• Home >>
  • A Comprehensive Buying Guide for the Best Spotting Scope

A Comprehensive Buying Guide for the Best Spotting Scope

BARSKA Colorado Waterproof Spotting Scope

A spotting scope is one of the essentials in a hunting gear, or even for hobbyists who would need a tool to see distant objects closely. Generally speaking, it is a compact telescope, which is primarily made for terrestrial viewing. Some of the most common users of this tool include hunters and those who are into birdwatching. Like in the case pf binoculars, however, it can be used in any application as long as you need to have a better view of a subject from a distance.

If there is one thing that makes spotting scopes different from telescopes, it would be its price. They are not only more expensive, but also more powerful. Spotting scopes have various technical features that differentiate one from the other. From the quality of the optics to the design of the body, you should exert time and effort in the evaluation of the different choices.

Are you on the lookout for the best spotting scope? If yes, keep on reading and we will extend a helping hand. We will provide you with insights on some of the best models that can be taken into account, as well as some of the factors that should be taken into account.

The 5 Best Spotting Scope On The Market

Types of Spotting Scopes

Generally speaking, there are two types of spotting scopes:

  • Angled Body: In this spotting scope, the eyepiece is positioned at an angle of 45 degrees. One of the best things about this type is the flexibility that it can offer as it will allow you to view subjects from a variety of heights. It is also known for being able to offer better comfort when viewing as against its counterpart.
  • Straight Body: As the name implies, when this kind of spotting scope is used, your eyes will be in a straight line towards your subject. It is in a completely linear shape because of the alignment of the eye pieces. One of the reasons why this is preferred from the other is the fact that it is more intuitive.

Types of Coating

The coating of the spotting scope will have a significant impact on its performance. This will be indicative of the ability of the scope to gather light and will affect its brightness. Generally speaking, the following are the choices when it comes to the coatings of spotting scopes:

  • Coated: In this type, there is a single anti-reflective coating on at least one of the surfaces of the lenses.
  • Fully-coated: In this case, there is a single anti-reflective coating on all of the air-to-glass lenses.
  • ​Multi-coated: It is characterized by the use of multiple anti-reflective coatings on at least one of the surfaces of the lenses.
  • Fully Multi-coated: With this coating, all of the air-to-glass surfaces have multiple-anti-reflective coatings.

Essential Factors to Consider

In order to make it easier for you to differentiate one option from the other, make sure to take a look at the factors that will be mentioned below.

  • Construction: Generally speaking, this would refer to how well–made the spotting scope is. You should choose one that is made from high-quality materials, which will be indicative of its long-term-functionality and durability. You might also want to choose one with waterproof construction, which will make it more ideal for the outdoors.
  • Eye Relief: Simply put, this would refer to the distance by which your eye can be away from the scope without having a negative impact on the way that you see the subject. This is a feature that is especially important for people who are wearing glasses. This is often expressed in millimeters. Generally, a longer eye relief will prove to be the better choice if you wear thick glasses.
  • ​Focus: This is another technical consideration that should be looked at. Generally speaking, you will have three choices. The first one is helical focuser, which can be the perfect choice for the observation of moving objects. Rack and pinion designs, on the other hand, is perfect for the scopes hat can be used for astronomical viewing. Lastly, knob focusers are known for their slower action, but they are often hard to match when it comes to precision.
  • ​Objective Lens: As a rule of thumb, the better choice is a spotting scope that is designed with a larger objective lens. This means that you will be able to see a more detailed and clearer image of the subject.
  • Magnification: If there is one thing that separates binoculars from spotting scopes, it would be the fact that the latter has better magnification power. Look for excellent magnification so that the spotting scope can be useful in more applications.

Tips in Choosing a Spotting Scope

  • Go Beyond the Price: At all times, you should not choose one product only because it is the cheapest option that is available. After all, being cheap is not a guarantee of being the best. In most cases, it will be better to resort to the more expensive options as they are more commonly equipped with better features.
  • Learn from Others: If you are clueless on which one to choose, you should find time to read reviews, most of which are found online. You can also consider asking people you personally know. Through their insights and experiences, it will be easier to make a well-informed decision.
  • ​Try It Out: It is also a good idea to physically try and hold the spotting scope before having it purchased. This will be an opportunity for you to experience it firsthand before making a final decision.
  • Consider Warranty: If the manufacturer is confident about the quality of their product, they will not hesitate to offer an extensive warranty coverage. This will make you more confident on the workmanship of the spotting scope.

Our Top Picks for the Best Spotting Scope

1. Barska 20-60x60 Waterproof Straight Spotting Scope with Tripod

Whether you are into birding or hunting, or if you are just a naturalist, this is going to make an excellent choice for a spotting scope. Among other things, one of the best things about this model is its waterproof construction, which makes it the ideal companion in enjoying the outdoors.

The versatility of this spotting scope is one of the many benefits that it can provide. Regardless of the weather and lighting conditions, you can expect this scope to deliver clear and high-quality images.

One more thing that we loved about this model is the rubber armor housing, which makes the product excellent when it comes to durability. Even with prolonged and frequent use, you can be confident that its quality and functionality will remain the same.

BARSKA 20-60x60 Waterproof Straight Spotting Scope with Tripod

Editor Rating : 

Lastly, this is an excellent choice because of the lifetime warranty that is extended by the manufacturer. This is unlike in the case of other manufacturers offering only a year or a few years of warranty. Throughout its functional life, you can rely on the customer support from the manufacturer.

​Things We Liked:

  • Up to 60 times magnification
  • Extensive warranty coverage
  • Bright light transmission

​Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Weak tripod
  • A bit flimsy

2. Barska Colorado Waterproof Spotting Scope

If you are on the lookout for an all-weather spotting scope, this should be on the top of your list. One thing that makes it perfect for the great outdoors is that it comes with waterproof and fog-proof construction. This makes it the ultimate hunting companion as it can withstand extreme weather conditions.

BARSKA Colorado Waterproof Spotting Scope

Editor Rating : 

When it comes to portability, this is also going to be an impressive pick. One of the reasons why it is portable is because it comes with a lightweight body. Aside from such, it is also a good thing that it comes with a neck strap and carrying case.

In the evaluation of the options that are available in the marketplace, it is also important to pay attention to its construction. We are impressed with this model because of its nitrogen purged construction and rubber armoring. With the latter, you can expect it to be long-lasting, and most importantly, functional even in harsh outdoors.

The straight focusing system of this spotting scope is another feature that makes it gain an edge above others within the competition. It will allow you to focus on the subject and will get rid of distractions from the surroundings.

​Things We Liked:

  • Waterproof and fog-proof
  • Lightweight
  • Impressive focus

​Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Poor eye relief
  • Lens prone to blurring

3. Celestron 52252 100mm Ultima Zoom Spotting Scope

If there is one thing that would convince you to choose this model above others, it would be its Limited Lifetime Warranty. With the latter, if you experience any problem with the spotting scope, the manufacturer will take care of its repair or replacement.

This model is designed with the needs of users in mind. Meaning, it is designed to provide the highest level of comfort. One thing that makes this possible is its lightweight construction. In addition, it also has a smooth focus knob, which can be easily controlled with just one finger.

Celestron 52252 100mm Ultima Zoom Spotting Scope

Editor Rating : 

Based on the opinions that have been shared by its users, one more thing that makes it excellent is its armored rubber housing. This is the reason why you can expect this to be durable. It has a rugged body that will make it possible to have its quality maintained through time.

The T-mount threading that is integrated in the eye piece barrel of this model is another design component that makes it impressive. This will make it possible for the scope to be attached even on your camera.

​Things We Liked:

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Rugged design
  • Easy to access adjustment knob

​Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Optics can be improved
  • Thread prone to stripping

4. Celestron 52320 Landscout 10-30x50 Spotting Scope

One of the features of this spotting scope is its fully-coated optics. With the latter, you can expect unrivalled clarity in seeing the subject. It also has the ability to naturally improve light transmission to make the images sharper and clearer.

It is also a good thing that it comes with an ergonomic design, which will allow you to handle it easily. You will also not have to suffer from discomfort even with prolonged use. This is made possible by features like rubber grip and its large focus wheel.

If you are looking for a lightweight spotting scope, this is going to be an ideal pick as well. If you love backpacking and hiking, this can be carried with ease. Forget the idea of bringing bulky and heavy scopes as this one will surely prove to be an excellent alternative.

Celestron 52320 Landscout 10-30x50 Spotting Scope

Editor Rating : 

Lastly, another good reason to have this considered above other models is the rotating tripod mount, which is going to increase its functionality. This will allow you to have it rotated with ease depending on the viewing position that is best and most comfortable for you.

​Things We Liked:

  • Lightweight
  • Large focus wheel
  • Tripod

​Things We Didn’t Like:

  • A bit small
  • Poor eye relief

5. Barska Blackhawk Spotting Scope

One of the features of this spotting scope that we loved is its angled body. With the latter, you can be sure of your comfort, even if it is going to be used for an extended period of time. The addition of a tabletop tripod is also a good thing. With the tripod, you can easily tilt or pan the scope as desired.

Technically, this can also prove to be a commendable option. This is because of the various innovations that allow the product to stand out from all others. It has Porro prism and multi-coating. It also has magnification that ranges from 20 – 60x.

Barska Blackhawk Spotting Scope 20-60x 60mm with Tripod and Hard Case Rubber Armored

Editor Rating : 

If you are often outdoors, you will have another good reason to purchase this model. It is waterproof and fog-proof, which will make it withstand extreme weather conditions without negatively affecting its functionality.

Lastly, it is also a good thing that it comes with an ergonomic design, which is basically the one that is responsible for ease of handling. It is designed with the needs of users in mind, making sure that you will never have to complain of discomfort.

​Things We Liked:

  • Ergonomic design
  • Portable zoom
  • Variable magnification

​Things We Didn’t Like:

  • No height adjustment for tripod
  • Lens cap frequently falls

Infographic - Best Spotting Scope 

Best Spotting Scope Infographic

Best Spotting Scope Infographic


By now, it should be easier for you to make a decision with regards to what to choose for the best spotting scope. Our recommendations above were based on the opinions shared by other users and our independent evaluation of the different features and technical specifications of the product. With confidence, we can say that they are indeed amongst the best that you will ever find in the marketplace.