8 Best Binoculars For The Money Reviews Of 2017 & Buying Guide
In a world dominated by high-end optical European brands such as Zeiss and Leica finding the best binoculars for the money can be a daunting task, especially if you are on a budget. Fortunately for you, you have come to the right place. In this article, I will be exploring the amazing world of binoculars and giving you useful tips on how to buy the best pair. Also, I will be reviewing a few of my all-time favorite binoculars.
As of 2010, revenue from the US optical industry stood at $5.2 billion. That being said, the optical industry is a lucrative market. It is for this reason that manufacturers spend millions of dollars trying to convince you that their products are the best. So with every manufacturer claiming to have the best binoculars, what are the best binoculars for hunting? Or better yet what are best binoculars for the money. Well, there are quite a number of great binoculars that will not cost you an arm and a leg. Below I have compiled a list of 8 binoculars that in my opinion offer great value for money.
A Quick Comparison Of Best Binoculars For The Money
FOV @ 1000 YDS
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Hawke Endurance ED
Athlon 113004 Midas ED
Vortex Viper HD
Vortex Razor HD
Bushnell Fusion 1-Mile ARC
Leica Geovid Laser Range Finder
All Purpose (High-End)
All Purpose (High-End)
Best Budget Binoculars
The first category of binoculars that I will be reviewing in this Best Binoculars For The Money segment is the budget category. Under this category, I have selected two binocular models whose performance was exceptionally great for their price.
The Hawke Endurance ED Binocular
Construction and comfort
Priced at less than $500, this binocular’s performance does not match its price tag. Boasting of aluminum chassis, not many binoculars in its price tag can boast of having such a light-weight and durable construction.
Another surprising feature about this compact binocular is its eyecups. Measuring 39 mm in diameter, the Hawk Endurance’s eyecups are quite large for a binocular of its size. Personally, I am accustomed to seeing such large eye cups on full-sized binoculars.
So to say that I was impressed by how comfortable the eye cups feel against my eyes is understating it. This binocular’s eyecups are so comfortable I have no problems using it for birdwatching.
The build of this binocular is not its only surprising feature. I once took this baby out on a hunting trip in Salmon, Idaho and I have to say, the pictures were clear and really sharp on the lens edges.
The Hawke Endurance’s razor sharp and high-resolution image quality can be credited to its extra-low dispersion glass objective lens. The roof prism design and the Bak-4 glass prisms are to blame for the binocular’s high light transmission.
Field of view
With an 8x magnification and a 32 mm objective lens, the Hawk Endurance's field of view is quite impressive given its price tag.
To be more specific, this model has a 388 ft field of view measured at a distance of 1000 yards. Considering that I have used pricier binoculars with a lousy field of view, the Endurance’s wide field of view was a fresh of breath air.
Given that this binocular has a roof prism design, Hawke had to invest heavily in optical coatings, and invest they did. All exterior glass surfaces are fully multicoated meaning that there is no problem of reflection, which enhances light transmission.
Thus if you are like me and enjoy hunting at dawn or dusk, then this is a great piece of optical hardware.
The Athlon 113004 Midas 8 x 42 ED Binoculars, Green
Design and build
The Athlon Midas 8X42 is a binocular with a unique design. Its two barrels have specially designed grooved areas for improved grip. In regards to dimensions, this pair of binoculars measures 6.5 x 8.7 x 3.5 inches and weighs a meager 1.54 pounds.
Thus, just like the Hawke Endurance this Athlon model is a small and compact binocular. Also, similar to the Endurance the Midas’ body constructed from lightweight aluminum. Overall, I have no complaints about this binocular’s portability and compactness.
The objective lens
One of the Midas’ best features is its objective lens. Unlike other binoculars in its price range, the Midas’ objective lens made from extra-low dispersion glass. This type of glass improves light transmission and minimizes glare, thus producing sharp and high-resolution images.
Fully multicoated optics
Astonishingly, this binocular has fully multicoated optics. This means that all exterior glass surfaces feature an anti-reflection coating.
Athlon uses an XPL coating on all the binocular’s lenses. The Bak-4 glass prisms are phase-corrected and also coated for maximum light transmission and resolution.
Ease of use and comfort
The Athlon Midas has an extra-large center focus wheel, which turns effortlessly. Personally, I love wearing gloves while on a hunt, so the binocular’s large focus knob was a big plus.
The binocular’s eyecups, on the other hand, can be twisted up and down for comfort. Moreover, the binocular has a relief of 17.2 mm, which I found to be a pretty decent for a binocular in its price range. One of the things I love about the Athlon is the 426 ft field of view, which is arguably the best in its class.
Best Deer Hunting Binoculars for The Money
It is estimated that of the $ 22 million hunters spend annually, $ 18 million is spent on big game hunting, primarily white-tail deer hunting. Therefore, deer hunting is a sport that is loved by many in the US. However, to be a successful deer hunter you have to get yourself a good quality pair of binoculars. If you hunt in open fields, then a 10X42 binocular will be the ideal selection for you, whereas if you hunt in the woods an 8X42 will the better option. Below are two 10X42 binoculars that I believe are among the best deer hunting binoculars that the market has to offer.
The Vortex Viper HD 10x42
Magnification and field of view
One of the most important factors to consider when buying a binocular for deer hunting is the magnification and field of view.
Being one of the best hunting binoculars for the money, the Vortex Viper does not disappoint. I have taken this binocular on several hunting trips and although it has a smaller field of view than its smaller brother the 8x42 I find it to be perfect for deer hunting.
There are two factors that dictate a binocular’s viewing comfort, the eyecups, and the eye relief. Fortunately, the Vortex Viper HD’s eyecups can be twisted up and down to get your desired viewing position. In addition, the binocular has a decent eye relief of 16.5 mm. Compared to other mid-range binoculars I have used; the Vortex’s eye relief is a plus.
Compact and portable
One of the things that make this binocular ideal for deer hunting is its portability. Despite it being a full-frame binocular it is quite lightweight and weighs 24.0 ounces.
It is actually not possible to note that it is heavier than its smaller brother the 8X42 since the latter weighs 24.2 ounces. In regards to dimensions, the binocular is of the same size as the 8X42. Both measure 5.8 inches by 5.3 inches.
As its name suggests, its 42 mm objective lens is constructed from a high-quality HD glass, which increases light transmission. This makes it easy to spot white-tail deer in low lighting, especially at dawn or dusk.
Due to its excellent light transmission and image clarity, I have grown fond of taking this binocular with me whenever I go exploring in the forests of Wisconsin. Thus, while it is ideal for hunting, it is also great for exploring the great outdoors. If you are an enthusiastic traveler, this binocular is for you.
The Leupold Mojave 10x42
One of the best things about the Leupold Mojave 10X42 is its above average image quality. With its fully multi-coated optics, you get crystal clear images with sharp edges. The prisms are made of high-quality cold mirror Bak-4 glass. Actually, the main reason why I bought this binocular is its excellent image quality.
From an ergonomic standpoint, the Mojave 10X42 is a well-built binocular. It is easy to hold thanks to its design. I have to say I love the thumb holes on the rear and the specially textured finger areas. The focus knob is large enough to be turned even with thick gloved hands. In regards to weight, the binocular weighs a meager 2 pounds and measures 7 inches by 8 inches by 3 inches.
Field of view
As already stated one of the most important factors to consider when buying a binocular for deer hunting is the field of view. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the Mojave 10X42 has a pretty wide field of view. Measures 326 ft, this binocular’s field of view is relatively wider than that of the Vortex HD 10X42. And that is the second reason why I decided to go for this Leupold model.
Leupold offers the Mojave 10X42 in black and mossy oak treestand. While color does not affect performance, I went with the mossy oak treestand colored version for obvious reasons. The reason being it gives me better stalking ability, since it matches with the natural colors of the forests.
Best Binocular For Elk Hunting
When shopping for a pair of binoculars to take on your next elk hunting trip, it is important that you find one with a wide field of view and high-quality glass. Based on these two factors, below are two of the best binoculars for elk hunting.
The Vortex 8x42 Razor HD
Open Hinge Design
The reason why the Vortex Razor HD is one of the best binoculars for elk hunting is its unique open hinge design. Essentially, unlike other binoculars whose barrels are separated by two thin hinges, the barrels on this binocular are separated by one thick hinge.
So why is this beneficial? You might ask.
Well, for me I found it easier to hold this binocular with one hand and not worry about the hinge becoming loosened. Thus, if I were to choose between this design and the conventional two hinge design in regards to security, I would go with the one hinge design.
Another unique feature about the Vortex Razor HD is its body. While most binoculars are constructed using aluminum, Vortex opted for a magnesium alloy in the construction of this binocular. The result is a lighter and tougher binocular as magnesium is lighter and tougher than aluminum. When I compared this binocular to others in my arsenal such as the Leupold Mojave, I found it to be less bulky.
Ease of use
Stalking is the best way to ensure that you go home with a kill, especially when elk hunting. When stalking, you have to survey one specific area for a lengthy period of time.
It is for this reason that I absolutely love the Vortex Razor HD’s a 40 mm wide eye cups. The ocular lens is also significantly large and has a diameter of 23 mm. The large eye cups combined with the soft rubber that covers them means that I able to scope a large area for long periods of time without experiencing any strain on my eyes.
This binocular is not known as the Razor HD for no reason. To begin with, it boasts of a high-quality high-density ED glass objective lens, which maximizes light transmission. This allows you to scope a wide area during any time of day.
Also, being a roof prism binocular, all its optics are fully multicoated for improved image contrast and resolution. To make things even better, the binocular has an extremely wide field of view of 388 ft at 1000 yards. This makes it also ideal for birdwatching.
Best Binoculars Under $1000 : The Bushnell Fusion 1-Mile ARC
Arguably one of the best rangefinder binoculars on the market, the Bushnell Fusion has better rangefinder capabilities than some of its pricier competitors. In ideal lighting conditions, this binocular can give you the range of objects as far as 1000 yard with 70% accuracy.
As an added bonus this binocular has a bow mode and a rifle mode as well as a matrix display technology. Thus when it comes to rangefinding and optical capabilities I can always trust on my Bushnell Fusion
While its rangefinder technology is unrivaled, its optical performance is a class above the competition. Fully, multicoated optics delivers clarity and exceptional contrast and resolution.
Relying on XTR technology, the light transmission of this binocular is unrivaled. Thus, the image quality of this binocular is excellent.
As one of the best binoculars for elk hunting, the Bushnell Fusion has an excellent eye relief, which stands at 18 mm. This variant 10X42 variant has the best eye relief in its class. Its smaller sibling the 8X32 has an eye relief of 16.5 mm while its older brother the 12X50 has an eye relief of 16 mm.
Field of view
Though not as wide as that of the Vortex Razor HD, the Bushnell Fusion’s field of view is still pretty wide. The field of view is 305 ft wide, relatively smaller compared to the 393 ft field of view of the 8X32 variant. In my opinion, a field of view above 300 ft is pretty decent and thus, I believe this is binocular that can do well for hunters and birdwatchers alike. Also this binoculars is on my best binoculars under $1000 favorite lists.
The Best Rangefinder Binocular For The Money
According to experts, traditional binoculars will be completely superseded by the more advanced rangefinder binoculars in the next 10 to 15 years. Thus, it might be time to make the shift to a rangefinder pair of binoculars. If you are considering making the shift, here are two rangefinder binoculars that you should consider buying.
The Leica 10x42 Geovid Laser Range Finder
A true masterpiece of German engineering, the Leica Geovid Laser Rangefinder is a great rangefinder binocular. Designed for long range viewing, there is no other binocular in its class that has a greater range. To be exact, the Geovid has an impressive range of up to 2000 yards. In fact, with my Geovid I have been able to calculate the range of objects as far as 2,200 yards on several occasions.
Field of view
The Leica 10X42 has a wide field of view of 342 ft at 1000 yards. This exceptionally wide field of view combined with its long range rangefinder capabilities make it not only one of the best rangefinder binoculars but also one of the best binoculars for elk hunting.
Instead of going the conventional way regarding design, Leica opted for a unique open bridge design. This design makes it easier to hold compared to other rangefinder binocular with a block design. After using the Geovid, I now wish that all binoculars had this kind of design.
It is a well-known fact that most binoculars have a Roof or Porro prism design, well not the Leica HD-B. Leica opted for a revolutionary new design, which it calls the perger-prism design. I cannot get into the technical details, but what I can say is that I love the image quality. Another thing I love about this binocular is the micro-SD card slot. With this, I can record ballistic data in a micro-SD and evaluate it using an online ballistic calculator.
The Swarovski 10x42 EL
The Swarovski 10X42 EL is another great rangefinder binocular with an impressive range. The range of this binocular stands at between 33 and 1500 yards. Though some bow hunters may find the 33 minimum range a bit unsatisfactory, this range is not a problem to many rifle hunters. Integrated into the rangefinder technology of this binocular is an angel compensator. Also, this binocular’s rangefinder can measure in meters as well as yards.
It is expected for a rangefinder binocular to be significantly heavier than ordinary binoculars. Thus, for a rangefinder, the Swarovski is quite lightweight as it weighs 32.1 ounces. It is only 2.5 ounces heavier than its cheaper sibling the Swarovski EL Optik.
The roof prism design of this binocular gives it improved light transmission while its fully multicoated optics guarantee high-quality images with high contrast and resolution. As for its field of view, this binocular is slightly edged by the Leica model as it has a field of view of 330 ft.
Ease of use and comfort
The binocular has twist-up eye cups that can be locked to specific distances from the eyes. This combined with its 17.3 mm eye relief makes it comfortable to use. Also, the center focusing wheel is large enough for turning even with gloved hands. Similar to the Leica this Swarovski has an open-hinge design, which is more secure to hold.
In conclusion, there are many binocular models to choose from; however, few can rival the above-reviewed binoculars in their respective price segments. In this regard, these binoculars represent the best performance in every price range. Thus, these are binoculars that I would strongly recommend to anyone, including you.
How To Choose Best Binoculars For The Money
When buying a binocular, there are some important factors you need to consider. In this last section, I will be exploring some of the main factors to put into consideration.
Field of view
The field of view is an important aspect of any binocular. Normally, binoculars with an 8X42 configuration have a wider field of view than those with a 10X42 configuration. Ordinarily, if you prefer hunting in the woods, it is important you go for a binocular with a wide field of view. This rule also applies to bow hunters. However, if you hunt predominantly in open fields, a 10X42 binocular with a relatively lower field of view will do just fine.
It is difficult to get binocular with a perfect combination of brightness, magnification, and field of view, especially on a budget. Thus it will depend on your hunting preferences. In most cases, a binocular’s light transmission is referred to as exit pupil. This is the amount of light that you can visualize. Ordinarily, if you hunt in the woods for the big game you will require a binocular with a high exit pupil rate. In this regard, you can compromise on magnification for increased brightness.
The Prism Design
Binoculars are categorized into Porro prism design and roof prism design. The former is the more traditional while the latter is the most advanced. Roof prism design binoculars tend to be more lightweight and expensive. On the other hand Porro, prism design binoculars are heavier and cheaper. Also, roof prism design tends to reflect light causing glare, to remedy these manufacturers apply the anti-reflective coating on the glass surfaces. Thus, when buying a roof prism binocular ensure it is sufficiently coated. If you are a bit short on cash, then the roof prism design can save you money.
If you prefer hunting in open fields, then a binocular with a high magnification will be ideal. Ideally, it is better to go for one with a 10X42 magnification than one with an 8X42 magnification. Contrastingly, if you hunt in the woods the 8X42 magnification will be ideal as high magnification translates to a smaller field of view.
Other Factors To Consider While Choosing Best Binoculars For The Money
- Whether the lenses are fully multicoated or simply multicoated, fully multicoated lenses eliminate light reflection and thus increase resolution and contrast.
- The weight of the binoculars, if you plan on spending lengthy periods of time on a hunt a bulky full frame binocular can be cumbersome and can slow you down
- The cost and what you are getting for the price you pay for your binocular. If a binocular’s price tag is on the lower end, do not expect it to perform like a high-end binocular.