- What is that?
- Is it a hole in the 9 ring?
- Wait, is it under the bull’s eye?
- Is that a smudge, or is that a bullet hole?
- Why can’t I see anything?
The reason you can’t see anything is somewhere along the way you made a very poor choice when it came to choosing the proper spotting scope for target shooting.
Maybe you went with a good spotting scope, but it was better suited for hunting. Maybe you thought a BK-7 prism was perfectly fine for shooting at 400 yards.
Whatever the reason is if you haven’t made that mistake yet let’s work together to make sure you don’t.
In this article:
1. First, we list 6 spotting scopes that are without a doubt quality choices for target shooting.
2. Then, for whatever reason you want to explore your options a bit more we are going to give you the tools you need to make your own educated choice by explaining what you should pay attention to when choosing a spotting scope for target shooting.
The 6 Top Target Spotting Scopes of 2020: Outdoor Empire Reviews
These are our top recommendations for target shooting spotting scopes in 2020:
- Best Cheap #1: Barska Colorado
- Best Cheap #2: Emarth 20-60x60AE
- Best for the Money #1: Redfield Rampage
- Best for the Money #2: Bushnell Trophy Xtreme
- Best for Long-Range #1: Vortex Razor HD
- Best for Long-Range #2: Nikon Pro Staff 5
*Looking for a specific feature? Check out our quick-reference chart below:
|Eye Piece System||Straight||Angled||Straight||Angled|
|Eye Relief||13-10mm||17 - 14 mm||16mm||20-18 mm|
|Exit Pupil Diameter||[email protected]||3 - 1 mm||3.1mm @ 16x/1mm @48x||4.3-1.4 mm|
|Field of View||150ft/[email protected]||105 - 52 [email protected] yd||125ft/[email protected] / 60ft/20yd @ 48x||117-60 feet/1000 yards|
|Weight||3 lbs||37.2 oz||31.4 oz||65.7 oz|
|Length||10 in||14.4 in||13 in||15.3 in|
|Cost||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
1. Best Cheap #1: Barska Colorado
Alright, so money is tight, but you need a spotting scope for spotting targets. Saving money and staying within a budget can be difficult, but the world of optics is expansive.
A great budget model is the Barska Colorado spotting scope. This straight eyepiece spotting scope has a 15- to 40-power magnification rating and 50mm objective lens.
It’s well suited for shooting up to 150 yards. The Barska Colorado comes complete with a handy little tripod and a soft carrying case. It comes with a BK-7 prism, which is expected at this price range.
The magnification ring slides effortlessly and allows you to easily manipulate the magnification rating without having to climb out from behind the rifle.
The Colorado is a simple spotting scope, and at the price, it’s going to be your best budget option.
- Magnification Range – 15-40x
- Objective Lens – 50mm
- Eyepiece Style – Straight
- Intended Range – 150 yards
2. Best Cheap #2: Emarth 20-60x60AE
Are you trying to save a bit of money so you can afford shooting at longer ranges?
Then you might be interested in the Emarth target spotting scope.
It’s a budget-minded scope that’s still capable of showing you bullet holes at 200 yards (or even further if you have good eyes).
The magnification ranges from 20x to 60x, which is quite respectable for this price point. The light travels through fully-multicoated lenses and a BAK4 roof prism to deliver the image to your eyes.
O-rings seal the lenses to keep the Emarth spotting scope waterproof, and the argon gas inside keeps it more or less fogproof.
You can use the included tripod with this scope at the range or out in the field. It makes a fine hunting spotting scope (though only to about 300 yards).
If you’re wondering how you can get such a good scope for such a low price, well, the eyepiece is a big weak point.
The eye relief is short, the eyepiece doesn’t rotate to a different angle, and you have to keep your eye pretty much exactly in line with the lens to be able to see anything.
But that’s a small price to pay for such a high-value spotting scope.
- Magnification Range – 20 to 60x
- Objective Lens – 60mm
- Eyepiece Style – Angled
- Intended Range – 200 yards
3. Best for the Money #1: Redfield Rampage
If you want to combine value and quality, you do have a number of options out there. This includes the Redfield Rampage.
Redfield is an old school optics company that’s been producing optics for generations of shooters.
The Rampage is a moderately sized spotting scope with a 20- to 60-power magnification rating with a 60mm objective lens.
It’s got a straight lens and offers a powerful magnification rating and a nice objective lens for spotting those shots at 200 yards.
The Rampage has impressive image quality and gives you a clear and consistent picture. The Redfield Rampage has a retractable sunshade, a tripod, and a soft case all included with the spotting scope.
The Redfield Rampage comes with a lifetime warranty, so you can buy with confidence and without anxiety. On top of that, you get your fully multicoated lenses and a high-quality prism for a clear and bright picture.
- Magnification Range – 20-60
- Objective Lens – 80mm
- Eyepiece Style – Straight
- Intended Range – 200 Yards
4. Best for the Money #2: Bushnell Trophy Xtreme
The second scope that reaches that good for the money category is the Bushnell Trophy Xtreme Spotting Scope.
Bushnell as a brand produces some of the best budgets optics overall. They’ve been at for decades so by now they oughta know a thing or two.
The Bushnell Xtreme Spotting Scope is 100% waterproof and coated with a rubberized armor to give you spectacular protection against the environments.
It has a magnification range of 16 to 48 with an objective lens of 50mms. This makes it a spotting scope designed for that 0- to 200-yard range, and on a clear day you can probably reach out to 250 yards.
The design comes with a tripod and a hard case so it’s ready to go out of the box. The Bushnell Xtreme has your standard fully multi-coated optics and gives you an affordable and clear sight picture.
- Magnification Range – 16 to 48x
- Objective Lens – 50mm
- Eyepiece Style – Straight
- Intended Range – 200 yards
5. Best for Long-Range #1: Vortex Razor HD
So, you’re a good shot? You want to hit targets at 400 yards and be able to see the teeny tiny dots you’ll need something powerful and crystal clear.
If that’s your goal the Vortex Razor HD spotting scope is for you. You get a solid 20- to 60-power magnification range a massive 85mm objective lens.
The glass is made from premium HD glass for the clearest image possible, and it’s topped with a proprietary XR lens coating to cut glare down and increase light transmission.
The Vortex Razor is packed with a BAK 4 Porro prism that’s made with a triplet apochromatic lens that reduces chromatic aberration, resulting in a crystal-clear picture out to 400 yards.
With splatter targets, this bad boy could even make corrections out to 500 yards. The downside? Likely the price, it’s far from cheap. However, when you buy quality don’t think of the money spent, think of value obtained.
- Magnification Range – 20-60x
- Objective Lens – 85mm
- Eyepiece Style – Angled
- Intended Range – 400 yards
6. Best for Long-Range #2: Nikon Pro Staff 5
The Nikon Pro Staff 5 line is the newest from Nikon and incorporates the lessons learned from the previous four generations of Pro Staff to deliver you a clear and consistent picture inside a very powerful optic.
The Pro Staff 5 is a 20 to 60 power optic that utilizes an 82mm objective lens.
Right off the bat, this is not a small optic. It’s a big boy, but it does a big boy job. It’s decked out with fully multicoated lenses that when combined with the massive objective lens means plenty of light transmissions.
You’ll see clear across an open range and be able to spot those small details that matter.
From deer to targets you won’t have any issues spotting what matters. The Pro Staff 5 field scope is an ergonomic and lightweight Porro prism design that does help minimize some of the optic’s bulk.
The Pro Staff 5 is an excellent example of Nikon’s continued optical evolution.
Important Choosing Factors
You’ll need to think about a lot of different factors when selecting a target-spotting scope. Some of the most important considerations include those listed below.
Spotting scopes will typically come in one of two eyepiece configurations, angled or straight. This refers to the portion of the spotting scope you’re looking through.
The pieces come in both angled and straight. In general, this is a personal choice that individual shooters will have to look over and decide for themselves.
If you are completely in the dark regarding the differences between angled and straight I will gladly provide you with my opinions regarding the two.
Straight eyepieces are great for fast target acquisition and easier to accurately move between targets. Straight eyepieces work better for spotting downhill and is my opinion easier when using a bench rest to shoot.
Angled eyepiece spotting scopes can utilize smaller tripods, and smaller is lighter. They are also easier to use when spotting uphill too. People with neck issues may find spotting with an angled scope a little easier.
Magnification and Range
The goal of a target shooting spotting scope is to see very tiny holes in target very far away. This will somewhat limit your range compared to hunting.
If you are shooting distances of 100 yards or less, you don’t need any insane level of magnification. In fact, too much magnification is detrimental because every small movement made will shake and quake your scope’s view.
– 20x and under is solid magnification range for up to 100 yards.
– At 100 to 200 yards you need to step it up to 36x and higher, and you’ll need a high-quality scope to utilize that level of magnification. This means paying the price for premium optics.
– Up to 300 yards and you are going to need the highest quality optics out there, with a magnification range that can hit at least 60x.
– At 400 yards the magnification range won’t really grow, what grows is the necessary quality of the optic. You’ll also need a massive objective lens.
Even then you’ll need to have a nice bright day to really see bullet holes in the target.
– Beyond 400 yards and you are unlikely to find a spotting scope with enough range and clarity to see bullet holes without specialized splatter targets.
At this range, you are using a spotting scope to spot atmospheric and environmental variances like wind, heat variances, and dispersion.
Variable Magnification or Fixed?
Variable magnification offers you the ability to swap between magnification ranges. It’s typically represented by a set of numbers like 20 to 60x.
This means the lowest magnification range is 20-power, and the highest being 60-power. The advantages of variable magnifications are of course versatility.
You can use them at multiple ranges making them perfect for shooters involved in competitions like NRA High Power.
Fixed magnification spotting scopes are locked at one range. The main benefit is a cheaper overall spotting scope that’s often smaller and more durable.
Fixed magnification spotting scopes are much better suited for shooters trying to hit targets at one specific range.
Field of View
Field of view, or FOV, is a measurement of the observable world when looking through the scope. This measurement is derived from a particular range, often 100 or 1000 yards.
When it comes to target shooting Field of View isn’t exceptionally important. It’s unlikely you will need to scan or track moving targets when it comes to target shooting.
Objective lens size is a very important consideration when it comes to a target shooting spotting scope. Because you are trying to see very small holes you need the clearest picture possible.
A larger objective lens usually leads to a much clearer picture, as long as the glass is high quality. The objective lens in a spotting scopes description comes after the magnification rating.
For example, it will look something like this 20-60×82. The 82 is the measurement of the objective lens in millimeters.
The larger the objective lens the more expensive the optic will be. Larger objective lenses mean the spotting scope is heavier and larger, but this isn’t a major concern for target shooters who are mostly stationary.
I’ve never blown glass, or manufactured optics so it’s hard to speak for experience regarding the techniques, and even the materials and machines needed to manufacture high-quality glass.
I do know scopes, and I do know the terms used to describe quality glass.
- Look for the Following terms
- HD or High-Density Glass
- ED or Extra Low Dispersion
- APO or Anomalous Partial Dispersion.
When it comes to prisms you’ll need to understand two terms. In the spotting scope world, you need to pay attention to the terms BAK 5 and BK-7 prism. Without a prism, your image would appear upside down.
A prism turns the image the right way, and anything that involves the image affects its clarity.
Both BAK and BK-7 prisms provide clear images, but the BAK 5 prism provides the clearest picture and is a necessity in scopes being used to spot targets over 200 yards.
BAK 5 prisms will drive up the cost of the spotting scope but are well worth it.
Eye relief with a target shooting optic is more important than people think. I don’t know of any range in the country that doesn’t require you wear shooting safety glasses while shooting.
You’ll need enough eye relief to be able to keep wearing your glasses and look through the scope. This typically translates to about 15mm at the very least.
Anything less and you’ll be hugging the scope and constantly removing your glasses.
The satisfaction of hitting a target at hundreds of years is hard to replicate. It feels amazing to see when your round hits that sweet spot in the target. The problem is being able to see where you hit.
Without a spotting scope, it’s almost impossible past 100 yards. I mean you are trying to see a hole that at most is .5 inches in diameter. Without a good spotting scope, you aren’t seeing anything.
Always invest in quality, and use our guide above when you need help.