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The secret to buying a premium binocular is to cash in on one without buyer's remorse.
For the kind of money you'll be shelling out, we can promise you no rock will go unturned, every brand will be tortuously scrutinized, and every hundred dollars will be well-spent.
Just be warned, these binoculars aren't for the faint of heart.
If you dare to venture on, do so with safety clips around your wallet if you want to make the best buy!
QUICK LIST: 11 Best High End Binoculars In 2023
- Vortex Razor UHD 18x86
- Swarovski NL Pure 10X42
- Swarovski EL Range 10X42
- Swarovski EL 42 10X42
- Steiner HX 15X56
- Leica Ultravid HD Plus 10X50
- Maven B.6 12x50
- Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD 15X56
- Zeiss Victory SF 10X42
- Maven B.5 15x56
- Maven B.2 11x45
Best Premium Binoculars (Over $1000) for 2023
Now the competition in this category is downright cutthroat. And, unfortunately there's only enough word count and enough money to pick the best of the very best.
Only the very impassioned and dedicated hunters will buy in this price range because simply stating these binoculars as expensive is an understatement. These beauts shouldn't be handled by inexperienced clumsies, but instead, they should be revered and handled with the utmost respect in a seasoned hunters leathered hands.
So, what should you expect to see with these good-enough-to-sell-a-kidney-for binoculars?
The best glass, unrivaled coatings, a provocative build, and a well-made and intuitive additional feature or two.
The Best Binocular Brands
|Vortex Razor UHD 18x56||CHECK PRICE|
|Swarovski 10x42 NL Pure||CHECK PRICE|
|Swarovski EL Range 10X42||CHECK PRICE|
|Swarovski EL 42 10X42||CHECK PRICE|
|Steiner HX 15X56||CHECK PRICE|
|Leica Ultravid HD Plus 10X50||CHECK PRICE|
|Maven B.6 12x50||CHECK PRICE|
|Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD 15X56||CHECK PRICE|
|Zeiss Victory SF 10X42||CHECK PRICE|
|Maven B.5 15x56||CHECK PRICE|
|Maven B.2 11x45||CHECK PRICE|
Our 11 Top High-End Binoculars
1. Vortex Razor UHD 18x56 – Best Overall
It’s tough to beat out a Swarovksi, but the Vortex Razor UHD offers big specs, a better price point, and performance that may only be a hair behind the Swaro. For these reasons, the Vortex Razor UHD binoculars deserve the highest recognition.
- Excellent optics
- Abbe-Koenig prisms
- Magnesium chassis
- Locking diopter
- Argon gas
- Stiff focus knob
Razor HD binoculars are decked out with Vortex’s alpha-grade optics and coatings. It has Japanese glass, ultra high-definition (UHD) image quality, APO system, and XR Plus FMC and Plasma Tech coatings. What does this mean for you? Counting tines at 1.5 miles with crisp and sharp resolution is easily done. Seeing small caliber .223 groupings beyond 100 yards – done.
All UHD models have Abbe-Koenig prisms. Yes, they are longer and slightly larger compared to Schmidt-Pechan alternatives with an 8.4” length and 42oz weight, but optical quality is at its inherent best with the Porro-based prisms.
Continuing with the trend of high-end features is a magnesium chassis, fogproof optics with Argon gas, and a locking diopter that only needs to be set once. Even with a true, open-hinge build making for handheld use comfortable, with 18x magnification, tripod mounting will improve maximum performance.
The focus knob allows for fine-tuning of the image especially needed at great distances, but it is on the stiffer side compared to the Maven B5 binoculars. If you want ultra-smooth action for applications like birdwatching where microseconds count, the Mavens will be perfect. However, many like the stiffer resistance of the Vortex Razor to prevent inadvertent changes while hunting in the field.
The VIP warranty is held as the best-in-industry guarantee, and if you want alpha-grade binoculars at cut-rate cost of the best, like Swarovski, with lifetime, unconditional protection, the Razor UHDs are worthy considerations.
2. Swarovski NL Pure 10x42
The NL Pure line is the new flagship series taking over the ELs. Given that the EL has been around forever and is a favorite of mine and the masses, I'm curious. At a price point that comes as no surprise with no relief for those of us with light wallets, it lives up to its unaffordable status.
- Swarovski glass
- Specialized coatings
- 8x42, 10x42 & 12x42 configurations
- Ultra-wide FOV (399 ft)
- Forehead rest not included
There’s a lot of talk about the Swarovski forehead rest that can be used with the NL Pure binoculars. Even for the high cost, it’s a huge shame that it’s not included in the box.
Surprisingly, Swarovski outfitted the NL Pure series with Schmidt-Pechan prisms versus the Abbe-Koenig prisms we see in competitive binoculars like the Vortex Razor UHD and even the Maven B.5 binoculars.
Rumor has it that the ergonomics have be redone including perhaps the eyepiece design too. As usual, Swarovski are tight-lipped in delivering any real intimates about their technologies. Though, some swear by its richer and sharper resolution in a comfortable and easy-to-use package.
I think given the high praise of the NL Pure line, I want to drink some of the Cool-Aid too. To experience a “practically intoxicating” sight picture sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime deal. For the money, it might very well be the last optic I’m allowed to buy.
3. Swarovski EL Range 10X42
Who other than the best to claim the #1 spot in this category? The Swarovski EL Range 10X42 is certainly more than what mere words can describe.
With SwaroBright, SwaroAim, and the FieldPro package all wrapped up in a svelte package, you'll have no choice but to bend your knee to this beauty. You'll probably have more than what you will ever need, but what heck, you may as well have it anyway.
And, with a built-in inclinometer, you know what this means right? It's a laser rangefinding binocular too! To see how this $3000+ device integrates both rangefinding and binocular technology into one, feel free to take our review as seriously as you want.
4. Swarovski EL 42 10X42
And again, Swarovski snags another spot in the top 3 with the Swarovski EL 42 10X42.
With SwaroVision, SwaroClean, and SwaroBright technologies, it's every part the above-mentioned EL Range non-laser rangefinding counterpart.
At only $2600 - yes, I said "only", you know you're getting premium quality right here. Claiming the #2, #3, and #4 spots for this category, I think you're now ready to read the entire collection of our Swarovski binocular reviews.
5. Steiner HX 15X56
The largest of the HX series is the 15x56 model. It's been widely recognized as a premium binocular for its optical quality. Having a price tag much cheaper than other comparable binos, does it really belong in the high-end class?
- High power
- 56 mm objectives
- Schott glass
- Made in Germany
- No ED glass elements
Shocking? For such expensive taste, do you dare buy a binocular with no ED glass? Honestly, for a $1000 binocular German-made with Schott glass, you have nothing to worry about. In fact, never should you dismiss a high quality optic made with the best materials just because it lacks what can be a hyped-up feature.
The HX bino has only normal and not "extra" low dispersion elements, but because the raw materials, grinding and polishing process, and quality control are A-class, the foundation of the optics often proves to be of higher quality than inferior optics with "ED elements."
To prove a point, the HX binos have excellent image quality with little to no color fringing even as a non-ED binocular.
Factors that contribute to its excellent optical system are the multiple glass coatings it has: phase corrected and dielectric prism coatings and a Nano-Protection coating that is a hydrophobic molecular coating that is similar to other exterior repellent lens coatings.
One divergent feature worth mentioning is the diopter adjustment found on the left eyepiece instead of the right as on all other binoculars. The correct focusing method remains the same except you start with the right eye and central focus and then you focus the diopter for the left eye.
The integrated winged eye shields are designed to keep as much peripheral and stray light out. Fold them down if you don't like them. The twist up eyecups do not have multi-stop positions, but they have enough resistance to stay in place during use.
After all that, and knowing there's more to this HX model than what meets the eye, it definitely belongs here among the champs of premium binoculars.
6. Leica Ultravid HD Plus 10X50
Almost everyone would understand if the review ended here with just one word - Leica. This one word stands for world-class quality, luxury glass, and priceless experiences. But, if you've been under a rock somewhere, here's what you've been missing out on.
- Schott glass
- Integrated focus/diopter
- Ergonomic features
- Wide field of view
- Specialized coatings
It's not unusual to see variations of diopter designs in premium binoculars, and these Leicas are no exception. The locking diopter can be found on the center focus wheel. Pull it out to set and then push it back in to lock your setting in place.
This design also allows for a much larger surface to make focusing fast and easy. By the way, this focusing system is built with titanium and will stay smooth, fast, and easy to use despite temperature conditions and exposure to the elements.
For a 10x50 binocular, it's not too bad when it comes to size, 7 x 4.9 x 2.7 in, and weight, 35.3 oz. With Schmidt-Pechan roof prisms, the overall length is kept compact and short. With thumb indents placed high and directly below the eyepieces, an ergonomic fit is guaranteed.
The Ultravid HD Plus series of binos have been built with specially formulated Schott HT glass. No technology was spared when it came to fitting this Leica with the very best. Multiple glass and prism coatings include Leica's phase correcting P40, HiLux System HLS, and AquaDura.
You'll see the first-rate glass quality when you see every detail of the wide 352 ft of the FOV - which is quite generous for a 10x50.
We can go on about the Ultravid all day long, but we only need to say three words, "It's a Leica." That, my friend, says it all.
7. Maven B.6 12x50
It’s tough to compete with Swarovski and Schott glass, so how did the Maven B.6 land a place as a high-end binocular? In the end, it comes down to its price point!
- Wide-angle SP prisms
- Dielectric coatings
- ED glass
- Magnesium frame
- Assembled in USA
- Small tripod cap
Japanese glass could be the reason why the Maven B.6 12x50 binoculars have such fantastic optical quality. In fact, I would dare put it up against any of the high-end binoculars in this lineup and expect that it would compete comparably.
The wide-angle Schmidt-Pechan prisms give it a little boost in FOV, but along with dielectric coatings and ED elements, the sharpness, color fidelity, and contrast are mind-blowing. They’re extremely bright and prove so during twilight conditions as I found out during field testing.
While there’s a lot of focus on the optics, the physical integrity cannot be questioned either. With a magnesium frame, metal focus knob, grippy adjustments, and a fully protected and weatherproof body, it can hold up to the demands that a skilled outdoorsman would require.
One of the best things about the Maven binocular is that it’s literally more affordable than premium alternatives and comes with an unconditional lifetime warranty. Now that’s something to put alternatives up against, right?
8. Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD 15X56
What are big objectives typically known for? Low-light glassing. What do Abbe Koenig prisms allow you to do? Glass in low light. If seeing details during the most difficult times of day is your ultimate goal in a pair of binoculars, stop shopping. You've found it.
- Open bridge
- ED glass
- Specialized coatings
- Abbe Koenig prisms
15x56 binos - yeah, they're going to be heavy, almost 3 lbs kind of heavy (45 oz to be exact). But, the extra weight may help to stabilize hand movement during free-hand use out in the field. Of course, it's better if you can mount it to a tripod to get the best glassing experience to prevent a quick onset of fatigue.
With high power of 15x and large 56 mm objectives, it's being considered as a replacement for spotting scopes by many hunters. Leave the spotting scope poundage in the truck and take the benefits of extra-low dispersion glass with HD quality with you instead.
The phase correction, DiamondCoat2 coatings, and Twilight Max Light Management System will more than make up for any loss of magnification from a spotter.
But, what is Leupold's Advanced HD Lens System? It consists of not only the objectives having fluoride elements, but Leupold eludes to the idea that the oculars may have an organic, specialized coating, too. All this fancy stuff promises increased resolution, true color fidelity, and zero chromatic aberration.
A side effect of Abbe Koenig prisms are the longer tubes, but with an open bridge design and tripod mounting, the extra length is of no consequence. Besides, this type of roof prism design is made by a very small handful of manufacturers in the world and that includes Leupold.
It has less internal reflections which results in less light loss, they're made to be paired with high power and large objective configurations, and they're designed for low-light use.
By the way, these binos are well under two grand. Now that's incredible value!
9. Zeiss Victory SF 10X42
You must notice the model name - this is the Victory SF series and not the discontinued Victory HT. The Victory SF stands for Smart Focus. What is it? Let's find out.
- ED glass
- Schott glass
- Phase coating
- Eye relief
- Field flattener lenses
Extremely expensive is an understatement, but we admit there is little to complain about, so we'll get on with it. Let's start with the name: Smart Focus. The SF feature means you can dial in for the best sight picture at a minimum close focus distance of 5 ft to maximum distances with less turning of the center focus knob.
It takes 1.8 revolutions compared to the 2.5 revolutions of other binos -a claim by Zeiss. Faster focusing means being able to keep up with fast-moving targets such as birds in flight.
And, watching birds and wildlife is exactly what the Victory SF binos are recommended for. With a wide 360 ft (@1000 yds) FOV and field flattener lenses made with Schott glass, you'll have a crisp and sharp sight picture from one side to the other.
Adding to optical performance is the source of the glass, Schott AG, ED fluoride glass elements, and a prism phase correction coating. LotuTec keeps your exterior glass surfaces free and clear of obstructions that includes oils, dirt, rain, and debris.
The Victory SF is able to keep up with today's competing weight class for the 10x42 configuration which is in the 20-ish ounce range. Weighing in at 27.5 ounces, it fits the bill.
Combine the light weight with the ErgoBalance Concept that shifts the binocular's center of gravity and you have an ergonomic, comfortable-to-hold unit that will allow maximum glassing however long and whenever the mood strikes.
Living life with the best is certainly going to cost you.
10. Maven B.5 15x56
This brand has nailed what it means to provide high-end performance for the best cost. The B.5 15x56 binocular brings this home with its low price point and performance that rivals the absolute best in the market.
- Abbe-Koenig prisms
- Fluorite glass
- Textured adjustments
- Excellent lowlight resolution
- Tripod mounting
The B.5 is tripod mountable but doesn’t come with a tripod adapter. That will be on your own cost. While there are no drawbacks about the mounting process, the Zeiss Conquest HD has a quick attach/detach mount that could make you wish that the Mavens had it too.
But in almost every other way, the specs of the B.5 outperform the Zeiss. Its lowlight resolution is peerless as it can literally outlast comparable alternatives in twilight conditions. This puts it as a top binocular for lowlight observation and first/last legal light hunting.
Seeing wildlife in the dark, spotting camouflaged antelope in big country, and having resolving power for miles that can turn your hunt towards the right direction are priceless advantages. Actually, Maven puts a tag on it, and it’s somewhere around $1500.
If you’ve wondered if biasness gets in the way of binocular reviews, you should know that we’re not biased to brands and manufacturers. If we can test out quality for ourselves, the proof is in the pudding – so to speak. The B.5s – tried & tested!
11. Maven B.2 11x45
I finally got my hands on the Maven B.2 binoculars, more specifically, the 11x45 model. It’s a big binocular with big benefits that is suitable for the hunt as it is for birdwatching. Though workable for handheld use, it can provide excellent resolution depth when mounted to a tripod.
- Optical quality
- Abbe-Koenig prisms
- ED glass
- Magnesium chassis
- Japan/USA made
- Size & weight
Even though the 11x45 is in between the 10x42 and 12x50 configurations, the Maven B.2 binoculars are large and heavy coming in at 5.7 x 7.1 x 2.1” and just slightly over 2 lbs. However, it’s not too bad as a handheld unit as that’s how I primarily used them during my field test and when digiscoping.
But I did tripod mount them, and being able to get a rock-solid position allowed me to acquire sharp focus at extreme distances.
The optical quality is excellent between the AK prisms and the ED glass providing a bright and clear sight picture with great resolution. I spotted large wildlife like antelope and elk to small, close-range targets like dragonflies and bees.
Maven glass certainly sets the bar high when it comes to expecting high-end quality for less than what the going rate is for high-end alternatives.
What to Look for in a Binocular Over $1000
It might sound controversial, but the truth is, it's less about magnification and more about quality glass when it comes to the gut-wrenching price ranges for peerless binoculars.
Overall, high-end binoculars deliver a lot of glass and have the best in coatings, build quality, and handling. Some may include lasing engines or fluorite glass. Many of these premium binoculars also come with industry-leading warranties.
|Vortex Razor UHD||Under $2000||UHD APO system, Abbe-Koenig prisms, Magnesium chassis, Open-hinge design, Large configuration|
|Swarovski NL Pure||Under $3500||Swarovski glass, Schmidt-Pechan prisms, Submersible, Ultra-wide FOV, Various configurations|
|Swarovski EL Range||Under $4000||Swarovski glass, Submersible, Double-hinge design, Tracking Assistant, Integrated ranging engine|
|Swarovski EL 42||Under $2400||Swarovski glass, Sumbersible, Double-hinge design, Long eye relief, Integrated diopter & focus knob w/lock|
|Steiner HX||Under $1000||SCHOTT glass, Made in Germany, Large configuration, Integrated fold-up winged eye shields, Diopter on left eyepiece|
|Leica Ultravid HD Plus||Under $3000||SCHOTT glass, Integrated diopter & focus w/lock, Titanium focusing system, Schmidt-Pechan prisms|
|Maven B.6||Under $1200||ED glass, Wide-angle Schmidt-Pechan prisms, Magnesium frame, Japanese glass, Assembled in USA|
|Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD||Under $1400||Open bridge/double hinge design, ED glass, Specialized coatings, Abbe-Koenig prisms, Large configurations, Advanced HD Lens System|
|Zeiss Victory SF||Under $3000||SCHOTT glass, ED glass, Field flattener lenses, Wide FOV, LotuTec coatings, ErgoBalance Concept|
|Maven B.5||Under $1600||Large configuration, Fluorite glass, Abbe-Koenig prisms, Magnesium housing, Japanese glass, Assembled in USA|
|Maven B.2||Under $1300||11x45 configuration, ED glass, Abbe-Koenig prisms, Magnesium housing, Japanese glass, Assembled in the USA|
The good news is, most luxury brands source their glass from world-renown glass authorities.
It's then processed through excruciating procedures that are top-secret and only known to them - trust me, I've tried to pry their lips open.
Getting the most practical binocular in this price range means high-end glass, premium glass coatings, and dual focus systems for those very fine adjustments for pristine image quality.
|Binocular||Power||Prism Type||Glass Type|
|Vortex Razor UHD||18x56||Abbe-Koenig Prism||Japanese|
|Swarovski NL Pure||10x42||Schmidt-Pechan Prism||Swarovski|
|Swarovski EL Range||10x42||Schmidt-Pechan Prism||Swarovski|
|Swarovski EL 42||10x42||Schmidt-Pechan Prism||Swarovski|
|Steiner HX||15x56||Roof Prism||Schott|
|Leica Ultravid HD Plus||10x50||Schmidt-Pechan Prism||Schott|
|Maven B.6||12x50||Schmidt-Pechan Prism||Japanese ED|
|Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD||15x56||Abbe-Koenig Prism||Bak-4|
|Zeiss Victory SF||10x42||Schmidt-Pechan Prism||Schott|
|Maven B.5||15x56||Abbe-Koenig Prism||Japanese Fluorite|
|Maven B.2||11x45||Abbe-Koenig Prism||Japanese ED|
Overall, a good place to start looking for the right binoculars for you is with the specifications. From the configuration (magnification & objective lens size), eye relief, and perhaps the exit pupil will provide a lot of information in regarding its ability for your needs.
|Binocular||Power||Eye Relief||Exit Pupil|
|Vortex Razor UHD||18x56||18 mm||3.1 mm|
|Swarovski NL Pure||10x42||18 mm||4.2 mm|
|Swarovski EL Range||10x42||17.3 mm||4.2 mm|
|Swarovski EL 42||10x42||20 mm||4.2 mm|
|Steiner HX||15x56||15.4 mm||3.7 mm|
|Leica Ultravid HD Plus||10x50||15 mm||5.0 mm|
|Maven B.6||12x50||17.5 mm||4.2 mm|
|Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD||15x56||18 mm||3.7 mm|
|Zeiss Victory SF||10x42||18 mm||4.2 mm|
|Maven B.5||15x56||17.8 mm||3.7 mm|
|Maven B.2||11x45||16.7 mm||4.1 mm|
Size & Weight
In this price range, it’s a good idea to upgrade to bigger and better. This is the type of quality that is needed to range far and wide, and these binoculars have the optical quality to keep up with the demand in various terrains.
Though some binoculars get big and bulky or have lasing engines in them, many can be tripod-mounted and is actually how they’re intended to be used. Consider overall weight including that of the tripod.
|Vortex Razor UHD||8.4” (L)||42 oz||Yes|
|Swarovski NL Pure||6.2 x 5.1 x 2.8"||30 oz||Yes|
|Swarovski EL Range||6.3 x 5.4 x 3.2”||31 oz||Yes|
|Swarovski EL 42||6.4 x 5.2 x 2.4”||29.6 oz||Yes|
|Steiner HX||12 x 7 x 5.6”||44.1 oz||Yes|
|Leica Ultravid HD Plus||7 x 4.9 x 2.7”||35.3 oz||Yes|
|Maven B.6||5.2 x 6.6 x 2.3”||30.7 oz||Yes|
|Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD||8.2” (L)||45 oz||Yes|
|Zeiss Victory SF||6.8” (L)||27.5 oz||Yes|
|Maven B.5||6.1 x 8.2 x 2.6”||45 oz||Yes|
|Maven B.2||5.7 x 7.1 x 2.1"||33.25 oz||Yes|
On average, binoculars at this price point will have the best waterproof ratings even to submersion. They will also be nitrogen or argon-purged optics to provide protection from internal condensation. If anything unexpected happens, many manufacturers have no-fault, lifetime warranties.
|Vortex Razor UHD||Yes||Argon||VIP Warranty|
|Swarovski NL Pure||Yes||Nitrogen||10-year Warranty|
|Swarovski EL Range||Yes||Nitrogen||10-year Warranty|
|Swarovski EL 42||Yes||Nitrogen||10-year Warranty|
|Steiner HX||Yes||Nitrogen||Heritage Warranty|
|Leica Ultravid HD Plus||Yes||Nitrogen||10-year Passport + 30-year Warranty|
|Maven B.6||Yes||Nitrogen||Unconditional Lifetime Warranty|
|Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD||Yes||Proprietary||Lifetime Guarantee|
|Zeiss Victory SF||Yes||Nitrogen||5-year No Fault Warranty|
|Maven B.5||Yes||Nitrogen||Unconditional Lifetime Warranty|
|Maven B.2||Yes||Nitrogen||Unconditional Lifetime Warranty|
Go Broke or Go Home!
Since we're obsessed with optics, we'd give our last dollar to own a premium binocular that the majority of our hunting peers can only dream about. Are you just as obsessed?
These world-class brands with their refined reputations will eliminate every shadow of that doubtful buyer's remorse.
Looking for the right features that maximize your activity-specific needs will be the key to buying successfully. However, you don't shop around these luxury brands unless you've got the cash to lay down on one. Be prepared to go broke, or go home!
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