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If you’ve found this review, then you might be looking for a pro spotter without actually spending pro money.
What this means is bidding in for the best scope that would do a hunter proud.
Here’s a few options that might raise your ego without raising the bid!
5 Top Spotting Scopes Under $300 (Comparison)
|Leupold SX-1 Ventana 2||
|Bushnell Trophy Xtreme||
|Celestron Hummingbird ED Micro||
This price range is what you could consider the high-end of the entry level market. Expect to see the best of basic features here, but you might also be surprised to see a few additional perks that should impress.
We should also disclose that this budget range tends to be slim when it comes to happy buyers. To eliminate buying doubt when you’ve only a got a few hundred dollars to spend, we’ve only offered the best there is. Feel free to be picky since we’ve picked each of these scopes apart. Get the most of what you can afford right here!
The 5 Best Spotting Scopes Under $300
1. Redfield Rampage 20-60X80 – Best Overall
- 20x-60x Magnification offering a wide range of applications
- Wide 80mm objective lens and fully multi-coated optics provide great light transmission
- Tough polycarbonate body
- Comes with a tripod, view-thru case with strap, soft storage case, eyepiece cover, and objective lens cover
- Professional-grade BAK4 prism
The Rampage spotting scope can definitely give you that extra reach you need. Its quality is top-notch without the costs. You’ve got a polycarbonate body to limit weight, BaK4 glass, and fully multi-coated lenses. It’s completely weatherproof, has twist-up eyecups, and it even comes with some extra freebies. There’s nothing too fancy about the Rampage, but that’s been the running theme we’ve seen from Redfield: keep it simple but do it great!
The eye relief is excellent, there’s a nice field of view, and it has a great close focus distance that you don’t always expect to see with high-powered scopes. Everything about the Rampage spotter speaks quality, and quality means performance. Can you trust Redfield to get it done? The masses do, will you?
2. Leupold SX-1 Ventana 2 15-45X60 – Best Value
- Leupold Model #170757 SX-1 Ventana 2 15-45x60mm - Angled
- 100% Waterproof, fogproof, & shockproof
- Guard-ion lens coating sheds water, dirt, and fingerprints for a clear, crisp image
- Twilight Light Management System adds up to 10 extra minutes of glassing light
- Folded light path technology helps achieve a compact, lightweight design
It should be no surprise that Leupold claims spot with the SX-1 Ventana 2 15-45X60 for having the best hunting spotting scope under 300 big ones – well, it’s technically right at about $300.
This is a classic, entry-level spotting scope with quality and precision written all over it.
It passed our optical performance testing with its fully multi-coated optics – a pleasant surprise in the low budget arena. And, ease of use is a breeze since its low power range makes it an extremely nifty, free-hand tool when you’re not quite ready to set up.
And… there’s more. The Ventana spotting scope has a warranty worth more than the cost of the scope itself and a few other little secrets I’m not going to spill. You can find out yourself by reading all about it in our complete review.
3. Bushnell Trophy Xtreme 20-60X65
- 1/4 inch -20 tripod mounting shoe/tabletop tripod with window mount
The Bushnell Trophy Extreme – extreme power plus Bushnell quality and you have a recipe to take down your trophy bull. Must you spend a few hundred bucks? Nah – just two.
- High magnification
- Fully multi-coated optics
- No Questions Asked Lifetime Warranty
- Standard optical quality
For a spotting scope that claims to be on the extreme end of the spectrum, you’d expect an extreme price tag to match. Fortunately, that’s not Bushnell’s style. The 20-60×65 scope is actually on the lighter end of the price scale for this lineup, and it’s a welcome addition.
With just a couple hundred bucks, you have extra magnification to reach out to those extreme distances. While it might not sport any additional, fancy coatings or glass elements, the BaK4 prism glass and fully multi-coated optics are standard and expected in this price range.
It’s O-ring sealed, nitrogen-purged, and has an IPX7 rating. Can you be out in the worst weather with this scope? You betcha! Although the lack of Bushnell’s ExoBarrier coating may deter you since you might not be able to see anything.
But, in less than ideal weather, it’s going to perform just fine on the range, in the hunt, or even on a wildlife tour. It’s protected if anything happens to it. Bushnell’s No Questions Asked Lifetime Warranty is top-notch when it comes to warranty coverage. For an affordable option in this price range, it’s worth it.
4. SVBONY SV46 20-60X80
- Zoom spotting scope with large eyepiece:variable from 20x to 60x magnification;makes it easy to zoom in onto your target. HD 23mm big eyepiece and 45 degree angled...
- BAK4 prism and fully multi coated lens:80mm objective lens with 9pcs/6groups lens increase light transmission;deliver bright;clear;crisp images even in low-light...
The SV46 spotter is one of the latest additions to SVBONY’s spotting scope line. This one has a higher price tag than others we’ve seen in the market, and what makes this one worth the jump up from its affordable sibling, the SV13? Let’s find out.
- Dual focus
- Broadband green film coating
- High magnification
- Short eye relief
The SV13 and SV46 spotting scopes seem to share the same short eye relief that buyers find is less than the approximate 17-18 mm. However, for short term use, it seems users are forgiving of the unforgiving eye relief.
It also shares key features with its affordable counterpart such as an IPX7 rating, retractable sun shade, twist up eyecup, rotating tripod ring, and an angled design.
But, to set itself apart as an upgrade worth the additional cost, this newer model sports the high-end dual focus mechanism that allows for fast, course adjustments and then slow, fine adjustments to sharpen the image. With high magnification of 20-60x, you’re going to need all the resolution and sharpness you can get to make the most of your spotting experience.
This scope has a broadband green film coating on top of its fully multi-coated optics to aid in color fidelity and resolution. We’re not sure of the coating quality, but it does serve as an extra anti-reflective barrier.
For a brand that’s paving its own path in the industry, they’re doing it right while adding in a couple premium features here and there. Kudos to the underdog!
5. Celestron Hummingbird 9-27X56 ED Micro
- Easily carried in vest or coat pocket, in belt pack, or shoulder bag
- ED lens optical system provides sharp, clear images with vivid, well-managed color
- 9-27x magnification range spans binoculars and spotting scopes
The Hummingbird scales things down to a new level of compact and small size, and we mean hummingbird kind of small. As a true, handheld optic, it can be a birders go-to spotter for when you’re heading out for a hike, stroll, or back porch birding.
- ED glass
- Micro size/compact
- Low magnification
- 10 ft close focus
- Poor image quality at max zoom
Right off the get go, we’re going to let you know what to expect when it comes to image quality. Even with its ED glass elements to improve resolution and color fidelity, there has been reports of consistent chromatic aberration (CA) at high magnification. On top of that, image degradation is common in the higher power which is generally consistent with entry-level scopes.
With only single, course adjustments, you mightn’t be able to achieve sharp, contrasting image quality to tell species apart, but as a recreational scope in a compact size, you’ll still be able to enjoy birding.
A neat feature to see in this micro scope is the helical focus mechanism that is usually a high-end feature on big-brand optics. The Hummingbird can also be mounted to various accessories that includes car/window mounts, tripods, and trekking poles. The eyepiece is removable and the angled scope body is compatible with various 1.25″ mount eyepieces.
There’s a lot going on with the pocket-size spotting scope, and there’s a lot of potential to maximize use outdoors. Sometimes small is the next best thing.
What to Look for in a Spotting Scope in This Price Range
It’s always attractive to see a scope with as many extra features as possible. However, in this price range, that’s not always the case. What you do want to see is high quality in the basic features.
If there are extra perks built in, be brand-specific to ensure the premium features do exactly what they’re marketed to do. Here’s what to look for to not get caught in the hype of getting “premium features” for bottom dollar. It might just end up being a bottom dollar scope.
- Design: Consider whether angled or straight is for you.
- Glass: The higher the quality, the better.
- Coatings: The more, the better. Additional prism-specific coatings should also be expected in this price range.
- High power 20-60X: You want to make sure you get accurate distances with these spotting scopes by being brand-specific. Going higher-powered in this price range may result in poorer image quality.
- Eye relief 13-18 mm: Ensure your investment is comfortable to glass with.
- Exit pupil 3-5 mm: Smaller than 3 mm? Expect to lose out on a lot of light-gathering potential.
- Quality Warranty: If you’re spending the best of what you can afford, ensure you have a warranty to match the quality of your investment.
Keep It Simple, Stupid!
To recap, here is the list of our top picks of the 5 Best Spotting Scopes Under $300:
- Redfield Rampage 20-60×80 – Best Overall
- Leupold SX-1 Ventana 2 15-45×60- Best Value
- Bushnell Trophy Extreme 20-60×65
- SVBONY SV46 20-60×80
- Celestron Hummingbird 9-27×56 ED Micro
This is the price range to keep it simple. Look for a spotter that has a solid foundation when it comes to the basic functioning of the scope. Be wary of scopes with a boat load of premium features as the quality may be spread out and performance may be compromised in other areas.
If you want the best of what the entry level market has to offer, this is the price range you want to be in. Know what to look for, and keep it simple, stupid! If you feel you have a bit more money and want to see what other top quality spotting scope options there are on the market, then go right ahead, there are plenty of good options.