There are brands that people can trust with their wallets and know for a fact that their purchase will be a good one. Still, is a good spotting scope worth a big investment? According to Bushnell it is but they’ve become a bit detached with their target audience. Nowadays there are many budget spotting scopes that outperform the Bushnell Trophy XLT and present a more appealing deal to the regular birdwatcher. Still, we decided to review this Bushnell model and answer the important question – is it worth the extra cash?
When it comes to magnification, lenses, and the rest of the optics of the Trophy XLT, it is on par with the best scopes out there. Nevertheless, it isn’t priced competitively and loses a fair chunk of its audience to cheaper products that perform as good (if not better) out in the field. Something that can make up your mind and make you opt for the Bushnell scope is the fact that you get a premium tripod and a hard-case for carrying it, which are two expensive items shaved off your overall birdwatching budget.
Let’s dive into this model and see whether it truly an investment worthy of your consideration or just an overpriced product relying on its brand name.
Product Overview And Features
The most interesting feature of this scope is its ability to handle tough conditions. The rigidity of its body, combined with the elemental resistance make it the go-to choice for:
- Bow and Rifle hunters
- Birdwatchers that travel a lot
These people will go through all kinds of terrain and the scope will experience many types of weather conditions such as moist, water, dust, or dirt from its surroundings. This is why Bushnell is also the only scope on our list that comes with a hard carrying bag. That is also an excellent addition for people who frequently travel by plane as we all know how they handle luggage at airports.
If you are interested in other budget spotting scopes, and want to learn more about these scopes’ features, head over to our full Buyer’s Guide in which we’ve discussed all that in great detail. There, we have also compiled a list of some of the best models for 2019 and have compared them to one another.
Bushnell As A Brand
When it comes to high-quality optics, Bushnell has been one of the first names that pop up in the past half a century. Their principle has been to provide the best and most affordable optics on the market but you can see how that has partially changed over the course of time. They aren’t considered an affordable brand anymore and there is a good reason for that. Competition nowadays has grown tenfold and to be honest, Bushnell scopes are only around due to the loyal following they have. Apart from the overall high quality, nothing sets them apart from more budget options anymore. That is the case with spotting scopes, at least. In other fields such as binoculars, they are still a fairly well-priced brand that is respected for its optics performance.
Now that we’ve gone through what Bushnell is in the world of birdwatchers, let’s start with the magnification, as it is first on any birdwatcher’s features list…
Magnification wise this scope isn’t anything special. It offers the industry standard of 20-60x magnification paired with a 65mm objective lens that we will discuss in a moment. There is a good reason such magnification is the current standard – it is good for objects that are 50-100 yards away such as local birds but is also ideal for birds over a thousand yards away from you.
The closes focus distance is around 33ft which isn’t great, since other scopes on our top 5 list mostly have it around 10 to 20 ft. This renders the Bushnell not ideal for backyard observing and rather solidifies its place as a very long-range scope.
This average theme continues with the field of view which is 110 ft at 1000 yards (x20 magnification). That goes down to 55 ft at 1000 yards when on maximum magnification (x60).
As a whole, the Porro prism design allows for a good picture throughout the whole magnification range. One thing that we cannot fault the Bushnell Trophy XLT is the quality of the image you are getting. It is sharp, brightly lit, full of contrast, and naturally saturated. It is ideal for any type of light conditions and landscape colors.
The lenses on this scope are fully multi-coated which provides excellent light transmission properties along with a crystal clear image. They do not fog in moist conditions and the insides of the scope are well protected by the body and rubberized armour.
The objective lens is a 65mm one which isn’t the biggest we’ve seen but is decent enough for this scope’s purpose. It would’ve been great to get a 80mm lens in a higher priced scope but this one does a fairly similar job in low-light conditions.
Construction & Durability
In terms of pure durability and construction strength, we cannot deny the fact that this scope is one of the toughest we’ve reviewed. Not only can it withstand falls and hits but it is also entirely water sealed and is dustproof and dirtproof. This is something Bushnell really takes pride in, since their products are often regarded as the toughest out there. It is safe to say that when handling the scope you will feel where your money has gone.
The rubber coating on top provides grip and rigidity to the construction. At the front there is a built-in objective lens cap that will keep it from any scratches. The focus knob is on a convenient place if you are right-handed and has good torque to it, rendering it easy to use. It can be turned slowly for more precise adjustments on your target. At the bottom of the scope there is a built-in tripod socket.
The scope itself isn’t very long, measuring at 13.4 inches. It is fairly lightweight as well, weighing only 2.6 pounds without any of the accessories. Speaking of those…
In terms of accessories you will be getting a premium tripod and a hard carrying case. Those two additions make all the difference and are often lacking in the budget section of spotting scopes, especially the hard case. That bag will allow you to travel with your Trophy XLT without having to worry about any potential damage to your scope. The tripod is easily adjustable both in height and in angle and has a control arm that allows you to delicately move your field of view from one place to another. Being an angled scope, this is a great setup to watch birds mid-flight.
Birdwatching With Your Bushnell
When you take your Trophy XLT out in the forest to watch different birds you will be amazed by the quality of the image you will get out of it. Moreover, it will be able to stand its ground against any weather conditions such as rain, fog, or others. It is a fairly good scope to take out early in the day when the sun isn’t fully shining or late when the sun has set. Some birds prefer these times of the day and this Bushnell scope is a great option if you want to catch a glimpse of them.
As we mentioned, the case makes it easy for you to carry it around without having to worry about scratches or the scope breaking.
If you are looking for a scope that is less than half the price of this Bushnell, we suggest checking out our Emarth Angled Spotting Scope Review. In it, you will see what the true definition of “budget spotting scope” is and why the very cheap scopes are becoming more and more popular with regular birdwatchers. Now, let’s check out some of the most important pros and cons of the Trophy XLT…
Advantages & Disadvantages
- Extremely durable & resistant
- Easy to carry around and use
- Excellent image quality
- Good magnification range
- Good light transmission
- Comes with a hard case and a tripod
- Long close focus distance
- Somewhat small objective lens
- Rather Expensive
Conclusion and Rating
Birding Rocks Rating:
For a premium brand it feels like Bushnell could have done something more with their Trophy XLT scope but instead they chose to go the traditional way. What you get here is the normal characteristics of modern-day spotting scopes – 20-60x magnification, a 65mm objective lens and a good amount of durability and weather resistance. The fact that you are getting a great tripod and a hard carrying case is an addition worth mentioning, as those two accessories can often be costly. The scope is easy to use and presents a superb image quality. Is it worth your investment? In our opinion – yes, if you have a little extra cash then this scope is definitely worth getting as it will prove to be a long-lasting companion in your birdwatching adventures. We rate it four and a half out of five stars.