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The Best Spotting Scopes for Hunting: A 2023 Guide

November 1, 2023
Gun Talk Staff

Spotting scopes are an essential tool for serious hunters. Offering a blend of magnification, clarity, and portability, they provide a clear edge in the wilderness. If you're on the hunt for the best spotting scope this year, our 2023 guide will spotlight the top choices.

Why Use a Spotting Scope for Hunting?

Before diving into the top picks, it's crucial to understand the value a spotting scope brings. Unlike binoculars, spotting scopes provide superior magnification, often essential for long-range hunting or scouting. They also offer clearer images, allowing hunters to judge the game's age, size, and health from a safe distance.

Top Spotting Scopes for Hunting in 2023

  1. Vortex Optics Razor HD: Known for its high-definition images and durability, the Razor HD from Vortex Optics stands out. With a magnification range of 27-60x, it's versatile enough for various hunting scenarios.
  2. Leupold SX-5 Santiam HD: Leupold has a long-standing reputation in the hunting community, and the SX-5 Santiam HD doesn't disappoint. It offers exceptional low-light performance – perfect for dawn and dusk observations.
  3. Revic Acura: The Revic Acura spotting scope emerges as a prime example of how advanced engineering can refine and enhance traditional optical instruments. Tailored for both hobbyists and professional users, the Acura ensures superior performance across a spectrum of outdoor activities, from serene birdwatching to the high-stakes precision of long-range target acquisition.
  4. Swarovski ATS/STS: Swarovski is synonymous with crystal-clear optics. The ATS/STS range offers an unparalleled viewing experience with edge-to-edge sharpness, making it a favorite among professionals.
  5. Bushnell Legend Ultra HD: Another budget-friendly option, the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD, provides both clarity and durability. Its RainGuard HD water-repellent coating ensures performance even in wet conditions.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Spotting Scope

  • Magnification: Depending on your hunting style, choose a scope with appropriate magnification. Long-range hunters might prefer higher magnification, while others might opt for a broader field of view.
  • Objective Lens Diameter: A larger lens allows more light, ensuring clearer images, especially in low light.
  • Weight and Size: If you're hiking or moving a lot, a compact and lightweight scope might be more suitable.
  • Weatherproofing: Ensure your scope is waterproof and fog-proof to withstand various environmental conditions.
  • Price: While it's tempting to buy the most expensive scope, consider your actual needs and budget. Sometimes, mid-range scopes offer all the necessary features.

The real question, however, is how you choose between angled or straight spotting scopes.

Straight Spotting Scopes: A Direct View


  • Design: As the name suggests, straight spotting scopes have an eyepiece aligned with the barrel. This linear design allows for direct, straightforward viewing.
  • Quick Target Acquisition: Being in line with the target, straight scopes make it easier to locate and track moving objects, especially for beginners.
  • Versatility: They are usually preferred for activities like target shooting and hunting, where quick adjustments and mobility are essential.


  • Comfort in Vehicles: Whether you're in a car or a hide, the straight design is convenient for window-mounting or viewing from confined spaces.
  • Ease of Packing: The streamlined design can be more comfortable to pack and transport.

Angled Spotting Scopes: Elevated Perspective


  • Design: Angled scopes typically have an eyepiece set at a 45-degree angle to the barrel, allowing for upward viewing.
  • High Angle Viewing: This design is perfect for observing objects in the sky or atop trees, making them great for birdwatching or stargazing.
  • Shared Use: If multiple people of different heights are sharing the scope, the angled design is more accommodating.


  • Comfort: The angled design allows for a more comfortable posture when looking upwards for extended periods.
  • Lower Tripod Setting: Since the eyepiece is angled upwards, the tripod can be set lower, making it more stable in windy conditions.

Angled or Straight?

  • Purpose: Your primary activity plays a significant role. PRS/long-range shooters might lean towards angled scopes, while hunters might prefer the straight design.
  • Location: If you're frequently changing locations or viewing from a vehicle, a straight scope might be more practical.
  • Budget: Price can be a factor, but both angled and straight scopes come in various price ranges, so it's more about preference than cost.
  • Personal Comfort: It boils down to what feels right for you. If possible, try out both types before making a purchase.

The debate between angled and straight spotting scopes boils down to personal preference, intended use, and comfort. Both designs offer unique advantages, catering to different needs and scenarios. By understanding the differences, you can confidently select the scope that best complements your outdoor adventures. Spotting scopes are a game-changer in hunting, providing enhanced vision and accuracy. Whether you're a seasoned hunter or just starting, investing in a quality spotting scope can significantly improve your hunting experience. Remember to consider factors like magnification, lens diameter, and weatherproofing when making your choice. ~ Gun Talk Staff

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