7 Best Binoculars For Hunting: Top Glass

by David Lane

July 19, 2022

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While most of us live and die by the phrase “buy once, cry once” sometimes you just need something cheap that will get the job done.

Be it because you’ve bought once and cried once too hard on the rest of your gear or be it because you just don’t want to invest rent money into this year’s hunt, here are the best Hunting Binoculars!

Best Hunting Binoculars

Maven C.1 10x42mm
  • Small and easy to pack
  • Great, bright glass
  • Rugged
  • Amazing value
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Leupold BX-1 Rogue 10x25mm
  • Lightweight
  • Good glass
  • Budget friendly
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Vortex Diamondback HD 10x50
  • Budget friendly, high value
  • Better than average glass
  • Amazing warranty
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Maven B.5 10x56mm
  • Outstanding glass
  • Super bright
  • Easy to hold
  • No eye strain
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Bushnell Forge 15x56mm
  • Extra zoom
  • Very well built
  • Lots of extras included
  • Ready for bad weather
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Bushnell Fusion X 10x42mm
  • Affordable LRF/bino
  • Get accurate ranges and make better shots
  • Good glass
Check Price
Sig Sauer Kilo 10k-ABS 10x42mm
  • Complete ballistic solution given in the reticle
  • Gives FPS and energy at target
  • Great glass
  • Well built
Check Price

Best Hunting Binoculars

  1. Maven C.1 10x42mm
  2. Leupold BX-1 Rogue 10x25mm
  3. Vortex Diamondback HD 10×50
  4. Maven B.5 10x56mm
  5. Bushnell Forge 15x56mm
  6. Bushnell Fusion X 10x42mm
  7. Sig Sauer Kilo 10k-ABS 10x42mm

Best Hunting Binocular Reviews

Now we’ve had an overview and looked at our list, so let’s take time to individually review each item. In this section we’ll be revisiting our specs, speaking about the product, and looking at the pros and cons.

1. Maven C.1 10x42mm

Maven C.1 10x42mm

Maven C.1 10x42mm

Compact, durable, and with some of the best glass within it’s price point — Maven C.1 delivers a great set of binos that are perfect for taking with you on a long stalk.

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  • Durability A
  • Glass Clarity A
  • Features A+
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A+

Reviewed by David Lane

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Maven C.1 10x42mm Specs

  • Magnification/Obj. Lens 10x42mm
  • Exit Pupil 5.25mm
  • Twilight Factor 20.5
  • Prism Type Schmidt-Pechan
  • Close Focus 5.9 Feet

Maven C.1 10x42mm Review

I love a good pair of compact, easy-to-use, powerful binos. From pre-hunting scouting trips to the hunt itself to just keeping it with you for fun, a nice set of small binos are awesome to have.

The C.1 from Maven comes in a range of magnifications but the 10x is the one I like best. I’ll go into why down in the Buyer’s Guide.

Sold directly from Maven these punch way above their price point with some outstanding glass, super strong durability, and great little features.

Something I love about every pair of Mavens I’ve tried is the edge-to-edge clarity is incredible and the colors are super bright. Even with only having a 42mm objective lens, the C.1 has the brightness and contrast that beats most 50mm binos.

One thing most people don’t think about is how you secure your binos to your body. If you don’t already have a strap or harnesses that you like, you’re still covered because Maven includes a great neck strap in the box. It’s comfy, strong, and doesn’t get in the way.

If you’re looking for a great do-all set of binos that won’t slay your wallet, these win by a long shot in my book.

Maven C.1 10x42mm Pros and Cons

  • Best in class glass
  • Compact but sturdy
  • Very bright
  • Often back-ordered

Maven C.1 10x42mm Deals

2. Leupold BX-1 Rogue 10x25mm

Leupold BX-1 Rogue 10x25mm

Leupold BX-1 Rogue 10x25mm

When it’s drip or drown even inna woods, looks count for something. Small, lightweight, easy to use, and looks cool. What’s not to love.

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  • Durability A
  • Glass Clarity B+
  • Features B
  • Ergonomics B
  • Value A-

Our Grade

B+

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

B

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Leupold BX-1 Rogue Specs

  • Magnification/Obj. Lens 10x25mm
  • Exit Pupil 2.4mm
  • Twilight Factor 15.8
  • Weight 12 oz
  • Prism Type Porro BaK-4
  • Minimum Focus 14 Feet

Leupold BX-1 Rogue 10x25mm Review

Small, compact, lightweight, cheap — all great things to have when you’re looking for an EDC type of binos.

I wouldn’t love to use these as my one and only pair if you’re glassing for game, but it’s better than nothing. For scouting trips or just keeping with you as a backup pair, these fit the bill pretty well.

Mostly though, they’re cheap. This is the least expensive set of binos that I’ve found that are good enough to do what you need to do when hunting.

They won’t make glassing easy, they will tire your eyes out, and you might miss well-hidden animals, but they get the basics done and will start you off right.

The 25mm objective lens holds them back in the brightness department and limits their usefulness during the twilight hours, but the better grade prism and glass than what is normally found at this price level help redeem them. 

If possible, these work best when the sun is bright out.

Leupold BX-1 Rogue Pros and Cons

  • Price/value ratio is awesome
  • Budget-friendly
  • What you need and nothing more
  • Not as bright as it could be

Leupold BX-1 Rogue Deals

3. Vortex Diamondback HD 10×50

Vortex Diamondback HD 10x50

Vortex Diamondback HD 10×50

Armored with the best warranty in the business, Vortex is often the go-to choice for anyone prone to dropping their kit. The Diamondback is a great choice not only for that but for the high value you get out of it also.

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  • Durability A
  • Glass Clarity B+
  • Features B+
  • Ergonomics A
  • Value A

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by David Lane

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A+

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Vortex Diamondback Specs

  • Magnification/Obj. Lens 10x50mm
  • Exit Pupil 5mm
  • Twilight Factor 22.4
  • Weight 30 oz
  • Prism Type Porro
  • Minimum Focus 6 Feet

Vortex Diamondback HD 10×50 Review

Vortex almost always delivers a lot of value in their products and the Diamondback line is a prime example of that. These aren’t the most amazing set of binos you’ll ever use, but they’re a great price and they work great. Plus, that Vortex warranty is always there for you.

50mm objective helps these gather a lot of light and makes them surprisingly bright to use.

I use these for birding rather often because of the 6-foot minimum focus, perfect for getting close to something and seeing it in even more detail. 

They are a little heavy for their size but not in a crippling way, the shell is easy to hold on to and the provided neck strap is decently comfy.

Nothing about the Diamondback feels super-premium or like it punches way outside what you paid for it, but it’s a solid all-around Goldilocks set of binos.

If you can find a pair on sale or especially if you grab a refurbished set (Vortex fully warranties even their factory refurbs!) this is a great deal and a lot of value.

Vortex Diamondback HD Pros and Cons

  • Best warranty on the market
  • Very bright for its specs
  • Not going to break your wallet
  • Kind of heavy

Vortex Diamondback HD Deals

4. Maven B.5 10x56mm

Maven B.5 10x56mm

Maven B.5 10x56mm

56mm objective lens, Japanese glass, and a rock-solid housing — the B.5 from Maven is a long-range shooter’s dream set of binos that don’t skimp in any way while still being way more affordable than many other brands.

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  • Durability A
  • Glass Clarity A+
  • Features A+
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A+

Reviewed by David Lane

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A+

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Maven B.5 10x56mm Specs

  • Magnification/Obj. Lens 10x56mm
  • Exit Pupil 5.6mm
  • Twilight Factor 23.7
  • Weight 45 oz
  • Prism Type Abbe-Koenig
  • Minimum Focus 9.8 Feet

Maven B.5 10x56mm Review

I’ve used my set of B.5 binos at least two or three times a month for almost two years now. These have been my go-to set of spotting binos for the entire NRL22 season and have even come with me to multiple NRL22X matches.

Granted, the range for NRL22 is normally 100 yards, but NRL22X gets up to 300-400 yards.

Spotting .22 LR hits on steel at 300-400 yards is not easy. Like, not remotely easy.

The only way I’ve been able to do it consistently is because these are a great set of binos.

Not only is the glass super bright, has amazing color, and just feels great to use — but they are also one of the easiest pairs I’ve ever tried. 

Even with sitting behind these for 8+ hours at a time spotting for other shooters, I’m left with almost zero eye strain at the end of the day. The only other set of binos I’ve been able to do that with is a friend’s $3,500 set of Swarovski binoculars.

For about half the price of his binos, these Maven B.5s are jaw-droppingly amazing.

I’ve only taken mine into the field to glass animals a few times since these normally live in my competition bag, but the experience was exactly what I expected. The B.5s performed amazingly and seeing animals was much easier because of it.

Maven B.5 10x56mm Pros and Cons

  • Amazing Japanese glass
  • Top tier prism
  • Super bright
  • thicc like oatmeal – is heavy

Maven B.5 10x56mm Deals

5. Bushnell Forge 15x56mm

Bushnell Forge 15x56mm

Bushnell Forge 15x56mm

When you’re working at long distances like across mountain passes or canyons, sometimes you just need a little extra power in your pocket. The Bushnell Forge is an outstanding choice for anyone looking to reach out.

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  • Durability A+
  • Glass Clarity A+
  • Features A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A+

Reviewed by David Lane

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B

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Bushnell Forge 15x56mm Specs

  • Magnification/Obj. Lens 15x56mm
  • Exit Pupil 3.7mm
  • Twilight Factor 29.0
  • Weight 51 oz
  • Prism Type Abbe-Koenig
  • Minimum Focus 12 Feet

Bushnell Forge 15x56mm Review

Living in the west when I glass for game I’m normally looking at fairly long distances. 200 yards is a minimum with 600-1,000 yards not being uncommon at all.

Of course, I would never take a shot at that distance — but that’s why I’m glassing. Find the animal, get in close, and take a shot.

With all of that, I like to have a little extra in the magnification department. 

The 15x56mm Forge gives you a ton of light to work with making things bright and clear. The 15x magnification gives you a ton of detail and lets you really pick out what you’re trying to look at.

Edge-to-edge looks great and the colors are almost perfect.

From spotting hits on steel at 1,000 yards to glassing for mule deer at 800+ yards, these are a great pair of binos and I’ve really come to love them.

What blows my mind about them is just how inexpensive they are on top of everything. Now honestly, Bushnell sent these to me a couple of years ago for testing. After I used them I looked up how much they cost and it’s literally half what I was expecting.

Since their first use, they’ve become my go-to set of binos for spotting long-range shooting and for looking for game in the field.

If you’re looking for a great pair of binos, Bushnell’s Forge line is incredible.

Bushnell Forge 15x56mm Pros and Cons

  • Lots of magnification and light collection
  • Top-tier glass is super clear
  • Near perfect colors
  • Heavy
  • Hard to use without a tripod or other support

Bushnell Forge 15x56mm Deals

6. Bushnell Fusion X 10x42mm

Bushnell Fusion X 10x42mm

Bushnell Fusion X 10x42mm

Every hunter should have a laser rangefinder on a hunt, make your day easier by combining your LRF and your binos! This can get expensive fast, but the Fusion from Bushnell keeps the price reasonable. 

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  • Durability A
  • Glass Clarity B+
  • Features A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Value A

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 1 Reviews

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Bushnell Fusion X Specs

  • Magnification/Obj. Lens 10x42mm
  • Exit Pupil 4mm
  • Twilight Factor 20.5
  • Weight 35 oz
  • Prism Type Roof BaK-7
  • Minimum Focus 21 Feet

Bushnell Fusion X 10x42mm Review

Combining your LRF and binos into one set of kits is great and something that I love to use. But doing that is either very expensive or gives you a crapy set of binos and a near-worthless LRF.

The Bushnell Fusion X is the very rare exception to that rule. 

That said, this isn’t the most amazing set of binos or the most amazing LRF either. They aren’t bad, but they are a compromise. 

As a set of binos, they are better than average. IPX7 rated, multicoated lens, bright and clear to use. Not as bright as you might expect, but not bad at all.

As an LRF they work for hunting and some mild-long range shooting. Per their specs, the LRF is +/- 1-yard accuracy and works out to 700 yards on deer, 900 yards on trees, and 1 mile (1760 yards) on a reflective target.

Personally, my experience is that those numbers are a little optimistic. 600 yards on animals, 900ish on trees, but the reflective target was more like 1200-1400 yards.

That is better than many dedicated LRF fares and those distances are more than enough for most hunters, but you are getting what you pay for here.

If you want a combo unit and don’t want to break the bank, I strongly recommend the Fusion X.

Bushnell Fusion X Pros and Cons

  • Two critical tools in one
  • No more guesswork in the field
  • Good light collection
  • Not the best glass

Bushnell Fusion X Deals

7. Sig Sauer Kilo 10k-ABS 10x42mm

Sig Sauer Kilo 10k-ABS 10x42mm

Sig Sauer Kilo 10k-ABS 10x42mm

When money is no object and you want the best of the best, Sig Sauer Kilo 10k-ABS is a powerful tool. A super-advanced laser rangefinder and binocular combo, will not only range a target but also give you a complete ballistic solution. You just point and shoot.

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  • Durability A+
  • Glass Clarity A+
  • Features A+
  • Ergonomics A
  • Value B-

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 1 Reviews

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Sig Sauer Kilo Specs

  • Magnification/Obj. Lens 10x42mm
  • Exit Pupil 4.2mm
  • Twilight Factor 20.5
  • Weight 32 oz

Sig Sauer Kilo 10k-ABS 10x42mm Review

Okay, Mr. Moneybags. You want the best. The top of the line. And you want it to do it all. So here it is, the Kilo 10k.

A combo bino/LRF the Kilo 10k is amazing in every possible way. 

The binos are super bright, crisp, clean, and clear. These really feel like a top-tier set of binos that give you almost superhuman vision.

And if that wasn’t enough, the LRF is equally incredible. The display is a super fancy active-matrix OLED, I don’t really know what that means, but it looks amazing when you use it. Never have I seen a reticle and printed information be so easy to read when displaced like this.

And to kick it up, even more, the ABS software does everything. From reading the local environment to pairing with a Kestrel to giving you a complete ballistic solution in the reticle or even connecting to a Sig Sauer BDX scope, these binos do it all. Literally.

They even tell you the FPS and KE of your round when it hits the target. This is incredibly useful so that you always know you’re taking a ballistically ethical shot. No more guesswork, ever.

One last feature that I’ve really fallen in love with is the Kilo series now pairs with your phone when using the Basemap app. The app is a hunting app like OnX that shows you information about what land you’re on or looking at, but it goes one point further and lets you drop pins as well.

Simply use the Kilo 10k to range a spot in the real world and it will drop a pin for that location on your Basemap app.

Need to mark a trail? Drop a pin. Mark an animal? Drop a pin. Mark you camp or truck? Drop a pin.

I love old-school land nav with a map and compass, but this technology is a huge time saver and a major improvement to safety when you’re out in the wild.

The downside? The Kilo 10k ABS runs around $2,400. Ouch.

Worth it? If you’re going for big-time hunts or spend multiple weeks out of the year in the field, I strongly recommend this piece of kit.

Sig Sauer Kilo 10k-ABS Pros and Cons

  • Amazing glass
  • Unbeatable ballistic software
  • Outstanding display
  • More computing power than the moon landing
  • Very expensive
  • Wish it was 50mm

Sig Sauer Kilo 10k-ABS Deals

Buyer’s Guide For The Best Hunting Binoculars

Binos for hunting are normally used for two main goals — scouting out animals and scouting routes to take.

Depending on where and what you hunt you might not need binos or you might need a really good pair. Personally, my hunting is done entirely in the western USA so binos are a hard must-have for me.

If you’re using binos to find game you’ll want the best you can afford. Glass quality is huge when it comes to seeing animals that don’t want to be seen. Once you do see them, you’ll need to get a good enough look at them to make sure they’re legal.

That second part is a lot harder than it sounds for some types of game.

To scout out routes, taking cheaper and lower quality binos are normally fine. If you already have a nice pair, there’s no reason to get a second one.

But if you’re spotting game with a spotting scope or are hunting in an area that won’t require magnification, a cheap pair of binos is still nice to have with you just in case.

Important Parts & Names

Magnification and Objective Lens are the two big numbers that every pair of binos lists. “10×50” or “8×42” means the binos will magnify what you see by 10x or 8x.

The second number, 50 and 42 in our case, is the size of the objective lens in millimeters. 

More is better, but bigger adds weight and cost as well.

Glass Coatings – are critical to the function and quality of optics these days. Good coatings can make cheap glass work a lot better, bad coatings can ruin amazing glass. 

That said, what coatings are best and what they actually do is hard to define. Most of the coatings are proprietary secrets and manufacturers are closed-lipped about what they actually are and what they actually do.

Generally speaking, more coatings is more good.

Something you’ll see a lot is “multi-coated” as the term used most often. 

What that means is a bit of a guessing game, however, generally, it means that there are coatings for at least anti-reflection, scratch-resistant, water repellent, and UV. 

Other coatings can include anti-blue light, coatings to reduce chromatic aberration, anti-fog, and more.

Glass Quality – is the biggest cost and biggest feature of any optic. The “quality” covers 3 main things people look at to judge, brightness, color, and coatings.

Coatings we just covered, brightness is how much light gets transferred through the optic, and the color is normally how “true” the colors are to real life. 

Lower grades of glass or weird coatings can affect the colors you see. When you’re looking for a dark-furred critter against a background of the dark forest, seeing the truest colors is important.

Exit Pupil – is the diameter of light that comes out of the rearmost lens. This is the light you actually see. This is also important because of biology. 

Basically, bigger is better — most of the time.

During the day, human pupils are normally around 2-4mm, in low light, they grow to 4-8mm when dilated. This is good info to keep in mind because if you’re hunting exclusively in the full brightness of day, getting the largest exit pupil isn’t critical.

But since most of us are at least glassing in the early or late light, a larger exit pupil is very nice to have.

Twilight Factor – is a bit outdated, but a lot of people want to know about it so I’ve included it here.

Back in the old days, the twilight factor was a way to judge and quantify how well an optic would do in low light. 

First, you multiply the magnification by the objective lens size, then you find the square root of that number. That result is the “twilight factor” of the optic.

These days this number is simply wrong, most of the time. Because of glass quality and coating advancement, this mechanically set number isn’t as true as it once was. An optic can have a high twilight factor but fare poorly in low light because the glass quality and coatings are cheap.

Likewise, an optic with a lower twilight factor can do better than its number suggests because it uses great coatings.

Personally, I ignore this number. But since some people still want to know it, I include it.

Roof Vs. Porro Prism – isn’t so much of a choice that needs to be made but more of a technical explanation behind how the binos work. If you’re buying without looking, knowing what kind of prism is nice so you can have an idea of what to expect.

Prisms are pieces of glass that the light travels through after passing through the objective lens and before being focused on the exit pupil.

Light moving through the prisms is how we get the light to do what we need it to do, this includes magnification and reorientation. 

Binos with Porro prisms are easy to recognize because there will be a large step in their housing. They are also the oldest and cheapest style of prisms.

Since these are cheaper to make you often see them in lower-grade binos, but not always.

Mechanically, they can result in a better 3D image and a wider field of view.

Roof prisms are more streamlined, but actually more complex to make. They don’t require the zig-zag that Porro prisms do so Roof prism binos can be made smaller, more compact, and lighter weight.

The upsides, other than being smaller and lighter, is that Roof prisms can give a brighter image and allow for higher magnification.

When we’re looking at higher-end optics, there are a couple of other terms you might want to know. BaK-4, Abbe Koenig, and Schmidt Pechan.

BaK-4 – is a type of glass that is a higher grade than what is very commonly used. If you see it listed, it’s a good thing.

Abbe-Koenig and Schmidt-Pechan – are two types of roof prisms. Schmidt-Pechan is the cheaper to produce and far more common. Abbe-Koenig is much more expensive to make and is only produced by 6 brands in the world, although other brands buy Abbe-Koenig prisms from those 6 to make their own binos.

Swarovski, Docter/Noblex, Zeiss, Sig Sauer, Optolyth, and Leupold are the only brands that make them in-house.

Abbe-Koenig prisms are better than Schmidt-Pechan and provide better light transmission, you often see them paired with a larger objective lens to take advantage of that.

Minimum Focus – is simply how close you can focus on. 13 feet means an object 13 feet away from you can be brought into focus. 24 feet means the shortest distance the binos can focus is 24 feet. This one is pretty straightforward.

For shooting, this number isn’t important since no one is using binos to spot hits at 10 feet.

But if you want to use these for some bird watching or something, this number might matter to you.

What Matters To You

What kind of binoculars you need depends on what kind of hunting you do.

If you’re in the woods with a max range of 50-100 yards, you probably don’t need binoculars at all. But an inexpensive pair to keep with you just in case, won’t hurt.

More normally, you likely are doing some kind of hunting that warrants binoculars where you’re either looking for game from 100-1,000 yards and/or you need to scout locations to move to, camp at, and otherwise get around in, your area.

This is where binoculars really shine.

First, think about how far you’ll likely be using your binoculars. If your max is 300 yards, you can get away with a mid-tier set that won’t break the bank.

If you plan on glassing longer distances, one of the higher-tier sets will serve you much better with the increase in glass quality.

How long per day you’ll be using the binoculars is a huge factor also. The longer you plan on being behind the glass, the more you’ll want the better glass to work with. Well-made, expensive glass means a lot less eye strain and that really adds up over the course of a day.

What time you’ll be glassing is important also. Mid-day only or mid-day mostly means a smaller objective lens will be fine. But if you’re looking to use your binoculars during the morning or late afternoon, you’ll want the light-gathering power of a larger objective lens.

What Magnification To Choose

This is an important topic, you can tell because I put it in its own section.

Most of the binoculars on this list come in multiple flavors of at least 8x or 10x magnification. Some also come in 12x or 15x.

I’ve listed the 10x versions for most of them and the 15x version for my Long Range pick. Personally, 10x is what I recommend most. However, this is a hotly debated topic.

Depending on who you ask and what you read 8x and 10x are by far the most common recommendations. There are people that will die on both hills, but I’m not one of them.

The benefits of 8x binoculars are they are sometimes a little cheaper (not often though), they normally offer higher brightness with the same objective lens, and they definitely offer a larger field of view. 

8x are also, normally, a little lighter, a little easier to use, and are especially easier to use in your hands unsupported. The downside is they are 2 powers less magnification.

Those are all powerful arguments in their favor.

I still like 10x better.

Looking at the Maven C.1 binoculars since Maven publishes really good data on their binoculars so it’s an easy comparison to make, the 10x version is 0.5 ounces heavier, has a 27-foot smaller (314 feet total) field of view at 100 yards, and 1% less light transmission.

Personally, those differences are just too small for them to matter to me and I would rather have 2-power more magnification.

As for the stabilization argument, that 10x binoculars are more difficult to hold and use, personally I never free-hand my binoculars anyway. If I’m glassing something I’m either set up in a position to use my skeletal structure to support my binoculars or I have them on a tripod. Always.

All of that said — I don’t think you’ll go wrong with either option. This is very much a personal choice and you should get what you like to use most.

You Get What You Pay For

As much as it pains us to pay it, better things cost more — normally.

You can find some really amazing value binoculars out there that punch way above their price point, but if you want the best you’ll have to pay for it.

With optics, glass is expensive. Coatings aren’t cheap either. 

While a difference of $10 or even $100 doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a better product when you’re looking at several hundred or more differences you can almost always bet you’re getting something for the money.

For hunting, I strongly recommend spending at least a few hundred ($250-$400) on a good pair of binoculars. Anything less than that simply isn’t enough to get into the good quality glass that will enable you to spot, identify, and track animals at long distances.

If you want some really kickass binoculars expect to spend anywhere from $800 to well over $2,000.

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About David Lane

Learning how to shoot at a young age in the Boy Scouts, David now spends most of his time working on or with firearms. Be it shooting, upgrading, building, tinkering, or writing about them -- sharing his passion and knowledge of firearms with others is an everyday occurrence.

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