It is always a struggle for hunters to find the best gear that meets and fulfill their needs. Given the fact that such professional tools are too expensive, hunters need to dig deep into markets and stores hoping that they will find something that fits their budget.
Spotting scopes for example are necessary for hunting, I mean, how can you spot the game and estimate its position if you are not using a spotting scope? Prices of these products vary from a couple of $10 to thousands of dollars. For this reason, you need to know exactly what you need in the field and then search for products that provide the best price versus quality ratio.
In this article, I brought you the best spotting scopes under $500 for hunting after a deep research between products from reputable manufacturers and with good aspects. You will definitely find the scope that fits your requirements.
First of all, let me introduce you to our most recommended spotting scope that does not exceed the roof of $500 but still makes a stunning performance in the field.
Vortex Optics Diamondback 20-60×60 Angled
Vortex has known a huge demand on its products during the last few years and to make clients satisfied, this company came up with the Diamondback 20-60X60 Angled spotting scope that beats all the rules of hunting spotting scopes and gains the trust of the most advanced hunters and scope experts.
For less than $500, this product comes with a tempting configuration of 20-60X magnification that will make spotting your target easy and the 60mm wide objective lens that will enhance the clarity and brightness of your view.
The optical performance on this mid-range scope is as amazing as on the most expensive products and it is definitely useful for hunting.
- XR fully multi- coated lenses that enhance light transmission and give a great resolution and sharp contrast.
- Retractable built-in sunshade to eliminate the glare of sunlight as well as to protect the objective lens.
- An integrated twist-and-lock collar that puts the scope in different glassing positions (moves the glass inside the scope)
- Easy and smooth focus knob.
- Adjustable eyecup that will provide glass wearers with comfort.
- Water and fog proof
- Relatively light (weighs around 950 grams) and has a compact size (330mm in length)
- The body is rubber armored so it is completely resistant to shocks.
- Includes a variety of additional tools with it such as eyepiece cap, objective lens cover and a special view-through carry case.
- Cheaply made, means that the material used in its construction is not durable at all.
- Does not include ED or HD glass which makes the quality of the image relatively poor.
- Over 30X, the view becomes more and more blurry and focus is almost impossible at high magnification.
- Tripod not included.
Now after reviewing the first product of many, it is time to know more about spotting scopes, their utility, features, types… those pieces of information make the difference between beginners and professionals.
Why would one want a spotting scope?
A spotting scope is a magnifying system that is commonly used in the nature where people love to watch birds and other animals in their natural environment. Besides, hunters use this tool to locate their game and have a good view of distant targets reaching more than 1000 yards.
In addition to hunting and birding, there are many other activities where a spotting scope can be useful and for this reason, it is versatile and convenient.
Specific applications where one would want a good spotting scope
- Astronomy and stargazing: Many people would wonder how a spotting scope would work as a telescope. Well, the optics applied on both systems are generally the same (with some differences) therefore a spotting scope is totally useful for observing the moon, Jupiter, and many other stars.
- Archery: this activity may be weird as well but many users rely on spotting scopes to view their results of their shooting. It does not need a high quality scope though.
- Digiscoping: photography is a top trend nowadays and people compete daily to make the best photos either to post them or to keep them as memories. To do so, a spotting scope with a DSLR or a smartphone adapter could be very useful since it will provide the best quality at the longest ranges. Take your camera and your scope to the field and see how this combination can amaze you.
What different types there are?
No matter how many shapes and types of spotting scopes you will find, the major difference is the body shape: straight or angled body. How can this difference affect the use of this tool?
Well, straight scopes have a linear straight body which you can easily hold in your hands and use it while standing or spotting a moving target without the use of a tripod. On angled, it is not the case since getting the right view as well as the sharpest focus would take a little bit longer and needs more stability but this does not make the straight one better. They are both useful and designed for specific activities, angled are usually useful for long ranges where the game is steady while straight are useful for birding especially with moving tiny birds that fly between trees.
What features to look for?
For hunters, magnification is a critical feature that determines the quality of the scope. They do not want to approach the game but still want to get a sharp view of it so a high magnification with precise focus are strictly needed. In order to fulfill their needs, they always choose a 20-60X scope but sometimes a 15-45X will do the work. Anyway, it is always advised to choose the highest magnification you can get without forgetting about quality, field of view and clarity.
Objective lens size
Hunters also want a good performance during rough weather conditions such as rain, fog, darkness… therefore, they ask for a large objective lens which can range from 60mm to 100mm so it can allow enough light to get inside the scope and provide quality and brightness even in dark situations.
Such large objective lenses are usually expensive but for $500, you can get a good 80mm wide lens but make sure that the quality of the glass is also decent to guarantee the greatest optical performance in the field.
What things to be aware of
Weight, size and portability considerations – if you are going to take your spotting scope with you on a hunt for all day long, you should consider the weight and size of this tool. Lifting more than 1kg in your hands may be uncomfortable and exhausting. Choose a compact size and a lightweight scope to enjoy your experience.
Necessity of tripod – to guarantee the best results, your scope needs to be perfectly stable and that is only possible with a special tripod which is adaptable with your product. If the tripod is already included, cool! If not, you will need to purchase one.
With these piles of information, you are now able to choose the best fit for you. For this, I prepared a list of the best spotting scopes under $500 for hunting.
Celestron Ultima 100 Straight
This straight spotting scope is recognized for its extremely wide objective lens that will deliver crisp and clear images that will make you enjoy every detail of your view.
It has a 100mm wide lens and 22-66X zoom eyepiece that reaches a distance of more than 1000 yards. It is absolutely one of the best for hunting!
- Multi coated optics for better light transmission that works in dark conditions.
- BaK-4 prisms that guarantee the best contrast for perfect resolution.
- Rubber armored: shock resistant and durable material
- Water and fog proof.
- Very low quality at high magnifications
- Sharp focus is quite impossible at high magnifications
- Chromatic aberrations
- Very narrow field of view
- Extremely heavy (weighs around 2 kilograms)
- Tripod not included.
Endeavor XF 80A
Endeavor is well known for its budget and mid-range products, especially hunting spotting scopes that have a wide objective lens and a huge magnification range like the XF 80A which is an angled scope with 20-60X configuration and 80mm lens. That must work well in the field!
- BaK-4 phase correction prisms that are precisely engineered to reduce chromatic aberrations and give good quality.
- Twist-and-lock built-in sunshade to protect the objective lens from sun glare.
- Bright images with great contrast thanks to the multicoated optics.
- Rubber armored magnesium body that provides full durability and security
- Long eye relief which is suitable for eye glass wearers.
- Water and fog proof
- Extremely heavy (weighs 1700 grams)
- Dramatic decrease in quality with increase in magnification.
- Tripod not included
Bushnell Trophy Xtreme 20-60x65mm
Bushnell products are always decent in quality and they provide convenient hunting experience. The 20-60X 65 mm angled spotting scopes is a perfect choice for those looking for mid-range scopes with good optics.
- Multicoated optics with porro-prism technology that eliminates light reflection and enhances its transmission.
- Long and comfortable eye relief.
- Smooth focus knob which is useful for moving targets.
- Water prof and rubber armored material.
- Compact size and light weight (1 kilogram)
- Tripod included.
- Blurry view at high magnification
- Extremely narrow field of view.
- The construction is not very durable.
Whether you know it or not, Konus spotting scopes are amazingly convenient and versatile particularly in the hunting field. These products are available for low prices and high quality which makes the quality versus price ratio very fair.
This spotting scope comes with a 20-60X magnification eyepiece and 100mm wide objective lens which is useful for rough weather conditions and long distance shooting.
- Extremely wide objective lens for more clarity and brightness.
- Multicoated optics that reduce chromatic aberrations and transmit light with decent contrast.
- Additional tools included such as camera adaptor but not a tripod.
- Anti-shock metal body with rubber armoring.
- Water and fog proof.
- Very big size and extremely heavy material (weighs 2.4 kilograms)
- Not very useful at a magnification higher than 40X
- Focus is not really sharp.
At the end, I should mention the importance of quality versus price ratio in these mid-range products. I mean, as a hunter, quality is more important than the amount of money you are going to spend on your gear. For this reason, I recommend that you take a look at some more expensive products that may work better in the field thanks to their high quality optics and precisely engineered construction.
Nevertheless, you can find a perfect match for your needs at the “less than $500” range, so just keep digging into reviews until you find your spotting scope. Good luck!