11 Best Spotting Scopes [View-Throughs]: Range & Hunting

Not sure if you need a spotting scope?

We usually don’t hesitate when getting a new scope or red dot…but we lag on getting a spotting scope.

Tested Spotting Scopes
Tested Spotting Scopes

We’ll cover what to look for in a spotting scope and a couple choices spanning all budgets.  Complete with view-throughs of our tested ones.

By the end you’ll know if you even need one…and also which one to get.

Table of Contents

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What to Look For in a Spotting Scope

Magnification

All those numbers you see in the catalogs are important to understand.

When you see the following in a catalog “20-60×80” it means…

  • the scope has zoom magnification from 20 power to 60 power
  • the objective lens (the lens in front) is 80 millimeters in diameter

That gives you a lot of magnification as well as a big lens to gather more light and make your image brighter during those all-important first light and last light glassing periods.

The scope you buy will depend on your most frequent use or targeted use.

Use

If you are a dedicated long range shooter you may opt for a scope with a larger objective lens and higher magnification.

But that extra glass means more weight and more dollars.

The same scope may be not necessary if your passion is mountain hunting.

Chasing critters like sheep and goats in the far north usually means an investment in glass that allows you to determine if an animal is worth leaving the mountain you are glassing from and descending thousands of feet and climbing up the next ridge.

The weight of that big scope can save you many miles and thousands of vertical feet.

A good spotter will allow you check a bull like this from a long distance.
A good spotter will allow you to check a bull like this from a long distance.

Eye Piece

Spotting scopes can be found with either a straight view eyepiece or with an angled eyepiece.  For many of us, it is much easier to find our target or critter with a straight view scope.

However, if multiple folks are going to be looking through the scope, it’s a little more difficult to get the tripod height just right.

With an angled eyepiece you can lock in on the target object and folks just look down through the scope.

The other part of the eyepiece that is critical is the exit pupil.

If you hold a rifle scope or spotting scope at arms length and line it up to look through it you will see a little white disk of light.

Exit Pupil on spotting scope
Exit Pupil on a spotting scope

The diameter of that disk is the exit pupil diameter.  The exit pupil should be approximately the same as the diameter of the pupil of your eye.

This will allow a bit of flexibility as to how close your eye must be to the eyepiece of the spotting scope to have a full view through the scope.

Generally, the larger the exit pupil, the more eye relief you will have.

Weather Proofness

Be sure the scope you choose is weatherproof.

I say weather because it’s not just rain and snow that cause issues with optics.  Be sure the scope is sealed against dust as well.

If you’ve ever laid out prone in a prairie dog town in the Wyoming wind you know why dust proof is critical.  Somehow dust gets on and in everything you own.

Bad weather american
We can only hope our spotting scopes are as weatherproof as this dude.

You need to be sure the scope tube is properly purged and free of as much moisture and oxygen as possible. 

If not you may experience the internal glass fogging if you take the scope from cold outdoor temperatures to a warm tent or cabin, then back out again.

The fog will dissipate over time, but it’s a hassle to deal with.

Best Spotting Scopes

Like guns, there are dozens of spotting scopes out there that will serve you well and last a lifetime.

dozens of us
Dozens of Us

Of course, the Big Three; Leica, Zeiss, and Swarovski all will provide you with ultra clear glass, smooth zooms and easy focusing.

But do you really need $2000-$3000 glass for your shooting and hunting endeavors?

Probably not.

Let’s start with some spotting scopes for us mere mortals…

1. Celestron 52250

From our editor, here’s his pick of the best bang-for-the-buck for something that will do it’s job of telling you hits and misses.

Celestron 55250
Celestron 55250

The Celestron 55250 ($149) gets you out of the ultra-budget zone into spotting scopes with decent glass to see with 20-60x magnification.

It’s hard to get proper photos through a spotting scope…but we brought all the ones we tested to our local 600 yard range.

The area we’re going to look at is in the red oval.

600 Yards at Angeles Range, Marked
600 Yards at Angeles Range, Marked

Attached our spotting scopes to a tripod (more on those at the end).

Mounted Celestron Spotting Scope
Mounted Celestron Spotting Scope

This one of the Celestron at 20x looking at 500 and 600 yard targets.

Celestron Spotting Scope 20x
Celestron Spotting Scope 20x

Note…it will definitely look better through your own eyeballs…and you’ll get the full circle view too.  It’s just very hard with a camera!

And here it is at 60x.  Pay special attention to the red circle target since we’ll be using that as our barometer of glass quality.

Celestron Spotting Scope 60x
Celestron Spotting Scope 60x

And an attempt at getting footage from our PSA 6.5 Creedmoor Review.

Plenty enough to see what you need to at this range.

Once you use your own eyes and 60x…you can go up to 1000+ yards.

The 45 degree angle works well and adjustment on the eyepiece and focus are very usable.

Celestron 55250, Rear
Celestron 55250, Rear

Our solid recommendation for a great starter spotting scope that’s around $150.

Celestron Spotting Scope
Celestron Spotting Scope

And is likely to live a cushy life to and from the range.

Editor's Pick
149
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

What’s your take on the Celestron?

Readers' Ratings

4.95/5 (386)

Your Rating?

If you’re looking to take in on some more rough and tumble adventures…you might want the next up.

2. Athlon Talos 20-60x80mm

A second entry in the budget zone of spotting scopes, the Athlon Talos is another great option if you need to watch your pennies.

Our editor has been using his for over a year now and it’s held up to everything he can throw at it. From industry events to shooting matches, this is a workhorse spotting scope that just delivers.

Spotter LR backyard Palm Tree at 125 yards
Palm tree looking crisp and clear 125 yards away in the California sun. Picture taken with a TactaCam Spotter LR

The glass is clear enough to call shots out to at least 800 yards, but seeing hits on a splatter target is limited to around 300 yards depending on the target and the weather.

Althon Talos at 650
Althon Talos at 650 yards

One nice thing is that the Talos comes with a build in sunshade, this is a minor detail but it’s a nice perk.

Plus a carry bag and bench height tripod are nice too!

Athlon Talos Spotting Scope and TactaCam Spotter LR (17)
Athlon Talos Spotting Scope and TactaCam Spotter LR

A 45-degree eyepiece that is fully adjustable rotation gives you a lot of freedom for how to position things. From pone on the ground to sitting at a bunch, you can get a good sight picture when you need it.

150
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

3. Sig Sauer Oscar 3

Sig is at it again with their mag scientist routine — this time, they’ve smashed a gyroscope with a spotting scope and come out with the Oscar 3, with auto image stabilization technology under the hood.

When Sig offered to send the Oscar 3 out for review, our editor expected it to be a digital scope and using software to stabilize the image.

Oscar 3 resting on a tripod.

Nope. Instead, Sig does it the right way — they use some engineering magic to stabilize the optical glass and prism themselves in the spotting scope.

What this does is give you incredible optical clarity, amazing light transmission, and a stable image while freehanding the spotting scope.

At only 10-20x30mm, this is a very compact little spotting scope. It’s also clearly not designed for scoping out a bull at 3-miles. It’s more for close in work and meant to be used in the hand, not the tripod.

Oscar 3 at 250
Oscar 3 10x at 250 yards. The red piece of metal is a random 34″x24″ desert scrap.

For speedy spotting and tracking a target, the Oscar 3 delivers. It’s also well built, has a grippy casement, and has that “quality” feel in your hand.

Oscar 3 at 250
Oscar 3 20x at 250 yards, same piece of desert scrap.

Here is a quick video showing off the image stabilization. Note that I called it the “Romeo 3″… my bad. It’s hard to keep Sig’s naming conventions straight sometimes.

The stabilization really works. It won’t keep it steady-cam steady, but it takes a huge bite out of the wobble that the average person has.

If you wanted the video, keep in mind that was me standing, using one hand to hold the Oscar 3 and my other hand to hold my phone in the perfect place to get video. So… not stable at all!

The diagonal movement you see is refresh rates being odd with my camera, ignore it.

To finish it off, it comes with a belt-mounted carry case and two Energizer Lithium-Ion batteries.

I mention that because it’s so rare that a company gives you the good batteries over whatever crap fell off a slow boat from China. So I appreciate it.

Scanning for game from a truck, up in a tree-stand, or out for a hike — the Oscar 3 is great.

We have a full review with more pictures if you’re interested in the Sig Sauer Oscar 3!

4. Vortex Diamondback 20-60x80mm

Vortex Optics have a reputation for being clear and precise at prices that don’t seem possible.

Vortex Diamondback Spotting Scope 20-60x
Vortex Diamondback Spotting Scope 20-60x

Take the Vortex Diamondback 20-60x80mm Spotting Scope.

Here we have their entry-level scope offering a great range of magnification as well as a big 80mm objective lens to help us at last light when that big mule deer buck is just sneaking out of the timber for a bite to eat.

Diamondback Spotting Scope Mounted
Diamondback Spotting Scope Mounted

The Diamondback is nearly 15 inches long and weighs 47 ounces, so it is by no means a compact or lightweight scope. 

It does feel light-years more durable and quality compared to the Celestron even though they are the same weight.

It’s also waterproof and fog-proof and comes with a view-through carry case so your scope is always protected in the field.

Here it is at 20x.

Diamondback Spotting Scope, 20x
Diamondback Spotting Scope, 20x

And at 60x…don’t worry we’ll have these side-by-side in a little bit.

Diamondback Spotting Scope, 60x
Diamondback Spotting Scope, 60x

The scope is available with either straight or angled eyepieces.

As with all Vortex products you are covered with the transferable Lifetime Warranty should you ever need service.  All in all a quality option for the more vigorous shooter or hunter.

5. Vortex Viper HD 20-60x85mm

We step it up a little in Vortex’s spotting scope line with the Viper HD 20-60×85.

Vortex Viper Spotting Scope 20-60x
Vortex Viper Spotting Scope 20-60x

The objective lens is a little bigger at 85mm which lets in more light.  But it’s much heftier at 76 oz compared to the 47 oz of the Diamondback

It also comes with a built-in sunshade plus you don’t have to use a little dial to focus anymore…it’s that ribbed center of the main body.

Viper Spotting Scope, Mounted
Viper Spotting Scope, Mounted

And boy does it feel silky-smooth too.

Here it is at 20x.

Viper Spotting Scope, 20x
Viper Spotting Scope, 20x

And at 60x.

Viper Spotting Scope, 60x
Viper Spotting Scope, 60x

You can definitely see more definition of the hits on the red target.

What I recommend if you want to reach to a mile and beyond…or if you really plan on putting your glass through some abuse.

6. Maven S.2 12-27x56mm

Maven is fairly new to the world of optics, but they are coming for the big boys and have the optics to put up a fight.

Based in Wyoming, Maven focuses on selling directly to the consumer and cutting out the middle man.

Taking a page out of old school Colt marketing, Maven offers an incredible custom shop through their website. You can pick and choose your colors, camo patterns, or even get it engraved.

The S.2 is a compact, fairly lightweight spotting scope designed for the backcountry hunter where weight is a premium and great optics a requirement.

12x Maven
12x Maven, the tree is 475 yards

Here is the stats:

  • Weighs 34 ounces
  • 11 inches long
  • 12-27x magnification range
  • 56mm objective lens
  • Fluorite glass
  • Fully multi-coated lenses
  • Abbe-Koenig prism
  • 137-110 FOV
  • Magnesium and polymer housing
  • Tripod mountable

With only 12-27 magnification, you are a bit limited in range. But the glass quality really helps make up for that and allows you to pick out sharp details at ranges further out than you might expect.

27x Maven
27x Maven, the tree is 475 yards

Alice recently took hers out on a long Elk hunt in Colorado and has a ton of detailers in her review (coming soon…).

The short version though is that Maven delivers. Optics, build quality, and top level design — the S.2 is a major piece of glass that is worth every penny if you’re looking at taking big game.

950
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

7. Vortex Razor HD 27-60x85mm

Let’s really step it up to Vortex’s highest line…the Razor HD 27-60×85.

Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope 27-60x
Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope 27-60x

Again it has the larger 85mm objective lens to let in more light.

And if it’s like the Razor series of rifle scopes…it’s top notch glass from Japan.  It’s also surprisingly lighter than the Viper at 66 oz.

But the real difference is looking through it!

Razor Spotting Scope, Mounted
Razor Spotting Scope, Mounted

We mounted this bad boy and set it to 27x.

Razor Spotting Scope, 27x
Razor Spotting Scope, 27x

It also has the built-in sunshade and super smooth focus dial.

Razor Sun Shade
Razor Sun Shade

Drumroll…here it is at 60x.

Razor Spotting Scope, 60x
Razor Spotting Scope, 60x

You can see taste the extra…”furriness” of the hits on target.

But is it worth basically double the Viper?

Maybe…if you’re really into quality glass and need that extra clarity for super long range hits.

8. Sig Sauer Oscar 8

We got to test the Oscar 8 along with the Tactacam Spotter LR, and our editor has fallen in love with the Oscar 8.

Sig Sauer Oscar 8 and Tactacam Spotter LR (9)
Sig Sauer Oscar 8 and Tactacam Spotter LR

Using Sig’s HDX optics that include both high definition (ED) and high transmittance (HT) glass, this is just a crazy clear spotting scope.

It also includes proprietary coatings, Schmidt-Pechan prism, and an eyepiece that can be removed.

The removable eyepiece gives you a wide range of aftermarket options if you want to get fancy with it.

It’s a bit heavy at 4.25lbs, but that’s more or less what you should expect from a high quality spotting scope.

It also comes waterproof, fog proof, and Sig even throws in a fitted neoprene cover.

Sig Sauer Oscar 8 and Tactacam Spotter LR (6)
The ‘Sig Sauer’ logo is important so the people around you know they are being flexed on

Plus — it’s assembled in the USA.

Here is the Oscar 8 at 55x zoom and 650 yards:

Oscar 8 at 650 yards
Oscar 8 at 650 yards

And here is 55x at 250 yards:

Oscar 8 at 250 yards
Oscar 8 at 250 yards

The image quality is great in those pictures, but they are even better in person.

Don’t forget to take a look at the complete Oscar 8 review!

Now…do you have even more money to burn?

9. Leica APO-Televid 82

If I were to pick any scope out there and know that it is likely the best glass and engineering available I’d head straight to the counter where they display the big scopes with the little red circle…Leica.

The APO-Televid 82 will do anything you need a spotting scope to do and do it with class and perfection.

The APO is 25-50x82mm and has an angled or straight eyepiece that is interchangeable. A nice feature of the eyepiece is that is a wide angle design so you have a better peripheral view even at high magnification.

If you need more than 50 power you can add a 1.8x multiplier to the scope and have a nice 40-90 power spotter. The scope is heavy at 51.82 ounces so a quality tripod and head are in order.

The 25-50 eyepiece will run you another $879. So for the scope and eyepiece, you’ll need to write a check for $3,578.

And don’t forget your tripod.

10. Minox MD 50 W

My personal spotting scope for years that lives in the range bag and my pack when I’m headed deep into the wilderness for elk or deer is the Minox MD 50 W.

This little scope is only 8.39 inches long and weighs just 22 oz.  About half of both for the Celestron and intro-Vortex.

The eyepiece is a respectable 16-30 zoom.

While this is no Leica or Zeiss it is compact and clear enough to do what I need it to do.  I can see and call shots at the 1000 yard range and tell if the buck is legal from a long way off.

Minox spotter with straight eyepiece - looking for shed antlers.
Minox Spotter with a Straight Eyepiece

The scope is waterproof and dust-proof and is rubber armored.

It is light enough that you can get by with a compact, lightweight tripod as well. F or those looking for a great backpacking spotter, you can put this on your packing list for under $200.

195
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

11. Maven S.2 Spotting Scope

The Maven Spotting Scope brings a sleek and modern look to the spotting scope arena. Boasting flourite glass and fully multi-coated lenses, expect to see razor-sharp, high-contrast images.

Judging on clarity alone, the Maven S.2 is a steal compared to other spotting scopes on the market. 

Maven S.2
Maven S.2

Magnification and focus dials are buttery-smooth and super easy to use — even when wearing gloves. 

This optic is durable and built like a tank. You won’t have to worry about taking it into the field. All in all, Maven loaded the S.2 with features and priced reasonable.

Maven S.2 at 12x
Maven S.2 at 12x

Seriously, don’t sleep on this model. 

To get a closer look check out our full review on the Maven S.2 Spotting Scope

950
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Other Gear You Might Want

Tripod

If you have a 20 or 25 power scope on your long range rig, how often do shoot offhand when cranked all the way up?

Not very.

It is nearly impossible to hold still enough to do any good at that magnification.

Now try to hold your 60 power scope still.

Can’t be done.

The good thing is that even a basic tripod is enough unless you went all-out with a huge spotting scope.

24
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

If you’re looking for something top-of-the-line…check out Manfrotto tripods (it’s what we use for photography/videography).

Tactacam Spotter LR

As you might have seen in several pictures, the Spotter LR from Tactacam is a cool piece of kit that lets you get some great pictures and video through your spotting scope.

Sig Sauer Oscar 8 and Tactacam Spotter LR (9)
Sig Sauer Oscar 8 and Tactacam Spotter LR

You should take a look at the Complete Hands-on Review, but the short version is that it’s pretty awesome.

It does rely on you having some good glass though — I wouldn’t recommend it be paired with anything under about Vortex Diamondback quality.

The Oscar 8 we had it on looked simple amazing!

Oscar 8 at 650 yards
Oscar 8 at 650 yards with Tactacam Spotter LR
300
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Final Thoughts

Spotting scopes are often one of those items that you really get what you pay for with regards to quality.

Spotting Scopes Glass
Spotting Scopes Glass

If you’re simply starting out long-range shooting at the range…get the Celestron or Athlon.

150
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Both are pretty similar in view quality to the Vortex Diamondback 20-60x, which is triple the price and probably not triple the build quality.

But if you want to upgrade a little get the Vortex Viper HD 20-60x.  You get better glass, a larger objective lens, built-in sunshade, better focus dial, and better eye relief.

If you’re looking to do some back country hunting, the Maven S.2 is a top choice!

And if you just love really great quality optics…the Razor HD 27-60x and Sig Sauer Oscar 8 are must-consider picks.

Let us know what kind of spotters you are using and why.  And if you need a great scope for your rifle, don’t forget to take a look at our Best Scopes & Optics article!

A Couple AR-15 Optics
A Couple AR-15 Optics

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22 Leave a Reply

  • Terrence Barlow

    Hoping for a review of various camera systems that put the camera at 1000yd and a way to view and record impact in real time at the shooter. Seen one that only works out to 300.

    2 months ago
  • Mark

    How about a $50. scope, with tripod. What do you think of this one from Harbor Freight?

    2 months ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      I absolutely guarantee that it will be nearly useless outside of 50 yards. Even those reviews on the site don't look good.

      2 months ago
  • SSL

    I have the Vortex Razor HD 85mm, it is a great scope! Our unit purchased spotting scope-Kowa TSN 884 with 88mm obj. We compared them side by side and the Kowa was better by a little. At 2.5 miles, the Kowa had better definition of the image and was brighter at full magnification. I was bummed, but the Vortex works extremely well and was what I was the right price for me. Kowa was better, was also another $1,000. Also checked at closer ranges, 300-400 yards-Kowa just a little better though at closer ranges the difference was less noticeable.

    3 months ago
  • Bull o' the Woods

    The Nikon scope to examine in this category would be the Nikon Monarch 82ED-S (straight body) with the MEP-20-60 eyepiece. Nikon does not offer a ranging reticle. I have not been able to find out what "MEP" stands for. Perhaps "Monarch Eye Piece"?

    10 months ago
  • Bull o' the Woods

    One issue not dealt with in this article is the use of detachable eyepieces for either long eye relief (LER) if you wear eyeglasses or with ranging reticles. Only the Vortex Razor HD scopes mentioned in this article will accept LER or ranging eyepieces which cost an extra ~US$300 or ~US$400 respectively, putting you close to ~US$2,000 for any Vortex Razor HD scope. The Kowa sells detachable eyepieces but none have ranging reticles. Adding a ranging reticle immediately elevates you into high-end spotting scopes such as Swarovski, Optolyth (which I believe is made by IOR Valdada), and Leupold Tactical. Worth it?

    10 months ago
  • rimfirejunky

    I have had Kowa in the past and am going back to Kowa. The clarity and quality are superior compared to other units on the market. This is a birder's scope, they have an eye for detail and plumage colors at any range. The unit I bought over 20 years ago was over a grand and I could see tree bark at 600 yards easy and tell what kind of tree it was by the bark and foliage. At closer ranges of 200-300 yards, I could see ants and bugs crawling around and be able to identify the type of bugs on the targets. Save up your change and buy the Kowa.

    1 year ago
    • amc

      I participate in the sport of smallbore rifle shooting and after many years using an Opticron 66 I upgraded to a Vortex Diamondback 80mm. I shoot regularly with 3 others who use Kowa tsn - 82sv 20-60x as my zoom is. My scope set up side by side with one of the Kowa's at a target (. 22 bullet holes on black target with a dark background) at 100yards I'm afraid all 3 through gritted teeth had to admit my Vortex gave the slightly better image. The other 2 Kowa owners put their scopes on the table too but the result was the same. For the money it is a very impressive scope. The shop had 2 Vortex Diamonbacks in and looking through both I purchased the better of the 2 so maybe quality control could be an issue but I feel you must go to a shop and look through what you're buying if you're as picky as I am. Paying more doesn't automatically mean better.

      1 year ago
  • Bull o' the Woods

    Some years back (say, 2007-2008) Jim Owens at JarHeadTop was touting the Konus 7120B 20x-60x80mm spotting scope as a worthy successor to the Kowa TSN-821 for about half the price (~US$250 for the Konus vs. ~US$600 for the Kowa at that time). I bought a Konus from him back in the day and it has been adequate for my needs. Today, the Konus has disappeared from his website and he sells only Kowa, specifically the TSN-82SV for ~US$800. Owens's readers are primarily competitive high power rifle shooters out to 1,000 yards. I do not know whether Owens has any special relationship with Kowa (doubtful, given his background), but if the Kowa is good enough for him it should be good enough for me, particularly since the Kowa sells for half the price of the Vortex scopes and one-third the price of the Leica listed above. You can go broke buying a spotting scope. Kowa seems to have the best price/performance ratio.

    1 year ago
  • Bill

    Though not cheap, the Kowa TSN-884 with the TE-11WZ eyepiece is certainly one of the best in the world. It's surprising to me how often this one gets left out of the discussion of the ultra high end spotters. I've compared it with a Zeiss Diascope 85 mm. The Zeiss is excellent but the Kowa TSN-884 is even better, and imo, by a considerable margin.

    1 year ago
  • Austin

    Nice review with brands and availability common to most big box retailers for folks to put their hands and eyes on... that's exactly what I did next. However, this is where changed course from what I fulley expected to purchase prior to walking through the sliding doors. I compared both vortex options in this review and a leupold with a scope and company I had not caught wind of prior to this experience. it was a recommendation of the associate to bring the Vanguard Endeavor HD outside as well for comparison. I walked in and back out with the Vanguard and couldn't believe the change of heart of value this glass offers. We all have super subjective opinions with glass, but I'd being my fellow enthusiasts a disservice if I don't put this on their radar as it passed my eye test and exceeded the others in the same lighting conditions.

    1 year ago
    • john

      I concur and will second this comment - Vanguard - great tripods. spotters and bino's aaannnnddd - scopes with the enhanced glass for about $400 I just bought one 3 x 18 44 30 mm tube - excellent. I also have a tripod MAK and a small set of binos 10x25 and they are excellent

      1 year ago
  • george collins

    You should look at Konus for moderate price and Kowa for higher price. High power shooters recommended Konus and side by side with Kowa I could only see a small difference at the very edge of the field of view. I bought the Konus 20-60x80.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks George, we'll check them out in the update!

      1 year ago
      • L.L.

        I have a Konus and it works well.

        1 year ago
  • Mr. Gray

    I have been an optical instrument technician for 28 years. I own two companies which DAILY deal with scientific, medical and research optical instruments. One of my companies is ISO accredited. I am thoroughly familiar with all the big names in optics. All I do is maintenance, repair and calibration of optical instruments - day in and day out. I strongly recommend staying far, FAR away from Leica optical instruments. While they deliver a fine image out-of-the-box, the problem with Leica is that it is not as durable an instrument as other brands. My option would be a brand that is not covered in this post - a Nikon. Nikon’s manufacturing standards are far and away higher than Leica’s or the other brands mentioned here. As I said before, Leica - and probably the other brands reviewed here - will deliver a fine image. That’s not the problem. The problem is that the manipulatives, such as focus mechanisms and the like, are nowhere near as durable as “top end” names such as Nikon. After a couple of years’ service, you’ll find that your “bargain” instrument will begin to have not optical problems but mechanical problems. In this professional optical instrument technician’s opinion, you should do yourself a favor and invest in a top-name brand.

    1 year ago
    • Bill

      Mr. Gray, What do you think of Kowa's durability in the Prominar line? I own a TSN-884 with a TE-11WZ zoom eyepiece and its optics are essentially perfect, or nearly so. So your opinion regarding its expected mechanical durability would be appreciated. By the way, I've used Nikon Labophot 2 or Optiphot 2 microscopes for over 25 years at work. The optical quality is unsurpassed for that generation of microscopes, at least in the CFN apochromatic series. That said, there are some known issues with the focus knob and the condenser knob that have led to the creation of aftermarket replacements (helpful to have since Nikon no longer makes parts for the Labophot 2/Optiphot 2 series of microscopes). Years ago (~1994-1995) I looked at Nikon binoculars and the Leicas (Trinovid 10x50 BA) were considerably better optically, albeit more expensive. So my second question to you would be this: Are the OPTICS of the highest end Nikon spotting scopes as good as those of something like a flagship model Kowa or Swarovski, in your opinion?

      1 year ago
    • Mike Mc

      I could not agree more with this post. I have a Nikon Fieldscope 13-75x82 ED Spotting Scope (Angled Viewing) and it's built like a tank. I've had it in the rain, +110 degree and -10 degree temps, desert, high desert, woods, wetlands and it won't give up on you. I paid a bit over $1k for it (in 2011) and it's worth every penny. I, too, would have liked to see a Nikon in this review lineup.

      1 year ago
  • Tom Hall

    Liking your recommendation on the Celestron 52250 20x60-80. I target shoot at 100 yards to make sure my scope is on before I go moose hunting. I do this maybe 2 to 3 times prior to the hunt. With this scope will I see the bullet holes at 100 yards? Thank you Tom

    1 year ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      You should be fine even on normal paper, however, the use of Shoot-N-See targets really help out for seeing bullet holes.

      1 year ago
  • Kalman

    Hey Randy, I agree with you. Celestron 52250 spotting scope is really cool. Thanks for nice sharing!

    1 year ago
  • Jeff

    I've been using a Redfield Rampage 20x60 spotting scope and own several Manfrotto tripods from my SLR days. The Redfield 20x60 scope works very well out to 200 yards (that's as far as my range goes) and my Manfrotto tripods are simply the best out there. They have a great selection of heads for many applications.

    2 years ago
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