Athlon Talos 10x50mm Binoculars Review

Athlon may not be as big of a name in the sporting optics world as Bushnell or Nikon, but that certainly doesn’t mean their products aren’t worth considering for sportsmen. This particular model, the Talos 10x50mm binocular, is a great pair of binoculars for a variety of purposes.

Binos with a 50mm objective lens are designed to gather maximum amounts of light, and are ideal for use in low light conditions. While they are heavier to carry than the more common 42mm lenses, for many the trade off is very well worth it.

The packaging is fairly standard for binoculars in this range. The soft case isn’t the best I’ve seen, but also is far from the worst. The included neck strap does have some very nice padding, better than most similar binoculars, which will definitely be needed for carrying a pair with heavy 50mm lenses. As far as the lens caps, the objective side cap attaches to the binoculars themselves and the eye piece side can attach to the neck strap. They are of a similar design and quality to virtually every pair of binos in any price range. However, the occular side caps seemed to be poorly fit. Even the lightest touch immediately pulls them off of the lenses, making them pretty worthless for field use. Even pulling the binoculars out of their case immediately ripped the caps right off, offering little protection.

I field tested these binoculars at the same time that I tested Athlon’s higher end Cronus, comparing both pairs to mid range pairs from Nikon and Bushnell. Of the various binos I compared, the Talos was the most affordable.

I was impressed with the general build quality of the Talos. While most pairs in the sub $200 pricing level tend to be of mixed quality workmanship, the Talos seemed very solidly built. As a back country hunter, I’ve seen binoculars take some pretty significant falls before, and I got the sense that the Talos could the handle the punishment as well as anything I’ve seen.

While I was impressed with the build quality, I wasn’t blown away by the optics. I wouldn’t call them bad, but the image quality definitely left something to be desired. It probably didn’t help that I was comparing them to pairs that are more expensive, but if optical clarity and sharpness are your primary concerns these probably aren’t for you. The field of view is also not particularly great for a 10 power pair of binoculars, though not the worst I’ve seen.

Here’s a quick run down of the pros and cons of these binoculars:

Pros:

  • Large 50mm objective lenses gather a ton of light.
  • Grip on the side of the casing of the binoculars makes them easy to hold onto, prevents any slipping.
  • Build quality appears to be much higher than normal for this price range.

Cons:

  • Glass leaves much to be desired.
  • Objective side lens caps are essentially worthless.

In the end, I would recommend these binoculars to someone who specifically wants 50mm objective lenses and is on a strict sub $200 budget. In that price range, I can’t think of any 10x50s that will serve you better. With that said, I think you can find much better glass if you are willing to spend a little bit more money.

 

Athlon Cronus 10×42 Binoculars Review

Athlon makes a fairly wide range of binoculars, and the Cronus is their flagship model. While certainly not cheap, the Cronus fits the midrange in price that puts it out of reach of many people, but not so incredibly high priced that you’d be nervous to carry it in the field. Made to exacting standards and promising high quality and clear images, I was definitely excited to test these guys out.

Like other Athlon products I’ve tested, the Cronus comes in fairly standard binocular packaging, wrapped in several layers of plastic and a cardboard box. It includes a soft carry case that fits it well, and closes with a buckle instead of the more common Velcro. The lens caps are the typical rubber caps that connect too the binocular itself and/or the neck strap. The strap itself appears to be the same as the one found in the much less expensive Talos from Athlon, but has good padding and will work for many uses. I usually recommend using a chest harness system purchased separately for extended carrying of binoculars anyway.

10×42 is the ideal size for most sporting optics uses, and especially for hunters. If you want a wider field of view (at the price of less zoom) an 8.5×42 model is also available. The Cronus glass is encased in a hard plastic material with textured grip areas. Binocular manufacturers have generally gone one of two ways, using either rubberized coatings (Bushnell, Upland Optics, etc) or hard plastic with textured grip. I personally am a fan of the rubberized coating, but I know plenty of people who like the alternative.

I field tested the Cronus while hiking in the Idaho mountains, and compared it to a few other sets of 10×42 binoculars I had on hand. They included 10×42 sets from Bushnell and Nikon that are in the $300 price range, as well as the 10×50 Talos from Athlon.

Finding deer was easy during the wintering season, and I was able to test them all side by side when looking at small herds of deer anywhere from 300 yards to several miles away. While all of the binoculars did the job, there were definitely some subtle differences that will be important to someone willing to spend more money to get better glass. While looking at deer that were relatively close up, I noticed that they seemed to “pop” more with the Cronus than they did with any other set I was using. The focus was a bit sharper and the glass appeared to let in just a little bit more light (light conditions were sub optimal due to an incoming storm).

When testing them at long range, the differences were more subtle but still present. It was just a bit easier to pick apart the hill side using the Cronus than the more affordable Bushnell and Nikon sets. As far as comparing it to Athlon’s far less expensive Talos model, there was no question that the Cronus is a far superior set of optics.

Personally, I feel like the Cronus would be excellent for bird watchers. They have an excellent close focusing distance of only 2 meters, which is perfect for birders. The differences I noticed when glassing deer at 300 yards would be exactly the type of differences that birders are willing to pay thousands of dollars to get in their optics, and the Cronus is much less expensive than the typical Swarovski and Zeiss models that birders flock to.

As far as downsides go, I did notice one thing I wasn’t impressed with. All binoculars will have some amount of shadows obscure your view as you move/adjust them during use. However, I noticed those shadows much more with the Cronus than I have with other pairs in the same price range. I will say that those effects are usually highly dependent on the user and their unique eyes, so I recommend testing them yourself to see if that is an issue for you.

Overall, I think the Cronus 10x42s are an excellent pair of binoculars. There are some things that I personally am not a fan of (like the above mentioned shadows and the hard plastic), but those are personal preferences that plenty of people will not have issues with. And the glass is definitely of very high quality, which is the most important thing for a pair of binoculars. In particular I’d recommend these binoculars to bird watchers, who I think could really use the excellent close focusing distance and solid glass to its full capabilities.

Reviews of the Best DSLR Cameras of 2017

DSLR Buying GuideIf you’ve been looking for ways to take your photography to the next level, chances are you’re already considering a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera. In recent years, the cost of entry-level DSLRs has gone down considerably, making them an affordable alternative to compact digital cameras. At this point, anyone who wants to get the most bang for their buck should be making the switch to a DSLR to enjoy benefits that render most other camera types obsolete.

While the ongoing growth in DSLR manufacturing has given us an abundance of options to choose from and the resulting competition has undoubtedly lowered prices, unfortunately the excessive variety can make for a difficult comparison if you don’t know what to look for. Luckily, you won’t have to put in hours of research to make a fully informed decision, because we’ve put together this comprehensive guide containing everything you need to know about DSLRs that introduces you to the best models on the market:

Best Overall DSLR Cameras

With Nikon and Canon dominating the DSLR scene, it’s no surprise that the top 3 overall options come from these renowned brands:

Nikon D5

The top of the line Nikon D5 isn’t cheap, but if you’re looking for the best of the best it certainly deserves consideration. With a 20.8 MP FX-Format CMOS Sensor and continuous shooting with full AE and AF performance at the rate of 12 frames per second, Nikon’s  flagship full-frame model can snap up to 200 shots within a single burst. It also includes professional video features and the ability to record in 4K Ultra High Definition. The newly redesigned AF technology features 99-cross type sensors, 153 individual focus points, and a dedicated processor. To top it all off, it has a wider native ISO range than any other full-frame, which can be expanded beyond its default max of ISO 102,400 all the way up to ISO 3,280,000.

Canon EOS 5DS

The Canon EOS 5DS is known for having the highest resolution of any full-frame DSLR, with approximately 50.6 megapixels and a maximum continuous shooting speed of 5 frames per second. Intended for expert users, this beast of a camera is equipped with a full-frame CMOS sensor, a 3.2-inch viewing screen, and excellent dynamic range. Many pros consider this model to be a breakthrough in DSLR technology because it manages to pack an absurd amount of pixels into the sensor without compromising quality thanks to its unmatched resolving power and anti-aliasing cancellation filter. It couldn’t take the top spot because it’s not capable of recording in 4K, it generates very large files, and requires the best lenses money can buy to achieve its full potential. Still, if you get past these minor caveats, it’s by far the best alternative to Nikon’s D5 in terms of picture quality.

Nikon D500

If you can’t afford the flagship D5, Nikon’s D500 provides a more affordable alternative with many of the same features. Most of the important perks are retained in this slimmed down version, however it uses a 20.9-megapixel APS-C instead of the full-frame CMOS used by it’s more powerful sibling. Still, it can record video in 4K and it uses the same 153-point AF/99 cross-type autofocus system, which is known to be the best on the market. If a full-frame sensor isn’t a necessity for you, the D500 offers a well-rounded package that’s great for wildlife and action photography.

Best DSLR Cameras For Beginners

When choosing the best DSLRs for beginners we considered factors like ease-of-use, comfortable design, and affordability, which led us to these three selections:

Nikon D3300Nikon D3300

The Nikon 3300 is widely known as a perfect beginner’s DSLR thanks to its lightweight, compact design and self-explanatory controls. Despite being small and handy, it is equipped with one of the best sensors in its class, boasting an impressive 24.2-megapixels and 1090/60p HD recording capabilities. There’s also a built-in WU-1a wireless adapters that lets you easily send content to your smartphone. Quick and easy editing features, simplified file sharing, and 5 fps continuous shooting speed make this an optimal choice for anyone looking for a beginner-friendly DSLR.

Canon EOS Rebel SL1

The main strength of the EOS Rebel SL1 for beginner’s is that it comes with a large touch screen that features easy-to-use controls. Although the sensor is slightly smaller than the Nikon D3300 it carries a similar design in terms of being easy to handle thanks to its compact, lightweight frame. It could easily tie for the best beginner’s DSLR if it weren’t for shooting less megapixels at only 18MP and shooting at only 4 fps instead of 5. However, the quality difference in the exported files isn’t noticeable under most conditions. Due to Canon’s proprietary Scene Intelligent Auto technology it gives any camera a run for its money in the simplicity department by automatically adjusting settings to achieve optimal results.

Pentax K-50

Coming in as the first brand other than Nikon and Canon on the list, the lesser known Pentax K-50 has been making waves as a strong competitor to the two aforementioned cameras. It has the lowest megapixel count in this category, but negligibly so at 16.3 MP. Nonetheless, it makes up for this slightly by having the highest frame rate at 6 fps, which makes it slightly better for wildlife, sports, and other action photography. The 3-inch touchscreen, 30 fps recording rate at 1080p, PRIME M image processing engine, and built-in shake reduction system are other nice features that make it ideal for a beginner.

Best Canon DSLRsBest Canon DSLR

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Although technically the EOS 5D Mark IV has a lower resolution than the incredible 50-megapixel 5DS, since we already listed that one as one of the “best overall DSLRs,” this one easily takes the runner-up position. With a 30.4-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, a 61-point AF/41-cross type Autofocus system, and a 3.2-inch touchscreen, this camera is easily Canon’s best DSLR next to the aforementioned 5DS. However, being that it’s about half the price of Canon’s actual flagship, many would consider it to be better for the average photographer who doesn’t have an unlimited budget.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II

In addition to having a 20.2-megapixel APS-C CMS image sensor, the EOS 7D Mark II also has an exceptionally high frame rate, with 10fps continuous shooting and a pro-grade 65-point AF, 65 cross-type autofocus system, this camera offers excellent action photography. It’s also highly durable with weather-sealed controls and an alloy body. Overall, the EOS 7D Mark II is highly versatile and is known for being one of the best deals in the Canon line.

Canon EOS 1D Mark II

With a high frame rate of 14 fps, a large 3.2-inch LCD display, and a highly flexible Autofocus system that includes 41 customizable AF points – 61 total, the Canon EOS 1D Mark II deserves mention as one of the brand’s top three cameras next to its flagship EOS 5DS. Although the CMOS sensor can only capture 20.2 megapixels, it’s equipped with hardware that gives it all the bare necessities a DSLR needs in the best way possible. The resulting images are always impressive and this camera does a great job of reducing noise even in the worst conditions.

Best Nikon DSLR

Nikon D810Nikon D810

If you’re looking for the absolute best Nikon camera, that would be their flagship D5 listed in the “best overall DSLR” section above. However, coming in 2nd behind that would have to be the D810, with a desirable 36.3-megapixel HDSLR sensor and the powerful EXPEED 4 image processor. This is a professional grade camera that is known for remarkable detail retention and a wide native ISO range of 64-12,800. The D810 won the Imaging Resource “Camera of the Year” award in 2014. Another interesting thing to note is that Nikon makes a version called the D810a, which is the first DSLR designed specifically for deep-sky astrophotography.

Nikon D750

With a full-frame 24.3MP DX-format CMOS sensor, EXPEED 4 image processor, and a special Vari-angle tilting LCD screen, the D750 offers most of the same features as the D810 but with a slightly smaller sensor. Built-in WiFi, 1080p video recording, and a 6.5fps frame rate make this a well-balanced choice for enthusiasts looking for flagship-level performance in a more affordable package. The D750 won Imaging Resource’s “Camera of Distinction in 2014” for basically being the next best thing to the D810.

Nikon D7200

The D7200 comes in as close behind the D750, with a 24.2-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor and the same EXPEED 4 image processor. Surprisingly, it has a wider native ISO range, expanding all the way up to 25,600 while also having an Auto ISO mode for easy operation. This one is categorized in Nikon’s line of “enthusiast” DSLRs, which sits just below what you would expect from a professional level camera. This was also the brand’s first DSLR to feature built-in Near Field Communication (NFC) and WiFi connectivity. The time lapse feature, 1080p recording, and a frame rate of 6 fps make this an ideal choice for someone who wants the best equipment for their hobby but isn’t ready to commit to a larger pro-level purchase.

Best Professional DSLR Camera

If you’re talking solely in terms of megapixel count, nothing beats the 50-MP Canon EOS 5DS in the consumer market, but as the pros know there are lot of factors other than megapixel count that go into making the best all around camera. Plus, some of the best professional cameras are far outside of the budget of most enthusiasts, so that lack of affordability was taken into consideration when deciding not to include ultra-high level models on the list of the best overall DSLRs. However, if price really isn’t a concern and you’re looking for the best pro DSLRs to add to your arsenal, check out these for starters:

Hasselbad H5D-60

With an industry-topping 60-megapixel sensor, the Hasselbad H5D-60 beast of a DSLR costs more than the down-payment on a house, and is widely known as one of the industry’s “pro-only” cameras. The chances of someone other than a professional photographer buying this are slim to none, which makes it perfect for the top spot in this section.

Pentax 645Z

The Pentax 645Z is a model that is the secret weapon in the bags of many professionals thanks to it’s ability to capture incredibly high resolution images that are ideal for large prints such as posters and billboards. The 51.4MP CMOS sensor is protected along with the rest of the camera’s components by 76 waterproof seals and a magnesium allow body. The frame rate sits at only 3 fps per second, so it better serves as a specific option within a collection rather than a go-to all-around option for consumers.

Canon EOS-1D Mark II

Pros who specialize in action, sports, and wildlife photography often reach for the EOS-1D Mark II thanks to its incredibly high frame rate of 14fps, which gives up to 170 images per blast to work with. Speed like that ensures you never miss a shot even when the scene is packed with motion and noise. Simply put, there are few if any DSLRs that are better than capturing moving objects.

Best DSLR Camera For Video

If you’re looking to purchase a camera solely for the purpose of recording high definition video, you’ll probably be interested in features like recording frame rate, ease of steady aiming, 4K capabilities, and other similar perks that will help you capture and render the best possible videos. If that’s the case, look no further than the following three models:

Canon EOS 1D-C

If you’re searching for one of the most versatile and powerful 4K cinema DSLRs on the market and cost is not a factor, look no further than Canon’s EOS 1D-C. The C in its name stands for “Cinema” and indicates just how robust and accurate this model really is. The 18.1-megapixel CMOS Sensor isn’t the industry’s largest but it’s capable of achieving True 4K cinematic recording quality. You also have the option of recording in 1080p with the DIGIC 5+ image processor. The 3.2-inch LCD display and 61-point high density Autofocus system make this in ideal option for capturing action scenes in 4K.

Canon EOS 80D Cinematography DSLRCanon 80D

With a 24-megapixel ASP-C CMOS sensor and 45-point all cross-type Autofocus system, the 80D allows you to capture incredibly detailed shots using the optical viewfinder in various focus area modes. The 10x digital zoom and 7 fps continuous shooting mode make it ideal for action photography as well as flexible 1080p recording. You’ll have to enable the RAW image capture option to get most out of the camera;s large sensor.  Another thing that makes this model optimal for those new to HD recording is that its popularity has caused the appearance of numerous tutorials online showing you how to adjust the camera’s settings for high quality video. The ease-of-use, popularity/user support, and relative affordability make this an obtainable yet desirable option for 1080p recording.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

With a remarkable 61-point High Density Reticular Autofocus system, a 22-megapixel full-frame CMOPS sensor, and an incredibly wide native ISO range extendable up to 25,600, the EOS 5D Mark III is ideal for wedding photography and capturing incredibly detailed videos. You can record at 30fps in 1080p or at 60fps in HD (1280 x 720), so it’s capable of capturing action-packed footage without blurriness. Although it doesn’t have 4K recording capabilities, it may just be the perfect option for anyone who doesn’t mind that one shortcoming.

Best Compact DSLR

Whether your hands are small or you’re just looking for ultra-portability, compact DSLRs can be desirable because they’re easy to handle and stow away in any situation. Regardless of your hand size or camera storage preference, we can all admit that smaller and more lightweight frames are easier to aim accurately. With that said, here are the three best compact DSLR’s on the market:

Nikon D5200

Nikon D5200 Compact DSLRAt 1.22 pounds it isn’t the lightest model available, but the Nikon D5200’s frame is very small and the bit of extra weight is actually due to it being constructed with durable materials. The slight heftiness makes it sit steady during the shot as well, so some find it to be the best of both worlds – sturdiness and ease of handling. The 39-point Autofocus system, 5 fps continuous shooting frame rate, and 1080p 30 fps recording capabilities give you a lot of bang for your buck within this small yet flexible package from Canon.

Canon EOS 750

The EOS 750D comes with a 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor. The included Scene Intelligent Auto mode make this perfect for a beginner or someone who’d rather automate settings adjustments on the fly. Built-in WiFi and NFC connectivity make this compact DSLR as convenient to connect to as it is to handle. A wide range of shooting modes and effects give you plenty of control within a small, easy-to-handle frame. In fact, at first glance this model looks similar to a compact digital camera, yet with DSLR technology built in. Hybrid CMOS Autofocus III makes it easy to track movement and maintain focus while recording action scenes in 1080p.

Pentax K-70

The Pentax K-70 is not only super compact and well-designed for ergonomics and handling, it’s also completely weather-sealed and dustproof. The Vari-angle LCD display makes it easy to capture content at tough angles. You could easily mistake the K-70 for compact digital given its size alone. It’s a bit heavier than the other two compacts listed above at 2 pounds. If you’re looking for a durable, weather-resistant, and easy to clean model  in a frame that can comfortably fit in your grip, the K-70 is a great option.

Best Entry Level DSLR

If cost is an issue and you’re looking for the cheapest DSLRs that still come with great features, an entry-level model like one of the following might be a good fit:

Canon T6i Digital SLRCanon Rebel T6i

This is the entry level selection of Canon’s Rebel line and at under $1000 it’s a commendable value with a 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor and a 19-point Autofocus system. A frame rate of 5 fps for continuous shooting makes it a doable choice for action photography and the ability to record in 1080p is an added perk. With no 4K recording an a native ISO range of 12,800 (expandable to 25,600) this one isn’t the most robust DSLR but it hits the spot for any enthusiast searching for an entry level option.

Pentax K-S2

The K-S2 from Pentax has a 20-megapixel filterless ASP-C CMOS sensor and surprisingly it can record video in Ultra HD (UHD) resolution. In fact, it’s one of the cheapest DLSRs to feature 4K capabilities. It’s a decent action shooter as well with a continuous shooting frame rate of 5.4 fps. Another advantage that this model is known for is ease of carrying and steady aiming. It also has an impressive 100 separate weather seals that make it dust proof and cold proof. The specs seem almost too good to be true for an entry level option from Pentax.

Canon Rebel SL1

The Canon Rebel SL1 is one of the best in terms of cost-effectiveness, but the downside is that it doesn’t have the best Autofocus system with only 9 AF points and a single center autofocus point. The 18-megapixel ASP-C CMOS sensor lets you know this is still a bonafide DSLR despite its low cost. The 3-inch touch panel LCD is what you’d expect for a camera of its size, and the 1080 HD video recording gives it the minimum resolution need to suffice this section of the market.

Best Full Frame DSLR

Full frame 35mm equivalent sensors are larger than their APS-C sized counterparts, giving them the ability to capture more detail. Furthermore, their larger lenses allow them to produce a brighter image within the viewfinder. To go a step beyond the conventional full frame size, you’d have to be willing to spend much more for a medium format DSLR camera. Here are three of the best full frame, larger-than full-frame, and medium format DSLRs available:

Hasselbad H6D-50c

If you’re a professional looking for the best of the best in the sensor department, it’s hard to compete with Hasselbad’s 50-megapixel, larger-than-full-frame (43.8 x 32.9mm) CMOS sensor. This thing is the opposite of compact at 4 pounds and it should only be considered if you’re a professional who is prepared to commit to a huge purchase. Surprisingly, it does not feature 4K filming capabilities, but the native ISO range is incredible at 100-204,800.

Leica S2-P

Despite being a lesser known brand than Canon, Nikon, or Pentax, Leica has made a huge impact on the full-frame DSLR market with their S2-P, which features a 37.5-megapixel camera and a larger-than-full-frame sensor that is approximately 60% bigger than a 35mm equivalent (full frame). This is not a great option for action photography with a frame rate of only 1.5 fps, but it’s a leader in the large-format print, high resolution niche.

Nikon D610

The strong point of the D610 is its full frame 24.3-megapixel sensor and 39-point AF system with 9 cross-type points. It has a larger-than-average LCD display at 3.2 inches and the viewfinder is exceptional with 100% coverage. At just under 2 pounds it could be considered a compact DSLR as well. In many ways it’s similar to the Nikon D810 so it’s a top option for anyone who is basing their choice solely on the sensor being full frame. It gives you the 35mm equivalent sensor at a price that’s more reasonable in the sub-$2000 range.

Best DSLR Camera Under $500

If price is a concern, you’re probably looking to stay under a certain price point. Here are three of the best models you’ll find in the sub-$500 category:

Nikon D3400Nikon D3400

Sitting just under $500 is Nikon’s D3400 with a 24.2-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor, EXPEED 4 image processor, and an impressive native ISO range of 100-25,600. This is also an ideal choice for the enthusiast, hobbyist, or home photographer because it can automatically share with up to five smart devices. It comes with a DX NIKKOR 18-55mm kit lens that utilizes a stepping motor to ensure super quiet autofocusing that doesn’t disturb audio being captured by the built-in mic.

Canon EOS Rebel T6

Although the Rebel T6 bundle will cost a little bit more than $500, the camera alone fits narrowly into this price range since the IS II kit can be found for around $400. When you consider how much value you’re getting in such a bundle, with 18-55 mm lenses and a number of other important accessories, this is a model that could easily have fit into the best entry level DSLR category as well.

Best DSLR Camera Under $1000

If you’re looking for something that is a little bit better than entry-level but won’t quite break the bank, the $500-$1000 range is a good fit, particularly the following three cameras:

Canon EOS 70D

The Canon EOS 70D has a 20.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor with a 19-point cross-type AF system with DIGIC 5+ and up to 7 frames per second shooting speed. The native ISO range reaches up to 25,600 and the dual pixel CMOS AF system for live video makes it easier to focus quickly, stay focused on the important areas, and capture maximum detail in every scene. The 3-inch articulating touch panel LCD display puts everything at your fingertips in simple fashion. All around, the EOS 70D covers everything you’d expect to get in this price range and then some.

Nikon D5500

The D5500 sits a bit lower on the price spectrum yet manages to pack a 24.2-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor. Surprisingly, it also has a 39-point autofocus system and a native ISO range of 100 – 25,600. It manages to outdo Canon’s 70D in those areas, but it has a slightly slower frame rate at only 5 fps, so it’s not the best at action shooting. There’s also built-in WiFi and it easily interfaces with smartphones for simplified sharing and editing.

Nikon D7100

Despite sitting at the bottom end of the $500-$1000 price range, the D7100 is worth mentioning for its impressive 51-point Autofocus system with 15 cross-type points. Combine that professional grade AF system with a relatively fast frame rate of 7 fps and you have a camera that is perhaps the best bargain for sports, wildlife, and action photographers. The 24.1-megapixel DX format sensor is comparable to some of the best you’ll find in this price range and even in more expensive models. The robust Effects Mode and dual SD card slot are other notable perks. And if you want a few upgrades, you might consider the newer D7200.

Best DSLR Camera Under $2000

At this point in the list we’ve already listed quite a few of the best DSLR cameras, so there aren’t many notable models left to mention, but for what is remaining, the following three are by far the best buys under $2,000:

Pentax K-1 Full Fram DSLRPentax K-1

With a 36.4-megapixel AA filterless full frame CMOS sensor, an Autofocus system loaded with 33 AF points, and a built-in GPS, Compass, and Astro Tracer, the Pentax K-1 is a feature-rich option at the top of the sub-$2000 range. It has a unique shake reduction feature that reduces the likelihood of blur. It also has 87 separate weather seals to protect the hardware from the elements. The hefty frame weighs about 2.2 pounds and is easy to get a firm grip on, while the operation assist lights make it easy to see the controls in dark environments.

Canon EOS 6D

Canon’s 6D lives up to the well-rounded enthusiast-level quality we’ve come to expect from the EOS line, with a 20.2-megapixel full frame CMOS sensor. The native ISO range is also incredibly wide at 100-25,600. Equipped with the DIGIC 5+ image processor it’s just as responsive and powerful as some of its more expensive siblings in terms of processing speed and noise reduction. The downside is that it has a pretty limited autofocus system with only 11 AF points, only one of which are cross-type. However, the AF system does feature EV-5 sensitivity, which makes it surprisingly effective in dim lighting situations.

Pentax KP

Other than the K-1 listed above, the KP is the best Pentax camera for under $2000. All models from other brands like Canon and Nikon that could have been listed in this price range are already placed in one of the other sections above. With a respectable 24-megapixel ASP-C  filter-less CMOS sensor and a remarkably high ISO sensitivity of 819,200, the Pentax KP offers a lot of value in a package that currently sells for about a grand in new condition.

Pick One That’s Right for You

Ultimately, there is no DSLR camera that is a one-size-fits-all, so the decision should be based on which features you’re most interested in and/or the limits of your budget. Some people may find price and ease of use to be the most important factor, while others are after the most advanced model within their budget. With the categorized lists and tips above we’ve given you all the info and model names needed to make a choice you won’t regret. Regardless of what you’re after, you now have a strong foundation from which to start your search.

Advantages of DSLR Cameras

Let’s review some of the advantages that make DSLRs vastly superior to other camera types. In a nutshell, they’re typically better in almost every performance category, including but not limited to: speed, picture quality, control, lens compatibility, filter usage, and recording – pretty much everything you’re looking for in a camera. With that said, here’s a detailed list of the specific advantages DSLRs offer:

  1. Superior Speed and Responsiveness – If you’ve been using a digital compact camera then you know just how frustrating it can be to deal with the delays that often cause you to “miss the shot.”  Most digital compacts will take a  few seconds to snap the picture because they take about 1 second to start up, a second to lock focus after the shutter release button is pressed, and another second to take the shot once focus is locked.
  2. Better Picture Quality – DSLRs can use a variety of lenses that consistently outperform those used in digital compacts. They also use much larger sensors – about ten times larger in many cases. These two factors allow them to produce better images even when capturing fewer megapixels. As a result, it’s common for a 10-megapixel DSLR to outdo a 14-megapixel digital compact in many scenarios. The difference between the two is profound but is easiest to notice in low light conditions. In basic terms, DSLRs contain image sensors that are much more sensitive to light, allowing them to pick up more details in noisy/dark environments. Furthermore, they feature a larger number of ISO settings that can be used to customize how much light is captured by the sensor based on the conditions of the scene you’re photographing.
  3. Better Recording Quality – Since DSLRs have larger imaging sensors and better lenses, they’re able to record better video content than compact cameras. In fact, in terms of quality they can now compete with many of today’s HD camcorders with only a few exceptions. Most camcorders can record up to 2 hours of content at a time, whereas DSLRs typically have a 30-minute recording limit. However, digital compacts also have the same time limitation. Camcorders also usually offer better manual zoom control as well as better audio recording control, so there’s no denying that they’re optimal for recording long stretches of video, but DSLRs manage to strike a balance between taking pictures and recording video while maintaining quality on both ends.
  4. Interchangeable Lenses – Although digital compacts typically include a single lens, DSLRs offer complete versatility because they’re compatible with a wide range of lenses. Ultimately, this makes them capable of covering much broader focal lengths, so you can fit more content into the shot or focus in on a small aspect of a scene more accurately.
  5. Complete Control Over Settings – One of the main perks of digital compacts is the automated controls. There’s no need to select specific settings before taking a photo, because the hardware assesses the scene and does that for you. However, this lack of control can be a bad thing when you’re trying to achieve certain results.
  6. Using Filters in Real-Time – DLSRs are also some of the only cameras that can use filters to change the appearance of a scene as it appears before the shot. In the tips section below we list the essential filters every photographer should have in their arsenal.
  7. Unlimited Creative Freedom – Perhaps the biggest advantage DSLRs offer is the scope of creativity they can facilitate. Many pros rely on them as go-to gear because they can accommodate every shot regardless of the conditions.

Features to Look for in DSLR Cameras

Of course, if’ you’re on this page you’re probably already convinced of the benefits of owning a DSLR, and are now more interested in learning about the key features to compare. Although each model has its strong points, in general the following features are the things you should be paying consideration to:

Sensor Type and Size

Since this component plays the essential role of capturing light which then becomes your image, perhaps the most important feature in any DSLR camera is its sensor.

There are two main types of sensors used in DSLR cameras: Complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) and charged-coupled device (CCD). Of the two, CMOS sensors are more common and are themselves good enough to get the job done for most photographers. However, CCD sensors are known to produce higher quality images, but they also require more power and they’re more expensive than CMOS sensors.

Sensor size is also a key consideration, even though the megapixel count isn’t necessarily the most important feature on the camera. A larger sensor means the camera can capture more detail within a single shot. Many DSLRs have full-frame sensors (35mm equivalent) which are currently the industry standard, but there are some medium format cameras that have “larger-than-full-frame” sensors.

Frames Per Second

The number of frames that can be captured within a second is called the frame rate. A camera with a frame rate of 10 frames per second (fps) will capture more frames within a second than a camera that captures 5 fps. Cameras with higher frame rates (5-15 fps) are known to be better for action, wildlife, and sports photography. A lower frame rate means you’re more likely to encounter blur and/or miss the shot when the subject is moving quickly.

Included Lenses

Most DSLR bundles will include a lens kit, with lenses ranging from 18mm to 55mm. In addition to the kit that comes with your camera, it’s a good idea to learn about the various available lenses and how they can be used to improve your photography. You’ll want to expand your collection with ultra-wide angle zoom, telephoto zoom, and macro lenses just to name a few.

Megapixel Count

As you may already know, a megapixel is 1 million pixels, so a camera with a 20-megapixel sensor is capable of capturing 20 million pixels. In most cases, having more megapixels is an advantage. However, if you’re shooting with a lens or camera that outputs to a smaller format or has a smaller sensor, too many megapixels can make the image look grainy because of an excessive amount of megapixels being crammed into a small space.

In general, if a camera has more than 15-20 megapixels, that should be sufficient to create stunning HD imagery. Cameras that can capture up to 40-50 megapixels or more are mostly ideal for creating medium to large format photos.

Image Processor

The image processor handles the crucial task of processing the data captured by your camera’s sensor. A faster processor will allow you to take more pictures within a set amount of time. A powerful processor ensures responsiveness and speed, both of which are incredibly important attributes then you’re trying to capture a very specific moment.

Each brand has its own proprietary image processor, so it’s difficult to compare them with each other, but your best bet is to at least aim for a recent generation. For example, Canon’s EXPEED processor is available in their D5 camera as EXPEED 5 and in the D810 as EXPEED 4. Those would be ideal choices compared to an older model that is equipped with EXPEED 3.

Autofocus System

The Autofocus (AF) system gives you on-screen focus points that you can move around to select areas of the viewfinder that will carry the highest focus priority. The more Autofocus points an AF system has, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to capture your subject in focus even if they’re moving around a lot.

Even though a 9-point AF system is good enough to perform basic action photography, if you want the best of the best you’ll want to look for a camera that has an AF system with 30 or more points. Also pay attention to the number of cross-type sensors an AF system has – more is better.

Wi-Fi and Other Connectivity

Ideally, you’ll want to choose a camera that can easily interface with your smartphone via Wi-Fi or Near Field Communication (NFC). Unfortunately, some models are a bit behind in the connectivity department, but there are plenty of affordable options that include this basic feature. You also have the option of equipping a camera with a Wi-Fi-enabled SD card if it doesn’t have a built-in WiFi adapter.

Bonus Tip: Start By Buying the Body Only

One way to save money and build up your gear gradually is to go for the “body only” camera deals and then later purchase lens kits and other upgrades. You’ll notice it’s possible to get the body of the camera by itself for a couple thousand cheaper than it would be to buy an entire kit outright. This is typically the best option if you already have an extensive kit that will be compatible with your new camera or if you just want to get the ball rolling on a budget.

Tips on How to Use a DSLR Camera

Once you’ve made your selection, don’t assume that your choice alone will cause you to become a master of photography overnight. Without the operator having the right knowledge and expertise, even the best camera in the world can’t live up to its potential. Here some tips you can use to make sure you’re getting the most of your DLSR:

  1. Take a Photography Class – Perhaps the fastest way to become familiar with the the tricks of the trade is to simply enroll in a photography class or take one or more online courses. Of course, general photography knowledge will be useful to you no matter which model you select, but to go beyond that you’ll need to heed the other tips below as well.
  2. Understand Lenses and Filters – Once you’ve got a firm grasp on basic photography principles and tips, it’s time to learn about the best filters and lenses for DSLRs. Unless it’s a body only model it should come with at least one “kit lens.” Be sure to look beyond the kit lenses and into other types like macros, wide angles, prime lenses, and telephoto zoom lenses. Every good photographer knows that you can wind up spending the same amount if not more on your lenses and filters than on the actual body of the camera itself. If you want to get the best shot every time under any circumstances, becoming familiar with an arsenal of lenses and filters is imperative.
  3. Practice Routine Cleaning – Moisture, oils, dirt, and other miscellaneous filth can accumulate on the surface of your lenses and other parts of the camera. This can become a problem for sports, wildlife, and nature photographers who frequently expose their cameras to the elements. There’s nothing more frustrating than pulling out your camera to catch a great shot only to be let down because your equipment needs to be cleaned before it can perform. You stare into the viewfinder and recognize the dreaded glare or smear that completely ruins your hops of a decent photo. Avoid this common problem by practicing routine cleaning and proper storage.
  4. Control the Aperture – A great way to put the focus on a specific object or spot in a scene is to use the aperture control settings in your DSLR to adjust the size of the opening that allows light to reach the sensor. Doing this lets you change the depth of field (DOF) from shallow to deep. A shallow DOF will give you a smaller range of focus while a deeper DOF gives you a wider focus area. The final result of the aperture adjustment will depend on focal length setting, sensor size, and how far you are from the intended subject. Research and practice aperture adjustments to hone the skill of placing focus on specific areas and you’ll be able to give your photos a more realistic and 3-dimensional look. Making your subject the primary focal point lets you devote the camera’s full resolving power to the area that you want to highlight the most.
  5. Use Shutter Priority Mode – Any action, sports, or wildlife photographer should learn how to use shutter priority mode to achieve different effects when photographing fast-moving objects. A fast shutter speed – like 1/2000 – lets you capture action-packed scenes without any blur, while a slower shutter speed – like 1/125 –  gives you a relatively clear shot but with a slight touch of motion blur. Keep in mind the shutter speed will also affect your DOF, as the camera will automatically calculate aperture based on the shutter speed you’ve selected. Although slower shutter speeds do create some motion blur, some photographers prefer this in certain shots because it helps illustrate how fast the object is moving while also creating a deeper DOF.
  6. Save Presets and Priority Settings – If you’re regularly photographing similar scenes or environments, chances are you could save yourself a lot of time and expand your creative capabilities by saving priority settings as programmed presets. Then, if you find a particular exposure or aperture setting that has worked well for you, you can easily save it and try using it, or an adjusted version of it, later on.
  7. Take Advantage of HDR – If you’re trying to create stark and stunning contrast, utilizing the High Dynamic Range (HDR) feature in your DSLR camera should be the first lesson on your list. This setting actually causes the camera to take several separate photos with different light settings for each. The separate shots are then automatically layered and saved as a single image. Using HDR is particularly helpful when photographing large landscapes, portraits in sunny conditions, or in places where the background or main focus area needs to be brightened without washing out contrast. However, HDR may not be ideal for photos that contain movement, scenes that are already very high in contrast, and scenes that contain a lot of vibrant colors.
  8. Record a Video and Use the Stills – Sometimes the best route to take when you want to capture more than just a moment is to use the record function. Almost all DSLRs can record in 1080p Full HD and some can even record in 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) resolution. Thus, you have the option of recording not only to produce videos but also to have a full archive of footage from which you can pause and select frames/snapshots to be exported as photographs.
  9. Use Continuous Focus for Action Scenes – If you’re struggling to get a clear picture of a fast-moving object in an action scene even though your DSLR camera has a decent frame rate, you might be neglecting the highly important continuous focus feature. In this mode, you start by framing your subject within the on-screen focus box and then half pressing the shutter button, at which point the camera begins tracking the subject’s movement and automatically adjusts focus accordingly. This is useful when your subject is moving rapidly away from or towards the camera, or when they’re frequently jumping out of your AF points.
  10. Save and Share Files in RAW Format – Most DSLRs are set to save and export images in JPEG format even though they’re capable of saving in RAW format. When you’re saving photos as .jpeg format you’re loosing some resolution to the compression that takes place. Shooting in RAW mode ensures you’re exporting the original image of the highest quality.

Other Useful Miscellaneous Tips

Aside from the key considerations above, here’s a list of other quick tips you can use to get the most out of your DSLR:

  • Surprise subjects by shooting in quiet mode – capture the moment without disrupting it.
  • Try different focus area modes
  • Use the interval timer to create cool time lapses
  • Experiment with built-in effects and filters – get to know what your hardware can do.
  • Use the histogram to find the perfect exposure for follow-up shots.
  • Upgrade to a larger memory card.
  • Obtain a top-notch lens kit and specialty lenses
  • Try shooting in full manual when you’re confident you don’t need the camera’s AI.

Don’t Forget to Read the Manual!

We know it can be difficult to read through every page in the lengthy manual of a DSLR camera, but if you want to really master your craft and use the device to its full potential, reading the instructions is a mandatory step.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 sight is essential for being able to accurately hit a target. Traditional iron sights can be used to achieve this desired accuracy; however, red dot sights provide a faster way to aim and shoot without missing. While these sights were typically used by the military, they are now often employed for recreational means, including hunting and paintball. Red dot sights are popular to use for aiming at moving targets, especially since this type of sight allows you to line up the target and take a shot at a quick rate of speed. Let’s take a look at some of the best red dot sights on the market, and then we will cover key features to look for and evaluate when purchasing a red dot sight.

What is a Red Dot Sight?

red dot sightIf you are unsure of what a red dot sight is or how it differs from other types of sights, here are some additional details to go over before exploring the following options: Any 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.

The Best Red Dot Sights on the Market

1. Vortex SPARC 2 Red Dot Sight

The Vortex SPARC 2 is a well built, extremely sturdy sight that provides great features at a really reasonable price. An upgrade to Vortex’s original SPARC, the light weight sight 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 sight 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 sight 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 sight that has new, never-before-seen features incorporated into its’ design that maximizes 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 sight 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 sight 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 sight that is ideal for fast moving targets at a close proximity. The sight has two great ways to accurately nail a target: 1) sighting through a dual pane glass that can be enhanced with one of the four illuminated reticle patterns, and 2) using the model’s side mounted red laser for quick target acquisition. The double pane lens helps to eliminate parallax, which is a very helpful and common feature among red dot scopes. Furthermore, if you are in pursuit of a fast target, this sight is equipped with a quick detachable rail mounting system and an internal interlocking system that holds zero extremely well; therefore, you won’t have to worry about frequently readjusting this sight in the field. Finally, you can be sure that this scope will hold up in multiple types of environments and situations due to its durable aluminum frame.

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

The Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 is a great, durable, lightweight sight 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 sight 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 sight 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 sight 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 continue reading the content below before deciding which red dot sight is best for you.

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 sights. Having a wider field of view allows for a shot from a greater distance, but the sight is still not magnified so being reasonably close is still recommended.

• Unrestricted Eye Relief

For most sights, it matters how far away the shooter’s eye is from the sight, 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 sight.

• Works Well with Low Light

Red dot sights are easy to aim in the dark of night. The cross hairs of most sights 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 sight 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 sights 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 in case.

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 advertising will suck you into a more expensive red dot sight 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 sights 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 sight 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 sight 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 sight will help you nail the target every time.

Overall, there are multiple features to take into consideration when making your red dot sight purchase. A sight equipped with all of the right features fit for you, such as price and size or even style and housing configuration, will take your recreational hunting or target shooting to the next level.

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, 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. Before detailing the essential characteristics of a sound rangefinder, we will present 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 themselves and their prey. Once they know how far away the 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 for an accurate shot:

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 still wants to get the job done.

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

Another huge benefit of this device is how easy it is to use. The user friendly design allows for an accurate read with a push of a single button. It also is small and lightweight, making it easily portable.

It is worth pointing out the reputation of this device. 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 recommend this rugged rangefinder. Bushnell machines always carry a proud legacy, but this Collector’s Edition release is especially 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 its 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 enough for the fiercest of hunters. These individuals need something a little more powerful 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; 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 enticing. 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 swear 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, mainly because it can be used to 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 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 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 harsh weather situations. Overall, this machine boasts accessibility and efficiency.

The Best Rangefinders for Bow Hunting

When archery is applied in the field, the 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 or 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 dynamic 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 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 is actually 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 comprehension 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 as well as an indestructible surface. The bold black finish is simultaneously suave and purposeful. It also comes with special lenses that received a rare AquaDura treatment. This 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 for which you typically would have to spend thousands of dollars.

The Best Rangefinders for Under $200

Here are some more affordable rangefinders. These products 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 can also be useful 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 subject 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 affordable, but it comes with an additional rebate to make it doubly rewarding. The optics are fine-tuned for 6x magnification and the feedback system 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 within a more reasonable price limit:

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 from heavy impact 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. Many navigation systems rely on them as well. 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 (similar 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 distances. 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.