6 Best 10x42 Binoculars in 2024 [Hands On with Pics!]

I’d daresay that the 10x42 configuration is the most popular binocular size in the industry.

It’s an all-purpose configuration that is mostly used as a handheld for everything from birdwatching to hunting and sightseeing.

Non-waterproof binoculars
Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

To pull together this list of the best 10x42 binoculars, I included a few that I own to compare cost, optics, build quality, size, weight, and more.

Here are my favorite 10x binoculars from field tested ones to drool-worthy binoculars I wish I had!

BEST OVERALL
Maven B1.2 42mm ED Binoculars (10X42, Gray/Orange)
BEST FOR HUNTING
Swarovski 10x42 EL Range Binocular/Laser Rangefinder
BEST BUDGET OPTION
Vortex Optics Crossfire HD 10x42 Binoculars - HD Optical System, Tripod...
Maven B1.2 42mm ED Binoculars (10X42, Gray/Orange)
Swarovski 10x42 EL Range Binocular/Laser Rangefinder
Vortex Optics Crossfire HD 10x42 Binoculars - HD Optical System, Tripod...
BEST OVERALL
Maven B1.2 42mm ED Binoculars (10X42, Gray/Orange)
Maven B1.2 42mm ED Binoculars (10X42, Gray/Orange)
BEST FOR HUNTING
Swarovski 10x42 EL Range Binocular/Laser Rangefinder
Swarovski 10x42 EL Range Binocular/Laser Rangefinder
BEST BUDGET OPTION
Vortex Optics Crossfire HD 10x42 Binoculars - HD Optical System, Tripod...
Vortex Optics Crossfire HD 10x42 Binoculars - HD Optical System, Tripod...

Why Trust Us?

After hundreds of hours of hand-testing binoculars in the field and at the range, and thousands more hours researching and writing about them, we feel we earn the title of experts when it comes to optics!

We purchase as many of the optics for our tests as possible, and run them through their paces to make sure they will perform at the range and in the field.

Our combined decades of experience from bird watching, sports and events, to big game hunting and competitions has been integral in putting together this round-up of the best 10x42 binoculars.

Get the inside scoop on how we test optics here.

The Best 10x42 Binoculars in 2024

1. Maven B1.2 10x42 – Best Overall

Maven B1.2 10x42 binoculars mounted on tripod
B1.2 on tripod - Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

The B1.2 took over the archived B.1 line, and I can’t say that I miss the predecessor. With a greater FOV, more light transmission, longer eye relief, and a slightly more compact body, the Maven B1.2 binoculars are a star favorite.

Pros:

  • WA Schmidt-Pechan prisms
  • Dielectric coating
  • ED glass
  • Magnesium chassis
  • Tripod adaptable

Cons:

  • Small tripod cap

The wide-angle SP prisms give the B1.2 a wide FOV of 347 ft, but you’re also seeing a brighter, sharper, and clearer sight picture. With a 94.5% light transmission rate, 20.5 twilight factor, and ED glass with a dielectric coating on the prisms, the image quality is exceptional.

It’s so clear that the B1.2 10x42 binoculars are a personal favorite of mine for elk hunts but are fantastic binoculars for hunting in general. It’s helped me spot cow ears and bull racks hiding amongst mountain brush in first legal light. Weighing in around 27 oz, it’s not the lightest pair around, but I keep these in a chest pouch, so it’s a non-issue.

Made with Japanese materials and assembled in the US with a magnesium chassis, water-shedding and scratch-resistant armor, and an IPX7 rating, it’s definitely a high-end pair of binoculars. As such, it’s worthy of its price point and worthy as the Best Overall pair in this line-up.

Available at: Maven and Amazon

2. Primary Arms GLx 10x42 – Best for Birdwatching

PA SLx VS GLx binoculars
Primary Arms GLx 10x42 (left) VS SLx 10x42 (right) - Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Primary Arms finally offers observation optics, and the GLx represents their standard of mid-range quality. I’m pleased to confirm this as I took this pair of binoculars to the shores, lakes, and swamps of Florida specifically for birdwatching.

Pros:

  • Cost
  • ED glass
  • Oversized focus knob
  • Magnesium chassis
  • Waterproof

Cons:

  • Eye relief for glasses

I’m so impressed with the GLx 10x42 binoculars. The optical quality was not what I was expecting for its low price point for binoculars under $300. The ED glass made a huge difference as it brought color and contrast on bird feathers, lurking gators, and gutted frogs. I think the photos speak for themselves.

Different to the SLx 10x42 binoculars, of which I field tested as well, the GLx model has grippier knurling and a huge focus knob that’s great for two-finger use. You will want to use it liberally to bring targets at various distances into focus.

Though it doesn’t have a locking diopter, I don’t think it needs one from my experience. It’s stiff enough that I haven’t had any unintentional adjustments. Besides, it doesn’t need the price increase from one either.

The only thing that you should be aware of is that it has 15.2 mm of eye relief. With my glasses on, my frames are up against the eyecups. I can use it this way for short and quick glassing but not for the long run. Fortunately, I can use the diopter to compensate for my vision, and I’m guessing it has about -/+ 3 in dioptric adjustments.

For birdwatching, casual people watching, hunting – you name it, the GLx binoculars have my highest recommendation.

Available at: Primary Arms and Optics Planet (use code TTAMERS for 5% off at Optics Planet)

3. Swarovski EL Range 10x42 – Best for Hunting

As one of the most expensive binoculars in the industry, Swarovski is a brand that everyone either wishes they had or brags that they have it. Though extremely pricey, there’s good reason the Swarovski EL Range binos reign as the victor choice for trophy, safari, and tundra hunts.

Pros:

  • Rangefinder binoculars
  • Tracking assistant
  • Swarovision
  • Independent focusing
  • Angle compensation  

Cons:

  • Cost
  • Heavy

With so many features to list, the real question is what doesn’t it have? The EL Range 10x42 is a rangefinder binocular complete with angle compensation, ranging to 2000 m, and accuracy to that distance within 2 m.

It also comes with a Bluetooth attachment so that you can transfer ballistic data (via app) and have the info you need to hit the target the first-time round. Along with the tracking assistant, you’ll essentially be able to your target or at least where you last took your shot.

There’s not a whole lot that can be said about the optical quality other than Swarovski delivers a tack-sharp, edge-to-edge sight picture that is the standard that every manufacturer wants to meet. However, it’s hard to compete since the manufacturer keeps their materials and processes a tight-lipped secret.

A notable feature to point out is the independent focusing system for each eye. Each barrel has its own diopter, and there’s a huge dioptric range to make adjustments, -7 to +5!

But quality doesn’t come without compromise. The first is obvious. It’s jaw-droppingly expensive. The second is that it weighs in at 32.6 oz/2 lbs. This is the price to pay for greatness.

Available at: Amazon and EuroOptics

4. Zeiss Conquest HD 10x42 – Best Under $1000

Zeiss Conquest HD 10x42
Image Credit: Zeiss

As a step above the Terra but not as expensive as the Victory, the Conquest HD is the middle ground when it comes to budget… that’s if you consider $1000 to be mid-range. With the German manufacturer’s reputation behind it, the Conquest is one of the popular binos from Zeiss to date.

Pros:

  • Schott glass
  • Schmidt-Pechan prisms
  • ED glass
  • Good dioptric range
  • Made in Germany

Cons:

  • Heavy

With Schott glass, 90% light transmission, T* Coating, LotuTech for the exterior lenses, and what I assume to be ED glass given its HD term, the Conquest HD binoculars are clear and bright. Designed as an all-purpose pair of binoculars, it’s often employed in the birdwatching and hunting fields.

I think one of its greatest features is that it has a good dioptric adjustment range of -4 to +4. For those who can compensate for their visual acuity via the diopter, the Conquest is likely to suit your needs.

Weighing in at 28 oz, it’s on the heavier end for a 10x42 but not outside reasonable weight standards.

For the money, the Conquest HD is certainly an attractive pair of binoculars over more expensive alternatives like the Zeiss Victory or even Leica Ultravids and Swarovski ELs. Though there’s good reason to opt for pricier binos, the Conquest comes in under $1000 with performance that will satisfy many hunters, birders, and recreationists.

Available at: Amazon and Optics Planet (use code TTAMERS for 5% off at Optics Planet)

5. Maven C.1 10x42 – Best Under $500

Maven C.1 10x42 binoculars
Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Maven has built a reputation that offers an excellent price to quality ratio. Without a middleman to increase the markup, Maven just brings awesome and rugged optics to the table. From their affordable and mid-range series, the C.1 is clearly one of the best pair of binos for under $500.

Pros:

  • ED glass
  • Schmidt-Pechan prisms
  • Dielectric coating
  • Polymer chassis
  • Made in the Philippines

Cons:

  • Stiff diopter

Though much is loved about Maven’s B series binoculars, the C series offers fantastic value. Still made with ED glass and Schmidt-Pechan prisms with a dielectric coating, the C.1 differs with a tough polymer chassis and is only IPX6 rated.

It was one of the very first binoculars we field tested by Maven, and it far surpassed similarly priced binoculars. Image flatness is fantastic with maybe some edge softening in the last 10% or so of the FOV. Color fringing is kept to an absolute minimum, and it certainly pics out antelope that blend in with the terrain.

The diopter is very stiff, but I don’t count this to be a negative. The silver lining is that there’s no need for a locking mechanism. Having been made with both Japanese and Chinese components and assembled in the Philippines, Maven found a way to bring mid-range quality as the standard for mid-range priced optics.

Available at: Maven and Amazon

6. Vortex Crossfire HD 10x42 – Best for the Money

Soaking wet Vortex Crossfire HD binoculars
Vortex Crossfire HD 10x50 - Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Though the Vortex Diamondback HD 10x42 would be an excellent binocular to feature here, the Crossfire HD 10x42 are far more affordable and as a result is far more popular among the masses.

Pros:

  • Cost
  • HD FMC optics
  • Fog/waterproof
  • Lightweight
  • Included accessories

Cons:

  • Entry-level optics

Technically, I field-tested the Vortex Crossfire HD 10x50 binoculars, but it’s fair to say that the 10x42 are only different in specs. As far as performance and durability goes, there’s little, if any, difference between the two.

The 10x42 model offers a wider FOV than the 10x50 and a lighter weight. That’s to be expected. In the field, the Crossfire HD binos were water-tested, discerned elk from boulders approx. 2000 yards away, and the movable parts are smooth and easy to use. It’s really good on heft too weighing in at only 23 oz.

Though resolution is excellent for close-range, you must be liberal with the focus knob. I often overshot it, and there is some visible chromatic aberration. For its low price point, I’d still recommend these as budget binoculars completely on point for what I expect from entry-level optics.

I think my favorite thing about it is that it’s durable, and it’ll definitely work for recreationists, casual birdwatchers, and even hunters. The Crossfire HD binos also come with the GlassPak case and harness, and I would say this adds value to the already low buy.

Available at: Amazon and Optics Planet (use code TTAMERS for 5% off at Optics Planet)

A Guide to Choosing the Best 10x42 Binoculars

Cost

A collection of fogproof binoculars
Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Overall, binoculars with the same configuration will not have the same price point. The cost for a 10x42 binocular will vary depending on the type of prisms used and glass elements to the frame/chassis material to the quality of the rubber armor and more. Not all binoculars are created equal.

What the trend shows is that buyers will take a chance on quality binoculars at the entry-level price point around $100-$200. People consider $300-$500 to be mid-range and anything above that is often thought of to be high-end. This anecdotal standard doesn’t always carry across to manufacturers.

There is many a good reason to learn the differences between cheap versus expensive binoculars. You’ll have a better idea of what the budget should be if you know how you’ll be using your binoculars and what its capabilities and limitations are.

ProductFeaturesPrice Range
Maven B1.2Best OverallUnder $1000
Primary Arms GLxBest for BirdwatchingUnder $300
Swarovski El RangeBest for Hunting & SafariUnder $4000
Zeiss Conquest HDBest Under $1000Under $1000
Maven C.1Best Under $500Under $500
Vortex Crossfire HDBest for the MoneyUnder $200
10x42 Binoculars Features & Price Range Comparisons

Optical Quality

Bird starting straight at me with GLx binos
Bird through Primary Arms GLx 10x42 - Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

On average, a major feature that sets apart binoculars is the optics. The glass, number of lenses, prism type, prism-specific coatings, etc. are all part of how sharp and clear a sight picture can be.

Porro prisms refract light less than a roof prism, but Schmidt-Pechan prisms bend light even less than the roof design.

All roof and roof-based prisms need a special coating to reflect light. This is a phase correction coating, and without it, rarely would it be a binocular worth buying.

ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass helps to minimize chromatic aberration (color fringing) and improves contrast.

Exterior lens coatings protect them from fingerprint smudges and dirt but also helps to repel water like when it’s raining further protecting your sight picture in inclement conditions.

ProductPrism TypeGlass TypeCoatings
Maven B1.2WA Schmidt-PechanED glassDielectric & scratch/oil resistant coatings
Primary Arms GLxRoofED glassFMC coatings
Swarovski El RangeSchmidt-PechanED glassSwarovision
Zeiss Conquest HDSchmidt-PechanED glassLotuTec
Maven C.1Schmidt-PechanED glassDielectric & scratch/oil resistant coatings
Vortex Crossfire HDRoofHD glassFMC coatings
10x42 Binoculars Prism Type, Glass Type & Coatings Comparisons

Specs

Numbers and specifications printed on binoculars
Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

In total, binoculars with the 10x42 configuration will have identical specs on paper such as the exit pupil (4.2 mm), twilight factor (20.5), and brightness (17.6) values. However, the FOV, eye relief, close focus, and IPD will vary. These are good specs to review before buying just any 10x42. 

ProductField of View (@ 1000 yards)Eye ReliefClose FocusIPD
Maven B1.2347 ft17.8 mm4.9 ft56-74 mm
Primary Arms GLx341 ft15.2 mm6.6 ft56-76 mm*
Swarovski El Range357 ft19 mm13 ft56-74 mm
Zeiss Conquest HD345 ft18 mm6.6 ft54-74 mm
Maven C.1314 ft16 mm5.9 ft58-72 mm
Vortex Crossfire HD325 ft15 mm6 ft58-75 mm
10x42 Binoculars Field of View, Eye Relief, Close Focus & IPD Comparisons

*Approximately

Build Quality

Waterproof Primary Arms SLx binoculars
Water-testing Primary Arms SLx 10x42 - Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

In general, recreationists often find themselves in less than perfect weather where rain, snow, and inclement weather can affect binocular performance. Even if it’s not raining, there’s moisture in the air, dirt that gets in the nooks and crannies, and accidents that happen in the field.

A strong chassis and O-ring sealed with a gas-purged housing will go a long way in making sure you have binoculars that are clear and keep the glass lenses intact and in place.

ProductChassisWaterproofFogproof
Maven B1.2MagnesiumYesNitrogen
Primary Arms GLxMagnesiumYesUndisclosed
Swarovski El RangeMagnesiumYesNitrogen
Zeiss Conquest HDAluminumYesNitrogen
Maven C.1PolymerYesNitrogen
Vortex Crossfire HDUndisclosedYesNitrogen
10x42 Binoculars Chassis, Waterproof & Fogproof Comparisons

Size & Weight

Maven b1.2 VS b2
10x42 vs 11x45 - Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Though 10x42 binoculars have the same configuration, they’re not built the same. This can stem from the use of extra glass elements and where the optical assemblies are placed to the material used for the frame.

Though the 10x42 falls into the mid-size binocular category, their weight will have a role in whether it’s primarily a handheld binocular or if it’s better suited to tripod mounting.

ProductDimensionsWeightTripod Adaptable
Maven B1.25.2 x 5.7 x 2.2”26.8 ozYes
Primary Arms GLx5.5 x 5.5 x 2”23.7 ozYes
Swarovski El Range6.8 x 5.3 x 3.1”32.8 ozYes
Zeiss Conquest HD5.9” (L)28 ozYes
Maven C.15 x 5.7 x 2.1”24.5 ozYes
Vortex Crossfire HD6 x 5.2”23 ozYes
10x42 Binoculars Dimensions, Weight & Tripod Adaptability Comparisons

Warranty

Internal fogging of binoculars due to water on the inside of the eyepieces
Not fog or waterproof resulting in internal fogging - Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Many optics warranties are similar in that they offer lifetime coverage. However, they’re far from equal when it comes to owner transfership, proof of purchase, or registration requirements. Regardless of cost, the warranty must be considered.

ProductWarrantyFeatures
Maven B1.2Unconditional LifetimeFully transferable, no receipt needed, no registration required
Primary Arms GLxLimited LifetimeLifetime, fully transferable, normal wear & tear covered
Swarovski El RangeLimited Warranty10-year warranty plus 5-year warranty on electronics, proof of purchase required for warranty coverage
Zeiss Conquest HDLimited LifetimeLifetime warranty with 5-year warranty on electronics, fully transferable, conditions apply
Maven C.1Unconditional LifetimeFully transferable, no receipt needed, no registration required
Vortex Crossfire HDVIP WarrantyFully transferable, no receipt needed, no registration required
10x42 Binoculars Warranty & Warranty Features Comparisons

FAQ's

How Good are 10x42 Binoculars?

In general, 10x42 binoculars are considered a multi-purpose configuration that is good for many applications for beginners to seasoned outdoorsmen. It offers steady image quality and resolution at distance with only 10x magnification when used as a handheld.
 
Other features such as optical quality, build quality, and other specifications will determine if it’s a pair that’s best suited for your application.

What is Stronger 8x42 or 10x42?

On average, the 10x42 binocular is stronger than the 8x42 configuration. It offers 2x more magnification to enlarge the view. However, 8x is easier to use as a handheld with slightly less power. Though the 10x42 is ‘bigger,’ resolvable detail will come down to the optical quality of a binocular.
 
For more information on 8x42 VS 10x42 binoculars, check out the comparison guide!

Can You See Stars with 10x42 Binoculars?

Binoculars with the 10x42 configuration will enlarge a view by 10x. This makes the 10x42 binocular a good option for seeing stars. However, while they will bring into view more stars than can be seen with the naked eye, not much resolvable detail will be had.
 
Though it has the advantage of a wide field of view to find stars easily with some magnification, higher power and larger objectives will be desired. Though a spotting scope can perform better, a telescope is best suited to the job.

Is 8x or 10x Better for Bird Watching?

Both 8x42 and 10x42 binoculars serve birdwatchers well. The 8x bino offers a wide field of view to follow birds in flight and is easier to use in the hand when image stability is a must. However, the 10x bino offers a larger view especially with birds that slow-moving or have already been located.

How do I Know Which Binoculars are Better?

Overall, binocular quality is to be judged by far more than just the 10x42 configuration. When comparing binoculars to meet your needs, other specs such as field of view, eye relief, and size must be considered. Additionally, the glass and overall build integrity will largely affect quality.
 
To learn more about the differences between budget and high-end binos, see our Cheap VS Expensive Binoculars guide!

Best 10x42 Binoculars: Which is Best for You?

Binoculars - cheap left midrange middle expensive right
10x42 binoculars - Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

The best 10x42 binoculars might not necessarily fit the budget especially if you end up spending more than you originally had in mind. However, with glass that provides resolvable detail in the conditions when you need it most, it’s worth every cent.

My personal favorite is the Maven B1.2 10x42 binoculars for its very dependable optical quality. However, the Primary Arms GLx 10x42 binoculars offer excellent optics at a price point that is more comfortable for most. If I had the money, I’d have a pair of Swarovskis in a heartbeat.

Further Reading

Photo of author

Tina Fa'apoi - Expert Optics Tester

Tina is a renowned expert in optics, having written hundreds of articles for Target Tamers over the past eight years and owning an extensive collection of optic's including binoculars, rifle scopes, red dots, spotting scopes and rangefinders. With years of experience in creating instructional videos and field-testing various optics, Tina brings a wealth of practical and theoretical knowledge to the field.

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