12 Best Spotting Scopes for the Money – Reviews and Buying Guide

Best Spotting Scope for the Money

As a hunter, target shooter, bird watcher or an outdoor enthusiast engaged in any activity where enhanced vision is required, a spotting scope will be a fantastic investment for you.

But, finding the best spotting scope will be vital because if you are not careful you might end up with an expensive but substandard and useless model.

A good spotting scope is designed to offer excellent magnification and image clarity which makes it ideal for spotting game from long distances.

Spotting scopes will be basically smaller and more compact telescopes meant for use from a tripod or base and with excellent fog and waterproofing.

There is a lot to consider in when choosing a spotting scope. In this piece, we explain this in more detail and also review 12 best spotting scopes for the money to make it easy to get something that suits your precise needs.

12 Best Spotting Scopes for the Money – Reviews

Image

Product Name

Magnification

Objective Diameter

Rating

Current Price

Roxant Authentic Blackbird Spotting Scope

1. Roxant Authentic Blackbird Spotting Scope

12-36x

50 mm

4.8

Emarth 20-60x60AE Angled Spotting Scope

2. Emarth 20-60x60AE Angled Spotting Scope

20-60x

60 mm

4.4

Barska 15-40x50 Colorado Spotting Scope

3. Barska 15-40x50 Colorado Spotting Scope

15-40x

50 mm

3.5

Celestron 52250 Ultima Zoom Spotting Scope

4. Celestron 52250 Ultima Zoom Spotting Scope

20-60x

80 mm

4.2

Redfield Rampage 20-60x60 Spotting Scope

5. Redfield Rampage 20-60x60 Spotting Scope

20-60x

60 mm

4.2

Bushnell Trophy Xtreme Spotting Scope

6. Bushnell Trophy Xtreme Spotting Scope

12-36x

50 mm

4.3

Vortex Optics Diamondback Spotting Scope

7. Vortex Optics Diamondback Spotting Scope

20-60x

80 mm

4.2

Visionking 30-90x100SS Spotting Scope

8. Visionking 30-90x100SS Spotting Scope

30-90x

100 mm

5.0

Vanguard Endeavor HD Spotting Scope

9. Vanguard Endeavor HD Spotting Scope

20-60x

82 mm

3.6

Vortex Optics Viper HD Spotting Scope

10. Vortex Optics Viper HD Spotting Scope

15-45x

65 mm

4.3

Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scope

11. Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scope

27-60x

85 mm

4.3

Leupold Kenai 25-60x80 HD Spotting Scope

12. Leupold Kenai 25-60x80 HD Spotting Scope

25-60x

80 mm

4.0

Under $100

1. Roxant Authentic Blackbird Spotting Scope

Best spotting scope under $100

Editor's Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Roxant Authentic Blackbird Spotting Scope
  • Magnification: 12-36x
  • Close Focus: N/A
  • Objective Diameter: 50 millimeters
  • Weight: 34.4 ounces
  • Length: N/A

For an under $100 spotting scope, this Roxant model gives you one of the best values because besides from being a top-notch quality scope it also comes with a free tripod, carry case and lens caps.

The rubber armor construction is one of its highlight features, and it includes a large textured focus ring that is way more useful than the tiny separate knobs you get from other cheap scopes.

Also, this top-rated spotting scope has a rugged and non-slip molded grip and with an extendable eyepiece that you can use with or without glass and the built-in sunshade is also extendable for glare reduction.

With its high-definition and military grade optics, you can also be confident of always getting a clear and bright enough sight picture. And with the 12-36x magnification and 50 mm objective lens this spotting scope can work for everything from hunting to bird watching.

While a longer eye relief would have been much better, you should still be okay with what this scope provides once you get used to it.

Pros:

  • Molded non-slip grip
  • Large textured focus ring
  • High definition optics
  • Extendable eyepiece and sunshade
  • Tripod, carry case and lens caps included

Cons:

  • Eye relief is a bit small
  • Small tabletop tripod is not very useful for hunting

2. Emarth 20-60x60AE Angled Spotting Scope

Best inexpensive angled eyepiece spotting scope

Editor's Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Emarth 20-60x60AE Angled Spotting Scope
  • Magnification: 20-60x
  • Close Focus: N/A
  • Objective Diameter: 60 millimeters
  • Weight: 55.2 ounces
  • Length: 13.8 inches

If you are looking for the comfort and ease of use of an angled eyepiece spotting scope but without the hefty price tag that comes with them, here is a great option for under $100.

This 45-degree angled eyepiece scope offers 20-60x magnification and a larger 60 mm objective lens. The larger objective lens combines with its fully multicoated lenses and BAK4 roof prism to deliver bright, clear and high-contrast images.

With the built-in retractable sunshade, you can shoot without ever having to worry about glare, and there is also a dual focus wheel for fast and easy focus adjustment.

And you can be confident of many years of service thanks to the high-quality rubber armor that also provides a non-slip and completely weatherproof design.

Given the magnification power, one would expect this scope to be ideal for long distances but for anything past 200 yards the sight image will not be very good. But given the price of the scope, this is not a deal breaker, and better yet unless you want to see very intricate details from long distances, this scope should still be highly useful.

Pros:

  • Fully multicoated lenses
  • Fast and easy focus adjustment
  • High-quality rubber armor
  • Built-in retractable sunshade
  • Rugged and weatherproof

Cons:

  • Not very good for long distances
  • Limited eye relief

3. Barska 15-40x50 Colorado Spotting Scope

Best cheap spotting scope

Editor's Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Barska 15-40x50 Colorado Spotting Scope
  • Magnification: 15-40x
  • Close Focus: 26.24 feet
  • Objective Diameter: 50 millimeters
  • Weight: 48 ounces
  • Length: 9.5 inches

Spotting scopes do not come cheap, but this Barska model proves that you can still find one even when shopping on a super tight budget.

Besides being the cheapest among our spotting scopes reviews, it is also a well-built scope with a tough and shock-absorbing armor that ensures it will withstand regular use and serve you for many years. This armor also ensures you get a non-slip grip.

Also, this scope has some high-quality and fully coated optics that deliver a bright and clear enough sight picture and for the price, they are probably as good as it can get.

When compared to others on our list, this is also a relatively more lightweight and compact spotting scope, and it will also come with a tripod and a soft carry case,

While it is true that beyond 150 yards the images seem to get blurry, this should not be a big concern because this is a short and medium distance 15-40x scope.

Pros:

  • High-quality fully coated optics
  • Tough and shock absorbing rubber armor
  • Table tripod and carry case included
  • Relatively lightweight and compact
  • Highly affordable

Cons:

  • Tripod is not very sturdy
  • Not very useful beyond 150 yards

Under $300

4. Celestron 52250 Ultima Zoom Spotting Scope

Best under $300 spotting scope

Editor's Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Celestron 52250 Ultima Zoom Spotting Scope
  • Magnification: 20-60x
  • Close Focus: 26.2 feet
  • Objective Diameter: 80 millimeters
  • Weight: 56.96 ounces
  • Length: 20 inches

Celestron’s Ultima 80 is a great all-around angled scope with 20-60x magnification power and a larger 80 mm objective lens that makes it ideal for a variety of applications.

Its 45-degree angled eyepiece provide a more comfortable view, and this scope uses fully multicoated lenses and BAK4 prism material to deliver high levels of light transmission for a bright and clear sight picture.

With the large focus dial, this scope is fast and easy to use, and you can easily bring your target into focus before it gets time to move away.

This spotting scope will also allow you to attach your DSLR camera to capture images as it also includes a T-mount adapter, and it is completely sealed and dry nitrogen-filled for a fogproof and waterproof performance.

The absence of a sunshade might put off some buyers, but for a high-quality under $300 scope, this should not be a significant concern as you can easily get cheap, compatible aftermarket sunshades.

Pros:

  • Fast and easy focusing
  • Handy T-mount camera adapter included
  • Fully multicoated lenses
  • Completely water and fogproof
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • No sunshade
  • Disappointing eye relief

5. Redfield Rampage 20-60x60 Spotting Scope

Best straight spotting scope for target shooting

Editor's Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Redfield Rampage 20-60x60 Spotting Scope
  • Magnification: 20-60x
  • Close Focus: 20 feet
  • Objective Diameter: 60 millimeters
  • Weight: 37 ounces
  • Length: 14 inches

Target shooters will often use their spotting scope from a bench, and so this straight model by Redfield will be a perfect choice as it also comes with a compact tabletop tripod.

The solid polycarbonate construction helps to cement its position as one of the best spotting scopes for target shooting as it ensures it can handle rough handling and the abuse that comes with the job.

With the rubber armor, this scope is also more resistant to shock, and it also includes a rubber textured surface that will provide an excellent grip.

The sight picture that you get is also guaranteed to be bright and clear enough as this scope uses fully multicoated optics and BAK4 prism that ensure maximum light transmission.

There is also a retractable lens shade and deeply knurled focus knob on the scope, and it also comes with a see-through carry case and covers for both objective lens and eyepiece.

Clarity seems to dip significantly at the maximum magnification setting, but this is not a unique problem as it is typical of most budget models, and hence should not stop you from buying this scope given its many other impressive features.

Pros:

  • Solid and durable polycarbonate construction
  • Rubber armored body
  • Textured non-slip grip surface
  • Compact tabletop tripod
  • Retractable lens shade

Cons:

  • Clarity dips greatly at maximum magnification

Under $500

6. Bushnell Trophy Xtreme Spotting Scope

Best compact spotting scope

Editor's Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

Bushnell Trophy Xtreme Spotting Scope
  • Magnification: 12-36x
  • Close Focus: 12 feet
  • Objective Diameter: 50 millimeters
  • Weight: 21.5 ounces
  • Length: 8.7 inches

At 8.7 inches long and with a weight of just 21.5 ounces, Bushnell's Trophy Xtreme is our most compact and lightest scope and hence will be perfect for carrying around.

Besides being our best compact spotting scope, it also offers a magnification power of 12-36x which will be ideal for both short and long range and with a 50 mm objective lens diameter.

With the larger objective diameter and premium fully multicoated optics, this scope will always deliver an excellent sight picture as they will ensure maximum light transmission.

Bushnell also makes this scope with a shock-absorbing rubber armor that will allow it to handle any abuse you throw at it, and it is also 100% water and fogproof.

When you buy this scope, you will also get a compact tripod and both compact soft-side case and waterproof hard side case.

The quality of the included tripod is not the best, but it still works well enough and designed to offer long term service.

Pros:

  • High-quality fully multicoated optics
  • Shock-absorbing rubber armor
  • 100% fog and waterproof
  • More lightweight and compact
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Quality of included tripod is a little wanting
  • Not enough eye relief for those that wear glasses

7. Vortex Optics Diamondback Spotting Scope

Best spotting scope under $500

Editor's Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Vortex Optics Diamondback Spotting Scope
  • Magnification: 20-60x
  • Close Focus: 22 feet
  • Objective Diameter: 80 millimeters
  • Weight: 47.1 ounces
  • Length: 14.8 inches

There are many things that will make this Vortex scope one of the best spotting scopes under $500 not only on our list but also on the market. But its heavyweight performance and the fact that it comes in a compact and relatively lightweight design is one of the key ones.

The scope also has fully multicoated lenses that will combine with the built-in retractable sunshade to deliver maximum light transmission and ensure you get a clear sight picture.

Also, this spotting scope includes a twist and lock collar that is very handy as it will make it possible to move the scope for a variety of glassing positions. And its adjustable eyecup will twist up and down to ensure maximum comfort when using it.

The smooth and easy to use focus wheel is also a convenient feature and there is also a powerful zoom eyepiece. And with the O-ring sealing and nitrogen-purging, this scope will deliver 100% water and fogproof performance.

The focus knob feels a bit cheap, but it still works good enough and the fact that this is a Vortex scope should give you some confidence that it will last long enough.

Pros:

  • Allows for various glassing positions
  • Fully multicoated optics
  • Smooth and easy to use focus wheel
  • Durable rubber armor with excellent grip
  • Retractable built-in sunshade

Cons:

  • Focus knob feels cheap
  • Seems to blurry a little at high magnification

8. Visionking 30-90x100SS Spotting Scope

Best value spotting scope

Editor's Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Visionking 30-90x100SS Spotting Scope
  • Magnification: 30-90x
  • Close Focus: 32.80 feet
  • Objective Diameter: 100 millimeters
  • Weight: 97 ounces
  • Length: N/A

This Visionking scope is our best value spotting scope because given its features and performance it is hard to get a better model for under $500.

It is an ideal scope for hunting, bird watching and a variety of other applications such as target shooting thanks to is wider 30-90x magnification and larger 100 mm objective lens.

The lenses are also fully multicoated to deliver maximum light transmission for bright and clear images and there are also 2-speed dual focus controls that will be very useful when focusing.

This scope will deliver a longer eye relief than most others in its price range, and it also features a retractable sunshade for a glare-free view, twist-up eyecups, and straightforward operations.

Also, this is dry nitrogen purged and O-ring sealed scope that delivers 100% fogproof and waterproof performance and will come with a soft case and tripod but can also be mounted on any standard camera tripod.

When compared to others on our list, this scope is a bit heavy but given that it is still under 100 ounces, it should still be easy to handle and carry around.

Pros:

  • Fully multicoated optics
  • Lager and more comfortable eye lens
  • Convenient retractable sunshade
  • Mountable on any standard camera tripod
  • Wider range and more powerful magnification

Cons:

  • A bit heavy

9. Vanguard Endeavor HD Spotting Scope

Best spotting scope for bird watching

Editor's Rating: 3.6 out of 5 stars (3.6 / 5)

Vanguard Endeavor HD Spotting Scope
  • Magnification: 20-60x
  • Close Focus: 21.3 feet
  • Objective Diameter: 82 millimeters
  • Weight: 66.7 ounces
  • Length: 17 inches

With the relatively larger field of view and long-range visibility, this Vanguard scope will be an excellent choice for bird watchers and nature lovers that love sightseeing.

Although its 20-60x magnification is not the widest or highest on our list, this is still one of the best long-range spotting scopes as it still delivers exceptional image quality and detail even when focusing at long range objects thanks to the extra-low dispersion glass.

This spotting scope also provides stacked dual focus controls for separate fine and coarse controls, and it includes a detachable angled eyepiece with soft and comfortable rubber eyecup.

With this scope, you also get a longer eye relief, and it is guaranteed to last as it features durable rubber armored magnesium body and also includes a built-in sun shield for a glare-free view.

The included case might not provide a perfect fit or at least not as tight as some users might prefer, but it will still offer more than enough protection for the scope.

Pros:

  • Durable and rubber armored magnesium body
  • Separate fine and focus controls
  • Easy detachable angled eyepiece
  • Extra-low dispersion glass
  • Longer eye relief

Cons:

  • Case does not fit very snugly
  • A bit on the heavy side

Under $1,000

10. Vortex Optics Viper HD Spotting Scope

Best spotting scope under $1,000

Editor's Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

Vortex Optics Viper HD Spotting Scope
  • Magnification: 15-45x
  • Close Focus: 16 feet
  • Objective Diameter: 65 millimeters
  • Weight: 52 ounces
  • Length: 15.8 inches

Viper HD by Vortex is designed to offer one of the best performances that you can get for an under $1,000 spotting scope and it uses several features to achieve this.

These features include extra-low dispersion glass that combines with the anti-reflective coatings to deliver a bright, crisp and sharp sight picture.

Maximum focusing precision is also guaranteed by the dual focus wheel that includes both fine and course adjustments. And with the eyecup will twist up and down to ensure you get comfortable viewing whether you are wearing glasses or not.

There is also a built-in sunshade on the scope that will not only minimize glare but will also help to shield the objective lens from the rain and snow.

This scope is also O-ring sealed and argon-purged to deliver 100% fogproof and waterproof performance, and the lenses also have armortek coatings for maximum protection from oil, dirt, and scratches.

Although this spotting scope will not come with a tripod, this should not stop you from buying it as you can easily get one, and the design of the scope allows it to work with a variety of tripods.

Pros:

  • Delivers bright, crisp and clear images
  • Built-in sunshade minimizes glare
  • Complete fog and waterproof performance
  • Maximum focusing precision
  • Comfortable viewing with or without glasses

Cons:

  • Does not come with tripod
  • Does not come with tripod

Over $1,000

11. Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scope

Best high-end spotting scope

Editor's Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scope
  • Magnification: 27-60x
  • Close Focus: 16.4 feet
  • Objective Diameter: 85 millimeters
  • Weight: 65.6 ounces
  • Length: 15.5 inches

Sometimes it does not hurt to spend more cash on your spotting scope as it means you can end up with a feature-rich and high-end model like Razor HD by Vortex.

This amazing scope uses high-density extra-low dispersion glass that combines with the triplet apochromatic lens to deliver the best image resolution and color fidelity.

There is also smooth helical focus dials that help to deliver a sharp resolution while also keeping the scope trim for easy carrying. And with the multi-position eyecup, you will always get a large enough eye relief whether you are wearing glasses or not.

With the locking collar, you can easily rotate the scope for the best viewing angle, and there is also a built-in sunshade to minimize glare.

Durability is also ensured by the tough rubber armor on the scope's body, and it is also argon purged and O-ring sealed to ensure 100% water and fogproof performance.

Given that this scope is the priciest among of spotting scope reviews, you should be ready to pay some extra bucks to get it, but it is worth every coin you pay and will give you great value for money.

Pros:

  • High-density ED glass
  • Multiple position eyecup
  • Built-in sunshade
  • Convenient locking collar design
  • Extremely durable rubber armor

Cons:

  • Quite pricey
  • Relatively heavier

12. Leupold Kenai 25-60x80 HD Spotting Scope

Best spotting scope for smartphone digiscoping

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Leupold Kenai 25-60x80 HD Spotting Scope
  • Magnification: 25-60x
  • Close Focus: 11.8 feet
  • Objective Diameter: 80 millimeters
  • Weight: 58.5 ounces
  • Length: 14 inches

Because smartphones are part of everything that most of us do nowadays, it will be great to have a spotting scope like this one with a smartphone digiscoping feature.

But besides its smartphone mounting bracket, this cope also has some high-quality extra-low dispersion lenses that are also fully multicoated to deliver the best sight picture.

Its lightweight magnesium alloy body also makes it easy to handle and carry around, and so it will also work for hunters as they can easily carry it together with other hunting essentials.

With a field of view of up to125.7 feet, the view field that this scope provides is one of the largest in its class. And it also comes with retractable lens shade that protects the objective lens from the sun and rain.

The spotting scope is also designed to offer complete water and fogproof performance and when you buy it, you also get a tiltable and adjustable tripod and both soft and hard carry cases.

While there is not a lot of mounting instructions, for most users this should not be a deal breaker as everything is straightforward, and you can easily figure things out by watching a few online videos.

Pros:

  • Lightweight magnesium alloy body
  • High-quality and fully multicoated optics
  • Smartphone mounting bracket included
  • Tripod mounting shoe accepts various mounting bolts
  • Retractable lens shade included

Cons:

  • There is no much mounting instruction
  • A bit expensive

How to Buy the Best Spotting Scopes

How to Buy the Best Spotting Scopes

As with rifle scopes, binoculars, and other optics, there are different factors and design characteristics that you need to think about when shopping for the best spotting scope. And some of the most important ones include the following.

#1. Angled vs. Straight Spotting Scope

Most spotting scopes will come two main configurations which are angled and straight. Although what you choose is mainly a personal preference, each of the two will be ideal for different situations and applications.

Angled Spotting Scope

With an angled spotting scope you will have to peer down the eyepiece, and this design makes it relatively easier and more comfortable to use for extended periods.

Also, with angled spotting scopes, attaching a camera is easier and more convenient, and you can easily aim upwards, straight ahead and downward.

These scopes will be more convenient for sharing with multiple users than the straight ones because ones you set the scope at a certain height most people can still view through the eyepiece without further adjustments.

However, the angle can make it harder for beginners to locate game and these scopes are harder to pack and more expensive.

Straight Spotting Scope

The straight body spotting scopes are generally cheaper than the angled ones, and they are the kinds where you look straight ahead. These are more beginner-friendly than the angled scopes and will be perfect for hunters that want to spot game when lying on the ground.

Packing these scopes is also much easier and they will allow for a straight point-and-shoot alignment.

Straight spotting scopes will require taller tripods and are not very good for multiple uses as more adjustments are required to accommodate different heights

#2. Purpose

How you intend to use your scope also matters a lot and it will have a huge impact on your choice. Hence, it is import to decide whether you want to use the scope solely for spotting game when hunting or also for occasional bird watching.

If you will be hunting big game from long distances, you need a spotting scope with higher magnification power. Also, hunting the spotting scope should be suitable for low light conditions at dawn and dusk when most game is active.

For things like bird watching, an angled scope is often the best choice as it makes it easy to aim upwards so that you can easily pick out the birds as they fly.

#3. Magnification

Magnification is one of the most important elements of a spotting scope and should hence be one of the first things to consider as it will determine how useful the scope will be for you.

Typically, spotting scope will have higher magnification power than riflescopes or binoculars and you can get models with both fixed and variable magnification power.

The distances you will be shooting from or plan to use your spotting scope from should help you decide how much magnification you need.

For instances, if you will be shooting from around 100 yards, something with 20x magnification should be more than enough but for 300 yards or more you may need upwards of 60x.

#4. Close Focus

Typically, a spotting scope will have a ring or knob on its barrel which you use to focus the scope for a sharp picture.

Some models will have the two-step focus knob with a knob for shifting swiftly from close up to infinity and another knob for smaller adjustment for more fine-tuned focusing.

Many users seem to prefer this approach but trying it out is the only way to ascertain whether it will work for you or not.

All in all, if you get the opportunity a good idea is to try out the focus mechanism that a scope uses to determine whether you like it or not before buying. But, many manufacturers will also list the minimum focusing distance on the specifications which should help you make up your mind.

#5. Lens Size

Like with all other scope types, the lens size matters a lot when shopping for a spotting scope, and this is more so the objective lens diameter.

A larger objective lens will produce a superior image quality even at higher magnification setting and in low light conditions as it will allow more light in.

However, the exact size of the objective lens that you will need depends on what you intend to use the scope for, where and also your budget.

If you do not mind spending more cash on your spotting scope to get the clearest and brightest images, an 85 or larger mm lens will be great while something with at least 50 mm should be ideal for those shopping on a tight budget.

#6. Glass Quality

While the lens size is important, the quality of the glass is even more important as it will have more effect on the image quality that you get.

The key things that will determine the glass quality are the techniques used to manufacture it, the materials and the process and machines the company uses.

To make sure that you get high-quality glasses, you should watch out for terms like high-density glass, extra-low dispersion, and anomalous partial dispersion.

#7. Extra Features

There are some features that might not be necessary for a spotting scope to function but are still great as they will make it more useful and convenient to use.

Key among these features is weather protection. The best spotting scope for hunting or even bird watching should be fog and waterproof to protect your expensive investment and to make it ideal for use in different weather and conditions.

Other additional features to watch out for include things like lens caps, cases, camera adapters, tripods, car mounts. But, the extra features that you need from the many available will depend on how you intend to use the spotting scope.

Conclusion

While it is true the different spotting scope options, features and brands can make choosing one quite confusing, things will always be a lot easy with the right information in mind.

Understanding important things like the magnification, eyepiece configuration, lens size and quality and of course what you intend to use the scope for should get you closer to finding the best spotting scope.

The good news is that we explain all these factors in detail above and also go further to provide recommendations by reviewing some of the best models under different price categories.