Whether you are deer hunting, elk hunting or archery hunting, a great pair of binoculars increases your odds of coming home with enough meat to fill the freezer. Having the best scope is great, but having the best binoculars for hunting makes it easier to bag the game you are after, as well.
Binoculars make it far easier to see if that flicker of movement is coming from the game you are after or simply a bird or wind-blown branch. They can help to determine if you are looking at a doe or a buck, and if it is a buck, the glasses can help you see how large it is. They allow you to get a better view to see if there are other animals in a herd so you don’t accidentally shoot an animal you don’t intend to target.
Binoculars allow you to assess the terrain to determine the best way to get to the animal once it is brought down.
By no means the least important, binoculars also give you a closer look at what might be on the other side of the game, such as other hunters. This means that a good set of glasses can even be an important safety device.
Good binoculars have certain traits to look for prior to purchase. Not all binoculars are created equally. By knowing what to look for, you are in a position to buy the glasses that will best fit your needs. Here’s a quick look at the 3 best bino’s for hunting, followed by what you should look for:
The 3 Best Binoculars for Hunting
For the money and for small game hunting
Under $50, Budget and compact
Construction of the Binoculars
Good binoculars should have a sturdy casing, capable of standing up to field use. It does little good to get ones that will break under normal use, the first time you take them out. If they aren’t sturdy, they will probably not last long. This would make them a waste of money and could lead to a great deal of frustration, particularly if they break just when you need them the most. Durability is important for binoculars, just as it is for rifle scopes.
Quality binoculars are heavy enough to allow you to see a target without the view being thrown off by the slightest vibration. On the other hand, they should be light enough that they are easy to carry and to use. It isn’t very helpful if the glasses are so heavy that you get weary when you are trying to use them. Getting tired when you are holding the binoculars can make your hands shake. Shaky hands make it harder to see what you are looking at.
The best hunting binoculars are designed in a way that makes them easy and fast to use. This means that they are comfortable to grip and adjustments are easy for your fingers to get to. If you have to lower the binoculars to see what adjustments you are making, the design isn’t optimal. You should always be able to adjust the focus and magnification while you are holding them to your eyes.
Adjustments to the diopter or eye piece should be right at your fingertips. Likewise, you should be able to easily and comfortably adjust the focus without ever moving your eyes away from the eye cups.
The eye cups should also fit comfortably around your eyes, blocking light from the sides while keeping your pupils a uniform distance for the lens. They do need to be comfortable, but not too soft and pliable. The idea is if you use them a dozen times, there should be no difference in accuracy between the first use and the last one.
The hinge needs to be tight, yet easy enough to move. You shouldn’t have to strain in order to adjust the binoculars to fit your eyes. Put in another way, you want the hinge to be easy to adjust, but once you adjust it, you want to stay in that position until it is readjusted.
Many companies make good optics, but for hunting binoculars, the lenses need to allow nearly all of the light through. They should be as clear at high magnification as they are at low magnification. If the view is distorted at the edges, the optics aren’t the best. The lenses should also be coated. This adds to their durability and also helps to make them water resistant and fog resistant.
The size of the objective lens, which is the large lens at the front of the binoculars, is important as well, though this is more of a matter of personal preference. The larger the objective lens, the greater the field of view. However, large and well-made lenses tend to be more expensive than smaller and equally well-made objective lenses. So a hunter must decide if they want to potentially pay more for the greater field of view.
The diameter of the objective lenses is given in millimeters and the number includes the highest magnification, with the magnification being listed first. This means that 10×50 binoculars have a maximum magnification of 10 and objective lenses that are 50 mm in diameter.
Binoculars come in a wide range of styles and magnifications. In the example of the 10×50 binoculars: the magnification of 10 means that at maximum magnification, objects appear 10 times closer than they really are.
Not all of these magnifications are the best for hunting, however. The best binoculars for hunting are those that are fast and easy to use and which give ample magnification without being so high that it is difficult for the eyes to adjust from normal view and magnified view.
Additionally, if the magnification is too great, the view will often be shaky, even for someone with steady hands. The size of the objective lens also has a bearing, in concert with the magnification. Magnification that is too high can also make it harder to find the target you are wanting to look at.
What this means is that in binoculars that have a large objective lens and high magnification, even minor vibrations can result in a view that is exceptionally jerky as tiny movements are amplified. This is something that should be considered carefully when choosing binoculars specifically for hunting. It normally isn’t practical to mount the binoculars on a tripod to remove the vibrations.
Magnification for Large Game:
This said, the amount of magnification is often also a matter of personal preference and may also depend on what is being hunted. The best deer hunting binoculars normally have a magnification of between 7 and 10. This is primarily due to the size of the animal that is being hunted. Deer, elk and bears are large animals.
Magnification for Small Game:
On the other hand, if the prey is small, a higher magnification might be used to compensate for the difference in size. Thus, it isn’t uncommon for the magnification for varmint binoculars to be 12 to 14 times. This does mean that there will probably be a lot of shaking that will need to be dealt with, but this is offset by the fact that a greater magnification is needed in order to be able to see the animals.
The magnification is usually one of the biggest considerations that determines the difference between a good set of glasses and the best set.
The term ‘exit pupil’ refers to the apparent brightness of the objects that are being viewed. This is also measured in millimeters, so the larger the exit pupil, the brighter the images. Like telescopes and rifle scopes, binoculars also gather light. If this wasn’t the case, a person would only see a very dim object when they looked through the device.
In normal daylight conditions, an exit pupil of 3 mm should provide plenty of light to see objects. An exit pupil of 4 mm should be sufficient for even dim light conditions, such as at dawn, dusk or in cloudy weather conditions. The exit pupil isn’t really precise in regard to field use, though. This is because there can be slight variations due to the quality of the lenses, the coating and so forth.
Technical explaination of what the exit pupil is:
Lenses are coated to increase the life of the binoculars and as an aid to making them fog or water resistant. This is easy enough to understand, however there can be a little confusion about the terms used for coated lenses. There doesn’t need to be any confusion.
There are usually four terms that are used: Coated lenses, fully coated lenses, multi-coated lenses and fully multi-coated. Optics Planet goes into more detail here, however the important thing to note is that fully multi-coated means that all of the lenses have multiple coatings. If the term used is just multi-coated, it means that there are multiple coatings, but just on one lens. This can be a money saver, but it doesn’t completely increase the life of the glasses. Knowing this can be the difference between getting the best hunting binoculars and getting something that isn’t quite as good.
The Best Hunting Binoculars Reviewed
After establishing what to look for and how to buy binoculars for hunting, the next step is to rate the best that are on the market. It should be noted that certain name brands are given a slight edge because they are well known for producing quality binoculars, scopes and other optics. This doesn’t mean that brands that aren’t well-known might not also make great binoculars. It only means that some brands tend to consistently make great glasses and the goal is to select the best.
Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8×42 Binoculars
*Best Hunting Binoculars under $500
Nikon is a name that is associated with top-quality optics of all sorts; from cameras to binoculars and scopes. This is a company with an international reach. Although it is a Japanese company rather than one that is based in the United States, the company has been around since 1917 and it has firmly established itself as a leader in optics.
The Monarch 5 8×42 binoculars feature a 42 mm objective lens and a maximum magnification of 8. These field glasses weigh only about a pound and a third. With a sturdy build and black matte rubberized coating, the Monarch 5 is durable and built to last.
These binoculars have a casing that is sealed with O-rings and filled with nitrogen to make them waterproof, fog proof and shock resistant. The high quality lenses are fully multi-coated and even the internal roof prism is coated. This renders an exceptionally clear and true image.
The exit pupil on the Monarch 5 is 5.3 mm, so the image is bright even in dim conditions. The eye caps are adjustable to make the binoculars great to use even if a person wears eye glasses. The centrally located focus knob makes it quite easy to focus in on an object quickly.
The downside of these binoculars is that they aren’t made in the USA and the lens caps aren’t snug fitting. This isn’t an issue if they are used properly, which means threading the caps through a strap that is included. However, if a person doesn’t know that the caps are designed for use with the strap, they could be much too loose. Still, they come off quickly and easily when the binoculars are used, making the glasses fast to operate.
Additionally, these binoculars come with a soft case rather than a hard one, so additional care is in order. The price is under $300, so they are quite reasonably priced.
It should be noted that the Monarch 5 can also be purchased with magnifications of 10 and 12. However these binoculars, with a magnification of 8, are the best binoculars for deer hunting and they are also great for elk hunting . Larger magnification isn’t needed, owing to the size of the animal that is being targeted.
Bushnell Fusion 1-Mile 12×50 ARC Binocular Laser Rangefinder with Matrix Display
*Best Hunting Binoculars for the Money and for Small Game
Bushnell is another brand that is well-known for top quality optics. Although the company began operation in 1948 in Japan and currently sells scopes, binoculars and other products internationally, Bushnell is an American company that is based in Kansas. They firmly stand behind their products and even offer a lifetime no questions asked warranty on their scopes and binoculars.
The Fusion is an excellent example of Bushnell’s top of the line binoculars. These glasses aren’t inexpensive, but there aren’t many binoculars on the market that can do all that the Fusion can do. Additionally, with the lifetime no questions asked warranty, these Bushnell binoculars are designed to honestly last a lifetime.
Quick overview of the Bushnell Fusion:
The objective lens is 50 mm in diameter, so it has a large field of view, and with a top magnification of 12, even distant small game can be clearly seen. The lenses are fully multi-coated and the prisms are also coated. The optics are excellent and the clarity of images is tremendous, even at top magnification.
These glasses are waterproof, fog proof and shock resistant, yet the exit pupil is 4.2, so they are great for use in dim light as well as normal daylight. The Fusion binoculars have a center focus that is easy to adjust and the eyecups have a twist-up design. The Fusion weighs about two and a half pounds, as one might expect from binoculars with such a sturdy and durable build.
Just from all this, the Fusion would be exceptional. But these glasses are more than just binoculars. They also have an extremely accurate laser rangefinder. This is implied by the name as ARC stands for Angle Range Compensation. With ARC, the rangefinder shows both the angle and true horizontal distance. The rangefinder operates in both bow and rifle mode and has three targeting systems; automatic, bullseye and brush modes.
This means that whether you are hunting big game or small game, deer or rabbits, you can accurately determine how far away the target is, without needing to rely on naked eye evaluation of the distance. With the rangefinder, the Fusion makes sighting in a rifle easier and more accurate, too, and it eliminates the guesswork when you are in the field hunting. They are great whether you are archery hunting, rifle hunting or even muzzle loader hunting and because of the magnification and wide field of view, these are the best hunting binoculars for small game and for long distance hunting. The rangefinder functions on a 3-volt CR 123 battery, which is included. It also comes with a case and a neck strap.
The rangefinder lists distance in both yards and meters, for convenience. They are also designed to function over a large range of temperatures; from -30 F to 120 F.
The one drawback of these binoculars is the expense. These are quality made precision binoculars and this is reflected in the price. However, they are also built to last. Additionally, they are made in the USA and it would be difficult to find a better warranty.
Bushnell 10×32 Powerview Compact Folding Binoculars
*Best Compact Hunting Binoculars
Sometimes a hunter wants binoculars that don’t take up a lot of space; something that can be stored in the glove box, backpack or the pocket of a hunting vest. In this case, they need to be well made but fast and easy to use. If this is what you are in the market for, Bushnell has you covered with its line of Powerview compact folding binoculars .
These binoculars are specifically designed to save space and to yet be high quality. Naturally, they can’t match the functionality of the binoculars that have been previously mentioned, but they aren’t designed to. The Powerview binoculars are so fast and easy to use, though, that they are superb for more than just hunting applications.
Powerview binoculars are available in magnifications ranging from 8x to 16x and with objective lenses that are 21 mm, 25 mm or 32 mm in diameter. Each of these has slightly different specifications than the others, so we are specifically referring here to the Powerview 10×32 binoculars. This particular magnification and size of objective lens is well suited to hunting, though they can again be used for everything from spotting to bird watching. They are definitely compact, both when folded up and when in use.
The lenses on these binoculars are fully coated and the exit pupil is 3.2, so they are great for both normal light and dim light uses. The Powerview uses a roof prism and furnishes surprisingly crisp, clear and bright images. The field glasses are rubberized to make them comfortable to handle, while adding a measure of shock resistance to make them reasonably durable for compact binoculars.
The eye caps have a fold down design and are comfortable. These also have a center focus that is easy to adjust without taking your eyes away from the eye pieces. For having a good design, these are also light weight glasses. They only weigh about three-quarters of a pound. The Bushnell Powerview comes with a soft carrying case and a neck strap. While this particular model of Powerview binocular comes only in black, there are several other models that also come in camo.
This set of binoculars is extremely affordable at less than $50, which makes them the best binoculars for under $50 .
Although these glasses do carry the name of Bushnell, so people know that they are buying something that was made in the USA and which is quality made, they do have drawbacks. For one thing, they are neither fog proof or waterproof, so some care must be given during use.
They are well made, but aren’t nearly as durable as the other binoculars that have been mentioned. They also aren’t set up for a tripod, like all of the other binoculars mentioned here. The tripod capability of the other binoculars hasn’t been mentioned previously, though, because a tripod is seldom used during most hunting activities.
Still, for the price, these shortcomings can be overlooked. Indeed, they do quite well for what they were designed for; lightweight, fast and easy use. They should still last quite a while with care. Just keep in mind that these are light weight glasses that weren’t designed for the same sort of hard use that larger, more ruggedly built binoculars are routinely put through. The only reason we don’t rate them as high, is that the other binoculars mentioned eclipse the Powerview for functionality.
Hunting binoculars are handy to have and they can greatly increase your chances of hunting success. These reviews have focused on the best binoculars for hunting , with a mind toward what they can do and how they are most likely going to be used. Knowing what you are going to use them for and how are exceptionally important in determining the binoculars that are best for you. However, this is true of any hunting binocular buying guide. Even though this is the case, these reviews should point you in the right direction so you can purchase the very best hunting binoculars that you can be comfortable with for a long time to come.
Enjoy your purchase and we at Good Game Hunting wish you much hunting success in the days, weeks and years to come.