Best Spotting Scopes for Target Shooting

If you’re an avid hunter or an enthusiastic nature observer, then you know the importance of having the right tools. One such tool that can significantly enhance your outdoor experience is a spotting scope. But how do you choose the best spotting scope for your needs? This comprehensive guide will walk you through all the aspects of how to select a spotting scope, particularly for hunting.

Understanding Spotting Scopes

Understanding Spotting Scopes


Before diving into how to select a spotting scope, it’s essential to understand what a spotting scope is and why you need one. A spotting scope is a portable, high-power telescope designed for observing distant objects. It functions similarly to a telescope but is crafted to be more robust and portable, making it ideal for field observation.

Spotting scopes offer higher magnification power, allowing you to zoom in and out, making them excellent for observing at more significant distances. They are typically used for hunting, scouting, target shooting, and other outdoor activities requiring high magnification.

Spotting Scope vs. Binoculars

Spotting Scope vs. Binoculars

One common dilemma faced by outdoor enthusiasts is whether to choose a spotting scope or binoculars. Both are suited to different circumstances, and many outdoor lovers use a combination of both.

Spotting scopes possess greater magnification capabilities, enabling you to zoom in and out, making them well-suited for observing over longer distances. They are bulkier than binoculars and are most effective when used with a tripod, thus, while they provide exceptional views, they are less convenient to carry than binoculars..

On the other hand, binoculars are extremely portable and ideal for quick scans while moving through an area. They don’t have the magnification power of spotting scopes, but if portability is your priority, binoculars can be a better choice.

Spotting Scope Parts

Spotting Scope Parts

Spotting scopes consist of four primary parts: the tube, the eyepiece, the objective lens, and the focusing wheel.

  1. Tube: This is the main body of the spotting scope, running from the eyepiece to the objective lens.
  2. Eyepiece: The lens you’ll look through when using the spotting scope.
  3. Objective lens: This large lens at the end opposite the eyepiece gathers light and sends it through the internal prism system, creating the image you see in the eyepiece.
  4. Focusing wheel: This knob or dial allows you to adjust the focus of the spotting scope.

Types of Spotting Scopes

Types of Spotting Scopes

Two common types of spotting scopes exist: angled and straight tubed. Each type offers a detailed view of distant targets and comes with its own set of advantages tailored to specific situations.

  1. Angled Spotting Scopes: These scopes have an eyepiece that angles upwards, making them easier to use by hand since the length of the body is shorter, and the weight is centered.
  2. Straight Spotting Scopes: These scopes are longer and look similar to a telescope. The long, straight profile makes it easier to fit this type of spotting scope in a pack.

Features to Consider

When you’ve determined the type of spotting scope you desire, you can begin refining your options by considering crucial features such as magnification power and lens size.


Magnification refers to the degree of enlargement of the image observed through the scope compared to what can be seen with the naked eye. For instance, a spotting scope with a 20x magnification will make an object appear 20 times larger than it would without the scope.

Objective Lens Diameter

The diameter of the objective lens indicates the size of the objective lens in millimeters. A larger objective lens diameter allows more light to enter the optics system, resulting in a brighter image.

Eye Relief & Exit Pupil

Understanding Eye Relief and Exit Pupil in Spotting Scopes

When using a spotting scope, eye relief refers to the ideal distance between your eye and the scope for the best viewing experience. Meanwhile, the exit pupil pertains to the opening in the objective lens that permits light to enter the optics system. A larger exit pupil results in increased light entering the scope, thus producing a brighter image.

Field of View

The field of view specifies the extent of the horizon visible at a given distance. For instance, a spotting scope with a 122-meter field of view at 1,000 meters will enable you to observe 122 meters across the horizon when focusing on a point 1,000 meters distant.

Focus Adjustment

When selecting a spotting scope, it’s important to take into account the type of focus knob. While all focus knobs serve the purpose of adjusting the image for maximum clarity, each operates in its own unique way.

Selecting the Right Spotting Scope

Consider the terrain you will be hunting. This will generally dictate the kind of scope you need. If you’re hunting in open terrain like fields or prairies, a wider field of view will be advantageous to scan a larger area. High-quality spotting scopes have the ability to gather available light into the scope and utilize it in a way that you can see better during low-light conditions.

Maintenance and Care

Like any outdoor equipment, proper maintenance is key to extending the lifespan of your spotting scope. To keep your optic in top condition, clean the lenses regularly using a microfiber cloth or lenspen, protect the lenses with caps when not in use, and store your spotting scope in a secure case during transport.

In conclusion, selecting the right spotting scope requires careful consideration of your specific hunting needs and preferences. By following this detailed guide, you can make an informed decision and select the best spotting scope for your hunting adventures.

Happy hunting!