A spotting scope is the must-have item at the rifle range; here is what you need to know before buying one.
Women taking up the shooting sports are on the rise and so is the number of women hitting the woods to go hunting. This means the number of women shopping for outdoor-related gear is also increasing. Spotting scopes are an essential piece of gear for shooters, especially long-range shooters. With so many makes and models to choose from, shopping for spotting scopes may seem like a daunting task, but it does not have to be.
The world of spotting scopes may appear huge. Numerous brands to choose from plus a wide range in price-points makes it challenging to stay focused when shopping for a new spotting scope. Here are a few helpful things to think about before you purchase a spotting scope.
It is important to know not all spotting scopes are created equal. Some use crystal lenses while others use glass lenses. Setting a budget and evaluating your needs before you start shopping will save you a few headaches—not to mention help keep your budget in balance.
The first step is to know your budget and then determine what type of spotting scope best meets your needs. For example, choosing the right scope for long-distance shooting certainly varies compared to picking a model more suited for shorter distances. Regardless, your goal should still be a scope that gives you a bright, sharp and distortion-free image.
Nothing squelches a shopping trip faster than sticker shock and good quality optics can often range from $250 to over $2500. Glass lenses, although really good and a very popular choice, do not offer the same characteristics as high-quality crystal lenses and are usually at a lower price point. When shopping, it is best to compare crystal against crystal and glass against glass.
What’s the Use?
When buying a spotting scope, take into consideration how you plan to use it. Will you be using it to view extremely long-distance shots or shots out a few hundred yards? Will you be shooting in low-light scenarios? If so, you will want to consider optics with light gathering capabilities.
Deciphering the Numbers
What do all those numbers mean? For example, 7-15×35. The 7-15×35 binocular is a zoom model because you can change the magnification from 7 times to 15 times and it sports a 35mm objective lens.
Most scope manufactures will offer the same model scope, but with two different angles options—angled or straight eyepieces. Although these two eyepiece types may look completely different, they are pretty much the same. Scopes with angled eyepieces are designed so the user looks straight down, while the straight eyepiece option forces the user to look through the barrel of the scope, much like a looking down a rifle scope. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types. An angled scope is a great option when more than one person will be using the scope because the user simply has to look straight down therefore avoiding timely adjustments to fit each user. One disadvantage is the angled scope has a tendency to collect more dust, debris and of course, raindrops due to its upward facing eyepiece. On the other hand, one obvious advantage to the straight scopes is they are easier to use if you are shooting in the prone position or if your scope is mounted on a window.
Another consideration is the exterior of the scope. Some models offer an armor type of rubber coating. Will you be exposing the scope to varying weather conditions? Or will it stay protected from the elements on a covered shooting range? Regardless of how careful you are with your gear, optics tend to take a beating and the rubberized coatings are worth the few extra dollars.
Field Care Tips
Quality optics are not cheap, so protecting your investment is a smart thing to do. Keeping your scope free of dirt and debris can be a tough task. Many brands offer lens caps and scope coats for extra protection. Carry a micro-fiber lens cloth for those quick smudges and for a more thorough cleaning try using a Lens Pen cleaning system.
Picking the right scope can be a bit intimating—not to mention time-consuming. Just remember that optics tend to last for many years, so be sure and get as much bang for your buck when you shop for your new spotting scope. Chances are it will be some time before you have to purchase a new model.
Do you have a tip or suggestion for buying a spotting scope? Share it with us in the comment section.