Scopes

Angled or Straight Spotting Scope: Which Should You Pick?

If you are a hunter, bird watcher, or backyard astronomer chances are you have heard of a spotting scope. In fact, you probably use one regularly. But did you know there are two main types of spotting scopes?

Choosing between an angled spotting scope and straight spotting scope can be tricky for people lacking experience. Both scope types have their own unique set of pros and cons.

Angled spotting scopes have an angled design (shocking) that makes it more comfortable for a variety of different applications. Whereas straight spotter scopes have straight-line design that makes observing objects at lower elevations much easier. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide which scope design fits your specific use case, budget, and preferences. Read on to pick the best option for your own need!


Which Is Best: Straight vs Angled Spotting Scope?

comparison of a straight scope vs angled scope for spotting

Do you know what a Spotting Scope Is Used For? Hunters use spotting scopes to effectively track wild game and identify their age & gender from long distances. Picking the right type of spotting scope can make a huge difference for a hunter.

The truth is…there is no “best spotting scope type”. It depends on your specific needs & use case. In the next few sections, we’ll break down the major pros & cons of straight and angled spotting scopes so that you can decide which is best for you.


What Is An Angled Spotting Scope?

An angled spotting scope is a magnified optical device designed for observing distant objects. It is most commonly used by hunters and wildlife observers for viewing animals nature. The design features an eyepiece that is set at an angle to the scope’s main body. The main benefit of the angled spotting scope design is it allows users to look downwards into the eyepiece. This design offers increased comfort and versatility as hunters can sit in a more ergonomic and natural position. Angled spotting scopes also make it easier to adjust to find animals at various elevations.

Angled spotting scope is well-suited for situations that involve observing subjects that are elevated or located at different angles. This includes activities such as hunting, birdwatching, nature observation, and long-range surveillance.


Angled Spotting Scope Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No Neck Pain – Angled scopes are better on the neck. The hunter does not have to hold their head in an awkward position to see through the lens.
  • Digiscoping friendly – Easier to set up digiscoping. In most cases, the camera can be attached directly to the eyepiece. This also makes it easier to take pictures through the scope.
  • Shorter Tripod Setup – Angled spotting scopes require a shorter tripod and can be positioned lower to the ground. This makes it easier for people of all heights to quickly share the same spotting scope setup without making tripod adjustments.
  • Glassing Steep Terrain – The angled eyepiece makes it significantly easier for hunters to glass steep terrain in search of a target. It does not require the hunter to put their neck in an uncomfortable position to track animals at higher elevations.

Cons

  • Awkward Shape – Compared to straight spotting scopes, angled scopes are awkward to store. The angled eyepiece makes it difficult to pack into a backpack with limited space.
  • Downhill Glassing – Angled spotting scopes are not great at glassing downhill. The eyepiece design requires hunters to adjust to an awkward position to see targets at lower elevations.
  • Collect Debris – The angled eyepiece collects more debris & dirt compared to a straight eyepiece. During poor weather conditions, snow or rain can even build up in your eyepiece. If this happens, you need to take time to clean it out and re-glass the landscape to acquire your target.

What Is An Straight Spotting Scope?

A straight spotting scope is a magnified optical device used for medium to long-distance observation of subjects (i.e. wildlife, landscapes, or targets). The eyepiece of a straight spotting scope is aligned in a straight line with the main body of the scope. This is the main difference between straight & angled spotting scopes.

This straight line design allows users to directly look through the scope’s eyepiece in a straight line, without the need to adjust viewing angles. The main benefit of straight spotting scopes is it allows quick target acquisition. This can be particularly beneficial when observing moving subjects. The design of straight spotting scopes makes viewing objects at different elevations more difficult.


Straight Spotting Scope Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Faster Target Acquisition – Straight spotting scopes are more intuitive to use. Simply hold it to your eye and look at the target. This lets hunters quickly acquire their targets.
  • Downhill Glassing – Compared to an angled scope, straight spotting scopes are better for downhill glassing. You do not need to make major adjustments to your tripod height to view targets at lower elevations.
  • Easier To Store – The shape of a straight scope is easier to fit into your hunting backpack. The straight eyepiece takes up less room and makes packing easy.
  • Switch Between Binoculars – You do not need to make any major tripod adjustments to accommodate your binoculars.

Cons

  • High Angles – Straight scopes are not engineered for high elevation glassing. Hunters have to get into awkward positions and make tripod height adjustments to view targets at high angles.
  • Neck Relief – Straight spotting scopes require a hunter to constantly crouch and twist their neck to get into position.
  • Taller Tripod Height – You will need to set your tripod to a taller height to effectively glass an environment. This makes it harder to change between hunters of different heights. It also makes the scope more susceptible to impacts from strong winds.

Where To Buy

When it comes to spotter scopes, more and more people are opting to buy them online. There are simply more options for online shoppers nowadays. Check out our post on the Best Spotting Scopes for 1000 Yards! Online shopping usually offers better pricing than you would see in a brick-and-mortar store. Plus, it’s hard to beat the convenience of shopping from the comfort of your couch!

After you have grabbed your spotting scope, you should consider upgrading your rifle scope to match. There are many great options, but we recommend hunters check out our post on the Best Scopes For Elk Hunting. There are scopes that fit just about every budget and use case.


Detailed Comparison

When trying to decide between angled vs straight spotting scopes, there are a few major factors to consider. Here are some things to look out for.

1) Versatility & Stability

If you’ve hunted & tracked animals using a spotting scope then you know its rare to find level ground. Nature has a way of being perfectly imperfect. Angled spotting scopes allow hunters to use a lower tripod height which provides more versatility and stability in different environments.

Winner: Angled Spotter

2) Comfort

When you are out tracking birds or wild game with your spotting scope you can end up in the same spot for hours. If you are in an uncomfortable position, it will be almost impossible to maintain your focus. The angled spotting scope allows a hunter to sit in a chair with their head angled down slightly. Compared to the straight spotter where your neck is more likely to be in an unnatural position.

Winner: Angled Spotter

3) Different Size People

Anyone who’s ever been hunting with a group knows that sharing is hardly ever optional. Angled spotting scopes let hunters use one size tripod for multiple people. The angled eyepiece means that hunters share the same spotting scope setup without having to adjust the tripod height.

Winner: Angled Spotter

4) Speed of Target Acquisition

It is extremely important to be able to locate your animal quickly when out hunting. That’s where straight spotting scopes come in handy. By design, they allow you to locate animals quickly and easily. Straight spotting scopes are easier and more intuitive to aim than angled scopes. If you are looking for speed, straight spotting scopes are the way to go.

Winner: Straight Spotter

5) Car Compatibility

A straight spotting scope is easier to use with a window mount. You need to position your head above an angled spotting scope in order to use it. But in a vehicle, that might not always be possible. A straight-line scope will be easier to use in the confined space of your car.

Winner: Straight Spotter


What Do I Prefer?

Personally, I have always preferred an angled scope. I’ve had back and neck issues my whole life from years of football. Angled spotting scopes are my personal preference because they provide necessary neck relief to keep my comfortable when using my spotting scope for long periods.


Do Angled or Straight Spotter Scopes Have More Magnification?

There is no direct correlation between the magnification of a spotting scope and its angled or straight design. Both angled and straight spotting scopes come in various magnification options. I’ve used high powered straight spotter scopes & high powered angled spotter scopes. Magnification is very important, but it’s simply not a real factor that needs to be considered when trying to choose between these two popular types of spotting scopes.


Should Hunters Use Angled For Straight Spotter Scopes?

Most hunters should use angled scopes for hunting deer, elk, and various other types of wild game. Although the choice between angled and straight spotting scopes for hunters depends on personal preferences, angled scopes are better suited for the majority of situations. I found it to be far more comfortable to track & view elk, that are constantly on the move, from my angled scope. Angled spotting scopes are simply better when you’re trying to observe targets from a higher vantage point, like a hill or a ridge. Save yourself the neck pain!


FAQs – Straight vs Angled Spotting Scope

What spotting scope do snipers use?

The M151 Spotting Scope is generally the most popular sniper scope. There are many spotting scopes that work for snipers, however, this seems to be the most popular.

Is 20 60x60 is a good spotting scope?

Yes, the 20-60x60 spotting scope is great for most hunters. This provides a sufficient range of magnification & a 60 mm objective lens for a wide field of view. This scope body size is great for most hunting applications.

What size spotting scope is best?

Most hunters usually want a lens that is at least 60 mm in diameter. This will provide you with a clear view of your target. However, you also need to consider the length of the scope. A longer scope will give you a better view of distant objects, but it will be more difficult to carry around.

What to look for in buying a spotting scope?

There are a few major things that you need to look for when buying a new spotting scope: Eyepiece (angled or straight), Glass Quality, Magnification, and Light Gathering Ability. Pick the scope that most closely fits your specific needs.

What spotting scope does the military use?

The M151 Improved Spotting Scope is the usually the model of choice for soldiers and has been used in conflicts including the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The scope is designed for rugged use and features a fully multi-coated lens that helps to reduce glare.

The Bottom Line

Now you know the difference between straight and angled spotting scopes. Depending on your specific needs and use case, both types of scopes can work. If you’re asking me, I say angled scopes are the way to go. But I have plenty of friends who prefer straight spotting scopes. I recommend giving both a try and see which works best for you.

About the author

Charles Neser

I'm a life long hunter & gun lover. Currently pursuing my Master's Degree (M.Sc.) in Animal Nutrition at University of the Free State.

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