Reviews of the Best Thermal Imaging Rifle Scopes for 2017

Thermal imaging rifle scopes have been used with great effectiveness in military and tactical situations, and these scopes have also proven to be an advantageous asset for hunters, especially when hunting boar. The following guide will go over everything you need to know to purchase a thermal scope on the civilian market.

Thermal imaging is a lucrative tool for hunters because it allows the observer to not just see their target in the dark of night, but to actually witness the ambient heat that targets give off at any moment in time. This ambient heat can be fluorescently colored or simply display as a brighter animal shaped figure on a dark background. In any situation, this technology makes hunting live prey exceptionally easier.

How Does Thermal Imaging Work?

How does this technology work? Initially developed in the military sector, thermal imaging allows those who utilize it to see the seemingly invisible. As a rule, all animals emit infrared energy as heat during the natural processes of life; it is that thermal energy that is visible to an observer using an thermal imaging scope. Since the majority of objects in the natural world emit heat in one form or another, the majority of scopes capture the differences in heat between the target and its immediate environment.

Forward looking infrared (FLIR) systems are the types of infrared detectors that many rifle scopes utilize to pick up infrared light. The lens in the scope focuses all of the incoming infrared light; this light is then scanned by infrared detector elements in the array, and these elements create a thermogram. It only takes about one-thirteenth of a second to create a thermogram, so to the observer it appears to happen in real-time. The thermogram is then processed and projected to the display for the observer to use. The images that are delivered can tell you when a target is under a bush or even hunkered down to avoid a strong rain shower. The majority of external elements such as weather or poor lighting do not decrease the reliability of this type of imaging.

Types of Thermal Imaging Systems

When it comes to thermal imaging, there are typically two systems that are used on the market: cryogenically cooled and un-cooled. Here is how these two unique systems work to provide sharp thermal imaging:

  1. Un-cooled thermal imaging – This type of thermal imaging is what the majority of thermal imaging devices utilize. The elements that detect infrared energy operate at standard temperatures; and as a result, they don’t need additional materials to keep the key thermal elements below 32 degrees fahrenheit. Since extra machinery isn’t needed, this system is very quiet, which can be beneficial for hunters. These types of sights provide great temperature differential information but aren’t quite as sensitive as the other type.
  2. Cryogenically cooled thermal imaging – This is typically the more expensive option. The system employs internals that are sealed and mechanically cooled to freezing temperatures or below. These types of devices can have a slight hum to them though that is typically only noticeable in close proximity to the assembly. Despite the additional cost, this system provides a great advantage as they have heightened sensitivity compared to un-cooled systems of thermal imaging. These types of scopes can observe very minute temperature differentials from more than 1,000 feet away from the target. The only negative aspect of this type of thermal imager outside of the cost is the fact that with all of the extra components for cooling, this type of device is not quite as rugged as the un-cooled variety.

For the most part, the majority of weapon targeting thermal imaging scopes are un-cooled and the weapons scopes that we’ll be covering in this guide are of this type as well. As mentioned before, cryogenically cooled devices offer more temperature detail and this type is perfect for many civilian applications, but as these can get to be very expensive they are mostly limited to thermal imaging cameras.

Top Thermal Imaging Rifle Scope Recommendations

Detailed below is a variety of our top thermal imaging scope recommendations. Each of these quality scopes provide a diverse set of features to fit a variety of needs, depending on what is most important when making your purchase.

Best Overall Thermal Rifle Scope

ATN Thor 640-5x Thermal Weapon ScopeATN’s ThOR series of thermal hunting rifle scopes has made a firm reputation for its reliability, strong features, and overall versatility. The ATN ThOR 640-5x (30hz) lives up to the great reputation that the ThOR line brings to bear. As this is a thermal scope that is rated for combat, ATN utilizes mil spec germanium ballistic lenses for the eye pieces on this unit. This model is also very lightweight and fits well within the palm of your hand with measurements equaling 6.7 x 2.7 x 2.9 inches and weighing only two pounds. From a display point of view, the ThOR utilizes an OLED system that provides crisp 800 x 600 pixels of resolution.

This scope also has a plethora of menu options available by simply operating the directional pad positioned directly on the body of the scope itself. Some of the options that are included are the ability to change the color of the reticle, adjust the display’s brightness level, a full color overlay mode that features rich tones that vary depending on the environment, and in the menus you can also adjust the reticle type. This device also starts up very fast; it takes less than three seconds from power up to sighting. Also, you can expect eight full hours of charge from the three CR123A batteries.

This scope also has great range; its full 5X optical zoom is essential when you need to visually get closer to a target. Since the ThOR 640 has no springs or screws and utilizes a fully digital system to hold zero, the ThOR will never let the reticle move off of base. ATN has also included video-out connectivity so that you can capture your thermal imaging excursions on video.

With a thick set of features, great levels of image quality, resolution, and additional functions, the ATN ThOR 640-5x 640×480-Inch Thermal Weapon Scope is one of the most versatile thermal rifle scopes on the market, and the winner of our best overall pick.

Best Thermal Rifle Scope for the Money

Armasight Predator 336 2-8x25You don’t always need to break the bank to get a quality thermal scope. The Armasight Predator 336 2-8×25 (30 Hz) Thermal Imaging Weapon Sight provides some great, rich features that all come in at a very low price tag.

Very light and portable, this thermal scope measures in at 3 x 7.6 x 3.2 x 2.8 inches and weighs only 1.4 pounds. The Predator utilizes solid state, un-cooled, long-wave infrared magnification technology to provide a reliable experience not just to the sportsman, but to law enforcement and military users as well. The targeting display is of a LED type and can display a resolution of 640 x 480. This is a great resolution, so the images are crisp and detailed.

This FLIR detector utilizing thermal scope has several features that make it one of the most competitive on the market. The Predator makes use of a drop down menu system to help users navigate through the thermal scope’s features. This ensures that the user experience is both intuitive and simple. This software is upgradeable and allows you to pick from six digitally controlled reticle patterns, access the thermal scope’s recording feature, access the digital E-zoom (up to 4x magnification), and adjust the contrast of the image. Overlay color modes include, white hot, black hot, and rainbow.

In addition to the digital E-zoom, this scope also has a optical 1.6x zoom for resolution loss-free sighted magnification. For the recording feature, there is a SD card slot where you can save your hunting videos for later viewing through the TV-out functionality. This sight is a great option with a rich feature-set and costs less than $3,000. It provides well-rounded design and customizability without breaking the bank.

Best Thermal Rifle Scope for under $5,000

Armasight Zeus 336 3-12x42Our best thermal scope for under the $5,000 is another in the Armasight line of products, which is their Zeus 336 3-12×42. This scope employs a mid-sized 42mm lens to provide great resolution and vivid thermally enhanced images to the user. Its most noteworthy features include build quality, great drop down menu, and the inclusion of the exceptional FLIR TAU 2 un-cooled micro-bolometer thermal imaging system.

This is one durable scope. The Armasight Zeus is comprised of aircraft quality aluminum that can take several tumbles without compromising the chassis of this quality scope. Despite this sturdy construction, this scope is still almost feather light and compact. Measuring in at 10 x 3.2 x 2.8 inches and 1.5 pounds this scope will add minimal weight to your weapon, and will fit comfortably in your hands. As mentioned previously, Armasight created this scope to be 42mm; this is quite larger than the industry standard 35mm. This extra size ensures that the thermal imaging that this scope creates has larger pixels and is thusly more detailed. The screen is a color organic LED screen that has a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels.

From a features perspective, this scope has more than enough. The keypad for the menu is durable and blends in very well with the body of the scope. The drop-down itself has features that allow you to access the six different reticle types, reticle patterns, color, polarity, and overlay colorization. The E-zoom feature allows you to utilize the digital zooming system without losing as much of the details as typical digital magnification systems. A really neat feature available in the drop-down is the ‘scenarios’ selection. This lets you cycle through high value target, hog hunting, coyote hunting, deer hunting, bear hunting, mountain lion hunting, and elk hunting scenarios.

Recommendation: Best Thermal Rifle Scope for Hunting

FLIR Systems RS64 Thermal Night Vision RiflescopeWhen utilizing a thermal scope for clearing varmints or hunting for game, you’ll find no better scope than the FLIR Systems RS24 1X Thermal Night Vision Riflescope. Hunting takes patience and a scope primarily used for hunting needs to have measured versatility for all of the types of hunting usage that it will encounter and the RS24 doesn’t disappoint in this regard. This scope comes in at 8″ x 3.3″ x 2.9″ inches in dimensionality and is around two pounds, and while that’s adds a little heft to your weapon, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This unit comes packaged with an active matrix LCD display that displays a resolution of 640 x 480 and is capable of providing 16x magnification. The focal length of the lens is 13mm.

While the included internal lithium ion battery pack guarantees more than four hours of life, it’s the fact that this pack is rechargeable through a USB connection that makes this scope great for hunting. You don’t have to replace your pack at all if you keep the cable wired in to a local power source, so there’s no need to necessarily enter standby mode.

Insofar as internal features, the RS24 has a simplified scope interface that utilizes a four button control system. You can access batter charge info from the display, adjust the reticle colors from white, black, red, or green, choose between three distinct reticle types, adjust the color palettes, or establish the included E-zoom magnification. When using the digitally-based E-zoom the targeted object’s resolution is automatically corrected for the extended zoom which helps for high magnification shots. Finally, like many of the scopes present on our list, this thermal imaging scope has video out capability, so that you can keep a record of your hunts.

Best Thermal Rifle Scope for an AR-15

As the AR-15 is a great precision rifle, utilizing a thermal scope that is designed to give as much precision at the potential higher moving speeds that you might need to hunt active, larger game is just what the doctor ordered. With its 640 x 480 high resolution sensor, the ATN ThOR 640 5-50x is exactly what you need.

Simply put, this ATN ThOR scope has built in technology called the Smart Shooting Solution that allows you to forgo hassling with charts, reticles, and calculators to acquire your perfect shot. After you range in on your target and enter wind readings, your scope will adjust your point of impact as necessary for you. Furthermore, the scope’s Recoil Activated Video feature records a video that starts right before you take a shot, the moment itself, and whatever amount of footage you would like to have after the shot is taken; you don’t have to worry about forgetting to record the perfect kill shot or losing your target when trying to mess with video recording. Overall, the HD imaging provides a crisp and beautiful video recording experience to perfectly capture the best moments of your excursions.

This compact instrument weighs just a little more than typical ThOR scopes at about 2.75 pounds, and it is 10.67″ x 3.97″ x 3.47″ in dimension. On board are a bevy of features that make this scope perfect for utilization with a AR-15, including built a built in smooth zoom feature with the ability to reach 50x magnification. The scope’s built in E-Compass and weather resistance make this the ideal tool to have on long hunting trips in a variety of conditions and locations, and you can record where your excursions lead you using the geotagging capabilities. If you plan to use this scope for more than one rifle due to its vast number of technologically advanced capabilities, you can make use of the scope’s profile manager to customize a series of settings specific to each of your rifles. Only 4 AA lithium batteries are required to operate the scope, and it comes with a 3 year warranty.

Top Brands of Thermal Rifle Scopes

When looking for a great thermal imaging rifle scope there are a few strong brands that always release products that are functional, last for years, and are feature-rich. The recommended scopes listed above are all manufactured by one of the following top global thermal imaging rifle scope brands:

ATN

In operation for two decades, ATN has made its specialty the creation of quality night vision and thermal imaging scopes. According to their site, “Our R&D Department has consistently allowed us to launch cutting edge and innovative products and technologies. The new Thermal Line ThOR Series Weapon Scopes, launched in 2011, have been universally recognized as the best line of Thermal Scopes on the market today.”

Armasight

Armasight creates quality thermal imaging scopes for a myriad of sectors. Their mission statement encompasses their desire to provide functional, versatile thermal imaging: “The primary goal of Armasight is to create a meaningful presence in the night vision and electro-optical arena by supporting elite military units, law enforcement professionals, first responder agencies and commercial consumers worldwide with the highest value price-to-performance goods and services that are delivered on time combined with the best after-sales support in the industry.”

FLIR Systems

FLIR took its name from the detector system that is most vital to thermal imaging and is responsible for many of the thermal technology that is used today. FLIR is also one of the oldest producers of scopes and thermal imaging technologies. From their site, “An industry pioneer for over 60 years, FLIR is the most vertically-integrated thermal imaging company in the world. We control the technology that’s key to our products’ thermal performance. In producing the R-Series, we leveraged our vast experience designing military-grade thermal imagers that have to be durable, precise, and reliable. The top shots around the world depend on FLIR. So should you.”

Pre-Purchase Considerations

In addition to considering the brand of scope that you’re interested in, there are multiple factors to consider before making your purchase, especially when trying to identify the features that are most important to you. If you are still unsure about which scope to purchase solely based on the information above, here are some other points to consider:

Price

Even the un-cooled types of thermal imaging scopes can get expensive. Models go from around $1,500 to more than $8,000. As a rule, the more costly thermal imaging scopes have a richer feature set and greater magnification. When searching for a great scope, try to keep your budget in mind, but also remember that you might not want to sacrifice functionality for a cheaper scope. This is a device that you’ll use for years to come and hopefully it’ll bring you success in use, so be sure to balance your need with your wallet judiciously. Also, thermal imaging technology is becoming more mainstream, so while today’s scopes might seem to be more on the expensive side, prices are sure to come down a bit in the near future. Even today, prices for these types of devices are a fraction of what they were even a few years ago.

Battery Life

Like many modern devices, thermal rifle scopes require power to function. Typically, you can use lithium batteries to power your scope and charge will vary greatly based on model. If you can find a thermal imaging scope that lasts around eight hours on a charge, then you’ve found one that lasts fairly well.

Refresh Rate

Just like in today’s graphical processor and television systems, refresh rate has great value in thermal imaging. Most scopes on the market today come in 30 or 60 hertz varieties. Hertz, when it comes to digital images represents cycles per second or how often a presented image is refreshed. The more refreshes the more lifelike the displayed image will appear. As a rule, when it comes to refresh rate, shoot for a thermal imaging rifle scope that has a rate over 30 hertz, this will ensure that if whatever you’re tracking starts to move it won’t appear like a slideshow. Some find that a larger 60 hertz display isn’t really that important as that level of cycles per second won’t make a noticeable difference unless the target is moving at a fairly rapid pace. Others have noted that if trying to target something from a moving platform, such as the bed of a truck, 30 hertz tends to lag too much, so this is a situation where 60 hertz shines.

Resolution

Thermal imaging scopes aren’t like standard mechanical scopes; their image is relayed using technology not unlike what is found in many of our current crop of digital devices. Just like in any other digital display, resolution is the primary means to providing a crisp, reliable image while using a thermal imaging scope. The reasoning for this is simple; too much pixilation distorts the edges of the target which can then cause misses. When it comes to resolution, your best bet is to purchase the highest resolution that fits within your scope budget. Thermal imaging doesn’t always provide as high detail as standard night vision imaging as its power is in detection, so having extra resolution for clearer image finding can really help you out on a hunt.

Zoom

Zoom typically goes hand-in-hand with resolution. There are two types of zoom, optical and digital. As a rule, optical zoom will allow you to magnify in on a target without losing quite as much of its resolution. Digital on the other hand, utilizes software to get closer to the target and zooming too far with this, at least without the help of other tech, will result in a lower resolution image. Thermal scopes with a combination of these types are a great way to get the extended zoom of the digital, with the image quality of the optical. When you’re thinking about making a purchase of a scope, definitely take a look at what the scope has to offer for zoom.

Reticle Option

The reticle, also known as a crosshair or reticule, helps provide accurate target sighting on a thermal scope. Some scopes feature a fine reticle while others feature one with thicker lines. Some scopes have a wide selection of reticles which you can select and can range from a standard crosshair to a simple central dot. Some manufacturers don’t provide a reticle in their thermal scopes, so be sure to do some research on the scope you intend to buy so that you know what to expect when you use it to target.

Germanium lenses

Glass is a great insulator; and as a result, it isn’t a material that can be used very well in thermal optics. The reason why glass is transparent is because visible short wavelengths pass freely through the material, but since infrared is heat energy and the glass blocks these wavelengths as an insulator, it’s impossible for the infrared detector elements to pick up the thermal information as the glass is blocking its reception. Germanium, a chemical rare element, can be made transparent and allow for the transmission of light on the infrared spectrum so the lenses on thermal imaging scopes tend to be made of this material. One caveat though, germanium is very expensive, especially compared to standard glass. As a matter of fact, a sizeable reason that these scopes costs so much compared to standard scopes is because of this lens material. You can safely assume that the larger the lens, the more you can expect to pay for the rifle scope.

Color or Monochrome

When many think of thermal imaging, they think of the bright oranges, reds, and yellows portrayed in the 1987 film Predator. While with the current crop of thermal scopes, you can get a great approximation of this effect, it’s not the only option for thermal imagery. For a little less you can get a monochromatic option that provides a great gradation level when observing an option. For monochrome thermal scopes, warm targets are simply brighter on the grayscale and still stand out very well from their cooler environments.

Clip-on versus Standard

For rifle sights, there are two types of scope systems that can help you utilize thermal imaging on your next hunt. These types are:

  1. Clip-on – Clip-on sights employ a thermal imager that you attach via rails to your current scope. These work very well, and many of the scopes in this category can be used independently but typically have slightly reduced zoom capability, so they are better when used in conjunction with another scope. Since your standard scope is view finding through the screen of your thermal imaging scope, at high magnifications some loss in resolution can occur.
  2. Standard – This is the type that utilizes standard scope technology and works in conjunction with an internal thermal imaging sensor. The images that this type produces provide great heat detail by using a myriad of colors, or it can present the thermogram display in a more monochrome readout. This typically depends on the manufacturer and the imaging system’s components.

Extra Features

Some scopes have extra bells and whistles on them like a DVR to record everything that the scope sees. This allows you to take a look at the days hunting after it’s done. Some models even feature an RCA out setup that will allow you to hook a monitor directly to the scope. Another extra feature on some scopes is the addition of a standby mode. Since most scopes incorporate a battery as a power source, this type of feature allows you to save the battery during times when you are relaxing or when the scope is not in active use. Many thermal scopes utilize a menu system that allows you to select your reticle, adjust brightness, or wind and elevation settings. Having extra features can make your thermal scope seem more versatile, which adds value to your purchase.

Selecting a great thermal imaging scope is a process that requires a lot of due diligence but is ultimately a very rewarding experience. Take the time to establish a budget, get to know the technology intimately, and learn the feature sets of some of the best units on the market. This guide, hopefully, will help you through the process and help to educate you on some of the features of the tech, the brands available on the market today, and some of the best units for sport shooting and beyond.

 

The Best Trail Camera for 2017

browning strike force trail cameraTrail cameras are rugged, weatherproof, remote cameras with long-lasting batteries that can be left unattended for months in remote areas, or in areas that are difficult or dangerous for a photographer to access. Remote cameras have a wide range of uses. Artists, nature photographers, and researchers use them for time-lapse photography. Homeowners, researchers, and hunters use them to observe wildlife. In sports photography, remote cameras might be placed behind a basketball hoop, on a goal, or beside a racetrack. They are used as web cams to display scenic views as well as to monitor equipment in hazardous areas. These cameras are also used for security and surveillance by many.

In this article, we will break down the best trail cameras that fit your specific needs and detail how to use them properly.

Best Overall Trail/Game Camera

The Browning Strike Force Sub Micro ranks high on all features, and it is our top choice. A fast trigger speed of 0.67 seconds and a recovery time of 2.3 seconds ranks it in the top five percent of all trail cameras on the market. Reviewers report that the camera captures head shots of animals as they enter the field of vision, full shots as they pass through, and “butt shots” as they leave, indicating that the field of vision consistently matches the camera’s 50 foot detection range.

In daylight, the camera’s light sensors easily handle direct sun, shade, or a mix of sun and shade, producing bright, clear images with excellent contrast. As a result, this camera captures excellent daytime photos and HD videos with sound. Daytime videos can last from five seconds to two minutes.

At night, the no-glow, infrared flash for night photography emits no visible light, but some dimness, graininess, and blur is expected from these flashes. Reviewers report, however, that the contrast in the nighttime image is exceptional and that all areas of the image are evenly lighted. They could identify human faces and count the points on a large buck within a 50-foot detection range.

This trail camera uses six AA batteries; lithium batteries provide approximately six months of battery life while rechargeable batteries provide about two months per recharge.

Camera setup is easy. The two-inch internal viewer with live preview mode allows you to see the area that is in the cameras field of view as you set it up. The camera’s size (5″ x 3.2″ x 2.5″ ) and the bark pattern printed on the case allow it to blend exceptionally well with tree bark.

Best Wireless/Cellular Trail Camera

Spartan’s HD GoCam is a top ranked cellular trail camera for a good reason: its sleek design is the product of experienced camera users whose design input led to a quality, durable camera. Furthermore, high quality does not mean that the camera is more difficult to use; in fact, it is ready to use right when you take it out of the box. An AT&T DataConnect Pass SIM card is included with the purchase, and activating the service only requires accessing this webpage.

This camera offers a less-than-one-second trigger speed and captures photos that may be set to have a resolution as high as 8 MP. If enough images are taken to fill the 32 GB SD card, you can set the card to overwrite its stored photos with the newest captures, starting with the oldest stored photograph. Furthermore, you can choose between two duty periods for the camera to capture images in different trigger intervals and time-lapse settings if you do not want it constantly taking pictures. Picture parameters are set using the online camera menus available on the website through which you activate your wireless camera service.

An additional feature offered by this trail camera is the ability to record videos instead of transmitting photos. Video resolution can be set as high as 720 HD, and the infra red LED array illuminates up to 70+ feet for clear night videos and pictures.

To protect your 6”x5”x3.5” piece of equipment, this Spartan camera boasts a case that is exceptional in preventing water damage during outdoor use. The flush case mating areas in both the front and rear case halves, as well as the rubber gasket and double-hinged latch attached to these case halves, provide an excellent seal to avoid environmental damage. However, in the event that the camera gets damaged in any way, you can rest easy knowing that all Spartan cameras have an industry-leading 2-year warranty.

The camera is powered by 12 AA batteries that are housed in the rear case, and this will provide a few months of battery life, and no external power source is necessary.

Best Camera for the Money

Bushnell Trophy Cam HDThe Bushnell Trophy Cam HD Trail Camera with Night Vision has a trigger speed of 0.6 seconds and a detection range of 60 feet. A similar Bushnell Trophy Cam lists a recover speed of 2.9 seconds and a detection range of 50 feet. When set to automatic mode, the Passive Infra-Red (PIR) motion sensor monitors ambient temperature conditions and regulates the sensitivity of the trigger based on the temperature readings.

The camera is equipped with a day/night auto-sensor and can be set to take photos only during the day, only at night, or both day and night. Field Scan time-lapse mode allows the camera to take still photographs or videos at your choice of intervals independently of the motion trigger. Field Scan 2X allows two windows for photography or videos which is useful for capturing images during the magic hours of dusk and dawn. A similar Bushnell Trophy Cam stores videos as avi files, but, because it is not a true avi file, Mac computers require a free DIVX player to display the videos.

When triggered by the motion detector, the camera takes still photos or up to 60 seconds of video with sound and is suitable for use during the day and night, and has a video resolution of 1280 pixels by 780 pixels. Images are stamped with the date, time, phase of the moon, and the temperature. A GPS locator tag allows those with multiple cameras to input the longitude and latitude of the camera’s location and have that information embedded in the image file.

The nighttime red-glow infrared LED flash has a range of 60 feet. Some animals notice the flash, but are not frightened by it. A similar Bushnell Trophy Cam provides an adjustable nighttime flash with settings of low, medium, and high. Setting the flash lower shortens the exposure and darkens nighttime pictures, eliminating problems with motion blur and severe white out for objects within 10 feet of the camera. This setting also lengthens battery life. Daytime pictures are clear, sharp, and have excellent color. The video is also excellent and the audio is able to pick up sounds at some distance.

The camera uses four to eight AA batteries. A comparable Bushnell Trophy Cam used just 0.19 milliamps while resting. Daytime photography requires 403 milliamps while nighttime photography requires 685 milliamps, which ranks this camera in the top 10 percent of all cameras for low power consumption. Batteries in the similar model could last from two to four months or up to six to 12 months if the camera takes few pictures. Battery life can be extended with the use of nimh rechargeable batteries.

The camera is user friendly and easy to setup. The case design is simple, durable, and with the Real Tree AP Camo design and a size of only 5 1/2″ x 4″ x 2 1/2″, it is very easy to conceal.

Best Trail Camera Under $100

The FULLLIGHT TECH 1080P 12MP Game and Trail camera takes quality nighttime images and videos due to its 42 pcs infrared LED, clearly capturing anything within 50 feet. These features and five different capture modes will make this camera a top contender for both home security and hunting, especially with an optical lens that pan up to a 120 degree wide angle. It is also safe in the elements, withstanding both rain and snow with its waterproof durability.

Game will not be easily scared off when this camera is snapping images because it was designed with Low Glow Infrared Technology, and the images themselves are quickly captured with a trigger time of 0.9 seconds. The camera resolution is customizable for the user and images are easy to view on its 2.4″ screen.

This camera comes with a 1 year warranty, but the required 8 AA batteries and memory card must be purchased separately.

Best Trail Camera Under $200

Stealth Cam G42The Stealth Cam G42NG No-Glow Trail Game Camera receives an average rating of 4.3 stars out of five stars from 158 reviewers on Amazon. While the camera has a fast trigger speed of 0.49 seconds, it has a below average recovery time of 6.6 seconds. However, a firmware update is expected to reduce recovery time by half.

The camera has a detection range of 60 feet, and the no-glow infrared flash extends to 50 feet allowing the camera to monitor a wide area night and day.

The camera takes both still photos and HD videos with sound that range from five seconds to three minutes. Photo resolution can be set to two megapixels, four megapixels, eight megapixels, or 10 megapixels. Eight or 10 megapixels provide the most detail and the highest quality images. Animals close to the lens are in focus and there is little blurring, even with extensive motion. However, the background and objects more than 70 feet from the camera are out of focus. Interestingly, this is the opposite of most cameras. Daytime photos have vivid colors and good contrast, but some nighttime photos heavily white out objects close to the camera. A firmware update has improved nighttime photographs overall, but inconsistencies continue.

The camera uses eight AA batteries and requires 0.26 milliamps of current when resting, 646 milliamp seconds for daytime photography, and 1,475 milliamp seconds for nighttime photography. While the battery usage for daytime photography falls in the middle of the range when compared with the competition, the other two numbers are higher. Batteries will last three to six months depending on the number of photographs taken. Lithium batteries work best. Alkaline batteries will work, but aren’t recommended. Nimh rechargeable batteries will not fire the infrared flash, so do not use them in this camera.

The case is well designed and measures only 5 1/2 inches by 4 inches by 2 3/4 inches. A bracket for a python lock and a threaded insert for a Slate River Mount are built into the case.

The camera can be set to take from one to nine photos in burst mode. It has three preset modes and one custom mode to choose from in addition to a manual shot capability that is protected with a Secure Lock password. The preset modes include a three-photo burst at eight megapixels with a 30 second delay, a single photo at eight megapixels with a 30 second delay, and a 10 second HD video with audio at a 720 pixel resolution with a 10 second delay. When you move the slider to one of the preset modes, the backlit programming window lights up and the display scrolls through the settings for that mode. If you want a different setup, move the slider to custom mode and choose the settings you prefer.

This camera is a solid choice, but the slow recovery, higher power usage numbers, and inconsistent nighttime photographs are negative attributes to consider.

These trail cameras provide a range of options and prices for those seeking remote cameras for artistic purposes, security, or wildlife observation.

How Do I Select a Trail Camera?

When deciding which trail camera is best, the most important question to answer is how you will use the camera. Will you take interior or exterior shots? Will you use the camera for nighttime photography as well as daytime photography? Are you using the camera for artistic purposes, sports photography, surveillance and security, or wildlife observation? Does the camera need to pan over an area or will it be fixed? Do you want still images, video, or both? Do you want a film camera, or do you want a digital camera with an SD card that can be left in place long term and that may be able to transmit images to your e-mail address or cell phone?

High quality images are important for any remote camera. Do not buy a camera with less than eight megapixels of resolution, especially if you intend to print the images.

Trigger speed is another important consideration. Camera used for sports photography, surveillance, or wildlife observation need a fast enough trigger speed to capture quick movements without blurring.

The range of the camera’s heat and motion sensors should match the camera’s field of view. When the trigger speed, the detection range, and the field of view work together properly, the camera should capture the person or animal that triggers the camera entering, passing through, and exiting the field of view.

The case of a camera used for wildlife observation or outdoor surveillance must be easily concealed, durable, and weatherproof, especially waterproof. It should have a sleek design with no protruding parts or controls that could be damaged.

The easier the camera is to use and the more simply it functions, the less likely it is that something will malfunction while the camera is unattended. The point of a wildlife observation camera is to reduce the presence of humans so that the animals behave normally, so it is important that both the camera’s battery life and its ability to continue to operate both extend for several months.

How to Use a Trail Camera

Braided safety cables and other mounting hardware secure remote cameras in areas where people might pass below; these cables may be secured and protected by gaffer tape and black wrap. Surveillance cameras might be mounted on motorized brackets that pan over a wide area, while trail cameras are mounted in fixed positions and many have camouflage cases.

Selecting a position to mount the camera is also an important variable to consider depending on what one is intending to capture. Mounting these cameras at 30 inches captures images of deer and larger animals, whereas a lower position captures smaller animals and game birds. Setting cameras to take three pictures in succession in “rapid fire” or “burst” mode captures fast moving animals without disturbing animals inclined to linger even when using a red-glow infrared flash that animals notice. Deer look in the direction of the flash but don’t flee, but predators such as coyotes and bobcats are more likely to be spooked. Purchasing a python lock or a security mount or box discourages theft of the camera.

Shutters on remote cameras can be triggered by a cable attached to a button, by radio remote, or, if the camera must operate independently of a photographer, by heat and motion sensors.

Check out this great video on the secrets of successfully using a trail camera:

The Best Shotgun Scopes for 2017

When you’re hunting with a shotgun, common sense clearly tells you not to expect any sniper-style shooting feats. For many hunters, the need for a shotgun scope seems laughable. “I’m just shooting a turkey, and not that far away. Why would I need a scope?”

Believe it or not, the addition of a scope to your shotgun can dramatically improve your chances of bagging that trophy Tom. And that isn’t to mention those who hunt larger game with slugs, which requires even greater accuracy with your favorite shotgun. While it’s true that you can get a bead on your target using iron sights, the assistance of a scope is like the difference between reading in fine print and reading in large print. With a quality scope, your time is much better spent and frustration is reduced to a minimum.

In this guide, you’ll find the reasons that you should consider purchasing a shotgun scope, what to look for when making a decision, and finally the four scopes we most highly recommend.

Reasons why Shotgun Scopes make a Difference:

Crosshairs

Crosshairs allow you to pinpoint your target without playing guessing games.

Scope

With a scope, you aren’t tempted to raise up to check the movement of the bird or other game animal. As many hunters have learned, this is a major reason for losing that bird that seemed a sure thing.

Magnification

It never hurts to have a clearer view of your target.

Whether you’re hunting turkeys or whitetail, a scope can improve your game to the point that you’ll wonder how you ever got along without one. Although the addition of a scope to your gun may add a small amount of weight, it more than makes up for it by making your trek into the woods so much more profitable.

What to Look for in your Scope

When you decide it’s time to begin shopping for a shotgun scope, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are some important tips to help you make your decision when a world of choices make settling on the right scope a victory in itself:

Durability conquers all.

When you’re choosing a shotgun scope, the most important thing to keep in mind is that in order get your money’s worth, your scope will need to be tough. When you’re crashing through the thick brush or your gun slides down from the tree stand and lands against the trunk with a crack, once you’ve given thanks for the fact that it didn’t go off and kill anyone, you’ll be thankful you chose a scope that could stand up to anything your shotgun can handle.

Clarity is a must.

Another top priority for choosing a shotgun scope is clarity. Although it isn’t necessary to buy the priciest scope to achieve maximum resolution – more about that later – there’s no point buying a scope that makes discerning the difference between your target and the background a mystery. Make sure the scope you choose provides a sharp view of whatever you point it at so your eyes get the break they’ll need when you’ve been peering so hard for so long.

Keep it simple.

As you begin shopping around, you’ll find that different scopes offer different features. While many of these may seem tempting and like downright must-haves, keep in mind that anything that adds complication to your scope is one more thing that can break and render your scope useless. Unless you know that your scope would still work if a certain feature became inoperable, keep it simple and forego the fancy features.

Pricier doesn’t mean better.

Although it’s true that you get what you pay for, when it comes to shotgun scopes, there’s really no need to spend an arm and a leg. As long as a scope fulfills these other requirements, don’t be afraid to settle for a scope that just gets the job done without an exorbitant price tag. Unless you plan to make your living hunting, a cheap yet adequate scope should be all you need.

Slight magnification is plenty.

Obviously, with a shotgun, you don’t have much need for long-distance reconnaissance. As long as the scope provides slight magnification, you should be pleased with the results.

Shiny scopes are easily spotted.

It would be a shame to head out with your Mossy Oak gun stock and RealTree head-to-toe camo, just to have the deer turn tail and run at the flash of morning sun glinting off your gun scope. When looking for your shotgun scope, keep in mind that camouflage is just as important for scopes as it is for gunstocks. If you can’t find a suitable camo-colored scope, a matte-finished scope will prevent sunlight from giving away your presence to any vigilant wildlife you’re trying to evade.

Brighter isn’t always necessary.

Sure, it’s true that the brightness feature can be helpful for hunters out in the wee hours of the morning. Still, there’s no need to worry about making your scope too bright since you’ll be hunting when it’s somewhat light anyway. Why tempt yourself with ultra-bright technology when bagging that deer at night while it’s not legal to do so can get you in serious hot water. Although laws differ from state to state, good sportsmanship alone would dictate that too much technology can take the sporting chance out of the equation and cheapen the experience for everybody.

Reviews of the Four Best Shotgun Scopes on the Market

With each of these things in mind, here are four top examples of shotgun scopes that should provide what you need to make your hunting experience that much more profitable.

Bushnell Trophy Shotgun Scope with Circle-X Reticle

Color: Matte Black
Weight: 12.7 ounces
Magnification: 1.75x to 4x

The Bushnell shotgun scope is an all-around winner. The matte black, lightweight scope isn’t crazy expensive, but its durability makes it a favorite and one that many hunters will buy again – after their first one finally gives out after fifteen years.

 

Top features of the Bushnell Circle-X Reticle Shotgun Scope:

  • Wide view field allows minimal movement
  • 100% waterproof, shockproof and fogproof
  • Rain guard HD lens coating
  • Fast-focus eyepiece
  • 91% light transmission
  • 1/4 MOA fingertip windage and elevation adjustments
  • Multi-coated optics allow for excellent contrast and clarity
  • Perfect for multiple hunting applications
  • Backed by Bushnell “no questions asked” lifetime warranty
  • 1.75-4X magnification
  • 3.5 ” eye relief

Nikon ProStaff Shotgun Hunter 2-7 x 32 Black Matte Riflescope(BDC 200)

Nikon ProStaff Shotgun HunterColor: Black Matte
Weight: 13.9 ounces
Magnification: 2x to 7x

True to its name, the Nikon ProStaff Shotgun Hunter Riflescope integrates professional Nikon technology into this cutting-edge tool to make hunting precise and smooth.

Top features of the Nikon ProStaff Shotgun Hunter Riflescope:

  • 3.8 inches of eye relief keeps you safe from recoil
  • 100 yard field of view
  • Nitrogen-filled housing to keep out fog and moisture
  • Bright, crisp images
  • Works great with muzzle-loaders
  • Zero-reset turrets with spring-loaded adjustment knob
  • Quick-focus eyepiece
  • Great even with severe shooting angles

Simmons ProHunter ProDiamond Reticle Shotgun Scope, 4x32mm (Matte)

Simmons ProHunter ProDiamondColor: Black Matte
Weight: 8.6 ounces
Magnification: 4x

The affordable Simmons ProHunter ProDiamond shotgun scope offers advanced technology at an easy-to-swallow price. The sharp focus is made possible by the use of high-quality optical glass so that you can see your target clearly, regardless of the weather.

Top features of the Simmons ProHunter ProDiamond Reticle Shotgun Scope:

  • TrueZero windage and elevation adjustment keeps your focus fixed
  • Durable construction can resist 1,000 rounds from a 12-gauge slug gun firing 3.5-inch shells
  • O-ring sealed, 100% waterproof housing
  • 4-inch eye relief protects vision
  • 25 years of customer satisfaction
  • Multi-coated optics offer clearly contrasting images
  • Pro-Diamond reticle
  • Easy grip and adjustment

Truglo Compact Strut N Rut Scope

Color: Camouflage
Weight: 16 ounces
Magnification: 3-12x

The Truglo Compact Strut N Rut Scope is an excellent choice for hunters targeting turkey and deer. It’s made of aircraft quality aluminum to provide a durable, scratch-resistant, and non-reflective matte finish that is optimal for use while hunting.

 

Top features of the Truglo Compact Strut N Rut Scope:

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Fully-coated lenses providing maximum brightness, clarity, and contrast
  • Fingertip windage and elevation adjustments
  • Diamond reticle
  • 100% waterproof and fogproof
  • Nitrogen gas filled
  • Finish is durable and scratch resistant

Regardless whether you choose one of these fine scopes or another one not listed here, be assured that the addition of clarified sighting will improve your hunting results dramatically. Happy hunting!

The Best Pistol Scope on the Market in 2017

Recreational shooters and handgun hunters have a list of questions to answer when choosing the best scope for their pistols:

  • Will you hunt from a stand?
  • What is the expected shot length?
  • How long is the maximum distance of a shot?
  • Will you hunt with dogs?
  • How well do you see?
  • Will the recoil of the pistol generate abuse to the scope of choice?

Using a scope on a pistol is different than using one on a rifle: 1) there are physical limitations that are not manufacture or design errors; 2) the location of the scope in relation to the shooter’s eye is not the same; 3) the long eye relief of a pistol scope compromises the exit pupil because of light gathering capabilities; 4) without the whole-body support afforded by a rifle, the movement of a hand gun increases; and 5) the wobbles and shakes are exaggerated when looking through a scope, especially one set on a high magnification.

Scoped pistols function best when used with a solid rest, so use a shooting stick or the rail of a stand when hunting blind over bait or from a stand for optimal performance. A benefit of the scope is its magnification, so hunters assess and judge animals in their sights better with scopes. There is also an increase in shooting ability from longer ranges, and target shooters are more accurate shots when utilizing a pistol scope. The scope provides a more precise sighting system.

Once you have determined whether you can mount a scope on your pistol in the first place, check manufacturer information to ensure the scope you choose is compatible with your pistol, the intended use, and the recoil. The arrangement of scopes described here is by price, starting with the most economical and ending with the most expensive recommendation. Included are the retail prices and features of the scopes. Overall, if you’re looking for a quality optic that you will give you maximum clarity on target, you’ll have to spend more money.

Top Pistol Scopes in Different Price Ranges

NcSTAR Pistolero has a pistol scope features a long eye relief that satisfies just about any hunter’s needs. Professional marksmen and target shooters appreciate this scope. This pistol scope was optimally designed for any platform requiring long eye relief.

The duplex reticle of the AIM Sports pistol/scouting scope has a built-in Red Laser and is manufactured with milled aircraft grade aluminum. It is purged and charged with nitrogen to make it fogproof, while a sealing process makes it weather resistant. This scope takes plenty of heavy recoil, and the one piece design gives the scope its ruggedness. Users can choose between green and red reticles.

The BSA pistol scope is a simple, yet effective scope. You can adjust for elevation and windage with finger-adjustable ¼ MOA clicks. Nearly instant target acquisition is available from the multi-coated optics that yield a clear sight picture. The eye relief is a generous range from 11 to 20 inches.The versatile scope is useful as a scout scope also.

Simmons has a rugged and reliable scope for pistols features a TrueZero™ Flex Erector System that provides non-shifting point-of-aim at all adjustment settings and magnifications. All power ranges have 3¾” constant eye relief provided by the fast focus system of the scope, and the expanded eyebox is superior to many scopes. In addition to elevation and windage dials maintaining accuracy, no deviation occurs in the adjustment range. Images are sharper, flatter, and wider thanks to the Simmons Aspherical Lens Technology, and the lens has a high transmission coating. There are four Simmons pistol scopes that have ¼ MOA adjustments, and they are designed to be shockproof, waterproof, and fogproof.

The Swift Reliant pistol scope is available with either a matte black or nickel satin finish. The one-piece design of the monobloc tube ensures shock resistance and strength necessary for use with magnum handguns. Multi-coated optics provides the brightest, four-power magnification images. The reticle is a self-centering Quadraplex that makes the scope outstanding for target shooting or hunting over 100 yards. This nitrogen-filled scope is a hard anodized, fogproof piece of equipment, and micro adjustments are available to accommodate for elevation and windage. A lens cover completes the package.

Nikon has built a scope with extended eye relief and shockproof optics. This scope takes the recoil from the most powerful pistol calibers. Its ability to handle powerful recoil is only one of its famed features; one can view maximum brightness from sunup to sundown because of the Ultra ClearCoat optical system, or make an on-the-fly adjustment with the quick-focus eyepiece. This reliable Nikon scope is fogproof and waterproof, and it is available in trajectory-compensating and patented Nikoplex reticles.

Target shooters and pistol hunters, especially those having large-caliber firearms, appreciate the Bushnell pistol scope. This scope makes target acquisition easier with the 20” constant eye relief. In addition to this feature, the scope is built with an exclusive Ultra Wide Band Coating Process to equip hunters with the ability to visualize and hone in on a target with minimal shooting light.  The one-piece construction absorbs the pounding big revolvers dish out.

Serious hand gunners often choose the Burris scope. Burris was first to build the variable configuration. They also initiated adjustable parallax and target knobs. A Ballistic Plex reticle is available on some models. The calibration is for short magnum cartridges. The Posi-Lock construction absorbs shock from the recoil that plows into the pistol and scope, which is a beneficial component since the scope of a pistol needs to withstand brutal shot-after-shot pounding that today’s single-shot pistols and revolvers produce.

Weaver has a classic gloss, Dual-X scope with a lengthy eye relief that allows efficient use of the firearm at arm’s length. The accuracy of this scope is reliable and repeatable, and its reliability extends beyond accuracy; this rugged piece of equipment handles a tremendous revolver recoil of 1,000 rounds.

The Leupold pistol scope handles the crushing recoil of the magnum and big-bore pistols of today and are available in variable and fixed configurations. Whether you are shooting at a target or opt to hunt game, the noncritical, extended eye relief provides fast target acquisition. These rugged scopes are waterproof and have sight pictures with brightness, contrast, and clarity.

Reason for Pistol Scope Use

Modern pistols operate on extreme ranges, so having a pistol scopes can prove to be very beneficial. Overcoming the lack of trigger control is relatively easy with practice, especially when repetition of the movement can help you develop a reflex. Utilizing a scope emphasizes the user’s mistakes while shooting, so this provides an easy opportunity to identify and correct those mistakes. Accuracy can improve by approximately 20 percent with proper trigger control mastery, so pistol scopes prove to be a worthwhile purchase.

The Best Red Dot Sight for 2017

Anyone who uses a gun for target practice or hunting will agree that having a scope is essential for being able to accurately hit a target. Traditional iron sights can be used to hit the target, but there is a faster way to aim and shoot without missing. Red dot sights are not just a military type of sight anymore. These types of sights are often used for recreational means, including hunting and paintball. Red dot sights are becoming more and more popular to use for aiming at moving targets. You are better able to line up the target and take a shot at a quick rate of speed with this type of sight. Let’s examine some of the features to look for when purchasing a red dot sight, and take a look at some of the best red dot sights on the market.

What is a Red Dot Sight?

red dot sightAny non-magnified, illuminated sight that can be equipped to a shotgun, a rifle, or a handgun is considered a red dot sight. The reticle or “red dot” is created by an LED or a laser diode light that is reflected or projected into the field of view. This “red dot” is aimed directly in your line of sight to become the aiming mechanism that lines up the gun with the targets to make the perfect shot. You can read more about what a red dot sight is in this Wikipedia entry.

Benefits of a Red Dot Sight

• Faster Targeting Capabilities

Once a target is acquired, it is easy to quickly center the reticle on the target and fire the gun. There is no need to align the sights and take time to aim. This type of sight gives a much greater accuracy rate when taking aim at a moving target.

• Greater Field of View

Red dot sights have a wider field of view than most tube style scopes. Having a wider field of view allows for a shot from a greater distance, but the scope is still not magnified so being reasonably close is still recommended.

• Unrestricted Eye Relief

For most scopes, it matters how far away the shooter’s eye is from the scope, but with a red sight, the eye relief is unlimited. This feature allows for faster targeting, because it takes away part of the restraint placed upon someone who is aiming with another type of scope.

• Works Well with Low Light

Red dot sights are easy to aim in the dark of night. The cross hairs of most scopes become invisible in the dark, but the red dot is even visible in the darkest environments.

Features to Consider when Purchasing a Red Dot Sight

• Housing Configuration

A red dot sight can come in either a tube style or an open style. The tube style is closer to a traditional scope in appearance. This type of housing allows the shooter to apply filters and protective covers to the lens, which could make the “red dot” easier to see in bright sunlight. Open sights do not have the classic tube style. These types of sights consist of only the bare basics, and objective window to see through and a source of illumination. Since an open housing configuration has less room for flair, filters cannot be used to enhance the viewing experience.

• Type of Projection

Red dot sights include both holographic and reflex sights. With a holographic projection, the sight is illuminated from the front of the lens and a laser diode light is projected onto the viewing window to create a holographic red dot to assist with aiming at a target. Reflex sight projections are much more common in red dot sights that are used for recreation. A reflex sight reflects an LED light that is positioned behind the lens into your line of sight.

• Style of the Reticle

The reticle is effectively the “red dot” that is used to bring the gun in line with the target. All Reticles are designed to be illuminated to make it easier to shoot in low lighting conditions, but they are not required to be red or to be a simple dot. The color and patterns of red dot sights vary, so it is best to find one that allows comfortable shooting. Styles range from a single dot, to cross hairs, or even bullseye patterns that can be displayed in a red or green color. A good sight will be able to utilize multiple patterns and adjust to the desired color. The size of the reticle can also often be adjusted. A bigger dot typically means that targeting is faster. Make sure to avoid fancy styles, because it is important to naturally align your eye to the center of the reticle for faster target finding.

• Battery Life of the Sight

The battery life of any red dot sight is extremely important. You need to know that the reticle will be there when it is needed, and a sight that has a short battery life presents the chance of the light going out when you are getting ready to aim for a target. Without the reticle, targeting becomes more complicated and accuracy can suffer. Reflex scopes that use LED’s to create the “red dot” consume much less energy than holographic options. A good sight should be able to get roughly a thousand hours of usage before the battery life diminishes. Make sure to preserve battery life whenever possible by turning the sight off when it is not being used. Shooing in cold weather can also be a factor of how long the battery life will last, so make sure to always carry a backup just incase.

Tips for Choosing a Red Dot Sight

• Higher Price does not mean Better Quality

Spending a lot on a sight is not always going to guarantee that the quality is better than the cheaper models. Sometimes advertizing will suck you into a more expensive red dot site that is missing key features, like being able to change the shape or color of the reticle to something that allows your eyes to focus at a faster rate.

• Compatible with Gun

Not all scopes are able to be mounted to just any gun. They are designed to go with certain types of guns, and they will only fit properly on those styles. Make sure the site that you are looking to purchase is compatible with the gun you own or are looking to own.

• A Comfortable Size and Weight

Make sure the sight is an appropriate size for your gun and the area where it will be stored. The weight of the red dot sight will affect the overall weight of the gun. Make sure that the gun can still be handled effectively with the sight attached to make assure that the accuracy of your aim is not diminished.

• Mounting the Sight

Mounting the sight to the gun is an extremely important step. If the scope is slightly off, then your whole aim will be off as well. Take your time when mounting and adjusting the sight to assure that it is straight. Your precision when mounting the scope will help you nail the target every time.

The Best Red Dot Sights on the Market

1. Vortex SPARC 2 Red Dot Scope

The Vortex SPARC 2 is a well built, extremely sturdy scope that provides great features at a really reasonable price. An upgrade to Vortex’s original SPARC, the light weight scope is built to impress, and many reviewers have not had problems with it standing up to the tests of time at all. The battery life of this scope at minimum brightness can last up to an incredible 5,000 hours. A six hour auto shut down feature is also present to help preserve battery life. A simple button press makes it easy to adapt the color, shape, and illumination of the reticle. This scope also features a fully multi-coated lens as well as waterproof optics to keep moisture, dust, and debris away from the lens. It is also parallax free, which allows for more rapid shooting while you have both eyes open.

2. Aimpoint PRO Patrol Rifle Optic

The Aimpoint PRO is a great scope that boast always red, always on. New never before seen features have been incorporated into this scope’s design that maximize the performance and battery life of the device. The sight can be turned on and left on for at least three years before a new battery will be required. The service date and battery change reminders are perfect for tracking and making sure that you never let your batteries die while you are out on a hunt. The front lens of this scope also features a band-pass coating, which enables compatibility with most types of night vision devices. Both the front and the rear lens are set back from the edge to cushion the scope from impact devastation and safeguard it from scratches and fingerprints. The Aimpoint PRO also has a mount with a removable spacer as well as a torque limiting twist knob that optimizes the pressure places on the rail.

3. Sightmark Ultra Dual Shot QD Digital Switch

The Sightmark Ultra Dual Shot QD Digital Switch is a well built scope that is ideal for fast moving targets at a close proximity. The scope has two great ways to accurately nail a target. Looking through the dual glass panel is the traditional way, which can be enhanced by using one of the four reticle patterns that this model has to offer. The brightness can also be adjusted to fit your shooting style and need. The other way is to use the side mounted red laser. This feature is great for quickly finding your target when the need arises. The site also has a quick detachable rail mounting system.

4. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Rifle Scope

The Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 is a great, durable, lightweight scope that does not lack in quality. The multi-coated lens has an amber bright, high contrast coating that is designed to help you quickly distinguish where your target is in any lighting. The parallax free design adjusts to your eyes, which allow rapid shooting with both eyes open. The scope has the ability to adjust the size and the illumination of the reticle to three different levels and preserve the battery life. An additional feature that is useful for shooting excursions in the great outdoors is the waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof construction.

5. Burris FastFire III with Picatinny Mount

The Burris FastFire III is a very versatile scope that was built to stand up to rugged outdoor life as well as long periods of time. Wind age and elevation adjustment upgrades are available with this sight. The Picatinny mounted sight has a 3 MOA dot reticle that can be adjusted to three brightness settings. There is also an automatic brightness setting that adjusts to the current lighting conditions. Battery access is conveniently located on the top so the sight so that it does not need to be removed when the battery needs replaced. A low battery indicator is an added feature on this sight that is sure to come in handy. This Burris FastFire III also comes with waterproof and shockproof features.

Choosing the right scope is imperative for any hunter or marksman. Whether you are shooting for the fun of the sport or for the competition of it, it is best to find a sight that you are comfortable using. The key is to be able to make an accurate shot without spending a long time lining up the shot, especially if you are aiming at a moving target. Red dot sights are a great option for accomplishing that, but make sure you are aware of the important features to consider when purchasing one. Remember, expense does not always equal quality. The five sights listed are all excellent choices, but do some research of your own before deciding which red dot sight is best for you.

The Best Rangefinder for 2017

Nikon Aculon Best Selling Rangefinder

The Nikon Aculon is one of the best selling rangefinders out there, and we highly recommend it. Click the image to learn more.

Rangefinders belong to an innovative class of technology that has been evolving over the last century. These handheld gadgets are useful in a variety of situations. The system itself arose almost one hundred years ago, and it was primarily adapted alongside cameras. In recent decades, these helpful tools have been utilized for solo performance in a variety of fields. They offer great benefits for hunting, archery and golf. This technical guide explores the vital specifications of these revolutionary devices. But before detailing the essential characteristics of a sound rangefinder, we analyze the best ones available on the current market. While the functional mechanics remain relatively identical, minor modifications allow these machines to be employed for a variety of different purposes.

The Best Rangefinders for Hunting

Hunters use rangefinders to gauge the distance between them and their prey. Once they know how far away their prey is, they can make a more accurate shot. A rangefinder works exceptionally well when paired with a rifle scope. Here are the best gadgets to help them place accurate shots:

1. Nikon 8397 Aculon Laser Rangefinder

This bestselling device from Nikon tops our list for a variety of reasons. Priced well below the higher end rangefinders, the Aculon is perfect for someone who doesn’t need ultra high end features, but needs to get the job done.

With a range of 550 yards, others on this list have far more impressive stats. However, that is a much greater distance than most hunters can safely and ethically take shots at.

Another huge benefit of this device is how easy it is to use. It has a user friendly design, and you can get an accurate read with a push of a single button. It also is small and lightweight, making it perfect for a hunter to carry easily.

It is worth pointing out the reputation this device has. It has consistently been a top seller on Amazon, and has garnered hundreds of reviews with an average of 4.4 stars. That alone should speak to how well this device satisfies the needs of most hunters.

2. Bushnell Michael Waddell Bone Collector Edition 4x 21mm Laser Rangefinder

For an authentic hunting experience, experts choose this rugged rangefinder. Bushnell machines always carry a proud legacy, but this Collector’s Edition release is unique. The camouflage exterior lends itself to a gritty outdoor lifestyle. This tough appeal is not just for show either; in fact, this boisterous device is meant to handle extreme environmental conditions. One of the special attributes of this model is a rainproof shell. The compact design also makes it extra portable.

This gadget simplifies the hunting experience more than any other machine. All functions have been condensed to a single-button operation. With a magnification versus objective lens ratio of 4X21mm, this viewer can spot anything between 10 and 600 yards. Accuracy is always within three feet.

The primary asset of this rangefinder comes in the form of advanced low light abilities. It is known to deliver unprecedented levels of bright crystalline optics in near darkness.

3. Carl Zeiss Optical Inc Victory 10X56 Rangefinder Binoculars

Sometimes, the standard rangefinder is simply not extreme enough for the fiercest of hunters. These individuals need something a little more special in their artillery, and Carl Zeiss Optical Inc. has just the right equipment.

This model completely ditches the monocular design. They have the clearest image quality on the planet, and their resolution specifications are literally unparalleled. The exterior shell is practically invincible. It is constructed to totally nullify recoil. When the reticule is illuminated, it can view distances of 1,300 yards. Because it requires both eyes, this gadget staves off potential parallax errors. These optical illusions occur when distant objects seem to be moving slower than closer ones. This visual confusion can throw off a hunter’s judgment, but it can be preemptively prevented with Victory!

On the other hand, they are a bit pricier than the regular rangefinders. Part of the cost is sheer aesthetic grandeur. The sleek matte black finish is luxurious and entrancing. The bold appearance is accompanied by unbelievable functionality. With 56mm lenses, this machine employs a trademark coating to enhance light transmission during twilight use.

The Best Rangefinders for Archery

Archers use rangefinders to hone their accuracy while developing an understanding for environmental factors. To make every arrow count, look into one of the following machines:

1. Nikon 16228 ARROW ID 5000 Laser Rangefinder

Archery aficionados strictly abide by this premiere rangefinder from Nikon. All measurements are very specific. The increments are given for every 0.1 yards or meters. The gadget comes with First Target Priority Mode. This is the main selling point for it, mainly because it can be used to hone aim onto really small objects. It is designed to read thin fence posts 100 yards away. The mapping interface also does not falter with close range distances down to 5 yards. The objective diameter is an ideal 21mm.

This machine is durably suited for tough conditions including fog and rain. The 89 degree angular range is truly impressive, and it enables straight shots up and down. An 18.3mm eye relief zone enshrines true comfort. The CR2 lithium battery promises reliable use for extended periods of time.

2. Bushnell G-Force 1300 ARC Laser Rangefinder

To launch arrows a much greater distance than the usual hundred yards, archers flock to this notorious Bushnell creation. This is probably the most accurate design currently available in the field. It extends its reach up to 1,300 yards, and the precision is on the dot. The units are given for every 1/10 yards. For the nearest 475 feet, shots are guaranteed to land within 1/2 yard without human adjustments. Everything beyond that marker still promises a single yard range of accuracy.

The legendary 6x optics are brilliantly enlivened by Vivid Display Technology. This approach severely boosts clarity and contrast. Another specialized feature that has been built into this machine is Variable Sight-In (VSI).

There are three different modes available for the bow and arrow, and each one is sincerely advantageous. Bulls-Eye mode emphasizes sharpshooting, while Brush and Scan focus on panoramic aiming practices. Finally, the machine possesses a powerful protocol known as “Extreme. Speed. Precision.” This software is the most renowned rangefinder mainframe being offered to casual customers today.

This stylish piece of machinery can be further enhanced by a tripod, which can be linked into its factory-installed mounting chamber.

3. Simmons LRF 600 Laser Rangefinder

For archers that are just getting acquainted with the sport, it is impossible to go wrong with this Simmons model. It combines all of the essential basics at an astonishingly affordable price.

This release earns rave reviews non-stop, especially since this rangefinder brand has a name for swift precision. The magnification of 4x is more than enough for beginners. A tightly compacted vertical layout makes this gadget a breeze to bring anywhere.

With a capacity in between 5 and 600 yards, this bold device contains LCD visuals within the view itself. The optics are exceptionally bright and crystal clear, which is surprising for this price range. It is also housed with a superior casing that is resistant to poor weather situations. Overall, this machine boasts accessibility and efficiency.

The Best Rangefinders for Bow Hunting

When archery is applied in the field, all stakes are raised even higher. A dependable rangefinder must be on hand to guarantee a successful experience. This surveillance equipment instills safety through awareness, and it allows perfect opportunities for exact kills. Here are the most trustworthy tools for these rigorous hunters:

1. Bushnell 202442 “The Truth” ARC 4x20mm Bowhunting Laser Rangefinder with Clear Shot

Here’s a go-to rangefinder for bow hunters in the middle ground. This dashing device is equipped with all of the necessary accessories for a successful wilderness excursion. Bushnell’s equipment is especially useful for handling targets in motion, and it tracks distances between 7 and 850 yards. The powerful 4x zoom extends 199 yards, and it grants pure horizontal perspectives. This forceful machine is pocket-sized, and it is equipped with a comfortable anti-slip surface for tight gripping all the time.

It has a truly complete angle range that touches 90 degrees on both positive and negative ends of the scale. The Clear Shot interface gives immediate data on every shot before and after it is taken. The precise angle of each arrow is instantaneously provided.

This brand always makes the best carrying cases, and the one that comes with this model is no exception to the rule. It also comes with a handy neck strap for rapid access.

2. Bushnell G-Force DX ARC 6x 21mm Laser Rangefinder

For something a little more powerful than the previous entry, check out this upgrade, which is also from Bushnell. Angle displays are fully tackled by an automated inclinometer. The magnification reaches a whopping 6x, and MOA is fully integrated.

This release also contains Bulls-eye, Scan and Brush, but all specifications are extra detailed. The exterior also boasts the benefit of being handsomely decorated with symmetrical layouts, anti-slip grips and an iconic logo. A lithium ion battery is included, so this product can be used immediately. It is economically savvy and ergonomically sound.

This specific model also conveniently includes a dual purpose interface that properly accommodates most guns.

3. Bushnell Elite 1600 Arc Rangefinder 7×26

Here is perhaps the most extraordinary tool bow hunters have available. Once again, this rangefinder ditches the monocular approach to enshrine more accuracy, focus and distance. These benevolent binoculars can detect activity up to 1,760 feet away.

The rangefinder itself is an Angle Range Compensation (ARC). This revolutionary piece is attached alongside a 96×48 Pixel Matrix Display. Aesthetics blend with functionality, and the PC-3 Phase Corrective Coating is dazzling on both counts. This machine also contains state of the art BaK-4 Prisms to instill total sharpness and crispness for images.

Because the conjoined reader retains a minimum of 80% light, it can be used in several dim environments. This light retention rate leads the entire rangefinder industry!

The Best Rangefinders for Golf

To pick the right golf club before every stroke, wise players must take several conditions into account. Luckily, a rangefinder can do most of the measuring work! Here are our top recommendations:

1. Bushnell Tour V4 Jolt Golf Laser Rangefinder

For a truly well-rounded golfing experience, it is hard to top the state-of-the-art equipment that is featured in this mainstay from Bushnell. This is the most popular tool of choice for golfers around the world. Its stylish contour is outfitted with a stellar 24mm objective alongside 5x magnification.

This device can precisely calculate ranges up to 1,000 yards, and its minimum distance is a mere 10 yards. With the combo of PinSeeker with Jolt, players can estimate flags within a single yard of accuracy up to a total of 300.

The laser is top-notch and completely safe. A sturdy carrying case is provided, and the 3-Volt battery is a standard inclusion. This design features an ergonomic structure that has one of the most stable grips available. A generous two year warranty is granted, and it is legal for official tournaments.

2. Leupold GX-3i Series Digital Rangefinder

If accuracy is your top concern, then check out Leupold’s signature rangefinder. With Prism Lock, it is possible to precisely locate any pin from a distance. Quickness is also a prominent feature of this brand. They often deliver measurements after the very first target return.

Anyone that plays golf in adverse environmental conditions will want to consider this rangefinder based on its trademark Fog Mode. This feature detects all vital surroundings regardless of environmental conditions are changes in topography.

This sleek device boasts refined technical specifications, and its interface is astonishingly accessible. The commands are all very intuitive; plus, it automatically beeps and freezes upon recognizing a properly outfitted flag stick. The grip is suited for intense conditions, and the laser is truly beyond comparison. It comes housed in a fine bag that is complete with a protective strap.

3. TecTecTec! VPRO1 Rangefinder

For a multi-pronged approach to golfing, it is difficult to beat the simplified technology of TecTecTec!. Crystal clear imagery is a focal point of this gadget, and it is embedded with 6x magnification. Every shot will be within a one-yard accuracy zone up to 540 yards.

This tool can completely replace the binoculars. Its optic system is a stand-out in today’s industry, especially since it showcases the most evolved digital circuit design currently possible. For golf amateurs, this may be the prime choice.

The key to this item’s innovative success lies in its three unique modes. The First Target Priority Mode simply measures distance in regards to the nearest object. Distant Target Priority does the opposite by seeking the farthest object. All of the essential visual data is streamlined immensely, and the view makes it possible to gauge exactly where all hazards are lurking with Scan Mode.

Once you have picked out a rangefinder to take with you on the golf course, check out this awesome tutorial on how to use it effectively:

The Best Rangefinders for the Money

On a financial scale, rangefinders can be costly. Luckily, their powers are available in several affordable variations. For the penny pinchers, this list of inexpensive devices will be invaluable:

1. Redfield 117862 Raider Rangefinder 600A

Here is a nifty device that is the perfect mix of functional and affordable. It looks prototypical, but it actually is capable of viewing up to 1,000 yards. It has a field of view that cuts off at 325ft; however, the viewing angle is limited to 6 degrees.

This is a laser intended for use primarily by hunters. It aims to capture mobility with refined accuracy. At a mere 5 ounces, it is also one of the lightest rangefinders in production. It is also outfitted with single-button mechanics for immediate understanding and use. In terms of objective lens diameter, buyers can look forward to a respectable ratio of 23 mm / 0.91″.

On a side note, the cubic shape is exclusive to the Redfield line. These futuristic devices disguise themselves with retro appeal. Right now, it is going for only $185!

2. Leica Rangemaster CRF 1600-B 40534

So, how did a $700 rangefinder end up on this list of economically oriented selections? Well, it is because the value is still out of this world. With limitless potential in a 1,600 yard range, this model receives flawless reviews from every purchaser.

The plastic exterior is reinforced with an advanced carbon treatment to ingrain and indestructible surface. This bold black finish is simultaneously suave and purposeful. It also comes with special lenses that received a rare AquaDura treatment. The product comes with several effective ballistic modes, and it can be applied in endless fields.

If you are still not convinced, you may just have to check it out for yourself. Afterwards, there will be no turning back. These are the kind of clear optics that you typically would have to spend thousands of dollars on.

The Best Rangefinders for Under $200

Here are some more affordable rangefinders. These condense all of the vital elements into a compact product that can be mass produced. The rangefinders listed here are suitable for curious hunters and first-timers.

1. Simmons LRF 600 Tilt Intelligence laser Rangefinder

For being sold at such a low price, this model is still a step up from the standard version. At just $123, this grand device flaunts intuitive Tilt Intelligence. This interface rapidly calculates True Horizontal Distance.

All modes of use can be simplified to one button. The carrying case is surprisingly slick for being an automatic add-on accessory. With 4x magnification and 600 yards of range, the LCD in-view picture is stunningly clear every time. It has the welcome bonus of being bright and weather-resistant.

While this model is ideal for golf, it has useful applications for archers and bow hunters. Those who need extra ballistic controls may need to look elsewhere.

2. SA Sports 7.26 Dragon Eyez 1500 Yard Rangefinder

This stellar Dragon Eyez release is currently being offered at $187. This price is unbelievable, especially considering the maximum range of 1,500 yards. Of course, this is with the implementation of an exclusive reflective surface, which can be subjected to shutter speeds. Luckily, it also has an uninterruptible standard field of view that extends to an even 1,000 yards.

Rifle owners will fall in love with this mighty machine. Its astute measurements can be used to line up the perfect shot time and time again. Prize caribou will have no chance escaping the hunter that confidently utilizes this tool.

The 25mm lens is pretty big, and it comes with a fine cloth for long-term preservation. A lanyard and case are also provided for customer convenience. Finally, the LCD display is cutting-edge!

3. HALO XTRC 500-yd. Laser Range Finder

This $120 model is already nicely affordable, but it comes with an additional rebate to make it doubly rewarding. The optics are fine-tuned for 6x magnification, and the feedback this system provides directly guides shot placement.

The current model is bold and gruff. It features nature imagery and a comfy grip. There are no complaints to be had about this manly version. It may seem somewhat run-of-the-mill, but the HALO rangefinder is a great starter pick.

The Best Rangefinders for Under $500

For a little more cash, you can get some serious bells and whistles. Here are some of the best rangefinders available at this reasonable limit without going overboard:

1. Vortex Optics Ranger 1000 with Horizontal Component Distance Rangefinder RRF-101

This is one superb piece of technology right here! Vortex has crammed a ton of special amenities into this $380 model. It has a regal rubber exterior that protects it from heavy impacts while simultaneously allowing for a seriously unrelenting grip. Each one of the lenses is coated to enshrine anti-reflective powers, which leads to a wonderfully high level of brightness during use.

The O-ring instills one of the best moisture prevention methods possible. This tight seal completely combats all interference from dust and debris. It is also programmed to fully prevent moisture contamination. These machines are known to emphasize a streamlined diopter, which refers to the curvature of its interior mirroring. Thus, focus is crystal clear no matter the occasion.

2. Leupold RX-1000I W/DNA

A slightly updated variation of this Leupold was listed above in a different section, but its predecessor is a bit cheaper. Here’s another little secret too: Not much has changed between the two models. Crafty consumers can pick the previous version for major savings. The “DNA” release is outfitted with an aluminum casing for pristine protection.

This one carries the same brilliant 1,000 yard range, OLED display and astonishing 1/10 yard precision. This product comes with three reticles for customized shooting experiences, and its magnification of 6x equates to a 4212.59″ field of viewing. Shooters can switch between Duplex and plus point, or they can simply combine the two approaches.

3. Nikon 8381 Laser Forestry Pro Rangefinder

This is the rangefinder that professionals demand! At just under $400, it factors in every possible measurement of distance. It can keep track of complex elements including vertical separation, horizontal distance, angulations and elevation.

It has two distinct modes to toggle between priority detections. The striking yellow surface represents true industry savvy. The module contains three separate units, and users can freely switch between yards, meters and feet. In the end, this release trades extra calculations for a shorter overall range. The 6x magnification lends itself to an ample 999ft field.

History of Rangefinder Use

Rangefinder equipment for cameras originated in 1916. They were an exceedingly prevalent means of photography for several decades, but single lens reflex (SLR) cameras rendered them somewhat obsolete. Fortunately, the technology lingered on outside of the picture taking field.

Today, the rangefinder industry covers a lot of different ground. They are regularly used for land surveying purposes, and many navigation systems rely on them too. Digital cameras still sometimes use rangefinder technology to instill proper focus for their images. The military is also presumed to use high-tech variations of this hardware, but this information is presently classified.

The Components of Conventional Rangefinders

Most modern rangefinders involve some variation of an electronically outfitted monocular. The techniques they use to estimate space can vary widely. Laser rangefinders are becoming increasingly prominent, but other approaches include ultrasonic, radar and simple trigonometry.

Most of these machines are meant to be held, but they can be attached to tripods for maximum stability (similarly to a spotting scope). Angular mounts can be applied to uncover exact measurements of elevation. Spherical coordinates may be precisely deduced as well; for the non-layman, a proper term for these rounded measurements is “azimuth.”

Lasers work by calculating the exact time of flight for each burst of light. Their mathematical determinations are rapid and exact! Meanwhile, radar applies pre-determined numerical figures for quick estimations. For the most accuracy, rangefinder connoisseurs stick with the traditional means of triangulation. With the mere power of sine, cosine and tangent, this type of standard model can still trump all of its fancier competitors.

To convey useful data, a screen is usually mandated. These monitors can come in a variety of forms, but their most common incarnation is liquid crystal display (LCD). Lately, this high-tech inclusion has been structured into the viewing apparatus itself.

Why Rangefinders are Useful

These visual aids can be used to measure vast ranges of distance. The most advanced versions are equipped to detect distant objects. This prioritization over close objects commonly sets hunting rangefinders apart from their golfing counterparts.

These devices are equipped with ultra powerful lenses that can accurately capture an entire panorama at once. Sharpshooters often utilize these gadgets to figure out ideal ballistics before firing. This enshrines the zenith of accuracy for every shot. The same is true for archers and bow hunters. Basically, rangefinders are divine accessories for anyone who desires a fuller comprehension of their visual field.

Final Word

This list may be detailed and comprehensive, but it is by no means complete. The truth is that everybody should conduct their own research to ensure that their rangefinder needs are met. Hopefully, this guide is able to help you make a decision in regards to your next rangefinder purchase!

The Best Spotting Scope for 2017

If you’re a hunter, bird watcher, target shooter, or participant in any other activity wherein enhanced vision is required, a spotting scope is a fantastic investment. Spotting scopes are designed to be used with a tripod, and are less portable than a pair of binoculars. However, they offer the best magnification and clarity of any type of sporting optic, making them ideal for spotting animals from long distances away. This article will cover what to look for when making an investment in a spotting scope, as well as help you choose the best scope for your needs.

The #1 Spotting Scope On the Market Today

It is incredibly difficult to name a single spotting scope as the best available. But if you’re looking for a general use scope that can be used for a variety of activities, has good features, and is priced within the realm of reason for most outdoorsmen, you should really consider the Upland Optics Perception HD. A 20-60x60mm scope, it has the ideal amount of magnification for spotting, and the large objective lens lets in plenty of light without being excessively heavy. Its extra low dispersion glass gives it unbeatable image quality that you won’t get with very many other scopes, especially in that price range. We’re slightly biased because Upland is a partner company, but we honestly feel like they are the company to beat in the sporting optics world right now.

Typical Spotting Scope Uses

A guide to the best spotting scope for hunting, birding, and more.Spotting scopes are used for many different reasons, but a rule of thumb is that they are used when magnification greater than what a pair of binoculars provide is needed. These types of scopes are often used for hunting, archery, birding, and spotting wildlife. They can also be used to magnify a beautiful scenic mountain range. A spotting scope can be attached to a camera to take a long ranged picture of a majestic animal without disturbing them or putting yourself in danger. Some people who use a spotting scope use them in conjunction with guns. This allows the person that is hunting to get a better view of the actual target before taking a shot that could miss and potentially spook the animal. Spotting scopes are also used during target shooting, which makes it easier to see if the target is hit at greater distances without needing to close in on the target.

Features to Consider When Buying a Scope

Body Style

There are two types of spotting scopes, an angled body and a straight body scope. Both work well in most situations, but one may be preferred over the other in certain viewing circumstances. An angled body scope is great for when you are looking either up at your target or across flat ground. This type of scope is also perfect for viewing from the window of a vehicle. A straight body scope is best for viewing from a higher position, such as during a hike on a mountain to catch a glimpse down into the valley below.

Objective Lens

The absolute best option for a spotting scope is a high quality objective lens that is comprised of high performance glass. Always go for lens quality over size if you have to choose, as a larger lens of poor quality will result in a mediocre view when compared to a smaller lens of optimal quality. A larger lens will always produce a superior image at higher magnifications than a smaller lens of the same quality. Objective lens size can make a massive difference in price, expect to pay more for a larger scope.

Magnification

The magnification of a spotting scope is designed to allow for viewing at the distance where conventional binoculars no longer function. Most observation done with a spotting scope requires a magnification of 30x – 40x, which assures that most scopes are capable of producing reasonable images. As the lens quality goes up, the quality of the image increases as well. A bit of quality will always be lost at higher magnifications, but a higher quality scope will reduce the image drop-off quality.

The atmosphere also plays a big factor in the quality of the image being viewed. Humidity, glare, wind, and dust can all lower the quality of the image. High altitudes that have a dry climate are bound to produce higher quality images at high magnifications. Low altitude areas that are wet and humid may require a low magnification for a clear image. Many spotting scopes do not go higher than 60x due to the limitations set by the atmosphere for magnified viewing in the daylight.

Lens Coating

Lens coating is an important feature of a spotting scope, especially for viewing images at high magnifications. The lens can be fully coated, multi-coated, or fully multi-coated. Each lens coating improves the light transmitting into the lens, but the quality received depends on the coating chosen for the specific scope. Premium spotting scopes all tend to be fully multi-coated to produce the optimal viewing experience.

Eye Relief

Eye relief is the distance away from the scope the viewer’s eye can be from the eyepiece without losing any of the field of view. This feature is especially needed for people who wear glasses. With a big enough eye relief, even people who wear glasses with thick lenses will be able to see the full image without any issue. For those who require glasses to see, it is recommended to have at least 14mm of eye relief on a spotting scope.

Prism Type

Most spotting scopes are refractors that use prisms inside the scope to flip the image right side up and left to right. There are two different types of prisms that are used in spotting scopes, a roof prism or a porro prism. The roof prism spotting scope is slim and compact, but it tends to lack some key features like interchangeable eyepieces. It is an extremely portable scope that is perfect for someone who is always on the go. The porro prism spotting scope is the most efficient and the least expensive prism to produce, which makes it the most common.

Eyepieces

When purchasing a spotting scope, be aware that sometimes the eyepiece is not included in the price of the scope. If the eyepiece is included in the price, the eyepiece may not be removable. Higher end spotting scopes have removable eyepieces that often do not come included with the price of the scope, to give the buyer a chance to choose from the different options available. A single powered eyepiece has some optical advantages, but most people that use spotting scopes prefer the convenience of a zoom eyepiece. With this type of eyepiece, the magnification can be changed easily in a situation where the atmospheric conditions are not stable. A zoom eyepiece that is high quality will have a great eye relief as well as produce exceptional quality images.

Close Focus

A close focus is the nearest distance a spotting scope can view. Most spotting scopes do not have a close focus of less than 20 feet, so make sure image being viewed is an adequate distance away. This feature is perfect for viewing birds and seeing miniscule details on their feathers.

Waterproofing and Fogproofing

Waterproofing and fogproofing are not absolute necessities, but they are a feature that protects the spotting scope from atmospheric conditions that may occur. The seals that are produced to keep moisture out will also keep dust and debris from the scope, which will keep the spotting scope in good condition for a longer period of time.

Tripods

Due to the magnification levels of a spotting scope, a tripod or some support is needed to keep it steady during the viewing process. A car mount works well if viewing from a vehicle, but in most situations a tripod is required. All spotting scopes are threaded like a traditional camera, so there is no need for a specialized tripod. The tripod needs to support the scope, so if the spotting scope is heavy, the tripod needs to be heavy as well. For anyone using a spotting scope while hiking or traveling, make sure to consider the weight of the scope and the tripod before you commit to a long haul.

You can read our guide to the best tripods for spotting scopes to get some ideas for great tripods to use with your new optic.

Camera Adapters

Most spotting scopes can adapt to a camera to take long distance pictures. This process is often referred to as “digiscoping”. Make sure the scope and camera are compatible to assure a great picture from the mountain top. To properly “digiscope”, specific adaptors may be required for the camera to produce vibrant, razor sharp images that are of exceptional quality.

To learn more about the basics of spotting scopes, check out this awesome video:

Best Spotting Scopes for Hunting

For an avid hunter, the scope used to identify a target can mean the difference between a prized catch and the story about the one that got away. A spotting scope will allow a hunter to get a better look at an elusive deer before taking a shot. It can offer a chance to pick an animal from a herd based with enough magnification. Hunting spotting scopes all differ slightly, but they can be a tremendous help when using a rifle or a bow and arrow. Here are some of the most reliable spotting scopes for hunting that are available:

Swarovski 80 mm STS HD Straight Spotting Scope

This 80 mm scope is a straight scope design that is perfect for hunting in the great outdoors. The scope features high density glass and a fully multi-coated lens to produce a razor sharp image. A rotating tripod ring gives the hunter some much appreciated positioning flexibility. With a close focus of 16 feet, wildlife near or far can be viewed with great results. The aluminum alloy body is a lightweight, sturdy solution for trekking through the woods, and the scope is coated with a Swaroclean Coating for extra protection from the elements. This water and fogproof scope also features a sunshade to help reduce the glare and shield the objective lens. With this model, the eyepiece is sold separately.

Vortex Razor HD 20-60×85 Angled Spotting Scope

This angled spotting scope comes in at 85 mm. It has a close focus of 16 feet and produces crisp enhanced images through its sophisticated triplet apochromatic lens system. The compact, lightweight magnesium alloy body is equipped with an adjustable eyecup as well as a duel focus feature that allows for fine adjustments to image clarity. The Vortex Razor spotting scope is coated with an ArmorTek Lens Coating to repel oil from the lens. The scope is a model that has been weatherproofed against rain, snow, and fog, so any hunting expedition can face the challenges of the environment. A 20x – 60x magnification eyepiece is included with the purchase of this spotting scope as well as a rotating tripod ring to allow for more flexibility when positioning the scope.

Upland Optics Perception HD 20-60x60mm Spotting Scope

Mentioned above as our overall favorite spotting scope, hunting is where the Perception HD really shines. Upland is a company that focuses exclusively on hunters, and this scope is a fine example of that. Weighing just 2.2 pounds, you can actually carry this scope with you into the field if you wanted to instead of just leaving it in the truck at the base of the hill. Should anything happen to it on your adventures, it is covered by a lifetime warranty. And perhaps most appealing to many hunters is its price, which rings in literally thousands of dollars cheaper than options from other top brands.

Best Spotting Scopes for Target Shooting

When target shooting is involved, the distance that needs magnification tends to vary. Rain may not be an issue to contend with in this scenario, but it is important to remember that other atmospheric conditions such as humidity, air turbulence, and dust can affect the performance of the spotting scope being used. A few of the more dependable spotting scopes for target shooting are listed below.

Minox MD 16-30×50 Straight Spotting Scope

The Minox is a short, extremely sturdy straight body designed scope that comes with an eyepiece magnification of 16x – 30x. This scope is great for shooting targets in the magnification range without sacrificing the quality of the viewing field. The optics are sealed with O-rings to keep moisture, dust, and debris from affecting the scope. An adjustable eyecup and a rotating tripod ring allow for greater range of view flexibility, which can be beneficial when target shooting. With a close focus of about 16 feet, this light weight scope is great for viewing short distances.

Swarovski ATX 30-70×95 Angled Spotting Scope and separate ATX Eyepiece

The Swarovski ATX is a high powered angled scope that uses cutting edge lens technology to take the viewer to their spotting destination. The 30x – 70x magnification range will define a razor sharp image anywhere within the range that is free of distortion. The focus wheel and the zoom wheel are within easy reach to allow for a quick zoom in that requires little adjustment. The high density, fully multi-coated lens produces a brilliant optical image, even in low light quality situations. This scope is a bit on the heavy side, but the rotating tripod ring minimizes the need to move the scope once it is positioned.

Best Spotting Scopes for Birding

Birding has been revolutionized by spotting scopes, especially angled body scopes that are perfect for viewing an area where birds might be observed. A good quality spotting scope can be used to enhance a bird’s plumage in both short distances as well as distances that are further away. A high magnification lens will bring to light the finest detail involved on a bird’s feathers, which will allow species identification to be conducted from greater distances. You can also combine your scope with a camera using digiscoping techniques to capture amazing pictures. Here are a few of the more popular spotting scopes available for bird watching:

Kowa TSN 883 Angled 88mm Prominar Spotting Scope

The Kowa TSN is a spotting scope that is perfect for birding because of the lens and optical features that are included. The dual focus, fluorite crystal lens provides superb images with enhanced features, such as color, contrast, and resolution. The fully multi-coated lens and the porro prism allows for a viewing experience that has exquisite light intake, even in low light settings. Viewing birds at long distances results in a sharp, undistorted image, and higher magnification levels maintain an impeccable image quality. A lens of this quality is a bit heavy, so the body of the scope is made of a corrosion resistant, magnesium alloy material to help offset the weight. Eyepieces for this model are sold separately, but the design includes a locking mechanism to lock the removable eyepiece in place.

Leica Televid APO 82mm Angled Spotting Scope

The Leica Televid APO is an excellent angled spotting scope for bird watching. Compared to previous models, this scope has a six percent light yield increase that makes the image resolution even more distinct in any lighting. The fluoride glass brings vibrant color and detailed contrast to the table without sacrificing any of the range of view. This scope comes with a fog and water proof seal as well as a AquaDura Lens Coating that will repel water and moisture. These protective layers assure that quality images are not obscured by dirt or fingerprints. The 12 feet close focus on this spotting scope is designed for bird watching. An avid bird watcher can use this scope to identify a bird from as close as the other side of a lawn to as far as the other side of a lake.

Best Compact Spotting Scopes

A compact spotting scope is a great tool for hunters and wildlife observers who are always on the move. Having a lightweight scope that can easily be managed on trails or in dense foliage will make a wildlife expedition that much more exciting, especially when a great scope is involved that will amplify the experience immensely. Some of the best compact spotting scopes available on the market are listed below:

Minox MD 16-30×50 W Angled Spotting Scope

The Minox MD is a great lightweight, compact spotting scope for anyone that will be traveling a lot, viewing different types of wildlife in a variety of areas. The porro prism and the fully multi-coated lens offers a view that has great color and clarity. The close focus is a bit larger than some photographers might like, but if is exceptional for securing considerable detail during those long range picture shoots. The sturdy metal exterior is fitted with a rubber armoring that provides a secure non-slip surface, which is perfect for climbing a mountain with a lot of jagged rocks that could cause damage to the lens. The scope comes with a 16x – 30x eyepiece as well as weatherproof features that will protect the scope from inclement weather patterns that could be encountered.

Opticron GS 52 GA ED 12-36×52 Angled Spotting Scope

Another great compact scope for people who want to enjoy being able to spot or take pictures of wildlife on the go is the Opticron GS. This scope is a lightweight instrument that is perfect for hiking and other modes of travel that does not lack performance. The fully multi-coated lens and the extra low dispersion glass gives the scope a high quality image with excellent light transmission. The close focus cannot get much closer, with an amazing ability to see crystal clear images from only eight feet away. Make sure the image is pristine with the dual focus feature. Any unfavorable weather will have no chance of ruining the spotting scope, due to the weatherproofing that protects it.

Best Spotting Scope for the Money

When deciding which spotting scope to purchase, one should consider the features of the scopes as well as how well it performs. A great scope to buy will be one that has most of the optimal features, but is offered at a lower price than competing scopes. After careful consideration, a few of the best buys for spotting scopes are:

Vortex Razor HD 16-48×65 Angled Spotting Scope

The Vortex Razor HD exceeds the quality levels of many spotting scopes that wear a heftier price tag. The top of the line lens features and high density glass that is implemented in this spotting scope will produce impeccable images that are free of any imperfections. The high resolution and astounding sharpness can be seen throughout the entire field of view, it is even evident at full magnification. The angled body scope has a close focus of 11 feet, so wildlife that is nearby can be viewed without difficulty. In addition, a 16x – 48x magnification eyepiece is included with the purchase of the Vortex Razor. This specific spotting scope is protected from most atmospheric conditions, including: rain, fog, snow, wind, and humid conditions. The protective layers also safeguard against dust, debris, and unwanted fingerprints.

Celestron Regal M2 16-48×65 ED Angled Spotting Scope

The Celestron Regal M2 is another great buy. This spotting scope produces exceptional images without distortion. The extra low dispersion glass enhances the image with a crisp resolution as well as vibrant colors. The edges of the viewing area are never out of focus, even at increased magnifications. Fine adjustments can be made with the dual focus feature. This light weight scope has a magnesium alloy body that will help prevent corrosion, and the optics are fully protected from the elements. A 16x – 48x magnification removable eyepiece is included with the purchase of the Celestron Regal M2 as well as a photo adapter that helps get the scope ready for “digiscoping” in the great outdoors. The scope is also equipped with a rotating tripod ring for greater flexibility while viewing and a sunshade to reduce the glare on the pictures taken.

Best Spotting Scopes under $200

Some situations call for spotting scopes that do not break the bank. Here are a few suggestions for spotting scopes under $200 that do not sacrifice quality:

Redfield Rampage 20-60x60mm Spotting Scope

The Redfield Rampage is a great selection for anyone that is looking for a spotting scope that is in a low price range. In addition to a 20x – 60x magnification range, this spotting scope offers many features that are commonly seen in more expensive models. This lightweight scope will give you a clear image, especially at the mid range magnification levels. The fully multi-coated lens increases light transmission, giving the viewer a sharper image. The Redfield Rampage is designed to be rugged; therefore, the scope features weatherproof qualities to protect it from the rain and fog.

Barska 30-90×90 Colorado Spotting Scope

Another great spotting scope under $200 is the Barska. This spotting scope features a straight body model that has a high magnification range of 30x – 90x, which is exceptional for this class of spotting scope. A fully coated porro prism helps increase the optics, giving the viewer a bright, high quality image. The Barka maintains noteworthy image quality and clarity in low light situations and at higher magnification levels.

Best Spotting Scopes under $500

Mid-ranged spotting scopes can still exhibit exceptional features. After some careful consideration, here are some great selections that are below the $500 price point.

Vortex Diamondback 20-60×80 Straight Spotting Scope

The Vortex Diamondback is an excellent mid-ranged spotting scope. The great value is matched by a great performance that has a reputation for being on par with spotting scopes that cost twice as much. The fully multi-coated lens is coupled with a dielectric prism coating that optimizes light transmission, which gives the viewer an image that stays true to the bright colors seen in nature. The classic straight body design also features fog and water resistant seals that will protect the scope from any moisture or debris. The Vortex Diamondback is a very sturdy scope that is great for “digiscoping”, and a sunshade is included to help reduce the glare in the field of view.

Vanguard Endeavor HD 15-45×65 Angled Spotting Scope

A spotting scope that has a reputation for a top of the line product at a reasonable price is the Vanguard Endeavor. Vivid colors and sharp details are the result of an extra low dispersion glass and a fully multi-coated lens. This scope features a close focus of 14 feet and a magnification range of 15x – 45x that produces picture perfect images that are not distorted in any way. Small adjustments can be made with the dual focus feature. This scope design also features weatherproofing as well as rubber armoring that are meant to protect the scope from damage. The Vanguard Endeavor is a scope that has an extended eye relief for a more comfortable observation in the impressive field of view.

Best Spotting Scopes under $1000

Most people are willing to pay a little extra money to get the spotting scope features and the magnification levels that they desire. A few of the choice spotting scopes that are under $1000 are listed below:

Vortex Viper HD 20-60×80 Angled Spotting Scope

The Vortex Viper is an angled body HD spotting scope that sports all of the top of the line features that are often seen in high end scopes for a fraction of the price. The optics on the Vortex Viper produce exceptional high resolution images that remain vivid in color and contrast. The lightweight design also features a rotating tripod ring and an adjustable eyecup for more comfortable viewing as well as a dual focus feature that allows coarse and fine adjustments to the image. The design is waterproof and fogproof with some added protection to keep any oil and debris from the lens. This model does include a 20x – 60x magnification eyepiece, which makes the overall value even better.

Pentax PF ED II 65mm ST Spotting Scope

The Pentax PF ED is a popular straight body spotting scope that offers extremely high performance at an affordable price. The lightweight scope has a magnesium alloy body that is easily portable for the spotter on the go. The extra low dispersion glass and the fully multi-coated lens give the scope an optical excellence that is often seen in high end scopes. This model includes a 20x – 60x magnification lens that combined with a sunshade to reduce glare. Images that are fully magnified maintain the clarity and the vibrant detail that would be seen at a low magnification. This scope can also be fitted to a variety of astronomical eyepieces that creates possibilities for the spotter to have a view into the galaxy.

There are a lot of different spotting scopes available on the market today, but not all scopes are created equally. This article was designed to introduce someone who is new to birding or other recreational activities where a spotting scope is useful to the different features that are available. Once a spotter is sure of the magnification they need, it comes down to knowing the price restraints for purchasing the scope and determining which extra features should be included with the spotting scope. If “digiscoping” is an ambition, make sure the spotting scope that is selected can accommodate this desire. Hopefully, this article will help a new spotter determine which scope is best suited for them. Make sure to consider the suggestions made above, but also do additional research so that the spotting scope decided upon lasts generations to come.

Reviews of the Best Binoculars for 2017

The Best BinocularsIt may seem like a strange notion to those who have never done it before, but buying a great pair of binoculars takes quite a bit of research and knowledge. Just like anything else, a quality pair of binoculars will provide you with a lot better images than buying a cheap pair from a discount store. As technology has improved, binoculars have become more modern and have improved in quality. Nevertheless, there are still some basic features that you should look for in a pair of binoculars, and this is what we will explain first. We hope that this guide is useful to you in finding the perfect pair of binoculars for your needs.

My #1 Recommendation

Choosing just one pair of binoculars to crown as my number one pick is a difficult thing to do. But if you made me do it, I would choose the Upland Optics Perception HD 10x42mm. These guys are tough as nails and give an excellent picture quality. They have the perfect magnification and field of view for a general pair of binoculars that could be used for everything from hunting to bird watching. Our partner company Upland Optics does an amazing job, these binoculars are first class!

 

What to Look For in a Pair of Binoculars

One of the most important things that you will look for in a pair of binoculars is the magnification. This is a no-brainer, as binoculars are tools used to magnify objects that are various distances away.

Generally, a pair of binoculars can be described by two very important numbers. The first is magnification, and the next is objective lens diameter. The magnification will usually appear as 8X, 10X, or even higher. When a pair of binoculars has a magnification of 10X, it means that you will be able to see a distant object 10 times larger than you would if you were not using binoculars. For example, if you are viewing something that is 500 yards away, it will appear as if it were only 50 yards away. Magnification is often the most important thing that a buyer will look for in a pair of binoculars.

Next to the magnification number, you will usually see the measurement of the objective lens’s diameter. So typically, you will see the numbers like this: 10 X 42. The 10 is the magnification, while the 42 means that the objective lens diameter is 42 millimeters. Lens objective size is very important, as larger lenses collect more light than smaller lenses. This means that objects will appear brighter in binoculars that have larger lenses. Furthermore, the size of the objective lens will greatly affect the field of view you will have, which we will discuss next.

To the casual buyer, it may be easy to think that the higher the magnification of a pair of binoculars, the better it is. This could not be further from the truth, however, as different needs call for different magnifications. High magnifications do not look as bright as lower magnifications, and slight hand movements will make your image jerk very easily. Furthermore, your field of vision will be greatly reduced the higher you zoom in on an object. This is why you should take into consideration what you will be viewing before you buy. Most users can get by with a pair that is 8X. If you plan on star gazing, then you may consider getting a 10X pair. We will discuss the optimal binoculars for different viewing uses later in the guide.

Now we will move on to the concept of “field of view”. What this means is simply the amount of area that you are able to see when you are looking through your binoculars. The magnification of your binoculars as well as the diameter size of your objective lens will affect your field of view. For example, a pair of binoculars that is 8 X 42 will have a larger field of view than a pair that is 10 X 42 because higher magnifications decrease the area that you can see. Alternately, if you are comparing binoculars and they both have the same magnification, then the lens size will determine the field of view. Larger lenses will provide larger fields of view. The benefit of having a large field of view is that it provides a more stable viewing experience. You do not have to move your binoculars much if you can see a wide area. This is particularly useful if you are viewing nature, because there is a higher possibility of you being able to spot more wildlife without moving your binoculars if you are able to look at a large area. Furthermore, having a larger field of view is a benefit at higher magnifications, as your image can become shaky with even slight movements.

reviews of binocularsWhile it may be a bit confusing at first, there is a benefit to learning the different ways that field of view is measured. Oftentimes, manufacturers will publish different measurements, and if you can distinguish what they mean, you will be more informed before you make a decision to purchase a pair of binoculars. The units of measurement that you may see when looking at field of view statistics are degrees and feet. When you see degrees, you will often see two numbers, and these will represent the degrees in the actual field of view and the degrees in the apparent field of view. Do not let this confuse you. The actual field of view is the most important number here, as the apparent field of view is calculated from the actual field of view. The actual field of view is the angle of your viewing window at the point after the binocular lenses. The apparent field of view is the angle at which it appears that you are viewing the distant object. For example, if you have a pair of 10X binoculars, and your actual field of view is 5 degrees, then your apparent field of view will be 50 degrees. You simply multiply the actual field of view measurement by the magnification of your binoculars in order to get the apparent field of view. When the field of view is measured in feet, it is a bit less complicated. If you see a field of view of 300 feet, it means that you are able to see 300 feet at 1,000 yards. This means that if there were a 300 foot building off in the distance, you can get as close as 1,000 yards and still be able to see it in its entirety through your binoculars.

A specification on binoculars which may be important to people that wear glasses is eye relief. Eye relief is closely related to field of view, as it is the distance that you can hold the binoculars away from your eyes before your field of view begins diminishing. A pair of binoculars with eye relief of 15mm or more may be great for a person that wears glasses, because you have to hold the binoculars a bit further away than someone with no glasses. With sufficient eye relief, a person that wears glasses is able to enjoy the same field of view as everyone else.

If you want to delve deeper into the brightness that your potential binoculars will provide and even compare between binoculars, then you would benefit from learning about exit pupil diameter. Exit pupil diameter is the measurement of the size of the ray of light that will hit your eyes after it travels through the lens. Since magnification and lens size affect the brightness of your image, it is natural that exit pupil diameter is figured out by dividing the lens size by the magnification. The larger the number that is obtained, the brighter the images will appear when viewing through the respective binoculars. As you can see, the higher the magnification, the smaller the number, hence the less bright the image will appear. This is why it is important to match a higher magnification with a larger lens size. This way, you will not sacrifice on the brightness of your image.

Aside from all of the specifications that were discussed above, binoculars may still have other specialized features that different types of buyers may be interested in. The following is a list with some of the more popular features today’s binoculars can offer.

Compact Size

This is self-explanatory. Many people find that having compact sized binoculars is an advantage when traveling through rough terrains or carrying lots of equipment. Furthermore, new technology is constantly improving on the size and weight of these binoculars. Currently, you can find models that weigh half a pound and are of very high quality. In the future, compact sized binoculars may even be the norm. Today, however, many are not as powerful as their full-sized counterparts.

Waterproof Binoculars

Many environments where binoculars are used are treacherous, and binoculars are constantly exposed to the elements. Water tends to damage many of the equipment that we carry with us, and this is why developers have started to design binoculars that are water resistant or waterproof. While the degree of water protection may vary, this is a good feature that will prevent your binoculars from fogging up or getting water damage. Some binoculars may even be able to submerge in water for a short time, but make sure that you have checked your manual before you even attempt that.

Lens Coating

Lens coating is often what differentiates cheap binoculars from high quality binoculars. Binoculars that are worth buying often have at least one coat over the lenses that improves clarity and protects them from scratches. This makes them more durable, and they will produce higher quality images for a longer period of time.

Range Finders

In my opinion, one of the neatest advancements in binocular technology is the range finder feature. These have infrared lasers built into them that tell you how far the object you are looking at is. This may not be particularly useful for any reason, but it would be interesting to know how far away the wildlife you are looking at is. If it is potentially dangerous wildlife, this option can help you maintain a safe distance. Also, golf players can find this very useful in order to determine distances between themselves and the hole. It can help develop a particular strategy to stay on par or below for that particular hole. If you want this feature in a separate device, you can always get a stand alone laser rangefinder.

As you can see, there are a multitude of things that one has to consider when it comes to picking a pair of binoculars. Because all of the information that was just presented can be a bit overwhelming for first-time binocular buyers, I will include a general summary of the type of binoculars that you would want to use depending on the activity that you plan on using them for.

If you are just wanting them for general sport use, marine use, or for the theatre, you will want at least a pair of “7 x 25” lenses. This will ensure that you have enough magnification, but not too much where your field of view will be impaired. The field of view should be between 300-350 feet, with the higher end being for marine use. Furthermore, you may want to consider waterproof binoculars for marine use.

For bird watching and hunting, you will want a pair of “8 X 30” lenses. These should probably be waterproof because of the environments that these hobbies take place in. Furthermore, the field of view should be at least 350 feet. You may want to consider more powerful binoculars if you are looking at far away animals, or maybe even a spotting scope to compliment your field binoculars.

If you want to use them for golfing, either as a player or a spectator, a pair of “6 X 17” should suffice. In golf, you are looking at stationary objects that are not terribly far away, so you do not need very high powered lenses. A range finder may be useful if you are using them for golf in order to know the distance between you and the hole or other obstacles such as bunkers and bodies of water.

Stargazing presents a special set of circumstances, as you are usually looking at stationary objects, but they are very far away. To make it more complicated, the environment will have minimal light available. It is recommended that a pair of at least “10 X 40” binoculars are used for this purpose. You can afford higher magnifications because you will not be moving the binoculars much, and to make up for the diminished field of vision and darker images that this will present, you have the large lens diameter.

Take these recommendations with a grain of salt, as they are not one-size-fits-all. You will want to try different sizes in order to see which ones are the best ones for you and your hobby.

Next, we will delve more specifically into binocular makers and specific pairs of binoculars for every need and budget. First we will start with an overview of binocular manufacturers.

The Best Binocular Brands

Bushnell

Bushnell is a giant in imaging products in the United States, and it makes everything from high quality rifle scopes, microscopes, telescopes, and of course, binoculars. The company was founded in Japan by David P. Bushnell when it was occupied by Allied forces during WWII in 1948. Bushnell’s binoculars have won multiple awards for their quality, and most recently, the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10X42 binoculars were awarded binocular of the year by binoculars.com.

Zeiss

Zeiss is one of the oldest, most reputable optics and imaging companies in the world, and it makes very high quality binoculars. Not only does it deal in sporting optics like Bushnell, but it also makes optic devices for medical use and even space telescopes. It was founded in Germany in 1846, and it has become a leader in the industry since then. One of the most popular binoculars it has on the market right now are the Zeiss 10X42 Victory HT binoculars.

Nikon

Known for its digital cameras, Nikon also makes stellar binoculars. Nikon is now a huge company that was founded in Japan in 1917. It specializes in lenses, binoculars and other advanced imaging technology. Their best-selling binoculars have historically been from the Monarch line. Today, the 8X42 Monarch 5 take that distinction.

Steiner

Steiner has a rich history in the optics industry, and it has arguably one of the most advanced optics laboratories in the world. Every lens and pair of binoculars that Steiner produces is field tested extensively to ensure that it is a very high quality product. This German company prides itself in producing binoculars that will be serviceable for multiple lifetimes. You can be sure that if you buy Steiner binoculars like the Safari Ultrasharp 8X22, you will have a product that you are satisfied with for life.

Of course, this is not an all-inclusive list, and there are many more manufacturers that make outstanding binoculars. If you are in the market for a pair of high quality pair of binoculars, you should not limit yourself to these brands.

Next, we will focus on the best binoculars for specific uses.

Best Binoculars for Hunting

When hunting big game, binoculars are one of the most important pieces of gear you will need. They will allow you to scan for animals that are thousands of yards away, that you wouldn’t be able to see with your naked eye. This makes them an indispensable tool in the field. There are a few key things to keep in mind when choosing a pair of binoculars for hunting. First off, remember that you’ll often be looking for animals in low light conditions, so light transmission is crucial. Also, you’ll be lugging them around difficult terrain, so buy a quality pair that will be able to take a few bumps without any major problems. 10×42 is the most common size of binoculars to carry while hunting, although you may want a larger pair if you are doing long range spotting.

With so many binoculars on the market, it can be difficult to discern which pair can be used best for hunting. Here are four pairs that are extremely highly rated and are worth checking out:

Nikon Monarch Best Hunting BinocularsNikon Monarch Binoculars

Nikon Monarch binoculars come in three sizes: 8X42, 10X42, and 12X42, so you have many choices at your disposal. The standard 10X42 have a 288 ft. field of view, and 18.4mm eye relief. Also, these binoculars are waterproof, fog proof, and have coated lenses. They weigh around 21.9 ounces.

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD

These are Bushnell’s most critically acclaimed binoculars, and it is no surprise that they are some of the best binoculars for hunting out there. They come in 4 sizes: 8X36, 8X42, 10X36, and 10X42. The 10X42 variety have a 340 ft. field of view, and 15.2 mm eye relief. Like the Nikon pair, Bushnell Legend Ultra binoculars are waterproof, fog proof and have coated lenses. They weigh in at 24.7 ounces.

Vortex Diamondback

Vortex Diamondback binoculars are of very high quality, and although the company is not as big as its competitors, it can deliver a great product. Diamondbacks come in 4 sizes: 8X28, 8X42, 10X42, and 12X50. The 10X42 pair have a 345 ft. field of view and 16 mm eye relief. These binoculars are waterproof, fog proof and have coated lenses. They weigh 24.4 ounces.

Vanguard Spirit ED

Vanguard’s Spirit ED binoculars are very worthy of mention in this section. They come in four sizes: 8X36, 8X42, 10X42, and 10X50. The 10X42 pair have a 314 ft. field of view and 16 mm eye relief. Like its counterparts in this section, these binoculars are waterproof, fog proof, and have coated lenses. They weigh a bit more than the other binoculars in this section at 29.8 ounces.

Best Binoculars for Birding

If birding is your hobby, the following are some binoculars that you should definitely consider purchasing in order to have the best viewing experience. Because birding is more about the picture quality and feel, picking a pair of binoculars without trying them first is very difficult. I have included some comments from users in order for you to get an idea of what it is like to use all of these binoculars.

Zeiss Victory Best Birding BinocularsZeiss Victory THT 8X42

These binoculars are considered top-of-the-line, and this is noticeable in the price tag. They feel great in the hands and have great clarity and eye relief. They are widely considered some of the best binoculars that money can buy.

Zeiss Victory TFL 8X32

These are a smaller version of the THT binoculars, but they still have all of the benefits of a top-of-the-line pair of binoculars. If you can afford these, you cannot go wrong with them. Zeiss also has midrange priced binoculars, Zeiss Conquest HD, which are of excellent quality and a great alternative to the Victory line.

Nikon Monarch 7

These are ¼ of the price of binoculars like the Zeiss Victory, but they deliver exceptional quality and image. The Monarch line has been very popular among birders for years, and it continues to deliver.

Leica Trinovid

The Trinovid line has been around for a long time, and experienced birders will likely recognize it. The new Trinovid line offers exceptional quality and a bright, clear image.

Best Compact Binoculars

If you are looking for compact binoculars that you can take with you comfortably everywhere, here is a list that will give you an idea of where to start looking. The following are widely considered some of the best compact binoculars on the market.

Swarovski CL Pocket 8X25 Binoculars

These are very high quality compact binoculars that fold up easily and can fit in your pocket. Furthermore, they are waterproof and fog proof. They are made by Swarovski, so you know you are getting some of the best binoculars on the market with these.

Vanguard Orros 10X25 Binoculars

These binoculars feel great in your hands, as they have a very lightweight rubberized body. The shape is very compact, and they can fold down to store anywhere. Furthermore, these binoculars are very affordable.

Nikon 8-24X25 EagleView Zoom CF

These binoculars are unique in that they have a zoom button that lets you go from 8X to 24X at the push of a button. This may not be very attractive to some binocular buyers, but another draw to these are that they are affordable and still provide great image quality.

Pentax 9X28 DCF LV Binoculars

Unlike many compact counterparts, these binoculars offer a 9X magnification without sacrificing too much field of view. They are waterproof and fog proof, and while they are mid-priced binoculars, they offer exceptional optical quality. They also have a great design and feel great in your hands.

Best Astronomy and Stargazing Binoculars

Many stargazers and astronomers prefer to use binoculars instead of telescopes to look at the stars. If you want to get into stargazing, or are already an avid stargazer and are looking for binoculars, the following are a few binoculars that are definitely worth your consideration.

Celestron Echelon 20X70 Binoculars

Since you are stargazing, you want a higher magnification along with a bigger lens. These are very high quality binoculars that are tripod adaptable in order to allow for long stargazing periods. They are not too heavy that you cannot pick them up and use them with your hands for added flexibility.

Celestron 15X70 SkyMaster Binoculars

These offer exceptional performance and come at a great price for viewing the night sky. The lenses are multicoated, which makes your image of the stars much clearer. Aside from stargazing, these have other great uses including bird watching as well.

Best Binoculars for Safaris

If you enjoy viewing wildlife, specifically wildlife on safaris, there are a few binoculars that you should research and test before looking at any others. Consider these as you embark on your safari trip.

Celestron Granite 9X33 Binoculars

These binoculars have a wide field of view, which is excellent for safaris. Since they are 9X, you get a little more detail of the object you are looking at. The lenses are very high quality, and with these you will get a very crisp image.

Swarovski EL W B Traveler 8X32

These are top-of-the-line midsized binoculars that offer impeccable optical quality. They are optimal for taking on safaris, and their open bridge design makes them comfortable to hold with one hand. Furthermore, they offer a digital camera adapter so that you can take high quality photos through them. Swarovski produces some of the best imaging products in the world, and this is no exception.

Best Binoculars for Kids

When engaging children in nature activities, the right set of binoculars can go a long way towards getting them excited about their surroundings. Certain binocular features are more important than others when it comes to children’s binoculars, such as the maximum magnification level. The recommended maximum is 8x, as this gives children a wide enough view to keep their eyes on the interesting sight even if their hands are shaky. Additionally, the size and weight of the binoculars are important as well, as a binocular that is too bulky may be difficult for children to hold on to. With these factors in mind, consider both of the following highly rated binoculars for kids:

Bresser 6×21 Junior Compact Binoculars

With a colorful casing guaranteed to catch your child’s eye, the Bresser 6×21 is a compact binocular with a maximum 6x magnification that is perfect first binocular for children of any age. The state-of-the-art optical system delivers clear images, while the rubber armored body is built to endure all types of damage. Affordably priced, the Bresser 6×21 also comes with a five year guarantee.

Opticron Discovery WP PC 8×32 Binoculars

Built for the older child, the Opticron Discovery is both compact and lightweight enough to deliver comfort regardless of how long the nature walk lasts. An 8x optical system also delivers clear images from a distance, while the affordable prices guarantees a great return on the investment. With a durable design built to last through years of wear and tear, the Opticron Discovery remains one of the best children’s binoculars on the market.

Best Binoculars with Built in Camera

For the professional photographer or birdwatcher, a quality sighting through a pair of binoculars is only worthwhile if the image can be captured. Luckily, modern technology has intersected with current demands to yield a new generation of binoculars with built in cameras. Some of the best digital camera binoculars on the market today are both inexpensive and easy-to-setup. Learn more about two of the industry leaders below:

Vivitar 10×25 DigiCam Binoculars

Though the slightly heavy design may seem inconvenient at first, the Vivitar Digicam Binoculars are well worth the effort with a 640X480 resolution on the attached camera. Add to that the 16 megabytes of internal storage and these camera binoculars become perfect for both long and short sightseeing events, from sports games to nature walks and more. Designed for comfort and precision, the Vivitar 10×25 carries a long battery life as well to ensure long-term use on almost any outing.

Bushnell 8×30 3.1MP Instant Replay Digital Camera Binoculars

With the widest selection of digital camera binoculars, Bushnell boasts an impressive catalogue. However, one of the standouts remains the 8×30 Instant Replay Camera Binoculars. As if taking crystal clear pictures of the best sights wasn’t enough, this Bushnell binocular also allows users to record video with up to 3.1 megapixel resolution, higher than other comparably priced binoculars in the industry.

Best Rangefinder Binoculars

Open ranges can be a thing of beauty all on their own. However, there are few ranges that cannot be enhanced by a great pair of rangefinder binoculars. Regardless of the type of rangefinder binoculars you plan on purchasing (golf, hunting, digital, etc.), the goal is to improve aim while also allowing for a wide field of view regardless of the terrain. Learn more about two of the best rangefinder binoculars on the market below:

Leica Geovid HD-B Binocular

Though pricier than other brands of binoculars, the reward is well worth the cost as the Leica Geovid is one of the most accurate rangefinder binoculars on the market. Featuring state-of-the-art optics and a field of view exceeding 1,000 yards, these industry-leading Leica binoculars offer everything from automatic adjustments of the visual settings to an ergonomic design that ensures comfort regardless of how long they are held.

Zeiss Victory RF Binocular

Fluoride glass is one of the secrets to the Zeiss Victory’s premium imagery, ensuring that every sight seen through these lens is of the best quality possible. A 45 millimeter objective lens adds to sight quality while the field of view remains one of the best in its class. Though slightly heavier than other comparable binoculars, the Zeiss Victory makes up for it with convenient button placement for added comfort.

The Best Binoculars for the Money

After all of the binoculars that have been listed so far, you may be wondering, “Which ones provide me with the best value?” The following binoculars are widely thought to give buyers the best bang for the buck.

Swarovski CL Pocket 8X25 Binoculars

Although they may seem pricey, these binoculars are cheap compared to the other $1200+ priced binoculars that Swarovski offers. Furthermore, they are better than almost anything else on the market.

Hawke Sapphire ED 8X42 Binoculars

These binoculars have amazing specs, they are waterproof and fog proof, and they have a lightweight body made of magnesium. Add to this the unparalleled optical quality that they offer and you will realize that the price is a great bargain.

Upland Optics Perception HD 10×42 Binoculars

These are some of the best binoculars out there at any price point, and they are under $300 dollars! They offer exceptional optics, water repellant lens coating, a light weight chassis, and unparalleled image quality.

Celestron Nature DX 8X42 Binoculars

These will appeal to those on a tight budget, but also to those looking for a great value and optical quality. These are fully sealed waterproof and fog proof binoculars that deliver a great image, and the price will make you very happy.

Best Binoculars for Under $100

If you are on a very tight budget and can only spend $100 or less, you should not worry. The following binoculars will offer great quality for their price.

Nikon 8245 Aculon Binoculars

These binoculars are so good that you may find some vendors selling them for $200 due to demand, but if you look in the right place, mainly online, you can find them for under $100 dollars. They provide a quick central focus system and a 420 foot field of view. One downside to these is that they are not waterproof.

Celestron 20X80 Skymaster Binoculars

By this time you should realize that Celestron makes great quality products at a great price. These are great for stargazing and many other uses, and they have a water-resistant, not waterproof body.

Best Binoculars for Under $200

If you have a little more to spend, these are some binoculars you should consider that are under $200 dollars.

Vanguard 10X42 Spirit XF Binoculars

These binoculars offer a wide field of view, multi coated lenses, and high quality images. If you are a causal binocular user, you simply cannot go wrong with these.

Hawk Nature-Trek 8X42 Binoculars

If you want high quality, low weight binoculars, then you have found them. These are fully waterproof and fog proof, and they provide a relatively good field of view and close focus. These are a great choice for the budget conscious buyer.

The Best Binoculars on the Market

If you want the best-of-the-best, and you are fortunate enough to have no price limitations on the binoculars that you are looking for, then the following is a list of the best binoculars that money can buy.

Upland Optics Perception HD 10×42 Binoculars

See description in the Best Value section.

Zeiss 10X42 Victory HT Binocular

These are often listed as the best binoculars that money can buy, period. They offer a viewing experience like no other binoculars, and you can see even the finest details of your object in dimming light. They are very robust, and offer a staggering 95% light transmission. If you want the best-of-the-best, then these are the binoculars for you.

Conclusion

The world of binoculars is huge, and it will take many years for the beginner to explore and learn. With time, you will be able to appreciate minor differences between binoculars, and you will develop a taste of your own. I hope that this guide will provide you with sufficient information to begin your exciting journey into the world of binoculars.

Reviews of the Best Rifle Scopes for 2017

The Best Rifle ScopesWhether you are a hunter, or you just enjoy shooting for sport, you know that choosing a scope for your rifle will be one of the biggest factors in determining how accurately you’ll be able to shoot. A scope allows you to zoom in on your target, and precisely lock in exactly where you want your shot to land.

There are many scopes on the market from many different reputable manufacturers, so choosing the best one is a daunting task. In the end, the scope you choose will largely come down to personal preference and your shooting needs. This guide will help you figure out what the best scope is to suit your (and your rifle’s) needs.

My #1 Recommendation

If I had to pick one scope to recommend above all others, especially on a modest budget, the crown would go to the Vortex Diamondback. Vortex is an incredibly popular brand of sporting optics, and for good reason. Their products are very high quality, and generally are in the mid range in terms of price. I like their 4-12×40 model scope personally, as it allows me to zoom in just far enough while still being able to make close up shots by cranking back the zoom.

Types of Scopes

There are a lot of different types of scopes, but they can practically all be placed in two categories. It is important to understand the different types of scopes and the pros and cons to each one before purchasing one. Below are three of the different types of scopes, and they are the most common scopes on the market.

1. Variable Scopes – By far the most common, variable scopes are useful if magnification of the target is needed for a clean shot. With these types of scopes, the shooter can adjust the magnification of the target that they are looking at. These types of scopes come in a variety of magnification variables, and depending on what you are hunting, this could be extremely important. Sniper rifles often use variable scopes, because sniper rifles are used at a much farther distance than a normal hunting rifle.

2. Fixed Scopes – These scopes can be a little less complicated than variable scopes, but they are also only better if people know exactly the specs they need when shooting their gun. You cannot adjust the magnification on fixed scopes like you can on variables. Therefore, these scopes are only recommended in certain occasions and for certain types of firearms.

Night Vision Scopes – These are specialty scopes. They can be combined as a variable scope or a fixed scope. What makes these scopes different is the fact that they are used for shooting at night or at times of day when there is a small amount of light to naturally see the target. They are very expensive and bulky, so before choosing a night vision scope, make sure that you actually need to shoot during low light hours of the day.

How to Choose a Rifle Scope

buying a rifle scopeThe majority of rifle users want the best scope for their rifle in order to help with whatever it is they are hunting. In the past, the old metallic sights that were placed on rifles were a lot harder to aim with than the newer scopes on the market today. When using a rifle scope, one thing should come to mind: simplicity. The use of a rifle scope has made it a lot easier for the majority of people to be able to line up a kill shot on their target.

When using a rifle scope, all you have to do to get a kill on your target is line up your cross hairs or reticles on the target that you are aiming at. Learning to shoot with a rifle scope is an extremely useful skill. Not only is it easier to line up the gun to your target, but it also magnifies your target, making it easier to tell which part of the target you will actually hit. There are a large number of factors that need to go into thought when choosing the right rifle scope.

Is bigger and more expensive always better?

This can be a tricky question to answer when you are dealing with rifle scopes. The best way to answer this question is this. When you are going to look for your idle rifle scope, you should ask yourself what is it that you are going to be shooting at. In general, if you are a deer hunter, using anything over a 3-9x or 4-12x scope on your rifle would be overkill, and it could actually hinder you in the long run. Those are the average scope sizes for anyone wanting to go hunting, because they offer what is needed for the majority of rifle users.

You also need to figure in what kinds of shots you are planning on having to take. If you know that you are going to be shooting far away at your prey, then you will be using a different scope as opposed to shooting at something closer. This has a lot to deal with having the proper magnification on the scope that you choose in order to be able to perform the hunting that you wish to do.

What do the Numbers on a Scope tell me?

This is a good question to ask. Before you can properly choose a rifle scope, you need to know what the numbers on your scope actually mean. In order to help with this, I am going to reference you to a Nikon P-223 3-9×40 SF rifle scope in order to explain the importance of the numbers on a rifle scope. The numbers when choosing a scope that are important are the 3-9×40.

In this particular number, the 3 means that any image that you look at through this scope will appear three times closer to you than it would to the naked eye. The 9 means the same thing. If the scope that you choose has a 9 like this one it means that you can see your target 9 times closer through the scope than with the naked eye. The last number, in this case the 40, is the objective lens diameter in millimeters. If you see a number like this, these scopes are classified as variable scopes. Basically, you can choose if you want your target to be 3 times magnified up to 9 times magnified. In general, the larger the magnification range, the more that particular scope will cost. This is because the wider the range the more versatile that scope will be.

Why is eye relief and light transmission important when choosing a scope?

A shooter’s age can affect the dilation of their eyes. People who are older will experience smaller dilation than someone of a younger age. An exit pupil is extremely important when choosing your scope. Basically, an exit pupil can be determined by holding a scope out at arms length from you. The small circle of light that appears in the scopes eyepiece when doing this is the exit pupil. The exit pupil is extremely important when thinking about eye relief because the larger the exit pupil is the less important head positioning in relation to the scope becomes.

When talking about eye relief in regards to rifle scopes, eye relief is the distance that your eye can be away from the ocular lens of the scope and still provide a full and clear picture of your target. Currently, four inches is the largest eye relief available for any standard rifle scope. If you are using the rifle correctly, four inches in plenty of distance for your face to be out of the way of any recoil your rifle might do. You should always pay attention to the amount of eye relief and exit pupil that a scope offers before purchasing it.

What should I look for in a scope in regards to the objective lens size?

On most medium variable scopes, the standard object lens size is anywhere from 40 to 44 millimeters. There are objective lenses on the market that are larger, but in most cases these larger lenses are not necessary. As a matter of fact, the larger the objective lens on a rifle scope is, the harder it is to be able to hold your rifle properly. These larger lens also can cause your rifle to be a little less comfortable to shoot due to the fact they can make the rifle feel unbalanced, clumsier, and heavier.

Why is Field of View on a rifle scope so important?

When speaking about rifles, field of view is generally measure at every 100 yards. What this means is the field of view is the amount that you are actually able to see from right to left at a distance through your scope. When adjusting the magnification of your scope, your field of view will be adjusted. In general, if you decrease the magnification of your scope your field of view will actually increase. This is generally more important with variable scopes, because the difference in magnification can change the field of view drastically. For instance, if you are using a 3-12×42 scope, if the magnification is set to 3 then your field of view will be the full 100 yards. However, if your magnification was turned closer to 12, your field of view would actually decrease down to somewhere around 14 to 10 yards.

For more about choosing the top rifle scope, watch the below video:

Best Rifle Scope Brands

revies of rifle scopesJust like any other product, there are a lot of different brands and companies that make rifle scopes, but just like with every other product, there are a number of brands that stick out in the market. Below are a list of the top six brands that make rifle scopes, and they all got on this list for a variety of reasons. Some have created special features that make their scopes better in certain aspects, and some brands have an all around aspect to their products that put them on top.

Leupold

A family owned company since its founding in 1907, Leupold & Stevens is without one of the highest quality optic manufacturers in the world. It’s scopes are used by the United States Marine Corps and Navy SEALs, which definitely is a major vote of confidence in their design and manufacturing. They make everything from simple hunting scopes to the incredibly powerful and adjustable tactical designs used by the military.

Redfield

Redfield was purchased by Leupold & Stevens, Inc. back in April of 2008, but they did not acquire any of Redfield’s capability of repairing their products that were made prior to them buying the company. However, Redfield is still currently one of the top manufacturers of rifle scopes on the market. Their motto is “No Excuses”, and they offer a full lifetime warranty to their customers on all of their non-electronic products like their rifle scopes.

Sightmark

Sightmark was founded back in 2007, and they have steadily been growing in the modern shooting market thanks to their products and rifle scopes. Currently, they are operated out of Mansfield, Texas, and there motto is “Make Your Mark”. They offer a variety of different products that are ranked top of the market, and they are known for making Triple Duty, Ezekiel, and Pinnacle rifle scopes that excel in performance.

Burris

Burris considers themselves specialists when it comes to making rifle scopes. They vow that they only employ the most passionate and knowledgeable engineers to manufacture their products. Burris products are not only used by the occasional hunter or sports shooter, but some of their rifle scopes are used by professionals throughout the entire world. Burris is best known for their scopes having lenses with larger diameters than most of their competitors.

Bushnell

Bushnell is one of the older popular rifle scope manufacturers with their products still on the market. They have been in business for over 65 years, and they pride themselves on providing only the best quality to their customers. The majority of their products are some of the more reliable and affordable hunting products, like rifle scopes on the market to date.

Barska

Barska is currently operated out of Pomona, California, which is on the southern end of California. Their priority products all deal with sport optics, and they are considered to be one of the top brands that puts out rifle scopes on the market today. They actually have a global customer base. They have over 40 countries that they distribute their products too outside of the United States. They even offer products that can be individualized for their corporate customers if needed.

Nikon

Nikon is one of the more well known Sports Optics companies in the world. They have a variety of different products that they create, and they are well known in the hunting industry for both their cutting edge hunting optic rifle scopes. Some of their company strengths include their commitment to innovation, quality, and the performance of their products.

Best Rifle Scopes For the Money

Rifle scopes can range from $40 up to thousands of dollars depending on how much one is willing to spend. Depending on what the rifle scope is being used for, you can sometimes get away with or at least get the same results with a cheaper scope that you could do with a higher end one. You should always think about what is economically sound for you to spend on a scope, because a some scopes that are $100 might be all you need, and you can save money by purchasing these scopes instead of getting the highest quality scope that really doesn’t improve your chances anymore than the cheaper one. Below are just a few different scopes that are considered to be the best in their dollar range, but before choosing your scope, you should look at all the details in order to make sure it will provide you with a solution to all of your individual needs.

Best Rifle Scope Under $100

There are a lot of different rifle scopes that you can get for under $100, many of which you probably want to avoid. However the UTG 3-9×32 BugBuster Scope is one of, if not the best in this price range. It offers a lot of quality features, and has a sterling reputation with thousands of online reviews.

UTG 3-9x32 BugBusterFeatures:

  • Mildot reticle with both red and green illumination.
  • Lockable and reset-able turret design.
  • It comes with 3-9x magnification, and the objective lens is 32 millimeters.
  • Included with the scope are a 2″ sun shade, quick release rings, and flip cap covers.

While it won’t compare to the Zeiss and Nightforce scopes at the end of this list in terms of optical clarity and quality, this budget scope is perfect for getting the job done with a minimal financial burden.

Best Rifle Scope Under $200

There are a wide variety of scopes in this price range, including many from well known manufacturers, and it was Nikon that won here. For a price tag that is handily under the $200 mark, the Nikon P-223 3-9x40mm is of exceptional quality. It is designed for rifles chambered in .223 (although it would work for many others as well), and it is made by Nikon, which is one of the best rifle scope brands on the market (as well as optics brands in general).

Nikon P 223 3-9x40Features:

  • This scope comes with 3-9x magnification, and it has a large 40 millimeter objective lens.
  • 1/4 MOA tactical style hand adjustable turrets with reset functionality.
  • BDC 600 reticle designed specifically for .223 caliber rounds.
  • Nitrogen filled, water and fog proof design.

Also in this price range is the Vortex scope I recommended at the top of the article, which you should really consider (especially if you are shooting something other than .223).

Best Rifle Scope Under $300

This scope price range was a little more difficult to narrow down, but in the end, the best rifle scope for under $300 came out to be the Nikon PROSTAFF 5 BDC 3.5-14×40 Rifle Scope. It offers a variety of different features that makes it stand out more so than the others in this particular price range. The average price of this scope before taxes and shipping is around $279, but of course, that depends on where it is you purchase it from. It could be slightly more or even less if you search for a good deal.

Nikon ProStaff 5 BDCFeatures:

  • This rifle comes with 3.5-14x magnification, and it is equipped with a 40 millimeter objective lens.
  • With this rifle scope, adjustments are made extremely easy thanks to its Spring-Loaded Instant Zero Reset Turrets.
  • Thanks to being a Nikon product, which is one of the best rifle brands on the market, this scope is optimized to be used with Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic Match Technology.
  • This scope makes any rifle superior at long range shooting thanks to Nikon’s patented BDC reticle, which has see through ballistic circles.
  • Using this scope on your rifle will make bringing the reticle into focus quick and easy with its quick focus eyepiece.

As stated earlier, Nikon is one of the top brands on the market for making high quality rifle scopes, and this particular rifle scope is just one of the mid price range examples of why they made it to the top brand list.

Best Rifle Scope Under $500

This category was a hard choice to make. Out of all the different rifle scopes in this price range, I couldn’t narrow down to just one scope, but I was able to narrow it down to the top two rifle scopes for less than $500.

The Vortex Viper PA 30mm Tube Rifle Scope – Although this brand didn’t make it in the top rifle scope brands, this particular scope could not be overlooked. It is one of the top rifle scopes on the market today. It has a variety of different aspects that make it this way, and it will surely get the job done efficiently and effectively. On average, this scope is generally anywhere from $448 to $461 depending on where you decide to purchase it.

Vortex Viper PAFeatures:

  • It comes with a one-piece tube that is 30 millimeters, which makes it easier to store without having to worry about loosing any removable parts.
  • It is actually made out of aircraft grade aluminum to guarantee it’s sturdiness.
  • It comes equipped with tall turrets which allows the shooter using it to quickly and easily make any adjustments.
  • There is also a side knob parallax adjustment for versatility.

Nikon Monarch 3 4-16x50mm Side Focus Rifle Scope – Once again, Nikon makes the top! This variable scope is by far one of the top rifle scopes on the marketplace today price ranged under $500. On average, the Nikon Monarch 3 runs around $418, but that is mainly determined at where you decide to purchase it from, and that is not including any kind of tax or shipping. Nikon does not disappoint with this scope as it has many of the features that Nikon is known for using on their high end scopes.

Nikon Monarch 3Features:

  • The Nikon Monarch 3 comes with 4-16x magnification, and it also comes with a larger than normal objective lens. It’s lens is actually 50 millimeters.
  • It is renowned because of its Ultra Clear Coat Optical System which allows up to 95% light transmission.
  • It has a quick focus eyepiece that is meant to allow the shooter to instantly bring their reticle into focus.
  • It’s best feature is the MONARCH 3 Eye Box Technology which allows for a 4 time zoom range. It also allows for a four inch eye relief.
  • This scope is optimized to be used with the Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic Match Technology.
  • Last but not least, it is easily adjusted thanks to its Spring Loaded Instant Zero Reset Turrets.

Top Rifle Scopes For an Unlimited Budget

When money is no object, all the rules of the game completely change. A lot of the scopes over $1000 are made by brands that are not seen at the lower budget products. There is a simple answer as to why that is. When most people think of the best brands, they think about the brands that the majority of people who buy a product actually purchase. That is why the higher end rifle scope brands may vary from the over all best and most popular brands. Seeing as this category in finances is so broad, below are two different rifle scopes that can be considered the best rifle scope for those that have an unlimited budget. You should also consider looking at Schmidt & Bender and Swarovski.

Zeiss Conquest Rifle scopes 5-25×50 Black Rapid Z 1000 – On average, this particular scope runs around $1100. It has a lot of different features, and it is manufactured by Zeiss one of the more popular brands among those that enjoy the high end and expensive rifle scopes. Below are just a few of the many features that makes this rifle scope stick out among all of the other unlimited budget scopes on the market today.

Zeiss Conquest Rapid Z 1000Features:

  • This scope comes with a 50 millimeter objective lens, and it comes with 5-25 magnification ability.
  • It is used mainly for hunting anything at long range, including predators, big game, and varmints.
  • It has a robust, one piece tube that is built to stand some of the worst recoils even on extremely demanding terrains.
  • For the rifles that have a harsh recoil, this scope has a 3.5 inch eye relief in order to help protect the shooter’s face from the rifle’s recoil.
  • The Zeiss Conquest rifle scope is one of the most ideal scopes for those that enjoy target shooting on the range.
  • One of the things that helps this be an ideal scope for long range shooting, it offers precision aiming with accurate holdover and wind-corrected information.
  • The lenses of this scope are MC multi-coated, and this help by achieving outstanding brightness regardless of low light situations that might arise on the hunt.

Nightforce NXS Rifle Scope 30mm Tube 5.5-22x 56MM Hi-Speed – The Nightforce NXS Rifle Scope is a high speed scope that could not be ignored for the unlimited budget best category. Nightforce is one of the top brands for professional rifle scopes, and that is why it didn’t make the top brand list. Most Nightforce scopes cost way more than the average person would even think about paying for a sports scope for their rifle. This scope generally runs anywhere from $2,250 to $2,500. Generally, the price depends on where one purchases this scope. Below are just a few of the unique features that this scope has to offer someone.

Nightforce NXSFeatures:

  • The NXS Rifle Scope comes with 5.5-22x magnification, and it also has a 56 millimeter objective lens.
  • It has a 30 millimeter diameter tube.
  • The eye relief for the NXS Rifle Scope is 3.9 inches.
  • It has finger adjustable turrets and it has a click adjustment.
  • The field of view for this scope at 5.5x magnification is 17.5′, and the field of view at 22x magnification is 4.7′ at 100 yards.
  • The NXS Rifle Scope has a exit pupil diameter of 10.2 to 2.5 millimeters, and the scope weighs around 32 oz.
  • This scope can be recommended for just about all types of weather, because it is shock proof, water proof, and fog proof.

How to Buy the Best Crossbow Scope

powerful-crossbowsCrossbow hunting and target shooting is becoming a popular activity among hobbyists and professionals in this modern age. If you’re practicing archery, crossbow scopes are an essential tool to have whether you’re on an archery range or hunting game. Scopes are typically used to magnify one’s target to get a more precise shot and makes it easier to visualize the goal. Scopes can additionally lend aid to one’s accuracy and can make for clean and quick kills so game from hunting won’t suffer. There are various kinds of scopes – or sights as some refer to them as – all with different features and functions. It’s very important that the archer chooses a scope that best suits their specific needs and fits their crossbow nicely.

Scope Design Basics

The scope is to be placed on the body of the crossbow above the trigger. An obvious component to a scope’s design is the long black tube with an ocular lens eyepiece on one end and the sight on the opposite end past the eyepiece. If the archer decided to add zooming features, there should be a power ring to be able to adjust the magnification of the sight. The elevation adjustment and windage adjustment tool can be found in the middle of the scope tube, and at the end of the scope is the objective bell where the scope’s body seems to get wider and almost bell-shaped. The objective bell is where the objective lens is contained. There are three main types of scopes an archer can choose from; a laser sight scope, red dot sight, and reticle scope.

Types of Scopes

A laser sight scope is an alternative, mostly practical for when you’re aiming at a moving target. The laser is meant to help the archer anticipate when the arrow will strike the objective. Laser sights can either be mounted underneath an archer’s crossbow or to the upper portion of the scope. If the laser sight is used with a quality scope, it can be utilized to accurately determine midrange targets. An iron sight is another alternative and are the most basic yet durable. There can be two sights on the crossbow, with one as a post, bead, or ring in the crossbow’s front and on the back of the bow perpendicular to the crossbow’s line of sight.

A red dot sight scope makes a red (or sometimes green) dot that the archer can see and use to pinpoint his aim at the target. You can either get red dot sights with single style distance settings or more advanced multi-dot scopes with several distance settings, it depends on what your preferences are. A lot of times, the red dot sight can be adjusted so it will be brighter or darker according to your liking too.

A reticle scope has crosshairs that sections the lens view into four parts. This type of lens scope is the most common and more traditional. The crosshairs might be etched, wired in, or lit up in the scope depending on the model.

Scope Mount Types

When selecting a type of mount for your scope, there is the Picatinny, Dovetail and Weaver rails to choose from. Picatinny mounts can elevate the scope by about ½ an inch above the crossbow body and is most practical if you are using a red dot sight scope. “Picatinny” comes from the place of origin where the system was designed at the New Jersey-based Picatinny arsenal.

The Dovetail mount looks similar to the Picatinny mount in that it has a set of grooves running parallel that grasp onto a tiny set ribs raised in the middle part of the scope’s base. Dovetail mounts are actually the oldest used mounts, and because of a 1931 patent on the mount’s design, Dovetail mounts are also known as Redfield style or Leupold style.

The Weaver rail grips onto scopes’ beveled outer edge and is considered to be sturdier than other alternate mounts such as the Picatinny and Dovetail rails.

Crossbow scope rings are usually made out of steel or aluminum. Be sure to pay attention to the scope’s accuracy, size, and range when picking the best scope for your target shooting or hunting needs for these will be important in how your scope performs.

Most of the time, archers look for scopes that can increase their range so that they can hit targets easier. If you’re using your crossbow for hunting small game, then your scope should feature a short to mid-range distance and it needs to fight nicely onto the scope mount while being lightweight and sturdy. If you have something like a variable scope, which can be a bit on the heavy side, it can affect your ability to hunt and be anything but an improvement.

Terms You Should Know Before Buying a Scope

There’s nothing like knowing exactly what you need to improve your crossbow’s accuracy. So before deciding on the perfect scope, here are some terms you need to know and keep in mind as you’re exploring the scope market.

Magnification is a basic function of a scope’s features which allows the archer to zoom in on objects from afar since the naked eye doesn’t have the ability to do so. There is a wide range of magnifications on scopes, with most of them having up to 32x maximum.

A scope’s field of view is essentially the sight picture with a particular width. For example, if your target’s distance is at 150 yards, the scope will give you a sight that is 15 feet wide. Thus, it’s not only magnified, but it also provides the focal lengths of the lenses. Usually, if the magnification is high, then the field of view will be narrow. While this feature isn’t necessarily for new crossbow users who still need practice, it’s very important for hunters that need to hone in on their prey, especially smaller game.

Stray light is an internal coating which disperses light that enters in the scope and prevents it from reflecting off the scope’s metal. Overall, this helps you achieve the clearest sight of the goal.

The eye relief is simply the space between your eye and the eyepiece lens. It prevents any accidents that may happen your eye while shooting, such as the lens bumping into your eye if your crossbow has a bit of kickback.

Length refers to the distance from the edge of the objective lens up to the back edge of the eyepiece. As a rule of thumb to remember, the longer that the scopes measure to be, the greater the magnification will be, but it will also be heavier. Depending on your preference, the magnification will vary if you like lightweight scopes versus heavier scopes.

The center tube diameter lets you know the size of the scope’s rings as well as the base of the scope.

Recommended Scope Brands

While there is a vast variety of scope brands to choose from, only a few make it to the top and are worth mentioning.

The Nikon Bolt XR Crossbow Scope (BDC 60) is designed to outdo what other scopes are capable of. It’s equipped with 3x Nikon optics that transmit up to 92% of available light for brightness and contrast, and Nikon also included multi-coated lens with multiple layers of anti-reflective compounds. What’s even greater about this scope is that its advanced BDC 60 reticle provides precise aiming points up to 60 yard based on a velocity of around 305 fps. Some additional features include a large ocular that utilizes its full field of view, 3.4 inches of eye relief, and a quick-focus eyepiece.

The Bolt XR furthermore has zero-reset turrets allowing you to sight in at 20 yards, lift the spring-loaded adjustment knob, then rotate to your “zero” allowing you to re-engage. You can simply dial in your subsequent ranges to make your field adjustments, and with the Bolt XR being waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof, this scope virtually matches with any crossbow velocity and bolt weight.

Many archers have deemed the Bolt XR as an excellent scope. It was mentioned that it works very well in low light with crystal clear glass. The multiple aim points were said to make it easier to accurately shoot from 20-60 yards with little to no effort. It’s highly recommended for archers looking for quality optics for their crossbow, for it has received a high rating amongst many that have bought and used this scope.

Second in line to the Nikon Bolt XR is the Raging River 4×32 Multi-reticle. This weapon scope is a sleek looking hunting companion made of aluminum alloy with a black matte finish, but has more impressive features other than design. Precision is this scope’s strong suit, for it allows four times the magnification for optimum clarity. Additionally, it’s powered by a Pro 5-step illumination reticle that gives you the ability to shoot in low light conditions without any problems. Its unlimited eye relief allows for the archer to have the scope placed as far from the sighting eye as they are comfortable with while still being able to get a clear sight view.

Those who have used this scope have said that they were able to keep consistent shots at their set yard intervals and have found that it does very well in low light conditions. Many have had their accuracy improved with this scope, and mentioned that it’s a great scope to use for your hunting needs for an affordable price.

Another worthy crossbow scope is UTG’s 4×32 1″ Crossbow Scope with Pro 5-Step RGB Reticle and QD Rings. It’s built on a TS platform with a 1″ tube, wide angle lens, and parallax at 50 yards. It also includes broadband lens coating, RGB side-wheel illumination, zero-reset/locking W/E knobs, and comes with complete flip-open lens caps and UTG RQ2W1104 QD rings. The side wheel with green/red illumination has flexible adjustment for most versatile weather and lighting conditions and the scope has ergonomic and precise windage and elevation adjustment turrets for a more precise shot.

Plenty have favored this scope mostly for its crystal clear glass view and effective green/red colored sight reticle, great for day or night shooting. It’s pretty solid and well-built with a comfortable eye relief and houses overall wonderful optics, fantastic for archers looking for an effective yet affordable scope.

A more standard and slightly more affordable scope is the Ultimate Arms Gear 4×32 Illuminated Crossbow scope. This scope is built to last and absorb heavy duty recoil, built primarily of highly durable solid aluminum. It presents itself with a black matte finish, an integral sunshade, 1″ sized tube and is approximately 8.25″ long. Because of its nitrogen filled body and sturdy design, the scope is fully coated to be waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof. For conditions with low light, the lenses are multicoated and will provide the archer with sharp, bright field of view and an eye relief of 3.1″.

Thanks to the scope’s red/green light reticle, similar to previously mentioned UTG scope, this features allows the archer to estimate the range of their target to get a better tactical advantage. The side wheel lets you adjust illumination and the windage/elevation settings have a click value at 100 yards 1/4″.

Many that bought this scope loved how easy it is to set up and mount on their crossbow and also found that the sights didn’t need to much adjusting, which is a huge break for archers. The green and red illuminations on the scope work great in low light and a lot of users have zeroed in in less than a few shots. If looking for a more affordable yet quality scope for the shooting range or game hunting, perhaps the Ultimate Arms Gear scope could be a practical choice.

One last scope in the list of top scopes is Hawke’s 1.5-5×32 Matte IR SR Scope with Illuminated Circles. This scope matches up to the Bolt XR’s high performance and is specifically designed for crossbows. It features a crossbow speed selector which allows the scope to be compatible with any crossbow, and the precision reticle is engineered to provide aim points at exact 10 yard intervals from 20 to 100 yards. Its 1″ optics are fully coated for high levels of light transmission, and the red/green illumination (only on the SR model) allows for excellent reticle clarity.

It’s around the same value as the Nikon Bolt XR, and its users like its simple set up and quick sighting in. It seems to be highly recommended for those that do target shooting or hunting for archers can truly reach out to 100 yards, which is a best for many that couldn’t reach that before with other scopes.

Questions You Should Ask Yourself

When browsing for the perfect scope, here are some questions you may want to ask yourself in order to make sure the scope fits your needs.

Does the scope fit your budget? Typically, the pricier a scope, the more features it has and the better is performs. Cheaper scopes come with more standard and basic features, and don’t have as many advanced settings such as higher magnification or illuminated sights.

What is your purpose for buying a scope? Believe it or not, this matters very much for it can affect how you perform whether you’re just a hobbyist archer or a serious hunter. If you spend most of your time at a shooting range, then perhaps a red dot sight scope or reticle scope would be most ideal. If you like to hunt game, then a red dot or a laser scope could serve you well. Laser scopes are especially great for moving targets as mentioned before.

Is it easy to sight in with the scope? If you’re familiar with sighting in, you’d know how irritating it is if you have a scope that takes dozens of tries to adequately sight in on your target. You won’t have this issue if you get a quality scope.

Is the scope waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof? These qualities are important if you’re shooting in different weather situations, for they will aid you in getting a more accurate shot and prevent any inconveniences.

Is the scope made of durable material? Depending on what the scope you choose is made of, it could last from a couple months to up to 10 years. Most scopes are made of aluminum alloy while others are made of a less durable material.

Those who own crossbows all have different priorities as to how they use it and what they use it for. Some like red dot sight scopes, others may prefer the traditional cross sight or laser sight, and some like more lightweight scopes compared to heavier scopes. If the scope you ultimately pick can provide you with easy visualization of your target, magnify for better view of your prey, give you quick and humane kills when hunting, and offer features that serve all of your specific needs.