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What's the best thing about this price range?
Every hunter will find a pair of binoculars 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!
QUICK LIST: 8 Best Binoculars Under $500 In 2023
- Monarch 5 10x42
- Maven C.1 8x42
- Vortex Viper HD 10x42
- Nikon Monarch 7 8x42 ATB
- Leica Trinovid BCA 8x20
- Maven C.3 12x50
- Zeiss Terra ED 10x42
- Steiner Predator 10x42
Top Binoculars Less Than $500
|Monarch 5 10X42||CHECK PRICE|
|Maven C.1 8x42||CHECK PRICE|
|Vortex Viper HD 10X42||CHECK PRICE|
|Nikon Monarch 7 8X42 ATB||CHECK PRICE|
|Leica Trinovid BCA 8X20||CHECK PRICE|
|Maven C.3 12x50||CHECK PRICE|
|Zeiss Terra ED 10X42||CHECK PRICE|
|Steiner Predator 10X42||CHECK PRICE|
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 binocular 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 needs right here.
Our 8 Best Binoculars Under $500
1. Nikon Monarch 5 10X42 Binocular
Nikon is well-known as one of the best binocular brands and saying that this Nikon Monarch 5 10X42 is a favorite among hunters, still wouldn't do this binocular any justice.
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.
2. Maven C.1 8x42
Not all binoculars at this price point need to be big. Sometimes, a compact 8x bino can deliver the same or better quality and performance than its larger counterparts.
- ED glass
- Dielectric coatings
- Wide FOV
- Stiff diopter
The 8x42 is a mid-size binocular but during my hands on review, I discovered that it has the power of quality that puts it up with the champs in this price camp. With ED glass, SP (Schmidt-Pechan) prisms, and dielectric coatings, it has the optical potential to wipe out its competition with color fidelity, high contrast, and sharp resolution.
Because of its “smaller” specs, it offers a wide FOV, has higher light transmission, and a brighter image. Hunting anyone? It would be great for use in the forests and thick woodlands. My field testing of the C.1 revealed that it’s also a winning binocular for bird watching and waterfowl hunting. Really though, it’s a star performer for all uses where mid-distance, moving objects, and close-focus matters. The weather can’t get in its way because it’s completely weatherproof.
Yes, it has Maven’s iconic stiff diopter – whether they do this on purpose or not, at least you’re not paying extra for a ‘locking’ feature as it’s inherently difficult to move out of place unintentionally. With all that under its belt, this daily user is just as good its larger competitors.
3. Vortex Viper HD 10X42 Binocular - Best For Hunting
If 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 binoculars, this is the one thing that just had me tickled into giving it a spot to be featured.
This is one of the best hunting binoculars under $500 on the market.
4. Nikon Monarch 7 8X42 ATB Roof Prism Binocular
If 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!
5. Leica Trinovid BCA 8X20
Yes, you're seeing this binocular in the right price class - it really is under $500. The Trinovid BCA may be small, but it's a Leica.
- Wide IPD
- Short eye relief
The Trinovid BCA is a compact binocular inspired by the larger Trinovid series of binos. It's 3.6 x 4.1 inches by length and width, and it only weighs 8.3 ounces. The small 20 mm objective lenses helps to keep the BCA bino small and portable.
But, you may be tempted to think the BCA is overpriced for its mini size - it's not. Yes, you can afford full-size binos with this budget, but it won't have Leica quality behind it.
With their world-class glass, proprietary coatings, and top-secret glass elements, sight picture quality is well above what inferior brands can provide on even their high-end and larger binoculars.
With a double hinge frame, the Trinovid tubes are collapsible to "fold" inwards for an even more compact fit in your pocket or a case. Speaking of cases, Leica does not provide one for the mini binoculars, not even a generic nylon case. You'll have to budget a few more bucks to keep them protected or in storage.
The Leica bino has an extremely wide IPD range of 32-83 mm to fit users of all ages - just because they're small it doesn't mean they're made for kids. The eyecups have a twist up design with 5 positions that stay in place even with brows pressed up against them.
They very well might be pressed up against the brows since it has short eye relief of 14 mm.
Interestingly, the diopter is located on the objective bell of the right tube. It works to focus your right eye just the same as if it was in the traditional position on the eyepiece.
Never underestimate quality from a brand such as Leica even if it comes in a small package. After all, it's designed to be ultra compact for your birdwatching, wildlife observing, and sightseeing needs.
6. Maven C.3 12x50
The Maven C.3 binoculars are a champ in the hunting field and proved to be a great observational tool for people-watching at night. With a price point that is sure to attract, the C.3’s mid-range quality will not disappoint.
- ED glass
- Schmidt-Pechan prisms
- Dielectric coatings
- Tripod mounting
The C.3 12x50 binoculars are tripod mountable, but the catch is that the objective bells are close together making it difficult to attach the adapter. Given that it’s a binocular that is best used when mounted, it’s a legitimate drawback.
But if you have an appropriate tripod adapter, you can look forward to a rewarding experience while birdwatching, hunting, and observing wildlife, people, and the moon. It has a narrow FOV for birding, but the extra power and compact size may make up for it.
With Schmidt-Pechan prisms that have been layered with dielectric coatings and made with ED glass elements, the optical experience is far beyond what you would expect for its price point.
I field tested the C3s in twilight conditions and could still see elk at 800 yards. During the early evening, spotting elk at 1400 yards and beyond was thrilling, especially so if you’re making the most of the last few minutes of your hunt.
The Maven B.6 also offers 50 mm apertures, and it is premium-grade and much more expensive than the C3s. It’s worth checking out, but for the cost-conscious buyer looking to spend minimal without compromising on anything less than mid-range performance, the C3 12x50 wins the race.
7. Zeiss Terra ED 10X42
The 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.
8. Steiner Predator 10x42
The Steiner Predator 10X42 just barely earned 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 binoculars 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.
Overall, roof prism binoculars are very popular for their streamlined aesthetics and compact size. Though not superior to the organic power of Porro prism binoculars, if they have quality coatings, they can match them head-to-head or may outperform them. The test is in the glass and the coatings.
|Nikon Monarch 5||10x42||Roof Prism||Bak-4|
|Maven C.1||8x42||Schmidt-Pechan Prism||ED Glass|
|Vortex Viper HD||10x42||Roof Prism||Bak-4|
|Nikon Monarch ATB||8x42||Roof Prism||Bak-4|
|Leica Trinovid BCA||8x20||Roof Prism||Unspecified|
|Maven C.3||12x50||Schmidt-Pechan Prism||Bak-4 ED|
|Zeiss Terra ED||10x42||Schmidt-Pechan Prism||Schott ED|
|Steiner Predator||10x42||Roof Prism||Bak-4|
Eye Relief & Exit Pupil
The eye relief is very good with binoculars in this price range. With several over 17mm in eye relief, they should be forgiving enough to keep your glasses on. Without your glasses, you can still adjust the diopter to get a sharp and clear sight picture.
The exit pupil is the cone of light that you can see through the eyepieces. This tells you a little bit about its low-light performance but not the entire story. Generally, the larger the exit pupil, the better.
|Binocular||Eye Relief||Exit Pupil|
|Nikon Monarch 5||18.4 mm||4.2 mm|
|Maven C.1||19.5 mm||5.25 mm|
|Vortex Viper HD||16.5 mm||4.2 mm|
|Nikon Monarch ATB||17.1 mm||5.3 mm|
|Leica Trinovid BCA||14 mm||2.5 mm|
|Maven C.3||15 mm||4.2 mm|
|Zeiss Terra ED||14 mm||4.2 mm|
|Steiner Predator||Unspecified||4.2 mm|
Size & Weight
On average, you can find a variety of binocular configurations in this price range. Depending on your intended applications, you may favor the compact and pocket-sized binoculars or all-purpose configurations for its versatility.
Though mid-size binoculars are great for handheld use, it’s still helpful to know if it has a tripod receiver for mounting. This is a convenient feature for extended glassing like in hunting or birdwatching or when image stability is essential.
|Nikon Monarch 5||5.7 x 5.1”||21.6 oz||Yes|
|Maven C.1||5 x 5.7 x 2.1”||24 oz||Yes|
|Vortex Viper HD||5.8 x 5.3”||24.6 oz||Yes|
|Nikon Monarch ATB||5.6 x 5.1”||22.9 oz||Yes|
|Leica Trinovid BCA||3.8 x 3.6 x 1.5”||8.3 oz||No|
|Maven C.3||5.3 x 6.6 x 2.4”||28 oz||Yes|
|Zeiss Terra ED||5.5” (L)||24.5 oz||Yes|
|Steiner Predator||6.9 x 4.9 x 2.6”||28.2 oz||No|
For the money, $500 still buys you a lot of glass. Since it’s still a lot of money to spend, check out that the warranty meets your standard of expectation before you buy. Though these days, warranties are pretty similar.
|Nikon Monarch 5||Limited Lifetime Warranty|
|Maven C.1||Unconditional Lifetime Warranty|
|Vortex Viper HD||VIP Warranty|
|Nikon Monarch ATB||Limited Lifetime Warranty|
|Leica Trinovid BCA||10-year Passport + 30-year Leica Warranty|
|Maven C.3||Unconditional Lifetime Warranty|
|Zeiss Terra ED||Limited Lifetime Warranty|
|Steiner Predator||Steiner Heritage Warranty|
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 handle-ability, 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!