You can always spot the guy who’s been using cheap glass—he’s the one with eyes like Robert Downey Jr. The spotters below will help you pick apart the prairie, and your eyes will thank you later with more to see in your trophy room.
Leupold ships the Chinese-made Kenai spotter in an aluminum travel case that makes for an immediate positive impression. Multi-coated lenses and Bak-4 prisms boost clarity and, at least to our eyes, this is one of the market’s most aesthetically appealing scopes. Eyepieces are available in 25x-60x or 30x with an 80mm objective. ($1,000; 800-538-7653; www.leupold.com)
The Swarovski ATM-HD (80mm with 30x, 20x-60x and 25x-50x eyepieces) has “Swarodur” and “Swarotop” coatings that improve transmission of light and color. The difference is obvious at high magnification. If you’re a serious Western hunter, sell your truck and buy one. ($3,569; 800-426-3089; www.swarovskioptik.com)
A “Dual Speed Focus” system on the Zeiss Victory Diascope T* FL 20x-60x-85mm allows you to make large or fine adjustments with a single focus wheel—that’s a huge innovation. Oh, and its German glass ain’t bad either. ($3,000; 800-441-3005; www.zeiss.com/sports)
Bushnell’s Legend Ultra HD 15x-45x-60mm offers Bak-4 prisms, extra-low dispersion glass and fully multi-coated lenses. And at a mere 40 ounces, it’s clear Bushnell’s improved its ability to reduce bulk. Made in China. ($519; 800-423-3537; www.bushnell.com)
Vortex touts the ability of the “ArmorTek” coating on its 20x-60x eyepiece and 85mm objective to prevent scratches and repel oil and water. It’s Japanese-made lenses are fully multi-coated and the tube is argon-purged. ($2,000; 800-426-0048; www.vortexoptics.com)
Playing upon the popularity of its excellent EDG binoculars, Nikon used the same coating and ED glass to produce its 16x-48x-65mm EDG Fieldscope. The result is very outstanding brightness and clarity all the way to the edge of its field of view. ($2,699; 800-645-6687; www.nikonhunting.com)
An 80mm objective will absorb more light than a smaller one, but most are also heavy. On the other hand, the fully multi-coated, Korean-made Burris Landmark 20x-60x-80mm weighs just 42 ounces and won’t drain your wallet. ($350; 970-356-1670; www.burrisoptics.com)