A clear image of the target placed at a long distance is always a boon to the shooter. Often, regular scopes do not deliver enough clarity for the hunter to spot their targets easily. Hence, a spotting scope is a way to get color corrected, sharp, and crisp images.
A spotting scope is essential for someone with problems related to their vision. This equipment is also ideal for spotting birds and other wildlife without disturbing them. There are plenty of high-end spotting scopes in the market, but it does not mean that scopes that fit a budget are less efficient in serving their purpose.
One can find many excellent options for scopes on a budget. Also, these spotting scopes are intelligent investments since they are highly durable and practical. This article has been put together to shortlist spotting scopes with the best features. Here are our top picks for the best spotting scope under $500.
Best Spotting Scope Under $500: The Hunter’s Choice: A Quick Comparison Table
|Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A Angled Eyepiece Spotting Scope||• Rubber covered eyecup|
• Long eye relief
• Durable body made of magnesium
|Kowa TSN-600 Series Angled Body High-Performance Spotting Scope||• More than 120% light gathering capability|
• O-ring sealed waterproof bayonet eyepiece mount
• Crafted from lightweight polycarbonate materials
|Celestron 52333 TrailSeeker 80 - Straight Spotting Scope||• 20X-60X range of magnification|
• Twistable eyecup
• Durable rubber-armored housing
|Visionking Spotting Scope 30-90x100SS Large Ocular||• Fully multi-coated 100mm objective lens|
• 2-speed focus
• 30X-90X range of magnification
|Celestron – Ultima 80 Angled Spotting Scope||• Eye relief of 18mm|
• Has multiple anti-reflective coatings
• Includes a large focus dial
|Konus 7128 KonuSpot-65 Spotting Scope||• 20mm eye relief|
• Comes with a special eyepiece to connect to reflex cameras
• Has a rotatable spotter
|Celestron 52268 C90 Mak Spotting Scope||• Maksutov-Cassegrain optical design|
• Comes with NexYZ smartphone adapter
• Does lateral correction of the view
|Redfield Rampage 20-60x80mm Angled Spotting Scope||• 80mm wide objective lens|
• Body crafted from tough polycarbonate
• Uses professional-grade BAK4 prism
|Leupold SX-1 Ventana 2 15-45x60mm Spotting Scope||• Guard-ion coated lens|
• Has smooth adjustment systems
• Eye relief of 20-21.5mm
|Gosky 2019 Updated Newest Spotting Scope||• 80mm green film objective lens|
• Has the magnalium framework
• Comes with a whole range of accessories
1. Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A Angled Eyepiece Spotting Scope
This Vanguard scope is the best spotting scope under $500 in the market and is excellent for low-range to mid-range spotting. With the angled eyepiece included in the design, along with the rubber covered eyecup and long eye relief, the spotting scope provides the user with a comfortable viewing experience.
To give the shooter a high-quality viewing experience, the ED glass used ensures an accurate color rendition. Also, the Scope is multi-coated to provide the best light transmission. Making use of the BAK4 Roof prism system, obtaining superior quality images with this Scope is guaranteed. The wide objective lens of the Scope also ensures good images.
As an added benefit, the Scope comes with a built-in sunshade to reduce glare. To enhance the sturdiness of the body of the Scope, the magnesium-made body of the Scope is reinforced with rubber. Another notable feature of the Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A is its wide field of view, starting from 1.0 degrees and going up to 2.0 degrees. Being 100% fog-proof and waterproof, this spotting scope is one of the best in the market.
- Comes with a bag for storage and protection
- Great zooming power
- Rotatable eyepiece
- No color fringing
- Slight difficulty in managing the adjustments
2. Kowa TSN-600 Series Angled Body High-Performance Spotting Scope
- More than 120% light gathering capability
- O-ring sealed waterproof bayonet eyepiece mount
- Crafted from lightweight polycarbonate materials
Without a doubt, the Scope's 60mm wide objective lens gathers 120% more light than the competitors. Thus, a bright and clear field of view is guaranteed to the hunter, regardless of the surrounding lighting conditions. Additionally, the multi-layered coatings on the Scope eliminate glare in case of bright light.
Made from extremely durable and lightweight polycarbonate materials, this Kowa scope has a rigid structure that can withstand abuse. Simultaneously, it is ergonomically designed with rubber coatings to fit well in the hands and ensure easy handling. The angled eyepiece gives way for comfortable observation for extended periods.
Moreover, this Scope's body is retractable and can be slid down to suit the hunter's convenience. The housing of the Scope is filled with nitrogen to protect it from water and fog. Also, the sunshade that comes with the purchase provides further protection to the Scope. Additionally, the dust-protection glass in the eye sockets protects the gear from dirt particles.
- Comes with a sunshade
- Nitrogen-filled housing to ensure a waterproof and fog proof scope
- Retractable body
- Large knurled adjustment wheels
- Lenses in the eyepiece socket are protected from dust and dirt.
- Does not include different eyepieces and has to be purchased separately
3. Celestron 52333 TrailSeeker 80 - Straight Spotting Scope
The TrailSeeker is a relatively lightweight and sleek rubber-armored scope. With fully multi-coated lenses with XLT optical coating, the Scope guarantees maximum light transmission even in dimly-lit conditions. Combined with the BAK4 prism, the images obtained are always bright and crisp.
Focusing smoothly on the target, precise shots are guaranteed while using this Scope. Also, the wide range of magnification makes long-range spotting easier. The control for zooming is well-textured for a comfortable grip, and the eyepiece is held in place with the help of a twist-lock.
With a rugged exterior that can withstand abuse and the housing filled and sealed with nitrogen gas, this Celestron scope can be used in any weather. Coming with a rotating tripod mount and T-Mount adapter for DSLR cameras, this Scope is worth its price. Moreover, the purchase comes with a padded view-through case, eyepiece cover, storage covers for the eyepiece and eyepiece port, and an instruction manual.
- Comes with a rotatable tripod mount
- Sturdy exterior
- Waterproof and fog proof
- Can focus on targets smoothly
- Includes a T-Mount adapter
- Some users find the size of the Scope incompatible for specific outdoor tasks.
4. Visionking Spotting Scope 30-90x100SS Large Ocular
Assuring bright and crystal clear images, the Visionking Scope has BAK4 prisms to eliminate chromatic aberrations and color fringing. The 100mm objective lens is especially useful in giving a clear field of view for long-range shots. Additionally, the dual focus controls help in marking down the target smoothly.
The Scope's housing is purged with dry nitrogen and a sealed O-ring to make it weatherproof; hence, the product can be used safely even in the wettest of conditions. It also comes with a retractable sunshade to avoid image distortions due to excess light. Besides, the fully multi-coated optics of the Scope eliminate the risk of glares. Adding to the ability to withstand any weather, the HD water-repellent coating on the lens prevents damage to the optics if they get wet.
With its 30X-90X magnification, the Scope is ideal for nailing the long-range shots without losing image clarity. The long eye relief and twistable eyecup make the use of the Scope easier. As a bonus, the Scope comes with a soft case and a tripod. This Scope is also compatible with any standard camera tripod.
- Lightweight design
- Purchase includes a padded divider case.
- Comes with a one-year warranty
- Long eye relief
- Large objective lens for comfortable viewing
- Wind may affect the stability of the Scope.
5. Celestron – Ultima 80 Angled Spotting Scope
Another quality scope put forth by Celestron, the Ultima 80 is an all-round spotting scope with its perfect 45° viewing angle and 80mm wide objective lens. Every optical surface of this Scope is coated with an anti-reflective material. The images obtained in bright light remain clear. Also, the objective lens's large aperture allows for 50% brighter pictures, even in low-light settings.
With the maximum magnification of 60X and long eye relief, the Scope is ideal for extended observations for long distances without straining the eye. Optimized for long-range shots, the field of view extends from 1.8 degrees to 1.0 degrees even at the distance of 1000 yards. Also, the sharp zoom eyepiece helps in capturing the most detailed and smooth images of distant objects.
This purchase is bundled with all the equipment needed to ensure a comfortable viewing experience. It includes an integrated T-adapter for digiscoping, a carrying case, an eyepiece lens cap and port cover, a soft carrying case, an instruction manual, and so much more. The most notable bonus is the smartphone adapter that helps capture videos and images through the Scope.
- Large aperture
- Coated with multiple anti-reflective coatings
- Gives highly detailed images in seconds upon zooming
- Comes with a smartphone adapter
- Ideal for long-distance viewing
- Comparatively narrow field of view
6. Konus 7128 KonuSpot-65 Spotting Scope
- 20mm eye relief
- Comes with a special eyepiece to connect to reflex cameras
- Has a rotatable spotter
Voted as the Best Scope for birdwatching and hunting, this Konus scope is an extremely versatile product suited for tactical and military operations. The 45° viewing angle of the Scope allows for comfortable viewing from any position. Furthermore, there is a swivel set screw to rotate the spotter for easy viewing on any surface.
Also, the 65mm lens gathers plenty of light. The 15X-45X magnification range helps in clearly viewing and picking out the target. Targets seen at long distances can be zoomed into using the simple to handle focusing knob. It is combined with multiple anti-reflective coatings to avoid image distortion in bright light conditions.
For safe setup and handling, the Scope's housing is covered in protective rubber to make it slip-resistant. It also comes with a retractable sunshade to avoid lens flares. Most importantly, to assist in tracking and positioning, the tabletop tripod that comes with the purchase has a pan-tilt head and a control handle. This is another ideal scope for digiscoping.
- Smooth and streamlined design
- Clear images even when zoomed to the maximum.
- Wide field of view
- Compatible with most tripods
- Comes with a smartphone adapter and a carrying case
- Slightly heavy
- T-ring for mounting the camera has to be purchased separately.
7. Celestron 52268 C90 Mak Spotting Scope
- Maksutov-Cassegrain optical design
- Comes with NexYZ smartphone adapter
- Does lateral correction of the view
It is made ideally for target shooting and has its close focus at 15ft. With its Maksutov-Cassegrain optical path, the Scope is said to be exceptional at spotting. Also, the 32mm Plossl eyepiece and the erect-image 45° diagonal makes lateral corrections in the view. Also, the 32mm eyepiece allows for a magnification of 39X.
In order to obtain a wider field of view along with the high range of magnification, the eyepiece has to be substituted with the necessary ocular. The C90 comes with an 8X21 erect image finderscope that enables easier target location and gives a wider field of view. Few finderscopes are easy to transport and store. It also mounts easily to the side of the optical tube assembly.
Additionally, the C90 Mak comes with a tripod to ensure secure and stable images. There are built-in T-Mount threads to mount the user's SLR camera. Also, the NexYZ helps in connecting the Scope with any of the latest phones. Remember, NexYZ is extremely durable and can aid in taking the perfect snap in a few seconds.
- Allows for rapid subject location
- Compatible with external eyepieces also
- Comes with a nylon backpack
- Compact and portable design
- Can be used for astronomical viewing as well
- Narrow field of view
- Some users find that the Scope is not waterproof.
8. Redfield Rampage 20-60x80mm Angled Spotting Scope
- 80mm wide objective lens
- Body crafted from tough polycarbonate
- Uses professional-grade BAK4 prism
Rampage 20-60x80mm spotting scope is made for the hunter on a budget. Durability is its most notable feature since it can withstand rugged handling with the rubber-armored polycarbonate housing. One cannot avoid the fully coated optics that enable exceptional light transmission without getting easily affected by the weather.
With more light allowed to enter the Scope through the 80mm objective lens, the image resolution is fantastic over all the magnifications, even while shooting at night. While using in bright sunlight, the retractable shade keeps the glare to the minimum. Moreover, the BAK4 prism used in the Scope's manufacture keeps the chromatic aberration to the minimum.
Additionally, the Scope's adjustable eye relief and the adjusted viewing angle make the long periods of mid-range and long-range observation comfortable. Another benefit, the tripod, a soft case, an eyepiece cover, and an objective lens cover that comes with the Scope's purchase endear the product to the users.
- Increased visibility in unprotected terrain
- Built using lightweight yet durable materials
- Rubber reinforced housing
- Designed to stay upright even in adverse conditions
- Slip-resistant ridges for easy handling
- Average clarity for the images taken below 250 yards
- Images taken after maximum zooming is blurry at times.
9. Leupold SX-1 Ventana 2 15-45x60mm Spotting Scope
Classified as shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof, this Leupold spotting scope uses Guard-ion Technology on its optical surfaces to keep the dust and dirt away. The Scope's streamlined design, combined with its sturdy and durable exterior, makes the product easy to handle.
With a magnification range of 15X-45X, the targets can be zeroed into quickly. At the same time, the images obtained at maximum magnification are not blurry. It is also very easy to tune the Scope's controls, allocating the user excellent fine control over the adjustments. This feature is essential for beginners to learn their basics of adjusting the Scope.
Another noteworthy feature is the Twilight Light Management System, which adds 10 minutes of glass lighting in low light conditions. Moreover, the compact design of the Scope makes it easy to fold and transport. As a result, this Scope is ideal for beginners and seasoned shooters alike.
- Suitable for beginners
- Tremendous eye relief capability
- Can be used while wearing glasses
- Comes with a lifetime warranty
- Smooth focus control
- Few complaints about the quality of the tripod
10. Gosky 2019 Updated Newest Spotting Scope
- 80mm green film objective lens
- Has the magnalium framework
- Comes with a whole range of accessories
Using the Porro prism system, this Gosky Scope provides the user with a wide field of view. With the large objective lens, visibility in low light conditions is made exceptionally easy. The green film on the lenses avoids glares and other distractions due to light and gives the shooter sharp, high-contrast images.
Built to withstand any condition, the magnalium framework of the Scope is highly durable. Moreover, the Scope's body is armored with rubber that provides protection and guarantees good grip at all times. It also helps in absorbing shock, which makes the Scope even more suited for strenuous outdoor activities.
For reliable performance in any weather, the Scope is purged and sealed with nitrogen gas. O-rings are used to seal the dust and dirt away from the optical surfaces. To make this Scope convenient, the purchase comes with a carry bag, protection covers, cleaning cloth, and accessories for digiscoping.
- It is highly protected to withstand harsh conditions.
- Compatible with a large number of smartphones and cameras
- Comfortable viewing owing to the rotatable eyepiece.
- Easy to obtain crisp and detailed images while zooming
- Excellent design that makes handling easy
- Takes time to break-in
What Makes The Best Spotting Scope Under $500: Buying Guide?
With all the options available, it is normal that a hunter gets overwhelmed while trying to choose the best spotting scope under $500. To make the selection process easier and to make the best purchase possible, here are a few factors to take into consideration while shopping for a spotting scope:
- Magnification power
This feature decides the size of the image that the hunter can see. Larger and clearer images of the target lead to more accurate shots. Magnification also allows the shooter to aim more precisely. Deciding how powerful the Scope can be, it is always better to choose scopes with a wide range of magnification.
- Field of view
The field of view is simply what the shooter can see when they look through the eyepiece. Most of the scopes offer a clear view of at least half a mile ahead, but there are exceptions. The wider the view, the more accurate the shots are. Still, unfortunately, with increased magnification, the field of view becomes limited.
- Eye relief
The specification suggesting the distance between the eye lenses and the eye is called eye relief. Choosing an ideal eye relief is based on individual preferences and the purposes the Scope is used for. More extended eye relief is better as it reduces the instances of straining the eyes. Also, it prevents injuries to the eye due to recoil. Moreover, more extended eye relief means that it can be adjusted to an individual's preference.
- Foldable light path
The optical path of the Scope is made shorter using mirrors and lenses. This makes the target appear large and clear in the image. Thus, a shorter foldable light path is ideal as the image obtained is better. Also, it is easier to carry around a lightweight scope with a shorter length. Additionally, scopes with a shorter light path can give better performance, even on the move.
- Objective lenses
The size of the objective lenses determines the amount of light entering the rifle scope. More light means images with better quality and clarity. This feature is especially helpful in low light settings.
The last number after the 'X,' for example, in Leupold SX-1 Ventana 2 15-45x60mm spotting scope, indicates the objective lens's size is 60 mm. When the objective lens that is especially large is used, it is possible that without proper adjustments, the image obtained will be too bright.
As opposed to a traditional scope, specific scopes use prisms instead of a series of lenses to focus on an image. Also known as prismatic scopes, they allow for a more compact design without compromising image clarity and performance. There are two types of prisms: barium crown (BAK4) and borosilicate (BK-7). BAK4 is the most popular prism in the market because it gives extremely sharp and bright images.
Porro and Roof are two prism systems that should be taken into consideration before making a purchase. While the Roof system guarantees a streamlined vision with high magnification, the Porro system comparatively gives a greater depth and wider perspective.
- Exit pupil
Exit pupil is the size of the column entering the spotting scope. For each purpose of the rifle scope, there is a suitable exit pupil, and one should bear this in mind before making a purchase. The larger the exit pupil, the more light enters the Scope, and it gives brighter images without glares.
- ED glass
Standing for 'extra-low dispersion' glass, ED glass is an important criterion in choosing the right Scope, especially when it comes to outdoor shooting. Allowing for color correction and enhancing the sharpness of the images, ED glass facilitates accurate shooting. Moreover, rifle scopes that have ED glass do not ruin the viewing of the target due to chromatic aberrations.
- Coating type
There are different types of coatings available on the scopes, making them better equipped for various purposes. Moreover, the coating is present to protect the equipment. When a scope is said to be 'coated,' it means that the lenses are coated at least once.
By specifying that the Scope is 'fully-coated,' every glass-to-air surface is coated once. 'Multi-coated' means the coating covers the lenses and all the other surfaces more than once, whereas 'fully multi-coated' suggests that all the glass-to-air surfaces have been coated multiple times.
Scopes coming under $500 should offer reasonable quality considering their price. There is no reason for the buyer to settle for anything less than the best. Choosing a scope from the above list of best spotting scope under $500 comes with the guarantee of desirable performance and satisfaction.
Outdoor shooting can be made more fun and successful by using a spotting scope for enhancing accuracy and performance. A spotting scope is always a recommended addition to every shooting enthusiast's gear. With a large magnification range and features to avoid chromatic aberrations, there is a wide selection of scopes to choose the best spotting scope under $500.
We have chosen the Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A Angled Eyepiece Spotting Scope as the best spotting scope under $500 owing to the superior image quality obtained. The wide field of view and smooth zooming feature offered by the Scope makes it extremely popular.
This buying guide has been put to help you in your endeavor to choose the best spotting scope under $500. Keep in mind, our top pick does not have to be the best suited to your needs, and we hope you find the right spotting scope without much effort.