Best Binoculars 2019 Awards

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9th Annual BBR Awards

Annual Binocular Awards LogosNow into its ninth year, the 2019 awards are a way for me to showcase the very best binoculars, night vision devices, scopes and accessories that I have fully tested and reviewed in the past 12 months in a range of categories.

100% Genuine Award Winners

It really annoys me that the internet is riddled with reviews and awards given by people who in most cases have never seen, used or tested the product in question.

This is because not only are these awards and reviews completely meaningless, but they are also misleading and will often trick consumers into a purchase that in many cases is completely wrong for their particular needs.

What makes the BBR Annual Binocular Awards different:

To be eligible for a BBR Award and be considered one of the best binoculars for 2019, it has to have been fully reviewed and tested here on BBR. Here I think it is important to note that all of the reviews on the BBR website are 100% genuine and only written after I have thoroughly researched, used and then tested and compared the binocular/instrument/accessory to others in its class.

Then at the end of the year, I go over each review and see which, if any really deserve to be called the BEST in a particular category. If I cannot find any deserving winners, or if it happens that I have not reviewed a product in a certain category over the last 12 months, then I either forgo the award or if good enough and still relevant and available on the market, I will suggest the previous year's winner.

I would like to also like to reassure you that my choice for an award winner in every category is completely independent and totally unbiased in any way and that I will never accept any sort of incentive to promote a particular product above another.

As I can only review and test a limited amount of products every year, this does mean that the pool of potential winners is far, far smaller than every single pair of optics on the market, but I hope that you will agree that these BBR awards really do mean something and that the winners really do deserve to be highlighted and recognized as some of the best binoculars in their particular niche. More details, check out the BBR Awards Rules at the foot of this page.

Best Binoculars 2019

Below is a list of shortcut links to all the top binoculars in 2019. As in the past few years, I will be announcing each winner one-at-a-time over a period of days, so please do check back if you are reading this and there are still winners yet to be announced:

Annual Binocular Awards 2019Contents: 2019 Award Winners:

  1. Best Binoculars 2019 - GPO Passion HD 10x42
  2. Best Birdwatching Binocular 2019 - Hawke Frontier 8x42 ED X
  3. Best General Wildlife Binoculars 2019 - Bresser 8x56 Pirsch ED
  4. Best Hunting Binoculars 2019 - Steiner Nighthunter/Shadowquest 8x56 & Steiner Predator AF 8x30
  5. Best Mid-Size, Safari & Travel Binocular - Snypex Knight D-ED 10x32
  6. Best Compact Binocular 2019 - Steiner BluHorizons 10x26
  7. Best Binocular Accessory - Cotton Skout Binocular Harness
  8. Best Night Vision Device - Luna Optics 6-30x50 LN-DB60-HD
  9. Best Children's Binoculars 2019 - Bresser 6x21 Binoculars
  10. Best Under $300 & Best Value for Money 2019 - Hawke Endurance ED 8x42
  11. Best Low Cost Binocular 2019 (Under $130 £/ €) - Carson RD Series 8x42
  12. Best Binoculars for Astronomy 2019 - Celestron Echelon 20x70
    1. Best Budget Astronomy Binoculars - Levenhuk Bruno Plus 15x70

Best Binoculars 2019

GPO Passion HD 10x42 Binoculars

Scoring a massive 90% BBR score there is no doubt in my mind that the Passion HD binoculars from German Precision Optics is not only one of the top rated binoculars in 2019, but ranks up there with the very best HD binoculars that I have ever used.

From the extremely comfortable and weight saving top hinge designed magnesium alloy chassis to the fully multi-coated optical system that incorporates double ED glass lens elements with hydrophobic coatings on the exterior surfaces as well as the very best phase corrected and dielectrically coated Schmidt Pechan roof prisms, these German designed binoculars brought a smile to my face at every turn.

Body Quality: 9/10 90%
The VERY Best
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 9/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 10/10
Extras & Details: 9/10

A Few Highlights:

  • The body components used by GPO and the overall build quality are out of the top drawer. This includes the use of a magnesium alloy chassis and aluminium eye-piece housings to the super smooth focus wheel with its integrated diopter adjuster.
  • You could not wish for high-grade optical components and coatings which includes two ED glass elements within each lens and hydrophobic coatings on the exterior surfaces that ensure a better view in all conditions, remain cleaner for longer and are easier to clean when you eventually have to.
  • These very high specification optical components combine well to deliver what I thought was a truly exceptional view and which I believe is as good or better than any instrument at this or even the higher "alpha" price level.
  • For a 10x42, the image brightness is super impressive.
  • I really like the quality and semi-rigid construction of the carry case and the neck strap is one of the most comfortable that I have ever used.
  • For a binocular with a 10x magnification, these GPO Passion HD 10x42 binoculars have a very wide field of view. Indeed at 336ft@1000yds, it exactly matches that of both the Leica 10x42 Ultravid HD and the Swarovski 10x42 EL.

Main Specs & Features:

  • High End Binoculars, RRP Approx: $900 / £900 / €900
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics with:
    • 42mm Objective Lenses
    • Double ED Glass Elements
    • Hydrophobic Lens Coatings
  • Schmidt Pechan roof prisms:
    • Dielectric Coatings
    • Phase Correction Coatings
  • Magnesium Alloy Body:
    • Waterproof & Fog Protection
    • Central Focus Wheel with integrated locking Diopter
    • Twist-up aluminum eyecups with 17mm of Eye Relief
    • Tripod Adaptable
  • FOV: 336ft @ 1000 yards
  • Close Focus Distance: 2m (6.5ft)
Buy & Compare Prices: GPO Passion Binoculars

Past Winners:

Best Birdwatching Binoculars 2019

Hawke Frontier 8x42 ED X

As this is the most competitive section, choosing the winner for the best birding binocular is always very difficult and this year was no exception.

However, standing out from the pack this year are these superb Hawke Frontier 8x42 ED X Binoculars that posses just about everything you could want in a great birding binocular at what I believe is at a price that makes them exceptional value for money as well.

High Quality Image
For all users, but especially for birders, an excellent and true to life image is a critical feature as it ensures you are not only able to marvel at the beauty of the birds in all their glory but also in birding, tiny differences in plumage colorations can make the difference when trying to positively identify one sub-species from another.

The Hawke Frontier ED-X with it's ED (extra-low dispersion glass) lenses and phase corrected, dielectrically coated roof prisms and many other highest level optical components ensured that they scored an outstanding 9/10 for both the optical components and final image quality sections when I tested them.

Wide Field of View
As most birders will know, having a wide field of view is another extremely important feature as it enables you to more easily find and then follow your subjects, this is especially true of the small faster-moving ones at closer ranges! At 426ft wide at 1,000 yards, these Hawke binoculars have an extremely wide view that ranks up there with the very widest 8x42 binoculars currently on the market and which is why I would certainly describe them as being a wide angle binocular.

As well as performing extremely well in these critical areas for birding, another reason I opted for the 8x42 Hawke Frontier X over the other contenders is that they have a very high build quality level and an excellent performance in every area. Indeed they literally have no major weaknesses. This makes them a very versatile instrument that will not only stand out in most types of birding situations but many other areas as well and certainly up there with the best new binoculars for 2019:

Main Highlights & Details:

  • RRP: $389.99, £389.99 retail price approx: $349 / £389
  • Single Hinge Body Design
    • Magnesium Chassis
    • Waterproof & Fogproof
    • Twist-up Eye-cups with click stops
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • ED Glass Lenses
  • BaK-4 Roof Prisms
    • Dielectric Mirror Coatings
    • Phase Corrected
  • Very Wide Field of View: 426ft at 1000 yards
  • Close Focus: 6.6ft
  • Excellent 18mm of Eye Relief
  • IPD: 5.6-7.4cm / 2.2-2.9ins
  • Weight: 24.4oz / 692g
  • Dimensions 14cm (5.5ins) x 12.3cm (4.8ins)

Outstanding Quality at a Reasonable Price
Considering the level of optical and exterior components used and the high quality of their construction, the relatively low price point of $349 / £389 is seriously impressive:

Buy & Compare Prices: Hawke Frontier ED X Binoculars

Hawke Sapphire ED 8x42 BinocularsPast Winners:


Best General Wildlife Observation Binoculars 2019

Bresser 8x56 Pirsch ED

Scoring an outstanding 80% on the BBR scale, there is no doubting that these German-made Bresser binoculars are very high-performance pair of optics and for many users they I suggest that they can make a great alternative to the standard 8x42 as they have a noticeably improved performance in low light, yet the size and weight penalty is very minimal:

High Quality Image & Excellent Low Light Performance
The large 56mm objective lenses act just like the windows in your house, with the larger ones able to capture and potentially transmit more light.

This potential is realized with the use of a truly excellent and fully multi-coated optical system that includes ED glass lenses, phase corrected and dielectrically coated roof prisms.

I found during testing that this not only resulted in an extremely high-quality view, but the performance in low light was exceptional. This superior performance is not only important when the sun is just below the horizon but really helps in thick forests or even on dull overcast days.

The general build quality, attention t detail and their included accessories were also well above average making this a great option for general uses including wildlife, hunting and birding observation.

Important Details:

  • Mid-High End approx: $650 / £449 / €449
  • Open Bridge Body Design
    • Waterproof & Fogproof
    • Metal Focus Wheel & Eyepieces
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • Large 56mm Objective Lenses
  • ED (Extra Low Dispersion) Glass Lens Elements
  • BaK-4 Roof Prisms
    • Dielectric Mirror Coatings
    • Phase Corrected
  • Field of View: 342ft at 1000yds
  • Close Focus: 11.5ft
  • Long Eye Relief: 19.7mm

Outstanding Quality at a Reasonable Price
Considering the level of optical and exterior components used and the high quality of their construction, the relatively low price point of $349 / £389 is seriously impressive:

Buy & Compare Prices: Bresser Pirsch ED Binoculars

Past Winners:


Best Hunting Binoculars 2019

As with last year, over the last 12 months, I have been fortunate enough to have tested many binoculars that are ideal for hunting, however this year, I have also had the pleasure of testing a number of binoculars specifically designed for hunting. So the competition to win this award has been tougher than ever.

Within the niche of general hunting and hunting binoculars, you get a number of more specialized or specific niches depending on what type of hunting you do and so for 2019, I have decided to split this section into two subcategories with two separate awards. First for the best overall hunting binocular and then the best lightweight/travel binocular for hunting:

Steiner Nighthunter/Shadowquest 8x56

Depending on which side of the pond you live, these Steiner 8x56 binoculars are either called the Shadowquest (In North America) or the Nighthunter (In Europe), however apart from the sticker on the front, they are exactly the same instrument.

Whilst these Steiner Shadowquest binoculars are specifically designed for hunters and especially those who require the brightest views, even in very low light conditions, I would also recommend them to anyone needing an instrument that excels in very low light conditions, be that for general wildlife observation, security needs or even birding.

Extremely Good Low Light Performer
Manufactured in Germany, using the very best optical components and coatings, Steiner Optics have managed to produce an instrument that has an industry leading light transmission level of more than 96% (across all visible wavelengths).

This extremely high light transmission level combined with their large 56mm lenses means that they are able to collect more light than smaller ones and thus are able to produce a low light performance that is off the charts and as good as or better than anything I have ever used before. No question.

However, along with this, I would also add that the general image quality is excellent and about as good as you could ever hope for.

Always in Focus = Faster Subject Acquisition
The Nighthunter/Shadowquest incorporates a fixed focus (Always in Focus) optical system which means that once you have set up the instrument to match your particular vision using the double diopters, no further focal adjustments are necessary from their minimum focal distance all the way to infinity. This means that you are able to more easily use this instrument with just one hand (important for hunters carrying a weapon) and thus lock onto your subject that much easier and faster.

Extremely Wide Field of View
As with the birding binoculars above, a wide field of view is often of great importance to the hunter and general wildlife observer. This is because it makes it easier to scan wide open areas and then at closer ranges it makes it much easier to quickly locate and then follow fast moving targets.

Extras & Accessories
For hunters who need to carry other equipment like a rifle or bow, the ability to easily attach your instrument to a bino harness for hunting is often of great importance. The good news is that like the lens covers, the neck strap has Steiner's excellent Click-Lock quick-release system making them a cinch to remove and quickly fit onto your harness.

Other excellent features include the eyecups with included side shields that are extremely effective in blocking out light and distractions from the periphery of your view.

So it is for these and many other reasons which you can read about in my full review, that I had no hesitation in awarding the best binoculars for hunting 2019 to the Steiner 8x56 Nighthunter/Shadowquest Binoculars .

Main Highlights & Features:

  • High End, approx USA: $750 / UK: £800
  • Made in Germany
  • Fixed Focus Binoculars (Always in Focus)
    • Waterproof
    • Nitrogen Filled for fog proofing
  • Fully Multicoated Optics:
    • +96% Light Transmission
    • Protective hydrophobic exterior lens coatings
  • Porro Prisms
    • N-BaK-4 HT glass from Schott
  • Field of View: 441ft at 1000yds
UK & Europe: Buy & Compare Prices: Steiner Nighthunter Binoculars
USA: Buy & Compare Prices: Steiner Shadowquest Binoculars

Best Lightweight/Travel Binocular for Hunting 2019
Steiner Predator AF 8x30 Binoculars

Steiner Predator AF 8x30 Binoculars - Best Lightweight/Travel Binocular for Hunting 2019CAT™ Game-Sensing Lens Coatings
Even more so than the Nighthunter above, the Steiner Predator AF binocular is specifically designed for hunting. This is because they incorporate special lens coatings that are able to enhance the reddish brown colors of game which mean that they stand out against the background. Of course, this feature also makes them excellent for anyone wanting to discover wildlife, but you do have to accept that the colors you in the view see are not completely true to life.

Easy to Carry & Travel Friendly
Whilst Nighthunter/Shadowquest above focuses on delivering the brightest image possible, this instrument aims to make it as easy as possible to transport and carry, but still keeping half an eye on image brightness and performance.

The 30mm lenses mean that a smaller more lightweight body is possible, but what really stood out for me was the open bridge body design. Quite common on roof prism binoculars, it is the first time I had come across it on a Porro prism instrument. Whilst this may seem like a small or unimportant feature, I think for the lightweight hunter it can be of great importance.

I say this because not only is it extremely comfortable to hold when glassing, but the space left by the vacant focus wheel opens up more of the barrels and makes for a very secure as well as a comfortable region with which to hold onto. Therefore, if you often walk about with your binoculars in just one hand and perhaps with your weapon in the other, this really is an advantage.

Like the binocular above, these are also focus free binoculars which once again not only makes it quicker for you to locate your subject but means that it is easier for you to use the binocular with just one hand whilst holding your bag, camera or weapon in the other.

Important Features:

  • Mid to High End: Approx: $340 / £340
  • Made in Germany
  • Open Bridge Design
    • Fully Sealed & Nitrogen Filled Chassis
    • Material: Polycarbonate - Makrolon®
    • Weight 19ozs (539g)
    • Eyecups with side shields
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
    • 30mm Objective Lenses
    • Porro Prisms
    • Focus Free / Individual Eyepiece Focusing
    • Steiner's CAT™ game-sensing lens coatings
  • Field of view: 302ft at 1000yds
  • Close Focus: 60ft

With a current retail price of well under $400, these mid to high-end Steiner Predator AF's are hard to argue against if you are after a top quality but easy to carry hunting binocular:

Buy & Compare Prices: Steiner Predator AF Binoculars

Best Mid-Size, Safari & Travel Binocular 2019

Snypex Knight D-ED 10x32

Snypex Knight D-ED 10x32 Binoculars, winner Best Safari & Travel Binocular 2019Taking over from their less 8x powerful sibling from last year, these Snypex binoculars are truly one of the best mid-sized instruments that I have ever used and as such, I have no hesitation in wholeheartedly recommending them to anyone looking for a high-performance instrument for safaris and most other travel adventures.

Achieving an outstanding BBR score of 83%, they got a 9/10 for both the optical components they use and for their overall image quality.

What enabled them to achieve these highly impressive scores is a raft of the very best optical components and features that include the use of Apochromatic Lenses with ED glass elements, as well as phase corrected Schmidt Pechan roof prisms with the very best dielectric mirror coatings. Make no mistake the Knight D-ED really is a match for the "alpha" brands out there, yet are available at the fraction of the cost.

Other highlights for me included the fantastic level of accessories that they are supplied with and the many small attention to details that Snypex show. This includes things like an all aluminium focus wheel, ratchet diopter adjuster and more:

Important Specifications & Details:

  • Mid-High End - approx $550 / £600 / €600
  • Open Bridge Chassis Design
    • Fiberglass Reinforced
    • Fog & Waterproof
    • Dimensions: 4.25in (10.8cm) x 4.64in (11.8cm)
    • Weight 13.4ozs (380g)
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
    • 32mm APO Objective Lenses
    • ED Glass Elements
    • Phase Corrected Roof Prisms
    • Dielectric Coated
  • Field of View: 288 @ 1000yds
  • Close Focus: 3.9ft
  • 17.5mm of Eye-relief
Buy & Compare Prices: Snypex Knight D-ED Binoculars

Highly Commended - Lower Cost Alternative

Opticron Traveller BGA ED 10x32 BinocularsWith a BBR score of 82% and costing about $440 / £300 / €300, the Opticron Traveller BGA ED 10x32 came about as close as you can to winning as you can and as they are considerably less expensive, I do feel that they are well worth highlighting for those on a tighter budget.

In terms of their general image quality, optical stats, and especially with a really wide view (339ft at 1000yds) these could make the ideal option for those going on safari who also enjoy birding.

Past Winners:


Best Compact Binoculars 2019

Steiner BluHorizons 10x26 Binoculars

Steiner BluHorizons 10x26 Binoculars - Best Compact Binocular 2019 BBR Award WinnerThis year's winner of the best compact binocular award is also one of, if not the most innovative instruments that I have reviewed in a long time. This is because these Steiner BluHorizons have optics that can automatically adjust the brightness of the view depending on the light conditions.

So just like the photochromic lenses on a pair of adaptive sunglasses, the lenses transmit less light in very bright conditions resulting in less glare and a more vibrant, less washed out image.

As well as all this, these Steiner binoculars also have just about every feature that I look for in a good set of compacts, including the double hinge design which permits them to fold down into a true pocket binocular when not in use.

On top of simply testing them in the office, I also put the Steiner 10x26 BluHorizons through its paces whilst I was on safari in Southern Africa and found that they performed extremely well the real world: This is reflected in the excellent BBR score of 78% that they achieved, which included a 9/10 for their body stats and 8/10's for their build quality, optical components and optical stats. Now if you also consider their low price point, this score is seriously impressive and makes them one of the highest scoring compacts that I have ever tested and fully deserving of the award.

Highlights & Features:

  • Mid Level Optics - approx $190 / £170
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • Steiner AutoBright™ Optics
  • Schmidt Pechan Roof Prisms
  • Double Hinge Body Design with Metal Bridge
  • NBR Long Life Rubber Armouring
  • Rainproof IPX4 rating
  • Central Focus Wheel
  • Fold-Down Rubber Eyecups with Side Shields
  • Wide FOV: 322ft @ 1000 yards
  • Minimum Focal Distance: 3m (9.8ft)

At their current retail price, I do believe that they offer great value for money and are well worth considering if you are after a compact for uses like travel, safaris, hiking, camping and even skiing:

Buy & Compare Prices: Steiner BluHorizons Binoculars

Best Binocular Accessory 2019

Cotton Skout Binocular Harness

Cotton Skout Binocular Harness - 2019 BBR Award WinnerI have used a lot of binocular harnesses over the years and during that time, have tried out all of the different designs. From the simple, but very lightweight binocular suspender straps, right up to the fully covered bag harnesses, that are more heavy and bulky, but do offer a great deal of protection to your optics and the ability to carry other equipment (like a rangefinder) as well.

Each of these designs has their specific advantages and ideal uses over the others and so there is really no perfect one, it just depends on what your specific requirements are.

However, within each of these niches, there are good and bad and then I find that the very best cross over a number of niches which makes them even more versatile.

One of these very best and a real revelation to me is the Cotton Skout Sling-Style Binocular Harness which is now, without doubt, my favorite type of binocular harness.

Not only is this sling-style harness comparatively inexpensive and extremely lightweight, but I found it to be very comfortable, the easiest of all harnesses to put on and wear and it will accept a wide variety of binocular shapes and sizes. It is for this and many other reasons why I have absolutely no hesitation in awarding it as being the best binocular accessory of 2019.

Buy & Compare Prices: Cotton Skout Harness

Past Winners:


Best Night Vision Device 2019

Luna Optics 6-30x50 LN-DB60-HD Digital Night Vision Binocular

Luna Optics 6-30x50 LN-DB60-HD Digital Night Vision Binoculars - Best Night Vision 2019 BBR Award WinnerDigital night vision has come a very long way since I first used one over a decade ago. Now the good ones are able to perform every bit as well as an equivalent sized, high end (Gen-III) standard night vision instrument, but at a fraction of the cost and often have a number of other features that are not available or even possible with an analogue version:

More than simply a night vision binocular, the Luna Optics LN-DB60-HD also works in daylight and is also able to capture both images and video in full HD quality. Also included is a very powerful Infrared (IR) illuminator that enables you to clearly see objects even in complete darkness.

So a real strength of these night vision binoculars is their versatility and wide range of uses that they can perform very well in:

Ideal Uses: The Luna Optics LN-DB60-HD night vision binocular is a great option for many security, patrol and rescue related uses. It is also perfect to take on just about any camping or wildlife adventure like a safari and I can also see it been used very effectively for night hunting.

Using night vision binoculars and other devices for astronomy is also becoming more and more popular as they really highlight the stars, with ones that you would never see with the naked eyes simply jumping out at you.

As with all other Luna Optics night vision devices that I have tested, the build quality is superb and they display many features that go well beyond most of the competition at this $580 / £600 price range:

Main Features & Specifications:

  • SONY Full-HD CMOS sensor
  • Record Video in Full-HD (1080p, 60fps)
  • WiFi Capability
  • Full Color / Green / B&W options
  • Variable Electronic Zoom: 6x - 30x
  • Field Of View: 7°
  • Built in Infrared Illuminator
  • Tripod Mountable
  • Very High-Resolution - equal or better than standard Gen III NV devices
  • Max Viewable Distance: 200m in total darkness or up to 600m (656yds) with clear skies and a full moon
  • Manually adjustable brightness/exposure
  • Storage: Micro SD Card (up to 128GB)
Buy & Compare Prices: Luna Optics Digital Night Vision Binoculars

Best Children's Binoculars 2019

It is actually quite difficult to make a really good binocular for a young child as it needs to have a number of particular attributes and features that we may not normally consider important when choosing an instrument for an adult or even a teenager.

Firstly it needs to be small and lightweight enough for them to easily use and carry. The eyecups should also be able to get close enough together to accommodate their smaller faces and closer set eyes.

The instrument then not only needs to look appealing to a child, but it must still work like a real binocular and also be tough enough to survive the inevitable knocks and bumps that it is going to receive. On top of this, it needs to be as affordable as possible because, at this age, these are never going to be the instrument that they keep for life, so you will inevitably have to buy them another more grown-up pair as they get older.

Next, it is very important that the field of view is nice and wide as this makes it much easier for the child to locate the object through the instrument. Kids also tend to have less stable hands and thus a lower magnification not only helps ensure a wide view but also makes it easier to reduce image shake.

Bresser 6x21 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Kids Binoculars

Bresser 6x21 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Kids Binoculars - Best Children's Binocular 2019 BBR Award WinnerMain Features:

  • Very Low Cost - approx $30 / £30
  • Lightweight Compact Design
  • Easy to Reach Central Focus Wheel
  • Right Eye Diopter
  • Foldable Rubber Eyecups
  • Low 6x Magnification for a wide and stable view
  • Multi-Coated Optics
  • 21mm Objective Lenses
  • BK-7 Roof Prisms

Both myself and my eight year old daughter tested these 6x21 Bresser Children's Binoculars and found them to possess all these main attributes and the fact they cost only $30 / £30 makes them exceptional value and which is why I would recommend them as a great option for the first pair of optics for a younger child.

Buy & Compare Prices: Bresser 6x21 Children's Binoculars

Best Under $300 & Best Value For Money Binocular 2019

Before we get to this years winner, I just wanted to point out that to the Best Value Binocular Award is one of the hardest to win.

This is because to even have a chance, the instrument has to have scored really highly within it's price category on the BBR scale and then also look to offer you more bang for your buck compared to all the other high scorers in other price levels.

What this means is that with the winner you are not only getting a great binocular when compared to it's direct competition, but also one that offers better value with more features, better views etc than what I would expect to see at that particular price. To learn more about the exact criteria required, take a look at this section on the Best Value Binoculars.

Hawke Endurance ED 8x42

Winner Best Value Binocular 2016, the Hawke Endurance ED 8x42 BinocularsWinner of the same award last year, scoring an "outstanding" 80% on the BBR scale and now available for just about $200 / £200, it was always going to take a seriously impressive pair of mid level bins to knock these fantastic Hawke Endurance ED's of their perch.

Whilst one particular instrument did come pretty close (see my honorable mention below), I really could not look past the incredible value for money that you get with these. This is even more so now in that last year these were retailing at about $230, which I thought was incredible value, so now at their current level, these Hawke binoculars are unbeatable at this level:

The main point that I would like to highlight is that with a BBR score of 80% this Endurance ED is the highest scoring Mid Range bino (under $300) that I have tested to date, which is impressive in itself.

However this also means that they easily rank amongst the top Mid-High End ($300 - $500 / £300 - £500) binoculars which is incredible and most certainly worth of the use of the words "outstanding" and "value" in the same breath.

Main Features:

  • Current Price: Approx $200 / £200!
  • Top Hinge Body Design
  • Magnesium Housing
  • Water & Fog Proof
  • Tripod Adaptable
  • ED Glass Elements in the Lenses
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • BaK-4 Roof Prisms
  • Phase Corrected Silver Mirror Coatings
  • Field of View: 388ft at 1000 yards
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 6.6ft
  • 18mm of Eye Relief
Buy & Compare Prices: Hawke Endurance ED Binoculars

Athlon Argos 8x42 BinocularsHonorable Mention

  • Athlon Argos 8x42 Binoculars - Another mid level bin, in past years these could these have easily won this best value award. So I do think they are well worth looking into as there is a whole lot to like about Athlon 8x42 Argos and may suit some users preferences better

Other Contenders:

  • Carson RD Series 8x42 - Winner of this years Best Low Cost Binocular Award, these are another easily worth (and more) the $150 you have to pay for them
  • Tom Lock Series 2 10x42 - Great value low cost 10x42 binoculars - At under £100 these are great option for those shopping on a shoestring

Past Winners:


Best Low-Cost Binocular 2019 (Under $150 / £150 / €150)

There is no doubt that with the rise of manufacturing and imports from places like China where labor is extremely cheap, the increase in competition has meant that in general, the level of low-cost instruments has risen.

However, this has also meant that the market has also been flooded with many sub-standard and in some instances truly terrible products. Thus it is always a great feeling to stumble across a binocular that rises up well above the crowd:

Carson RD Series 8x42 Binoculars

Best Low Cost Binocular 2019 - Carson RD Series 8x42 BinocularsThe first thing I really like about the Carson RD Series 8x42 binocular is that you would never guess by looking at them that these cost less than half of most great quality mid-range instruments out there.

They have a simple, understated, but classy look them, the finish on them is excellent and small details like the dimpled focus wheel with etched RD branding on the face really does set them apart from the hoards of generic mass produced instruments I see at this price level.

However, the quality is more than skin deep and under the hood, they continue to punch well above their price tag:

Firstly it is important to note that unlike some at this level, the optics are fully Multicoated, then rather than Aluminium, the Carson RD 8x42 binoculars also have Silver mirror coatings on BaK-4 prisms.

Both of these and other optical features ensure that the image that they deliver is both brighter and of a higher quality than the majority of their direct competitors. Indeed this is something that I remarked on these in my review of them.

Best Budget Binoculars 2019Best Budget Binoculars 2019 Under $200 /£/€

Part of the BBR Binocular Award Winners Series, this article and included video series takes a close look at the winners of the award for the best budget binoculars over the past few years and is well worth taking a look at as these Carson binoculars feature heavily as the winner of this award for the past two years 2019.

  • Low Cost - approx $149 / £150
  • Open Bridge Body Design Dimensions: 5.3x 2.2 x 5.8ins
  • Polycarbonate Chassis Weight: 21.8ozs (617g)
  • Fog & Waterproof
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • Silver Coated BaK-4 Roof Prisms
  • Field of View: 372 @ 1000yds
  • Min Focus Distance: 9.8ft
  • Long Eye Relief: 17mm
Current Price & Where to Buy: Carson RD Series Binoculars

Past Winners:

Best Astronomy Binocular 2019

This years winner in the category for best astronomy binoculars actually last won the award way back in 2015.

The reasons that I have selected it again are that it is still being made and marketed by Celestron and in my opinion, it remains as one of the very best astronomy binoculars in it's class currently available.

Over the last few years, I have been getting more and more into astronomy and as such have begun testing more and more instruments designed with stargazing in mind and for me, this binocular is still my reference point and yet to be beaten:

Celestron Echelon 20x70 Binoculars

Best Astronomy Binocular 2019 - Celestron Echelon 20x70 BinocularsUsing very high end Japanese optical glass and coatings, Celestron Echelon binoculars are assembled by hand in the US where the focus is very much on precision and quality.

Designed for astronomy, but also a very capable binocular for long-range terrestrial uses, the Echelon feature very large 70mm objective lenses and a fully multi coated optical system that incorporates Celestron top specification XLT coating technology that they reserve for their very best instruments.

This combination of very high quality Porro prisms, large lenses and the best anti-reflection coatings ensure that as much of the available light as possible gets to your eyes for the brightest images which I have discovered first-hand makes sure that they continue to excel when compared to many of their competitors in low light conditions.

As you would expect with a large instrument like these, they are tripod adaptable as well as fully water and fog proof and come with an included and very high quality hard carry case.

Best Astronomy Binoculars 2019Best Binoculars for Astronomy 2019

Part of the BBR Binocular Award Winners Series, this article and the included video series takes a closer look at the winners of the award for the best astronomy binoculars over the past few years and obviously included these Echelon's and so is well worth looking at if you want some more information on them.

  • High End - approx $760 / £800
  • Japanese Optics, Hand-assembled in the USA
  • Powerful 20x magnification and large 70mm lenses
  • Porro Prism Design Dimensions: 10.1x 3.1 x 8.7ins
  • Aluminum Chassis, Weight: 59ozs (1673g)
  • Individual Eyepiece Focusing System
  • Fog & Waterproof
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • Field of View: 157 @ 1000yds
  • Long Eye Relief: 19.5mm
  • Included Waterproof Hard Case
Current Price & Where to Buy: Celestron Echelon 20x70 Binoculars

Best Mid Level / Budget Astronomy Binoculars 2019

I understand that not everyone will have the budget or plans to take the hobby to the level that warrants spending the amount it takes to buy a high-end Astro binocular like the Celestron above.

So over the last year, I have also tested a number of mid and lower level astronomy binoculars and have decided to highlight what I feel is the best budget astronomy binocular for 2019 here on BBR:

Levenhuk Bruno Plus 15x70 Binoculars

Best Budget Astronomy Binocular 2019 - Levenhuk Bruno Plus 15x70 BinocularsLike the Celestron above, these have large 70mm lenses and whilst they don't match them in terms of the quality of the optical components and coatings, they do partly make up for this by using a slightly lower 15x power which helps them maintain a very healthy 4.6mm exit pupil, which along with the use of a fully multi-coated optical pathway results in a bright image of the sky at night.

Please note, if you want more power, Levenhuk also makes a 20x80mm Bruno Plus that scored the same as these when I tested them and so could also have won this award, but at the time of writing as out of stock, so I decided not to include it. I am not sure if this is temporary or it is no longer being produced, but it is worth checking if you are interested.

The other advantage is that it gives them a wider field of view great for scanning the sky and it does make them less heavy and not so large.

Other highlights include the fact that they are waterproof and fog proof and have twist-up eye-cups where many of their competitors have simple folding rubber eyecups.

Unlike many budget astronomy binoculars that use polycarbonate plastic, this has an all aluminum chassis.

All in all, I was really very impressed with this Levenhuk Bruno Plus 20x80 binocular and they easily exceeded my expectations at this price range (approx $170 / £170) with both the quality of the view and the general build quality and materials that have been used:

Current Price & Where to Buy: Levenhuk 15x70 Bruno Plus Binoculars
 
 

Best Binoculars 2019: Notes, Rules & Regulations

  • To have had any chance of winning, I have had to reviewed the instrument on BBR. This obviously means that an award winner has NOT been compared to ALL the binoculars currently on the market, but only to those that I have fully tested. So whilst the pool of contenders is relatively small, you can be assured that the winners have been thoroughly tested and used and not just based on manufacturers specifications or a "thumb-suck" - they truly are in my opinion deserving of an award.
  • Award winners are chosen by myself. There is no panel of experts or users. Thus those that have won are in my opinion the best in that category for this year, not that of anyone else. I guess this is both good and bad, but for now it is just the way it is.
  • I also feel that it is very important to emphasise that I do not offer an award to any device purely because I have a specific category to fill. To win, I must feel that the binocular, scope or accessory really deserves to and in that particular category. So if there has been no standout for me in a particular category, there will be no winner for this year in that section and the award will go to the previous years winner if it is still in production and relevant. Note: This is the reason you will see that in some categories there are devices that have won the award for more than one year in a row.
  • I choose the winners by going back over all the reviews I wrote last year and then placed all the best ones into a pool. Then I organized each of them into the categories that they were most suited to and from there and after studying them again, made a choice of the best of the best.
  • As it is for most people, price is a factor, however what is more important to me is the value for money within a particular price bracket. So for example a high end binocular is almost always going to be a fairly expensive product, but within this high value price bracket, I look out for ones that offer more for your money than others with a similar price tag by their build quality, quality of their components and just how well they perform both optically and physically.
  • Once again remember these awards are the same as with all my reviews: They are in no way biased towards any product or manufacturer, I have given the award because I honestly feel that they deserve it.

Further Reading