Best Spotting Scope Reviews: Birding and Hunting

Many activities rely upon being able to see and focus on objects from a distance. For instance, hunting, target practice, and bird watching all require you to be able to locate far away objects. For these times, you need a high quality spotting scope. The best spotting scopes come in a variety of price ranges, but all share certain features in common. For instance, you should look for a scope that has an aperture of at least 60mm, though the larger the aperture, the more light will come in and, in general, the clearer the view will be. In addition, the scope should be able to withstand the elements, through waterproofing, a solid construction, and a durable carrying case. Other features to look for include solid magnification abilities and positive reviews. The following spotting scopes each possess these features, making them excellent choices for meeting your spotting needs.

BARSKA CO11502 20-60×60 Waterproof Straight Spotting Scope with TripodBest Spotting Scope Under $100$4.2 Stars
Celestron 52250 80mm Ultima Zoom Spotting ScopeBest Spotting Scope Under $200$$$4.4 Stars
Celestron 52252 100mm Ultima Zoom Spotting ScopeBest Spotting Scope for Birding$$$$4.4 Stars
BARSKA Colorado Waterproof Spotting ScopeBest Spotting Scope for Hunting$4.2 Stars
Firefield 20-60 x 60 SE Spotting Scope KitBest Spotting Scope for the Money$4.1 Stars

Best Spotting Scopes Under $100

Consumers on a tight budget can still enjoy excellent performance from a spotting scope by purchasing the BARSKA CO11502 20-60×60 waterproof straight spotting scope. This scope, which also comes with a tripod and a carrying case for even greater added value, possesses a coated, 60mm lens. Although not as clear as larger lenses, it receives high praise from consumers for its clarity, even at night.

In addition, the BARSKA receives high praise for its magnification abilities. The scope can zoom from 20x to 60x, allowing the consumer to enjoy up close views of birds and other wildlife. In addition, the tripod and scope are lightweight, solidly constructed, and easy to use. The tripod is steel for added strength, and the entire setup only weighs about three pounds. As a result, consumers report that the BARSKA offers a pleasant and convenient viewing experience.

Additional features of this scope include a watertight body and a protective rubber covering for added protection and a long life even when used regularly. In addition, the BARSKA comes with a lifetime warranty to provide the user with peace of mind regarding the long-term performance and durability of the scope. The result is a quality spotting scope for an excellent price.See the best spotting scope under $100

Best Spotting Scopes Under $200

Consumers with a budget of less than $200 for their scopes can hardly do better than the Celestron 52250 80 mm Ultima Zoom. This refractor scope offers a large optical bang for the buck with views that are up to 77 percent brighter than 60 mm lenses and performance that is suitable for hunting, wildlife viewing, and birding.

Consumers consistently rate this scope highly for its clear views and sharp focus, especially at 20x magnification, though the scope can provide magnification of up to 60X. One of the keys to the Ultima’s performance is the design of its 80mm lens. It possesses anti reflection coating applied in a number of layers to cut down on glare and to improve the clarity of the viewing experience. The eyepiece is angled at 45 degrees, allowing the consumer to use a smaller tripod, for greater convenience and portability.

In addition to its sound design, the Ultima sports a number of extra features that make it stand out from the rest of the under $200 crowd. For instance, the tube is waterproof. Consumers report that this feature has served them well when out and about in inclement weather. In addition, it comes with a zippered carrying case for greater ease and protection during transportation.See the best spotting scope under $200

Best Spotting Scopes for Birding

Bird watching is easier and more enjoyable with the Celestron 52252 100mm Ultima Zoom. This model of the Ultima Zoom is the largest of the line of from Celestron, with a 100mm aperture that allows in enough light to see clearly at a minimum of 500 yards. Consumers report that visibility is even greater on bright, sunny days. In addition, the scope’s large aperture makes it a useful spotting companion even in the dark.

In addition to its solid optics, the 100mm Ultima Zoom possesses the ability to magnify from 22x to 66x, allowing the consumer to enjoy up-close bird views even when far away. This scope is also a smart choice for birding because it comes with a green color designed to blend in with natural surroundings, and a large field of view that consumers report enables them to see multiple things at the same time. As a result, it is designed for subtle and discreet viewing of whatever natural objects the user desires.

Celestron stands behind the quality of this scope with a limited lifetime warranty that is designed to give the consumer peace of mind regarding its durability. A carrying case adds to its overall appeal. Consumers give this scope a high rating for the quality of the views it offers and for the overall value it provides.See the best spotting scope for birding

Best Spotting Scopes for Hunting

The BARSKA Colorado is a waterproof spotting scope designed for durability and quality during any type of outdoor use. The scope receives high praise from consumers for its excellent optics that provide sharp, clear views of even small objects up to 1,000 yards away. The 60mm aperture achieves this type of clarity with a coated lens, and superb focus and zooming abilities that allow magnification of up to 60x and make it easy to locate and observe animals or vegetation at distance. At about $70, the scope offers exceptional value at a very affordable price

In addition to its outstanding optics, the BARSKA wins praise for its durability and solid construction. The scope sports a number of features that make it an exceptional outdoor hunting companion. For instance, it is designed to be both waterproof and fogproof to stand up under even harsh conditions outside. In addition, it comes with both a hard case and a soft case to provide ease of carrying and protection, depending upon the needs of the consumer. In addition, it weighs less than 3 pounds, making it easy to carry wherever the hunting is.

Accessories such as the carrying cases and a tripod complete the BARSKA’s numerous appealing features. Because of its performance, durability, cost, and accessories, it rightfully possesses a stellar reputation as a hunting spotting scope.See the best spotting scope for birding

Best Spotting Scopes for the Money

One of the best values on the spotting scope market today is the Firefield 20-60×60 SE spotting scope kit. At less than $100, this scope comes with both an outstanding record of performance, modern technology, and numerous accessories that make it worth far more than its low price.

The Firefield receives praise from consumers for the clarity and sharpness of the images it provides. For instance, this 60mm aperture provides magnification from 20x to 60x for maximum visibility. As a result, the scope is suitable for a variety of outdoor activities such as hunting and target practice. In addition, the scope is reported to be easy to use and quick to focus. In addition, it is extremely durable and capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions.

The scope also comes with numerous accessories that add to its overall value. For instance, it comes with a shade for protection from the sun, a tripod, a carrying case, a shoulder strap, and a hard case. These accessories not only make the scope even more durable, but also make it easier to carry and easier to protect for a longer life. The result is a high-performing scope for an extremely affordable price.See the best spotting scope for the money

Spotting Scope Basics Guide

Spotting scopes are small telescopes designed for a variety of outdoor uses, from hunting to bird watching. They come with many features similar to telescopes, but these features are designed to optimize terrestrial viewing instead of astronomical viewing. They are also designed to be durable enough and portable enough for travel and use in the outdoors.

While all spotting scopes are constructed similarly, they also differ from each other in many other ways, including in the price, size, specifications, performance, accessories, and more. As a result, the sheer number of choices you have when it comes to choosing one can feel overwhelming. The key to confidently selecting the right scope for your purposes depends upon having a basic understanding of these products, an understanding of your own needs, and knowledge of what features will best meet those needs. Following is a basic overview of the spotting scope, its uses, parts, accessories, and some ideas for how to choose the best one for your spotting needs.

How to Use Spotting Scopes:

While spotting scopes can be used to view certain astronomical objects, such as the moon, they are most effective when used during the daytime to view terrestrial objects such as trees, birds, and game animals. Following are a few of their main applications:

  • Hunting

 A hunter may use a spotting scope to identify game animals from distance. Once the animal is   located, the lens can be zoomed in to help maintain the hunter’s focus on the animal and improve their shot. Similarly, these scopes can be used to help a shooter perfect their target shooting skills.

  • Birding

Spotting scopes can provide an unobtrusive way to enjoy the hobby of birding, because they allow the birder to locate and watch the birds from a greater distance than do binoculars.

  • Nature observation

In addition to observing birds, the owner of a spotting scope can enjoy the breathtaking sights available throughout nature, even from a distance.

  • Long distance photography

Because of the up close view spotting scopes provide for long distance objects, they are also sometimes used by photographers to capture long distance images. The photographer can attach a camera to the scope to snap a photo of the image they see through the scope.


When you begin researching spotting scopes, you will encounter a bevy of terms that may be unfamiliar to you. Understanding the capabilities of each scope and choosing the one that best fits your needs depends upon understanding these terms. Following is a list of the most common:

  • Magnification

The magnification is the degree to which the spotting scope can enlarge the object you are viewing. In general, the greater the magnification, the farther away you can see. Most spotting scopes have a magnification of anywhere between 20x and 60x, with some scopes offering a wider variety of magnification than others. You should be aware, however, that greater magnification does not always translate into a better view: The quality of the view often diminishes as the magnification increases.

  • Lens

The lens is the front piece of the scope that provides you with the quality, sharpness, or clarity of the object you are viewing. The size of the lens is measured by its diameter, called the aperture. The aperture is usually either 60mm, 80mm, or 100mm. In general, the larger the aperture, the more light the scope lets in and the clearer the object you are viewing will be.

  • Coating

Coating is the practice of applying certain chemicals to the lens in order to maximize the amount of light that comes through the lens and, therefore, to improve the clarity of the image. Coating can vary from one coat to several coats. In general, the more coating that the lens has, the better the image will be and the higher the price will be.

  • Eyepiece

The eyepiece is the part of the scope through which you look. In general, it will either be straight or angled. Angled eyepieces provide a less strenuous experience for your eyes, require less adjustment, and allow you to view objects high up. However, they may be more prone to being blocked by objects such as trees and tend to add to the overall cost of the scope.

  • Tripod

The tripod is often but not always sold separately from the scope, and is designed to hold the scope while you use it. It provides stability, allows you to adjust the height of the scope, and makes the scope more comfortable to use.

Tips for Purchasing Spotting Scopes

While choosing a spotting scope can feel a bit intimidating, there are a few things you can do to make the process more manageable. The first is to decide how much you want to pay. Spotting scopes come in a wide variety of prices. Knowing how much you have to spend will help you to narrow your choices down and help you to focus on buying the best scope possible within your price range, instead of getting distracted by scopes that are either more basic than you want to pay for, or flashier than you can afford.

Second, you will need to decide how you will be using your scope. For instance, if you will be doing a lot of observation at night, or if you want to be able to see targets hundreds of yards in the distance for target practice, you will want to purchase a scope that has a wider aperture, more coating, and other abilities that allow you to see at a distance.

Third, you should decide which accessories and added features are important to you. For instance, if you will be outside hunting in all kinds of weather, you may want to invest in a scope that is weatherproof, or that comes with a sturdy, hard carrying case. On the other hand, if you will primarily be using the scope to enjoy natural views in nice weather, you may not need as many protective features. A tripod is often a good idea, but the added expense may mean you will need to look for a scope that comes with a tripod included so you do not have to pay extra after you purchase the scope.

Regardless of the scope you purchase, the most important thing is to buy one that is well-reviewed and that has the features that will make using it easy and enjoyable for you. You may also want to purchase a scope that comes with a warranty to give you the assurance that your scope will last as long as you need it to. Once you find the right scope for you, you will be well on your way to enjoying your outdoor hobbies even more than before.