How To Spot The Right Spotting Scope For You

The Importance Of Spotting Scopes

If you’re like most people, you may be asking yourself, ‘Why is there a need for spotting scopes?‘. You may think that it is excessive – You could do your spotting with the scope already on your rifle. You may think that it is sufficient enough to do the spotting with your digital camera.

To answer the question, think of how you would use the term ‘spotting’ in weightlifting. Health enthusiasts who are looking to increase their overall body strength must lift heavier weights. The weightlifter’s body is able to easily do repetitions, even as the dumbells or barbells get heavier… But the body will reach its limits.

Best Spotting Scopes

It is in these instances where proper form in lifting is absolutely necessary. However, there is a high likelihood that the lifter would get sloppy in his repetitions. For this reason, a separate weightlifter, called a ‘spotter’ is required. The spotter is ready to assist the lifter to ensure and encourage him to lift better, and with more repetitions.

In the same way that a spotter assists a weightlifter, so a spotting scope fine-tunes the workflow of a hunter, or a bird photographer, or a long-range marksman:

  1. The hunter shoots, while a partner confirms the miss or the kill.
  2. The photographer confirms the sighting of a rare bird, before using a high-powered lens to take a winning shot.
  3. The long-range marksman works in tandem with a dedicated spotter, to fine-tune his accuracy in hitting a target hundreds of meters away.

No matter what the instance may be, it is a good spotting scope that contributes to the best value out of every shot.

The Important Properties Of Quality Spotting Scopes

Say you’re convinced of the importance of a spotting scope. The next thing you do is to run to the nearest hardware or outdoor gear store, and walk out with a scope, right? Wrong. There will be some considerations you have to make before calling a particular spotting scope perfect for your needs.

1. Magnification And Brightness

First off, what will you be looking at through the scope? Will you be looking at birds, and other camera-shy creatures? Will you need a scope with a powerful zoom to see where your bullet really went in the target sheet?

What you plan on spotting? It’s important for you to know, as this will determine what magnification you would want. If you want to know the power of the spotting scope you are browsing through, all you need to look for are numbers such as 45×60, or 60×60. ’45x’ entails that you will be looking at a subject 45 times closer than you would see it with the naked eye. Obviously, a higher number means a higher magnification.

The number after the ‘x’ is the diameter of the front lens element of the spotting scope, in diameters. With that said, a 45×60 scope has a 45x magnification capability, and its front lens element is 60mm wide. The wider your front lens element, the more light goes through the lens. Front lens elements are made as wide as possible, just so the image you see through the scope is as bright as possible, even after seeing it through a darkened tube.

Depending on what you plan on looking at, you will need to see if the scope in question may zoom in too close, or too far away to distinguish critical details. As for the front lens element diameter, you will soon find out that a wider piece of glass up front costs more.

2. Environmental Conditions

Another critical question you should ask is, what sort of settings will you be using the scope in?

Most spotting scope manufacturers assume that the spotting scope will be used mostly in the outdoors. With that said, you can expect a vast majority of quality scopes to be waterproof or water resistant by default. Don’t just check the overall material of the shell containing all the glass: Check, how is the entire scope sealed? If there are any screws, are these possible entry points sealed further, or are they treated with more waterproofing?

While the spotting scope you’re interested in may be automatically built to resist moisture, does it also prevent dust and other residue from making its way into the lenses and the other delicate areas? Can you use the same scope in extreme weather conditions, such as winter and unusually hotter situations?

3. Portability

Spotting scopes could be built like tanks, resistant or just tough against all water and dust. It could also take a few hard blows without missing a beat. But you can be sure that all this reinforcement could add extra ounces and grams to the entire scope, and this could be an issue, especially if you are travelling on foot a little further than usual.

On the other hand, a smaller and lighter spotting scope may not necessarily give you the right magnification range needed. This is a balance only you would have to determine for yourself. Also remember: the lighter the scope, the lighter the tripod you may need to mount it on, for a more steady viewing experience.


While these are some of the main properties you ought to consider when choosing the best spotting scope for your needs, there are also other minor considerations:

  • Would you prefer an angled or a straight spotting scope?
  • Are the coatings on the lens going to make or break the deal for you?
  • Will you need to accessorize the spotting scope?
  • Should the scope work with or without glasses on?

The main takeaway here is to have a literal vision of how you would be using your spotting scope, before making the solid decision of what spotting scope deserves to be bought with your hard-earned money. If you know where you will be using it before you have it, then you’ll know what it is.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *