July 17, 2023
Depending on your hunting pursuits, the binoculars strapped to your chest can vary drastically in size and configuration, not to mention the wide range in price tags. Fortunately, regardless of your optical needs and financial constrictions, there are a plethora of quality binocular options to choose from. Identify your needs, set a budget, and go shopping.
There are many variables that must be taken into consideration when purchasing your next binocular. Primarily, optical clarity, light gathering capabilities, magnification and cost. Whitetail deer hunters who typically hunt in heavily wooded areas can easily get by with a compact 8X binocular. On the flip side, that same 8X binocular will feel extremely under-gunned when glassing the vast expanses of the West trying to pick out an antler tip of a bedded mule deer more than 1,000 yards away. Below is a breakdown of ten different binoculars ranging in both function and cost that will get the job done across a wide variety of hunting pursuits.
If you only own one binocular, a 10x42 configuration should be your go-to as it will succeed across a wide range of hunting styles. With that said, if you are looking for a compact option to view game inside 300 yards, an 8X binocular is more than sufficient.
Bushnell’s Engage 8x42 binoculars were ideal for long sits in the Illinois hardwoods this past November. The glass was clear and the light gathering capabilities lit up the woods from dusk till dawn. The Engage 8x42 also features Bushnell’s EXO Barrier lens coating which combats water fog, and debris. For the price, this is a very impressive compact binocular option.
Price - $345
The Razor HD 10x42 binoculars from Vortex combine superb color, edge-to-edge sharpness, and notable light transmission to give hunters the edge when details matter the most. Vortex also incorporated their ArmorTec and Rubber Armor technology into this binocular to protect your investment from the elements that you will surely encounter on the mountain.
Price - $1,300
The price tag of Swarovski’s NL Pure 10x42 binoculars may sting for a while, but no one can argue with their superior optical performance. The NL Pure 10x42 binocular represents decades of innovation from Swarovski Optik wrapped together in an impressive compact binocular. The edge-to-edge clarity and brightness, even in extremely low light conditions, is unmatched with these binoculars.
Price - $3,745
Larger magnification binoculars excel in the rugged landscapes of the West when glassing at extreme distances is the norm. When using these larger binoculars, the aid of a tripod to steady your hand is ideal for picking apart the fine details of the country in front of you. The flick of a tail, twitch of an ear or glimmer of an antler tip several hundred yards away pop when using a large magnification binocular.
The 12X magnification of Burris’s premium Signature HD 12x50 binoculars are an ideal balance of magnification and field of view. With a steady hand, you can get away with glassing through these binoculars without the use of a tripod, although I would still recommend using one. Burris’s BaK-4 prisms used in the Signature HD 12x50 binoculars produce an incredibly sharp image and edge-to-edge clarity.
Price - $600
If I had a dollar for every hour I have spent glued to my pair of Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD 15x56 binos, I would be a wealthy man. Their clarity, even at extreme distances, has never let me down, and they have been an integral key to my success as a hunter and guide. Like the rest of the Leupold BX-5 Santiam line, these binos are guaranteed for life and will excel in the most extreme elements you can encounter.
Price - $1,400
The Zeiss name has long been synonymous with quality-made optics. Their Conquest HD 15x56 binoculars are no different, providing hunters a top-end option when in the market for a set of “big glass” binoculars. These binos provide optimal light transmission paired with their T* coating to deliver crystal clear, high-contrast images, regardless of distance or lighting conditions.
Price - $1,900
Rangefinding binoculars are the wave of the future, combining two necessary optical instruments into one highly advanced unit. Most major manufacturers at this point have a rangefinding binocular in their lineup that vary in function and cost. Below are four of our favorites.
Bushnell’s High-Definition Optical System headlines their Fusion X 10x42 rangefinding binoculars, providing clarity while interfacing with their ActivSync Display. The Fusion X 10x42s are packed with useful features including 1-mile range capabilities, angle compensation and bow and rifle modes. Hunters can also hunt in confidence knowing these optics feature Bushnell’s EXO Barrier technology and a waterproof construction to guarantee their performance in all conditions.
Price - $700
The same rugged reliability that we have come to know and trust from Leupold Optics bleeds through in their newly launched BX-4 Range HD TBR/W binocular. Leupold’s proven DNA rangefinding engine and ballistics software lie at the core of these rangefinding binoculars, providing hunters a precise shoot-to solution with the simple click of a button. The BX-4 Range HD also feature Leupold’s Elite optical System, delivering edge-to-edge clarity and noteworthy light transmission.
Price - $1,600
Sig Sauer’s KILO10Ks-ABS HD rangefinding binoculars are loaded to the gills with features designed to make you a more effective hunter. Onboard features include Applied Ballistics Elite software, environmental sensors, digital compass and the ability to pair with a Kestrel or Garmin device. The 10x42 configuration of the KILO10K-ABS HD binoculars also works well across a wide array of hunting pursuits and totes a rangefinding engine capable of ranging reflective targets at an absurd distance of 10,000 yards.
Price - $2,510
Leica’s Geovid Pro rangefinding binoculars incorporate cutting-edge technologies into a compact frame to include 3,200-yard range capabilities, on-board Applied Ballistics calculations and award-winning optical quality and light transmission. Depending on your intended pursuits, Leica offers the Geovid Pro binoculars in both a 32- and 42-mm objective as well as both an 8X and 10X option in both size configurations.