The Best Binoculars for Hunting

Binoculars for Hunting

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Hunting Binoculars
In almost all forms of hunting, be that with guns like a rifle, shotgun, or handgun, or traditional archery with a bow or crossbow, a good pair of binoculars are a must and there are many experts that would even go as far as to say that your hunting binoculars are almost as important as your weapon.

This is because your binoculars for hunting are not only used to scout the surrounding terrain looking for game, but they also help you to get a better view of your potential targets to evaluate trophies and distinguish the sexes of animals etc.

What To Look for in Good Hunting Binoculars

This specific niche within optics has a number of specific requirements that are a little different than say general use or binoculars for birding.

In this guide, I will go through all of the most important features to look for, paying particular attention to those that are most useful to the hunter:

Objective Lens Size

Many hunters will go out in the early morning or late afternoon/early evening and therefore the light gathering ability and the brightness of the image produced is critical. In general the larger the size of the objective lens, the better the binocular will perform in low light. Other factors including the quality of the lenses, lens coatings as well as prisms will also play a vital roll in transferring the maximum amount of light to your eyes. The down size to large objective lenses is that they not only make the binoculars bigger and heavier, but more expensive as well. So as with most things, you have to strike a compromise to get the best binoculars for your particular needs.

Most full size binoculars will have an objective lens diameter of 42mm, compact binoculars tend to have 26mm or even 22mm diameters.

A good compromise for many hunters wanting to travel light, but still want a good low light performance are mid-size binoculars that come with objective lenses of around 32mm. For me a good quality mid-sized bin often makes the ideal compromise between portability and light gathering qualities.

Magnification & Field of View

Most people imagine that the higher the magnification, the better the binocular. Not true. Large magnifications make it really difficult to keep the image that you are look at through the optics still (any slight movement is magnified more and more by larger magnifications).

Larger magnifications also generally reduce the field of view (width of the image that you see). A narrower field of view (FOV) will make it much more difficult to spot game, especially when scanning over large areas, it can also make it harder to track faster moving wildlife.

Having said this, the ideal magnification will also depend on your most commonly used terrain. Those who mostly hunt in the woods and forests will be best off choosing a binocular with low magnification (wide field of view) and plenty of light gathering ability, something like an 8x42 binocular or if you need a more compact binocular, an 8x30 or 8x32.

High Powered Binoculars for Hunting

Those hunting in wide open areas and in the mountains will obviously need to observe game at greater distances and therefore need a larger magnification: 10x, 12x or even greater magnifications may be required. But just keep in mind that the narrower FOV will hamper you a little when searching for game over large areas.

For more information on this, read an article I wrote on the Best High Powered Binoculars for Hunting, that includes advice on what to look out for, as well as a few suggestions on what binoculars to get.

Backyard Birding - Blue Tit on a Bird Feeder

Binocular Durability and Design

Waterproof & Fogproof
Spending time in any wilderness will mean encountering all sorts of weather conditions, it therefore makes sense to choose a pair of binoculars that are fully waterproof. Sealed binoculars not only prevent moisture from getting inside the optics, but dust and other debris as well. Also look out for fogproof binoculars are filled with argon or nitrogen gas to inhibit internal fogging caused by temperature extremes.

To protect you binoculars from accidental drops and knocks, look out for models that have tough rubber armor.

Although not essential, a camouflage exterior can also be helpful for keeping you out of sight. Many manufacturers produce models in different color variations and include a camo version, that you should keep a look out for.

Steiner 8x42 Predator BinocularsSpecial Lens Coatings

Steiner Binoculars have a range of binoculars known as Predator's that have been designed specifically for hunting and that feature high contrast optics that block the colors of haze and foliage and enhance the visibility of browns, reds and other wildlife colors helping you spot hidden game. Read my detailed article on Steiner Predator Binoculars for more information, or take a look at my overview of the Steiner 10x26 Predator Pro Compact Binoculars.

Rangefinder Binoculars for HuntingRangefinder Binoculars

Binoculars like the Zeiss Victory Range Finder Binoculars that have LED displays within the view that, with a press of a button display the precise distance to the object you are viewing along with their integrated BIS™ ballistic information system.

Also worth taking a look at the Nikon LaserForce Rangefinder binoculars.

Stealth

For most general uses, being as stealthy as possible is not a major consideration. In fact even for some types of hunting this will also not be of major importance, but for those that need to remain completely out of view and earshot, stealthy hunting gear is essential and this includes your optics:

Camouflage - Many binoculars aimed more specifically at hunters will have a version with a camouflaged exterior. However depending on your preferences, a full camo binocular may not be necessary.

For most hunters, I think it is more important to just make sure the exterior has a dull, neutral color. Here a rubber armor is important, without it, the exterior will be very reflective. Even then look out for softer rubber armors and ones that have an engraved pattern etched into them, as this will reflect far less light than hard shiny surfaces.

Noise Cushioning - Once again here the exterior rubber coating can play a vital role in buffering sound. Hard metallic surfaces make a distinctive sound that carries far and wide when even lightly tapped. Think of your rifle or crossbow or other gear coming into contact with your optics.

So to minimize this risk ensure as much of the binocular has a rubber exterior as possible. Some binoculars will leave most of the metal central bridges exposed. If remaining super quite is important to you, this will certainly be something to look out for.

Eye Relief

This is very important if you use eye glasses. Take a look at Eye Relief in my glossary for a detailed explanation, but basically it is the distance behind the ocular lenses where the image is in focus. So if you wear glasses, you can't get your eyes as close to the lenses, you need a longer eye relief that basically projects the image beyond the ocular lens on the binoculars. So if you wear glasses, you should be looking for an eye relief of at least 15mm, to see the full image full image. The down side to long eye relief is that it usually reduces the field of view. Some people wonder if you need to wear glasses at all using binoculars, well If you are near-sighted or far-sighted, you can use your binoculars without wearing glasses and the binoculars focus will compensate, but if you have astigmatism, you will need to use your glasses.

Eye Cups

Eye-cups are related to the eye relief as they keep the distance from the oculars to our eyes, but also help keep stray light away from your eyes while using binoculars. Many eye-cups are made from rubber and can roll up or down another type are eye-cups that slide rather than roll, but these can be hard to keep in place.

The third type and now most commonly used are eye-cups that twist up and down and so they can be left at any position from all the way up to all the way down, some even have click stops at regular intervals with the eye relief distance for each stop marked on the cup so you can get the perfect eye relief for your vision.

EyeShieldsSome of the best designs particularly for hunting have flaps/shades on the sides, which not only prevent light entering from the side, but also stop you being distracted by anything on the periphery of your view. If your bins do not come with these, you can get some that fit over your eyecup, some of the best that I have used are EyeShields from Field Optics that I highly recommend.

Binocular Harness Attachment

Because of the need to carry around other gear (like your rifle or crossbow for example) as well as your optics, many hunters prefer to carry use a binocular harness.

So whilst you can attach almost any binocular to a harness, there are some models that make this task far easier to do and come "harness enabled" straight out of the box.

What I mean by this is look for binoculars that have quick release clips on the neck straps. These make it possible to quickly and very easily remove the strap and then fix your instrument to the harness.

Hunting Binocular Reviews

Below are some of the binoculars that I have tested and fully reviewed and that recommend as ideal hunting binoculars. I have divided them into their size categories for you:

Full Size Hunting Binoculars

The binoculars below all have objective lenses of around 42mm and are classed as "full-size" - these larger lenses ensure they perform well even in very poor light. On the down side, they are a little bigger and heavier than some of the compact and mid sized bins (see below), not a problem if you hunt from a hide, but may not be ideal if you also carry a lot of hunting gear over large distances and difficult terrain.

 

Vortex Viper HD 10x42 Binoculars Review

There is a whole lot to like about these 10x42 Vortex Viper HD binoculars, but what really stands out for me are the super high quality HD optics with ED glass lenses and phase corrected, dielectrically coated roof prisms.

Add to this an excellent build quality and loads of attention to detail like a lockable diopter adjuster and ultra hard exterior lens coatings and you have a high performing binocular that is also great value for money.

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 85%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 9/10
Optical Quality: 9/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 9/10
Extras & Details: 8/10

 

Athlon Argos 8x42 Binoculars Review

These mid range, open bridge 8x42 Argos binoculars from Athlon Optics boast features like FMC optics and BaK4 roof prisms that have both Dielectric and Phase correction coatings.

Indeed they Use exactly the same very high level optical coatings as more expensive binoculars from Athlon, which at this price is super impressive.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 75%
Excellent
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 7/10

 

Tract Toric 8x42 Binoculars Review

High end binoculars from Tract Optics, the 8x42 Toric has a lot going for it and is far more than just a hunting binocular that they market it as:

A tough magnesium housing protects a fully Multi-coated optical system with ED Glass Lenses, Scratch & oil-phobic coatings on external surfaces, Phase and Dielectric mirror coated Schmidt-Pechan Roof Prisms that combine well to give a superb image.

Price: (5/6) High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 80%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 9/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 9/10
Extras & Details: 6/10

 

Upland Optics Perception HD 10x42 Binoculars Review

These lightweight and compact 42mm binoculars from Upland Optics feature a tough, waterproof Magnalium chassis that protects an impressively high level of optics at this price range

This included ED glass lenses and BaK-4 roof prisms that are both phase corrected and dielectrically coated which all contribute to offering up an impressive view.

Another highlight is that these have really nice wide field of view,for a 10x42 binocular.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 77%
Excellent
Body Stats: 9/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 6/10

 

Maven 11x45 B2 Binoculars Review

A unique 11x45 configuration using the best quality body and optical components results in an extremely high quality instrument from America that is on a level with the top European brands but at a price that makes them a really attractive proposition.

Highlights include Fully Multi-Coated Optics with ED Glass lenses, phase corrected Abbe-Koenig Roof Prisms and a super stylish, tough and waterproof Magnesium alloy body.

Price: (5/6) High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 9/10 85%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 9/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 10/10
Extras & Details: 8/10

 

Athlon Ares 10x42 Binoculars Review

Mid to high end binoculars from Athlon that include many of the components and coatings found on the very best high end optics:

A fully water and fog proof chassis that is made from magnesium protects a Fully Multi-Coated Optical system with ED glass elements, BaK-4 phase corrected and dielectrically coated roof prisms...

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 80%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 9/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 9/10
Extras & Details: 7/10

 

Opticron Imagic BGA VHD 8x42 Binoculars Review

High end binoculars from Opticron utilizing many quality components and coatings that combine well to supply you with an equally good user experience and view to match.

Highlights include a very long eye-relief, phase corrected and dielectric coated prisms helping to deliver a sharp, bright image.

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 78%
Excellent
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 9/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 7/10

 

Snypex Knight D-ED 8x42 Binoculars Review

'New and improved' that is how Snypex highlight their latest version of the Knight ED binoculars, which was developed and improved in response to customer as well as BBR's feedback.

Major changes include upgraded dielectric coatings on the prisms to improve light transmission and thus the brightness and image quality as well as changes to the exterior like a full metal focus wheel that not only works better but brings added class to what was already a great pair of binoculars.

Price: (5/6) High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 9/10 85%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 9/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 9/10
Extras & Details: 8/10

 
 

Nikon LaserForce RangeFinder Binoculars

Nikon LaserForce 10x42 RangeFinder BinocularsThe Nikon LaserForce comes with an onboard laser rangefinder that boasts an impressive range from 10 yards right up to 1900 yards.

Added to this you get a very high end optical instrument with highlights that include a full metal chassis, fully multi-coated optics and eco friendly lenses with ED glass elements.

The LaserForce is currently only available in a 10x42 configuration.

Verdict: An ED quality optic with a on-board rangefinder for a street price of just over $1000 is sure to make them very competitive.

More Details:

For more information with a full list of their specifications and features:

Shopping BasketPrice Range & Where to Buy
The LaserForce has a RRP of $1,199.95 which is good for a high end rangefinder hunting binocular and whilst still new this price has already come down to around $1125.00 in some stores. For the latest prices in your country check the link below:


 

Leica Geovid 10x42 HD-B Laser Rangefinder Binoculars

Binoculars.com's Innovation of the year Award 2013 -Leica Geovid 10x42 HD-B Laser Rangefinder BinocularsWinner of Binoculars.com's Innovation of the Year Awards 2013

What Binoculars.com say: "Advance Ballistic Compensation in a binocular. That's right. Leica has continued the tradition of continually upping the ante in high-tech optics with 2013 Innovation of the Year, the Geovid HD-B Laser Rangefinder Binocular. ABC, as it's called, allows hunters to upload ballistics data for their equipment and accurately calculate their shot based on ballistics curves and real-time distance, angle, temperature, and air pressure calculations. All within .2 seconds. This incredible technology is paired, of course, with state-of-the-art optics from Leica, with a new Perger Porro prism system and unparalleled optical performance. You didn't know it until just now, but you need this."

What I say: There is no getting around the fact that these Leica binoculars are not cheap, but if you hunt with a rifle and are looking for very, very best hunting binocular, then these must surely be worth taking a very close look at.

As well as all the hunting specific features that Binoculars.com have already discussed above these Leica's have all the optical components and coatings that you would expect to find in any standard binocular in this class. What is more all this comes encased in what must be said is a tough and beautiful looking open bridge body.

Price Range
These Leica Geovid Rangefinder Binoculars cost about $3000 in the US:

 
 
 

Mid-Size & Compact Hunting Binoculars

The compact & mid sized hunting bins below all have objective lenses of about 32mm and under. These may not perform quite as well as larger bins in low light conditions, but due to their smaller size and lower weight are more portable and ideal if you cover large distances on foot or traverse difficult terrain when hunting:

 

Snypex Knight D-ED 8x32 Binoculars Review

These 8x32 Snypex Knight D-ED binoculars come about as close as any as being the perfect general use mid-sized instrument.

The highest quality optical components like APO lenses with ED glass elements, Bak-4 Dach roof prisms with phase correction and dielectric coatings all come together to deliver an image that is as good as many high quality full sized instruments...

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 83%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 9/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 9/10
Extras & Details: 8/10

 

Pentax AD 9x32 WP Binoculars Review

With quality components and coatings, these mid-high end Pentax binoculars are aimed at the more serious users who need or appreciate the convenience of a more portable and lightweight instrument, but are also not willing to sacrifice too much in terms of optical performance.

Features include fully multi-coated optics, BaK-4 phase corrected prisms, water and fog proof housing and five stage twist-up eye-cups with 16mm of eye-relief.

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 75%
Excellent
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 7/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 6/10

 

Minox BL 8x33 HD Binoculars Review

The Minox BL HD is an updated and reworked version of the really popular and already excellent Minox BL 8x33, that now includes HD lens elements that improve the image quality even further.

Made and hand finished in Germany, other highlights include a fully waterproof compact and lightweight open bridge body design, phase correction coating on the roof prisms, long eye-relief and a really wide field of view.

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 80%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 7/10

 

Swarovski EL 10x32 Swarovision Binoculars Review

The new Swarovision EL 10x32 binoculars combine the very best optics and coatings with a waterproof, lightweight and tough Magnesium open bridge body to produce one of the very best mid sized binoculars currently on the market.

Optical features include Field flattener lenses to correct field curvature, Phase correction and dielectric coatings on the roof prisms and fully multi-coated Swarobright lens coatings for a much better light transmission.

Price: (6/6) Expensive Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 9/10 95%
The VERY Best
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 10/10
Optical Stats: 10/10
Image Quality 10/10
Extras & Details: 10/10

These Binoculars are On SaleDiscounted Binoculars: The Swarovski EL 10x32 SV binoculars are available at a discount on Amazon.com, Binoculars.com and Eagle Optics in the USA
>> Check Prices
 

Celestron Granite 9x33 Binoculars Review

Top of the line mid-sized binoculars from Celestron with that feature a lightweight open bridge magnesium body that protects high end optical components. These include fully multi-coated lenses, with ED glass elements and Bak-4 roof prisms with phase correction and very highly reflective dielectric mirror coatings that really do help produce a superior view.

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 82%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 9/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 8/10

 

Kowa 10x33 Genesis XD Binoculars Review

High-End mid sized roof prism binoculars featuring Prominar XD Lenses (extra low dispersion glass), fully multi-coated lenses and phase corrected Schmidt-Pechan prisms to ensure excellent optical performance. This Kowa Genisis binocular is also fully waterproof, fog-proof and lightweight, with a durable and tough rubber coated armour exterior.

Price: (5/6) High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 9/10 92%
The VERY Best
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 10/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 9/10
Extras & Details: 10/10

These Binoculars are On SaleDiscounted Binoculars: The Kowa Genesis 10x33 is available at a reduced price from Eagle Optics in the USA and Amazon.co.uk in the UK.
>> Check Prices

View >> All Binoculars for Hunting that I have reviewed.