Getting the right spotting scope to help you target shoot is already a tricky task, but having a limited budget adds another layer of complexity to the process. So, we decided to help by taking a look at target shooting scopes and presenting you with reviews to help you make the best choice.
It’s important to know going in that “best” is a relative term. This doesn’t necessarily refer to the biggest scope that can give you the sharpest image the furthest out. In fact, you need to account for several different things to ensure that you choose the right one.
At the end of our reviews, we took all the criteria that helped shape our findings and put together a buyer’s guide. The spotting scope that we think is best might not match your specific needs, so you’ll want to see this as just the start to finding the right one, rather than the destination that tells you which one to buy.
|Bushnell Trophy Xtreme 886015|
|Gosky 20-60x80 Scope with Tripod||4 lbs||4.7/5|
|Feyachi 20-60x60AE with Tripod|
(Best for the Money)
|Emarth 20-60x60AE||6 lbs||4.3/5|
|Hiram 15-45×60||2 lbs||4.1/5|
Our top pick for the best budget spotting scope is the Bushnell Trophy Xtreme 886015. Bushnell has a well-deserved reputation for high-quality optics and, as a budget spotting scope, the Xtreme is a worthy item.
With its Porro-prism design and fully coated optics, it can deliver clear, sharp images up to 500 yards. Its waterproof construction maintains internal integrity if it’s raining while you shoot, and it comes in an excellent protective case. For the money, it’s a great value.
Ultimately, this is a scope built for a budget. If you have super long-range shooting to do, the Trophy Xtreme starts to lose sharpness after about 500 yards. For ranges that far out, you won’t want a budget scope anyway.
We also suggest that if you want a scope for hunting, that you buy a separate one for that. Though weatherproof, this scope just doesn’t have the range to do what a hunting scope needs. As a budget scope for target shooting, however, the Trophy Xtreme is our top pick.
Gosky’s 20-66×80 scope is another great value budget scope for target shooting. You won’t want to take it hunting with you, however, or even use it for bird watching. We really think it’s best as a scope that you set up and leave. For that, it does a dependable job.
It has some of the best weatherproofing we’ve seen for target shooting scopes. If you’re on the range and the skies open up, you can continue shooting assured that water isn’t going to fog up the inside of your scope. We also like its angled body for easy, comfortable use. Sight this on your target and leave it alone. When you need to know how accurate your shots are, it’ll tell you.
That said, it’ll only measure accuracy within reason. After a couple of hundred yards, the image starts to blur, and we don’t recommend using it at its full 60x magnification, as it tends to get pretty blurry at its maximum setting. The tripod is also poorly made, which is why we suggest you set it up and leave it alone.
We really liked the Feyachi 20-60x60AE as a budget scope. For the money you pay, you won’t find one that delivers a greater return on your investment.
This scope isn’t waterproof. It’s weatherproof. It’s sealed up to prevent moisture from entering during rain and fog, and it sits low to the ground for stability during high winds. Its optics will deliver sharp images of targets out to 100 yards. For what it costs, that’s just a tremendous value.
Beyond 100 yards, the quality of the images begins to taper. And it doesn’t do a good job at all of focusing on distant targets. The eye relief (the distance between the ocular and your eyeball that allows images to hold shape) is miniscule. Every time you look through this while target shooting, you’ll want to lift your safety glasses.
For the price, that’s to be expected. You won’t get top-flight quality for what the Feyachi costs. What you will get is a super value.
The Emarth 20-60×60 is, for the cost, a pretty good target shooting scope. We would have considered putting it in direct competition with the Feyachi as our “best for the money” scope, but it fell just a little short.
It’s pretty simple to use and is easy on the wallet. For really basic target shooting out to about 200 yards, it does a dependable job. It’s also waterproof and fogproof and has fully coated optics.
One drawback, however, is its wafer-thin eye relief—that space between the ocular and your eyeball where an image can hold its shape and vibrancy. You can’t wear glasses—eyeglasses or safety glasses—and look through the eyepiece, which is a significant downside for a target shooting scope. There is also some color distortion. Considering the cost, it’s probably to be expected that it isn’t manufactured with low-dispersion glass.
One final gripe is the tripod and protective case that comes with it; they are of such poor quality that Emarth might as well not include them in the purchase. Rather than sending shoddy accessories, maybe they should invest that money in a better scope glass for less color distortion.
The Hiram 15-45×60 is a perfect example that budget isn’t the same thing as low-cost. Of the targeting scopes we reviewed as budget models, this one clearly has the cheapest price. What it doesn’t do is deliver the results that would make it a great budget purchase. You get what you pay for with the Hiram, which unfortunately isn’t a whole lot.
One thing we liked about it is its angled body. That makes for more comfortable operation.
It has a very limited range of magnification, which means that it has a very limited range of distance where it can reliably process images. It’s also not very good in anything but the sunniest, clearest conditions—which is kind of a shame because it’s actually waterproof. There’s a very narrow window of range and conditions where this will offer reliable results. We suggest that you spend a little more on something a little more versatile.
If getting a spotting scope for target shooting was as simple as getting the maximum range for the least amount of money, there wouldn’t be any reason to do a lot of research. You’d just go find the one that best delivers. But the actual choice is a little more complicated than that, so we put together a buyer’s guide based on the guidelines that we used to review the target scopes ourselves.
One thing we always preach is pairing the tool to the job. Lots of tools can do an adequate job on a range of related tasks, but most of them specialize in one of them. The targeting scope that can give you the sharpest image—the one that accounts the best for atmospheric interference at the greatest distance—is probably going to be less precise if you’re trying to figure out how accurate your .22’s sight is. On the other hand, a scope that can give you a sharp image of a target at 50 yards is probably going to blur badly when extended out to 100 yards. So, the first important step in getting the right scope is knowing what range and what gun you’re going to use it for. If you get really serious about target shooting, you might find you need a different spotting scope with each gun you use.
A clean, sharp image is more than just the lens’ magnification power. It’s also related to how the lens was made and from what materials. Since you’re shopping on a budget, this is an important detail you won’t want to overlook because it could help you get the most for your money.
A multi-coated lens will reduce glare and produce the sharpest images possible. This is a series of layers—sometimes as many as 80—in the lens that reduces the amount of light lost as it travels through the glass. A scope without a coated lens can lose up to 35 percent of the light that passes through it. A high-end multi-coated lens reduces that to less than 1 percent. This helps maintain sharpness of the image.
Low-dispersion glass used to be a feature for only the most expensive, highest-end scopes, but the price has decreased and availability has increased in recent years. This kind of glass helps reduce distortion in images.
Finally, magnification power is still important for setting a basic range. The bigger the magnification power, the further away you’ll be able to create a sharper image. If you don’t need to see something quite so far out, you won’t need quite the magnification power, especially if you’ve put effort into finding the right lens coating and glass construction.
You won’t necessarily need the perfect eyepiece right off the bat since these are generally pretty easy to swap out. But, you will want to make sure that you eventually get an eyepiece that is comfortable for your eye to rest into and see through.
Once you’ve got the right target shooting scope in mind, you need something to hold it steady. A scope that doesn’t hold firm is a scope that won’t do much good in telling you where your bullets are hitting. You’ll want to start by assessing where you’re shooting from—open ground, a covered shooting position, or even behind a berm—and find a stand to suit that accordingly. Your scope might come with a tripod or it might not. Either way, you’ll want to make sure that the stand you have for it matches your shooting position.
Price is always a factor in every purchase, but we’ve kind of established that you’re looking for a target scope on a budget. Unless you’re a professional shooter (or take it really, really seriously), you probably don’t need to go much over your budget; the quality of your spotting scope isn’t going to affect the quality of your shooting much. In fact, if you use it long enough you can learn to compensate for how the scope processes images.
Still, if your shooting scope leaves you feeling like you’ve got a case of glaucoma, it’s not much different than not buying a scope. So, don’t break the bank. But don’t skimp so much that you’ve bought something unusable.
If you’re looking for a target shooting scope to fit a budget, we like the Bushnell Trophy Xtreme 886015. It has everything you’d want in a budget target scope, though be aware that it has range limitations. Gosky’s 20-66×80 is a worthy runner-up, but it just doesn’t deliver the quality for the price, and the tripod is junk. The Feyachi 20-60x60AE offers the best value for what you pay. We would have considered the Emarth 20-60×60 as a best budget contender, but it has too much color distortion to warrant it. At the low end of the cost spectrum is the Hiram 15-45×60. Unfortunately, it’s also at the low end of the quality spectrum.
We hope you found value in our reviews and that they provide some food for thought as you shop for a target scope to fit your own budget. If you thought our reviews were a great starting point, we hope that our buyer’s guide gave you enough insights into our evaluation process to help shape your thinking. We wish you the best in shopping for a target scope to fit a budget, and the best of luck at the range.
|Bushnell Trophy Xtreme 886015||
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