How about spotting scopes under $300


Well-Known Member
Feb 26, 2003
Spent too much on everything else already.

Are there reasonably good spotting scopes for under $300 ...

Preferably with long eye relief.

Simple answer depends on what is "GOOD"? Good enough for some jobs and people won't make it for others. There are some fairly good low-end optics but they are not going to perform as long or as well as higher value scopes. Suggest you save up a few more bucks and look at the best spotting scope that you can handle - sure easier on your eyes. You will also be happier with how much better you can define objects and bullet holes.

Spotting scopes are made in price-breaks or levels, each level gives you significantly better construction and optical qualities. Makes more sense to buy a real good one initially and use it for decades, rather than work your way up to a real good one anyhow. Probably much cheaper in the long run.

There are some very nice scopes in the 5-750 dollar range that will last a hell of a long time and perform significantly better than 300 dollar units (don't forget that you will need a good stand or tripod for the spotting scope, plus perhaps a window mount). Look for packages where they sell the scope, tripod and carrying case together for a discounted price.

Have seen LR guys who cut corners on their spotting scopes, wore out or broke one after the other with hard use plus they could not see nearly as well as they needed. They got 600+ dollar scopes and have never regretted them. Top end scopes are up in the 1000 dollar plus range, they are very nice and worth having also but the mid-range scopes do a great job.

Many extreme range guys here use two good spotting scopes in tandem as an oversized pair of binocs, call them Big-Eyes, they are the ultimate as far as ease of use, easy on the eyes and optical performance.

Good luck with your selection, can't go wrong with Bausch and Lomb, Leupold, Burris or Nikon. Usually better off to get medium power eyepieces, 45+ is just too much and not usefull because of mirage problems, reduced field of view etc. - we leave our scopes on 25 most of the time.
Seems to me Bauch and Laumb makes a 15-60x By 120 for about $175. A "Discoverer" is the name of it I believe. Very nice scope. Also comes with a few camera mounts if memory serves me.

been in that boat before...

I did get a cheap spotter as you now are considering, actually did a couple times thinking the next was better. It wasn't so, not by a long way. If I hd to do it all over again with what I know now, I would have gotten the Leupold right from the get go. All said and done I have spent about 2000 dollars on spotters and finally have the one that serves me best.

Here's my suggestion if you decide to take this road too;

Don't buy unless you compare the models you are considering "outside" at long range. Alot of shops have tripods and have no problem with you doing this.

Make sure you have the eye relief at high power you need for glasses.

Compare them at 15x, 20x, 25, 30x, 35x, 40x and see what eaches limit is before they get "dark", blurred, and for best color.

Beyond 30-40x most low end scopes will fall on their face and get dark and blurry and become much less usefull if not completely useless unless the power is kept way down... examine them closely for the very best deal for your buck. You will likely end up with a scope that will get you 20-30 power in good light and 15x in lower light. Make sure you get one that goes down to 15x!!!! These scopes need every advantage at low light they can get, don't waste your money on one that goes higher than 45x, it will be all but useless and is a huge sales gimmick on the low end scopes...period!!!! In my opinion you need at least a 70mm if not 80mm objective to make use of a 60x magnification and TOP QUALITY glass only need apply!

I would look at Nikon at least, their glass is very clear in all their lines I've seen. They might have a good low end scope too.

In the end I would add this; hawk, sell, scrape up what you need to get the Leupold and you'll not regret it, you eventually will anything less.

Good luck!
Try they have a model called the Arcadia for around $250, nice big 78mm objective 20-60 power. I got one to try out and took to Hawk's Ridge, most guys couldnt believe I got it for the price I did. It aint a Leica, but does the job.

I have a Nikon XL 16X45 spotting scope and am very happy with its performance. The image clarity and resolution is excellent up to about 40X. Anything above gets a little blurry. Rubber armoured and waterproof. Small package and light. A great portable hunting spotting scope.

I use the scope at 16X to 30X for LR spotting. Would like to get a high powered Binos but economics only allow one toy for now. I bought this Nikon as a refurbished scope from Midway. There might be others at say, SWFA or from Nikon. The price was $225 US so a great deal.

I would also suggest the Leupold Wind River. An offshore product but should still be made to Luppy standards. I have a wind river 8X binos and I am really impressed. Very well priced.

The Pentax Porro 16X and 20X binos are supposed to be excellent and are extremely well priced at around $150 to 200. If money allowed, I would get one of these for LR spotting. Using the spotting scope gets tiring.

I have had a Swift 15x60 for 25yrs. and it is as clear as a friends 1000 dollar scope.
I saw one on Ebay which another friend bought. I recomend it highly.
Bob Brushingham
I use a Nikon 15-45x spotting scope and have been more than pleased with it. It is super clear from15-45 and the whole unit I bought for $299 with a tripod.
I recently found a Cabela's 15x-45x in a pawn shop excellent glass clear up to about 40X then mirage and a little foggy at the edges. Best deal I ever got for $60.00. I found an old Cabelas that lists this spotter at $435.00 new. Moral of the story, don't forget to check the pawn shops. If you find a good quality spotter make them an offer! They generally will only pay 15% of value for optics so they have a lot of room to move on the price. Ya never know.
Dave in Idaho
I bought one of the Nikon discovery series 15to45X60(made in China) jobs for the fairly high price of $299. Promptly took it out with the local Police Sniper and checked it on bullet holes out to 1 click. It was impossible to tell that the Leupold was better. It cost about 3 times the Nikon. Go figure. I see others here are likewise satisfied.
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