The Best Spotting Scopes

Gear We Use
The Best Spotting Scopes
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Comb through a Cormac McCarthy novel multiple times, and you’ll be amazed at what you missed. The same goes for glassing big game with a spotting scope. And while you still might have to scan until your eyes fall out, some spotters can make that job easier. From whitetails to Dall sheep and everything in between, the MeatEater Crew has spent countless hours glassing. To find the best spotting scopes, I interviewed some of the crew to find out which ones they use to locate big critters.

What We Look for in a Good Spotting Scope

Spotting scopes are no small investment, and these picks check all the boxes for us. Even if you opt for a spotter that’s not on this list, make sure you consider these criteria before dropping any cash.

  1. Optical Quality
  2. Magnification
  3. Size
  4. Warranty

We look for spotting scopes with great glass and the necessary magnification for our hunting needs. Spotting a deer and actually counting its tines might be the difference in several hundred, or a thousand, dollars. The size of a spotter tends to be more subjective, but a solid warranty (preferably lifetime) is a must.

The Spotting Scopes We Use

I’d be willing to bet my own spotting scope that the MeatEater crew spends more time glassing than most hunters actually spend hunting. There are plenty of great spotters that didn’t make this list, but you’d be hard pressed not to find a solid option here.

Jump to: Field Notes

What Makes a Good Spotting Scope

Even "cheap" spotting scopes aren't cheap, and there's a great divide between the affordable and ridiculously expensive ones. That's why we consider these four factors before buying one.

  1. Optical Quality
  2. Distinguishing the number and size of tines on antlered animals, especially in distant, low light conditions, requires decent to high quality glass. This is where expensive spotters earn their keep. The difference between a $500 and $2000 spotting scope becomes glaringly apparent at dawn/dusk.

  3. Magnification
  4. Hunters glassing beanfields or prairies for whitetails can get away with a spotter that has max 45x capabilities. But if you’re scouring distant drainages or thick hillsides, more zoom might come in handy. Just know that cheap glass tends to get blurrier near those max ranges. If you really want to get the most out of a 65x spotter, get ready to drop some cash.

  5. Size
  6. Full-sized spotters with a 85mm or larger objective lens provide maximum range and viewing capabilities, but they might not prove ideal if you’re trying to keep the weight down. If that’s the case, opting for a spotter with a 65mm objective lens and less magnification will save some room in your pack.

  7. Warranty
  8. Spotting scopes aren’t cheap. Extreme conditions, accidents, and forgetful buddies can be hell on a spotter. Just make sure yours comes with a warranty that covers your investment.

Field Notes from the MeatEater Crew

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