Hunters, birdwatchers, target shooters, and people that partake in activities that require vision enhancement all know the importance of a spotting scope, and you don’t even need to break the bank to get one, as you shall see in this article covering the best spotting scopes under 200.
A spotting scope comes in handy when you need to use more magnification than the regular binocular can produce. It’s much like a telescope only that it is for use during the day and it relies on a tripod to sit still. The images it produces are upright, making them more useful in surveillance and watching wildlife.
How to use a Spotting Scope
Spotting scopes can serve as aids for marksmen to spot their targets plainly. It is used to confirm the position of the hits without the need walk to the target. To a great extent, hunters who use rifles, pistols or are in archery can score targets much easier.
This means a sniper can practice with the help of a spotter (using a spotting scope) and can verify the precise placement of his/her hits without needing to walk all the way to the target. This product is very necessary to have for spotters and environmentalists. Some more powerful ones are of great use in astronomy. Spotting scopes are very attractive to the birders, target shooters, hunters and nature viewers currently. The makers are now more mindful of providing a variety of top quality scopes to the customers.
For that reason, you will have a lot of option when you are buying one from the market.These choices have made it a more difficult task to select the ideal kit for you. There are many things you should put into consideration before purchasing a spotting scope. Some of the important characteristics to look at include quality, transmission, weight and the level of magnification among others. You need not worry, though; our article below will assist you to go for the best spotting scope from the hundreds and thousands of models.
To select a spotting scope, the first thing you need to do is to confirm your financial plan. If you come across a quality product that is within your little budget, then you don’t need to pay extra dollars. Here, we provide a review of some the best budget spotting scopes.
What Is a Spotting Scope?
Spotting scopes are compact telescopes that are improved with advanced optics that go beyond the use of the regular binocular. They are majorly useful to hunters, naturalists, marksmen, and anybody who needs more enlargement than what is provided by binoculars.The finest spotting scope will offer clear and upright images of birds and other animals from extreme distances. This means, the close study is standard, and naturalists can watch the development and actions of particular species they are paying attention to.
Also, spotting scopes can help hunters kill and verify the target. If you’re leaving on a wilderness expedition, journey or any activity that would involve distant sightings, you will find a spotting scope very helpful. Particularly if you require something stronger than the standard binoculars, Tripod is required for perfect spotting
Why You Need a Spotting Scope
If you live east of the Rockies and most of your time is spent in a tree stand, then you can probably easily respond to this question with a no.And if you want to get the experience of the natural world or you are just looking to load your freezer with a few yummy elk or deer, it is uncertain that you will feel like spending the cash or carry the additional load.
Nevertheless, if you use most of your time in the west and putting a prize on your wall is the major focus of time used in the field, it is necessary to have a spotting scope in your company at all times.
If you don’t own a spotting scope, you are missing on the perks that come with powerful imagery when out in the open fields checking out antelopes, deer, and whitetails. Provided you are hunting at 10,000 feet; it could take you a long stressful walk just to realize that the animal that looked like quite a catch to you isn’t really worth it.
This uses up a lot of energy and will decrease your probability of success as the hunt continues. It is equally at home in thickets and mountainous areas trying to locate sheep in remote crevasses.Having the spotting scope with you will remove any probability of time or energy wasting, and it would allow you to preserve your energy for the animal that is really worth the effort.
Determining the spotting scope that is best suitable for you is a difficult task in itself, and that is why we have researched at great length and have compiled this list.
Our Top Picks
|Focal Lens Diameter
|Celestron 52250 80mm Ultima
|20x - 60x
|Check price on Amazon
|20x - 60x
|Check price on Amazon
|25x - 75x
|Check price on Amazon
|Meade Instruments 126001
|20x - 60x
|Check price on Amazon
|Celestron 52268 C90 Mak
|39x - 210x
|Check price on Amazon
|30x - 90×
|Check price on Amazon
|20x - 60x
|Check price on Amazon
|20x - 60x
|Check price on Amazon
Features to Consider Before Purchase
When you come to a decision to buy a spotting scope, there are some essential factors you should consider when purchasing, such as your needs, durability, magnification, and eyepiece. It’s important to consider these factors before making your final decision, so you wouldn’t regret anything in the end.
The regular power for spotting scopes falls between 12x and 250x. You should try and find the scope with the front focal lens at 60mm. Reasons being with high magnification comes considerable weight of the device. Regarding the weather, medium range power is better to increase visibility in various conditions and at dusk or dawn.
Variable magnification is preferable so that you can first begin with a small magnification. Once you’ve located the animal, then you can change to a greater power. Some scopes feature fixed-length eyepieces or a single zoom eyepiece that can be interchanged.
No spotting scope can do better than its eyepiece, so the building of the eyepiece is vital, interchangeable eyepieces in particular. Detachable eyepieces that allow you to modify magnification range can be valuable, but such an attribute is likely to impair waterproofing, and it is expensive.
You can either select an angled or a straight eyepiece. For extended viewing sessions, though, angled eyepieces are more suitable, especially when the user is sitting. However, if acquiring the target fast enough is important, straight eyepieces are ideal.
Spotting scopes can perform at an optimum level only when they’re stable and steady. Think about how and where your scope will be used and how you will select a suitable tripod.For the distance, you might desire a high tripod that gives you the allowance to stand. For stormy mountainside, though, a small but steady tripod is the best. And if you will be using your scope a lot from the motor vehicle, a window mount is the most suitable.
Top Products on the Market
Now that you have a good idea on what to look for in a budget-friendly spotting scope, let’s zoom in on some of the best options out there. Now all of these will provide good performance while keeping your wallet happy, so you’ll have to find the one that will work best for you.
Celestron Ultima Zoom
Price: Approx. $170
Weight: 4.94 pounds
Dimension: 6 x 7 x 20 inches
Specific features: Multicoated optics, magnification 20x-60x, angled eyepiece fits shorter tripod, long eye relief, and waterproof design
Best use: Beginning astronomy, birding, wildlife watching, hunting
For decades, Celestron has inarguably been one of the leading optics companies. The Celestron Ultima Zoom continually produces high-quality images owing to the 20-60x magnification on it.
This scope features 80 mm objective lens giving you 77% clearer image than a beginning level 60 mm scope at your hunting time or observing the nature. It features a multiple layered anti-reflection coating on its objective lens which enables the scope to put out the massive amount of brightness.
This facility that transmits light with an earpiece that has high magnification zoom and BAK4 prism generates sharper pictures. As a result of this, the lenses featured in the Celestron 52250 80mm have transformed the scope efficiency regarding hunting and nature viewing.
The Celestron Ultima is suitable for harsh conditions because of how well it is constructed. The device is glossy and wouldn’t take up a lot of space when you put it in your bag. The tool also comes with a padded casing that is very soft and both its ends are zippered.
This enables the tool to be affixed to a tripod without having to remove the casing. This gives extra security when the device is not being used. The craggy nature of the scope is ideal for harsh situations, and it also is waterproof.
The achromatic objective lens used in this scope is a refractor-type which has very excellent light transmission capacity, which is a result of the multilayer anti-reflection coatings on its objective lens and the zoom eyepiece also.
The zooming button is very soft, and a small number of turns can swiftly get you from 20X magnification up to 60X without any difficulty and also without any clarity or lucidity of the object or the subject.
This scope has two versions; the non-angled and the angled. The 45° angle is ideal for surveillance, and the cap with a rubber eye serves as a cover for a “T-thread” placed there for accessories and some other extensions.
The pointed eyepiece also assists when you choose to use a short tripod while standing or when you frequently need to change from spotting scope to a rifle scope or your camera.
Given that different activities call for different kinds of position (sitting and standing for instance), having the ability to affix this scope to various tripod attachments gives you options.
- Variable magnification allows custom views
- Fully multicoated lens provide high visibility in low light conditions
- Long focus range to watch out to extreme distances
- Twisted eyecups for use by persons with glasses
- Can mount on tripod with the protective case
- Chromatic aberration is experienced as you zoom to maximum
Related: If blue fringing is becoming an issue when using this scope, you could also invest in the Celestron Ultima 80ED 52251 or Celestron Regal Refractor 5302. These spotting scopes use low dispersion glass which ensures true color fidelity when zoomed to the highest power. They sight tubes which afford quick targeting.
Firefield Spotting Scope
Price: Approx. $80
Weight: 6.4 pounds
Dimension: 9 x 7.5 x 15.5 inches
Specific features: Quick focus knob, variable magnification, inbuilt sunshade, nitrogen purged frame
Best use: Long distance and target shooting, game tracking, nature viewing
The Firefield Spotting Scope is a new leading device in the world of spotting scopes. It has a realistic, yet stylish design. The device is an improvement over previous models of spotting scopes, which makes it one of the leading technologically advanced spotting scopes today.
The scope features a sturdy construction which makes it suitable for lasting use and is perfect for shooting targets and far distance game tracking. This spotting scope is capable of magnifying from 20X to 60X.
Picture clarity, image sharpness, contrast, and reproduction of colors are brilliant from 20X to 40X or thereabout, of which severe distortion could set in afterward.
You’ll observe a distinct fish-eye effect and also other types of distortion starting from 40X up to 60X. Contrarily, there is no clue of a chromatic anomaly at all at any magnification. This device field of view’s range is from 57 feet to 110 feet from 1,000 yards, depends on your chosen magnification.
The prism featured in a scope is for flicking the picture right side up and left to right. It is imperative in finding out the excellence of the images produced by the device. It features BAK-4 glass prism which makes a lens system of high quality that assists to improve the standard of the picture of the object on lock or nature.
The Firefield simple is to use, with the switches positioned precisely where they are expected to be. The magnification controls, placed on the eyepiece, and the central focus knob rolls slickly but with sufficient friction so you wouldn’t bump them loose.
The device is not only shockproof but also water and fog proof. It is stored effortlessly and firmly in the strong nylon case with a shoulder fastening.
Firefield Spotting Scope is a wonderful tool for magnifying the excitement and pleasure of out-of-door nature viewing. The far distance game tracking capability and the target shooting, majority of the exploratory people that have been making use of this device are pleased with its performance.
- Rubber eyepiece for comfortable use against the skin
- Carries an anti-glare built in sunshade
- Can be mounted on a camera using an external accessory bought separately
- Has a quick focus knob to focus in both close and long distance shooting range
- It’s an improved model by Firecore using more advanced tech
- Images start losing their sharp dimensions as you approach the highest power
Related: When you want to improve your hunting experience a good bipod stand is a must have. The Firefield Compact Bipod is an ideal option when you want to take fast, accurate shots in target shooting. It has rubber feet, and you don’t need to buy other accessories to have it fit on your rifle. It has an extension adjustment so that it can extend to multiple lengths. And, if the light dims on random environments, you’ll want to invest in the Firefield NVRS 3x42mm Gen1 NV Riflescope. This device ergonomically designed with a streamlined, titanium body. It has low magnification to give a full field of view and high-resolution images.
Gskyer Spotting Scope
Price: Approx. $80
Weight: 5 pounds
Dimension: 5.5 x 8 x 18.4 inches
Specific features: Variable magnification 25x-75x, long eye relief 16.5-13 mm, multicoated optics, close near focus 33ft
Best use: Birding, hunting, camping, hiking, road trips, shooting, golf
Considering it is sold under $200, this spotting scope is highly recommended and because of its really impressive features.
This Gskyer Spotting Scope with variable 25x to 75x magnification and 60mm objective lens, the dynamic lens focusing system feature a BK-7 prism with completely multi-coated optics which gives reassurance about the standard of the lens on this scope.
A multi-coated optic such as this is capable of improving the quantity of light coupled with giving you the most meaningful and sharp pictures of your target or view. It gets the most out of the amount of light coming in from the outside of the lens raising the quality of images thanks to the many covering to the glass.
The scope comes with a carrying bag to make it easier to be carried around, and also a cleaning cloth to ensure it is clean at all times. It is supplied with portable tripod which is really great because it offers a stable base for monocular
Gskyer 25-75×75 bird watching telescope is an ideal equipment for increasing the ardor and ecstasy of nature observing experience.
- Comes with a portable tripod stand, making it easy to set up
- Zoom is clear thanks to the BK-7 prisms
- It has a lens cap to use when it’s dazzling against glare and protect it from moisture
- Long eye relief makes it possible for persons with eyeglasses to use it
- Small exit pupil provides maximum light; hence bright images
- Isolated complaint concerning a wobbly eyepiece
Related: For those that love astronomy and watching terrestrial bodies, we believe in the Gskyer Powerseeker Telescope 600x90mm. It is in the affordable range just over $200 but expressing high-quality optics with full multi-coatings. It comes with an adjustable aluminum stand and Altazimuth mount. You can have a custom view with the slow-motion control option.
Meade 126001 Spotting Scope
Price: Approx. $160
Weight: 3.1 pounds
Dimension: 7.09 x 3.93 x 18.9 inches
Specific features: Lightweight, can mount on camera, 80mm objective lens, weather proofed, soft texture
Best use: Bird watching, hunting, wildlife watching, long-range tracking
The Meade 126001 Spotting Scope is perfect for high-magnification, high-resolution view of earthly subjects. Observe the intricacies of a bird’s feather from 50 yards away, examine license plates from more than a mile away, or use the scope for laid-back earthly observations.
This 20-60x80mm Wilderness Spotting Scope is a fully multi-coated device that is capable of magnifying from 20-60x with an eyepiece that gives lucid and vivid images when being used at a long distance in all-weather circumstances.
The 80mm objective lens featured on the scope gives it a low light performance ahead of lesser objectives to locate objects and track game and animals at daybreak and sunset.
There is a quick focus switch placed on the right side and also a sight tube which functions similarly to the optical tube to assist you to find your subjects faster.
Its exterior is also rubber made which shield it from falls. A camera attachment is incorporated which glides over the eyepiece and takes most users supplied camera specific T-mounts.
The device features BAK-4 prisms of high quality, accuracy ground lenses that are covered and also a sunshade to lessen glare. It has customary ¼-20 threaded holes, prepared to mount on your tripod.
All Wilderness Spotting scopes are fog proof, waterproof, and nitrogen cleansed to guarantee several years of performance no matter the environment. It comes with a soft casing nylon bag to guard your device, camera adapter, and lens cleaning cloth.
- Bak-4 Porro prisms provides fast viewing with full color
- Lightweight design for portability
- Carries a sliding sunshade to protect from glare and mask your position
- Large objective lens enables visibility in poorly lit environments
- Designed with the conventional ¼ -20 threaded holes for easy tripod mounting
- T-adapter for camera is not included in the package
Related: Most of us are interested in knowing what goes on in the skies at night and since you are limited to the day, you’ll want to invest in the Meade Instruments Telescope ETX90 Observer. It has a 1250mm focal length and two super plods eyepieces. They measure 9.7mm and 26mm for variable settings. It’s pretty much what you’ll need when extending your observation endeavors.
Celestron C90 52268
Price: Approx. $180
Weight: 2 pounds
Dimension: 10 x 7 x 16 inches
Specific features: 1250 mm focal length, 32 mm Plossl eyepiece, variable magnification 39x-210x,
Best use: Astronomy, wildlife watching, photography
The Celestron C90 52268 is a perfect optical instrument for outdoor and wildlife viewing. This scope is well equipped, and it comes with many applications. One of the outstanding features of this device is the image finder which is an astonishing feature.
It features 8×12 configurations which offer a wide field of view that assists to find the object effortlessly. The permanent 39x magnification of this device makes sure the suitable size of the object’s picture. The scope’s greatest magnification level is supposedly 210x.
The Celestron Mak Spotting Scope features the choice of using the different eyepiece with altered magnification.
The 12.5 mm eyepiece can be used with this scope as well. When you use the 12.5 mm eyepiece and 100 x magnifications, you can easily see the main cloud bands of the Jupiter, and when you use the 6mm eyepiece and 200 x magnifications, you would be able to see the Moon and Stars easily.
In the range, you can obtain the detailed image at different points. The lowest level of the magnification is 39x while the utmost level is 210x. A magnification level such as this is ideal for getting the perfect size of the images.
The outstanding feature of this scope is the merged optical materials and magnifications. It comes together with combined mirrors and lens that have the length of 1250 mm. The least magnification of this device is 39x, and the highest is 210x.
Of the key parts of the scope is the objective lens. It assists in penetrating the light into the housing of the scope. The objective lens that comes with the device is 90mm, and that is huge enough for getting more than adequate light.
Summarily, the Celestron Mak Spotting scope is a device with multiple dimensions for viewing nature, earthly observations and shooting. Numerous technical alternatives of the objective lens and magnification have ensured the uniqueness of the scope in the world of spotting.
The interchangeable eyepiece gives you the prospect of selecting the preferred object to watch. Well-built and highly developed spotting scope, the users are very satisfied with this device.
- Short 12-inch body makes it compact and portable
- Can adapt a 1.25” eyepiece improving the versatility
- Uses low dispersion glass to eliminate chromatic aberrations
- Has an image finder to spot the least perceivable objects
- Combines mirrors and lenses to enhance imagery to the horizon
- It is not completely weather proofed
Related: You always need a dependable tripod stand to go with heavy duty spotting scopes like this one. Celestron provides their Altazimuth Tripod Stand to go with this specific device. It features versatile slow-motion cables to focus the scope according to the altitude and azimuth. It has a construction from aluminum which speaks more of the durability and long-time usage. You’ll like that the feet are extendable to fit various heights.
Barska Colorado Waterproof Spotting Scope
Price: Approx. $140
Weight: 3 pounds
Dimension: 4.5 x 5 x 21 inches
Specific features: Large focal lens, fully multicoated lens, completely waterproofed, extendable sunshade, quick release platform
Best use: Astronomical viewing, birding
The Barska Colorado Waterproof Spotting Scope offers you a powerful scope and a sturdy, steady tripod in one precious package. The 30-90×90 WP Colorado Spotting Scope is a Barska spotting scope with some extra kick, boasting an excellent zoom magnification range that can zoom from 30x to 90x.
The large 90mm optical lens of the scope optimizes light transmission, producing brighter images even in conditions with low light.
Barska offers you much more than a mere spotting scope with the Barska Colorado 30-90x Straight Spot Scope; it includes a sturdy, flexible tripod that is capable of giving you a stable viewing surface.
This device can be extended to 63.4″, and it features a collaborative fluid head, and the head platform is universal. The tripod offers legs that can be extended with feet made of rubber, and a fastener is used to additionally steady the tripod in extremely stormy situations.
It features a fitted edged sun-shade helps lessen glare when being used in scorching sun. The device is lightweight hence it’s very portable to secluded areas, and its premium rubber body provides the viewer a non-slip shock proof hold. This waterproof scope is perfect for far distance surveillance and shooting.
- Massive 90mm objective lens resolves high quality, bright images
- Porro prisms allow perception of true distance from an object
- Comes with the tripod stand with a standard adjustable base
- Carries a sliding sunshade to mask one’s position when tracking through extreme distances
- Has a water-tight housing making it useful in extreme weather conditions
- It is heavy limiting its possibilities for portability
Related: Since the Barska Colorado 30-90x90mm may confine you due to its heavy weight, you will benefit from the Barska 20-60x80mm Blackhawk Spotter. It is angled to provide comfortable viewing even for the users who wear eyeglasses. It comes with a hard case which is watertight and seeing that this scope is also weatherproofed, you can use it in all conditions.
Redfield Rampage Spotting Scope
Price: Approx. $180
Weight: 5.1 pounds
Dimension: 16 x 7.5 x 5.8 inches
Specific features: Retractable lens shade, twist-up eyecups, fully multicoated lens, short close focus distance, bak-4 prisms
Best use: Hunting
Redfield is a division of Leupold, who has attained global popularity and acknowledgment in the field of premium optics. Products by Redfield are generally more inexpensive than products with the high-class Leupold name.
The Redfield Rampage Spotting Scope comes together with nearly everything you would require for hunting or nature viewing. Every detail is paid attention to in the manufacturing of the added accessories.
When observing near objects, the lens will enable the user to focus on things that are as near as 19 feet away. It also gives an area of view that is above normal, at 114 feet of view with 20x magnification for 1,000 yards and 51-feet of view at 60x magnification from 1,000 yards.
Using this spotting scope is easy. Both the magnification and focus controls turn appropriately, but with adequate friction to stop you from accidentally knocking them out of your favored focus and view. At the base of the device is a tripod mount which is compatible with any camera tripod or window mount.
It features fully multi-coated lenses with premium BAK-4 prisms, giving it incredible low light capacity. This scope’s dusk feature is also brilliant as it ranges from 34.6 to about 60.
Due to this, it functions well even at nighttime. You can make use of a retractable lens shade when you are out in the intense sunlight to be protected from glare.
Even though this device has some slight blemishes, it is a fine scope all the same and outstanding value. It’s a scope capable of delivering excellent performance for the cost.
This device is worth taking into consideration if you’re looking for a powerful spotting scope that brings long-range pictures into accurate clarity.
- Maintains true color fidelity owing to Bak-4 prism
- Soft storage case keeps it safe from damage when it’s not in use
- Front knob eases the adjustment process for the various settings
- Soft ridges at the side give a firm grip you would like to use it without a tripod
- Long eye relief around 14-17mm making it ideal for all types of users
- Focus wheel have great stippling for fast focusing when hands are slippery
- It experiences an image shift when setting at the highest power
Related: If you experience a wobbly scope on a rifle, we believe the Redfield .22Cal Aluminum Rings will correct this situation. They are heavily built to provide high resilience when using heavy recoil guns. They’ll come in handy when you have to spot and shoot so you can’t miss a moment of the acquired range. They come with other mounting hardware so that you won’t have to buy the necessary accompaniments.
BARSKA Colorado Spotting Scope
Price: Approx. $70
Weight: 2.6 pounds
Dimension: 15.3 x 6.5 x 4 inches
Specific features: 100% water and fog proof, quick focus knob, portable, bk-7 prisms, lightweight, 7m close focus
Best use: Astronomy, target shooting, hunting, wildlife and marine watching
A spotting scope ought to work in every circumstance and withstand abrasion as a result of hunting. This device ticks all boxes, and it has numerous features that are useful to any bird watcher or hunter.
The 60-mm lens gives sharp pictures even when it is used in low light conditions. It can be magnified from 20 to 60X, and it is adjustable using the power control in the region of the viewing lens. This device shows simplicity in usage and provides a full field of view.
Of the features that make the Barska Colorado Spotting Scope an exceptional product is the protective casing that is made of rubber which makes it waterproof as a result and it offers easy to hold. It has an excellent camo color that means it wouldn’t draw any attention when being used.
The product is not only waterproof but fog proof also due to its casing O-ring seal, protecting all components in the scope from the chemicals.
- Fully multi-coated optics delivers clear, crisp images
- Variable power allows one to lock on target fast and easy
- Comes with the tripod for stability in rugged terrain
- Has a carrying case and neck strap to ease the transportation process
- Has a lens and dust cap to keep moisture and debris from degrading the optics
- Eye relief is affected as you approach the highest power making the images to blur
Related: When using this spotting scope for hunting, you’ll want to carry a tripod for your rifle too. The Barska AW11890 Medium Height Barrel Clam Bipod is a great option for your adventures. Its sturdy rubberized feet keep the gun steady and stable amidst heavy recoil guns. It clamps directly on the rifle’s barrel, so you won’t spend extra on mounting extra.
A highly sturdy and powerful spotting scope cannot be expected for this price really, but a cheap spotting scope can effectively get the job done. This is a reason why reading reviews are essential if you are purchasing a scope with an inadequate budget, and we hope this article can help you or has helped you to choose the best option.
Lastly, we’d love to hear from you. Do you have some experience with any of our choices? If so let us know about them in the comments section below.