12 Best Compact Spotting Scopes Worth the Money (2021)

Tori Rhodes
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Who doesn't like to observe birds and wildlife and scenic landscapes from far away?

The thing is, a spotting scope is a beast of a tool. They are really large and expensive. Of course, getting a true monster spotting scope with a massive magnification is always a great thing to do.

On the other hand, there are many people who lack room for such an investment and can't justify spending that much money.

For many of us, a smaller spotting scope or telescope will be our best option. Hopefully, this article will help to make those decisions easier for you.

I've picked out the best compacts and ultra-compact spotting scopes worth your money today.

NameCategoryProduct
Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting ScopesBest OverallVortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scopes
Celestron 52238 C70 Mini Mak Spotting ScopeBudget PickCelestron 52238 C70 Mini Mak Spotting Scope
Zeiss Carl Optical Dialyt Field Spotter 18-45x 65 Spotting ScopeUpgrade PickZeiss Carl Optical Dialyt Field Spotter 18-45x 65 Spotting Scope

1. Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scopes

Our rating: 9 / 10

Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scopes

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Pros:

  • Unmatched Lenses
  • Clear Shots
  • Waterproof and Fog-proof
  • High Quality Materials
  • Zoom Feature Comes In Handy
  • Tube Diameter Is 30% of Its Length

Cons:

  • Weight Can Be A Problem For People
  • Expensive

If you are looking for a smaller yet powerful and lightweight spotting scope for travel purposes or frequent use, then you can consider the Vortex Optics Razor HD spotting scope. When it comes to hunting telescopes, this particular one deserves a lot of attention.

It comes in a wide range of sizes, ranging from 6 to 40 times magnification. Each size varies in weight depending on the magnification. For example, the 10×42 model weighs 2.13 pounds, and the 20×56 model weighs 4.97 pounds.

The lenses are made from Schott glass, which is an excellent choice. They give you a crystal-clear image, and they are made using the finest optical glass available.

2. Zeiss Carl Optical Dialyt Field Spotter 18-45x 65 Spotting Scope

Our rating: 8 / 10

Zeiss Carl Optical Dialyt Field Spotter 18-45x 65 Spotting Scope

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Pros:

  • Very compact
  • Good lens quality
  • Enhanced magnification options
  • Very lightweight design
  • Clear glass optics
  • Made in the USA
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Not water or shock resistant
  • No tripod included

Forget the days of carrying your heavy spotting scope around in your backpack. The Zeiss Dialyt Field Spotter is a high-quality and compact spotting scope perfect for any outdoorsman. It weighs a mere 26.8 ounces. The 65mm lens will give you a clearly detailed, wide field of vision. That coupled with a magnification range of 18-45x will give you the advantage over other hunters. Also, the 60-degree eyepiece gives you a 52-degree angle of view.

How many times have you spotted the game but were unable to get a clear shot due to fog or haze? This spotting scope is coated with Relector Multicoat 4, so you get a brighter view under any weather condition. Some of the included features are the tripod adaptor and case. They aren’t the best, but they’ll get the job done just fine. If you want a high-quality and compact spotting scope that will last through the years, we highly recommend the Zeiss Dialyt Field Spotter.

3. Vortex Optics Recon R/T 15×50 Tactical Scope Monocular

Our rating: 8 / 10

Vortex Optics Recon R/T 15x50 Tactical Scope Monocular

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Pros:

  • Includes a quick-focus eyepiece and an adjustable focusing knob
  • Waterproof and fog-proof with nitrogen filling
  • A ballistic cam helps you use the scope
  • Has a rubber protective layer on the Sunshade
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Adjustable to fit different user preferences
  • You can use it for an extended period of time

Cons:

  • The magnification is not as good as what other spotters can offer
  • There are few kits available if you are looking for one

Are you a hunter? These types of kits are perfect for hunters. This is what this scope is designed for. It is not the type of scope that you will use indoors and will feel uncomfortable because of its size. It is designed to be used while hunting in different hunting grounds.

Once you have the scope mounted to your gun you will start to love the way the light is transmitted through one piece of air. It is ideal if you are shooting in a place where there is little to no light.

4. Celestron 52238 C70 Mini Mak Spotting Scope

Our rating: 8 / 10

Celestron 52238 C70 Mini Mak Spotting Scope

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Pros:

  • Great for getting a close-up view of objects
  • Comes with a durable, multi-coated, BAK-4 prism
  • Has a wide magnification power that’s great for its size
  • The eyepiece has a twist-up eyecup to protect your eyes
  • The tripod is compact and sturdy
  • The Fieldflip Binocular adapter is a handy extra
  • The small size makes it easy to carry and store

Celestron is a trusted brand in the optics industry, and some of their products have been in continuous use for decades. The C70 spotting scope is one of the best compact spotting scopes available. For a scope of its size, it excels at gathering light, which is critical for getting a clear image in low-light conditions.

When you’re trying to get a closer look at something, it’s usually at a higher magnification power. However, if you use a smaller scope on a high-power setting, chances are the image will be too blurry. You may need to use your hands to hold the scope steady at a higher power setting and this can affect the image you’re trying to get.

5. Celestron Hummingbird 9-27x56mm ED Micro Spotting Scope

Our rating: 8 / 10

Celestron Hummingbird 9-27x56mm ED Micro Spotting Scope

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Pros:

  • Focusing wheel easy to use
  • Quickly change from landscape to spotting view with the twist of a button
  • Compact size is lighter in weight, and detachable if you prefer another carrying option

Cons:

  • Focus wheel does not give fine control as other models
  • Image quality a little less crisp without the addition of accessories
  • Cost

If you've ever been hunting for a spotting scope that throws a crystal clear image across the backdrop of surrounding nature, then the Celestron combines the compact size of the company's trademark Spotting Scopes with the functionality of a comfortable spotting scope.

The birder friendly design features a remarkable 50x zoom magnification. A tripod and handheld adapter are not included. Despite the narrow view, this spotting scope is ideal for gathering key details from a distance. The battery-free design means you will always have your field vision clear and sharp.

It’s easy to zoom in for detail on your target. The design is made of plastic and foam, making it lightweight and built to endure with you through many nature walks to come.

6. Leupold SX-1 Ventana 2 20-60x80mm Spotting Scope

Our rating: 7 / 10

Leupold SX-1 Ventana 2 20-60x80mm Spotting Scope

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Pros:

  • 20-60 times magnification offers a wide range options when selecting a magnification
  • 80mm objective lens offers very high light gathering ability for great image quality
  • Red & green multi-coated lens increases the usability of the scope
  • Made with Leupold’s ExactBrace System to reduce any vibration that could affect the image
  • Ultra lightweight for needing less accessories to carry around with you
  • Available in both right- and left-handed versions
  • Available at different length levels so you can choose the best length for your hands
  • Waterproof and fogproof so you can use it in any condition
  • Great value for a spotting scope that has such a high magnification
  • Easy to use panoramic slow motion panning for exploring the area

Cons:

  • Very heavy at 23.9 pounds
  • Field of view is very low

Spotting scopes can be tricky to choose since you mostly have to rely on online images to judge the image quality. In this case, you can be sure that the Leupold SX-1 Ventana 2, 20-60×80 is a spotting scope you can rely on.

7. Leupold GR 10-20x40mm Gold Ring Compact Spotting Scope

Our rating: 7 / 10

Leupold GR 10-20x40mm Gold Ring Compact Spotting Scope

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Pros:

  • Great low-light performance
  • Sharp optics and incredible resolution
  • The small and lightweight design makes it easy to carry in your pack

An innovative unit that offers all the optical quality of its bigger brethren in a compact size. It’s a great spotter for hunters who want a dedicated optic but don’t need all the features of the bulky, larger units like the fixed eyepieces and a large tripod adapter.

Combine all those features with the 10x magnification, and you’ve got yourself a competent and potentially deadly scope in your hands.

Additionally, the optics are great for low light conditions. It’s mainly the lens coatings that do the work here, giving the Leupold GR10-20x40mm Gold Ring Compact Spotting Scope Shadow Gray a lot of character when viewed during the times of day animals are most active.

8. Nikon Fieldscope ED50 Angled

Our rating: 7 / 10

Nikon Fieldscope ED50 Angled

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Pros:

  • ED glass reduces chromatic aberration and provides high contrast
  • Angle eyepiece provides a wider view of the field of view for long distance viewing
  • Rubber grip on eyepiece protects eyeglasses and equipment from scratches

Cons:

  • May be less sturdy than straight-model telescopes
  • No tripod extension tube
  • Fixed eye relief prevents using with low-profile eye pieces

If you want to purchase a spotting scope for coin flipping or target shooting, you would be better off with a straight model. But if you prefer to spot in the field for voles or to watch birds, or you need an angled scope to use in a tight tree stand, you'll like this one, which is very compact for its 50mm objective diameter.

Like all Nikon binoculars and spotting scopes, this scope has fully multi-coated optics with ED glass. It comes with a soft case, a neoprene strap, and a carrying handle. For those who have never worked with an angled scope, here are some pointers:

If you hold this scope with its long side horizontal, you'll get a wider view through the eyepiece. But when it's angled down, its apparent width is reduced; by about 10 degrees, depending on the height of your head.

9. Bushnell 781548P Elite Spottingx 40mm

Our rating: 5 / 10

Bushnell 781548P Elite Spottingx 40mm

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Pros:

  • Waterproof and fogproof
  • Fully multi-coated optics for high resolution and brilliant color rendition
  • Nitrogen filled, O-ring sealed construction is waterproof, fog-proof and full of long-lasting durability
  • Extra wide eye box
  • Fully-coated optics that capture 95% of ambient light for a bright, clear view
  • The rubber armored body provides durability and gives a firm grip in wet and inclement weather
  • Use as a bore sight for long-range and rifle scopes
  • Waterproof construction eliminates fogging for a bright, clear view in any weather condition
  • Powerful enough to see deer in dark woods, wild hogs and coyotes in heavy brush
  • Housing is multicoated for durability and clarity

10. MINOX MD 50 W Spotting Scope

Our rating: 5 / 10

MINOX MD 50 W Spotting Scope

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Pros:

  • 12-50x magnification
  • Lens covers and rain guard included
  • Waterproof and fog-proof
  • Picatinny rail mount for accessories
  • Step-up eyepieces available
  • Shorter than average length
  • Five-year warranty
  • Weight: 22.5 oz.
  • Adjustable eyecups

Cons:

  • Customer service issues
  • No instruction manual
  • Short warranty period

Is it possible for a small but very high quality spotting scope to exist? The short answer is yes and the MINOX MD 50 W is a great example.

MINOX has been around for over half a century and has experience bringing out quality optics for professional use as well as for the hobbyist. The MD 50 W is a powerful spotter that gets you as close to the action as possible.

The scope has an amazing 50x zoom so it packs a lot of magnifying power in a relatively small package. It also features a face-shield and nose-guard to keep sun and stray light from hitting your eyes.

11. Bushnell Legend Ultra High Definition Black Ed Glass Spotting Scope

Our rating: 5 / 10

Bushnell Legend Ultra High Definition Black Ed Glass Spotting Scope

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Pros:

  • Has mils knobs for any and every impact measurement
  • Made out of the highest quality materials around

With that said, Bushnell has created an instant classic with the Legend Ultra Compact Spotting Scope. It keeps the weight down, and provides an extremely rugged and durable spotting scope.

The Legend is Bushnell’s top of the line compact scope boasting superior quality and specifications.

The Legend features good HED glass, precise laser-etched reticle with aim points out to 1000 yards, bright multi-coatings, durable magnesium make up, and an articulating eyepiece.

12. Nikon Prostaff 5 Spotting 60-Straight with Zoom

Our rating: 4 / 10

Nikon Prostaff 5 Spotting 60-Straight with Zoom

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Pros:

  • Magnification of up to 60x
  • Fully coated lenses with anti-reflective coating
  • Silent switching zoom eyepiece
  • Bubble level
  • BAK4 prisms
  • Long eye relief
  • Eye cup
  • Rubber armor for a firm grip
  • Lightweight
  • Nikon warranty

Cons:

  • Small field of view
  • No caps
  • Hard to focus
  • Poor fit with bikini/sundogs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best spotting scope for the money?

The best spotting scope for the money will depend on a variety of factors. I have reviewed 11 of the best spotting scopes that are currently available and sorted them by price. That said, you can see my top pick below.

The coatings on the lenses are top notch and work great. The lens covers are built-in, which is nice and means carrying fewer accessories around. The scope is well-built and lightweight enough to carry around easily. It’s got a wide range of magnification, which is good for a lot of applications. Finally, it also comes with the eyepiece cover, a decent carrying case, and a tripod. Overall, this was the best spotting scope.

Is a spotting scope worth it?

If you want to improve your birding skills and add more birds to your life list, a spotting scope can make a big difference. If you are willing to invest in it.

If you are just starting out with a spotting scope, I would suggest keeping things cheap and simple until you get used to it and know exactly what you want out of a spotter. After that it’s just a matter of deciding which level of scope you prefer. If you are an absolute beginner, you need only enter in terms of magnification power and length when researching your purchase.

What is a good spotting scope for 1000 yards?

The Vortex Optics Razor HD 15-45x60mm R.A.S. earned our Editor's Choice award.

The Vortex Optics Razor HD earned our Editor's Choice award. This long-range spotting scope features premium, top-of-the line optics as well as all the bells and whistles that you would expect from a high-end product.

The Razor HD boasts of premium HD glass with amazing light transmission, low aberrations, and high resolution. It's also waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof. And the coatings are fully multi-coated, which contribute to an exceptionally clear view image.

You also get every possible relevant feature in a spotting scope with the Razor HD, including a hard magnesium body, nitrogen purged tubes, a huge 60mm lens diameter, a side focus knob with a 10:1 zoom ratio, and even lightweight magnesium tripod.

Conclusion

If you are a serious sportsman, you need a spotting scope to follow your target from the distance. While binoculars work, that is not an effective way to evaluate the target precisely. If you have not been using a spotting scope in your hunting adventures, do yourself a favor and give them a try. You will get an entirely different view of the environment, and you will be able to see things that you never could before.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting ScopesBest OverallVortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scopes
Celestron 52238 C70 Mini Mak Spotting ScopeBudget PickCelestron 52238 C70 Mini Mak Spotting Scope
Zeiss Carl Optical Dialyt Field Spotter 18-45x 65 Spotting ScopeUpgrade PickZeiss Carl Optical Dialyt Field Spotter 18-45x 65 Spotting Scope