The Best Red Dot Sights of 2019

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?

If 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.

The Best Red Dot Sights on the Market

1. Vortex SPARC 2 Red Dot Sight (Our top pick)

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. Click here to see the current price.

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. Click here to see the current price.

3. Sightmark Ultra Shot Pro Spec Sight NV QD 

The Sightmark Ultra Shot Pro Spec Sight NV QD is ideal for someone looking to purchase a high quality, cost-effective sight. The double pane lens helps to eliminate parallax, which is a very helpful and common feature among red dot scopes, and the sight has four different reticle patterns to allow for maximal customization. You will also have the unique ability to mount the sight in front of a night vision monocular to create a co-witnessed sight setup. 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 and metal shield. Click to see the current price.

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. Click here to check the current price.

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 for long periods of time. Windage and elevation adjustment upgrades are available with this sight. This Picatinny mounted sight has a 3 MOA dot reticle that can be adjusted to three brightness settings, and it also sports 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 replacing, and the low battery indicator will help you best prepare to have a fully powered sight for your next adventure. 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. Click here to see the current price.

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; 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. Sights 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 will take your recreational hunting or target shooting to the next level.

The Best Scope for an AR-15 in 2019

best scope for an ar 15A high-powered rifle isn’t going to do you much good if you can’t hit your target. Spending the money upfront on a good rifle scope can drastically increase the effectiveness, enjoyment and reliability of your rifle. Sorting through the wide assortment of available scopes may seem like a difficult task, but provided you have a clear understanding of what to look for you can quickly narrow down your options. Factors such as the materials used in the build, the quality of the glass and the accuracy of the reticle are all important considerations when buying a scope. Scopes are small, portable and can easily be attached to the top of any rifle for the ultimate in portability. Additionally, red dot sights can be used on an AR-15 to increase your accuracy by creating a visual aid for aiming.

Features to Look For When Purchasing an AR-15 Scope

A lot of products on the market have the same basic features, but you can narrow down the available options by excluding scopes with components you don’t need. For example, you might be able to save some money and get a scope with a lower magnification if you don’t plan on shooting long-range targets. On the other hand, if you have the extra money, it might makes sense to buy the best scope you can get since your needs may change. The magnification, reticle, degree of parallax, scope to eye distance, and minute of angle are all important features you should understand before buying a scope.

  • Magnification: The level of magnification will determine the distance of a scope’s viewable range. Scopes can come with variable and fixed power magnification. The best scopes use variable magnification, since it allows for a better range.
  • Reticle: The reticle helps you to see objects at a distance. Reticles are also known as crosshairs, and they come in a wide variety of styles. Dot and duplex are the most common types. Duplex is good for camouflage operations, while dot works well for distant contact operations.
  • Parallax: Parallax occurs when you look at something from a different angle. Take the speedometer in a car for example. As a passenger, if you look at the speedometer, you’re going to see the needle resting on a different speed than the driver. The driver, who is sitting directly in front of the speedometer can view the needle as it was intended. Scopes that have a magnification of more than 10X will experience parallax, so it’s important to have an adjustable objective lens to counteract the parallax and get an accurate shot.
  • Eye Relief: The distance from the scope and your eye is known as eye relief. It’s important to have enough room so that if the rifle recoils when you shoot, the scope won’t hit you in the eye.
  • Minute of Angle: The minute of angle (MOA) allows for minute adjustments. The specification on the scope for MOA usually determines the amount of adjustment in inches. For a scope with a one-quarter inch MOA, the bullet will hit one-quarter inch from the crosshairs on the scope. This can be used for adjustments in windy conditions, or to account for other advanced adjustments that may be needed.

With those points covered, here are the scopes that come with the highest recommendations and the best prices:

Nikon P-223 BDC 600 Riflescope with Rapid Action Turret: Under $250

This is a high-quality scope that is unlikely to reflect light from the lens, which provides a clear and bright image quality. The exit lens is the perfect size for most needs, and uses Nikon’s multi-coating formula. The scope is lightweight and very portable, weighing in at just 2.2 pounds. The reticle includes the BDC 600 opening circle aiming points. The open circle is capable of adjusting according to the distance of the target. The one-quarter inch MOA allows for quick adjustments in the field.

The rifle is optimized to work with Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic Match Technology for increased accuracy and reliability. This scope is one of the best scopes out there in this price range, and it comes with a lifetime guarantee from Nikon. The large scope is built for distance, but red dots make it suitable for close-range targets as well. This scope stays honed in no matter what you throw at it. Bumps, shakes and off-road adventures won’t affect it’s ability to stay on target and give you an accurate shot.

UTG 3-12×44 30 mm Compact Scope: Under $150

If you want a stable, consistent and reliable rifle scope, this mid-range scope offers an ideal option. It has a consistent eye relief that helps to keep your brow and eyes safe from kickback. Super compact, the UTG  is a 36 colors Mil-dot with good accuracy. Coated lenses offer good clarity and light transmission.

If you’re operating with a limited budget but don’t want to sacrifice clarity, this is a great option. The majority of reviews are positive and the price makes it too good to ignore.

Vortex Optics Spitfire Prism Scopes: Under $350

If you don’t mind spending a bit more, this Vortex scope is worth the money. Multi-coated, anti-reflective coatings make these optics stand out. The Spitfire will work best in medium range shooting applications and it’s built for situations where speed is critical.

Many reviewers compare this favorably to the ACOG, at a much more wallet-friendly price. And, Vortex is well-known for offering excellent optics, so this scope is highly recommended overall.

Reviews of the Best Rifle Scopes of 2019

The Best Rifle Scopes

Click to see bestsellers

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

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

My #1 Recommendation

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

The Vortex Diamondback is our top pick

Best Rifle Scopes For the Money

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

Best Rifle Scope Under $100

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

UTG 3-9x32 BugBusterFeatures:

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

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

Best Rifle Scope Under $200

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

Nikon P 223 3-9x40Features:

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

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

Best Rifle Scope Under $300

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

Nikon ProStaff 5 BDCFeatures:

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

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

Best Rifle Scope Under $500

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

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

Vortex Viper PAFeatures:

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

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

Nikon Monarch 3Features:

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

Top Rifle Scopes For an Unlimited Budget

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

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

Zeiss Conquest Rapid Z 1000Features:

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

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

Nightforce NXSFeatures:

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

Types of Scopes

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

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

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

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

How to Choose a Rifle Scope

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

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

Is bigger and more expensive always better?

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

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

What do the Numbers on a Scope tell me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Rifle Scope Brands

  • Leupold
  • Redfield
  • Sightmark
  • Burris
  • Bushnell
  • Barska
  • Nikon

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

Leupold

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

Redfield

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

Sightmark

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

Burris

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

Bushnell

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

Barska

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

Nikon

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

See the current bestselling rifle scopes here.

The Best Rangefinders of 2019

Upland Optics Best Selling Rangefinder

The Upland Optics Perception 1000 is our favorite rangefinder. Click the picture above 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. Upland Optics Perception 1000 Laser Rangefinder

Upland Optics is the brand we recommend the most for hunters, and their all-new rangefinder is a perfect example of why. Simple and effective, this device is built to be rugged enough to handle the extreme conditions that hunters often face.

Upland Rangefinder

With an effective range of 1000 yards, this rangefinder will be dialed in on distances well outside the effective range of most hunters. You will always know exactly how far of a shot you are taking or how much distance you have to cover to get within range.

Lightweight and portable, the device isn’t even noticeable when added to your other heavy gear. I personally carry it on my chest attached to my binocular harness, making it very easy to access quickly. Click here to see the current price.

2. 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. Available in gray or Xtra Green, this compact rangefinder is an excellent option. Click here to see the current price.

3. 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. Click here to see the current price.

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 Arrow ID 3000 Bowhunting 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. It is water resistant and rainproof, so you don’t have to worry about the elements. Click here to see the current price.

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. Click here to see the current price.

3. Simmons LRF 600 Laser Rangefinder

For archers 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. Click here to check the current price.

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. Click here to check the current price.

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. Click here to check the current price.

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 traditional 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! Click here to check the current price.

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. Click here to check the current price.

2. Leupold GX-3i2 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 who 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. Click here to check the current price.

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 Raider 650

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. Click here to check the current price.

2. Leica Rangemaster CRF 2000

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 2,00 yard range, this model receives flawless reviews from plenty of customers and critics alike.

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. Click here to check the current price.

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. Priced under $150, 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. Click here to check the current price.

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! Click here to check the current price.

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. Click here to check the current price.

2. 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. Click here to see the current price.

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 Trijicon ACOG Scope in 2019

best trijicon acog scopeTrijicon’s line of Advanced Combat Optical Gunsights (ACOGs) is of the utmost quality. All models are forged from an aircraft-grade aluminum alloy, making them lightweight and nearly indestructible. All models pass military drop tests and are water resistant up to 100 meters, filled with dry nitrogen to prevent fogging. For an even more durable product, Trjicon makes their ACOG scopes with fixed magnification. Less moving parts means more reliability. Most models feature a fiber-optic and tritium reticle that adjusts brightness based on available light, operating completely battery-free in bright to low-light conditions, and some offer an LED reticle option that runs for thousands of hours on a single battery. Trijicon’s ACOG scopes are specifically designed for effective use in close-quarters combat, using the Bindon Aiming Concept. It is no mystery why Trijicon ACOG scopes are the most trusted combat sights worldwide.

Trijicon offers a huge assortment of ACOG scopes, with different magnification powers, different reticles, different objective lens diameters, and different physical sizes. This article will give a brief overview of them, arranged by magnification strength and objective size, but first, a quick word about objective lens sizes.

For those of us that are new to firearms scopes, the magnification power and objective lens diameter are listed as, for example, “1.5×24”. The first number, 1.5, is the magnification strength of the scope. An object viewed though the scope will appear approximately 1.5 times as large. The second number, 24, is the diameter of the objective lens, in millimeters. The objective lens is the lens farthest from the eye, and determines how much light enters the scope. A larger objective lens will produce a brighter image, but will be bigger and heavier, and may require additional accessories to attach.

Now let’s talk about the various models of Trijicon ACOG scopes.

1.5x16S

These scopes are built for quick reflexes in close quarters. They feature a super-wide 7.4° field of view, allowing you to see a 12.9 meter diameter at a 100 meter distance. No other Trijicon ACOG scope matches these for maintaining complete combat awareness.

The smallest ACOG scopes Trijicon makes weigh a tiny 5.1 ounces. They are designed for the lowest possible mounting configuration, making them an excellent choice for AK rifles or other firearms with low cheek welds. They also make wonderful accompaniment to M16 or M4 rifles, leading to fantastic fire-control capability.

Trijicon 1.5x16S ACOG scopes feature circle-dot reticles, with no batteries required. The circle is made of high-quality fiber optics that catch and intensify ambient light, automatically adjusting brightness and contrast from bright to low-light conditions. The center dot is made of tritium, which catches and stores energy from collected light and glows when little or no light is available.
1.5x16S Trijicon ACOG scopes are a great choice for close-combat situations or for speed-oriented marksmanship competitions. They are small, light, simple, and durable.

1.5×24

These ACOG scopes feature a larger objective lens diameter than the previous set, with the same magnification strength. The image produced by these scopes is expected to be brighter and clearer than that of the 1.5x16S, but the scope itself is much larger. While the height and width remain the same as the smaller scope, the 1.5×24 scope is 45 millimeters longer, with a total length of 147 millimeters (about six inches). This scope is 6.3 ounces, considerably heavier than the 1.5x16S.

These scopes offer two possible targeting reticles: Triangle or crosshair. Reticles are made of fiber-optics and tritium, like most Trijicon ACOG scopes, and automatically adjust brightness based on lighting conditions. The largeness of the reticles makes them easy to decipher at an instant, allowing you to take aim that much faster.

The field of view through a Trijicon 1.5×24 ACOG scope is an 8.6 meter diameter at a 100 meter distance, or about 4.9°, much smaller than the 1.5x16S.

The benefits of the 1.5×24 ACOG scope are in the large exit pupil and generous eye relief. The exit pupil is a full 16 millimeters, and the eye relief is 91 millimeters. This configuration means that eye position requires much less precision, allowing for lightning-fast target acquisition in rapid-movement situations.

Trijicon’s 1.5×24 ACOG scopes are the right choice for fast target acquisition in close-quarters environments and any situation in which you need to maintain low-distance accuracy without sacrificing maneuverability.

2×20

This is the first step up in magnification, but it comes with a slight reduction in objective lens diameter.

The 2×20 ACOG scope is smaller than the 1.5×24, coming in at 135 millimeters in length, but with the same width and the same low profile. It is only one tenth of an ounce heavier.

Field of view is 5.6°, or a 9.8 meter diameter at a 100 meter distance. This is a wider field of vision than the 1.5×24, allowing a wider view of the combat zone while aiming through the scope.

Trijicon’s 2×20 ACOG scopes have three reticle options: Triangle, crosshair, or 6.9 MOA dot. These large reticles enable faster targeting discernment, but at the expense of long-range accuracy.

This scope’s compact design makes it a great choice for compact firearms, such as UZIs, MP-5s, or other member of the H&K lineup. It’s enhanced magnification extends accurate rifle range up to 200 meters.

3×24

This is the point at which Trijicon ACOG scopes begin to focus on long-distance accuracy. These scopes have the least eye relief of all Trijicon ACOG scopes, at 35 millimeters, and the smallest exit pupil, at only 8 millimeters. The scopes are only 127 millimeters long, and are available at in standard height or low-profile designs. Low-height scopes are perfect for AK style rifles, or other firearms with low cheek welds. The 3×24 ACOG scopes weigh between 5.8 and 6.1 ounces, making them easily maneuverable.

Field of view for these scopes is approximately 8.6 meters at a 100 meter distance, or 4.9°. Reticles at this level are specifically calibrated to either .223 or 7.62x39mm ammunition. The two targeting reticle options are either a dual-illuminated ballistic crosshair, or dual-illuminated horseshoe-dot. Both are made of fiber-optics material that automatically adjusts brightness based on lighting conditions, with a tritium center dot that glows in low-light conditions.

Trijicon builds windage and elevation adjusters right onto their ACOG scopes, so no extra tools are needed. They also integrate housings for their Ruggedized Miniature Reflex sights, or RMRs, so the extra optics can easily be mounted onto the ACOG scope.

Trijicon’s 3×24 ACOG scopes are the right choice for rifles using either .223 or 7.62×39 cartridges, when they need to balance lightweight maneuverability with long-distance accuracy.

3×30

This is one of the most versatile magnification and lens diameter options available. These scopes can be specifically calibrated for .223, .308, 7.62×39, or 300 BLK ammunition.

At 7.8 ounces and a length of 155 millimeters, these scopes are the biggest and heaviest of Trijicon’s compact ACOGs. They have a field of view with only a 6.5 meters at a 100 meter distance, about 3.7°, which is the tightest field of vision of the compact ACOGs.

Trijicon’s 3×30 ACOG scopes offer significant accuracy improvements. The sizable magnification strength extends usable rifle range, and the automatically adjusting fiber-optic reticle features bullet drop compensation for long-distance shooting. At these distances, windage and elevation adjustment is critical, and the 3×30 ACOG scopes feature integrated external adjusters at 4 clicks per adjustment inch at 100 yards.

These scopes offer a little more eye freedom than the 3×24 scopes, with 48 millimeters of eye relief and an 8.4 millimeter exit pupil.

Trijicon’s 3×30 ACOG scopes are the right choice for those who want a compact scope that enhances mid-range accuracy, and are using a .223, .308, 7.62×39, or 300 BLK rifle. This scope does not come in low-height configurations, and so may not be comfortable on rifles with low cheek welds.

3.5×35

This begins the set of Trijicon ACOG scopes built for extended range shooting. The 3.5×35 scope offers accuracy up to 800 meters for .223 rifles and up to 1200 meters for .308.

These scopes are not compact, and so are much larger and heavier than the previous scopes. 3.5×35 ACOGs are 203 millimeters long, 53 millimeters wide, and 66 millimeters tall. They weigh 14 ounces, nearly a full pound of extra weight on your rifle.

This scope has the largest exit pupil of the extended range scopes, nearly 10 millimeters, and the second largest eye relief, at 61 millimeters. External windage and elevation adjusters operate at 3 clicks per inch at 100 yards.

Trijicon offers a wide selection of targeting reticles for its 3.5×35 ACOGs: Chevron, crosshair, horseshoe-dot, triangle, and donut. Each reticle is dual-illuminated with fiber-optics and tritium. All sights are zeroed at 100 meters. Chevron sights are 5 moa thick, or approximately 19 inches at 300 meters. Competitive marksmen often prefer donut reticles, as they will not obscure the target.

Trijicon makes a special 3.5×35 ACOG scope designed specifically to be used with the M249 weapon system. This special scope increases hit probability out to 1000 meters. The special M249 scope is prepared to accept an additional RMR, and is built with GDI auto-locking quick-release levers. The scope is easily zeroed for either 500 meters or 10 meter BZO.

The Trijicon 3.5×35 ACOG scope is popular among competitive shooters for its ease of use, reliability, and accuracy. It is also among the only ACOG scopes specifically designed for use with a machine gun system.

4×32

The classic, the original. This is the first ACOG Trijicon made, and is still one of their most popular products. The 4×32 scope lineup includes several designed specifically for use by the US military, and one designed for use by the Los Angeles Police Department.

U.S. military specifications require the ACOG scopes to allow for bullet drop compensation up to 800 meters without any manual adjustments. Most non-US-military 4×32 scopes allow for bullet drop compensation up to 600 meters.

This magnification strength and objective lens diameter configuration has the most options of any ACOG scope Trijicon makes. They offer several models with the standard crosshair reticle, either dual-illuminated of illuminated with tritium only. They offer many different dual-illuminated reticles in scopes designed for use with the Bindon Aiming Concept. They even have 4×32 ACOG models with LED reticles.

LED reticle 4×32 ACOG scopes require one AA battery. They can last over 12,000 hours before the single battery must be replaced. The use of electricity over fiber optics allows the user to adjust the brightness of the reticle with a simple switch, and means that the reticle maintains the same level of brightness in all light conditions.

5.5×50

This is the longest of Trijicon’s ACOG scopes. It sits a full 305 millimeters in length! It sits relatively low, at only 69 millimeters. It weighs 25.6 ounces, just over a pound and a half, which will definitely affect the maneuverability and ease of use in your weapon. This ACOG scope is built for great accuracy in extended-range shooting, but is still designed to work well with the Bindon Aiming Concept.

The reticle is only available in chevron, but comes with a flat-line top adapter. The large objective lens ensures that the image will be bright and clear even at such a high magnification. A tight field of view, only 6.1 meters at a 100 meter distance, about 3.5°, maintains an accurate image with as little fish-eye distortion as possible.

This ACOG is made for pinpoint accuracy. Built-in windage and elevation adjusters operate at 5 clicks per inch at 100 yards. The reticle includes markings for bullet drop compensation for incredibly long distances. The reticle is zeroed at 100 meters, and the 5.53 MOA chevron signifies 19 inches at 300 meters, allowing easier range estimation for silhouetted targets.

These 5.5×50 ACOG scopes can be calibrated either for .223 or for .308 ammunition. This covers a wide variety of weapons that are generally used at these distances.

The Trijicon 5.5×50 ACOG scope is the right choice for shooters intending to use their weapon at long distances, but who want to avoid the extra weight and difficulty of using the last Trijicon ACOG magnification and objective lens diameter configuration.

6×48

This is perhaps the most impressive of Trijicon’s ACOG lineup. These can be calibrated for .223, .308, or .50 BMG ammunition. All 6×48 ACOG scopes incorporate bullet drop compensation notches in the reticle: the .223 scope has bullet drop compensation to 800 meters, the .308 up to 1200 metes, and the .50 BMG up to 1800 meters.

The .308 scopes can have either a chevron or horseshoe-dot reticle, while the others are only available in chevron. All reticles are zeroed at 100 meters, and the chevron is 5.53 MOA think, or 19 inches at 300 meters. All reticles are dual-illuminated with fiber optics and tritium, which provided battery-free lighting that automatically adjusts in brightness to environmental conditions.

Trijicon makes two specialty ACOG scopes in this range. The first is designed for use with the M240 weapon system, and the second for use with the .50 BMG M2 system. Both specialty scopes incorporate a horseshoe-dot reticle with a tritium center that glows in darkness. Both have a built-in 1913 Picatinny Rail on top, so additional sights can be attached. Both have auto-locking quick detach levers. Both are designed for both-eyes-open shooting, in the Bindon Aiming Concept.

The 6×48 ACOG scopes are incredibly durable. They are built of the same aluminum alloy as the others, need no batteries, and are waterproof up to 500 meters. These scopes go anywhere.

These scopes are by far the heaviest of the Trijicon ACOGs, at 36.9 ounces, over 2.25 pounds. They are 229 millimeters long and 86 millimeters high, making this configuration perhaps the most cumbersome. Windage and elevation adjusters operate at 4 clicks per inch at 100 yards.

The M240 scope provides bullet drop compensation notches up to 1200 meters. It includes a 500 meter zero point, and a 10 meter BZO marker.

The M2 scope provides bullet drop compensation notches up to 2000 meters. Instructions to zero the scope at 100 or 500 meters are etched into the side. This scope is designed to account for bullet spin at extreme distances, specific to .50 BMG ammunition.

The 6×48 ACOG scope is the perfect choice for those who want the highest magnification strength, but understand the importance of the Bindon Aiming Concept. These scopes are the definition of rugged reliability. They are easy to use and capable in nearly any environment.

Summary

Here’s a quick guide to deciding on a Trijicon ACOG scope:

  • Consider the size of the weapon to which the scope will be attached. Smaller weapons are better suited to compact scopes, which range up to the 3×30.
  • Consider the cheek welds. Guns with low cheek welds are often better suited to low-profile ACOGs.
  • Consider your average combat distance. At close quarters, a wide field of view helps maintain peak combat awareness, and smaller, lighter scopes will be more easily maneuverable.
  • Consider eye relief. In high-speed situations, more eye relief space makes it easier to get a full view through the scope without specific head placement.
  • Consider caliber. Longer-distance scopes are specifically designed by caliber, with bullet drop compensation lines that match.
  • If using an M2, M240, or M249 weapon system, go straight for ACOG scopes specifically designed for use with your firearm.

Once you’ve considered every aspect of the scope, use the links above to find what you want on Amazon, and click Buy Now. You won’t be disappointed.

Binoculars Review: Monarch 5 10x42mm

Nikon’s Monarch line of binoculars are some of the most popular in the world. As you’d expect thanks to their popularity and the Nikon name, they are great binoculars.

If you are looking to upgrade that old pair of binoculars in your truck that only really work through one eye, you will be absolutely amazed by the quality of these binoculars. In optics, you get what you pay for, and that’s especially true in binoculars.

The Monarch line is well made and well respected. Even if you are experienced with binoculars but are looking for a new pair, there is very little to be disappointed in with this line. And, you have several configuration options, so you can get exactly what you need.

Monarchs actually come in three configurations – 8×42, 10×42, and 12×42. We tested the 10×42 Monarch 5, which includes the following specs:

  • FOV @ 1000m/yds: 96/288
  • Exit pupil: 4.2 mm
  • Brightness: 17.6
  • Eye relief: 18.4 mm
  • Weight: 21.2 oz

And it has the following features:

  • Extra-low dispersion glass
  • Multi-layer coating
  • Turn and slide rubber eyecups
  • Waterproof and fog free

The Monarch 5 10×42 is a great mid-range binocular. True, they’re on the higher end of that price range, but they are worth the money if you can make your budget accommodate.

Design

One of the first things you’ll notice right out of the package is that the Monarchs feel well made and sturdy. They are also relatively lightweight for this price point, so you won’t feel like you’re lugging bricks around your neck all day.

The rubber armoring makes it easy to hold. The twist-up eyecups are comfortable, as is the 18mm eye relief. Adjustments are easy to make, and the focus wheel works incredibly well no matter what your hands are covered in.

These are very well made, and designed with the elements in mind. Nikon Monarch 5 binoculars are filled with nitrogen, which makes them completely fogproof. For anyone who has experienced the frustration of lenses that fog up, you will be super impressed by how well this fogproofing works. Additionally, the Monarch 5s are waterproof (for up to 10 minutes at a depth of up to one meter).

Key Users

The Nikon Monarch 5 is very popular with bird watchers, hikers, and hunters. The design features support the needs of those populations. And, the multi-coated lenses mean that the true color comes through. The overall visual quality is outstanding. You’ll see crisp, clear views with great detail.

In-House Comparison

We tested these alongside comparably priced binoculars with similar specs, and the Monarch 5s were the clear winner. The lightweight design gives it a competitive edge, but it really comes down to eye comfort and the stunning quality.

Our Verdict

The Monarch 5 is a great pair of binoculars that will work well for a number of uses. Whether you want to take them hiking to check out wildlife, keep them in your vehicle for your birdwatching excursions, or keep them close on your hunt, they will work wonderfully. We can’t wait to get these back outside for hunting season, or even just to birdwatch. Overall, the Monarch 5 is well worth the money and will last you a long, long time.

Click here to check the current price of the Monarch 5

Best Telescope Accessories of 2019

When you first purchase a telescope, it usually comes with standard optics that don’t immediately require additional optics right off the bat. Compared to cameras, which are regularly updated along with a specific line, telescope manufacturers take greater time to produce new models with different features and capabilities. Particular models will have the same manufacturer, they don’t operate along a particular “line” of products like cameras, binoculars, or other optics do.

All telescopes are made to see the stars, but some have limits as to how far and what they can see. Any two telescopes will differ on power and quality of view based on the size and quality of their optics.  However, if you take a good look at two or more telescopes, you’ll probably notice that most have similar mounts, tripods, viewfinders, and so on.

Here are examples of telescope accessories we think you should be familiar with in the case that something breaks or needs replacing.

Eyepieces

Eyepieces are going to be your primary investment. They will determine what you can and cannot see and what the quality of the object will be. Eyepieces can range anywhere from as small as 2.5 mm to greater than 60mm. We know you’ll have a multitude of options to choose from when it comes to eyepieces, and that is why we’ve determined the best eyepieces for amateur astronomers. One thing to be cautious of however is whether or eyepiece is interchangeable across different manufacturers. Most eyepieces are diverse, but there are some made specifically for a particular brand.

Below are eyepieces renowned for their quality and the views they provide for their users:

Celestron 8 to 24mm 1.25 Zoom EyepieceCelestron Lens

It’s no surprise that Celestron tops our list once again. Celestron manufactures some accessories to compliment their already widely popular telescopes. Celestron’s 1.25-inch eyepiece is one such accessory that users have widely applauded. What’s great about this eyepiece that it is compatible with telescopes that accept a 1.25-inch eyepiece, so you don’t have to worry about buying from any specific brand. With a field of view (FOV) of 40-60 degrees, you’ll get crisp images of our moon and even deep sky objects.

  • Those who wear glasses will have no problem with this eyepiece. It has a folding eyecup which allows people with glasses to lean in close.

Meade Instruments Series 4000 8 to 24-Millimeter 1.25-Inch Zoom Eyepiece

Meade’s version of the 1.25-inch eyepiece is not too dissimilar from Celestron. Apart from a slight price difference, Meade offers a similar, high-quality eyepiece compatible with telescopes that can sport 1.25-inch eyepieces. For quick and easy zooming, Meade is your maker when it comes above average atmospheric filtering and image quality.

  • There is a small difference with the Celestron eyepiece in that the 24mm setting offers a 55-degree FOV instead of 60. It’s not the largest distance in the world, but if you’re particular about what you want to see, the Meade eyepiece does offer a slightly smaller FOV than Celestron.

Orion 3.0mm Edge-On Planetary Eyepiece

Of the 1.25-inch eyepieces, Orion’s Edge-On takes the cake for the highest power but with overall stats that make it one of the best in our opinion. Not only will you be able to see objects and planets with its wide FOV, but happy customers have reported being able to see the moons of Jupiter and the individual bands that give it its distinctive look.

  • A 20mm eye relief gives it one of the most comfortable positions for those with glasses.

SVBONY Telescope Lens 0.91″ 23mm Wide Angle 62 Degree Aspheric Eyepiece HD Fully Coated for 1.25″ 31.7mm Astronomic Telescopes

SVBONY is not a well-known optics manufacturer, but in this case, we couldn’t resist placing their 1.25-inch eyepiece on our list. For one, the price is unbeatable. Like Meade and Celestron, it is also compatible with telescopes able to support a 1.25-inch eyepiece.

  • Surprisingly, it sports a 62-degree FOV, slightly larger than both Celestron and Meade. This difference can mean a great deal depending on what you’re looking for, but this can give you a bigger picture of deep space beyond our moon and solar system.

Mounts

Altazimuth mounts are some of the more common mounts you see on telescopes today. They allow you to maneuver your telescope up and down and side to side. The loss of diagonal or full range of motion doesn’t mean you’ll be losing out when it comes to seeing objects. Advances in digital altazimuth technology have allowed users to better track objects as they move across the sky, something that previously wasn’t available to amateur astronomers.

Meade Instruments Coronado AZS MountMeade Mount

Meade has constructed one of the simplest altazimuth mounts on the market. For a reasonable price, the Coronado provides smooth and stable controls for sizable telescopes. Also, it comes with an accessory tray—can’t beat that. Since your focus will be on slow and steady movements, the Coronado employs slow motion control cables that will help prevent sudden or sharp movements.

  • Weighing in at only 7lbs, it is portable and accessible to someone looking to take it beyond their front or backyard.

Orion’s VersaGo II isn’t designed to hold the heaviest of telescopes, but it does the job. A beginner’s or children’s telescope would fit good on this mount; in fact, any telescope less than fifteen pounds is supported by the VersaGo II. Since it is one of the smallest altazimuth mounts on our list, it is also one of the simplest—allowing you to install and remove your telescope with ease.

  • An accessories tray in the middle of the three legs gives you an accessible place to access interchangeable parts and optics.

 Twilight II Heavy-Duty Dual-Head Altazimuth Mount and Tripod

The Twilight II is perhaps the most unusual altazimuth mount because it can carry not one, but two telescopes on each of its primary mounts. In theory, you could use one telescope for normal viewing while the other could be for astrophotography. Although a little pricey, the Twilight II is an excellent investment if you have more than one telescopes with different features.

  • The Twilight II, understandably, is the heaviest of the mounts. Weighing in close to 25lbs, it’s no wonder it’s able to sport two telescopes at once. However, if you do plan to utilize its dual telescope feature, make sure you have a stable and ample power supply nearby because they will draw large amounts of power.

Equatorial mounts are rarer than altazimuth but not entirely uncommon. Two (advanced) telescopes you’ll find them on are the 80mm TwinStar Silver and the Celestron Advanced VX 8″. You’ll also commonly find them in observatories attached to much larger and powerful telescopes and peering out of the domes that house them.

As far as amateur telescopes go, they are less common but provide a more stable system for tracking moving objects according to Earth’s rotation (some pretty advanced stuff!). They are also going to be much more expensive than altazimuth mounts.

Celestron CG-4 German Equatorial Mount and Tripod

The CG-4 tops our list for the best equatorial mount because of its reliability and sturdiness. With equatorial mounts, the key is adjusting to the rotation of Earth, and to do this correctly, they need to be planted firmly on the ground. Celestron’s CG-4 accomplishes its goal of being strong, sturdy, and versatile as to what you can track as the night progresses.

  • A German equatorial mount sports counterweights that are perfect for larger telescopes designed for astrophotography or prolonged exposure in the night sky.Meade German

Meade LX70 German Equatorial Mount

Meade’s LX70 German mount is similar to Celestron’s CG-4 in design, but on the interior, the differences begin to show. Like Meade’s altazimuth mount, the LX70 features slow motion controls for cool control over the telescope. Everything is right where you need it on the mount including the latitude/elevation controls and the accessory tray.

The LX70 is also the priciest equatorial mount on our list, but on the bright side, you can attach it to any telescope twenty pounds or less. It would be a major bummer if it were only applicable to Meade’s telescopes.

  • A steel body and frame ensures that everything is strong enough to survive a journey to an excellent location or an accidental tip over.

Orion 9055 Min-EQ Tabletop Equatorial Telescope Mount

The Min-EQ Tabletop mount is exactly as its name suggests. It’s designed for smaller telescopes weighing less than 7lbs. This equatorial mount is ideal for portability where larger mounts might be too bulky or spacious. Campground and raised platforms will be great locations to place the Min-EQ.

Because equatorial mounts are rare and expensive, the Min-EQ is a bargain when it comes to price. The only problem is you probably won’t be able to mount a full-size Celestron or Meade telescope on it. However, if you do have a lighter telescope in your possession, the stability you will get with the Min-EQ will be unparalleled.

  • Children’s or beginner’s telescopes with less bulk on the primary tube are excellent pieces to fit on the Min-EQ.

Finder Scopes

Finder scopes are a useful addition to a telescope and not meant to be overlooked. Telescopes with motorized or computer tracking systems are rare and expensive, so you’ll usually find yourself using the old point and look method that astronomers have been using for hundreds of years.

Finder scopes usually come in the form of a red dot sight like the ones that appear on firearms. However, these are long lasting and designed to help track far away objects as they move across the sky day or night depending on your telescope’s capabilities. What separates finder scopes from each other is how well it tracks and object and (if it has a red dot sight) if it is easily aligned.

Here are our recommendations for the best finder scopes applicable across different models and brands of telescopes:

Celestron Star Pointer Telescope Finder Scope

Celestron’s star pointer is a fundamental finder scope which has day and night uses thanks to the power provided from its 3V battery. For its size and power, the Star Pointer is easily aligned with any 6-inch or larger telescope.

For a meager price, you’ll get an incredible two-year warranty which is sometimes better than most telescopes that you’ll eventually attach it to. This doesn’t mean you should run wild and tossing it around like a toy, but it will protect the finder scope against most basic accidents or inconsistencies.

Of the finder scopes on our list, the Star Pointer is probably one of the best all-around devices—low price, easy setup, and versatility are all hard to beat.

SVBONY 5×24 Finder Scope

SVBONY’s 5×24 finder scope is a classic design—a throwback to some of the early days of astronomy. This doesn’t detract from its capabilities, however, as the 5×24 has a magnification feature that is unlike most finder scopes.

The 5×24 is designed to give you a level of precision that you just don’t find with other finder scopes. The screws located near the eye port allow for more accurate alignment in combination with its low power magnification. This means that not only will you be almost guaranteed to lock on to an object, but you’ll stay on it and get a proper view.

Due to its versatility and power as a finderscope, the 5×24 may have more success and a more powerful telescope. It’s not pricey, but you wouldn’t put this scope on a children’s telescope that can’t see very far.

Orion 7211 Black 6×30 Right-Angle Correct-Image Finder

Orion’s 6×30 image finder is a lot like SVBONY’s 5×24 in that they both have magnification features, with Orion’s being slightly more powerful. The 6×30 scope is shaped difOrion Image Finderferently than most straight facing scopes in that it is bent upward at the bottom, so you don’t have to squat down to look through a straight one. For those of us that have back problems, we know how much pain that can be!

The 6×30 has a magnifying power of 6x across a 30mm diameter objective as the name suggests. These features are sure to give you a crisp, clean view of your object by way of the 6×30’s tracking and your eyepiece’s viewing power.

Another Orion scope makes our list, this time the more powerful 9×50 CI finder scope. As the most powerful of the scopes on the list, you’ll get one of the most enhanced looks at the object your tracking compared to all other scopes. Like the 6×30 scope, it too is made at a right angle which circumvents hunching and squatting over. Because of its shape, the 9×50 can be ideally used on a Dobsonian telescope, a type of reflector.

As the most expensive of the scopes, you should invest in this scope if you are looking for the best tracking and best imaging possible from your telescope.

Telrad Finder Sight

Telrad’s finder sight is one of the simpler ones on the market, but its high price will leave you wondering what makes it better than the rest of the scopes on our list. This is because the Telrad is preferred by both amateur and professional astronomers who enjoy “star-hopping” or quickly moving from one star/object to the other in quick succession.

If you plan on viewing as many stars and objects as possible, then you’ll want a scope that can easily adjust to quick change of pace. Other scopes will have to be magnified and readjusted depending on how long and how closely you look at an object.

The price compared to other scopes is going to put some people off, but this doesn’t mean that the Telrad isn’t capable of doing everything normal scopes do without the magnification features.

FiltersGosky Filters

A telescope filter is designed to dilute almost every atmospheric anomaly or distortion that might come between you and a celestial object. Some objects are also incredibly bright (like the sun), depending on how close they are and you’ll need a filter to see them.

Gosky Telescope filters set 1.25”

The set of filters that are made by Gosky do just about everything when it comes to filtering out unnecessary light. Sources like street lamps, cities, cars, and aircraft are only some examples of things that could inhibit your ability to see at night. Gosky’s set of filters come in seven different colorations to enable you to see different colored planets, stars, and objects at the utmost quality.

 

The Best Image-Stabilization Binoculars of 2019

It seems like there’s a pair of binoculars for just about every situation and sometimes with intricate pieces of technology infused within. We’ve seen rangefinder binoculars among other things, but an even lesser known form of binos is image-stabilization binoculars.

Image stabilization is a very sought after quality among camera fanatics, including those who own DSLR and SLR cameras. We all want our binoculars to transmit the best quality images to us regardless of weather conditions. While most binos do a pretty good job on their own, these particular binos are specialized to produce some of the best non-shaky images in the world.

Let’s take a look at each of them:

Fujinon

Fujinon is widely known for producing polaroid film and polaroid cameras. Their entries into the IS-camera market have been met with near-universal acclaim, so let’s explore why.

14x40mm Fujinon Techno Stabi TS1440 - 14x40 Image Stabilization Binocular

This 14x40mm pair of binos is more rectangular than your average pair of binos, but does have some hand grip on the left side so you can handle them with ease. These particular binos come with 5 degrees of stabilization. Degrees of stabilization, in the simplest terms, refers to the level of which the lenses operate in order to stabilize the image.

Advanced cameras utilize degrees of stabilization with the utmost importance, especially when filming. The Fujinon 14x40mm has received rave reviews because of its ability to display images in the far distance but with maximum stability and image quality.

  • Fujinon also manufactures a 12x32mm version with 3 degrees of stabilization.
  • You can also view the upcoming 12x28mm version.

Canon

Canon is a renowned camera maker, so its no wonder that they would have a large number of image-stabilization binos.

10x30mmCanon 10x30 Image Stabilization II Binoculars

The 10x30mm model is Canon’s most popular model of IS-binoculars. It differs from other binos like Fujinon’s because it has elongated eyepieces. The eyepieces also flatten images on the edges of your vision, eliminating blurriness that commonly occurs with other binos.

The 30mm lenses utilize the same image stabilization technology that you’ll find on Canon’s line of EF lenses that go on SLR and digital cameras. This technology is battery powered and in ideal conditions can last over 8 hours. We don’t recommend taking these in extreme conditions like below freezing temperatures, but they can operate for about an hour.

Canon really went all out with these binoculars, and its no wonder they’re so popular. Check out some of the other sizes of image stabilization binos by Canon:

Zeiss

Carl Zeiss binos may have some of the biggest price tags in the binos world, but that price is reflected in their almost unmatched image quality and handling.

20x60mm

The 20x60mm pair of binos is the biggest on our list and certainly the most powerful. These 60mm lenses and long eyepieces ensure that you’re seeing objects and a

Carl Zeiss Optical 20x60 Image Stabilization Binocular

nimals in the distance and to the edges of your lenses.

These binos also give you the ability to “lock in” an image while you’re looking through the lenses. This feature will really appeal to

outdoorsmen like birders who really need their binos to be stable as they analyze features of avians.

The high magnification of the 20x60mm makes them a good candidate for nighttime viewing as well. Some users have even used the 20x60mm to spot stars at night before getting a closer look with a telescope.

Design

Due to the construction process of these lenses, the overall design of the binos is a little different than your average pair of 10x42mm or 8x42mm. They look a bit like rangefinder binos but in the end built with image quality and stabilization in mind. The lens sizes are also not the usual size you’d find browsing for normal binoculars, but the kick is getting even better images.

Because the technology for these binoculars is still very new, you’ll see that there is not many of them currently on the market and the ones that are are going to be a bit of an investment.

Besides above average image stabilization, these binos share many of the same characteristics that apply to all binos:

  • The bigger the lens, the more light that is gathered
  • The higher the zoom, the more focused an image will be

The Best Spotting Scopes for 2019

If you’re a hunter, bird watcher, target shooter, or engaged in any activity where enhanced vision is an asset, 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. This article will review what to look for when making an investment in a spotting scope to 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. Our partner company Upland Optics does a great job, and we feel like they are the company to beat in the optics world right now.

Typical Spotting Scope Uses

A guide to the best spotting scope for hunting, birding, and more.Spotting scopes can be used in a variety of contexts, but they are generally used to provide greater magnification than a pair of binoculars. These 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 pictures of a majestic animal without disturbing them or putting yourself in danger. Some people who use spotting scopes 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. Spotting scopes are also used during target shooting to view the target hit at greater distances.

Features to Consider When Buying a Scope

Body Style

There are two types of spotting scopes: an angled body spotting scope, and a straight body spotting 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 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, like from an elevated point on a mountain to catch a glimpse 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 for viewing at ad 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 with dry climates 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 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 the viewer’s eye can be from the eyepiece without losing any of field of view. This feature is especially necessary 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 an 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 used in spotting scopes: a roof prism and 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 who 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 image quality.

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 the image being viewed is an adequate distance away. This feature is perfect for viewing birds and seeing intricate details on their feathers.

Waterproofing and Fogproofing

Waterproofing and fogproofing are not absolute necessities, but they are features that protect the spotting scope from atmospheric conditions. 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 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 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:

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 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 suitable for any hunting expedition. 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 2.5 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

In regards to target shooting, the distance for magnification may vary. Rain may not be an issue 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. A few of the more dependable spotting scopes for target shooting are listed below.

• Leupold SX-1 Ventana 2 20-60x80mm

The SX-1 Ventana 2 features a sleek design and excellent optical quality. It delivers high contrast, bright visual, and has a good (and expansive) field of view. The angled eyepiece is comfortable and twist up eyecups and smooth focusing enhance the experience. It has fully multi-coated lens coating, is fog- and waterproof, and is less expensive than many of the other premium scopes it competes with.

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 with little to no adjustment. The high density, fully multi-coated lens produces a brilliant optical image, even in low-light 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 images of a bird’s plumage in both short and far distances. A high magnification lens will bring to light the finest detail on a bird’s feathers, which will allow for species identification 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 the lens and optical features 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 allow 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 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 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 across the lawn to across the 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 easier and more exciting. Some of the best compact spotting scopes available on the market are listed below.

Bushnell Sentry 12-36x50mm 789332 Ultra Compact Spotting x 40mm

Another great compact scope for those on the go is the Bushnell Legend in 12-36x50mm. This scope is a lightweight instrument perfect for hiking and other modes of travel. The fully multi-coated lens and the extra low dispersion glass give the scope a high-quality image with excellent light transmission. Make sure the image is pristine with the dual focus feature. Unfavorable weather is not a threat for the weatherproof protection.

Best Spotting Scope for the Money

When deciding which spotting scope to purchase, one should consider the features of the scopes as well as its performance. A great scope 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 level of many spotting scopes with heftier price tags. The top of the line lens features high density glass that is implemented to produce impeccable images free of 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 humidity. 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 to 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 products that don’t break the bank. Here are a few suggestions for quality spotting scopes under $200:

Redfield Rampage 20-60x60mm Spotting Scope

The Redfield Rampage is a great selection for anyone looking for a spotting scope 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; the scope features weatherproof qualities to protect 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 below the $500 price point:

Vortex Diamondback 20-60×80 Straight Spotting Scope

The Vortex Diamondback is an excellent mid-rang 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 moisture or debris. The Vortex Diamondback is a very sturdy scope that is great for “digiscoping.” 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 with a top of the line reputation 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 to produce picture perfect, distortion-free images. 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 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 they desire. A few of the choice spotting scopes 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. 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. It also has a dual focus feature that allows for coarse, 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 characteristic of high end scopes. This model includes a 20x – 60x magnification lens that is combined with a sunshade to reduce glare. Images that are fully magnified maintain the clarity and vibrant detail seen at low magnifications. This scope can also be fit to a variety of astronomical eyepieces that create 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 in the price. If “digiscoping” is an ambition, make sure the spotting scope selected can accommodate. 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 your spotting scope lasts generations to come.

The Best Trail Camera of 2019

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:

Where to Put Your Trail Camera

Placement of your trail camera changes the information you receive, and your perspective of the forest alters you hunting plans. Hunters who sit in a perch want to see the forest from a high point of view, but hunters who crouch in the brush like a sniper want to see the trail from their perspective. This article explores three simple ways to install your carefully selected trail camera, and you must choose the vantage point that makes the most sense for your style of hunting.

#1: Go As High As Possible

Skilled hunters are often not afraid to climb a tree, and you must climb the tallest around the place your camera. The high perspective of the camera gives you a greater range of vision, and you can see how animals are moving across the landscape. Tracking animal movement is simple from a high perspective, but identifying animals can be difficult.

A high vantage point is useful when you prefer to sit in a perch, and you place a camera opposite your perch to see which animals approach your location often. You can learn about the animals that live in area, and you can see which animals are most common in that location. You may choose to change your location when you do not animals that are in season, and you may find that few animals come through the area.

#2: At Eye Level

Installing a trail camera at eye level helps you see the trail as if you were on watch all the time. This view of the forest is easy to understand, and you get an idea of which animals come closest to your perch. Some hunters prefer to shoot animals at close range, and you will learn which animals are brave enough to come near your location.

Watching the trail camera will help you learn the area as you would see it, and you can identify animals easily. Animals that are not worth shooting, out of season or uncommon will be readily apparent, and you may plan your hunting accordingly.

#3: In The Brush

You may choose to set up your camera on a crest or in some brush where you prefer to sit in wait. Crouching down like a sniper makes the hunting ground look completely different, and a trail camera in this location will give you only a limited view of the area. You may be willing to sit in wait for an animal, and the camera will give you an idea of what you might see during a day of hunting. You may choose to change your vantage point based on what you see on the camera, or you may discover the crest you choose gives you a good view of the area.

Using a trail camera will help you see the area where you hunt without any interruption. You cannot sit outside all day on your own, but you can sit and watch a video feed of the area to learn the area. Hunting becomes much simpler when you have placed your trail camera in the proper location.