Whether you’re into hunting deer, ducks, turkey or any other critter, it is difficult to be a successful hunter without owning a pair of good binoculars. While some inexperienced hunters think that their rifle’s scope is enough when it comes to scouting, we assure you that nothing beats good hunting binoculars – regardless if you are birding, deer hunting, or chasing other game. I was that person once. Eventually I came to realize how important binoculars are to hunting success. However, how do you choose the best binoculars for hunting if you have never had such a tool in your gear? In this article, we will try to make you more familiar with hunting binoculars, and the things you should consider when deciding which model to purchase.
What Should the Best Binoculars for Hunting Have?
Binoculars are that one tool that you will use a lot on your hunting trips, so making the right purchase is critical to ensure that you will not have any issues with them in the future. Being cheap in terms of binoculars is not recommended even though some models in the $50-100 price range might seem like a bargain – they will tire your eyes, and they will certainly not last long. The best binoculars for hunting will:
- Give you a crystal clear image regardless of the distance you are viewing.
- They are designed in a way to prevent fogging.
- The high-quality lenses they use will not make your eyes ache after extended use.
- They will not produce glare that would alert your game.
- Their depth of focus is good enough that you will not have to constantly meddle with the knob in order to focus.
If you have already explored some binocular models online, then you have probably also noticed that they come with a specific set of numbers – 10×50, 20×40, 20×50, etc. But what do these numbers mean?
The first number indicates the magnification level, while the second number refers to the objective diameter of your binoculars (how big your downrange lenses are). The latter is self-explanatory – it tells you what the magnifying power you will get to use is. The objective diameter is really simple as well. In short, the higher this number is, the more surface area your lenses have, which means you catch more light. This means a brighter and sharper view. Most models come with an objective diameter of 30mm, 40mm, or 50mm. 30mm binoculars are going to be inexpensive and light weight, but they aren’t great in low light. 40mm or 42mm has become the “standard” diameter for hunting and birdwatching, but I’m here to tell you that 50mm lenses really make a helpful difference at first and last light.
Best Binoculars for Birding
You might need different types of binoculars depending on your favorite type of hunting. For example, birding does not warrant the use of large and bulky binoculars that you would typically use when deer stalking. Instead, you can opt for something smaller – such as an 8×42. While the magnification level is a bit lower, it is more than enough to give you a good view of birds in the area.
The 42mm objective diameter keeps the product at a relatively small size – you can opt for a higher diameter, but this would result in bulkier binoculars. Of course, it is up to you to determine what the exact model to go for is – but it is generally accepted that the best binoculars for birding are the 8×42 models. You can save a few bucks and several ounces of weight while you’re out on the trail by going with an 8x versus a 10x powered set of binocs.
If you do want to level-up your birdwatching game, then you can go with the higher zoom power and bigger-lensed 10-22x50mm binoculars.
Which is Better: 12×50 or 10×42 Binoculars?
Now that you know what the numbers after the names of binoculars mean, it is time to determine what the best choice is for you. Typically, hunters opt for 12×50 or 10×42 binoculars when they are looking to make an all-purpose purchase. But what is the difference between these two, and is it worth it to pay the extra few bucks for great level of magnification, and better objective diameter?
12×50 binoculars are better than 10×42 binoculars in both magnification and downrange lens size. This means they zoom in more, and capture more light for a sharper, more detailed view. However they do tend to be heavier, more bulky and expensive.
In most cases, the 10×42 binoculars will serve you just fine. They weigh less, and the lower objective diameter offers better field of view (FoV) on some models. In addition to this, they often tend to be $30-40 cheaper than their bulkier version.
The 12×50 binoculars, on the other hand, are much bulkier. While they offer a slightly superior level of zoom, and better image clarity, you are unlikely to notice that big of a difference in the crispness of the image. The 12x zoom might sound like a better option on paper, but it might backfire when hunting in low-light conditions – you will need to reduce the zoom level in order to see well.
Best Binoculars for Hunting for the Money
There are some brands that are just amazing when it comes to buying anything with lenses – and Nikon is one of them. We have all probably owned a Nikon camera or other optics product at some point, and there is no reason to doubt their quality in this department. You might be surprised to hear that they are also one of the top choices when looking for best binoculars for hunting for the money.
We have found that Nikon Action binoculars are the best hunting binoculars for the money.
Models like the Nikon Action can cost you a little bit more than $100, and they can easily match the build quality, crispness, and durability of some of the more expensive models. The Nike Action binoculars usually come in a 10×50, or 10-22×50 model.
Best Hunting Binoculars under $500
While Nikon models are great if you are not looking to break the bank, you might decide to do an upgrade later on. While there are more expensive Nikon models, you might want to look at other makers as well. Our advice when it comes to best hunting binoculars under $500 would be to check out the products of Vortex.
We have found that Vortex binoculars are the best hunting binoculars under $500.
They are certainly on the pricier side, but you can rest assured that your money will be well-spent. In return, Vortex binoculars give you excellent durability, insane performance in low-light conditions, and the crispiest image you can get in this price range. Besides all of this, as I’ve said in my rifle scope video, their customer service and warranty are the best in the business.
Best Binoculars for Hunting in the Woods
Looking for the best binoculars for hunting in the woods would usually take you to a model with high field of view, as well as decent zoom and an objective diameter of at least 40mm. Zoom power is less helpful than “western” style hunting where you’re trying to glass at 400 yards or more – when you’re hunting woods, you want the wider field of view and crisp detail, looking for any sign of movement. If you are looking for an affordable option, then the Nikon Action 10×50 or 10-22×50 is an awesome choice. It works well in low-light conditions (if you zoom out,) has an excellent crisp image, and is one of the best models below the $200 mark.