The Best Spotting Scope Under 1000 Dollars By Brett Grant

We all love stars, the galaxy, and everything within it. Hobbies such as stargazing and hunting are exciting; however, it could be hard to cater to because you need complicated technology to zoom that far properly. Telescopes are required for this matter; however, these telescopes usually cost up to several thousand dollars, which is too costly for most people. Lucky for you, we have a cheaper fix for you in the shape of spotting scopes, and we are going to help you find the best spotting scope under 1000 dollars!

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What Is The Best Spotting Scope Under 1000 Dollars?

Once you’ve educated yourself about how a spotting scope works and what are the important aspects you should look out for; now it’s time to start searching for the best options you can find on the market for a spotting scope under 1000 bucks!

Nikon Prostaff 5 20-60x Proscope

Nikon is known worldwide for the quality of its cameras and related products. As the makers of world-class lenses for cameras, it is not a surprise that they make amazing spotting scopes as well. The Prostaff 5 has great image quality with its fully multi-coated lens that gives you the best viewing experience possible. The model comes in straight and angled-body versions, so you can choose whichever one suits you best.


  • 82mm lens allows for wider images, and also better quality even in poor lighting conditions
  • The sliding shade protects the lens from rain
  • Water and fog proof
  • Is lightweight and quite portable


  • Some users have reported the Nikon spotter being fragile and vulnerable to shocks and dents
  • The eyepiece is fixed in position and can’t be rotated


The Nikon is a great choice if you want to buy a scope that works in almost every condition you throw at it and provides amazing results as well. It is portable and light and has a 20-60x zoom, which will take care of all your magnification needs. Just be a little careful while using it, and you are good to go.

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Vortex Optics Viper HD 20-60×85

The Viper HD is a superb spotting scope with plenty of features that you will love to make use of when taking it along with you on your adventures. It is old school and has a decent range and magnification that will fulfill all your needs. It can get a little bulky, though, so you should keep that in mind while packing!


  • You can rotate the whole scope on a tripod due to the design of the mount
  • The glass quality is top-notch, with XR glass coatings on top that improve light transmission
  • Armortek coating allows it to be shockproof and oil proof
  • Good image quality with an 80mm scope


  • Is a little heavy
  • Scopes at this price have 85mm scopes


All in all, the Viper HD packs a lot of features that enhance your viewing experience, while providing you as much ease as possible in doing so. You will love the image results that come from this scope. Plus, you can also tag it along with you, and be as rugged as you want with it, without damaging it one bit. But, you will need to be prepared for all of its extra weight, though.

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Vortex Optics Viper HD 15-45×65

The Viper HD 15-45×65 is a younger brother of the Vortex series mentioned above. Why talk about two models of the same company in one review? Well, the 15-45 model is amazing in its own regard, having similar features as its more premium model, but at a much lower price point. It also fixes the issue of the higher-end model with its bulkiness, as the 15-45 is much lighter and smaller.


  • Lightweight and portable to carry around
  • Wide field of view at 136 degrees
  • Flexible viewing angle
  • Not too expensive


  • Image quality is not as premium as the 20-60
  • Does not come with a bag


The Viper HD 15-45 spotter is an amazing pick if you are not too serious about astronomy, and if you do not visit extreme locations, that might limit its performance. Other than that, it is a must-buy for casual users, thanks to its portability and durability. Moreover, even though its quality is not as good as its older brother, it is still pretty decent and will offer you a pleasant viewing experience, nonetheless.

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Pentax PF-ED80 Spotting Scope

The Pentax PF-ED80 Spotting Scope is a decent choice for avid bird-watchers who want a lightweight spotting scope with a good-quality lens. The scope looks premium as well, along with its functionality. However, you might want to consider its price before buying, though.


  • Looks modern and sleek
  • Lightweight
  • Water and fog proof
  • The sliding cover prevents rain from entering the scope


  • The lens glass is not of high quality
  • Not suitable for astronomy
  • A little too expensive


Overall, the Pentax PF-ED80 Spotting Scope is an above-par spotting scope, especially for daylight activities like hunting and bird-watching. It might not give you decent results in the night, though.

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What Is a Spotting Scope?

Spotting scopes are a great alternative to telescopes if your interest in watching the stars is casual or want to get a better depiction while hunting. They are a slightly less powerful and a lot cheaper version of a telescope. There are not many differences between spotting scopes and telescopes, apart from the fact that telescopes are built for professional use. Spotting scopes are not specifically made for astronomical purposes, unlike telescopes. They are much more oriented towards the casual sight-seeing department, where you can use them for activities like bird watching, hunting, or just regularly enjoying the views of a mountain range that is far from your home.

Moreover, there are a few things that make the spotting scope different than a telescope. One of its biggest advantages over telescopes is portability and ease of use. Spotting scopes are much smaller, and can also fit on a tripod with ease, but with a telescope, you need to buy separate mounts that are specifically built for them. Spotting scopes also produce upright images when you glance through them, unlike telescopes, which produce inverted image results.

Since spotting scopes are built for physical activities, they also come with extra security features. These allow the devices to be water-proof, fog-proof, and shock-proof. This will allow you to get on with your activities without worrying about the scope getting damaged.

Now you might think, why get a spotting scope when you can get binoculars instead that serve the same cause? Well, binoculars might help you in all of the activities that a spotting scope does, but they are not nearly as powerful or have the magnification of a scope. They also can’t be mounted on tripods and aren’t as durable.

Before buying a spotting scope, you need to understand how it operates and the different aspects of the device. We have listed down a few features of a spotting scope that you need to be informed about before making your purchase.


This is one of the most key factors you should keep in mind when you are buying a spotting scope. Magnification determines how much your scope can zoom in on the subject, and thus if observing celestial objects will be possible with it or not. However, you should be aware of your atmosphere and the location if you want your magnification lens to work at its best. High magnification lenses work best in high-altitude locations with a dry atmosphere but will not be able to perform at all in lower regions with ample humidity. To make the most of your lens in any location, we recommend going for a 60×80 one, which will help you in all locations.

Another thing you should keep in mind is that zooming in more with your lens is going to bring the image quality down inevitably.

Objective Lens

The objective lens helps with the image quality of the spotting scope, and it is based on two features regarding the lens: the size of the lens, and its quality. A universal rule that is well-known is that a bigger lens is going to produce a better quality image than a smaller one. While that might be true, the quality of the lens needs to be considered as well. Therefore, when you are buying a scope, make sure you find one with a large lens size of good quality to acquire the best image result possible.

If you want to take it up a notch further, you can even spend a little extra and get HD or fluorite glasses for the lens, which can elevate the quality even more.

Close Focus

If you want to focus on nearby objects with your scope (which is something it is not meant to do), then you will have a hard time dealing with it. Most scopes can only focus up to 20ft in the near distance, anything closer than that, and your image will start getting blurry and unfocused.

Eye Relief

This is something that users who wear glasses will need to consider. Eye relief is the distance between your eye and the eyepiece on the scope. People who do not wear glasses can get up as close as they want to the eyepiece, but this is not possible amongst individuals who do wear glasses. This is why you will need to get a scope with better eye relief, preferably 14mm+, if you want room for your glasses as well.

Lens Coating

This feature matters significantly as well when it comes to the quality of the image that comes through the spotting scope. The lens inside the scope is coated with chemicals and materials that help with the transmission of light rays through it, resulting in an overall better viewing experience. There are three types of coatings in the market: fully coated, multi-coated, and fully multi-coated. If you want the best possible performance and image quality, then make sure you grab a scope with a fully multi-coated lens.

Image Quality

The image quality depends on multiple factors, including the ones that are mentioned above. It truly depends on how much money you are willing to pay, depending on your performance needs. If you need an average performing scope for fun, then you won’t need to pay much, but if you do splash that cash, you can grab the best spotting scope under 1000 dollars with which you can even spot craters on the moon.

Nonetheless, the image quality depends on the quality of the lens, and the coating that is on it. Find a scope that ticks both of those boxes, and you are good to go!


The bottom line is if you want to observe the stars and the craters on the move, you do not need to buy an expensive telescope that will break your bank. You can get the job done with a spotter as well, as most spotting scopes will help you in your sight-seeing adventures, be it during the day or night.

So, what is the best spotting scope under 1000 dollars? In our opinion, it is surely the Viper HD 20-60 from Vortex Optics. It has all the top-tier qualities you would look for in scope, and also provides plenty of durability for all your outdoor experiences. However, if you want a budget model, and are not too serious about your sightseeing, then you can even opt for the cheaper Viper HD model of 15-45, and you will still be fully satisfied with its performance!

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