The Best Hunting Binoculars Reviews and Buying Guide 2018

best hunting binoculars reviews

So you are in the market for the best hunting binoculars?

When you’re out hunting, a great pair of binoculars can help you augment your vision, keep an eye out for threats, make sure that you know the difference between male and female animals and ensure fewer mistakes when you zero in on potential targets. It is little wonder, then, that when it comes to equipment that gets the job done, many hunting enthusiasts put their hunting binoculars right up there alongside their rifles.

You certainly couldn’t go wrong if you were willing to drop $3,000 on a pair of Leica Geovid 10 x 42 HD Laser Rangefinder binoculars or a pair of Swarovski EL. Barring such extravagances, though, you do need to put in a bit of homework to know how to locate the best unit for your usage. Here is a list that is constantly getting great feedback from folks in the field.

Binoculars Comparison Guide

BinocularsField of View (@1,000 Yards)WeightEye ReliefReviews
Zeiss Terra ED 8×42 Binoculars375 Feet1.59 Pounds18mmRead here
Nikon Monarch 5 8×42 Binoculars330 Feet1.34 Pounds19.5mmRead here
Vortex Diamondback 8×42 Binoculars420 Feet1.58 Pounds18mmRead here
Carson 3D Series HD Binoculars with ED Glass330 Feet1.44 Pounds19.5mmRead here
Celestron 71422 Cavalry 7×50 GPS Binoculars394 Feet1.97 Pounds23mmRead here
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x 42mm Roof Prism Binoculars340 Feet2.28 Pounds15.2mmRead here
Swarovski SLC 10×42 Binoculars330 Feet3.80 Pounds16mmRead here

Best Hunting Binoculars Reviews 2018


Zeiss Terra ED 8×42 Binoculars

Zeiss has a reputation as one of the premium optic manufacturers. And for good reason. These Zeiss binoculars are incredibly bright and clear, and would work well for most hunting trips. The wide angle lens helps ensure that you get to see a better field a view than some other choices and that can be a really helpful feature when you are stalking deer out in the field. The Terra ED is also ruggedly constructed and has great ergonomics. The focus is like butter. These sport an 18 millimeter eye relief, so it will work if you wear spectacles or sunglasses while hunting.

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 Roll over image to zoom in Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8x42 Binocular (Black)

Roll over image to zoom in Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8×42 Binocular (Black)

Nikon Monarch 5 8×42 Binoculars

The Nikon Monarch series of binoculars has a stellar reputation. And while they are very high-quality binocs, they are outstanding for the money. The value these binoculars offer is why they make the cut. The lenses are fully multicoated, it’s packed with features that are found in higher priced options, and it’s encased in a durable rubber. The versatility of this pair is legendary. The extended eyecups and ergonomics are great. The weight is also a benefit, as these weigh less than some similarly featured competitors’ options. They are also very easy to use. Overall, the Monarch’s are great options if you are looking for a first serious pair of binocs.

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Vortex Optics New 2016 Diamondback 10x42 Roof Prism Binoculars

Vortex Optics New 2016 Diamondback 10×42 Roof Prism Binoculars

Vortex Diamondback 8×42 Binoculars

These binoculars are great for hunting and one of the top rated hunting binoculars on the market. They come with Vortex’s Unlimited Lifetime Warranty which is fully transferable and doesn’t even require you keeping track of the receipt. The Diamondback is very rugged and waterproof. It has a 16-millimeter eye relief adjustment, so they work well if you have glasses as well. The 10×42 weighs 24.4 ounces, so The lenses are also fully multicoated. These binoculars also feature phase corrected prisms. The center focus of the Diamondback binoculars is very smooth to operate and is located in a convenient place. Vortex Diamondback binoculars also come with a hard carry case to keep them safe as well.

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Carson 3D Series High Definition Waterproof Binoculars with ED Glass

Carson 3D Series High Definition Waterproof Binoculars with ED Glass

Carson 3D Series HD Binoculars with ED Glass

The Carson series of HD binoculars have numerous top features that you would expect in a quality product. Besides the phase correction coating on the prism glass and the multicoated lenses, the Carson 3D series also comes with ED glass. The other great feature of the Carson 3D series is that it is perhaps one of the lightest binocular models on the market. It is easy to use and can be used for a variety of outdoor activities.

The binoculars are both water and fog proof and have as solid single bridge design. The Carson 3D series binoculars are easy to hold and the central focussing wheel is easy to reach without having to adjust the grip or look away from the sight of vision. The external framework of the Carson 3D series is fortified with strips of rubber armoring which protect the device from scratches and knocks. Further, the rubber coating also provides a firm grip in all weather conditions. Importantly, the eyecups are covered with a soft but thick rubber coating that provides a comfortable feel even when using the binoculars for prolonged periods. However, the most important innovation in the Carson 3D series binoculars is the quality of optics. The use of

The use of extra-low dispersion (ED) glass provides a wide range of options, minimizes artifacts and improves the brightness of an image even at a distance. The multiple layers of antireflective coating also allow for the binoculars to perform in low light with great resolution. The introduction of high definition optical coating in this series has made it one of the best binoculars on the market. The Carson 3D series binoculars are a worthwhile investment for both professionals and amateurs. For all its fancy gadgets, it is a relatively inexpensive device. Accessories that come with it include a neck strap, binocular harness, lens cover and a carry case.

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Celestron 71422 Cavalry 7x50 GPS Binocular (Olive Green)

Celestron 71422 Cavalry 7×50 GPS Binocular (Olive Green)

Celestron 71422 Cavalry 7×50 GPS Binoculars

One of the most rugged binoculars on the market is the Celestron Cavalry 7×50. Because of its sturdiness and durability, the Celestron cavalry is widely used by law enforcement, military personnel, hunters, boaters, and sailors. The Celestron has been designed to withstand a range of environmental hazards. This includes dust, rain, snow, ice, heat and frigid temperatures. The binoculars are fully water and fog proof. The external framework of the Celestron is covered with a tough rubber armoring that not only protects the binocular from scratches but also makes it easy to grip the device under slippery conditions.

The other feature of the Celestron Cavalry is the olive drab coloring which is useful when you are trying to conceal yourself or the instrument. Other features of the Celestron Cavalry include the high-grade BaK-4 prism and multicoated lens which offer pristine vision and bright images. A remarkable feature of this unique binocular is that it also features a fully integrated GPS, reticle, and a digital compass. The compass is designed so that it will help you assess the direction of objects in relation to your location. The reticle will help you determine the distance and size of the object you are trying to view.

Even though the Celestron Cavalry can be used in an open area, it is most useful when you are out on the water. The Celestron Cavalry is very easy to use and allows easy adjustments of the central focus with the fingers. With its wide viewing field, it is considered to be one the best binoculars out there. Anyone who intends to buy the Celestron Cavalry should know that there are government export restrictions. You can use this device anywhere in mainland USA but are not allowed to take it abroad or sell it to anyone outside continental USA. Accessories that come with the Celestron Cavalry include the lens caps, strap, rain guard and a carrying case.

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Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism Binocular

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism Binocular

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x 42mm Roof Prism Binoculars

The Bushnell 10 x 42 Legend Ultra HD Binocular Realtree AP Camo is very versatile and durable device. Its features include a roof prism, central focus, and good resolution. The Bushnell Legend HD is a very rugged binocular and is primarily suited for the outdoors person who likes to hunt and go shooting in the forests. The Bushnell Legend HD is both fog and waterproof. On a cold day, even your own breath will not fog up the lenses.

The external features consist of a metal frame which does make the device slightly heavy but this is a requirement when you venture in dense forest areas. The external surface has a rugged beauty which also camouflages the binoculars. The ED glass ensures that the image will be bright and free of any artifacts. Further the ED glass also helps to correct any chromatic aberration when viewing dark objects against a bright background. The multicoated lenses with antireflective coating offer superb light transmission.

The focussing of the Bushnell is easy even when mobile. The rigid eyecups are made of a plastic material that does not cause any eye strain even after prolonged use. Even under rough environmental conditions, the Bushnell legend HD is easy to grasp. Other accessories that come with the Bushnell legend HD include lens covering, a hard case, a harness and a neck strap. The Bushnell Legend HD is most effective as a binocular during daylight. It has the ability to distinguish dark objects from a bright background very easily. The Bushnell Legend is an ideal device for someone who has never owned binoculars before. This particular device is relatively easy to use, has good functional value and is perhaps one of the cheapest binoculars on the market. With all these features, it is hard to find an equal competitor on the market.

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Swarovski SLC 10x42 W B

Swarovski SLC 10×42 W B

Swarovski SLC 10×42 Binoculars

The Swarovski SLC 10 x 42 binoculars stand at the top of the heap when it comes to bird watching and hunting. Personally, I like to call it the best 10×42 binoculars for hunting.

The latest generation of the Swarovski SLC is exactly what the company says- slim, light and compact. The newer models have HD with thinner and shorter ocular tubes.

The magnesium chassis just below the armoring has made the newer models a lot lighter than the older ones. Swarovski SLC also comes with upgrades in glass, coating and optical resolution. Other minor innovations include an improved diopter adjustment mechanism and a better focussing system.

The Swarovski SLC 10- x 42 has excellent image brightness with a superb contrast between colors.

The eyepieces have been made ergonomically designed to enhance comfort. The external surface of the Swarovski SLC is also coated with a special material that prevents accumulation of water or dust particles. The multilayered coasting on the lens significantly improves the color spectrum at all intensities of light. The binoculars are completely sealed and purged with nitrogen which makes them both dust and fog proof.

The latest Swarovski SLC also includes a dig binning adaptor which allows you to attach a point and shoot digital camera to the device. While this can turn the binoculars in a great telephoto lens for the camera, it does take practice to be good at using it. Other great features of the Swarovski SLC include a hard surfaced cap which protects the lens surface at all times. Other accessory features include the rain guard, a strap, and a case. Unlike the older generations, the new Swarovski SLC is probably the best binocular for functional use and aesthetics. These binoculars are pretty darn good. The razor sharp images and a solid feel for the devices make them the best binoculars on the market today. Watching nature with them will transfer you into another dimension with a surreal feel.

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Hunting Binocular Optics

If you are looking for the best binoculars for hunting, you have to consider many factors.

The first consideration is magnification power. How much magnification do you need? This is determined by the ocular lenses, which are the lenses close to your eyes, and they are critical to magnification power. The fundamental tradeoff here is the more the magnification, the less field of view. For most hunting purposes, 8x or 10 x will fit the bill. Most people recommend 8x if you will be hunting in the woods, where timber or other obstacles. If you are a hunter in the west, where you are shooting at longer ranges with fewer obstacles, you may want to opt for the 10x and additional magnification.

Field of view should also be considered when picking out a pair of binoculars for hunting. Generally, wide angle is considered greater than 7 degrees, with 5-7 degrees being the standard field of views. If you are curious to find out more about what magnification does to the field of view, you can calculate the impact that magnification has on the field of view at different distances using this formula.

The second consideration is how much light you need. This increases with the size of the objective lens. The larger the objective lens, the more light the binoculars will let in. For hunting applications, you will want a large enough objective lens diameter to let in the light you will need for hunting at dawn and dusk. Please remember that the tradeoff here is weight. Most hunters with standard hunting outings around dawn and dusk will do well with a 42-millimeter objective. This is because a 42-millimeter objective will pull in significantly more light than compact binoculars.

Overall, both 8×42 and 10×42 options are great general purpose binoculars for hunting. Here are some great options with these specifications that are favorites of hunters.

Another thing you will have to consider is how much moisture the environment you will be in has. Consider waterproof binoculars if you are in anything more than dew or under an umbrella in a rain. Especially so if you are out in the elements hunting in austere conditions.

If you wear eyeglasses, consider binoculars with a longer eye relief. Binoculars with less than a 15-millimeter eye relief could be a problem for you if you wear sunglasses as well.

Coatings on the lenses will help the binocular retain brightness, as the light won’t bounce back. Fully multi-coated lenses are the best, but coatings are available in a variety of options, and you may not benefit in your use.

Before we dig into the specifics and technical specifications, here’s a great video from hunter Ron Spomer about “How to Choose the Best Binocular for You.”

The size of the objective lens

Contrary to what many people believe, binoculars do not achieve their effect primarily by magnifying the subjects in their field of view. Rather, their primary function is to collect far more light from the subject than your eyes could ever admit and make it all available for your eyes. This function is especially important, considering the fact that most hunting goes on in low-light situations — early in the morning or late in the evening.

The size of the primary objective lens is of primary importance to the kind of jobs that a pair of binoculars is able to do. The larger the lens, the clearer and sharper the image.

Manufacturers do offer different levels of quality in lens coatings and other essential optics such as the inbuilt prisms. It’s important to invest as much of your money in getting the biggest objective lens that you can afford. And that you can comfortably carry. Models with 42 mm objective lenses offer the best results; you can go as low as 22 mm with reasonable results, though.

Understand that magnification isn’t necessarily the most  important thing

Once the objective lens collects light from a given subject, the subject is small and distant. Magnification is needed to allow you to be able to clearly see it. This is the job of the magnification lens.

If the objective lens does a poor job of collecting light, though, the magnification will likely be no good. In general, binoculars should have eightfold magnification. Binocular makers usually express objective lens and magnification numbers next to each other in form 8×42 or 6×22.

High-tech lens coatings

Every major manufacturer of hunting binoculars offers lenses that are coated in special formulations for enhanced capability. These coatings take different paths to offering better contrast, enhanced visibility of certain important colors such as browns and reds. It also makes the obstructions posed by foliage less bothersome. You need to do some research into the significance of the coatings offered on each pair of binoculars that you come by.

Important added features

From rangefinder displays that offer distance readouts to comfortable eye cups for hunters who wear glasses and fog proof constructions, quality binoculars come with a number of important features that can make your life easier in the field.

Finding the best deer hunting binoculars

Deer hunting is carried out in two kinds of environments — in the woods and in open fields. This can make buying a pair of binoculars somewhat difficult. You can decide between getting large, objective lenses for the low-light conditions present in the woods, and ones with small lenses, but powerful magnification for the long-distance stealth required in wide open areas. In general, you can’t go wrong with 42 mm lenses and 8x magnification when looking for the best binoculars for hunting deer.

These basic rules apply to any hunting situation. If you need to go after fowl, you don’t particularly need great low-light performance. Instead, you need powerful magnification. You also need something that’s relatively compact and light, considering that you need to spend hours holding up your binoculars.

Knowing this should equip you with the knowledge you need to make the best decision to find the best hunting binoculars for you.