Good Hunting Binoculars on a Budget
Choosing good hunting binoculars on a budget is no easy feat. Binoculars are one of the most popular eye gear. They enhance the optical range and vision. From hunting, bird-watching, marine expeditions and live sports, a good binocular is essential for a great experience. They are, in fact, a must-have for outdoor enthusiasts.
Best Hunting Binoculars on a Budget
A hunter must master the art of seeing. For that is the most important thing in the wild. It does not necessarily imply that you have a 20/20 vision. Instead, it means you must know when, where and how to see. How to look for your target without alarming it of your presence? For this, you need to choose the best hunting binoculars within your budget range.
Why You Need Good Hunting Binoculars
Identifying your target is crucial for hunting. You don’t want to mistakenly shoot a fellow hunter in disguise or an endangered species that is forbidden to hunt. After all, you would never want to spend your time surviving in the prison instead of enjoying your game after a good hunt.
Binoculars significantly contribute to the success of a hunt. The clarity of the image enables you to identify the target. At the same time, good binoculars give you an accurate idea of the range and distance of the game so you can decide your shots accordingly.
Choose Binoculars for Hunting within Your Budget
Binoculars are available in a wide price range. You can find binoculars in the market ranging from under $100 to around $3000 or even more. However, not all binoculars are right for hunting. Yet, you can find good hunting binoculars without spending insane amounts of money. Decide a sensible, decent budget and then look for something that suits your needs. You don’t have to go over your budget range for nice, practical binoculars for hunting. Rather spend some time searching the specs and details for hunting binoculars. Then pick wisely within your budget range.
However, when it comes to binoculars for hunting, you only get what you paid for. In fact, this common phrase is so true in case of hunting binoculars that you should consider them as equally important as your hunting rifle. After all, you will spend a much longer time looking through your binoculars than through the scope of your rifle
Are Bird Watching Binoculars a Good Option?
When you are buying binoculars, it does not matter which market they are targeting. Does it say it is for the bird watchers or hunters; it is for watching horse racing or football matches or boating competitions. As long as the specifications meet your specific criteria, you don’t have to worry about what the marketing campaign says. After all, bird watching binoculars require sharp image quality and color contrasts. So, they might work ideally for the hunters to look through the thick foliage in the jungle.
The General Criteria for Good Budget Binoculars for Hunting
You can follow our detailed guide on the basic criteria and the technicalities you must look for in hunting binoculars within a budget. Read on to know how you can find a good pair of binoculars for hunting within a budget and what are the necessary technicalities that make a binocular ideal. We will also review some of the best binoculars for hunting within a budget.
Some of the basic aspects you must consider when buying binoculars for hunting are durability, size, weight, and cost of the binoculars.
Hunting binoculars must be durable. It is doesn’t matter whether you spent a hundred dollars or a thousand. If the lens doesn’t work right after the first drop or breaks after a hit against that tree, they are useless to you. Therefore, quality, material, and durability of the binoculars matter. A good quality, hunting binocular is a must, especially in the rough and rugged hunting terrains.
Size and Weight
Good quality binoculars may weigh up to 2 pounds or even more at times. The quality of glass used in the making of the binoculars has a great say in their final weight. This weight might become a nuisance while traveling. Regardless of how good the binocular image quality and performance is, if it is difficult to carry then it is not a good choice for hunting. Carrying a large, heavy pair of binoculars around your neck for the whole duration of your hunting or hiking expedition is not an easy task. In fact it is an inconvenience, a hassle you would like to avoid at all costs.
Yet, when the size is the small quality of the image, brightness and sharpness are quite often, compromised. Therefore, opt for a compact yet good binocular that does not make you compromise on the overall performance.
Rubber coating is paramount for hunting binoculars especially if you intend to use them in unexpected weather conditions. The rubber coating makes them shock resistant and drop proof to some extent. It will also protect your binoculars from scrapes and scratches in the rugged environments. To enjoy your experience to the fullest, you want your hunting binoculars to withstand the unexpected, harsh weather conditions in the outdoors. Good quality hunting binoculars must be dust, dirt and grime resistant. You must be able to enjoy your hunting experience instead of worrying about keeping the binoculars safe all the time.
Water Proof vs Water Resistant Binoculars
Water proofing is another aspect you must consider when buying hunting binoculars on a budget.
You can easily find good budget binoculars for hunting but make sure they are water proof or at least water resistant. Yes, the two terms are quite different. While water resistance means your binoculars will survive a few splashes or mild contact with water, water proofing means you can use it in rain showers and even marine expeditions. Even the best and most expensive lens is useless if it gets foggy or damaged by humid conditions or rain. Therefore, you must always look for nitrogen forged hunting binoculars as those are fog proof and water proof.
Cost – Look for Hunting Binoculars in Your Budget
Cost matters for hunting binoculars. As we discussed earlier, you only get what you pay for, so never settle for cheap binoculars for hunting. You might have to spend a decent amount to get good hunting binoculars. However, you don’t have to go over your budget limit. With some research, you can find good binoculars within a budget. You might have to compromise on a few technicalities. Yet, you can get nice hunting binoculars with good basic specifications for around $200.
Glass vs Plastic Lens
Glass lens offers better quality images in contrast to the plastic lens. However, the plastic lens is far more durable than a glass lens. Glass lenses are usually expensive than plastic lenses but offer superior image quality. However, if the binoculars are not rubberized, then binoculars with glass lenses are extremely delicate and fragile. They will probably break on the first hit regardless of how expensive they are.
Plastic lenses with good image quality are also quite expensive. Yet they are a good option for hiking expeditions and use for kids. However, hunting binoculars are best with a glass lens. Therefore, make sure to get those with rubber coating.
How Binoculars Work
Hunting binoculars work on the basic principle of sight. The light falls on an object and then reaches the human eye. The human eye perceives the image of the object based on how the light falls on it and how well it reaches the human eye. The same principles work here. The light from the object reaches the optical lens of the binoculars and passes through a prism and then the ocular lens to form the final image. In this scenario, the amount of light passing through the objective lens decided image quality. Therefore, bigger the objective lens, a greater amount of light will pass and clearer the final image will be.
How to Find a Good Hunting Binocular – The Technicalities
Now that we are past the basic features of a good quality hunting binocular let’s look into the technicalities. These are the features that decide the actual image quality and performance of the binoculars for hunting. Even when you are buying hunting binoculars within a budget, it is imperative to look for these features. It will make sure you are getting the complete worth of the amount of money you are spending on your binoculars.
When you read 8×32 on binoculars for hunting, it refers to the 32mm size of the objective lens with magnification power 8 times.
The Main Construction Features of a Good Binocular for Hunting
The main technicalities to understand about hunting binoculars are the lens quality and size, the type of prism in the binoculars, the magnification, the depth of field, the field of view and the eye relief. They collectively decide the image quality, brightness, sharpness and the width of the view and visibility, in short, the overall performance of the binoculars. The most important specifications you come across are the lens size and the magnification.
Ocular Lens and Objective Lens
Ocular lens is the eyepiece. It is the lens closest to the eye when glassing. The objective lens, on the other hand, is the big lens in front of the binoculars. It is measured in millimeters and it decides the image quality. Low light conditions are ideal for hunting as the hunter will not be clearly visible to the game. It is therefore imperative for good hunting binoculars to work best in these conditions.
The size of the objective lens refers to its diameter. This diameter determines the amount of light that passes through the binoculars to form the final image. This is especially crucial in low light conditions at dawn and dusk, which are the ideal times for hunting. Other factors that decide image quality include the lens quality, coating, and prism.
Compact binoculars have smaller 25mm to 28mm lens while mid-size binoculars have lens diameter around 32mm. Full-size 40mm to 42mm lens binoculars are usually bigger and the larger lens sizes are 50mm or above in size. All these sizes are for specific needs. While a 32mm lens is nicely portable, a bigger 42mm lens will be ideal for crawling, stalking, night hunting and thick, dense forests. They will offer much clear and precise image quality.
When it comes to magnification, less is more. As the magnification increases, the image becomes darker. Because of this darker image, you can now see fewer details. It is; therefore, better to have the least magnification possible for your circumstances. For vast open terrains over significant distances like sightseeing or hunting over the mountain ranges and open terrains, 10x is the best. However, 8x is the ideal choice to use in the woods. 8x magnification makes for the best binoculars for deer hunting.
Hunting Binoculars feature mainly two types of prisms:
- Roof prism – Roof prism is in a straight line with the eye piece. It reflects light 5 times so the image quality might be compromised in the budget binoculars with roof prism. Roof prisms are compact since the prism rests in-line with the eyepiece. High image quality with roof prism is possible at a higher price range. In this case, the prism and lens quality is exceptionally good, hence, the higher price ratio.
- Porro Prism – In Porro prism, the two part prism comes with strategic placement to reflect light four times. The images appear more three dimensional with Porro prism. However, since the prism is not in line with the lens, the binoculars are a bit large in size.
If you don’t want compact binoculars for hunting, roof prism is the best choice but at the cost of image quality. However, you can get good image quality with roof prism at a higher price ratio. If you don’t want compromise on image quality, yet you want good hunting binoculars in a budget, Porro prism is the ideal choice.
The Nitty Gritty Specifications to Consider When Buying Hunting Binoculars
Optical coating means the coating of the objective lens to minimize the glare and reflection of light. A good quality hunting binocular must have multiple layers of optical coating to reduce the reflection of light. Objective lenses nowadays come fully coated, multi-layer coated and even fully multi coated. The fully multicoated lens is quite expensive. However, better the anti-reflective coating better the image quality will be, because, with minimal reflection, you will be getting a much greater amount of light and so a clearer, sharper image.
Eye relief is the distance between your eyes and the ocular lens. It means how far away from your eyes can you hold the binocular to still see correctly and clearly. This is especially important for people who wear eyeglasses. The major drawback of poor eye relief is that it reduces the field of vision. If the eye relief is too small the field of vision is smaller too. The ideal distance for eye relief is at least 14mm to 18mm.
Another important feature in binoculars is the focus. It means how closely you can look at an object. Always check the focusing ability of the binoculars, especially for the hunting binoculars because you need to be able to check the details of the game, e.g. whether the animal is healthy, the specific species, age and size estimate, etc.
Some binoculars have a central focus mechanism, they may, however, have diopter corrector for each eyepiece for people with weak eyesight. Waterproof hunting binoculars usually have separate focus mechanism for each eyepiece. Stay away from binoculars, which are focus free since they strain the eye.
Exit Pupil and Relative Brightness Index
Exit pupil is what relates the magnification power to the diameter of the objective lens. It is crucial since it decides the brightness of the image. Exit pupil is calculated by dividing the size of the objective lens by the magnification power. This ratio decides the amount of light that passes through to your eyes. The rule of thumb to go about exit pupil is to choose a bit higher than your own pupil dilation.
Youngsters usually have a 7mm pupil dilation, while elderlies have a 4mm pupil dilation on average. 7×42 hunting binoculars are good for youngsters, while 10×42 work well for adults. However, the hunting style and conditions play a much significant role than pupil dilation for selecting the right binoculars.
Field of View
Decide on magnification power depending on your field of view. Higher the magnification, smaller is the field of view. For hunting purposes, if your target is fast moving then consider settling for lower magnification. This is the major reason why 8×42 binoculars are good for deer hunting.
Image quality comes from a combination of all the above aspects of the hunting binoculars. Good image quality means not only the image will be clear, bright and sharp but also the binoculars will not fatigue your eyes. Excellent image quality is a necessary condition for binoculars if you plan to use them continuously for long hours. However, if you are using your binoculars for hunting in a thick forest you might only need to use them occasionally. In this case, fair image quality will do too.
Good hunting binoculars need to be water proof and yet have good image quality. However, these two things together make for an expensive unit. If you want good hunting binoculars in the budget, your budget must range above $150 or at least closely to it. Since anything below $100 is going to compromise the image quality and will most probably not be water proof either.
Laser Rangefinder (LRF) Binoculars
Laser rangefinders or the (LRF) works on the basic principle of time. It measures the distance and tells you the accurate range of the distant target for a perfect aim. LRF emits a laser beam at the push of a button. The beam bounces off the distant objects to reach back to the source. The range finder comes with a high speed clock that measures the total time from when the beam leaves the source until it reaches back.
With high performance LRF binoculars, target your prey with greater precision for a perfect aim that is sure to hit the right spot at the right time. LRF binoculars are lightweight, compact and as rugged as the simple good quality binoculars. They work optimally under rugged environments and low light conditions.
Tip for Steady and Convenient Binocular Glassing
Hunting binoculars need to be steady in order to show you a clear image, especially if the game is fast moving. Here are some tips to hold a steady hand when using binoculars.
- The ideal way is to use a tripod stand. A tripod adapter can be easily screwed in to most of the binoculars even if they don’t have a built in adapter. Using a tripod will steady the binoculars and offer a much clear and sharp image. This is especially true for long range hunting and high magnification like 10x or 12x binoculars as they cannot gauge quick movements if they are not steady enough.
- In, case you do not have a tripod stand, you can use a walking stick or technically any rod or stick. Just fix it to the ground and adjust your binoculars on top. Although this is not as effective as the tripod stand, it will still provide some stability to the binoculars. Steady equals clear image quality for you will be able to see much better this way.
- High magnitude binoculars tend to be heavy. This makes them difficult to hold and carry during long hunting expeditions. Use a chest brace along with a neck strap to relieve some of the strain off your neck.
Steadiness matters much more for a clear image quality that the magnification when it comes to hunting binoculars in a budget. Therefore, it is crucial to steady the binoculars either with hands or using a tripod stand.
Best Hunting Binoculars Reviews
At WeReviews, we are committed to guide you to choose the best of the products. That is why we provide a carefully crafted complete buying guide to help you analyze the products by yourself. At the same time, we suggest some of the top picks in a budget friendly range with all the basic features, the overall performance and the pros and cons of each product after in depth testing. Here are our top picks for good hunting binoculars in a budget.
Best Binoculars for Long Range
There can be no argument about the fact that 10x is the ideal magnification for long range binoculars. It is modest for the quick glances. At the same time, it is powerful enough to reveal the distant details. Still, we recommend using a tripod for hunting. That will stabilize the binoculars for much clearer and sharper viewing. Our best pick for the long distance viewing is the Vortex Diamondback binoculars.
The Budget Option – Vortex Diamondback Binoculars 10×42 vs 10×50
Available in the $250 to $300 price range, vortex diamondback binoculars are a unique piece of art and technology. They truly depict the performance to price ratio in this niche. Vortex Diamondback binoculars come with a fully multi coated lens, great focus and impressive low light performance. This low light performance makes it ideal for deer hunting and bird watching simultaneously. AT 10x magnification, they offer an ultra-wide field of view which is great for the open field and mountain hunting.
The size difference between 10×42 and 10×50 imply that both models have the same magnification power with different lens size. The exit pupil is higher for 10×50. Therefore, vortex diamondback 10×50 will allow more light to pass through.it will also mean brighter, clearer images. It will perform better in low light than 10×42. However, it is heavier than 10×42 because of the bigger lens size. Both options are equally good in their own specific way. The best option for you depends solely on your usage. If you want a clear image but don’t want to carry much weight, vortex 10×42 will be a better option. Yet, if weight is not a problem then 10×50 is the better choice.
|Key Features||Vortex Diamondback 10×42||Vortex Diamondback 10×50|
|Field of View||330 ft||315 ft|
|Close Focus||6.7 ft||7 ft|
|Lenses||BAK – 4||BAK – 7|
|Weight||21.4 oz||29.6 oz|
|Dimensions||5.8” x 5.1”||6.7” x 5.5”|
Some other worth mentioning specifications of Vortex Diamondback are:
- Rubber coating
- Water proof
- Fog proof
- Easy central focusing with individual eye adjustment
Water proofing is something you will appreciate when you just sight your game and the rain starts pouring. You will never want to put your binoculars into your bag at such a time. The rubber coating is ideal to hold under any kind of circumstances, be it a rain shower, or hot and humid conditions. These are great binoculars for hunting on a budget.
Pros & Cons
- Strong and sturdy construction
- The rubber coating makes it very easy to hold
- Good image quality with clear, sharp and bright image
- Easy to focus even if you see differently with both eyes
- These binoculars are a bit heavy
- The 10×50 version is bigger and heavier in size
The High end Option – Leica 10×42 Geovid HD-B
Leica 10×42 are high end LRF binoculars with excellent hunting and birding performance because of the improved features. Although Leica 10×42 are a bit heavy as compared to other rangefinder binoculars, the additional features and performance do outweigh this.
|Key Features||Leica 10×42 Geovid|
|Field of View||374 ft|
|Close Focus||16.5 ft|
|Diopter Compensation||± 4|
|Dimensions||8 x 8|
Additional features of Leica 10×42 Geovid binoculars are:
- Fog proof
- Water resistant
- Easy focus system
- Come with micro SD card
With compact LRF system, Leica 10×42 is an ideal choice for long range hunting but at a high cost and weight than others.
Pros & Cons
- Wide and long range
- Custom ballistic options
- Comfortable 20mm eye relief
- Adjustable focus
- Weight might be a nuisance
- You have to be extra careful due to the durability concerns
- It is a high end option and although it offers great value for money, it is costly
Best Binoculars for Close Range Hunting
Binoculars play a major role in hunting. They enhance the overall experience by revealing those minor details you might overlook otherwise. Binoculars are even more important for close range hunting in the thick and dense brush. They not only help you find a deer hiding behind a thick three but also help you target the right spot. At the same time, binoculars in the heavy foliage specifically help you with game recovery. A quick glance through the binoculars will let you know of the Binoculars are crucial for the precise placement of the target. Moreover, it will help you track shot and downed animals.
High magnification is not a great choice for hunting in the heavy brush. In fact, it is more of a handicap as it offers a narrow field of view and shaky binoculars in the dense, lowlight conditions. That is why a magnification of 6x or 8x is ideal for close range hunting.
Here are our two picks for close range hunting, that too within a budget. In fact, one of them is under $100 hunting binocular.
A Great Option – Athlon Optics Midas ED 8×42
Athlon optics Midas ED 8×42 is our top pick for hunting binoculars in a budget for close range hunting. The price range is good considering the range of features and the ease of use of this piece.
|Key Features||Athlon Optics Midas ED 8×42|
|Field of View||426 ft|
|Close Focus||6.5 ft|
|Lenses||BAK – 4|
|Dimensions||5.7 x 5.2|
Some additional worth mentioning features of Athlon Optics Midas ED 8×42 are
- Water proof, fog proof, and dust proof too
- Extra protective layer coating enhances image quality
- High definition glass lens
- Light weight magnesium alloy construction makes then exceptionally durable
These are among our top pick in relatively medium budget hunting binoculars. With a wide field of view and clear image quality, you can easily revel in the minor details when bird watching and spot even the smallest game with ease while hunting.
Pros & Cons
- Fairly good quality image
- Considering the quality and performance, it offers great value for money
- Fairly inexpensive for the wide array of features it offers
- Durable and reliable for use in rugged weather conditions
- The focus knob is a bit difficult to adjust
- Not great choice for long range hunting
Hunting Binoculars Under $100 – Eagle Optics Shrike 8×42 Roof Prism
It is difficult to find good hunting binoculars under $100. In fact, the normal price range for a decent piece of binoculars is around $150 to $250. In this price range, you will get a considerably fair and even good image quality with great focus without straining the eyes much. However, Eagle Optics Shrike 8×42 roof prism binocular is a great option with multiple worthy features, that too under $100.
|Key Features||Eagle Optics Shrike 8×42|
|Field of View||341 ft|
|Close Focus||13.1 ft|
|Dimensions||5.9 x 4.9|
Other worth mentioning features of Eagle optics 8×42 are:
- Multi coated lens for a clear and bright image
- Roof prism ensures a bright final image
- Water proof and fog proof
- Rubber coating for an ideal grip in all weather conditions, it makes them durable too
Roof prism in these binoculars makes for a clear and bright image. AT this price point, eagle shrike offers great value for money. Therefore, these are ideal binoculars for small range amateur hunting. No doubt, this binocular tops the charts for best binoculars under $100.
Pros of Eagle Optics Shrike 8×42 Roof Prism Binoculars
- Versatile yet affordable
- Eye relief makes them easy to use even if you wear eye glasses
- Comfortable and compact
- Fair image quality even in low light conditions
- Great value for money at this price point
- Focus wheel might be difficult to adjust for beginners
- Image quality may be an issue if you have used high end binoculars otherwise it is fairly good.
8×42 or 10×42 Binoculars for Hunting – The Better Option
If you are new to hunting and binoculars, it might be difficult to choose between the 8×42 or 10×42 binoculars for hunting. a general misconception is that bigger the magnification power, better will be the image quality. However, that is not true. The image quality does not depend on magnification, rather is a combination of multiple binocular features. Yet, 8×42 is a more suitable size for close range hunting while 10×42 is better for long range hunting. Moreover, LRF binoculars are better suited for long range hunting, as they give a more precise idea of the target.
When it comes to choosing the best binoculars for hunting, you don’t need to go over the budget to get the best. It is more the stability and style of using the binoculars that matters rather than its features and specifications. However, you learn them only with practice. Decide a reasonable budget and select the best hunting binoculars in that budget after careful research. Look for good focus, eye relief glass coating rather than just the magnification and lens diameter. All these aspects collectively decide the image quality and performance of the hunting binoculars.