Spotter helping the sniper

Image Referenced DVIDS

You could save a massive amount of time and energy verifying your shot without walking downrange.

In this guide, let's check out some of the best spotting scopes for long range shooting. 

 The most budget-friendly one without getting too crazy expensive is the Vortex RAZOR HD 20-60X Angled, and for anything under $1000, the Nikon Prostaff 5 is a very good option.

If you're getting one for long-range shooting, you want to narrow down your criteria to couple things that include:

  • Large objective lens for more light transmission for better image brightness and quality 
  • Start with at least 20X magnification, and 50X for 1500 yards and beyond
  • Angled spotting scope for easier head positioning and different height
  • Size Isn't As Important If You're Stationary, Go with lightweight if you relocate a lot

6 Best Spotting Scopes for Long Distances Shooting

Long Range Shooting Todd Hodnett

Image Referenced Recoil Magazine

There are many different spotting scopes on the market: different sizes, magnification, weight. If you're doing stationary long range target shooting, the size and weight of the spotting scope aren't the biggest issue unless you move around a lot.

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Related Content: 5 Best Long Range Scopes On A Budget

Vortex 20-60 x 85 Razor HD (Angled)

Vortex Viper HD 20-60X85 Razor

This high quality, yet affordable, spotting scope is almost beyond perfection. it boasts high-density dispersion glass, which helps increase the resolution of your target at a maximum of 400 yards away. It also carries 60x magnification power and an amazing 85mm wide objective lens.

  • Works In Extreme Temperatures – Temperature change affects the scope seal and it's important to keep fog and moisture out of the scope internal, high durability Armored Tek, O-ring sealed and argon-purged, all which help protect your spotting scope from the environmental elements.
  • User-Friendly For All Experience Level – A great scope for people with minimal scoping experience, lighter than other spotting scopes for only 3.5 pounds for easy carry for any outdoor activities.
  • Capture Spotting Scope Images– Capturing what the scope sees and share it with others is easier than ever, record media with the digiscoping smartphone adapter and instantly save images and video to your smartphone ready to share online
  • Lightweight & Durable – Super important aspect of a scope's durability starts with its built material, made with die-cast magnesium alloy body with strategically placed rubber armoring to ensure ultimate strength and durability
  • Warranty Covers Everything No Question Asked – Have your investment protected by the warranty is important for the hard-earned money you spent, VIP lifetime warranty covers all damages even if it's completely destroyed – at no charge to you
  • View Better and Crispier Images – 100% waterproof, fog-proof, dustproof and shockproof glass construction, using premium HD high-density extra-low dispersion glass lens to see true to life images of crystal clarity, resolution and accuracy at long distances

Leupold Mark 4 12-40X60mm Spotting Scope W/Mil-Dot

Leupold Mark 4 12-40X60mm

I know that many of you will be familiar with the Leupold brand, and I don't want to fail your expectations, so here you go. This scope is one of the best spotting scopes for the United States military.

One plus is that it also pairs well with the Leupold riflescope.

  • See Magnified Image Better – The objective lens size is important for gathering light for a brighter image, this large 60 mm diameter lens is multi-coated to increase the maximum brightness, and makes any 40x magnified image at 1200 meters away looks crystal clear
  • Capture Spotting Scope Images – Record HD photos & videos and share it online, compatible with the digiscoping smartphone camera mount, instantly capture the landscape and target view to document your precision shot
  • Attach On Multiple Different Platforms – Flexible spotting scope mount options are important to any outdoor shooting activities, enhance tactical visual capabilities for the shooter and spotter by using the McCann optical mounting system to add inline night vision devices
  • All-Weather Resistant – Completely waterproof, ideal for all-weather spotting backed by Leupold's lifetime warranty
  • Multi-Purpose Use For Wide Range of Applications – Great scope with a great glass clarity, compatible with various tripods on the market to stabilize the magnified image to identify targets and objects up to 1200 yards or general recreational viewing without image blur or going down range
  • Look Through The Scope As Long As You Like – Comfort is number one when viewing through the optic, reduced eye shadow with its large eye box and great eye relief distance to view magnified images as comfortable as possible

Fortunately, the scope is a lot better than our eyes and we were able to see the holes in the targets when we did manage to set the sights correctly. I can't say enough good things about this scope right now and I think it's a home run for my first spotting scope.

Viper Optics HD 15-45×65 Spotting Scope

Vortex Viper HD 15-45X65

If you're looking for a great magnification range, well, you're in luck. This one is very popular among target shooters who need better bullet tracing for target practice.

  • Get More & Paying Less – Expensive doesn't always mean better, save more money and get more out of this premium-level performance scope with its incredible HD optical system to bring the finest details at a distance in for a closer look, and only weighing 3.3 lbs for easy carry
  • Increase Light Transmission For Brighter Images – Glass quality is the key to see crispy images through the scope, increase light transmission with this multi-layer prism coating on multiple-layered lenses, 15 – 45X magnification, and an amazing 65mm objective lens to see crystal clear images in dim lighting conditions
  • Observe The Bullet Better – To track the bullet downrange is an important thing in precision shooting, boost your visual tracking capability with these high-quality proprietary XR coating to read bullet mirage up to 1000 yards without any problem
  • View The Scope Without Straining Your Neck – Viewing the scope in the appropriate posture is important to your comfort, so get comfortable with the angled body design for extended periods to view distance targets and objects on a low height tripod setup
  • View Without Eyeglasses – Viewing the scope while wearing glasses is annoying, so get comfortable viewing the scope without your glasses with the adjustable eyecups and adjust it to what works for you.
  • Warranty Covers Everything No Question Asked – Have your investment protected by the warranty is important for the hard-earned money you spent, just like all Vortex products the VIP lifetime warranty covers all damages and defects they will repair or replace it, free of charge

Celestron 52312 Regal M2 LER 27×80 ED

Celestron 52312 M2 LER 27X80

This scope boasts a linear field view of 100ft and an 80mm objective lens which refine light to increase the quality of images. One of the best features of this lens, by far, is T-threads for Long Eye Relief which allows a riflescope to be attached to a camera.

I have had the good fortune to be able to test this scope out the last couple of months. I use it primarily for scouting mule deer but don't see any reason it wouldn't work equally well for birding or target shooting.

This spotter has a bright, clear image that makes it a joy to look through. Construction of the Celestron rivals that of higher-end optics. I've had the pleasure to compare this spotter side by side with a vortex razor with great results, the vortex while being brighter and a very small amount clearer would not convince me to pay double the price of the Celestron.

Besides all the qualities it has like another spotting scope, here are some other features

  • Full Weatherproof for Any Environmental Condition – Important for outdoor activities, strengthened external construction similar to other high-end optics along with its nitrogen-purged lens for reliable use for hunting and target shooting
  • Durable Glass & Extremely Lightweight to Carry – Some important aspects of scope are its durability and weight, made with compact magnesium alloy construction and multi-coated lenses to ensure ultimate strength, durability, and higher image quality
  • See Magnified Image Better – The objective lens size is important for gathering light for a brighter image, this large 80 mm diameter lens is multi-coated to increase the maximum brightness, and makes any 27x magnified image at 500 meters away looks crystal clear
  • View Without Eyeglasses – Viewing the scope while wearing glasses is annoying, so get comfortable viewing the scope without your glasses with plenty of eye relief distance and eye box without straining your eyes

Vortex Optics Diamondback Spotting Scope

Vortex Diamondback Spotting scope

For spotters on a budget, I recommend this scope from Vortex. It boasts a 60mm objective lens which provides crystal clear, HD views. It is also available in a straight version.

  • Provide Crystal Clear Images – Seeing a crystal clear image through the optic is important for spotting long-distance objects, improved image clarity, and durability using the same ArmorTeck dielectric prism coating materials as the Vortex Razor HD to also be full water and fog proof in all weather condition.
  • Make Your Investment Last Longer – Build quality is always the number one thing a user should pay attention to when buying an optic, the increased durability with Aluminum and brass coating protects the optic even when it is dropped, in addition, the unconditional and unlimited lifetime warranty will replace anything you break
  • Max Performance on a Budget – Spend less and get more out of your spotting scope is enticing, Increase imaged clarity clear piece of glass and shoot accurately up to 300 yards easily

paired this with the Vortex High Country tripod which worked great together.

All in all a great bargain at this price range. Just be aware if you need to go farther than 300 yards to see bullet impact, you might want to get the Viper or Razor.

If you are just buying to sightsee while hiking, then this scope is the best deal. Paired this with the Vortex High Country tripod which worked great together.

Celestron Ultima 80 20 to 60×80 Straight Spotting Scope

With outstanding money value based on features and performance, the Celestron Ultima is a great choice for all types of spotters. It boasts a 20-60x zoom and an 80mm objective lens and can compete with the majority of Vortex scopes and is extremely versatile.

  • Great Experience for Novice Spotters – Effortlessly bird watch, hunt, and shoot at long distances, even at 20X magnification the image is crystal clear with its 80 mm objective lens that gathers more light to increase image brightness without any adjustment
  • Compact & Easy to Carry – Weight and balance are important aspects of a spotting scope for outdoor ventures, 2 pounds super lightweight body that has amazing performance, housing and decent ergonomics, which is also completely weatherproof in any environment
  • View Without Eyeglasses – Viewing the scope while having vision problems is annoying, get rid of your glass even if you have astigmatism with its perfect eye relief distance to see crystal clear image and wide field of view up to 30X zoom

The optical clarity is generally good. This scope really shines in the 18-30 zoom range, but starts to drop off in clarity and (dramatically) in the field of view once you get to about 35x.

Purple fringing is also noticeable around 35x, getting more obvious in the 40s, and is not optimal in the 50s. Field of view up to 30x is full, which was expected since it's a 65 objective scope.

Other Recommended Spotting Scopes

ALPEN 20-60×80 w/45 deg eyepiece Waterproof Fogproof Spotting Scope Kit

This model is certainly the best for all birdwatchers and is also the best choice for everyone looking for a budget option. It comes with 20-60x magnification and is able to compete with the power of many spotting scopes for target shooting.

In addition, it has an 80mm wide objective lens and is nitrogen-filled so it is resistant to shock, and things such as dust, fog, and water will not harm it. Its BAK4 lenses allow superior brightness, an amazing resolution, and crystal clear viewing.

It is an angled model and also comes with an eyepiece if 45-degrees, a sunshade that is able to extend and a collar that is 360-degrees and adjustable. It has a very close focus of 20-25 feet and a 113 feet field of view at 1000 yards! It boasts a lightweight of 56 ounces and a length of 17 inches. Finally, it also comes with a warranty for life provided by the manufacturer.

So far I like my new scope a lot. I'm fairly picky when it comes to equipment of any sort and always look for something that seems well built and solid, which the Roxant seems to be. Things I particularly like are:

  • Attached rubber lens caps
  • Big focus ring
  • firm and perfectly situated on the barrel if you are used to using an SLR lens as I am.

The built-in lens hood is clever and I didn't even notice it was there until I took a look at the manual so that was a bonus. The optics seem quite bright and the focus is sharp. I'm not sure how much I'll use the little tabletop tripod, I think it is meant for people using it for target shooting.

I plan on using it for wildlife and I already have a full-size tripod that will be better suited for standing up.

The only thing I can foresee might give me trouble is acquiring the object in the first place, the magnification is 12x – 36x so the zoom ratio is 3X.
Sighting something at 12x magnification might be tricky, depending on the distance, without some kind of alignment guide. I'm leaving for a trip to some National Parks in a week so I will have a better idea if this is a problem or not when I get back.”

Bushnell Legend Ultra 12-36 x 50mm 786350ED HDX 40mm Ed Gla

This is a very high-quality compact scope suited for travel, and I was pleasantly surprised. Bushnell has a reputation for so-so quality stuff, but this is different.

See Far In A Smaller Package – Viewing targets or hits up to 200 yards doesn't always require a large spotting scope, increase speed and convenience with this lightweight compact 36X scope to view objects up to 200 yards easily, perfect for anyone who is always moving around outdoor or on a short distance shooting range

Superb Durability & Quality – All-weather and water-resistant features are great specs for any optics, fully protected scope with the Rain Guard coating for increased external durability to prevent any condensation build-up

Optimized Focus For Better Image – Clarity is heavily depended on the quality of the glass, optimized high-quality images with low dispersion glass that is multi-coated for increased color quality and blur-free images at long distances

Large Objective Lens In A Small Package – High quality, lightweight and compact is what everyone is looking for, reduce weight burden with this 10.5 inches long and 36.3 oz compact spotting scope for viewing up to 36X with adjustable eyepiece

What to Look For In A Spotting Scope For Long Range Shooting

Weight & Size

Getting a spotting scope for long range shooting is a bit different than for hunting. Generally speaking, long range shooting is mostly stationary therefore you don't have to worry about the size or weight of the scope since you're not constantly moving around like a hunter.


1000 yard view in a spotting scope

Image Referenced Pinterest 

Not all magnification specs are created equal. An 80X magnification scope may not be as good performing if the objective lens quality is bad or poor glass quality. For up to 1000 yards and beyond please go for a 60X scope with a quality glass.

While magnification plays a big role in spotting scope performance and your buying decision. More important than levels of magnification is finding a quality glass.

Glass Quality

Picking a quality glass means you want a multi-coated optics. Low dispersion glass, high definition, Fluoride glass are all excellent glass to buy.

The glass inside a shooting scope is arranged so everything you see through the lens appears right side up and correctly arranged from right to left. There is also a glass coating that allows you to see clearly through dust, smoke, and haze that decrease visibility at longer shooting ranges.

Objective Lens

The larger the objective lens the more light it can gather to make the image brighter. You don't want a small object lens while spotting an object at a far distance because the image will look cloudy even if it's under a bright sunny day.

50mm, 65mm or even 80mm are common objective lens sizes. As this dimension increases, the size of the optic increases, thus larger profile and increased weight. Depending on what type of outdoor shooting you do where you might want less weight while going through the rough terrain, please take this into consideration.

For the best objective lens for long-distance, go with the either 60mm or 80mm.

Reticle Eye Piece

Many spotting scopes don't include the eyepiece along with your purchase. A zoom eyepiece or ocular lens is an important part of the scope that attaches to a wide variety of optics.

It makes your already magnified image more crystal clear and makes an object at a distance look close to you.

Spotting for a shooter with a rifle scope isn't always the easiest, and that's why we use a reticle eyepiece and attach it to your spotting scope and

Precision shooters benefit from spotting bullet trace (Mirage) much easier. On top of that, there are options for adjusting reticle cant for proper vertical orientation regardless of how you setup your angle spotter.

Available for MOA and MRAD, pick the one that works best for you and most common for you.

Angle Vs Straight

Straight vs angled spotting scope illustration

Both of them works and it all comes down to what is comfortable for you. Generally speaking, an angled spotting scope is easier to look through without straining your neck on a lower tripod height. You can also rotate the spotting scope in any direction as long as it's comfortable for you to view

Another benefit is making downhill viewing much easier by rotating the angled spotting scope without straining your neck or create lots of movement.

For a straight spotting scope, you have to bring the scope up to your height. While increasing the height on your tripod, you create a weaker base for a higher profile.

The advantage of using a straight spotting scope is optimizing target acquisition speed when switching back and forth with the use of binoculars without adjusting the height.

Stabilize Spotting Scope Image

Car Window Spotting Scope Mount

However, it is crucial that you have a good tripod in order to stabilize your images and provide a better view overall of what you are scoping. Tripods can make an enormous difference in the quality of the images you are seeing.

There are other mounts available that allows you to mount it anywhere you want like a GoPro camera without using a tripod.

It can be very weight effective and less cumbersome while doing tactical long range shooting without having to carry the tripod with you all the time.

Wrap Up

The spotting scope world is large with so many products to choose from.

For long-distance shooting application, it's important to pick the best spotting optic that has enough magnification for your particular distance.

More magnification doesn't mean better nor as to the price of the scope.

Glass quality and the size of the objective lens are the two important spec you should pay attention to, where generally a large objective lens diameter up to 60 – 80 mm with a low dispersion lens is your best bet.

Additionally, getting a great tripod mounting platform is also important in order to stabilize that crystal clear image

I hope you find this article helpful and good luck spotting!

Learn More: Top Life Skills To Learn From Precision Shooting