Best Spotting Scope Under 500 ($500 and under)

Ever want to get a better look at the next mountain over without having to hike all the way there? Whether you’re a hunter, bird watcher, or star-gazer, these scopes will provide you with what you need to get the best view- all for under $500. This article will be about our choices of the best spotting scope under 500 dollars.

The following four scopes have been tested and hold true to a great value that will allow you to save some cash for your adventures while having the right tools for the job. By the end of the article, you’ll find the best value spotting scope.

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NameALPEN Spotting ScopeCelestron C5 Spotting ScopeLeupold SX-1 Ventana 2Bushnell Legend Ultra HD
DesignAngledFoldingStraight or AngledAngled
Objective Lens Diameter80mm30mmN/A80mm
Close Focus Distance:20ft to 25ft22ftN/A 35ft
Our Rating⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceLow $$Mid $$$Mid $$$Mid $$$
Buy NowBuy NowBuy NowBuy Now

ALPEN Spotting Scope

If you’re on a budget, the Alpen 20-60×80 zoom spotting scope is a good choice for a spotting scope under $500. Like a couple of the options here, it’s waterproof and fog proof.  The objective lens is 80mm which is great for image quality. The installment of the BAK4 multi-coated optics makes sure you get a bright clear image. Plus, the zoom magnification provides a field of view of 20x with a viewing up to 60x.

Honestly, you don’t have to worry about glare with this spotting scope. The retractable sun shade reduces glare. Due to the 45-degree eye piece, you can adjust the scope to any position you like. All you have to do is loosening the adjustment collar (it’s located on the center of the body) and it’s done.

I like the fact they included a micro adjustable table top tripod and carrying case. Honestly, the tripod isn’t that great but it’s okay for the price. Plus, the spotting scope is backed by a lifetime warranty. If you want more details, you’ll need to contact them directly. And if you didn’t know, the Alpen 20-60×80 zoom spotting scope was awarded the Great Buy award by Outdoor Life magazine. If you want more details and information on this spotting scope, read the full review.

Celestron C5

The Celestron’s C5 spotting scope is an amazing spotting scope. Quick fact, the Celestron’s C5 has been used by NASA for many years, on many space shuttle missions. One thing I can say about the C5 is it’s reliable. If you’re a serious nature lover but on a budget, you can’t go wrong with a Celestron C5 spotting scope. It’s honestly a great spotting scope for under $500.

The spotting scope weights approximately 6lbs. It’s not a lightweight spotting scope. Even though it’s not the lightest option here, it’s still pretty portable. Another thing to keep in mind with Celestron, in general, they offer loads of accessories to expand the capabilities of their products. With Celestron’s C5 there’s loads of accessories to expand the capabilities of this spotting scope.

The aperture of the C5’s 5″ allows it to outperform more expensive, higher-end spotting scopes. It has 4.5x more light gathering ability than a normal 60mm spotting scope. And, 2.5x times more light gathering ability than an 80mm scope. In other words, not only is the C5 less than $500 but it’s a superb quality spotting scope.

Leupold SX-1 Ventana 2 with 20-60x

Honestly, I’m surprised the SX-1 Ventana 2 was under $500. This scoping scope is amazing. It delivers a true-to-life color image depth you’re not going to find anywhere else. It has an outstanding image clarity and brightness. Plus, they offer a straight or angled eyepiece which is standard for the price.

The company Leupold pioneered waterproofing technology. This spotting scope is no exception in that statement. The SX-1 Ventana 2 is 100% waterproof, fog-proof and finally, shockproof.  You also don’t have to worry about dirtying the lens due to the guard-ion lens coating. It protects the lens by passively shedding off dirty, water and mud. It also has anti-fingerprint protection.  

Also, the Twilight Light Management System embedded in the scope adds an extra 10 minutes of glassing light.  It’s also pretty lightweight in comparison to the other recommendation in this review article. And last but not lease, it has its own built-in tripod adapter port. It’s a good buy for any hobbyist.

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 20-60×80

The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 20-60×80 spotting scope delivers exceptional field performance for under $500. This scoping scope is the cheapest recommendation. If you’re an avid enthusiast, you’d be pretty content with this spotting scope. It has a fully multi-coated optic lens and premium bak-4 prism. Even with the price, it doesn’t sacrifice on the image quality. It provides a vivid clarity and contrast even in low-light situations.

With the dual-focus controls, you makefast tuning adjustments on the fly. And just so you know, the Lenses are protected by RainGuard HD to provide the cleanest image possible. No matter the weather condition, the spotting scope will offer amazingly clear images.  

Alpen Model 788 with 20-60x Magnification

Alpen Model 788 with 20-60x Magnification
Click here for information about the ALPEN Waterproof and Fog Proof Spotting Scope

The Alpen Model 788 is best used for hunting and wildlife spotting, although it can be a multi-use scope. It has an improved design and comes with accessories to ensure you’re ready to go! It comes wit a decent table tripod and carrying case. Plus, it’s backed by Alpen’s lifetime manufacturer warranty which you’ll need to contact them directly.


There are many pros to this model’s design and inner-workings. The 80mm objective lens allows for plenty of light collection to still use it even while the light is fading and the prime spotting hours have passed.

The model 788 comes with a newly designed inner eye-piece that really adds a lot of clarity in comparison to earlier models.

And of course, a huge pro of this scope is that it is waterproof and fog proof, meaning that you can use it in all kinds of conditions without having to worry about damage to your equipment.


While the Aplen model 788 is a great overall scope, it still comes with some cons, mainly about the accessories it comes with.

The tripod is sturdy and has the ability to be micro adjusted, but if you’re used to a top-of-the-line tripod or bipod, it won’t be able to hold its own in comparison.

Another drawback is that the zipper on the carrying case can sometimes get jammed up or break, but this is often a minor issue since most people use a different bag anyways.


The Alpen model 788 is an amazing scope to use for whatever outdoor purpose is required of it. With a newly optimized inner eye-piece, large objective, and relatively lightweight it can be a very good scope for under $500.

Celestron C5 with 50x Magnification

Celestron C5 with 50x Magnification
Click here to learn more about the Celestron C5 Spotting Scope

The Celestron C5 is actually a dual-purpose scope for astronomical and wildlife watching. You’ll be happy to know this scope comes with a water-resistant case (not waterproof) and a great lifetime warranty.


There are several advantages of this scope in comparison to others. The main one is that it’s intended to be a dual-purpose scope that is good for astronomical viewing and wildlife watching.

Because it is made as a dual-purpose, there is a good selection of eyepieces to buy after-market to help you specialize in the type of viewing you want to do.

In the included eyepiece, there are crosshairs to make it even easier to find what you want to see.

If you’re a photographer, you’re in luck. The C5 is fully designed to with cameras with the right adaptor. You’ll just need to find the right T- Adapter and T-Ring for your camera. It’s a perfect simple setup.


As with anything, the Celestron C5 comes with some cons as well. Chromatic aberration in the included eyepiece is one, but although it does happen it’s actually pretty minimal once you learn exactly how you need to approach the scope.

There is also no soft rubber on the eyepiece on the eyepiece, but again once you get used to it, it’s not a problem at all.


The Celestron C5 is an excellent scope for viewing in both day and nighttime conditions due to its intended use as a dual-purpose scope and an excellent value.

The Celestron is so powerful it can be used as an astronomical telescope at times. So, if you’re looking for price, versatility, and design, the C5 might be what you’re looking for. You can’t go wrong with this one.

Leupold SX-1 Ventana 2 with 20-60x Magnification

Leupold SX-1 Ventana 2 with 20-60x Magnification
Click here to learn more about the Leupold SX-1 Ventana 2 with 20-60x Magnification

Leupold is always a trusted brand in optics, and the SX-1 Ventana 2 is no exception. This spotting scope has an extremely smooth focusing system (one of the best on this list). The eye relief pretty comfortable for extended sessions.

Even though this scope is lightweight, it’s sturdy and durable. It’s shielded with polycarbonate with rubber armor coating to reframe from outdoor damage. This SX-1 Ventana 2 is pretty tough.

This scope comes equipped with a hard side-carry case, tripod, additional soft case, neoprene strap and lens covers.


You can always expect a lot out of Leupold optics. This model is waterproof, fog-proof, shockproof so you’ll never need to worry about damaging your gear under extreme conditions.

The 80mm objective size will allow for glassing even under relatively low-light conditions.

Leupold always outdoes themselves with accessories. This scope comes with a ton of them for everything from field use to storage in the off-season.


The main con is that this scope can seem somewhat shaky while glassing longer distances. This is to be expected when you push the limits of any scope.


The Leupold SX-1 Ventana 2 is a great scope primarily for hunting and wildlife watching, and with the included gear you’ll be ready to hit the trail as soon as you open the box.

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD with 20-60x Magnification

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD with 20-60x Magnification
Click here to learn more about the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD with 20-60x Magnification

Bushnell is known for their quality products and very rarely disappoints. The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 20-60×80 has waterproof& Rain Guard HD coating to repel water. This keeps the spotting scope from being damaged and last longer.

It’s also equipped with a Bak-4 prism. Plus, it has a magnification from 20 to 60X with an objective lens of 80 millimeter. Sadly, the spotting scope doesn’t come with a any hardware. But, it does have a lifetime manufacturer warranty.


The Bushnell SX-1 Ventana 2 is what you can expect our of Bushnell. This model’s 80mm objective lens and coating make it great for low-light spotting.

The multi-coated optics reduce glare in high-light conditions so you won’t have to adjust as much to accommodate your position to the sun. And of course, it’s coated to make it waterproof and fog proof.

Fixed dual-focus controls allow you to make rapid adjustments and fine-tune them quickly to get the best view possible.


Most of the cons associated with this product are with the accessories because there really aren’t any. For a case and tripod, you’ll have to buy them separately, but that just means that Bushnell is putting more of your dollars straight toward the scope itself instead of other gear.


The Bushnell SX-1 Ventana 2 is a great scope for hunting, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing at an excellent price.


The best scope to buy is often dependent on the user’s needs rather than the scope itself. There is no such thing as a one size fits all scope, but that means that once you decide what you need a scope for you can get one that is made specifically for that purpose.

The scopes listed here will cover the best spotting scope under 500 dollars that you can buy for just about any purpose, including birdwatching, stargazing, wildlife watching, and hunting.