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Can't stretch the budget past $1000?
Don't worry about it! You're still in the premium price range for an exceptional spotting scope.
You'll recognize brands like Vortex, Meopta and even the best of what Athlon has to offer in this price range.
Welcome to the "best of what you can afford" section of spotting scopes!
QUICK LIST: 5 Best Spotting Scopes Under $1000 In 2023
- Vortex Razor HD 11-33x50 Spotting Scope
- Maven CS.1 15-45x65 Spotting Scope
- Vortex Viper HD 15-45x65
- Leupold SX-4 Pro Guide 20-60x85
- Snypex Knight T80 ED-APO 20-60x80
Our Pick of the Top Spotters Less Than $1000
|Vortex Razor HD||CHECK PRICE|
|Maven CS.1||CHECK PRICE|
|Vortex Viper HD||CHECK PRICE|
|Leupold SX-4 Pro Guide||CHECK PRICE|
|Snypex Knight T80 ED-APO||CHECK PRICE|
Avid optic users know you get what you pay for. This is probably why many hunters and birders feel it's worth saving up a penny or two to land the scope they want in this price range.
You're not going to find entry level scopes here, but you will find some of the best in the market without breaking the bank. Of course, there's an even more elite market of very high-end spotting scopes, but this budget-range is still premium. Some brands even max out with their flagship series right around the $1000 mark.
If you're ready to spend every penny of your hard-earned cash, this is the ideal spotting scope market that will make it worth it!
5 Best Spotting Scope Under $1000 Reviews
1. Vortex Razor HD 11-33X50 Spotting Scope
- The Razor HD is Vortex Optics' top of the line spotting scope. The 11-33x50 Angled Razor is ultra-lightweight and packable for your convenience.
- Triplet Apochromatic lens combined with high density, extra-low dispersion glass delivers unparalled resolution and color fidelity. XR Plus anti-reflective coatings were...
This compact Razor HD 11-33X50 spotting scope has everything, and I mean everything, that you would want to see in the glass quality - special dielectric phase coatings, Extra Low Dispersion glass, APO lenses, ArmorTek, and more.
While its magnifications are on the lower end to match its hand-held and compact design, it has a dual focus system to really get you the resolution you need for that distant glassing.
So, I've gotta hand it to Vortex for picking up the buck where others didn't even bother. For around the $700 mark, you are going to get the best quality for excellent value.
2. Maven CS.1 15-45x65
Most mid-range spotting scopes start at a $1000 price point, but Maven has a hard time following cost trends of the market. This proves true with the CS.1A coming in at an attractive price point that may find favor with your budget.
- Build quality
- ED glass
- Great for Target Range
- Single focus
Obviously, what helps to keep the costs down is the lack of dual focus as the CS.1 has Standard Focus which is single speed. It is tough to gain ultimate focus at extended ranges, but its compactness and ED glass more than make up for it.
Built on the same components as the C-Series binoculars, the CS.1A spotting scope is the entry-level model for spotters. Its optical and build quality is impressive for what is essentially an introductory model.
Made with ED glass, phase correction coatings, magnesium and aluminum, and silky-smooth mechanisms, the Maven scope fulfills the demands of a mid-range scope.
Excellent for maximum portability and compactness, the CS.1 proves to be equipped for birdwatching, observation, some hunting, and is a fantastic companion for the target range. We know because we field tested it!
3. Vortex Viper HD 15-45X65
- The Viper HD 15-45x65 Straight Spotting Scope is packed with features for incredible glassing and high end optical performance.
- The HD optical system comprised of premium components generates vivid high-definition images. XR anti-reflective coatings on exterior surfaces help obtain brighter views...
Vortex has really stepped up to the plate in this price range, and they're actually deserving of more. This Viper HD 15-45X65 is just barely a notch below the Razor HD in optical quality.
But, it's still decked out with XR coatings, Extra Low Dispersion glass with High Definitions, and the dual focus system.
It's also sporting a couple features that even the Razor HD lacks, which you'll know about if you read the full review
If you're looking for a hunting spotting scope for 200-400 yards, this is your guy.
4. Leupold SX-4 Pro Guide 20-60x85
The SX-4 Pro Guide spotting scope delivers an over-sized eyepiece and a little bigger objective lens. Combined with Leupold’s Elite Optical System and you have the makings of a bright, sharp, and guaranteed to perform spotting scope for under $1000.
- Elite Optical System
- Oversized eyepiece
- Special coatings
- Extreme Climate Exposure
- Guaranteed for life
Weighing in at 78.2 oz, the SX-4 is not a lightweight scope. Add to that a tripod and gear and I can imagine that you’ll be hauling quite a heavy setup. However, the weight is the price to pay for super-clear glass and the larger configuration.
As a high-end scope at the mid-range price point, the SX-4 Pro Guide has the Elite Optical System with HD quality. This basically means it has ED glass for excellent chromatic aberration control and edge-to-edge sharpness and resolution - especially in lowlight conditions.
Since it’s a roof prism spotting scope, I like that Leupold made sure to coat those prisms with a phase coating. I like that the SX-4 has fantastic glass quality, and I don’t foresee any complaints in this department.
The scope is also guaranteed for life, though it’s hard to say if you’ll need it or not. It has been Extreme Climate Exposure tested and is both submersible and fogproof to ensure optimal function in the worst conditions.
As a high-end scope masquerading in the mid-level price range, the Leupold SX-4 should catch your eye if you can recognize value when you see it.
5. Snypex Knight T80 ED-APO 20-60X80 Spotting Scope
- SNYPEX Knight straight spotting scope - T 80mm - ED - APO 20~60x80
- Glass: Extra Low Dispersion (ED) and Apochromatic lens (APO)
The quality gap between $500 and $1000 is huge when it comes to spotting scopes, and yet the pickings are quite slim when you’re wanting to spend less than a grand. Fortunately, the Snypex Knight spotter not only comes in within budget, it also comes clad with premium features on a full-size body.
- ED glass
- APO lens
- Dual focus
- Includes eyepiece
If you want to buy quality spotting scopes, it's mostly all about the glass, and in this case, the Knight T80 spotter is weighed down with quality. Tipping the scales at just over 4.5 lbs, it makes for a heavy, full-size spotter. But, considering the kind of image quality you will get, especially when you can mount your smartphone for digiscoping capabilities, you'll want this thing mounted to a tripod at all times.
Digiscoping did we say? We did. It's no secret that spotting scopes are compatible with aftermarket digiscope adapters, but what sets the Snypex apart from others is the fact that image quality seen through this optic is worth capturing on camera.
The glass has extra-low dispersion (ED) elements to provide HD quality, reduce CA, and improve resolution and contrast. It also has a triple element APO lens assembly that significantly improves image quality by eliminating CA and spherical aberrations while also bringing wavelengths together at the same focal point. Simply put, the glass and viewing through this thing is top-notch, A-class, world standard.
Of course, it has a dual focus system to fine-tune your sight picture. It's fogproof and waterproof so you can confidently tote it with you to various parts of the country - or globe. To make the deal even sweeter, it includes the 20-60x interchangeable eyepiece in the buy.
Can't complain about weight now, right? It's all justified in the glass.
What to Look for in a Spotting Scope in This Price Range
You're spending a hefty sum in this price range, so you should expect to get the best of everything. It might not be as luxurious as what you'd see when you'd spend over $1000, but you're still getting premium quality.
Always look for the best of what your preferred brand has to offer. Look for features like excellent glass, exceptional coatings, and VIP warranties.
Glass & Coatings
Overall, you’ll be hard-pressed to find fluorite glass at this price point, but many spotting scopes should have ED glass elements. The coatings are expected to also enhance light transmission and should be the best of what there is to offer.
Exterior lens coatings should also be expected at this price point as they repel rain, snow, dirt, and debris to maintain an optimal sight picture.
|Vortex Razor HD||APO (Fluorite)||XR FMC & ArmorTek|
|Maven CS.1||ED glass||FMC & Phase Correction|
|Vortex Viper HD||ED glass||XR FMC & ArmorTek|
|Leupold SX-4 Pro Guide||ED glass||FMC & Diamond Coat 2|
|Snypex Knight T80 ED-APO||APO/ED glass||FMC|
Magnification & Objective Lens Size (Configuration)
On average, there will be a variety of configurations at this price point from low to mid-range powers and then full-size 20-60x spotting scopes. They may still experience a drop-off in image quality towards max magnification, but they’re better optical performers than cheaper alternatives.
|Product||Magnification||Objective Lens||Interchangeable Eyepieces|
|Vortex Razor HD||11-33x||50 mm||No|
|Maven CS.1||15-45x||65 mm||No|
|Vortex Viper HD||15-45x||65 mm||No|
|Leupold SX-4 Pro Guide||20-60x||85 mm||No|
|Snypex Knight T80 ED-APO||20-60x||80 mm||Yes|
Eye Relief & FOV
Generally, the eye relief and field of view are specs that you should know before you buy. The eye relief will determine if you can use it with your glasses on or how comfortable it can be whether or not you use glasses.
The field of view can also indicate what applications the spotting scope might be better for. A wide FOV is excellent for tracking moving targets or watching birds in flight. However, a narrow FOV can provide a bit more detail especially when at high magnification. At this price point, the optical quality should be good enough to keep with the demands of high power.
|Product||Eye Relief||Field of View (@ 1000 yards)|
|Vortex Razor HD||19 – 16 mm||191 – 96 ft|
|Maven CS.1||19 – 16 mm||174 – 81 ft|
|Vortex Viper HD||19.6 – 17.8 mm||136.5 – 67.8 ft|
|Leupold SX-4 Pro Guide||19 – 17.8 mm||91.7 – 50.6 ft|
|Snypex Knight T80 ED-APO||25 – 16 mm||78.5 – 57.6|
Size & Weight
In general, the larger the spotting scope configuration, the heavier it will be. However, spotting scopes are generally intended for tripod mounting, even “low power” spotting scopes can be mounted for a steady sight picture.
Compact scopes can be used as a handheld with sturdy support, and they’re good for hunting, hiking, and when fast glassing is required.
Full-size and large spotting scopes are best for stationary applications like stargazing, bird watching, and wildlife observation from a permanent location.
|Vortex Razor HD||10.3 inches||25 oz|
|Maven CS.1||11.4 inches||40.4 oz|
|Vortex Viper HD||14.6 inches||58.8 oz|
|Leupold SX-4 Pro Guide||17.7 inches||78.2 oz|
|Snypex Knight T80 ED-APO||18.3 inches||73.5 oz|
In total, all spotting scopes in this price range should be sturdy, solid, and ready for outdoor use. This means it should be O-ring sealed for water tightness against leaks and fogproof for internal condensation protection. Gas is usually nitrogen.
If for some reason there is failure due to defective parts regarding materials or workmanship, every one of these spotting scopes come with an excellent warranty.
|Vortex Razor HD||Yes||Yes||VIP Warranty|
|Maven CS.1||Yes||Yes||Unconditional Lifetime|
|Vortex Viper HD||Yes||Yes||VIP Warranty|
|Leupold SX-4 Pro Guide||Yes||Yes||Lifetime Guarantee|
|Snypex Knight T80 ED-APO||Yes||Yes||25-Year Worldwide Warranty|
The Best of What You Can Afford!
There's no buyer's remorse when spending under 1000 bucks. You'll be more than pleased with the value these premium scopes have especially when you see that they often have many features that high-end scopes have.
- Maven CS.1 Review - 15-45x65 Spotting Scope (Real Hands On Field Test)
- Leupold SX2 Alpine HD Spotting Scope Review (Angled)
- Maven S.1A 25-50 X 80mm Spotting Scope Review (Angled Body)
- Zeiss Victory Harpia Spotting Scope Review - 85mm Angled with Dual Speed Focus System
- Pentax PF80 ED Angled Spotting Scope Review (Eyepiece Not Included)