Vanguard High Plains Spotting Scope Review

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Over the last year we have been taking a look at various optics and hunting accessories offered by Vanguard and have generally been impressed with the value and quality of the products. Vanguard also produces a variety of spotting scopes for the hunter and outdoor enthusiast. For this review we'll be taking a look at their High Plains series of spotting scopes specifically the High Plains 561.

The High Plains series is an entry level offering and the 561 is the mid-grade offering in the High Plains series. The 561 is a fixed, straight, in-line eye piece model offering a 60mm objective with a magnification range from 15x - 45x. Vanguard also offers the 560 which is very similar to the 561 other than it uses a fixed, angled eye piece. All High Plains spotting scopes come with a 5 year warranty.

Optically the High Plains 561 is surprising, with a street price of around $200, one might expect inferior optics. However in comparing it to similar models offered by other manufacturers of similar or greater cost, the 561 gives better clarity, resolution, and contrast with good color representation. This spotting scope will have no trouble being able to separate 22 caliber bullet holes on paper at 100 yards and will be very good when packing around for spotting game. However the 60mm objective and 45 max magnification does eventually show some weakness when compared against 80mm objective and higher powered magnification spotting scopes. Although more powerful spotting scopes come at the cost of greater size, weight, and money.

The Vanguard High Plains 561 is a 60mm objective variable 15x-45x power spotting scope.

The optical quality is excellent and the spotting scope alone is worth the asking price; however Vanguard takes it a step further by offering a complete package of accessories to go with the spotting scope. Specifically the 561 includes a lockable, custom molded case, a tripod, a soft sided carrying case, a cleaning kit, and lens cap covers for the ocular and objective of the spotting scope.

The 561 includes a lockable carrying case, cleaning kit, soft case,
tripod, and lens covers for the objective and eye piece.

The carrying case is plastic with metal protective siding and the internal foam is specifically cut out for the 561 and its tripod. The tripod is of good quality but rather small and is really only good for bench work or spotting off the hood of a vehicle. None-the-less the tripod does have a lockable, panning head and is great to use off the bench when sighting in a rifle.

Inlaid into the inside of the case lid is a spot for a soft-sided carrying case for packing the scope afield and a pouch with the cleaning kit. The cleaning kit comes with a lens brush and blower along with a microfiber cloth and cleaning fluid.

Overall the High Plains 561 is an excellent offering and definitely worth considering if you're in the market for a new spotting scope. The 561 is affordably priced at around $200 considering the optical quality and comes with a trove of bonus accessories that normally would add an additional $50-100 to the asking price.

The 561 has an integrated sunshade.

The outside of the 561 has sections of overmolded rubber with a good tactile touch.

For more information visit Vanguard.


GooseHunter Jr's picture

That is a pretty good price

That is a pretty good price on what appears to be a dedent spotting scope.  I happen to have a pair of the binoculars and if the scope is as good as they are, the spotting scope be very nice for a hunter who does not wann adrop a fortune on a spotting scope.  I have a upper end spotting scope but I would not be afraid to use a spotting scope made by them.

COMeatHunter's picture

Wow! $200...did I read this right?

I read through the review and then had to do a double take on the retail price of around $200.  Really?!?  I am definitely going to have to find one of these in a local shop to check out for myself.  If there's one thing that gives me a headache, for literally and figuratively, it's poor optics.  If you can't look through the binos or spotting scope for over 5 minutes without getting eye fatigue (and eventually a headache) then I wouldn't consider buying them.  Most of us will spend a bunch of money on optics for hunting too.  When you can find good quality optics without breaking the bank, that can help put a couple more hunts on the calendar every year!

Thanks for the review!

Ca_Vermonster's picture

I am one of those ones that

I am one of those ones that considers himself an "economical" hunter.  I am not willing to drop $1500 on a Leupold or Swarovski, and would rather drop just a couple hundred on a decent spotting scope.  This Vanguard sounds like just the right deal.  I would be interested in looking into getting one, especially before I go to Colorado next year.

Thanks for the review.  Some great points, well worth checking out.  I really like the nice carrying case too.  Very nice!

SGM's picture

Sounds like a pretty good

Sounds like a pretty good deal for the price but in optics you defiantly get what you pay for. Would need to do allot more research before buying. Also remember you are paying for all the extra little bells and whistles that do not add up to a better scope. If $200-$300 is your budget than check it out but go to a store and do a head to head comparison with others in that same range. The article does not talk about low light visibility which to me is a factor that I would look into for sure. Also look at the field of view at 100 yards or 500 yards. Can you really see the critter at 500 yards to  be sure it is a legal bull or one you want to chase?  Weight of scope is not mentioned and as we all know can be a factor also. Do not give up quality for a little weight.  Just because it looks nice or has a bunch of extras with it does not mean it is better. Have bought a few lower end scopes in my day and learned the lesson the hard way. Just make sure you are happy with what you are spending your hard earned cash on and it does what you want it to do.     

Retired2hunt's picture

I have been doing a lot of

I have been doing a lot of serious investigation on spotting scopes.  This Vanguard model 561 definitely compares well to similar models with close to same specs.  You can obviously pay a higher price tag for better power and diameter specs as well as different focusing systems and what you feel is the optimal or best eye relief... but when looking at this model you are definitely getting a good deal for $200 that also includes the additional accessories.  As with BGH's review this is probably a great spotting scope for the range.  At a little over one pound it is a nice light spotting scope.

I am personally looking at the Vanguard Signature Plus model 680 or 681.  Much higher power and diameter.  It also comes with the case.  The tri-pod appears to be the same as what is offered with the 561 but I think I can make it work fine out in the field.  The weight is definitely a factor at about 3.5 pounds but not out of the question.

There are some great spotting scopes out there - Leopold and Eagle Optics offer some really great spotting scopes and you will pay appropriately for them.  I am not done investigating yet but Vanguard remains in the run for my money!




numbnutz's picture

sounds like a good piece of

sounds like a good piece of equipment. Spotting scope are good and serve there purpose the way i hunt and the terrain i hunt in doesnt make a spotter practicle. A good pair of bino's are worth there weight in gold out here in the Pacific Northwest. However if i was in the market for a good inexpensive scope i would have to look hard at this one.