Best Spotting Scopes Under $500 – 2020 Review

Whether it's hunting, bird watching, or photography, spotting scopes have an essential place in any traveler's kit. They work leaps and bounds better than binoculars for multiple purposes.

However, that being said, it can be tough to buy a spotting scope as it has multiple technicalities and features involved.

Thus, we have listed some of the best spotting scopes that, too, within $500! These are great for your wallet, but they also have many features to look out for. To find out more about them, keep on reading!

Comparison Chart of the Best Spotting Scopes Under $500

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Easy zoom and focus ability
  • Comes with lifetime warranty
  • High-definition spotting scope
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  • Retractable and built-in sunshade
  • Light and compact design
  • Comfortable and adjustable eyecup
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  • Best for the Money
  • Delivers bright and crisp images
  • Fine-focusing wheel for zooming
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  • Comes with window mount
  • Completely waterproof design
  • Rubber armor protection
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  • Able to easily fit into pockets
  • Vivid and well-managed color
  • Enhanced protection against humidity
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Can You Find a Quality Spotting Scope Under $500?

Contrary to popular belief that only expensive scopes are of good quality, it is quite possible to buy a quality model within $500. This is a good starting point for scopes, and the key is to keep your expectations realistic.

More or less, mid-range spotting scopes have the same features as an expensive one; however, you can expect clearer images and better performance at the max focus with a more expensive unit. If you feel that it wouldn't be a problem for you and you could use an 80 to 100 mm objective lens scope, you should be happy with a product in this price range.

When Would a Spotting Scope Come in Handy?

If you still aren't sure whether investing in a spotting scope is a good idea, then perhaps understanding the multiple uses it has can provide you with the clarity you need.

So, let's take a look at the times and circumstances when a spotting scope can come in handy for you:

Bird Watching and Hunting

Spotting scopes are the most popular amongst hunters and bird watchers. There are even specialized models that favor bird watchers by providing a tremendously close focus distance. It provides a clear and bright image and higher magnification than binoculars; thus, it is excellent for hunting.

Photography and Astronomy

Telescopes with high magnification aren't convenient for day-time usage, plus they are created to be incredibly heavy and big, making them inconvenient to travel along with. In this scenario, spotting scopes come in handy.

Furthermore, they can be attached to a camera or even mobile phone and be an excellent addition to your photography paraphernalia by allowing you to capture excellent images.

Surveillance

Scopes are suitable for keeping an eye on trespassers; thus, they could be an excellent investment for your home or office as a security measure. Another excellent use of it is for tactical ranging as it requires higher magnification than what a binocular can provide.

Quick Take | Best Spotting Scopes Under $500

Just looking for the three best spotting scopes under $500? Here they are:

  1. Creative XP HD
  2. Vortex Optics Diamondback
  3. Gosky 20-60x80 Dual Focusing ED

Review of the Best Spotting Scopes Under $500

There are plenty of spotting scopes out there in the market and making a decision can be hard. So, we have reviewed some of the best spotting scopes under $500. Not only are they affordable but equipped with incredible features and are of high quality as well.

Best Overall:
Creative XP HD

CREATIVE XP HD Spotting Scope with Tripod 20-60x80mm - BAK 4 Prism Spotting Scopes for Target Shooting Hunting Astronomy Bird Watching - 100% Waterproof Shockproof IP67 - Phone Adapter and Clicker

PROS

  • Features 2 fine-focus knobs enable a smooth and accurate focusing
  • Nitrogen fillings prevent fogging of optics and provide a clear image
  • Lightweight and portable with intuitive control which is easy to control
  • Highly comfortable to use with a non-slip rubber cover and substantial eye relief
  • Completely multi-coated which eliminates reflections and makes it scratch-resistant

CONS

  • Buyers who wear glasses find it slightly difficult to operate
  • Some buyers find that the tripod knobs need improvement

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers seem to be thoroughly impressed with this unit. It is comfortable and intuitive to use due to its ergonomic construction, and it is weatherproof as well, which is another big plus. While some people report that the knobs on the tripod could be a bit better, the overall unit is fantastic.

Why it Stands Out to Us

There are various reasons why this incredible Creative XP HD scope captured our interest. Firstly, the construction of this unit is remarkable. Be it the 1000 Waterproof and shockproof body or the nitrogen-purged design that prevents fogging and provides clearer images, the construction is immaculate.

The optics are worth praising as well as they provide vibrant and clear images with exceptional performance even at maximum focus, which is quite rare at this price range. Furthermore, the lens is multi-coated, which allows them to be scratch-resistant and eliminate reflections. 

The unit is heavy-duty yet lightweight and portable with non-slip covers to add to its ergonomic value.

Bottom Line

All in all, this excellent product has an incredible design, which makes it durable and sturdy. It provides clear images that are vibrant and bright. Furthermore, the brand service is impeccable. 

All of this makes it an excellent investment.

Vortex Optics Diamondback Spotting Scope 20-60x60 Angled

PROS

  • O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged to prevent fogging
  • Rubber armor enhances grip and adds to the durability
  • Twist and lock collar enable smooth movement for various glassing positions
  • Dielectric, multi-layer prism coating to provide brighter, clearer and color-accurate images
  • Features built-in retractable sunshade that provides excellent light transmission and clear image

CONS

  • Tripod isn't included
  • Zooming ring is very stiff

What Recent Buyers Report

Whether it's the fantastic look or the incredible construction of this unit, it has genuinely swept consumers off their feet. Even though they feel it could be improved in the sense that the zooming ring can be slightly less stiff, the clarity and brightness of the image provided by the product are hard to beat.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Vortex Optics Diamondback is a real work of art. It has a complete and exceptional construction that is comparable to many higher-end units. The construction is incredibly sturdy and robust and the unit is nitrogen purged, and O-ring sealed, which allows it to prevent fogging of the lenses.

It is lightweight but incredibly heavy-duty in its performance. The twist and lock collar enables smooth movement so that it can be adjusted into various glassing positions. It has a rubber armor which allows it to be more durable and comfortable to grip.

Bottom Line

This excellent product is a real beauty. It has an incredible design that is equipped with multiple stunning features that enhance the performance of this unit. It truly is a significant investment and a favorite consumer product.

Gosky 20-60x80 Dual Focusing ED Spotting Scope - Ultra High Definition Optics Scope with Carrying Case and Smartphone Adapter for Target Shooting Hunting Bird Watching Wildlife Astronomy Scenery

PROS

  • Wide field of view with 20 to 60x magnification
  • Incredible focusing system with coaxial 2-speed
  • Nitrogen-purged design which is fog proof and waterproof
  • Multi-coated optics for clear, bright, and color accurate image
  • Lens with BAK4 Porro prism increases light transmission for brighter images

CONS

  • Some buyers find that the setup with phones occupies a long time

What Recent Buyers Report

This unit seems to have really impressed consumers with its spectacular design and construction. It is highly sturdy and capable of producing excellent quality images, which is why it is such a consumer favorite. The design is filled with features that enhance its performance and take it to the next level.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The impeccable Gosky 20-60x80 Dual Focusing ED impressed us with its highly innovative design and fantastic construction. It is constructed with top-notch quality material. It is nitrogen-purged, which allows it to be fog-proof. Its design is also waterproof, which adds to its durability.

The design is also well-thought-out. It has a retractable sunshade that prevents sun glare and allows better light transmission. Furthermore, the focusing system is truly magnificent. It has a coaxial two seed focusing wheel for more accurate and smoother focusing. 

The lens with BAK4 Porro prism also increases light transmission for brighter and clearer images.

Bottom Line

Overall, it is a fantastic product. The pros it has mostly outweigh the cons, and it makes for an incredible investment. The image quality it provides is spectacular and worthy of praise, and the construction is sturdy as well.

Bushnell Trophy Xtreme Spotting Scope

PROS

  • Nitrogen purging allows it to be fog-proof
  • Comes with a premium waterproof case and a soft case
  • Durable, sturdy construction which is portable and easy to mount
  • Rubber armor construction which is 100% waterproof and easy to grip
  • Porro-prism design with multi-coated lenses for excellent image results

CONS

  • Not the clearest at maximum zoom
  • Buyers find it difficult to use while wearing glasses

What Recent Buyers Report

People who bought this are pleased with this unit. They seem to enjoy their performance a lot. The features are simple yet elegant and guarantee high performance. It is an excellent investment for the price. The optics provide exceptional image quality, whereas the construction is highly sturdy. Thus, it's a consumer favorite.

Why it Stands Out to Us

There are many reasons why the Bushnell Trophy Xtreme makes it to our list. Firstly, Bushnell is known to be an incredibly reliable brand. They offer an amazing no-questions-asked lifetime warranty, which is why it is such a trustworthy product. This stunning product is a true masterpiece.

It has a completely weatherproof construction, which puts up a great fight against fogging to provide clear and bright images as it is nitrogen purged. This unit is 100% waterproof as well. 

The optics are multi-coated, which reduce chromatic aberration, minimize reflection, and provide brighter, clearer, and color-accurate images.

Bottom Line

Bushnell is a brand name that the majority is familiar with. It is known to create some of the most wonderful scopes out there and this one is no exception. It is a great investment that provides superior quality results.

Celestron Hummingbird 9-27x56mm ED Micro Spotting Scope - Birder Friendly - Close Focus Distance

PROS

  • Bird watcher friendly close focus distance of 10ft
  • Lightweight and compact thus can be easily carried
  • Nitrogen filling enables it to be waterproof and fog-proof
  • Features a centrally located helical focus dial for easy focus
  • Fully multi-coated ED objective lenses allow it to provide bright, clear, and color-accurate pictures

CONS

  • A few consumers wish the case were bigger
  • Some buyers found that at the highest magnification, the focusing range is narrow

What Recent Buyers Report

According to recent buyers, this is a favorite product for all consumers, and rightfully so. It has a great design that is easy to work with, given its ergonomic value but also capable of providing exceptional quality images. The design is intuitive and incredibly portable, given the size and weight. It's a great product to invest in.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Celestron Hummingbird 9-27x56mm ED Micro is considered by the masses to be a wonderful spotting scope to invest in and rightfully so. This product is wonderfully designed with all the necessary characteristics which can be compared in quality to many higher-end scopes as well.

The optics of this unit are magnificent. It has an ED lens optical system that is responsible for the bright, well managed, and clear images it produces. 

Furthermore, the lenses are multi-coated to reduce chromatic aberration, minimize reflection, and overall increase the image quality. The compact design makes it easy to travel with too.

Bottom Line

Last but certainly not least, this incredible unit is a great investment. It features a stunning design that not only looks good but also is a true delight to use as it is comfortable and provides clear and bright images.

How to Buy a Spotting Scope

People are often confused as to what they should be looking for a spotting scope. There are certain factors that need to be looked into before you decide to buy one as they can truly make or break a good product.

Magnification and Field of View

The field of view of a scope is the amount of space that is visible to you from a particular distance. The greater your FOV is at lower and higher magnification, the better. 

Furthermore, the magnification of the scope depends upon you and the activity you intend to use it for. For hunting, birdwatching, or photography, magnification below 15x should do the job.

Optics

The optics are the key elements that need to be taken into consideration. After all, it is responsible for the image quality you get. Look for a product that has a multi-coated lens with an ED lens optical system. These tend to eliminate reflection, reduce chromatic aberration, and provide brighter and clearer images.

Weatherproof

Spotting scopes have various uses. You can use them for photography, birdwatching, and hunting. Now under these circumstances, the equipment used needs to be weatherproof. This means that the unit you invest in should be water, fog, and shockproof so that it can be used in an external setting.

Conclusion

Spotting scopes have become increasingly popular over the years due to their versatile nature and highly productive design. They are much more articulate than binoculars, which is why they are wildly popular amongst bird watchers, hunters, and even photographers.

One gets very confused over the technical terminologies involved and the plethora of options available. This post was aimed at easing your troubles and providing you with all the relevant information needed to make an informed decision.

Hopefully, by the time you reach this section, you will have a good idea of how to buy spotting scopes, where they can come in handy, and which one to pick.

People Also Ask

People tend to have a lot of questions regarding spotting scopes, which one to buy, how they work, etc. Thus, we answered your most frequently asked questions so that any confusion you may have been cleared. Let's take a look at them:

How Far Can You See With a Spotting Scope?

Spotting scopes are pretty good for viewing objects at a distance much more than a binocular. Generally, they are considered to be able to see as far as 100 yards, which is much more than what a standard binocular can see.

How Does Spotting Scope Work?

Spotting scopes are essentially a high powered yet portable telescope. The work by providing an erect image that has been magnified and optimized so you can easily observe the object. How much light a spotting scope gathers and its resolution depends upon the diameter of the objective lens. 

The standard assembly setup has a refracting objective lens, eyepiece, and an erecting image system, which either has prisms or an image erecting relay lens.