Three Important Questions To Ask When Buying A Spotting Scope

Spotting scopes are the best game-spotting tools for big-country hunters. Here’s what to know before you buy one.

mountainside with a moose grazing
A good spotting scope helps you find game and pick the right approach for stalking it.Dave Willhite/Unsplashed

For those who hunt big, open country, finding game can be one of the most challenging parts of filling their tag. A top-quality spotting scope is just the tool to make that job easier. In fact, spotting scopes can save you a lot of time and effort by giving you an up-close look at that far-away buck, enabling you to rough score him before you start your stalk. To pick the perfect spotting scope, consider whether you need a scope with a straight or angled eyepiece, a compact or full-size model, and whether you need a fixed-power or variable scope.

Straight Or Angled?

Spotting Scope,Huicocy 20-60x60mm Zoom 39-19m/1000m Fully Multi Coated Optical Lens Fogproof and Movably Eyepiece Rubber Design Telescope with Quick Smartphone Mount Kit and Tabletop Tripod for Target
This spotting scope’s angled eyepiece makes it faster and easier to use for many hunters.Amazon

Some people love angled eyepieces on their spotting scopes, while others prefer scopes with straight eye pieces. It's largely a matter of personal preference. If you can try one of each before making your purchase, it will help you know what works best for you. Many hunters who switch back and forth between their binoculars and spotting scope while glassing an area find the angled eyepiece easier and faster since they can simply lower their binoculars and move their head straight down to the eyepiece.

Compact Or Full-Size?

UNEGROUP High Power Monocular Telescope, HD Low Night Vision Waterproof Compact Spotting Scope with Smartphone Holder
Weighing only 7 ounces, this ultracompact model mounts easily to your smart phone for long-range photography.Amazon

Excellent spotting scopes are available in both compact and full-size models. If you're going to be doing most of your spotting from a vehicle, you'll probably like a full-size scope best, despite its heavier weight. Pair it with a good window mount, and you're ready to start finding game. That's also true if you plan to do your spotting at the shooting range, where you'll be parked close to your shooting area. For those who plan to trek many miles into the backcountry, a compact model is better since every bit of extra weight can make the long walk back a little more difficult.

Fixed Or Variable?

Vortex Optics Diamondback Spotting Scopes
The power on this variable eyepiece model ranges from 20x to 60x.Amazon

Spotting scope eyepieces come in a number of different configurations, and one important choice to consider is fixed or variable. Fixed eyepieces have just one power, usually quite high. Variable eyepieces, also called zooms, allow the user to quickly and easily adjust the magnification. That's handy for someone glassing game animals at several different distances at the same time. Most hunters nowadays opt for variable eyepiece spotting scopes for their increased versatility.