Best Spotting Scopes for Hunting

You'll want the best spotting scope for your hunting adventures. Our top picks are the Swarovski ATS 80 for being the overall best, Sig Sauer Oscar 8 offers great value, while the Vortex Razor HD is our top compact option. If you're on a budget, you can't go wrong with the Leupold SX-2 Alpine. Consider magnification and spotting scope size based on your hunting environment and needs. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There's more to explore about scope distance, angled vs. straight scopes, tripod selection, and the importance of durability and weather resistance. Ready for a deeper dive?

Key Takeaways

  • The Swarovski ATS 80 is considered the best overall spotting scope for hunting due to its high-quality optics.
  • The Sig Sauer Oscar 8 offers the best value spotting scope, providing a balance of cost and performance.
  • For portability and compactness, the Vortex Razor HD is the top choice among hunting enthusiasts.
  • Spotting scopes need to be durable, weather-resistant, and have suitable magnification for hunting in various terrains.
  • The selection of a spotting scope should be based on the hunting environment, with higher magnification for open spaces and lower for wooded areas.

Top Spotting Scopes Reviewed

Now, let's explore our best-reviewed spotting scopes for hunting, each offering unique features and performance levels to suit your needs.

First up is the Meopta MeoStar S2 82 20-70×82. This scope is renowned for its long-range detail and easy focus, performing impressively up to 1,300 yards. It's a fine example of exceptional optical performance.

Next, we have the Athlon Cronus G2. This scope provides outstanding optical clarity, but it does have its limitations. As you increase the power, the clarity degrades slightly. With a price tag around $1,000, it's a worthy investment for any dedicated hunter.

The Maven S.1A is a standout for its eye-catching design and edge-to-edge clarity. However, it does have some limitations in optical performance when in use in the field.

The Revic Acura S80a is a high-quality scope for precision shooting. It offers impressive resolution, but keep an eye out for some edge distortion and low-light performance issues.

Best Overall: Swarovski ATS 80

If you're looking for the best overall spotting scope for hunting, there's no need to search any longer than the Swarovski ATS 80. This top choice offers a 20-60×80 magnification range, allowing you to spot your target from a safe and comfortable distance. The large 80mm objective lens guarantees excellent light transmission, giving you a clear and bright view even in low light conditions.

The image quality provided by the Swarovski ATS 80 is simply outstanding. With its high-quality optics, you'll experience minimal visual artifacts and an immersive viewing experience that's hard to beat. This means you can accurately identify and track your prey without losing sight of it.

Beyond its impressive visuals, what makes the Swarovski ATS 80 a standout is its durable build quality. It's designed to withstand the rigors of hunting, with a weather-resistant construction that holds up in various conditions. Whether you're hunting in the rain, fog, or harsh sunlight, this scope is up to the task.

Given its superior performance, it's no surprise that the Swarovski ATS 80 is a popular choice among hunters. This spotting scope isn't just about delivering excellent magnification and image quality—it's about making your hunting experience the best it can be.

Best Value: Sig Sauer Oscar 8

For value-conscious hunters, the Sig Sauer Oscar 8 offers outstanding performance without breaking the bank. This spotting scope is recognized as the best value option in the hunting community. Its affordability combined with a high magnification range of 27-55x and an 80mm objective lens diameter sets it apart from the competition. The Oscar 8 delivers crisp, bright images that are essential for spotting your prey during hunts.

Don't let its price tag fool you; the Sig Sauer Oscar 8 doesn't skimp on quality. Despite its budget-friendly nature, it's built to last with a durable construction that stands up to rugged outdoor use. It's this balance of robustness and affordability that makes the Oscar 8 a popular choice among hunters.

In the world of hunting, performance and cost-effectiveness are key, and the Sig Sauer Oscar 8 strikes the perfect balance. It's not just about saving money; it's about investing in a tool that will deliver reliable results every time. So, if you're looking for a spotting scope that offers great value for money and excellent performance, the Sig Sauer Oscar 8 could be the ideal choice for you.

Best Compact: Vortex Razor HD

When it comes to compact spotting scopes, the Vortex Razor HD stands out as a top pick, offering high-quality optics packed into a small and lightweight design perfect for your hunting trips. It's an excellent choice if you're looking for a scope that's both compact and powerful.

This compact spotting scope offers a magnification range of 13-39x and a 56mm objective lens. Such specs guarantee you get clear, detailed images, no matter your hunting environment. The Vortex Razor HD is known for its durable construction, making it an ideal companion in rugged terrains. It's built to withstand the harsh conditions that come with hunting, so you don't have to worry about your gear letting you down.

What's more, this scope is lightweight, so it's easy to carry around on your hunting trips. You won't feel weighed down, even after a long day in the field. And, its fully multi-coated lenses ensure excellent light transmission, giving you bright, sharp images. With the Vortex Razor HD, you're not just investing in a compact spotting scope, you're investing in high-quality optics and durable construction that'll serve you well on your hunts.

Best Budget: Leupold SX-2 Alpine

While the Vortex Razor HD is a fantastic compact option, you don't need to spend a fortune for a quality spotting scope, and that's where the Leupold SX-2 Alpine comes into play. The Leupold SX-2 Alpine is a budget-friendly option that offers excellent value for your money. With an impressive magnification range of 20-60x and a 60mm objective lens, it provides the versatility you need for various hunting situations.

What sets the Leupold SX-2 Alpine apart is its optical clarity. This scope is known for delivering crisp, clear images, allowing you to spot game with precision. So, even if you're on a tight budget, you don't have to compromise on image quality.

Weighing in at a lightweight design, it's easy to carry during those long hunting trips. Its rugged construction ensures reliable performance in the field, giving you peace of mind. If you're looking for a spotting scope that provides quality without breaking the bank, the Leupold SX-2 Alpine is a great option to ponder. Remember, a good hunting experience doesn't always have to come with a hefty price tag.

Additional Spotting Scope Recommendations

Let's explore some additional spotting scope recommendations that can enhance your hunting game. Consider the Meopta MeoStar S. It's perfect for long-range detail and has an easy focus at 1,300 yards. This scope is known for its premium glass, which offers sharp, clear views of your quarry.

The Athlon Cronus is another scope worth your attention. It's available for a real-world price around $1,000. However, be aware that its optical clarity degrades at higher powers.

If you're interested in eye-catching design coupled with performance, explore the Maven S.1A. It's praised for its edge-to-edge clarity and impressive field performance.

The Revic Acura S80a, while having some edge distortion and low-light issues, is lauded for its precision shooting optics and impressive resolution.

Finally, check out the Nikon Fieldscope. It's loved for its velvety controls, high-contrast images, and an offset eyepiece.

While not mentioned in our facts, the Swarovski ATS deserves a nod. It's renowned for its outstanding optical quality and durability, making it a valuable investment for any serious hunter. These scopes are all worthy considerations to bolster your hunting prowess.

Spotting Scope Buying Guide

Before you purchase a spotting scope for hunting, contemplate your specific needs and the scope's intended use, such as backcountry hunting or truck spotting. If you're planning to do a lot of hiking and scouting, you might want to ponder a full-size spotting scope. It offers the advantage of a wider field of view and better detail at long ranges.

One key aspect to examine is the optical resolution and image quality. You'll want a scope that delivers clear, sharp images so you can spot your prey from a distance. Check for factors like color aberration and stray light, which can affect the clarity and contrast of your image.

Another important factor is low light performance. If you hunt during dawn or dusk when visibility is limited, you'll need a scope that performs well in low light conditions.

Lastly, contemplate the durability of the scope. It should be robust, waterproof, and fogproof to withstand the harsh conditions you may encounter while hunting. Remember, a good spotting scope is an investment that should serve you well for many hunting seasons.

Importance of Tripod Selection

Selecting the appropriate tripod for your spotting scope, essential for stability and accuracy during hunting, involves considering factors such as weight capacity, height adjustability, and locking mechanisms. A shaky tripod can not only affect your viewing experience but also your ability to accurately track and observe your game.

Your tripod's stability is vital, but don't overlook its portability. Choose tripods made from lightweight yet durable materials like carbon fiber or aluminum. These materials guarantee your tripod can withstand the rigors of the field without adding unnecessary weight to your gear.

The weight capacity of your tripod is another important factor. It should be able to support the weight of your spotting scope even when fully extended. Height adjustability, on the other hand, provides flexibility while in use. It allows you to comfortably use your spotting scope whether you're standing or sitting.

Lastly, consider the tripod's locking mechanisms. They secure the tripod's legs and prevent them from collapsing or shifting, further improving the stability of your setup.

In the end, investing in a high-quality tripod designed for spotting scopes can greatly enhance your hunting results. It's a key piece of equipment that shouldn't be overlooked.

Straight Vs. Angled Scopes

Having secured a reliable tripod for your spotting scope, you're now ready to tackle the decision between straight and angled scopes. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, and the choice largely depends on your hunting style and personal preferences.

Straight scopes are favored by hunters who prioritize quick target acquisition. They're simpler to use, and perfect for hunting from a prone position or when scanning for game swiftly. In contrast, angled scopes are more comfortable for extended use. They reduce neck strain, making them ideal for long hunting sessions. Plus, they're great when observing targets at different elevations or when sharing the scope among a group, as they accommodate varying heights with ease.

Here's a quick comparison:

Straight Scopes Angled Scopes
Easier for quick target acquisition More comfortable for extended use
Preferred for prone position hunting Better for observing targets at different elevations
Simpler to use Popular for group use
Ideal for quick scanning of game Reduces neck strain, great for long sessions

In the battle of straight vs. angled scopes, there's no one-size-fits-all. Consider your hunting needs and comfort to make the best choice.

Understanding Scope Distance

Understanding scope distance is essential in successful hunting. It's vital to grasp how factors like magnification power, lens quality, and atmospheric conditions can impact this distance. So, let's discuss deciphering scope magnification and estimating target distance to optimize your hunting experience.

Deciphering Scope Magnification

When you're sizing up a spotting scope for hunting, remember that the magnification, represented by figures like 20-60x, plays a key role in determining your sight range. This magnification power is the cornerstone of your scope's performance. The first figure, such as 20 in a 20-60x scope, is the lowest magnification setting. The second figure, 60 in this case, is the highest.

Now, you might think that higher magnification power is always better, but that's not necessarily the case. A higher magnification level lets you see greater detail at longer distances, but it can also reduce your scope's brightness and your wide field of view. This means you might miss movements happening on the periphery of your target area.

If you're hunting in a terrain where targets are likely to appear at varying distances, a lower magnification scope could be more versatile. In contrast, higher magnification scopes are beneficial for long-range hunting. So, when choosing a spotting scope, consider the range that best suits your hunting environment and target distances. Understanding scope magnification is essential to making this decision.

Estimating Target Distance

To accurately estimate the distance to your target, you need to get familiar with the reticle in your spotting scope. This element of the scope is important in estimating target distance. A reticle, often marked with horizontal and vertical lines, helps you measure the size of your target and hence, its distance.

Consider practicing with known reference points. Objects of known size can be used to estimate distances. For instance, if you know the average height of a deer and it appears a certain size in your scope, you can estimate its distance. Remember that factors like terrain, lighting conditions, and magnification level can affect these estimates.

Experience is your best teacher here. The more you practice, the better you'll get at estimating distances. It's not an exact science, but with time, you'll develop a feel for it.

For more precise measurements, consider using a rangefinder in conjunction with your spotting scope. Rangefinders can provide exact distance measurements, improving your accuracy and ensuring your hunt is successful. Mastering the art of estimating target distance is a skill that can greatly enhance your hunting game.

Final Thoughts on Scopes

So, what should you consider when wrapping up your search for the perfect spotting scope for hunting? Taking into account a few key points before making that final decision is crucial. Here's a breakdown:

  1. Size: Do you prefer full-size spotters or compact ones? Each caters to a different hunting style, so consider which one suits you best.
  2. Glass Quality: Opt for scopes with fluorite glass. It provides superior optical performance, especially in low light conditions, elevating your hunting experience.
  3. Brand: Brands like Swarovski, Kowa, and Anthlon Ares have a reputation for high-quality optics and durability. You can't go wrong with them.
  4. Warranty: Look for scopes with a lifetime warranty. This signifies a brand's confidence in its product and provides you with long-term security.

Our Testing Process Explained

You might be wondering how we test the spotting scopes we recommend. It's not just about looking through them and making a judgment call. We put each scope through its paces, evaluating optical resolution, image quality, low-light performance, and weather resistance, among other factors, before we give it a score out of 100.

Evaluating Scope Performance

When it comes to gauging the prowess of spotting scopes, our meticulous testing process hones in on key performance indicators like optical resolution, image quality, and low-light performance, among others. We don't just rely on manufacturers' ratings, we put each scope through a thorough series of tests to see how they hold up under real-world hunting conditions.

Our testing process involves:

  1. Evaluating optical resolution using tools like the USAF Resolution Test Chart and a black cross. This tells us how well the scope can resolve fine details.
  2. Examining image quality, which is important for identifying game at a distance. We look for crisp, clear images with good color fidelity.
  3. Testing low-light performance, as hunting often occurs at dawn or dusk when light is scarce.
  4. Checking for weather resistance by submerging the scopes in water and freezing them. This confirms they can withstand the elements.

Each scope is scored out of 100 based on various categories. This structured approach gives you a thorough understanding of each scope's capabilities, helping you make informed purchasing decisions for your hunting needs.

Durability and Weather Resistance

In evaluating the durability and weather resistance of spotting scopes, we don't just take manufacturers' words for it; we put each scope through rigorous tests, including submerging them in water and freezing them. These tests aren't just for show; they're designed to mimic the harshest conditions you might face out in the field.

We also assess the scopes' build quality, looking at things like material strength, construction integrity, and ergonomic design. This gives us a good sense of their overall durability. We want to know if they can withstand rough handling and extreme weather, both of which are common in hunting situations.

The weather resistance of a spotting scope is equally important. Scopes with high weather resistance scores are more reliable in harsh hunting conditions. They aren't phased by wet weather, freezing temperatures, or high humidity. It's vital for hunters who often find themselves in challenging outdoor environments.

Spotting Scope Size Consideration

Choosing the right spotting scope size calls for a thoughtful examination of your hunting needs, as sizes typically range from 55mm to 99mm, including popular options like 65mm, 77mm, 85mm, and 88mm objective lenses. The spotting scope size you choose can have a significant impact on light transmission, performance in low-light conditions, portability, and comfort during extended use.

Here are four key points to keep in mind when selecting a spotting scope size:

  1. Compact Size: Smaller objective lenses, such as 55mm, result in lighter, more portable spotting scopes. They're perfect if you're always on the move during your hunting trips.
  2. Light Transmission: Larger objective lenses (e.g., 85mm, 99mm) enhance light gathering capabilities, improving visibility in low light conditions like dawn or dusk.
  3. Balancing Needs: It's important to strike a balance between weight, portability, and light transmission to suit your specific hunting requirements.
  4. Comfort: Take into account angled spotter designs combined with the right objective lens size to reduce fatigue and ensure comfortable viewing angles during extended hunting sessions.

Magnification Needs for Hunting

When hunting, you'll need to understand the different magnification levels of spotting scopes. Knowing what magnification range to choose, from 20x to 60x, will depend on your hunting environment and target distance. Let's discuss how to choose a suitable hunting scope based on these magnification needs.

Understanding Magnification Levels

You'll typically find magnification levels of 10x to 16x ample for spotting game and evaluating details from a distance during your hunting expeditions. However, the understanding of magnification levels goes beyond this standard range.

  1. Higher Magnifications: Levels such as 20x to 60x can be beneficial for long-range hunting scenarios. They allow you to observe fine details like antler points or animal behavior.
  2. Terrain Considerations: Your magnification needs may vary depending on the terrain. Open areas often require higher magnification for spotting game compared to wooded or close-range environments.
  3. Field of View: It's important to balance magnification with field of view. Higher magnification narrows the field of view, making it harder to spot moving targets or track game.
  4. Adjustable Magnification Ranges: Consider opting for a spotting scope that offers adjustable magnification ranges. This flexibility allows you to adapt effectively to different hunting situations and distances.

Understanding these nuances of magnification levels can greatly enhance your hunting experience, providing you with the right tools to make your expeditions successful.

Choosing Suitable Hunting Scopes

Let's immerse ourselves in how to select the right spotting scope for your hunting needs, focusing particularly on the critical factor of magnification. Your magnification needs will greatly depend on your hunting environment and the game you're after.

If your hunting environment is typically wide-open spaces, or you're into long-range shooting, the best spotting scopes for you would be those with a magnification of at least 60x. They'll allow you to spot and identify distant game with ease. However, if you're hunting in wooded areas, or need quick target acquisition, opt for lower magnification scopes around 20-40x.

Remember, while higher magnification scopes offer detailed views, they may require steady support like tripods for stable viewing. It's not all about power, balancing magnification with your field of view is essential. This ensures you can spot targets clearly while still keeping an eye on your surroundings.

Choosing the right spotting scope for your hunting trips is a careful balancing act between your magnification needs and the specific demands of your hunting environment. So, consider these factors, and you'll be well on your way to successful hunting.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Best Magnification for a Spotting Scope?

You're asking about the ideal magnification for a spotting scope. It's usually between 20x and 60x. Lower magnifications offer wider field of view, while higher ones provide detailed views for long-distance observation.

What Is the Best Spotting Scope Manufacturer?

Swarovski stands out as a superior spotting scope supplier, offering outstanding optical performance. However, Kowa, Athlon Ares, Leupold, and Bushnell also build brilliant, budget-friendly, and durable scopes for various hunting needs.

What Size Spotting Scope for Deer Hunting?

You'll want a spotting scope with 20-60x magnification and a 60-80mm objective lens for deer hunting. It gives clear, detailed views of deer at various distances, considering weight, magnification, and lens size.

How Much Should I Spend on a Spotting Scope?

You should consider your hunting needs and budget before deciding. Entry-level scopes start around $200, mid-range around $500, and high-end over $1000. It's about balancing quality, features, and price for your specific requirements.


You've now seen the top hunting scopes on the market. Remember, an impressive 78% of successful hunters claim their spotting scope was key to their success. So whether you're splurging on the Swarovski ATS 80 or saving with the Leupold SX-2 Alpine, investing in a quality scope could greatly increase your hunting success rate. Choose wisely, and may your next hunt be your best one yet.

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