Gear

Best Spotting Scope for Elk Hunting: A Comprehensive Review of the Top 8

Spotting scopes are an essential tool for wildlife enthusiasts, particularly when it comes to elk hunting. These powerful telescopes are portable and feature specialized optics that provide an upright image, designed for observing objects on land. But how exactly can they improve your elk hunting experience, and what is the best spotting scope for elk hunting for you?

Elk hunting is a game of patience, strategy, and precision. It requires a keen understanding of the elk’s habits, movements, and environment. However, due to the size of the terrain that elks inhabit and their acute senses, it’s often challenging to get a close view without spooking them. This is where a spotting scope becomes an invaluable tool. It lets you observe and track them safely from a distance, helping you plan your approach or shot without disturbing the animal.

elk hunting

Spotting scopes offer superior magnification compared to standard binoculars or elk rifle scopes, providing detailed, up-close views of distant elk. They allow you to assess an elk’s size, age, and health, crucial factors that can determine whether it’s a legal and ethical target. Moreover, using a spotting scope can help save energy by allowing you to scout large areas without having to navigate rugged terrain.

Different types of spotting scopes – which is right for you when observing elk?

So, you’ve decided to level up your elk hunting game and invest in a spotting scope, huh? Fantastic choice! But wait – did you know there’s not just one, but several types of spotting scopes for elk out there? Don’t sweat it, though. We’re here to help you navigate the sea of options and find the perfect match for your elk hunting needs.

Straight Spotting Scopes: Picture this – you’re perched on a hilltop, eyes glued to your scope, tracking an elk herd in the valley below. Sounds like a dream, right? That’s where straight spotting scopes come into play. These scopes align the eyepiece and the objective lens in a straight line, making them ideal for viewing from higher ground or your car window. Plus, they’re pretty simple to use, even for beginners!

Angled Spotting Scopes: Now imagine you’re in a hideout, nestled among the trees, and you want to observe an elk grazing nearby. This is where angled spotting scopes shine. With their eyepieces set at a comfortable 45-degree angle, they’re perfect for viewing upwards or sharing with friends of different heights. Yes, everyone gets a peek! Angled Spotting scopes are the best option for elk hunting. 

Compact Spotting Scopes: Trekking across vast wilderness carrying heavy gear doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? Enter compact spotting scopes. They’re lightweight, portable, and perfect for those long hikes in search of elk. Sure, they might not offer the same level of detail as their larger counterparts, but what’s a little compromise for the joy of unburdened exploration?

High-End Spotting Scopes: If you don’t settle for anything but the best, high-end spotting scopes are your go-to. With superior optics, they deliver crystal clear images, even in low light conditions. Yes, these beauties can distinguish between seeing ‘an elk’ and observing ‘an elk, with its majestic antlers and muscular build.’

Top 8 Best Spotting Scopes for Elk Hunting

Out of the 8 spotting scopes we review below, the Swarovski Optik HD-ATS-80 and ZEISS Conquest Gavia 85 come out on top for their exceptional image clarity, color accuracy, and robust build quality. The Vortex Viper HD and Leupold SX-4 are also strong contenders, offering great performance at a more affordable price point. The Maven CS.1, Pentax PF-80ED-A, Athlon Argos HD, and Celestron Ultima 100 have their strengths and could be higher depending on specific needs and budget constraints.

Swarovski Optik HD-ATS-80 – Best Spotting Scope for Elk Hunting

Manufactured by Swarovski Optik, a company known worldwide for its precision optics, the HD-ATS-80 is a high-quality spotting scope with many impressive features. It boasts an 80mm objective lens diameter, providing superior light-gathering capabilities. The scope’s build quality is excellent and feels sturdy and comfortable.

One of the critical features of this scope is its 20-60x magnification range. This means you can easily spot elk from a distance without disturbing or alerting them to your presence. During my field tests, the scope’s performance was exceptional. The image clarity was incredible, with sharp, detailed views even at maximum magnification. The color accuracy was also noteworthy, making distinguishing between different animals and the surrounding environment easy.

Swarovski Optik HD-ATS-80: Best spotting scope for elk hunting

The HD-ATS-80 also has a unique optical system with an aspherical lens that provides edge-to-edge viewing in sharp detail. In practical terms, this makes tracking elk much easier. With dustproof and watertight qualities, the HD-ATS-80 is a reliable choice even in harsh weather conditions. So come rain or shine, this spotting scope has got your back.

Few other spotting scopes on this list match the HD-ATS-80’s combination of build quality, optical performance, and user-friendly design. It’s like comparing apples to oranges – sure, they’re all fruit, but there’s something uniquely satisfying about biting into a crisp apple, right?

Swarovski Optik HD-ATS-80

So where does it rank on our best spotting scope for elk hunting list? The Swarovski Optik HD-ATS-80 sits comfortably at the top as the best spotting scope for elk hunting if budget is not a concern.

In conclusion, the Swarovski Optik HD-ATS-80 is like the cherry on top of your elk hunting experience. Its superior build quality and outstanding optical performance make it a worthy investment for any serious hunter. Sure, it might cost a pretty penny, but isn’t the thrill of the hunt worth it?

Swarovski Optik HD-ATS-80

  • Magnification: 20 to 60x
  • Objective Lens: 80mm
  • Weight: 45.2 oz

Price Check:

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ZEISS Conquest Gavia 85 30-60x85mm

The ZEISS Conquest Gavia 85 spotting scope is a staple in the hunting industry, and it’s not hard to see why. This scope boasts an 85mm objective lens, a 30-60x zoom eyepiece, and an impressive close focus distance of just 3.3 meters. It’s lightweight and compact, making it an ideal companion for close and long-range hunting expeditions.

The build quality of the Gavia 85 is exceptional, as you’d expect from a brand like ZEISS. The scope is sturdy and durable yet surprisingly lightweight at around 3.14 kilograms. Its dimensions are also reasonably compact, measuring 9.1 x 9.1 x 9.1 inches, which makes it easy to carry around during long hunts.

ZEISS Conquest Gavia 85

Now, let’s talk performance. During my elk hunting season, I found that the Gavia 85 was a reliable companion. Spotting elks from a distance? Check. Image clarity? Double-check. Color accuracy? Triple check. This spotting scope offers crisp images, vibrant colors, and excellent resolution.

Where does the Gavia 85 fit into our best spotting scope for elk hunting list? Regarding quality and value, I would rank it as one of the best spotting scopes for elk hunting. It’s a high-performing, reliable spotting scope that delivers in every aspect.

So, is the ZEISS Conquest Gavia 85 30-60x85mm the proper spotting scope for your elk hunting needs? If you’re looking for a powerful, lightweight scope, and delivers top-notch performance, then the answer is a resounding yes.

ZEISS Conquest Gavia 85

  • Magnification: 30 to 60x
  • Objective Lens: 80mm
  • Weight: 60oz

Vortex Viper HD Spotting Scope

Firstly, let’s talk about build quality and specs. This spotting scope is a solid piece of gear. With a weight of 76.6 oz and a length of 17.5 inches, it’s not the lightest scope out there, but it’s built to last. The Viper HD has a magnification range of 20-60x and an objective lens diameter of 85mm, packing a powerful punch in viewing capacity. And did I mention it has a lifetime warranty? That’s confidence in product quality right there.

In the field, the Vortex Viper HD is a game-changer. Spotting an elk from a distance? No problem at all. With its powerful magnification, it felt like the elk was just yards away, even when it was actually across an entire field. The image clarity is superb, with no distortion or blurring at the edges. With the Viper HD’s XR anti-reflective coatings, you’ll get brighter views even in low-light situations. And color accuracy? Spot on. Every detail of the elk’s hide and every blade of grass came through in true-to-life colors.

Vortex Viper HD Spotting Scope

Plus, it’s as rugged as they come. Waterproof, fogproof, and coated with Armortek to protect against oil, scratches, and dirt. And did I mention the built-in sunshade that reduces glare? Or the multi-position eyecup that gives you just the proper eye relief? It’s like Vortex thought of everything when they designed this scope.

Now, let’s talk about the competition. There are other spotting scopes, like the Celestron Ultima, for instance, that offer decent performance for a lower price. But in my experience, none of them come close to the Viper HD regarding image clarity and color accuracy. The Vortex Razor, a step up from the Viper, does offer slight improvements in optics and is lighter in weight, but the difference in cost might not justify the upgrade for everyone.

So, is the Vortex Viper HD the proper spotting scope for your elk hunting needs? If you’re looking for top-notch clarity and color accuracy and don’t mind a bit of extra weight, then absolutely. It’s a sturdy, reliable piece of gear that’ll serve you well in the wild. But if you’re a beginner or on a tight budget, you might want to consider cheaper alternatives.

Vortex Viper HD

  • Magnification: 20 to 60x
  • Objective Lens: 85mm
  • Weight: 76.6oz

Leupold SX-4

First off, the construction of the Leupold SX-4 is impressive. It’s designed with serious hunters in mind, boasting an ultra-tough, waterproof and fogproof build. With a weight ranging from 30.6 to 37oz, depending on the model, it’s not the lightest out there, but it’s certainly manageable and worth the extra ounces for its performance.

The SX-4 Pro Guide HD has two variants: 15-45x65mm and 20-60x85mm models. Both offer high-definition (HD) lenses for crystal-clear imaging. The larger model has a magnification range of 20-60x and an eye relief of 19.0 – 17.8 mm, providing comfortable viewing even for extended periods.

Leupold SX-4

Spotting elk from a distance was a breeze, thanks to its high magnification range. The image clarity was good, with sharp details that helped me distinguish between different animals and their surroundings. Color accuracy was on point, too, allowing for easy identification even in tricky lighting conditions.

So, where does the Leupold SX-4 fit on our best spotting scope for elk hunting list? Drumroll, please… I’d say it comfortably takes a spot in the top four! It offers a combination of superior build quality, outstanding optical performance, and robustness that is hard to beat. If you’re on the hunt for a reliable, high-performance spotting scope and don’t want to spend thousands of dollars, the Leupold SX-4 Pro Guide HD should be on your radar.

Leupold SX-4

  • Magnification: 20 to 60x
  • Objective Lens: 85mm
  • Weight: 78.2oz

Maven CS.1 15-45X65mm

The Maven CS.1 is constructed with top-tier materials, ensuring durability and reliability in even the harshest outdoor conditions. It features a 65mm objective lens with a magnification range of 15-45X, making it an exceptional tool for long-range spotting.

From the first glance through the lens, I was immediately impressed by the image clarity and color accuracy of the Maven CS.1. The fine details of my surroundings came alive, helping me spot a herd of elk from a considerable distance. The focus adjustment was smooth and precise, allowing me to scan different areas easily.

Maven CS.1 15-45X65mm

The Maven CS.1 ranks fifth on our list, offering excellent value and quality for its price point. While there are some scopes above it with superior specs or brand prestige, the Maven CS.1 offers a great balance of performance and affordability. 

The Maven CS.1 15-45X65mm Angled spotting scope is an outstanding choice for elk hunting. Its build quality, image clarity, color accuracy, and user-friendly features make it a valuable addition to any hunter’s gear. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned pro, the Maven CS.1 is a worthy investment to enhance your hunting experience.

Maven CS.1

  • Magnification: 15 to 45x
  • Objective Lens: 65mm
  • Weight: 40.4oz

Price Check:

Amazon

Pentax PF-80ED-A 80mm

The Pentax PF-80ED-A presents a robust build quality with waterproof and fog-proof features, making it suitable for all kinds of weather. It’s a bit heavier at 1600g, but that’s a trade-off for its sturdy construction. Its 80mm effective aperture ensures a bright image field for easy subject spotting and accurate focusing.

Pentax PF-80ED-A 80mm

During elk hunting season, the Pentax PF-80ED-A demonstrated outstanding performance. The large aperture allowed for excellent light-gathering capabilities, making it easy to spot elks from a distance. Thanks to the ED glass elements, image clarity and color accuracy were fantastic.

The Pentax PF-80ED-A ranks sixth on our list. While some scopes outperform it in magnification or lightweight design, the Pentax PF-80ED-A provides an outstanding balance of price, performance, and durability.

Pentax PF-80ED-A

Athlon Argos HD

The Athlon Argos HD is a rugged piece of equipment. It’s been designed with a lightweight composite chassis that’s fog-proof and protected by rubber armor. The magnification range is 20-60x, and it sports an 85mm objective lens for good light gathering. This scope also features wind band fully multi-coated lenses and porro prisms with phased coating.

Athlon Argos HD

Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty – how does it perform in action? Well, its ability to spot elks from a distance was impressive. The image clarity and color accuracy were top-notch, making distinguishing every detail on the target easy.

So where does the Athlon Argos HD stand compared to other scopes on our list? The Argos lands at a respectable seventh place. While not topping the list, it offers an outstanding balance between price and performance.

Athlon Argos HD

  • Magnification: 20 to 60x
  • Objective Lens: 85mm
  • Weight: 70oz

Celestron Ultima 100

Firstly, let’s talk about the build quality and features. The Ultima 100 has a 100mm refractor design with excellent multi-coated optics. It comes standard with a 22-66x zoom eyepiece, providing good viewing capabilities even at a distance. What’s more, it’s completely waterproof and fog proof, thanks to being filled with dry nitrogen gas and sealed to prevent internal fogging of the lenses. 

Celestron Ultima 100

In the field, the Ultima 100 performed okay. The ability to spot elk from a distance was decent, thanks to its high magnification range. The image clarity was good for its price, offering sharp details that made distinguishing different animals a breeze.

Despite its features and decent build quality, the Celestron Ultima 100 stands out for another significant reason – it’s the most affordable option on our list. Its competitive pricing doesn’t compromise its performance or durability, making it a prime choice for those on a tighter budget. The Celestron Ultima 100 proves that you don’t need to break the bank to acquire the best spotting scope for elk hunting. Its affordability and impressive capabilities make it a top contender for any avid elk hunter.

Celestron Ultima 100

  • Magnification: 22 to 66x
  • Objective Lens: 100mm
  • Weight: 72oz

In conclusion

After carefully evaluating our top 8 best spotting scope for elk hunting, we are thrilled to share that there is an impressive range of options available. Whether you’re seeking advanced features in a higher-priced model or reliable performance at a more affordable price point, rest assured that there’s a scope that will suit your budget and needs.

When selecting the best spotting scope for your elk hunting adventures, it’s crucial to consider factors like build quality, optical capabilities, and your budget. Considering these, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your preferences.

Looking for more info about elk hunting? Find out what states are best for elk hunting.

We confidently present these top 8 picks, hoping they will assist you in finding a spotting scope that meets and exceeds your requirements. So, gear up and get ready for a thrilling hunting experience!

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