Which is the Best Spotting Scope on the Market? Check our Top 10 Picks!

October 18th, 2019

by Andreea Sterea

When it comes to observing the land around or the sky above in the finest detail, a spotting scope is your faithful companion. Either you want one for birdwatching, stargazing, hunting, or wildlife explorations, such an instrument will serve you well. But do you know how to pick the best spotting scope on the market? We’re here to help!

If you feel a bit confused, we understand: you want to enjoy, explore, and observe the great beyond (on land or in the sky), but you feel lost among so many optical instruments. What should you choose between telescopes, binoculars, and spotting scopes? What does the best spotting scope on the market have over the best binoculars on the market, for instance? 

Each such device serves a particular main purpose, although many are multifunctional. Today we will discuss our top ten picks in the best spotting scopes category.

Don’t worry, at the end of this article, you will also find a buying guide explaining to you the main things you need to know about these instruments. Let’s see our top ten spotting scopes reviews and find the best product that meets your needs!

Product Name Type Magnification Objective Lens Price
Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scope - BEST OVERALL Angled 27-60 X 85 mm Check Latest Price
Vortex Optics Viper HD Spotting Scope - BEST PRICE/VALUE RATIO Straight 20-60 X 85 mm Check Latest Price
Celestron Regal 100ED Spotting Scope - BEST OPTICS Straight 22-67 X 100 mm Check Latest Price
Landove Spotting Scope - BEST FULL KIT Angled 20-60 X 80 mm Check Latest Price
GoSky Full Kit Spotting Scope - BEST BUDGET Angled 20-60 X 60 mm Check Latest Price

1 Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scope

First up on our list of spotting scope reviews is the Vortex Optics Razor model. While pricey, this is a top-tier device and the best spotting scope on this list when it comes to overall performance. But let’s see what the Razor can do for your outdoor adventures and wildlife exploration hobbies!

BEST FOR Overall Quality & Reliability
Type Angled
Item Weight 4 pounds
Item Size 15.8 x 7.6 x 6.8 inches
Magnification 27 – 60 X
Objective Lens 85 mm
Lenses Triplet Apochromatic lenses, extra-low dispersion glass, XR Plus anti-reflective coatings, Armortek coatings
Special Features Close Focus: 16.4 feet; O-ring sealed and argon purged; Rubber armor; Built-in sunshade pulls out to reduce glare; Waterproof & fogproof
Warranty VIP Vortex warranty

Why Choose the Vortex Optics Razor Spotting Scope?

With its high-end optical technology, precision craftsmanship, and ultra-sleek functionality, the Vortex Optics Razor HD spotting scope comes with excellent tech specs and features. It is one of the most refined scopes on the market – a true piece of jewelry.

  • Triplet Apochromatic lens combined with high density, extra-low dispersion glass delivers unparalleled resolution and color fidelity;
  • The XR Plus anti-reflective coatings yield maximum brightness for critical low-light glassing;
  • The locking collar allows you to rotate the scope to acquire the best viewing angle;
  • The Armortek coatings protect the lenses from oil, scratches, and dirt, while the rubber armor provides extra durability and reliability.
Pros
Excellent tech specs and features
Covers all your spotting needs and interests
Extendable sunshade
Nitrogen-purged and O-ring sealed compact die-cast magnesium body
Cons
A bit pricey

Verdict

The first installment on our best spotting scopes list is a work of art in terms of technology, optics, brand reputation, and other specs. It is worth every cent if you are serious about your hobbies and your passions, whether it’s wildlife, sports & outdoors, hunting, and even stargazing.

2 Vortex Optics Viper HD Spotting Scope

The second installment on our list of best spotting scopes is another Vortex Optics model – and the most popular one of them all. The incredible glassing and high-end optical performance make this device the best spotting scope for the price/value ratio. 

BEST FOR Price/Value Ratio
Type Straight
Item Weight 4 pounds
Item Size 19.3 x 8.2 x 6.7 inches
Magnification 20 – 60 X
Objective Lens 85 mm
Lenses HD optical system; XR anti-reflective coatings on exterior surfaces; Armortek coatings
Special Features Close Focus: 36 feet; built-in sunshade; Rubber armor; Waterproof and fogproof
Warranty VIP Vortex warranty

Why Choose the Vortex Optics Viper Spotting Scope?

The Viper HD 20-60×85 Straight Spotting Scope comes with a handful of top-tier tech specs and features that make it such a popular choice among experts. First and foremost, the HD optical system includes premium components that generate vivid high-definition images. Secondly, the scope brings far-off subjects in for a closer look – and does so with impressive clarity, resolution and color fidelity. But let’s see other highlights!

  • The ultrasmooth, fluid, and sleek helical-style focus dials in your image for ultrasharp viewing, as well as keeping the spotter’s profile trim for ultimate packability;
  • The adjustable eyecup on the Viper HD spotting scope twists up and down so you can observe the full field of view if you wear eyeglasses or sunglasses;
  • O-ring sealed and argon purged, the Viper delivers waterproof and fog-proof performance;
  • The Armortek coatings protect the lenses from oil, scratches, and dirt;
  • The rubber armor enhances both durability and grip for the user.
Pros
Impeccable image clarity, sharpness, and color
Best spotting scope for the money
Excellent tech specs for the price
Works great for people with glasses and fading vision
Cons
Some complain about viewing quality at 300 yards

Verdict

By far the best spotting scope for the money on this list, the Vortex Viper covers all your needs. Whether you want to explore the amazing outdoors and wildlife, shoot, hunt, or explore, this scope is worth every cent. The glass quality is phenomenal and the price/tech specs ratio has no match. Also, consider it is fully weatherproof, durable, and yet compact and lightweight.

3 Celestron Regal M2 100ED Spotting Scope

Let’s face it: when it comes to optical instruments and gadgets, you cannot have a top without listing a few Celestron models. Aces in the field of telescopes, you assume correctly that the brand also makes some of the best spotting scopes on the market. The first best spotting scope on this list coming from Celestron is the Regal M2 100ED – and we picked it because the optics are breath-taking.

BEST FOR Optics
Type Straight
Item Weight 5 pounds
Item Size 19.2 x 4.8 x 4.8 inches
Magnification 22 – 67 X
Objective Lens 100 mm
Lenses Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass; Fully Multi-coated & XLT
Special features Cloe focus: 26.2 feet; Rotating tripod mount; BAK 4 prism; Waterproof & fogproof
Warranty 2 years

Why Choose the Celestron Regal M2 100ED Spotting Scope?

If you noticed the features above, you already understand why this is probably one of the best spotting scopes in the world. Let alone the 100 mm objective lens. Let’s talk about some other significant highlights!

  • Crafted from premium materials;
  • Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass virtually eliminates visual defects like chromatic aberration;
  • You find included in the package the following: Extend plate, padded view-through case, objective cover, eyepiece cover, storage covers for the eyepiece and eyepiece port, T-mount adapter, cleaning cloth, and instruction manual;
  • The scope includes an upgraded dual focus mechanism, allowing you to bring your subject into focus two times faster;
  • The Regal M2 is fully waterproof and nitrogen-purged to prevent fogging;
  • Make the best out of the optical specs by taking stunning pictures as well. Attach your camera to the Regal using a T-Ring and the included T-Adapter to get amazing images.
Pros
Impressive tech specs and features
One of the most reputable brands in the world
Allows you to take incredible pictures
Cons
The weight of your SLR camera can break the eyepiece

Verdict

This Celestron spotting scope is one of the best gadgets of its kind. Given the specs and the price, you cannot go wrong with it. If you are into outdoor adventures and taking stunning images, this is the best spotting scope for the job.

4 Celestron C5 Spotting Scope

The next Celestron entry on our list is the Celestron C5. This model is here because it is the best spotting scope under 500 coming from Celestron. It comes with plenty of features that you might find useful and compelling.

BEST FOR Best spotting scope under 500 for celestial viewings
Type Straight
Item Weight 10.75 pounds
Item Size 14.2 x 17.5 x 11.1 inches
Magnification 50 X
Objective Lens 127 mm
Lenses XLT coatings; 1.25″ Plossl Eyepiece; 5″ Schmidt-Cassegrain Optical Design
Special Features 45° Erect Image Diagonal; Photo Tripod Adapter; Lens Cap
Warranty Limited Lifetime Warranty

Why Choose the Celestron C5 Spotting Scope?

If you think a device of such caliber should be more expensive, you are probably right. For this reason, you should include the Celestron C5 on your shortlist of best spotting scopes to buy this year. Let’s see some other features that you might find irresistible!

  • The quality of the 5″ optical tube is excellent;
  • The package includes a 6×30 erect image finderscope and a 25mm eyepiece;
  • If you replace the eyepiece you can even make astronomical observations, not only terrestrial ones;
  • Great portability;
  • Easy to mount on a tripod for birdwatching and sensational photography.
Pros
Excellent tech specs for the price
Good warranty
The carrying case provides excellent protection
When paired with a SLR camera, it takes stunning photos
Cons
It comes with some plastic parts

Verdict

Celestron does what it does best: deliver on the promise of offering stunning optics for a more than affordable price. The C5 spotting scope does not fall far from the tree’s reputation either: it features great specs, comes with a lot of benefits, and keeps enthusiast outdoor adventurers and stargazers very happy.

5 Landove Dual Focusing Spotting Scope

A bundle and a spotting scope you cannot miss for the world, the Landove kit is a dream that came true for all nature enthusiasts. Besides the amazing optics and the (almost) incredible price, the Landove also features plenty of other specs and bonuses that make users love it. 

BEST FOR Full Kit
Type Angled
Item Weight 4.93 pounds
Item Size 16.4 x 5.8 x 3.2 inches
Magnification 20 – 60 X
Objective Lens  80 mm
Lenses Dynamic lens dual focus system; Fully multi-coated optics with BAK4 Porro Prism and 9pcs/4groups lens; O-ring sealed optics
Special Features 2019 New Design Large smartphone digiscoping adapter; Nitrogen filled waterproof and fogproof design;  Field of view: 156-81 feet
Warranty Upon manufacturer request

Why Choose the Landove Spotting Scope?

This is an ideal deal for anyone who wants excellent optics, unbeatable prices, added bonuses, and stunning scoping results. But let’s see why everybody is praising this device!

  • The dynamic lens dual focus system makes it easy to zoom in onto your target;
  • The fully multi-coated optics with BAK4 Porro Prism and 9pcs/4groups lens increase light transmission, deliver bright, clear, crisp images even in low-light conditions;
  • It comes with a 2019 New Design Large smartphone digiscoping adapter for taking photos and videos – which you can then share!
  • Nitrogen-filled waterproof and fog-proof design enables the scope to withstand the toughest environments;
  • The package contains tabletop, full metal tripod, and tripod mount for steady observations, carrying bag, eyepiece protection covers, lens protection covers, and cleaning cloth.
Pros
Best spotting scope for added extras
Excellent optics
Excellent users' ratings
Impressive price
Cons
Packaging may be sometimes faulty

Verdict

This spotting scope is probably the best choice for beginners, as the price and tech specs, together with the added extras make it an impressive starting point to nurture your hobbies, be them outdoor adventures, some stargazing, shooting practice, or bird watching. You cannot go wrong with it, just as the other users say.

6 Celestron 80 mm Ultima Zoom Spotting Scope

The third and final Celestron spotting scope on this list is the Ultima Zoom model featuring an 80 mm objective lens. Just like its peers above, this Celestron make and model delivers on the promise of offering you a high-quality experience and impressive tech specs but at a very (and we mean very) affordable price.

BEST FOR Outdoor Viewings
Type Angled
Item Weight 3.56 pounds
Item Size 20 x 7 x 6 inches
Magnification 20 – 60 X
Objective Lens 80 mm
Lenses Achromatic objective lens; Multi-layer anti-reflection coatings; BAK-4 prisms
Special Features Twilight factor: 69.2 to 40; Relative brightness: 16 to 1.7.Light Gathering Power: 131 X; Waterproof
Warranty Limited Lifetime Warranty

Why Choose the Celestron Ultima Zoom 80 mm Spotting Scope?

Probably one of the best spotting scopes under 200 made by Celestron, this model is a great all-around spotting scope that’s compact and portable, with a comfortable 45-degree viewing angle.

  • Its rugged, armored exterior provides protection against hard use in the field, no matter if you go bird watching, nature exploring, hunting, or adventuring in the great outdoors;
  • The package includes an extended plate, zoom eyepiece with integrated T-adapter, carrying case, eyepiece lens cap, eyepiece port cover, eyepiece carrying case, eyepiece pouch, lens cloth, and manual;
  • It is a refractor-style spotting scope with an Achromatic objective lens;
  • The multi-layer anti-reflection coatings on the objective lens as well as on the zoom eyepiece and the BAK-4 prisms provide excellent light transmission.
Pros
Great tech specs for the low price
Sleek, waterproof design
Easy to attach to a camera
Design suitable to people who wear glasses
Cons
It may generate chromatic abberations

Verdict

Sturdy but slick and hi-tech but cheap, this Celestron spotting scope is more than your average beginner device. With great warranty and the Celestron brand’s reputation to back it up, this tool is an excellent choice for any hobby or passion you want to explore further, from bird watching to hunting.

7 Meade Instruments Wilderness Spotting Scope

The Meade Wilderness series spotting scopes are the right choice for bird watchers, hunters, and those who love the outdoors. This scope features high index BaK-4 prisms and high-quality, coated precision ground lenses featuring multiple layers of antireflection layers to provide amazing optical performance.

BEST FOR Outdoor Adventures
Type Straight
Item Weight 3.1 pounds
Item Size 18.9 x 3.9 x 7.1 inches
Magnification 20 – 60 X
Objective Lens 80 mm
Lenses High index BaK-4 prisms; multiple anti-reflection coatings
Special Features Sliding sunshade to further reduce glare; Waterproof & fog proof; Rubber armor; Standard ¼-20 threaded holes, ready to mount on a tripod
Warranty Upon manufacturer request

Why Choose the Meade Wilderness Spotting Scope?

Meade Instruments is a brand of great reputation when it comes to optical devices. For this reason, you should really factor in this device on your spotting scope buying process. Let’s see other tech specs and features that you might find compelling!

  • It features a sliding sunshade to further reduce glare;
  • The rugged rubber armor protects your spotting scope from abrasions and damage from regular use;
  • Comes with standard ¼-20 threaded holes, ready to mount on your tripod;
  • The scope is waterproof, fog-proof, and nitrogen purged to ensure years of performance regardless of the environment.
Pros
Easy to set up and use
Excellent price for the hi-tech specs
Amazing optics
Cons
A bit heavy

Verdict

An affordable device with all the optical specs and trimmings, the Meade spotting scope is an excellent device for beginners. For its money, it provides you with plenty of features and specs. Meade also backs up its products with an enduring reputation and plenty of happy customers.

8 GoSky Porro Prism Spotting Scope

You know the GoSky name if you read our best binoculars for astronomy reviews. The company has a solid reputation in the field of optical devices and this particular spotting scope does not dissapoint either.  This waterproof scope for bird watching, target shooting, archery, and range outdoor activities with tripod & digiscoping adapter is an excellent tool to jumpstart your hobbies.

 

BEST FOR Terrestrial & Astronomical Viewings
Type Angled
Item Weight 4.2 pounds
Item Size 17.7 x 4.7 x 6.7 inches
Magnification 20 – 60 X
Objective Lens 80 mm
Lenses Fully multi-coated green film objective lens; Dynamic lens focusing system; Fully multi-coated lenses
Special Features Field of View: 39-19m/1000m; 45-degree eyepiece design; Eye relief: 17-13.5mm; Waterproof
Warranty Upon manufacturer request

Why Choose the GoSky 80 mm Porro Prism Spotting Scope?

The fully multi-coated 80mm green film objective lens, eyepiece and quality prism guarantee you will get bright,  clear, and crisp images. Moreover, this GoSky device comes with a durable magnalium framework and rubber armor that make it usable to withstand the toughest weather conditions. But here are some other highlights that might interest you:

  • Comes with a digiscoping adapter;
  • Comes with a metal tablet tripod, so you can use it on a table or on the window base;
  • Features the GoSky universal cell phone adapter mount;
  • The retractable sun shade helps reduce glare.
Pros
Great specs for the price
Multi-coated lenses
45-degree eye piece design
Excellent users' reviews
Cons
Some say the building of the scope is flimsy

Verdict

The glass optics and general construction of the scope are quite impressive for the low price. While some had some issues with the tripod, you can rest assured that if you want quality optics, a great bundle for the price, and stunning photography options to boot, this GoSky scope is exactly the droid you are looking for.

9 GoSky HD Spotting Scope with Tripod, Carrying Bag, and Scope Phone Adapter

An almost-five-stars spotting scope under $100 is hard to find, but we found it for you: the GoSky 20-60×60 HD spotting scope may sound too good to be true, but we assure you that it is. It also comes with plenty of bonuses and extras that you might find more than compelling.

.BEST FOR Budget
Type Angled
Item Weight 3.6 pounds
Item Size 14.2 x 6.3 x 3.5 inches
Magnification 20 – 60 X
Objective Lens 80 mm
Lenses Fully multi-coated green film objective lens; BAK4 Porro prism optics; lens protection covers
Special Features Field of view: 50-110ft/1000 yards; Smartphone digiscoping adapter included; Rubber armor; Waterproof, fog-proof, shock-proof
Warranty Upon manufacturer request

Why Choose the GoSky 20-60×60 HD Spotting Scope?

Well, why shouldn’t you choose it? Besides the fact that it is one – if not THE – best spotting scopes under 100 on the market, it also comes with a handful of advantages you cannot simply ignore:

  • Perfect for target shooting, archery, hunting, bird watching, wildlife watching, hiking, camping, scenery, outdoor sporting, astronomical observations, etc.;
  • The durable framework and high-quality rubber armor provide a non-slip grip, shock-proof grip, and durable external protection;
  • The O-ring seals prevent moisture, dust, and debris from penetrating the scope for reliable performance;
  • The package includes a digiscoping adapter, tripod, carry case, eyepiece and lens protection covers, cleaning cloth, and manual.
Pros
Best budget spotting scope
Excellent optics
Amazing price for the specs
Enthusiast customers' reviews
Cons
Packaging may be troublesome

Verdict

You can’t go wrong with the GoSky 60 mm spotting scope – unless you are unfortunate enough to receive the product in a loose and poorly managed package. Other than that, you can trust GoSky to deliver great tech specs for this price, reliable optics, solid building, and highly performing features.

10 Zeiss Victory Harpia Spotting Scope

The last entry on our list of best spotting scopes on the market is a product that not many can afford, hence the lack of many customers’ reviews. However, the name of Zeiss is reason enough to put some money aside to get it, as it is a spectacular piece of technology.

BEST FOR High-End Optics & Tech
Type Angled
Item Weight 8 pounds
Item Size 9.1 x 9.1 x 9.1 inches
Magnification 23 – 70 X
Objective Lens 95 mm
Lenses FL glass; 3-stage wide-angle zoom optical system; Extra-Low Dispersion Fluoride Glass; T* and LotuTec Optical Coatings
Special Features ZEISS DualSpeed Focus; Nitrogen Filled, Water and Fogproof; Coarse- and Fine-Focusing Mechanism; Standard 1/4″-20 Tripod Mount
Warranty Limited lifetime warranty

Why Choose the Zeiss Victory Harpia Spotting Scope?

The price isn’t for beginners, we will give you that, but the tech specs are enough to make anyone put this scope on a wish list. Let’s see some features that prove our point:

  • It combines a revolutionary new optical system with a 3-stage wide-angle zoom providing a constant apparent field of view over its entire magnification period;
  • The ZEISS DualSpeed Focus facilitates quick, exact focusing, even at high magnification;
  • FL glass and other custom glass ensure an absolutely sharp and color fidelity image;
  • Subjective 72° angle of vision over the entire zoom range for a noticeably greater overview of the terrain;
  • Precise focusing with automatic switching between rapid and fine adjustment;
  • Comes with Extra-Low Dispersion glass;
  • Nitrogen-filled, waterproof, and fog-proof.
Pros
ZEISS optics
Incredible specs
Best spotting scope for high-end users
Cons
Expensive

Verdict

Cheaper than its Leica counterparts but clearly more expensive than any other product we listed so far, the Zeiss Victory Harpia is the crown jewel of spotting scopes on this top. We placed it last on our list only because of its price, but if you are a high-end user, forget everything you read thus far and go for it. ZEISS does not disappoint in any way. The warranty and the brand’s reputation ensure that in full.

How to Buy the Best Spotting Scope: A Short Guide

As we promised, we will offer you now some guidelines on spotting scopes, so you can understand better a scope’s tech specs and features. If you are still in the shadows on how optical instruments work, here is our guide on how telescopes work! Now let’s discuss spotting scopes and the things you need to know!

Spotting Scopes vs. Binoculars

Spotting scopes are by construction more powerful instruments than binoculars, due to higher magnification power. Of course, they are less powerful than telescopes, but we think you already knew that.

Type

Spotting scopes are usually straight or angled. The first ones feature their body and eyepiece aligned on the same optical plane. When it comes to the latter, their eyepiece lies at 45 degrees to the body, offering you an angled line of sight as compared to a straight one. Aligned spotting scopes are more comfortable, especially if you lie down or sit no matter what height you are.

Magnification Range

As you saw already, all scopes come with a specific magnification range, described by the first two numbers that accompany a model’s name. For instance, the ZEISS Victory Harpia has a 23 – 70 X magnification range. The higher the range is, the broader the range of your viewings and subjects is. 

Objective Lens

The third number you usually find in the description of a spotting scope is the size of the objective lens (think about aperture in telescopes if the comparison suits you). Naturally, you want larger lenses, as they provide you with sharp, clear images, rich in detail.

Optics and Lenses

When it comes to optics, the sky is the limit. Nevertheless, you should go for apochromatic lenses, as they get chromatic aberrations out of the way. You also want fully-coated lenses for higher performance. Beyond that, make sure you get the best optical specs a brand can deliver. 

Tripods and Digiscopes

If you are into astronomical discoveries, we recommend you go for telescopes or maybe binoculars for astronomy. Nevertheless, for terrestrial hobbies and activities such as hunting, bird watching, outdoor explorations, wildlife observations, and so on you will most likely need a tripod.

If you are into photography, digiscoping is your path to stunning imagery. To combine a spotting scope with a camera or a smartphone you need the correct adapters. Some scopes offer them in the package. Most people have to buy them separately (along with the tripod), so you need to factor in these accessories as well in your purchasing decision.

Conclusion

Do you own a spotting scope or are you just researching the market? If you ever used such a device, tells us which is, in your opinion, the best spotting scope on the market and why. If you’re just now looking into the subject, use the comment section below to tell us which product is the most compelling for your needs!

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