Best Spotting Scope Under $200: Hunting for a Top Value, Budget Spotter in 2023?

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Best Spotting Scope Under 200

Going up one notch in price range can land you that little bit extra in quality.

When it comes to affordable spotting scopes, you'll appreciate the low price tag and the extra clarity you can get for a $200 optic.

If you want the absolute best of the entry level market, don't bother straying from the best.

We've got the top picks of the price range right here!

Our 7 Top Spotting Scopes Under $200

IMAGEPRODUCTDETAILS
tt-table__imageCreative XP ED 20-60x80
  • Magnification: 20-60X 80 mm
  • Configuration: Angled
  • Eye Relief / Exit Pupil: 22-17mm / 4-1.3mm
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tt-table__imageCelestron Ultima 65
  • Magnification: 18-55X 65mm
  • Configuration: Straight
  • Eye Relief / Exit Pupil: 18 / 3.6-1.1mm
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tt-table__imageGosky 20-60×80
  • Magnification: 20-60X 80mm
  • Configuration: Angled
  • Eye Relief / Exit Pupil: 17-13.5 / 4-1.33mm
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tt-table__imageAthlon Talos 20-60x80
  • Magnification: 20-60X 80mm
  • Configuration: Angled
  • Eye Relief / Exit Pupil: 17.8-15.2 / 3.3-1.22mm
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tt-table__imageLandove 20-60x80
  • Magnification: 20-60X 80mm
  • Configuration: Angled
  • Eye Relief / Exit Pupil: 19.5-18 / 3.25-1.1mm
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tt-table__imageCelestron Ultima 80 – 45°
  • Magnification: 20-60X 80mm
  • Configuration: Angled
  • Eye Relief / Exit Pupil: 18 / 4.0-1.3mm
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tt-table__imageSimmons Venture 20-60x60
  • Magnification: 20-60X 60mm
  • Configuration: Straight
  • Eye Relief / Exit Pupil: 15.24-12.7 / 3-1mm
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For 200 bucks, you can get yourself a brand name optic with a solid foundation and concrete functionality. You want to look for brands like Bushnell, Redfield, and Celestron. They know what quality optics means for a hunter, but they also know that budget constraints have a tighter hold when you're shopping.

Entry level doesn't mean cheap. It just means you're going to forfeit some custom and lavish features that only comes with one-time, lifetime buys. But, even for these prices, you can still get yourself a decent spotter that puts all the quality into the bare basic features to ensure you get dead-on with every shot. Here are the spotters that made the cut!

Best Budget Spotting Scopes Under $200

1. Creative XP ED 20-60X80

Overall, the Creative XP spotting scope is extremely popular for excellent reason. It’s one of the very few spotters in this price range that has ED glass. For the money, it doesn’t get better than this.

Pros:

  • ED glass
  • FMC coatings
  • Dual focus
  • Fog/waterproof
  • Digiscoping accessories included

Cons:

  • Stiff magnification ring

A legitimate and common complaint is that the magnification ring is tight and stiff to move at first. If you’re mounting it to a heavy-duty tripod, it will help to maintain image stability will zooming in on a target. I’ve heard that it does get lose some of its stiffness over use.

Other than that, the reports on good quality at max 60x power is pretty good. In reality, I don’t expect it to maintain superb resolution at max power but at least reasonable resolution for long-range viewing of large objects like the terrain, animals, and vehicles.

Creative XP features
Water-testing (top right) Smartphone adapter attached (bottom left) Tripod mounted (bottom right) - Image Credit: Creative XP (via Instagram)

I do recommend it more for close-range work like seeing holes on paper at the range up to about 200 yards (on splatter targets, of course), wildlife observation, and recreational use. With that, it can go to the shooting range, and weighing in at 40 oz, it can go on hikes too.

The one thing that I’m impressed by is the ED glass. The extra-low dispersion elements help to minimize chromatic aberration – the purple-blue bloat/color fringing that you can see especially in high contrast environments and light. This is a mid-range upgrade at least, so to see if for less than $200 is fantastic.

Now, I’m not saying that you’ll have zero CA, but it will be significantly reduced compared to what it would be like without it. Even very high-end scopes struggle with this at max power.

Though it’s fog and waterproof, I’d want to keep it from any unnecessary exposure to the elements or abuse. I’m on board with the Creative XP ED spotting scope, but I’d still handle it carefully.

2. Celestron Ultima 18-55X65

Sale
Celestron – Ultima 65 Straight Spotting Scope – 18-55x Zoom Eyepiece –...
97 Reviews
Celestron – Ultima 65 Straight Spotting Scope – 18-55x Zoom Eyepiece –...
  • ULTIMA STRAIGHT SPOTTING SCOPE: The outdoor enthusiast’s choice is our great all-around spotting scope with an 65mm objective lens and a straight-through viewing angle....
  • INCLUDES ESSENTIALS FOR BETTER VIEWING: Celestron Ultima 65 includes an extended tripod mounting plate, a zoom eyepiece with an integrated T-adapter for digiscoping, a...

Celestron impresses with all of their spotting scope series, and the spotter to snatch up second place in this low budget category is the Ultima 18-55X65, and it certainly deserves it too.

While coated or fully-coated coatings are typically the standard for entry level spotting scopes, Celestron ups the ante by playing in the big boy's park with equipping their low budget spotters with fully multi-coated optics. Score one.

Then, they further impress with their low cost of around $150 and over 500 online reviews on the Ultima series. Now that customer review base should be shouting loud and clear that there's something to consider here. Score two.

But, I think it's the fact that the Ultima spotters are excellent tools for long range glassing. It's been purported, not once, not twice, but many a time that this low budget spotting scope can have you seeing out over 1000 yards away. It's a win!

3. Gosky 20-60x80

Gosky 20-60 X 80 Porro Prism Spotting Scope- Waterproof Scope for Bird Watching...
893 Reviews
Gosky 20-60 X 80 Porro Prism Spotting Scope- Waterproof Scope for Bird Watching...
  • Fully multi-coated 80mm green film objective lens, eyepiece and quality prism inside - guarentee the key elements of a spotting scope, and make your view brighter,...
  • Variable 20x to 60x magnification and dynamic lens focusing system -- makes it easy to zoom in on target. Designed for birdwatching, watching wildlife and scenery.
  • Durable Magnalium Framework and Rubber Armor - Its tight fitting protection makes it usable to withstand the toughest weather conditions. The shock-absorbing rubber armor...

This Gosky spotting scope whacks it out of the ball park when it comes to acquiring the approval of the crowd. The masses couldn't be more impressed with the quality, luxury features, and the price of this spotter.

But, what can you expect to get at this price? The Gosky is a high-powered and long-ranging spotter with a dynamic lens focusing system for fast, precise, and clear image quality. Target acquisition-done!

Something of note that you don't ever see on a spotter priced this low is digiscoping abilities - this Gosky has it. It comes with a digiscoping cell phone adapter for you to capture those moments that Nature doesn't always repeat. This is what makes this spotter the perfect scope for wildlife observation, birding, and even archery. For 200 bucks, you've got yourself a pretty fancy gadget for a shockingly great deal!

4. Athlon Talos 20-60x80 – Best Value

Athlon Talos 20-60x80
Image Credit - Athlon Optics

When buying a spotting scope on a budget, manufacturer reputation may mean everything. One such brand to trust is Athlon. The Talos 20-60x80 provides a quality option for the tight budget.

Pros:

  • FMC optics
  • Silver prism coating
  • Composite body
  • Fog/waterproof
  • Excellent for range use

Cons:

  • K9 prism glass

The Athlon 20-60x80 is perhaps one of the best performing spotting scopes for the price. The Talos is entry-level, and if you’re on a budget and are looking for brand name, Athlon satisfies both cost and name recognition requirements.

Things you should know right off the bat is that the Talos has 17-15mm of eye relief which is a lot better than the 13-10mm seen in the $100 spotting scope price range. However, it’s still tight for glasses wearers and the eyebox will be finicky at max power.

At 60x, the optics will not have stellar performance, but this is expected at this price point. However, it does have FMC and silver coatings on the K9 glass. This combo of optical quality is good enough for groupings at the range, observing wildlife, and amateur lunar/stargazing with better-than-expected resolution.

It must be mentioned that K9 can be considered the same as BK7 glass but Athlon gives the prisms a silver coating to improve surface reflectivity. As expected, you will struggle with chromatic aberration, so it’s not the best option for lunar digiscoping or serious birdwatching.

Built with a composite body, the spotter weighs in at 38.5oz, it’s fully armored for shock and scratchproof protection, and it’s also been nitrogen-purged and O-ring sealed. For the money, the Athlon Talos offers great value for the user who recognizes quality in a low-end optic.

5. Landove 20-60X80

Landove Spotting Scope
Image Credit: Essencialworld

It's new, big, and jam-packed with value.  The Landove 20-60x80 spotting scope is as legit as it comes for an economical optic from an up and coming brand.  What does this scope have that others in this lineup lack?  Read on!

Pros:

  • Price
  • Dual focus
  • High magnification
  • Large 80 mm objective lens
  • Accessories included

Cons:

  • Heavy

Really, a 20-60x80 scope is going to be on the heifer end of things, and 44.8 oz isn't too bad considering units can top 5 lbs with similar specs (gear included).  Now, to focus on the highlights…

As an optics nerd, the Landove catches our eye with its coaxial dual speed focusing dials - just a fancy way to say it has dual focus.  On a scope this cheap, you will never see dual focusing, so the Landove just earned some quality points and two thumbs up.

Landove spotting scope features
Objective lens (top left) Dual focus (top right) Rotating mount ring (bottom left) Magnification ring (bottom right) - Image Credit: Essencialworld

It's important with high magnification and a large 80 mm aperture that it has fully multi-coated (FMC) optics, a quality feature not always guaranteed on a budget scope, but Landove nails it.  Granted, image quality might degrade at 60x, but it's still going to have quality performance for all the good stuff like range use and watching deer in your backyard.

As is expected with many economical options, this scope doesn't come alone but as a kit.  The table top metal tripod, carry bag, eyepiece cover, and lens caps are all expected, but what you probably don't expect is the upgraded, new, and large smartphone digiscope adapter.  Seriously, that's an extra 20 bucks, give or take a little, just given as a freebie in the buy.  You sold on this scope yet?  We are!

6. Celestron Ultima 80 - 45°

Sale
Celestron – Ultima 80 Angled Spotting Scope – 20-60x Zoom Eyepiece –...
1,468 Reviews
Celestron – Ultima 80 Angled Spotting Scope – 20-60x Zoom Eyepiece –...
  • ULTIMA ANGLED SPOTTING SCOPE: The outdoor enthusiast’s choice is our great all-around spotting scope with an 80mm objective lens and a 45 degree viewing angle. Perfect...
  • INCLUDES ESSENTIALS FOR BETTER VIEWING: Celestron Ultima 80 includes an extended tripod mounting plate, a zoom eyepiece with an integrated T-adapter for digiscoping, a...

Yes, we've already covered the Ultima 18-55X65 spotting scope, but we also wanted to tell you about the 20-60X80 one. Why go one notch higher? Because this spotter can get you 50 percent brighter images with the larger 80 mm objective lens.

Speaking of lenses, they're multi-coated, fog-proof, and the eyepiece offers excellent relief. However, this is no hand-held device. Celestron doesn't even begin to offend the buyer by offering a flimsy tripod, they leave it to you purchase and make that decision. A word of advice: don't skimp on a tripod for this beast.

This beast of an optic also comes with a sight tube, not something you see everyday on a budget optic. But, the catch is, to get it under $200, you've got to move fast while it's on sale. If you're too slow, you'll miss out on the deal and perhaps your trophy too!

7. Simmons Venture 20-60X60

Simmons Venture 20-60x60

If you're a fan of budget optics, then you'll like the new Venture 20-60x60 spotting scope from the established Simmons brand.  The ProSports have come and gone and the Venture line is the new replacement.  While prices did go up just a tad for the new series, it still comes in on the lighter end of the price scale.

Pros:

  • Price
  • High magnification
  • Fully multi-coated optics
  • Easy to use
  • Accessories included

Cons:

  • BK7 glass

The high power Venture spotting scope will be your lightweight pal in the hunt or at the range.  Even though it weighs approximately 2 lbs, it's technically as heavy as its lower magnification sibling, the 15-45x60 Venture spotting scope.  Not too bad in poundage now, right?

Optical quality will be as expected for an affordable, entry-level optic.  The BK7 glass might affect exit pupil shape, but with fully multi-coated optics, brightness and clarity should be acceptable for your intended use and definitely for the low price.

The price is tough to beat, especially when you're getting a table top tripod with a built-in window mount, a hard plastic storage case, and a soft carry case included in the buy.

For recreational use and getting sighted-in at 100 yards while staying within you budget is easily done thanks to Simmons.

What to Look for in a Budget Spotting Scope

You might be dabbling in the economical market of spotting scopes, but 200 bucks is still 200 bucks. You don't want any penny to go to waste, and that's why we're here. To stretch every dollar, focus on the basic features of the scope.

If there's a ton of marketing gimmicks being hauled in your face, steer away from that hype. Instead, look for quality where it matters most-in the glass, focus systems, and rugged build. Here's a quick look at how you can get that done.

Glass & Lens Coatings

At this price point, the glass quality is not going to be a whole lot different to the best spotting scopes under $100. You’ll still see a mix of BK7 and BAK-4 glass with multi-coated and fully multi-coated coatings. 

For the extra money spent in this price range, stick with spotting scopes that have FMC glass. For more on glass type and definitions on lens coatings, check our comparison guide.

ProductGlass TypeCoatingsAdditional Glass Features
Creative XP EDBAK-4FMCED glass
Celestron Ultima 65BAK-4FMCNo
GoskyBAK-4FMCNo
Athlon TalosK9 (BK7)FMCK9 Silver Coating
LandoveBAK-4FMCGreen film coating
Celestron Ultima 80BAK-4FMCNo
Simmons VentureBK7FMCNo
Spotting Scope Glass Type, Coatings & Additional Glass Features Comparisons

Magnification

On average, it’s normal to expect some drop off in optical performance past mid-range magnification. At this price point, the optics can’t keep up with the optical demands of high power while continuing to deliver sharp resolution, clarity, and brightness.

As such, going higher in magnification past 60x may not be fortuitous.

ProductMagnificationObjective Lens Size
Creative XP ED20-60x80 mm
Celestron Ultima 6518-55x65 mm
Gosky20-60x80 mm
Athlon Talos20-60x80 mm
Landove20-60x80 mm
Celestron Ultima 8020-60x80 mm
Simmons Venture20-60x60 mm
Spotting Scope Magnification & Objective Lens Size Comparisons

Eye Relief & Field of View

The eye relief will provide an indication of how comfortable it will be to use the eyepiece. Based on wearing glasses, a too short eye relief won’t make things very easy. Somewhere between 18-21 mm is ideal for glasses but 15 mm has been said to be the minimum.

Keep in mind that at max magnification, the eye relief does shorten, so you’ll need to get up, close, and personal with the eyepiece.

The field of view will provide an indication of how much of an area you can see through the scope. A larger number indicates a wider field of view which is great for scanning and watching moving targets. A narrower field of view is better for stationary observation in an area that you know well.

ProductEye ReliefField of view
Creative XP ED22 – 17 mm114 – 60 ft (@ 1000 yards)
Celestron Ultima 6518 mm89 – 38 ft (@ 1000 yards)
Gosky17 – 13.5 mm115.2 – 57.6 ft (@ 1000 yards)
Athlon Talos17.5 – 15 mm82.9 – 48 ft (@ 1000 yards)
Landove19.5 – 18 mm156 – 81 ft (@ 1000 yards)
Celestron Ultima 8018 mm105 – 53 ft (@ 1000 yards)
Simmons Venture15.24 mm95 – 48 ft (@ 1000 yards)
Spotting Scope Eye Relief & Field of View Comparisons

Size & Durability

On average, there’s some good heft to spotting scopes under $200. Since there’s more 20-60x60 and 20-60x80 spotting scopes in this price range, they’re going to be heavier than the abundance of compact spotting scopes under $100.

These will average around 17” in length and will weigh around 40 oz or more.

As far as being water and fogproof, most of them will claim to be both. Given the price point, I would still recommend taking care of the spotting scope and avoiding accidents that test its durability.

ProductDimensionsWeightWaterproofFogproof
Creative XP ED17.2 x 4.9 x 3.75”40 ozYesYes
Celestron Ultima 6515.3 x 3.5 x 5.1” 37 ozYesYes
Gosky17.7”43.4 ozYesYes
Athlon Talos16.5 x 5.6”38.5 ozYesYes
Landove18.5 x 6.3 x 6”44.8 ozYesYes
Celestron Ultima 8019.3 x 3.5 x 7.5” 57 ozYesYes
Simmons Venture17.7”51.1 ozYesYes
Spotting Scope Dimensions, Weight, Waterproof & Fogproof Comparisons

Spot For Quality!

To recap, here is our list of the top picks of the 7 Best Spotting Scopes Under $200:

  1. Creative XP ED 20-60x80 - Winner
  2. Celestron Ultima 65 18-55x65 - Runner Up
  3. Gosky 20-60×80mm
  4. Athlon Talos 20-60x80
  5. Landove 20-60x80
  6. Celestron Ultima 80 – 45°
  7. Simmons Venture 20-60x60mm

It's going to take a good pair of eyes and smarts to spot a spotting scope with real quality. Unfortunately, there's a dime-a-dozen of poor optics in this price range, so you've got to focus in on getting the best out of the bare basic features.

Don't be tempted by the scope that says it has it all-in this price range, a scope rarely does. Instead, spot for quality where it matters most. It's all in the glass, durability, and ease-of-use. Wishes of wise shopping decisions be upon you!

If you feel you have got some extra cash to spend then you might want to have a look at our lineup of these good spotting scopes available on the market today.

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