Confused about buying a spotting scope for less than $500 because you are worried about optics quality, durability, warranty, and other specs? Don’t worry, I have you covered.
After trying out 20+ spotting scopes under 500 from across various brands and spending more time in the wild than at my home over the weekends (let’s never talk about this around my darling wife), I reviewed 5 scopes that are worth your money in 2022.
These scopes have been reviewed based on factors that matter such as build quality, optics quality, ease of use, magnification, etc. (Who says you can’t get a good spotting scope on a budget).
If you already know about these scopes and want to make an instant purchase, I summarized my top picks below.
- Vortex Optics Diamondback Spotting Scopes – Top Pick
- Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A
- Emarth 20-60x60AE Angled Spotting Scope (Spotting Scope Under $100)
- Athlon Optics Argos HD 20-60×85 Spotting Scope
- Gosky Newest 20-60×80 Dual Focusing Spotting Scope
In case you want to know about the scopes, in brief, this comparison table below is tailor-made for you.
Best Spotting Scope Under $500 Reviewed
|Vortex Optics||• Get 60x magnification with good clarity thanks to XR coated lens|
• Rugged construction with excellent waterproof and weatherproofing
• Twist and lock collar makes it easy to adjust the scope
|Vanguard Endeavor||• Backed by a no questions asked, Lifetime warranty|
• Magnesium body with rubber armor for excellent durability
• Excellent field of view and eye relief along with a removable eyepiece
|Emarth 20-60x60AE||• Available for less than $100 thus ideal for budget buyers|
• You also get a sturdy and stable tripod with the scope
• Comes with a retractable sunshade, and lifetime warranty
|Athlon Optics||• Sunshade can’t just be retracted but extended if needed|
• Argon purge makes it fog proof plus, it is waterproof
• Deliver good visuals between 40x to 50x zoom with its large 85mm lens
|Gosky Newest||• Take photos/videos with a large smartphone digiscoping adapter|
• Comes with a carry case and 2 lens covers
• Retractable sunshade and rotatable eyepiece for comfortable spotting
But if you want to get into the nitty-gritty details, check out detailed reviews of the spotting scopes below.
1. Vortex Optics Diamondback Spotting Scopes
If you are looking for something top-notch at this price range, it hardly gets any better than the Vortex Optics Diamondback, and here’s why.
When you are out spotting in the wild, your scope becomes your eyes and thus the one thing you cannot compromise with is the image quality. Well, Vortex Optics knows that.
This is why, even though cheaper, Vortex has equipped the scope with a quality lens that has a special XR multi-coating. This not only protects the lens from dust, dirt, and oil but also improves visuals by improving light transmission.
So whether you are at minimum magnification or the maximum magnification of 60x, there’s only a little distortion on the sides.
Yes, the scope gives you a whopping magnification of 60x which you can easily adjust using the smooth dial that requires minimal force to turn. It also has numbers in white which eliminates guesswork and gives you excellent precision.
And the scope works just as well in any weather. Yup, rain or snow, the scope can hold its own against it all. That’s because the sealed o-rings prevent any water from ruining the scope. And it is so well-built and tight, you can even leave the scope submerged in water.
I left mine for about 5 minutes and came out sparkling clean (pretty much the only thing that changed about it).
Furthermore, there is also the nitrogen purge that keeps the lens from fogging up (say goodbye to the hassle of having to clean up your view every 5 minutes).
In case the weather is too sunny, there’s the inbuilt sunshade that eliminates the need to squint your eye too much and neither does your view burn-out completely as it improves light transmission.
When you are out scoping in the wild, you also want to move the scope around easily but at the same time prevent it from moving necessarily, right? Ensuring just that is the twist and lock collar.
And it works just as smoothly when you mount the scope on a tripod. Not just that, it also mounts on car window tripods. And it does so in less than 3 minutes and removing it is even faster thanks to the quick-release system. (takes less than a minute).
As for the build, it is rock-solid. The rugged construction ensures that the scope can easily handle the rigors of hunting and scoping in the wild (no scratches, no dents, even with a few bumps and hits).
Also adding to the durability is the rubber armor that also ensures that your sweaty hands have a firm grip on the scope at all times.
The only small drawback is that it is the most expensive scope on the list but perfectly combines convenience and durability with good clarity making it well worth the money.
- Comes with an excellent 60x magnification
- The magnification dial is smooth and numbered for precisions
- Rubberized armor provides you with an excellent grip
- Rugged construction prevents scratches and dents
- XR coating ensures good clarity even at 60x magnification
- Comes with an inbuilt sunshade
- Adjustable eyecup adds to the ease of use
- Nitrogen purge keeps the lens from fogging up
- Sealed o-rings make it waterproof.
- Most expensive spotting scope on the list
2. Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A
One of the best things about the Vanguard Scope is its 80mm low-dispersion lens that, in tandem with the special MultiGuard coating puts its display quality at par with the Vortex even though it is the cheaper scope.
That’s because this coating also ensures good light transmission and gives you a clear field of view even when at higher magnifications. Plus, it ensures the lens is protected from all dust, dirt, fingerprints, and even oil.
Also, adding to the ease of using the scope are sealed o-rings and the nitrogen purge. This gives you the freedom to use the scope in rain or even drop it in a puddle of water. Plus, the lens never fogs up.
When you are using any scope in bright sunlight glare can be a disturbing element and every hunter knows the importance of even a second’s distraction as it can allow your target to get away. But with the inbuilt sunshade, Vanguard ensures that’s never the case for you.
And also adding to the comfort of using the scope is the removable eyepiece that comes off in seconds. In case you plan to use it, the rubber eyecup and the excellent eye-relief ensure it is comfortable.
When you move the scope around, you also need to refocus it. And to make sure you have complete control over it for clarity there are the fine and coarse focusing wheels. Though adjusting these takes some practice at first as they are slightly rough.
You are also provided with a carrying case and a strep. I had a bit of a war with the case to fit the scope though but if you get a perfectly fitting case, do let me know. Few things I do appreciate though are the lens cloth and the Eyepiece caps.
I have no complaints about the build. The magnesium body and the rubber armor do an excellent job of protecting your scope from cracking or scratching in case you bump it against a tree or wall while ensuring you have a firm grip over the scope at all times.
Oh, and in case you do have any problems, backing the scope is a no-questions-asked lifetime warranty which means Vanguard will repair or replace the scope for free.
- Good durability and it is waterproof
- The lens does not fog up thanks to the nitrogen purge
- Backed by a lifetime warranty
- 82mm lens delivers excellent optical quality
- Get 60x magnification with good clarity
- The eyepiece can be detached if needed
- Inbuilt sunshade to prevent glare from obstructing your view
- A good field of view and eye-relief for comfortable spotting
- Focus adjustment wheels are slightly rough
- Carry case should have been a tad bigger
3. Emarth 20-60x60AE Angled Spotting Scope (Budget Pick)
Looking for something on a budget? What if I told you that you can grab your new spotting scope for less than $100?
Sounds cool, right? Well, while you might check it out for the low price alone, the Emarth spotting scope does punch well above its weight in terms of features and optics quality, and here’s why I believe so.
One of the best things about the scope is that it is the most compact and lightweight scope on the list. It weighs around 1-2 lbs and is just 13 inches in length so carrying it should be a breeze.
Also, it is the only scope on the list to come with a tripod. Considering the price, I was quite impressed with the tripod which has an aluminum build for good durability while the rubber legs ensure great stability. And when it is mounted, you can easily rotate the eyepiece sideways for an easy change of viewing angles.
As for the scope, I love the fact that it comes with nitrogen purging which ensures the lens never fogs up. Furthermore, it is also water-resistant. I wouldn’t submerge it in water but you can comfortably use the scope in light rain.
The knobs to zoom in and out are smooth so adjusting the zoom is easy peasy and takes seconds. Also, ensuring glare does not impact your view when you are zoomed in.
Another surprising feature of the scope was that it has a magnification of 60x. Yes, there’s more blurring than the other scope on the list at the full magnification, but c’mon guys, it costs less than $100 so I am not complaining.
Also, the build was impressive. The rubber armor does well to keep the scope protected from scratches and breakage but make sure you do not drop it or hit it too hard. This rubber armor also ensures a good grip whether you are in rain or have sweaty hands.
But if you still have doubts about the quality of the scope, putting any fears to bed is the lifetime warranty which means any problem is repaired for free (and that makes this pretty much a risk-free purchase).
On the downside, the scope has a small field of view and while the lens is multi-coated and offers good light transmission compared to other scopes in the price range, it isn’t at par with the Vortex or Vanguard.
This means I wouldn’t use the scope a lot for hunting but it is a good pick if you need a spotting scope for bird watching or watching the scenery on your hikes and road trips.
- Comes with a solid and stable tripod
- Offers a good magnification range
- Optics are better than most scopes at this price range
- Impressive build with rubber armor to prevent damage
- It is water-resistant and nitrogen purge prevents fog build-up
- Smooth knobs for easy zooming in and out
- Comes with a retractable sunshade to keep out glare
- Backed by a lifetime warranty
- Rotatable eyepiece for a quick change of viewing angles
- Not suitable for hunting
- There’s blurring at 60x magnification
4. Athlon Optics Argos HD 20-60×85 Spotting Scope
Cheaper than both the Vanguard and Vortex Optics scopes, Athlon is another great buy for beginners that need a spotting scope. And what I like most about this scope is its bigger lens that gives it the best optics at the under 400 price range.
At 85mm and with the multiple layers of anti-reflective coating, it allows for more light to enter giving you an excellent magnification range. Yes, you’d still notice some distortion on the side at 60x but anything between 40-50, works like a charm even in slightly low light.
Like the other scopes, you get top-notch performance whether you are in bright sunlight, rain, or cold. Ensuring this is the argon purge that works just like the nitrogen purge and keeps the lens fog-free.
The o-rings and tightly sealed so no water seeps in even if the scope is left in a pool of water. And unlike other scopes where the sunshade can only be removed or retracted, here it can also be extended in case glare is a hindrance.
It is also very versatile. That’s because it fits on pretty much any camera tripod and with the rotating ring, you can easily switch angles when needed.
Athlon has been known to manufacture durable scopes and it lives up to its reputation with this baby as well. With an aluminum construction that is well protected by the rubber armor that also improves your grip, the scope will easily last you for years through thick and thin.
But in case you do experience any trouble, there’s a lifetime warranty for all the repairs and replacements (Well, Athlon understands life happens and they have you covered).
On the downsides, the field of view is much lesser than the Vortex and Vanguard scopes, and so is the close-range focus and the optics quality (just a tad though). But even after that, it makes for an amazing spotting scope if you want a scope for stargazing, birdwatching, and even hunting.
- The sunshade can be retracted and extended if needed
- Backed by a lifetime warranty
- Excellent optics up to 40x to 50x zoom
- It is waterproof
- Excellent build with rubber armor for a better grip
- Argon purge keeps the lens clear at all times
- Mounts on any camera tripod
- Change angles quickly with rotating tripod ring
- Wider field of view would have been better
- Close focus isn’t as low as the Vortex or Vanguard
5. Gosky Newest 20-60×80 Dual Focusing Spotting Scope
Last but not least on the list comes a spotting scope from Gosky that is one of the best on the market for birdwatching, and astronomy scenery especially, and here’s why.
Have you ever wished that you could capture all those amazing shots while hunting, the mesmerizing stars above, or the unique birds you come across while birdwatching? Well, with the Gosky scope you can do it all.
That is because it comes with a digiscoping adapter that allows you to place and connect your phone to the scope, in turn, allowing you to record and share your videos with your friends, family, and followers.
But that alone doesn’t make it a good scope for hunting, birdwatching, etc. right?
Well, that’s where the decent 80mm multi-coated lens comes to the party. And further supporting this lens are the 105-52ft/1000yard field of view, the smooth, ergonomically located focus knobs, and large eye-relief.
But wait, that’s not all.
There is also a retractable shade to prevent glare from causing a disturbance and a rotatable eyepiece that can be locked and unlocked in seconds when you need to change angles.
The build is good. The metallic construction is well supported by the rubber armor that prevents sudden shocks from harming the scope while ensuring you have a strong grip over it.
It is also waterproof and fog proof with the sealed o-rings and nitrogen purging doing their jobs perfectly well.
Also, to keep the lens protected from dust, dirt, oil, included in the package are a couple of lens covers. You will also find a carry case that easily fits in the scope for easy transportation and storage.
The scope is also equipped with 60x magnification but only works well to about 40-45x as the smaller and cheaper lens means there’s distortion on the sides beyond that.
Furthermore, when you compare the field of view or the close focus to the Vortex or Vanguard, you’d find the scope lacking.
- Allows you to record videos and photos
- Retractable sunshade prevents glare
- Comes with a carrying case and 2 lens covers
- Good optics till 40-45x magnification
- It is waterproof and fog proof
- Godo build with rubber protection against shocks
- Not at par with the Vanguard or Vortex Scope
- There’s distortion at full magnification
That’s it, folks, those are my favorite scopes when it comes to choosing the best spotting scopes. Budget buyers can go with the Emarth scope which is available for less than $100 But if you want something better, the Vortex and Vanguard spotting scopes are ideal for you.
Keep in mind, these scopes aren’t at par with the high-end spotting scopes that cost $1000 and more but for any beginner or semi-pro, they are ideal to get started on the right track.
In case you have any questions about these spotting scopes or others, feel free to hit me with them via the comments section below or you can also email me using the contact page.
Till then, happy spotting