Best Binoculars Less Than $500: We Check Out the High Quality Optics Available in 2018

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Binos Less Than 500

What’s the best thing about this price range?

Every hunter will find a pair of binos that more than fits their needs – it’s the number one attraction of this budget category.

Forget the overpriced costs, exacting preciseness, and trumped-up marketing gimmicks. All you want is dependability, high quality, and durability for the field.

This price range can literally dish it all!


2017’s Best Hunting Binoculars Under $500

This is the price range that the majority of hunters will shop in, and sometimes, no more than this is needed.

Entry level hunters who want to start out with a dependable binocular will typically be attracted to this budget range. Even experienced bino users often find that they don’t need the trappings that the expensive one’s tout. This is going to be a category that pleases all hunters of all skill levels.

And, for $300 to $500, you’re going to see an upgrade in quality compared to lower budget binoculars. Specifically, image, build, and coating quality. Unless you have fastidious taste, you’d be hard-pressed not to find a set of binoculars to suit your hunting needs right here.

tt-table__imageMonarch 5 10X42
  • Prism Type: Roof Prism
  • Glass: BaK-4
  • Eye Relief / Exit Pupil: 18.4 / 4.2mm
tt-table__imageVortex Viper HD 10X42
  • Prism Type: Roof Prism
  • Glass: BaK-4
  • Eye Relief / Exit Pupil: 16.5 / 4.2mm
tt-table__imageNikon Monarch 7 8X42 ATB
  • Prism Type: Roof Prism
  • Glass: BaK-4
  • Eye Relief / Exit Pupil: 17.1 / 5.3mm
tt-table__imageZeiss Terra ED 10X42
  • Prism Type: Schmidt-Pechan Prism
  • Glass: Schott ED
  • Eye Relief / Exit Pupil: 14 / 4.2mm
tt-table__imageSteiner Predator 10X42
  • Prism Type: Roof Prism
  • Glass: BaK-4
  • Eye Relief / Exit Pupil: NA / 4.2mm



Our 4 Top Binoculars Less Than $500 (+ 1 Honorable Mention)


Nikon Monarch 5 10X42

Nikon 7577 MONARCH 5 10x42 BinocularSaying that this Nikon Monarch 5 10X42 is a favorite among hunters still wouldn’t do this bino any justice. So, maybe telling you that it was the number one Nikon binocular listed in Amazon’s 100 Top Best Binocular Seller’s List might add some weight to its reputation.

At around $300, you’re getting a heck of a lot of upgrades… ED Glass, Eco-Glass, Dielectric coatings, HighPoint design…

Just with this one sentence, it’s already met the criteria to make the top hunting binoculars in this price range, and still there’s more! If you’re shopping for value, you’re going to get the best bang for your buck with the ever-reliable Nikon binocular.

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Vortex Viper HD 10X42

Vortex Optics Viper HD 10x42If you’re easily impressed by ratings, then this $500 Vortex Viper HD 10X42 will blow you away! But, don’t expect me to give up that info so easily… you’re going to have read our full review of the binocular to find out how it did with other hunters.

As a teaser, this Viper deserves its spot for meeting every criteria of the standard we had in place for high budget binoculars. It has the HD Lens Elements, XR Fully Multi-Coated, Dielectric prism coatings, and phase correction coatings that hand over unbeatable image quality on a silver platter.

But, it also has a locking diopter piece! No more accidental shifts and bumping out of focus. Since this isn’t something we see very often, even on high budget binos, this is the one thing that just had me tickled into giving it a spot to be featured.

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Nikon Monarch 7 8X42 ATB

nikon-monarch-7-8x42-atbIf you are willing to spend less than $100 more, the Nikon Monarch 7 8X42 ATB (All-Terrain Binocular) has everything the Monarch 5 above has, plus some! With multi-setting click stop rubber eyecups, an extremely wide field of view, and the ATB designation, this Nikon is irresistible.

Nikon shines in the under $500 price range so to get the scoop on what bino could suit your hunting style, you might want to check out some of the other binoculars in their line-up before you make your final decision.

But, if you have 500 clams to spend you can’t go wrong with the Monarch 7 – and as a bonus, you will even get some change!

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Zeiss Terra ED 10X42

Zeiss Terra 10x42 ED BinocularsThe Zeiss Terra ED 10X42 deserves a spot for its Schmidt-Pechan prism assembly with ED glass and excellent close focus distance. It’s also worth mentioning that it comes in well under price, in fact this sweet bino is closer to the $300 price range – for a Zeiss!

For a fully waterproof and fog-proof binocular housed in durable rubber armor, and from a renowned optics brand such as Zeiss this is an absolute steal… But, there is a reason the Terra is so affordable – it’s made in China. So, does that affect the quality and should it influence your decision of whether or not to invest in this optic? You will have to check out our detailed review to find out.

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Honorable Mention

The Steiner Predator 10X42 just barely missed a spot, but it deserves a mention for its CAT coatings, fully multi-coated lenses, and N2 Injection System technologies. It also features an integrated Fast-Close-Focus center wheel on a Makrolon housing chassis.


What to Look for in a Binocular in This Price Range?

You’re still playing around with a lot of money when you’re shopping around and below 500 bucks. The key to choosing the right binocular is being able to discern the right pick of the litter. Some binos will offer it all, and others, not so much. Some manufacturers will focus in on one quality feature, where others will spread the quality around with several features.

For instance, you may have a feature-basic unit, but it’s been constructed with the best glass there is. Another binocular may offer a fancy gadget here and a fancy feature there, but there’s not really anything “high quality” about it as a whole. Let’s take a peek at what you want to look for when shopping this price range.

  • Glass: The higher the quality, the better.
  • Coatings: The more, the better. Additional prism-specific coatings should also be expected in this price range.
  • High power 10X42: You want to make sure you get accurate distances with these binoculars by being brand-specific. Going higher-powered in this price range may result in poorer image quality.
  • Eye relief 13-18 mm: Ensure your investment is comfortable to glass with.
  • Exit pupil 3-5 mm: Smaller than 3 mm? Expect to lose out on a lot of light-gathering potential.
  • Quality Warranty: If you’re spending the best of what you can afford, ensure you have a warranty to match the quality of your investment.


Make the Most of Your Buy!

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re spending $20 or $500, you still want the best of what you can afford. Focusing in on what matters to you most, be it glass, durability, or handleability, it will be the key to a well-informed buy.

This price category offers every hunter an activity-specific binocular. You don’t have to spend more to get the most out of your buy. Just stay on target, stay on budget, and you’ll be one happy Glasser!


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