Angled spotting scopes and straight spotting scopes are MORE SIMILAR than they are DIFFERENT.
If we’re going to be strict about it, they really only DO differ in their style: the angled spotting scope has an angled eyepiece. Not quite the surprise you were expecting for an angled scope, right?
This one simple difference makes ALL the difference when it comes to usability and comfort.
We’ll walk you through the essentials of each spotting scope.
Spotting Scopes Overview
Let’s start this review by going over ALL the important features that set both spotting scopes apart from one another.
Spoiler alert: they’re a LOT more similar than you think!
What is an Angled Spotting Scope?
The ANGLED spotting scope promotes maneuverability.
It’s quite straightforward to imagine where this angled scope gets its name: the angled spotting scope curves up towards the adjustable eyepiece.
The angled scope’s yepiece will seemingly cushion your eye as you look down on it to view your target!
Now… Why does MANEUVERABILITY make this angle important?
Simply, the curve allows you to adjust your viewing angle. What’s more appealing is that you have COMPLETE CONTROL over the adjustments you can make:
- Turn the angled scope freely to accommodate your sight.
- Position your head comfortably around the eyepiece.
Trust us when we say that your hunts will INFINITELY be better and more enjoyable because of this ENHANCED USER EXPERIENCE.
Others prefer to use the angled spotting scope during a sit-down viewing up the mountains…. we reckon that you will too!
- More comfortable to look through in most positions
- Lower tripod height
- Easier to look up
- Prone body position
- Have to adjust the tripod and its height to switch to binoculars
- Not as comfortable when lying down
What is a Straight Spotting Scope?
The straight spotting scope is just that: STRAIGHT.
No angles or fancy positions are needed for a straight scope! It’s a straight tube resembling most telescopes that you see in the market and media.
Its design REQUIRES EYE LEVEL positioning. You either have to:
- Raise the straight scope with a tripod, or
- Stoop down to its level (even then, you might have to position it somewhere stable)
You can find the BEST VIEWING ANGLE for your straight spotting scopes after repositioning your head a couple of times.
It’s BEST FOR CASUAL VIEWING: a fixed target for long periods of time that won’t require others to constantly look through the straight scope’s eyepiece.
- Retain tripod position when switching to binoculars
- Faster target acquisition
- Taller height for the tripod makes the straight spotting scope unstable
- The taller tripod makes you more visible
- Not as comfortable for viewing when standing
Angled vs. Straight Spotting Scope: Which One is Better?
We’ll tell you right now: the two spotting scopes DO NOT HAVE ANY FUNCTIONAL DIFFERENCES.
Some people would be right in saying that their ONLY difference is their structure. Deciding which of them is BETTER is simply a choice and preference on design.
As such, you’ll find out that where they DO differ is in their applications.
Allow us to show you the ADVANTAGES of each rifle scope based on certain criteria through this review.
Remember: One is NOT better than the other… it all depends on what you NEED.
Both angled and straight scopes have the SAME objective lens resolution, magnification, and field of view. No spotting scope has an advantage over the other!
- OBJECTIVE LENS – Both have objective lens diameters within the 50 mm – 80 mm range. The two scopes can essentially provide you with the same image.
- MAGNIFICATION – Lens magnification ranges from 10x to 60x depending on the scope! But the point still stands: there is no difference between the two types.
- FIELD OF VIEW – A contested feature, but we would like to stand by our rating with a tie. Both scopes still maximize the same sight picture. Just remember the rule of thumb: the HIGHER the magnification, the SMALLER the field of view. This does not change between spotting scope types.
Now, do you see why the optic quality doesn’t do much for the angled vs. straight spotting scope debate?
Let’s go back to discussing the field of view a bit more…
Field of View
This is a contested feature because of the maneuverability advantage attributed to angled scopes. Only this time, it serves to be one of its disadvantages UNDER this feature.
Straight scopes have a slight advantage because you can customize your spotting devices!
You may simply leave the straight scope on a tripod and easily SWITCH the spotting scope for a set of binoculars!
You wouldn’t need to search the field for the subject all over again because of how stationary a straight scope is.
This is something you CANNOT ACHIEVE WITH THE ANGLED SCOPE.
Why? Because they’re DESIGNED to be maneuvered. Move them around as much as you would like! Just don’t switch them out for another device… they’re meant to be your primary spotting scope.
BUT AGAIN… we’d simply have to call it a TIE. The field of view is still under the optic quality criteria, and both still boast the same features. So yes, it is a tie for now.
Overall Winner: Both, depending on what you need them for.
Again, no actual winner. Quite simply, THIS is where we’ll find their actual differences!
To systematically approach this, we’ll describe some of the applications for which the two scopes are best suited.
1. Hunting and Target Shooting
The case for the ANGLED SPOTTING SCOPE:
- For hunting fast-moving and free-moving targets (think of birds and birding)
- For targets positioned at an UPWARD angle (think of trees! and once again… of birds flying)
This is where the maneuverability in angled scopes comes into play. It makes the hunt experience more comfortable, too!
Now… the case for the STRAIGHT SPOTTING SCOPE:
- For hunting fast-moving and level targets (think of land animals running across the view)
- For targets positioned at a DOWNWARD angle (think of yourself on an elevated place such as a tree stand)
A straight scope is also easier to maneuver during a hunt! The LATERAL movements of land-based movers are easily detectable by the movement of a straight scope.
Likewise, a downward angled view would be EASIER with a straight spotting scope TO AVOID the upward eyepiece in an angled one.
Both of them can easily track moving targets, if that’s what you’re curious about.
2. Car Window Mount
This is a simple choice: if you have a BIG CAR and ENOUGH SPACE TO MOVE AROUND, go for a straight spotting scope.
The ease with which people can move the straight scope around their car and still have it at eye level is an ADVANTAGE.
Just MAKE SURE that you have the actual car space for it or the straight scope won’t really work.
BUT if you’re after EFFICIENCY and ABILITY TO BE MOUNTED, then go for an angled spotting scope.
You’ll be able to see more angles because of the eyepiece’s adjustability! The angle is also advantageous if you plan to view anything from ABOVE the car, such as the sky.
3. For Practice and Shooting
Choose an angled spotting scope if you plan to SPOT FOR YOURSELF and not for other people. You can easily switch from rifle to spotting scope this way!
Angled spotting scopes are also useful if you plan to:
- Arrange your setup on the subject for oversight
- Cover up while birding (and for bird feeders as well)
- Be comfortable while in a prone position
- Assign target acquisition for longer periods of time
However, feel free to target practice using a straight spotting scope if you want to have a MORE DYNAMIC feel of the hunt.
Which One is Right for You?
Again, not one type of spotting scope is better than the other.
It all depends on HOW YOU PLAN TO USE YOUR SPOTTING SCOPE. Each rifle scope has the same pros and cons:
- Type of Lens
- Optic Quality
- Body Look
It’s all now based on your style.
Let’s make your choice easier by discussing the pros and cons of each spotting scope again.
Choose a Straight Scope If:
- You use binoculars and plan to quickly change between it AND your scope
- You want to reacquire target within the same level viewing field
- You want faster target acquisition
- You want an intuitive spotting scope
- You are expecting to look downwards
Straight spotting scopes are great for dynamic hunting, target shooting, and targeting from a tree stand!
The consensus is that a straight spotting scope needs to be positioned HIGHER than an angled scope.
An angled scope can REACH YOUR EYE (thanks to its upward eyepiece), but the straight scope DOES NOT.
You have to make sure that your tripod height is raised higher. When this happens, your straight scope tripod setup becomes LESS STABLE and makes you a more visible target.
But if this sort of thing doesn’t pose a problem to you as a person, spotter, hunter, or shooter, then by ALL MEANS, go for it! There’s no harm in going for straight spotting scopes if they’re your personal preference.
Choose an Angled Scope If:
- You do NOT plan to switch with binoculars
- You want to be comfortable
- You do your viewing while sitting, standing, or in a proning position
- You are after a lower mount (for stealth purposes… shhh)
- You are expecting to view the sky or anything upward
Angled spotting scopes are generally just great for ALL-AROUND USE. Count hunting, birding, and casual astronomy watching in too!
Remember: the CURVE in an angled spotting scope makes it more comfortable and easier to use than with straight scopes. The view on the spotting scope is easily endured through longer periods of time, as well.
Some birder professionals and hunters alike claim that a spotting scope works MUCH BETTER with a tripod than freely hunting.
Just position it lower because of the angled spotting scope’s upward eyepiece.
Don’t worry because this is one of its advantages: you’re able to position yourself lower! It will be EASIER for you out there, especially when spotting live animals.
It all boils down to what type of spotting scope makes you more COMFORTABLE during a specific HUNT.
We can easily end this debate of angled spotting scopes or straight spotting scopes by saying that they both have their own advantages.
But this lot of advantages isn’t what you’re used to expecting! Straight scopes and angled scopes do have MORE similarities than differences, after all.
CHANGELOG: September 14, 2021 - Reviewed and updated article links