What is a Spotting Scope used for?

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What is a Spotting Scope used for

spotting scope is a high-power scope that allows you to watch distant objects. This is made possible because of the high power and magnification of the spotting scope. Its use is not restricted to any one purpose. Different spotting scopes are available for many different purposes. 

Spotting Scope vs Binoculars. When to use What? 

Spotting scopes and binoculars serve quite similar functions and hence the confusion. But it would help if you used a binocular or a spotting scope depends on the purpose you are using it for. The difference in the features of the two will help you determine when to use each. Spotting scopes have much higher magnification capability than binoculars. The bigger size of their lens makes them heavier and hence difficult to carry. A spotting scope also needs to be mounted on a tripod to get the best results. Thus, spotting scopes are best used in activities that do not require much moving and need higher magnification. An excellent example of that would be target shooting. Target shooting is one such activity that does not require much moving. In it, the target is non-living such as cardboard or paper. A spotting scope, in this case, can be used. Also, its high magnification capacity allows it to see all details of the target. A binocular, on the other hand, has less magnification capability than a spotting scope. However, it is easier to carry around. It can also be tied around the neck. In hunting, for example, it is more feasible to use a pair of binoculars with a higher magnification than usual instead of using a spotting scope. Hence, the optic you will choose for yourself will depend on your purpose. 

Applications of a spotting scope

A spotting scope is used for the following purposes.

Target shooting:

Target shooting requires hitting a specific target. And a clear glass is needed for this purpose. A spotting scope has a clear glass that makes it befitting for target shooting and helps to hit the target accurately. In target shooting, the targets are stationary. Hence, a tripod can be easily used for target shooting. Also, you need to view the details of the target you are shooting at. Therefore, a spotting scope is a befitting choice for this purpose.


Although hunting requires a lot of movement and moving around with a spotting scope and a tripod in hand is challenging. Yet, it also needs high magnification for watching and targeting animals at a significant distance. So, a lightweight spotting scope with sufficient magnification can be used for hunting. A Nitro 15-45×65 scope, for example, is lightweight and compact. A large spotting scope can also work if you are hunting in large, open areas to set up a tripod.

Furthermore, a spotting scope works well for spotting and targeting animals. Its high-quality glass gives a clear image that accurately helps to hit the target. If you want to target one animal in a herd, a spotting scope will help you do exactly that.

Wildlife Viewing: 

A lot of people love to view wild animals. This also includes birding. A high magnification spotting scope is ideal for this purpose. As wildlife viewing does not include a lot of movement, a tripod can be adjusted quickly, and animals can be viewed through a highly magnified and clear glass. In the case of birding, It allows you to view details about birds through magnification. It also works for birds that are at a great distance.


Although a telescope is a perfect choice for astronomy, yet a spotting scope is a good alternative. The high magnification feature of a spotting scope allows beginners to experience work in the beginning. 


A spotting scope is also a good choice for surveillance as there are various sizes available for spotting scopes. The long-range ones can be used to provide situational awareness in public gatherings and also to identify targets from a long distance. It is also used for surveillance of the property.


A spotting scope allows one to take accurate shots during archery.


Spotting scopes are appropriate to use for long sniper shots. They allow them to recognize and identify the targets. It is used by snipers in the U.S. military as well. For Example, M151 is a lightweight spotting scope with powerful optics which is used for this purpose. 

How to Choose the desired Spotting Scope?

There are different spotting scopes available for different activities. The variety of choices available for a spotting scope makes it difficult for users to make a choice. The scope you choose depends on your purpose of using it. The scope one can use for hunting needs to be compact and lightweight. 14-45X magnification is mainly required for hunting. For hiking and backpacking, it is not feasible to carry a heavy-weight scope. A 50-millimeter scope will be easy to carry and hence suitable for this purpose.

Conversely, size and weight don’t matter if you are on a guided hunt, and all the activity will be inside a truck. For target shooting, however, magnification and objective size are important considerations. As target shooting does not involve much movement, weight is not an issue, but magnification is essential. The more, the better. Perfect magnification for a target shooting would be 20 – 60. So for a target shooting, the bigger the scope, the better. More magnification means more light will be allowed to enter the. There is enough light on a cloudy day. On a sunny day, the sunshade can be extended.


1. why are spotting scopes expensive?

Spotting scopes have a high magnification lens. Also, the diameter of the lens of the spotting scope is large in diameter. Hence, due to the quality and size of the spotting scope, it is much more expensive than binoculars. 

2. why does a spotting scope need a tripod?

The spotting scope has a large lens, and they are heavy. Thus they require a stable base in the form of a tripod.

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Hannah Anderson is a gun enthusiast. She developed a knack for guns and ammunition when as a teenager she started accompanying her grandfather to his hunting ventures. Now, she shares her passion and immense knowledge on the subject with the readers.

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