Best High-Power Binoculars 2021 - Award Winners

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Intro

In this sub-section of the main BBR Bino Awards, I will highlight the winners for the Best High Power, Long Range Binoculars 2021 in a range of sub-categories and will also contain several winners from previous years that are still available and which I feel are still relevant and well worth considering.

Annual Binocular Awards LogosBBR Binocular Awards

Since their inception way back in 2010, the BBR Binocular Awards have grown to become what I believe are the most important binocular and related optics awards on the web. For me, they are also the main way in which highlight the very best binoculars in a range of categories that I have fully tested and reviewed in the past 12 months. For more information on the awards, the rules, and the ethos as well as to view the winners in all the other categories, please take some time to check out the main 2021 Best Binoculars BBR Awards Page.

Awards: Long Distance Binoculars 2021

This year I have decided to split some of the most popular categories like this one for powerful, long-range binoculars away from the main awards page and give them their own section. I have done this because in the past I have often wanted to award more than just one instrument within this niche. So for example, I think it would be good to have winners of the best powerful binoculars in selection of price categories and as you'll see below, I think it is now also worth having a sub-category to highlight powerful image-stabilized binoculars that don't requite a tripod to get the best performance:

Overall Winner: Best High Power, Long-Range Binoculars 2021

Maven 18x56 B5 Binoculars

There is no argument that these very powerful Maven binoculars are not the right instrument for general use, but they do have their niche and are certainly amongst the very best long range binoculars currently on the market.

With their massive 18x power, I was a little skeptical before using them, but after testing, I was super impressed as to just how well they performed optically. By using top-end optics and coatings (Indeed they score a perfect 10/10 for this), as well as a very good attention to detail and an obvious high level of build quality, Maven has produced a very high-performance, very high powered binocular that I feel they can justifiably be proud of and one which I highly recommend in the right situations.

Body Quality: 9/10 88%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Components Quality: 10/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality: 9/10
Extras & Attention to Detail: 8/10

Standout Highlights in Brief:

  • Excellent image detail by use of the large magnification and high-quality optics
  • Excellent build quality using high-quality materials and components
  • High level of components used, like the metal focus wheel and all-metal eyepiece housings and removable eye-cups
  • Alpha level optical components made in Japan directly results in a much higher than average quality of view, far less color fringing and greater image brightness than what I would have expected with such a high power
  • When you consider the build quality & components and a price that is far lower than much of their direct competition it makes the Maven B5 18x56 binocular great value for money
  • Long Eye-relief with excellent quality metal eye-cups, Ideal glass wearers
  • One of the best focus wheels and focus mechanisms in the business: looks great and works even better!

Main Specs & Features:

  • Very High-End Binoculars, RRP Approx: $1500 / £1600 / €1500
  • Japanese Components
    • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
    • Abbe-Koenig Roof Prisms
    • Fluorite Glass Lenses
    • Scratch & Oil Resistant Exterior Lens Coatings
  • Single Top-Hinge Design
    • Magnesium Chassis
    • Water & Fogproof
  • Eye Relief 18.0mm
  • Fov: 194ft @ 1000yds
  • Near Focus: 9.8ft
Buy & Compare Prices: Maven 18x56 B5 Binoculars

Best Long-Range Image Stabilized Binoculars 2021

To get the best view out of any powerful binocular you need to have some way of removing the image shake as without it you simply cannot take in and appreciate the extra detail that the powerful magnification provides you with.

For the most part this involves the use of a steady base like a tripod to mount the powerful binocular onto. However there are times when carrying about a tripod is not convenient, or for example if you are on an unsteady platform like a boat/plane where a tripod won't actually help. So it is in these circumstances where onboard image stabilization really comes into its own.

Kite APC 16x42 Image Stabilised Binoculars

Kite APC 16x42 Image Stabilised Binoculars - Best Long Range, High Power Birding BinocularsThese powerful 16x binoculars from Kite Optics were a real revelation to me when I tested them and proved to be far better than I had ever imagined and I have to say that whilst in the past I was not the biggest fan of IS binoculars, I am now a complete convert and have no hesitation in recommending these for use in the right situations.

Image Stabilization
Firstly IS technology has come a long way in recent years and as I say in my review of them, the first time I turned the Kite APC 16x42 binoculars on and looked through them I was blown away by just how much more stable the image was. This lack of image shake really helps in enabling you to fully enjoy and soak up all the extra image detail that the powerful magnification provides.

16x42 Configuration
This unique and somewhat extreme combination does have it's down-sides which I go into in great detail in my review which I urge you to read if you are interested, but for long-distance observation of just about anything, but in particular wildlife and birds where you may be at the coast, on a lakefront, on rolling hills or out in wide-open fields and don't want the hassle of carrying about a tripod, then these Kite APC IS binoculars are well worth considering.

  • High-End Binoculars - approx $1000 / £950 / €950
  • Image Stabilisation
    IS Correction Angle: 2°
    Batteries: 2x AA (+ 2xAA spare)
    Battery Life: 120 hours(including use of the internal spare battery)
  • Waterproof: IPX7
  • Fogproof: Nitrogen Filled
  • Fov: 204ft @ 1000yds / 68m @ 1000m
  • Eye Relief 14mm
  • Close Focus: 4m / 13.0ft
Current Price & Where to Buy: Kite APC Binoculars

Best Long-Range Binoculars Under $1000 /£/€

Steiner HX 15x56 Binoculars

Winner of the award for High Power & Best Hunting Binoculars 2018, the HX series is still going strong, is still one of my favorite instruments (I have a pair of my own) and I believe makes an excellent option should you need a powerful binocular that can more than hold its own in low light conditions:

The 15x magnification ensures more image detail at longer distances, but at the same time it is not so high that you have to use a tripod to keep the image steady.

The larger 56mm lenses are also able to capture plenty of light and thus ensure low light performance is not too adversely affected by the high power.

It is for these and a host of other features, components and specifications that I go over i my review as to why I feel that as well as hunting, the Steiner HX 15x56 Binoculars excels in a host of other general use and long range scenarios and thus is why I also put them forward as being the best overall long range, high power binocular that I tested and reviewed for 2018.

Attention To Detail
I could begin by listing all the superior, high end optical components and coatings that you find incorporated into these, however one of the aspects that really struck me about the 15x56 Steiner HX is the excellent attention to the small, finer details on them, which in my opinion separates the HX from the crowd.

The flared eye-cups are an obvious example. They do an excellent job of blocking out distractions and light from the periphery of your view and thus offer a far more immersive and indeed better view. This is especially true in situations where you may have the sun shining brightly from the side as there is no glare on the eye-piece lens as you would get with almost any other instrument. As they are so effective and seemingly easy to implement, it is really surprising to me that this fantastic, but small feature is not found on more optics.

Then there is the ClicLoc neck strap and objective lens cover attachment system. This is simply far superior to the normal methods of attaching these accessories onto your device. Making them, more secure, much easier to take on and off and in the case of the neck strap, swap out with a harness.

Hidden Gems
Did you know that Steiner use a special rubber (Nitrile butadiene) to make the outer armouring with? This is specifically selected because it has the ability to withstand the corrosive effects of the oil from your skin, fuel, and other chemicals, which not only means it lasts longer, but is also far less likely to perish than the normal rubbers used by others.

The chassis on these and many other Steiner binoculars is made from Makrolon® which is tested to withstand 11 G's of impact. Another hidden gem on these binoculars and one that is not advertised is that the the roof prisms are made using the very best N-BaK1 glass from Schott, which is about as good as it gets.

Main Features

  • Top of the Range - approx $1000 / £1000
  • Single Bridge Polycarbonate Body
    • Waterproof & Nitrogen Filled
    • Dimensions: 7.1in (18cm) x 5.6in (14.2cm)
    • Weight 44.1oz (1250g)
  • Optics:
    • Fully Multi-Coated
    • 56mm Objective Lenses
  • Field of View: 241ft at 1000yds
  • Eye-Relief: 15.4mm
  • Minimum Focus: 8ft

At around $1000, you could never describe the Steiner HX 15x56 as cheap, but if you take into consideration that you are getting one of the top German made long distance binoculars on the market, then these really do look to be good value for money at this high-end level:

Buy & Compare Prices: Steiner HX Binoculars

Best Value High-Power Binoculars Under $400 /£/€

Vortex Diamondback HD 15x56 Binoculars

As an affordable high power binocular for long distance observation, I rate the Vortex Diamondback HD 15x56 binoculars very highly and so yes, whilst they understandably can't match the high-end instruments listed above in all areas, I would say that by being smart where it counts (like lowering the power to 15x), Vortex have successfully managed to achieve that very difficult balancing act of producing a reasonably priced, reasonably high power, reasonably high performance binocular that delivers a bright, high-quality image, which is very impressive and certainly worth of recognition.

Main Strengths

  • Good quality optical coatings and glass for the price, put together in a well designed optical system that delivers a surprisingly bright, high quality view for a 15x instrument at this price level.
  • Tough, water and fogproof magnesium housing that is far better than many of the plastic alternatives at this price level
  • Large, smooth and easily adjustable focus wheel that is accurate even with gloves on
  • Included Bino Harness/Case is and excellent addition
  • Included tripod adapter - it's the small things that can make the difference
  • Enough eye-relief for use with glasses or eye wear which can be very useful at the shooting range for example

Main Specs & Features:

  • Mid-High End Binoculars approx: $350 / £350 / €350
  • Single Top-Hinge Design
    • Magnesium Chassis
    • Water & Fogproof
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • BaK-4 Roof Prisms
    • Phase Corrected
    • Dielectric Mirror Coatings
    • ArmorTek Scratch & Oil Resistant Exterior Lens Coatings
  • Field of View: 230ft @ 1000yds
  • Eye Relief 15.6mm
  • Included Bino Harness
  • Included Tripod Adapter

Excellent Value for Money
Considering the build quality and the general level of components and glass, these powerful Vortex binoculars offer an excellent performance to price ratio and well worth considering if the very high-end alternatives are out of reach:

Buy & Compare Prices: Vortex Diamondback HD 15x56 Binoculars