Spotting Scope vs. Binoculars: When and Where You’ll Need Each

Spotting Scope vs. Binoculars: When and Where You’ll Need Each

When discussing a spotting scope vs. binoculars, the two optic devices serve very similar functions, which often leads newer outdoorsmen to confuse the two devices. While they both have similar functions and are used by the same consumer niche, the two devices couldn’t be more different. Before we investigate how each device can enhance various outdoor activities, it’s crucial to have a complete understanding of each device.

Spotting Scope

Spotting scopes are excellent tools for those who enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. In the great debate of a spotting scope vs. binoculars, spotting scopes are great if you are looking for an optic device that is not only easy to transport but one that also has an outstanding magnification capability.

While spotting scopes are great for a variety of outdoor activities, they are considered more cumbersome when compared to other optical devices, such as binoculars. These devices can come in a wide range of different sizes; however, they almost always need to be used with a tripod on a stable platform to garner the best visual results.

With high power in magnification and outstanding visual results sometimes come a heftier price tag. Although, many outdoor professionals are more than willing to pay a little more for the higher quality results.


Since we are comparing a spotter vs. binoculars, nothing can beat the portability of binoculars. Like spotting scopes, binoculars come in a wide range of sizes and magnification capabilities, although, due to their smaller sizes, their overall magnification doesn’t come nearly as close to that of some of the more powerful spotters.

Binoculars do have plenty of advantages, however. First, many people who partake in various outdoor activities prefer the fact they use both eyes, and this reduces eye fatigue during long sessions of viewing. Thanks to the fact that they are shorter in overall length, and lighter weight, binoculars are excellent for tracking a visual element on the go since they do not have to be mounted to a tripod or a stable platform for high-quality visuals.

Spotting Scope vs. Binoculars: When and Where You’ll Need Each

Choosing the Right Optic for Your Outdoor Activity

Choosing the optic device for your outdoor activity needs doesn’t have to be complicated. Depending on your activity, the choice between a spotting scope vs. binoculars may not be a choice at all because you may benefit from having one of each. That said, let’s check out the pros and cons of each for a variety of outdoor activities.

Target Shooting

Target shooting is an activity that involves shooting at designated, non-living targets, such as cardboard or paper targets and or clay pigeons. This outdoor activity can be for fun, or it can provide us with valuable practice time with weapons that may be used in a tactical or hunting setting.

What makes this activity different from traditional hunting is that it is typically done from a stationary position. This makes it a prime activity for using a tripod with either a spotting scope or binoculars.

While binoculars aren’t going to have the magnification range that a spotting scope will, they’ll be more forgiving on eye fatigue. If you need to see every detail possible though, a spotting scope is for you. Whichever way you go, be sure to include a tripod, and if necessary, a binocular tripod adapter.


Hunting is an outdoor activity that takes on many forms, and depending on the nature of your hunting activities, the choice between big binoculars vs. spotting scopes can be a tricky one. While spotting scopes are great for getting a better visual, especially across long distances, they work better when you can take on a stationary position.

Traditional hunting activities require us to not only be quiet and still, but stealthy. Setting up a tripod to help you get that perfect shot isn’t always a viable option; however, if you have a higher magnification binocular is can make optics deployment quick and quiet. If you do have the ability to set up a tripod, you may want to consider something such as the Nitro 15-45x65 spotter as it’s small and relatively compact and lightweight. 

When it comes down to overall portability, a high-quality pair of binoculars tend to be a popular choice. Having the right pair that are not only portable but provide high power magnification takes some research as binoculars are known for having a much lower power magnification. The Forge Binoculars 10x42in give hunters the best of both worlds: high power magnification, rugged durability, and optimal portability.

So, which is best for hunting? When choosing between a spotting scope vs. binoculars for hunting, it comes down to the game. If you’re hunting large game out West or in wide-open areas, spotting scopes are great for setting up and getting a long-distance shot in. For wooded and confined areas or you’re doing spot & stalk hunting that requires more movement on the hunter’s part, a pair of high-quality binoculars will suit their needs more.

Wildlife & Astronomy Viewing

While a high-quality pair of binoculars is a preferred optic among hunters, wildlife viewers can benefit more from a spotting scope for several reasons.

Wildlife viewers, such as bird watching and even astronomy viewers, don’t require the movement that hunting does. The lack of movement allows them the opportunity to set up their ideal spot and take in all that comes their way.

With that said, a spotting scope, such as the Nitro 15-45x65mm, are excellent tools to help outdoorsmen take in their surroundings in detail. These devices often provide users with clear viewing and outstanding precision, allowing wildlife viewers to take in every detail of their subject matter.

Spectator Sports Viewing

We all have our favorite outdoor spectator sports that we enjoy year-round, and depending on the activity, getting up close isn’t always a possibility. That said, there isn’t much debate as to which optic device would suit outdoor spectator sports viewing best.

While a spotting scope may seem beneficial thanks to their long-distance viewing capability, they don’t make much sense for spectator sports viewing. Viewing constant movement through a single lens can lead to headaches and other bothersome issues.

For spectating, a quality pair of binoculars helps to ease up on eye fatigue, making them more ideal for not only long-term use but for more constant movement as well. A high-quality pair of binoculars, such as those found in our Spectator Sport line of binoculars, is an excellent choice for spectating & sports viewing because they offer a wide variety of magnifications and fields of view, but most importantly they have our Permafocus so you can concentrate on the action, not on trying to get it in focus.

Binoculars vs. Spotting Scopes: Both Have Their Place in Your Gear

When debating on the pros and cons of a spotting scope vs. binoculars, the choice truly does come down to the outdoor activity. A few things you’ll want to consider before making your decision include:

● How much magnification power do you need? 

● Will you be on the move continuously, or will you be stationary?

● Are weight and size a factor?

● Is the ability to scan quickly a requirement?

These will help each consumer narrow down their options considerably. However, there is no wrong answer. Whether you’re a hunter, birder, or just trying to enjoy the game more, we’ve got you covered. 

Here at Bushnell, we offer top-quality optic devices for all your outdoor activity needs. Whether it’s binoculars, spotting scopes or even telescopes for your sky watching needs, we’ve got an excellent selection for you! Check us out today and let us help you discover the perfect optic device for your next trip! 



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