be surprised by the sheer quality and effort that the manufacturers have put into designing this piece. The body’s main component is magnesium, and the entire finish is rubberized so as to prevent any fall damage. It has a sun-shield, which is certainly a plus considering that spotting scopes’ lenses are prone to damage when exposed to direct sunlight.

It’s quite surprising that this digiscoping unit has an 82 mm lens diameter, and it’s still considered a budget pick. However, there are reasons why it’s in fourth place. It did not stand its ground at higher magnification since the resolution was not that impressive. Also, it wasn’t that bright in comparison to some other devices that we have on this list.

Pros
  • Digiscoping unit
  • Rubber armor
  • Durable
  • Included tripod
Cons
  • Brightness
  • Higher magnification – low resolution

Celestron TrailSeeker Spotting Scope - The Best for The Money
  • Manufacturer: Celestron
  • Magnification: 20-60x
  • Lens Diameter: 80 mm
  • Weight: 2.93 lb
  • Warranty: Full lifetime warranty
  • Waterproof: Yes

Spotting scopes are quite expensive, and there’s no going around it. You can compromise by getting a lesser model for a lower price, but that just won’t work in the long run. That’s why it’s refreshing to run into a model such as the Celestron TrailSeeker Spotting Scope every once in a while.

Similar to the previous unit that we’ve covered, this one also comes with a tripod, but unlike the digiscoping one, the Celestron TrailSeeker features a smartphone adaptor that lets you connect your mobile phone and capture photos. It’s not unheard of, but it’s still a novelty among the units that we’ve covered, so this one stands out.

It doesn’t lack when it comes to specifications either. It has an 80 mm lens objective diameter and can magnify the image up to 60x, which is somewhat crucial when it comes to spotting scopes. It also has a 17.8 mm eye relief, so you’ll have no problems wearing glasses and watching through this powerful HD spotting scope.

You should also know that Celestron utilizes XLT multi-coating, which is quite popular among the premium ranks. It increases light transmission, which in turn helps deliver some high-quality images.

Also, the adaptor you’ll receive in the package is universal, meaning you can use it to connect other optical devices with your smartphones, such as binoculars, monoculars, hunting scopes, and more.

In terms of cons, we couldn’t really find anything bad to say regarding its functions. We didn’t like the focus adjustment, which could use some fine-tuning, but it’s an excellent unit other than that.

Pros
  • XLT light transmission
  • Smartphone adaptor
  • Tripod included
  • High-quality optics
Cons
  • Fine-tune adjustment

IR Defense IR Hunter Mark II 640 60 Hz 35mm Thermal Rifle Scope
  • Manufacturer: Leupold
  • Magnification: 20-60x
  • Lens Diameter: 60 mm
  • Weight: 3.75 lb
  • Warranty: Full lifetime warranty
  • Waterproof: Yes

Finally, we’re down to the last spotting scope on this list, and it’s one you don’t want to miss out on. Here’s the final review of the Leupold SX-2 Alpine HD Spotting Scope.

Before we move on to details regarding this unit, we should just mention that the Leupold SX-2 Alpine HD Spotting Scope is not a unit that you should disregard simply because it’s way down on the list. Compared to the previous products, it does fall short, but it’s still a fantastic unit to own and use.

It has an angled body and doesn’t come in a straight design, but there are two different models that differ based on the angular and linear field of view. Of course, the price is a factor as well, but they are both relatively cheap in essence.

Initially designed for target shooting and as a tool for serious hunters, this Leupold unit is made to endure and overcome every single obstacle that may come your way. Thanks to the Guard Ion lens coating, this device can work its way around water, dust, and fog with ease. Also, this powerful coating helps improve the overall quality of the image and focus of the unit.

The package is also quite packed, considering you’ll get a lot for a relatively low price. A protective side case is included, albeit a bit heavy, but it’s still a major plus, not to mention the cleaning cloths and lens cover.

Why is it in the last place? Well, firstly, it has no eye relief, so it’s a bit problematic to use for people that carry eyeglasses. Furthermore, it did not meet our expectations when it came to long-distance observing since the quality decreases after 40x magnification. Aside from this, it’s a great product if you’re able to live with these flaws.

Pros
  • Guard Ion lens coating
  • Target shooting and bird watching
  • Durable
  • Full package
Cons
  • No eye relief
  • Low-res images above 40x magnification

Finding the Perfect Spotting Scope - Buyer’s Guide

best spotting scope for target shooting

It doesn’t really matter if you were opt-out for a premium or a budget pick, but the one thing that does matter is how you make your decision. The thin line between these two groups lies in the quality of optics, but there are some segments that are universal that you should definitely pay attention to.

We’ll cover some of them in the following lines so you can make a final call regarding your next spotting scope.

1. Build Quality

The most prominent feature of quality spotting scopes lies in their build, meaning what materials were used in the manufacturing process and what type of finish they have. For example, we’ve had some units with rubber armor, which is a great way to protect the scope from fall damage and potential water damage.

On the other hand, some premium units have ArmorTek finish, which is a high-end metallic finish that the military uses in most of their devices. It does come with a cost, but it undoubtedly pays off in the long run.

As far as the housing is concerned, you’ll most often encounter metallic alloys, usually from aluminum or magnesium in combination with steel or other heavy metals. Just a tip - look for a unit made from non-corrosive metals.

2. Magnification

You’ll generally find that most spotting scopes have a 60x magnification.

However, based on the diameter of the objective lens and the optical internals, you’ll often find that having a 60x magnification unit does not always equal high resolution.

In fact, high magnification is not that necessary if your unit has a good optical lens with a high diameter because spotting scopes are made with a zoom eyepiece.

3. Price Range

best spotting scopes for birding

Using a spotting scope was often considered a hunting tactic, but all of that changed with the release of newer products that benefit bird watchers, professional golfers, and target shooters. With that, the prices grew higher, but so did the overall quality of the units. Therefore, the question that lingers is - How do you pick the right one?

In all honesty, you’ll do quite fine with a budget pick if you’re not a professional hunter since the features they offer are more than appropriate. You’ll save a lot of money and get what you need.

Best Feature

Product Name

Price

The Best Overall

Kowa Prominar Spotting Scope

The Runner-Up

Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope

Reliability

Vortex Viper HD Spotting Scope

Smooth Focus

Leupold SX-5 Santiam HD Spotting Scope

Lightweight

Vortex Viper HD 65mm Scope

The Best for Low-Light Conditions

Barska WP BlackHawk Spotting Scope

Ruggedness

Redfield Rampage Spotting Scope

Photo Capture

Vanguard Endeavor HD Spotting Scope

The Best for The Money

Celestron TrailSeeker Spotting Scope

Durability

Leupold SX-2 Alpine HD Spotting Scope

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a spotting scope worth it?

Absolutely YES. Spotting scopes have proven to be essential tools for hunters all around the world, and they continue to impress to this day.


What do the spotting scope numbers mean?

You’ll usually find two sets of numbers in the description of a spotting scope.

The first one refers to the magnification properties of scope, while the second one often refers to the diameter of the objective lens.

best spotting scope for 1000 yards

What is the best spotting scope for the money?

If you’re looking for a quality budget pick, you’ve got to go for the Vortex Viper 65mm Scope. Vortex Optics has proven to be forerunners in this field, and none of their products caused a tumult among the customer circles.


What is the best 1000 yard spotting scope?

Manufacturers such as Bushnell or Vortex specialize in producing the best 1000 yard spotting scopes. If you take a look at our list, you’ll find that the Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope is the most quality one.


Do I need to have a tripod?

best spotting scope for long range shooting

It depends on the unit that you want to purchase.

Some spotting scopes have a strap that enables you to use them hand-held, but owning a tripod is usually a good idea as it frees your hands and allows you to fully focus on the hunt.

Final Thoughts - Conclusion

Finally, it’s time to pronounce the absolute winner of this list, and the best spotting scope it’s undoubtedly the Kowa Prominar Spotting Scope. The sheer prominence of its features, characteristics, and quality is unmatched by any other scope on this list.

Of course, an honorary line goes to the crown jewel of the budget picks, which is the Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope.

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