Best Spotting Scope for Hunting

Last Update: July 2011

This page lists the Best Spotting Scopes for Hunting broke down into different price ranges starting with under $200 to over $2000.  Scroll down the page to find the hunting spotting scope that fits your budget best.

Please go through the links on this page before buying any products that we recommend so you get the best price possible and so we get credit for sending you.  Thank You!

#1 Rated Best Spotting Scope for Hunting:

Best Spotting Scope for Hunting

Swarovski 65mm Angled 20x60

Swarovski 65mm 20 x 60 Power Spotting Scope: Swarovski makes some of the best hunting optics that money can buy.  Their spotting scopes for hunting are no different.  If you can afford to drop a couple thousand dollars on the best spotting scope for hunting, then this is the one to buy.  You can choose from the standard optics or the HD optics.  I can’t quite say the HD optics are worth $600 more than the standard, but there is a difference.  So if you want the best and price is not a huge factor, then go with the HD optics.

This scope is available in 80mm objective as well. This makes for better low light use and field of view, although it makes it bigger and heavier so it may or may not be the best for you.  Definitely better optics yet though.

For more information, customer reviews, or to buy, Click Here:

Swarovski 20-60x65mm Spotting Scope @ EagleOptics.com       Price: $1,779 +
Swarovski 20-60x65mm Spotting Scope @ Amazon.com               Price: $1,779 +

Swarovski 80mm 20×60 Spotting Scope @ EagleOptics.com    Price: $2,249 +
Swarovski 80mm 20×60 Spotting Scope @ Amazon.com            Price: $2,249 +

Be sure to check all sites as prices change often. Also be sure to get the eyepiece.  You have several to choose from.  the 20X60 power is the most popular and what the prices above reflect, however the 25X50 wide angle is what we prefer but it does cost more.  This is the best spotting scope for hunting regardless of which eyepiece you choose.

 

***Can’t Afford the Best of the Best*** Of course, most hunters will not be able to afford a spotting scope of Swarovski caliber.  That’s okay because there are lots of options available in different price ranges.  We at Artifact Outfitters have narrowed down the best spotting scopes in each price range.  Scroll down to find the best spotting scope that fits your budget.

About Spotting Scopes

Spotting Scopes have become an invaluable tool for hunting and shooting.  While hunting, a spotting scope can be used to find game and or to determine the size once the game is found.  Spotting scopes are especially useful when hunting open areas.  The best Spotting scope for hunting is going to depend on your budget.  Like all hunting equipment, you get what you pay for.  That is not to say you cannot get a good spotting scope on a tight budget.  I am just saying that to get the best, you will be spending a lot of money.  That is why it is important to go with the best spotting scope that you can afford, as there is quite a difference between the top and bottom models. One thing to remember is that the difference between cheap and mid-priced is huge, while the difference between the mid-priced models and the very expensive is not quite as great.  Still, there is definitely a difference, and you get what you pay for.  So just make sure you go with the best you can afford and you will not regret your purchase.

Angled Body vs. Straight Body Spotting Scopes

On most spotting scopes that are not considered “cheap” you will have the option of an angled or straight body.  This is a very important option to consider as both have their pros and cons.

Angled spotting scope

Angled Body Spotting Scope

  • Angled Body: Best for situations when standing as it requires less height of a tripod and will be best for multiple users of different size as it requires less height adjustment.  Harder for beginners to find game due to the angle.  While good for standing in the field, it is harder to pack.  Does not work well at all for viewing in a car with a window mount.
  • Straight body spotting scope

    Straight Body

    Straight Body:Easier to get on the intended object.  Easy use with window mount and sitting in a car.  Better for packing.  Slightly less expensive then angled.  Taller tripod needed and more adjustment required for multiple users of different height.

  • Authors Preference: Straight is the only way to go for my style of hunting and wildlife viewing.  I spend a lot of time throughout the year viewing wildlife (scouting, hunting, and watching) from the comfort of my vehicle with my spotting scope on a window mount.  I also cram my spotter into my back pack a lot when hunting on foot.  I do not go anywhere without it so I need all the space and pack-ability I can get.

Best Spotting Scope for Hunting: Under $200

Best Spotting Scope for Hunting

The Bushnell Trophy 15-45 x 50mm is a quality spotting scope for a person that is on a tight budget. As long as you do not look through a high dollar scope, you will not know what you are missing.

Bushnell Trophy 15-45 x 50mm Spotting Scope:

The first spotting scope I ever owned, and still do, was this model from way back in ’95.  I was a poor high school kid and asked for this scope for my birthday from my dad.  He pulled through for me, but unfortunately it was stolen.  I bought another one and still have it today in working condition.  It was good for me then and as a spare now, but now Bushnell has improved upon it.

With the trophy you get a very inexpensive spotting scope that you can take with you whether it is in the car or you back pack.  It is light and small, and well made.  Click here to check out customer reviews.

With a spotting scope of this caliber, you are definitely getting what you pay for, so obviously don’t expect the best image quality, but for under $200 this is a great value.

Best Spotting Scope for Hunting

The Bushnell Trophy 20-60 X 65mm Spotting Scope is a lot of magnification for a small price. Both Bushnell Trophy models come with a cheap tripod.

Bushnell also offers the Trophy 20-60 X 65mm spotting scope.  It also has great reviews, but I want to mention that with this quality of scope, much over 45 power is not going to have a very clear image and the size is going to be noticeably larger, but if high magnification is what you are after, then you might want to consider it.

Bushnell Trophy Spotting Scopes are waterproof and feature a rubber armor coating to protect it from the riggers of the outdoors.  With premium multi-coated optics and a porro prism design, you can bet you are getting one of the clearest spotting scopes for hunting on the market.  The Trophy also includes a hard and soft case, as well as a tripod. Don’t expect much out of this cheap tripod.  To get a better one, which you will want, check out our page on the Best Tripod for Hunting (when we get our reviews done and write it up).

For more information or to buy, Click Here:

Bushnell Trophy 15-45 x 50mm Spotting Scope Best Price: $179.99 @ EagleOptics.com
May be out of stock.  If so check here: www.Binoculars.com or www.amazon.com

Bushnell Trophy 20-60 x 65mm Spotting Scope Best Price: $179.99 @ EagleOptics.com
May be out of stock.  If so check here: www.amazon.com

 

Best Spotting Scope for Hunting: Around $300

*** For a limited time, the Nikon ProStaff in the next category is on sale for $299.95.  You should definitely consider this Spotting Scope as it is an exceptional value.  It has a list price of $582.  Also check out the 82mm ProStaff on sale. ***

 

Best Spotting Scope for Hunting: Vortex Nomad Spotting Scope

Though not near the quality as high dollar spotters, the Vortex Nomad has the look and feel.

Vortex Nomad 20-60 x 60mm: I wanted to go “under $300″ but I feel that if I can talk some people into spending just a little bit more money I will be doing them a favor, as they will be getting a much better scope and would not be braking the bank to badly.  The Vortex Nomad is a very good spotting scope ideally made for hunting.  It is the perfect size, shape, and colors.  The feel and the clarity of the optics say that it is an expensive unit, but the price tag says otherwise.  Vortex has done very well in the optics market by producing fantastic products at a price the average hunter can afford.  They brought high grade optics to the people who could not otherwise afford them, and then they build on that with a customer for life.

Best for Hunting

The Vortex Nomad is the Best Spotting Scope for Hunting if you are on a tight budget and want excellent value.

The warranty that Vortex offers is worthy of its own paragraph.  The Nomad has the same warranty as all Vortex products: Unlimited, Unconditional, Transferable.  That is right!  If you have any problem regardless of who’s at fault, Vortex will take care of you.  That is offering a lot for a scope that is barely over $300.

If you are on a tight budget, but still want all the perks of a higher end spotting scope for hunting, then the Vortex Nomad is the scope you will most likely be happy with.  You, nor anybody else will be able to believe what you spent on it.  At about a foot long and 36 oz, it is the perfect size to stuff in you pack.  It comes with a see through case to keep it protected.

Click here to view the Vortex Nomad Full Review and Field Test

For more information or to buy, Click Here:

Vortex Nomad 20-60 x 60mm  Spotting Scope @ EagleOptics.com    Price: $329.99 
Vortex Nomad 20-60 x 60mm  Spotting Scope  @ Amazon.com           Price: $329.99  

Check both sites as prices change often.

 

Best Spotting Scope for Hunting: $400 – $600 Range

Nikon Prostaff Spotting Scopes:

Best Spotting Scope For Hunting

The Nikon Prostaff is the best spotting scope for hunting in its price range. The 65mm size is perfect for a backpack and offers great clarity and design.

Nikon is a brand that has always been known to offer fine quality at great prices.  The Prostaff series has got value written all over it.  You will have a hard time beating the combination of price and value that you get out of the Prostaff.  There are two different models, the 16-48x65mm and 20-60x82mm, each available in angled or straight body.  The 65mm model is suited more for a backpack than the 82mm, but it is hard to beat the light gathering ability of an 82mm objective and the zooming power of a 20×60.  The 16 power of the 65mm can come in handy as well when trying to find and stay on a moving object or scanning looking for game.  The design and image quality are hard to beat by anything close to their price range, plus it is made by a trusted manufacture that nearly all hunters can identify and stand behind their products with a great warranty (25 year, no-fault, limited).

Best Spotting Scopes for Hunting

The Nikon Prostaff is available in 2 sizes and as part of complete package with tripod, see thru case, and bag. Some units come with a window mount as well.

There is quite a price range between the different models that all come with a view through case, or you may choose to buy the spotting scope in a package with a case and tripod.  The tripod is of marginal quality (at least the one that came with mine was), but it is definitely better than none.  You will want to upgrade it eventually, but it will get the job done for a good price if you cannot afford a new one right away; you wont find a better one for under $30.  Check out the page on “Best Tripod for Hunting” (when we get them all reviewed and wrote up) to make sure you get the best tripod that you can afford.  The Prostaff 82mm is also available in Realtree Camo for an extra $30.  I would suggest leaving the view thru case on and you will never see the scope color.  Just not worth $30 for me.

Click here to view the Nikon ProStaff Spotting Scope Full Review and Field Test

For more information or to buy the Nikon Prostaff Spotting Scope, Click Here:

Nikon Prostaff 16-48x65mm Angled & Straight @ Amazon.com           Price: $319.88
Nikon Prostaff 16-48x65mm Angled & Straight @ EagleOptics.com   Price: $399.99 
Nikon Prostaff 20-60x82mm Angled & Straight
@ EagleOptics.com   Price: $499.95
Nikon Prostaff 16-48x65mm Package
@ EagleOptics.com                   Price: $429.99 
Nikon Prostaff 20-60x82mm Package @ Binoculars.com                     Price: $499.99

*** Check all sites as prices change often ***

Best Spotting Scope for Hunting: Under $1000

Nikon Fieldscope III 20-60 x 60mm:

Best Spotting Scope for Hunting

The Nikon Fieldscope III is a combination of great optics, style, and size. Definitely the best spotting cope for hunting under $1000

There is little doubt that this is the best spotting scope for hunting with a price tag under $1000.  It has all the features that I look for in a spotting scope.  It is compact for sure at less than 11 inches long, sturdy and well made, and is the perfect shape and size for stuffing into a backpack.  The Helical focusing mechanism (the black round part in the center area) is extremely easy to use and makes for quick focusing.  While it is a few more ounces heavier than the average for its size, the trade off is the durable construction, and again the fact that it is under 11 inches, which is far less than the average.

The Nikon Fieldscope comes with a very handy view thru case that allows full functionality of the scope including the zoom and focus.  The only problem I had with it was the Velcro tabs to keep the lens covers in place.  They were noisy when you did not want them to be, so they came off with the quick work of a razor blade.  The covers stay on just fine still and why they ever used Velcro on a piece of hunting equipment is beyond me.  Other than that I have had no complaints with this spotting scope and will hold it above all spotting scopes equal to and below it, as well as even some that are more expensive.

Nikon Fieldscope III 20-60 x 60mm in the View Thru Case

The view-thru case that comes with the Nikon Fieldscope protects without adding much bulk. The Scope is fully functionable with the case on.

The Nikon Fieldscope III is also available in a model featuring extra-low dispersion (ED) glass, which results in even brighter and clearer glass from edge to edge.  It is an extra $500, which may or may not be worth it to you.  As for me, I have seen them both side by side and I can confirm there is a difference, most notably in less than ideal lighting conditions, but I must say if you are trying to keep a budget of under $1000, it is not worth it.  The non ED glass works just fine and if you never compare it side by side, then you will never know the difference.  There is a link to both models below.  At the time of this writing, EagleOptics.com was having a sale making the Fieldscope $100 less than anywhere else.  Hopefully the sale is still going by the time you read this.  If not I will give you a link to Binoculars.com where you can compare prices.

For more information or to buy, Click Here:

Nikon Fieldscope III 20-60 x 60mm All Models @ Amazon.com                Price $849.95 +
Nikon Fieldscope III 20-60 x 60mm All Models @ EagleOptics.com         Price $899.95 +
Nikon Fieldscope III 20-60 x 60mm All Models @ Binoculars.com            Price $999.95 +

*** Check all sites as prices change often ***

 

Best Spotting Scope for Hunting: $1000-$1500 Range

Nikon Fieldscope III 20-60 x 60mm ED: This scope is the same as listed in the range above.  I personally feel that this scope does just as well, or better, than any other.  The list price puts it right in this range, but the sale price at the stores that I trust and suggest have it for sale for under $1000 on some models.  If you feel the need to spend over $1000 but do not want to put down the cash to buy the featured scope in the next range, (you might just want to save a little more money and by the Swarovski 20-60 x 60mm) then you might want to consider going with the Nikon Fieldscope III 20-60 x 60mm ED.  The “ED” stands for extra-low dispersion glass.  The result is clearer images from edge to edge, and better viewing in low light conditions.  The price below was at the time of this writing, and may reflect a sales price so it may or may not be the same price.

For more information or to buy, Click Here:

Nikon Fieldscope III 20-60 x 60mm ED Best Price: 1399.99 @ EagleOptics.com
Nikon
Fieldscope III 20-60 x 60mm ED Best Price: 1499.95 @ Binoculars.com

*** Check both sites as prices change often ***

 

Best Spotting Scope for Hunting: Under $2000

Swarovski 65mm 20 x 60 Power Spotting Scope: This scope gets the Artifact Outfitter’s “Best Spotting Scope for Hunting” Award!  This award is given to this model due to the fact that it has many of the features that a hardcore hunter is looking for.  Its is light weight at just under 3 lbs and compact at just over a foot long.  It packs well in a backpack, works well out your window, and looks extremely good sitting on your deck.

Best spotting scope for hunting

The Swarovski 20-60 X 65mm Spotting Scope wins the overall "Best Spotting Scope for Hunting" award due to its perfect size, shape, and viewing image. This is the best spotting scope a hard core hunter can buy.

And that is what’s on the outside.  What’s on the inside is what really counts.  I have been impressed by all of Swarovski optics that I have put my eyes up to, but their spotting scopes are where their true talents come out.  They use the best of all components and the most high tech processes to deliver the best clarity and light gathering abilities that you can buy in a spotting scope.  I could go on and on about all the components that are put into the Swarovski spotting scopes like Swaroclean, Bak-4 Prisms, Fully Multi-coated lenses, and many more,  but I’ll let you get that information at the link below.  All I need to tell you is that this is the best spotting scope for the hard core hunter who’s addiction is year round and all over the place.  The Swarovski 65mm 20 x 60 Power Spotting Scope does it all very well.

When purchasing the Swarovski Spotting Scope you have a few decisions to make:

Best Spotting Scope for Hunting

The whole line up of Swarovski scopes showing the size difference between the 65mm and 80mm objectives.

  • Body design: either straight or angled. I went over that at the beginning of this article, and like I said, I prefer the straight body.
  • Optics: HD or standard optics.  The Fluoride-containing HD lenses minimize color fringing and deliver high contrast images with razor-sharp outlines.  This is ideal for digital photography through the spotting scope.  The Standard optics are incredibly clear as well, but side by side the HD lenses will take the cake every time.  They are an extra $500 or so, but if you want the best and can afford it, go with the HD.  If you cannot afford the HD, that is fine.  Unless you compare the scopes side by side you will not know the difference.  Just compare it to other brands and you will be happy with your purchase.
  • Best Spotting Scope for Hunting

    There are several different options to choose from so make sure you get the model that is best for you and you will be satisfied for a long time.

    Eye Piece: this scope has two different eye pieces to choose form.  The 20-60 power zoom is kind of the standard, but a new option is the 25-50 power wide angle zoom.  It gives you less variable but the field of view is 25% greater.  Personally I prefer the wide angle as it is easier to scan for wildlife, although that 60 power sure is nice once you find an animal to zoom in on.  The ideal option is to buy both, but at $500-$700 each, this can get spendy.  The 20-60 is less expensive, and again if you don’t compare them side by side you will not know the difference.

  • Objective Lens: This depends on your style of hunting.  The “Best Spotting Scope for Hunting” Award goes to the 65mm, but if your style of hunting will allow a bigger scope, then the 80mm objective might be better for you as it is clearer yet and gathers more light for those low light conditions.  The 80mm is also a bit more expensive, bigger and heavier, so keep this in mind.  I prefer the 65mm right now, but if I ever have a deck with a view of wildlife, I will surely have an 82mm objective Swarovski  sitting at the door.

 

For more information, customer reviews, or to buy, Click Here:

Swarovski 20-60x65mm Spotting Scope @ EagleOptics.com       Price: $1,779 +
Swarovski 20-60x65mm Spotting Scope @ Amazon.com               Price: $1,779 +

Swarovski 80mm 20×60 Spotting Scope @ EagleOptics.com    Price: $2,249 +
Swarovski 80mm 20×60 Spotting Scope @ Amazon.com            Price: $2,249 +

Be sure to check all sites as prices change often. Also be sure to get the eyepiece.  You have several to choose from.  the 20X60 power is the most popular and what the prices above reflect, however the 25X50 wide angle is what we prefer but it does cost more.  This is the best spotting scope for hunting regardless of which eyepiece you choose.

Digiscoping

Are you interested in taking pictures and images through your spotting scope.  With a camera adapter you can connect your camera to your spotting scope and get surprisingly good photos and videos. Its called Digiscoping and we do it all the time.  It is nice to go scouting and take video of the animals we see, then be able to watch them at home.  Then when the hunt is all over we have video of the game when it was alive.

So far the best and least expensive spotting scope -camera adapter I have found to work well with most spotting scopes and cameras is the Zhumell Universal Digiscoping Adapter.  It is sturdy, easy and efficient to use, and is very inexpensive at under $30.00.

For more information or to buy, click here: Zhumell Universal Digiscoping Adapter

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20 Responses to Best Spotting Scope for Hunting

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  20. James says:

    Good list of the best spotting scopes for hunting. I just bought the Nikon Field Scope for myself and the prostaff for my son after reading these suggestions. Both are of great quality and think they are the best spotting scope options in my price ranges. Thanks for taking the time.