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Beginner's Guide: Choosing the Best Binoculars For Hunting

A passionate hunter understands why they should bring binoculars when heading on an adventure. Are you going on a distant hawking trip? Perhaps you are visiting a nearby area for fowling? Whatever your preference, this equipment piece can boost your odds of success.

This guide focuses on how to choose binoculars for hunting. You’ll learn about these device’s major features. The article covers everything from magnification to construction quality and weight. Start reading to discover more about how to choose a suitable unit with optimal performance!

Main Features to Consider When Selecting Hunting Binoculars

Binoculars are a device that features two telescopes. The manufacturers place them within the same unit. They use lenses, which puts them in the category of refraction products.

The name comes from providing binocular vision. That means you can use both eyes to view through these devices. The products enlarge a distant object or area and make it closer to the naked eye. That’s why hunters can benefit from these units. Before you pick a suitable pair, here are the main features to consider!

What Strength of the Binoculars Is Best?

The term “strength” describes the power of binoculars. That shows how many times the device can magnify the observed object. These are magnification capabilities, which vary significantly.

For example, your product could have a 10x magnifying capability. That means you’ll see the object ten times closer than only with your eyes. Imagine you are observing a deer standing 300 yards from you. If you watch through the device, it will be like it’s only 30 yards from you. It’ll be like you are in the same room!

The best binoculars for hunting should have a minimum of 6x magnification. Beginners don’t require the highest power available. The devices become more sensitive as you zoom a particular area.

Newbies might not be comfortable with 12x strength. It becomes shaky at the maximum adjustments. It requires using a tripod, which complicates the use. Beginners will appreciate simplifying things by using an average binocular power.

Objective Lens Diameter

Binoculars are essentially refraction telescopes. That’s because they use lenses to zoom distant objects. These devices place this glass material in a tube. You’ll find it in the frontal unit section. These components are small, which is why their description is in millimeters.

Here are the general pointers when it comes to objective lens size:

  • 20-28mm. These devices feature compact-size diameters. They are not the best option for most hunters.
  • 30-36mm. You’ll find these lenses in medium-sized units. They are suitable for beginners.
  • 38-46mm. These are full-size binoculars with excellent performance.
  • 50mm or larger. You use these for extremely long distances. They could be suitable for advanced hunters.

Your objective lenses won’t have a diameter bigger than five or six centimeters. That looks small, but the glass is of superb quality. That’s why this component affects the binoculars’ weight. The bigger options are heavier. Your preference determines whether the performance is worth the extra ounces.

Lens Coating

The objective lenses must come with a coating. Its task is to act as a protective layer. This can also affect the quality of the image you see in the binoculars. The component reflects the light from the lenses. Thanks to that, the glass surfaces are capable of delivering a better picture. It contributes to clarity and sharpness, which hunters appreciate.

If your lens lacks coating, light transmission might be inadequate. Depending on the unit, it rarely goes over 60%. But if you pick the right wrapping option, you can improve this to 95% or better.

You’ll find four different coating types in the market:

  • Single coating. It’s a basic option that involves a single coating on each lens.
  • Full coatings. This means that lenses and other glass services come with the right protection.
  • Multiple coatings. You’ll find multi-coated binoculars in the market. This means that at least a single main optical component has an anti-reflective layer on its surface.
  • Fully-multi-coated. These have multiple coatings on all optical components. The result is top performance in light transmission.

What Are the Best Size Binoculars for Hunting?

The actual device size affects your experience with it. You’ll probably spend hours hunting. That’s why dragging around a heavy product can be a hassle. If you want to avoid that, a light unit is a better solution.

You’ll find the size depends on various factors. The first one is lens size since bigger glass surfaces require larger constructions. Some materials are heavier but can also be more durable. It’s all about finding a suitable balance. That’s why you should pick a unit that fits your preference.

Weight

Size and weight often go together. The general rule is that beginners should stick to binoculars that aren’t heavier than 35 ounces. These are convenient to take with you when moving around. You could spend hours outside and still don’t feel the fatigue of carrying them.

You can pick heavier units if their performance merits it. Do you want heavy-duty binoculars with premium materials? They could weigh a bit more but compensate for that with the image quality.

Field of View

The next feature to focus on is the field of view. FOV is a somewhat advanced feature but important for hunters. You might assume what it does from the name. It describes how much of the area you’ll be able to see with the binoculars.

Imagine that you grab the observation device and zoom at 1,000 feet. The area you see is the field of view. FOV always depends on the magnification. If you increase it, you’ll see less environment. That’s why the manufacturers describe this measurement at a specific distance.

Hunters can appreciate a wide field of view when looking for potential prey. You can search an entire area without moving the device. Once you identify the targets, increase magnification on your binoculars. A narrow FOV will ensure you get a better look at a specific animal.

Apart from magnification, lens design affects the field of view. That’s why powerful binoculars might not necessarily have a wide FOV. It’s best to try these devices to see which capability fits your preferences.

Eye Relief

You’ll find a variety of binoculars on the market. Your goal is to find the ones that meet your expectations. That includes performance goals and the features that affect the entire user experience. Eye relief is an integral component in the latter category.

You need to place your eyes close to the eyepiece when observing through the binoculars. Depending on your sight specifics, you will position at a specific distance. This measurement describes the distance at which you can see the complete field of view.

If you move the eyes away, you’ll notice the FOV decreases. The closer you get back to the eyepiece, the field of view increases. Why is this feature important? It affects potential fatigue when using binoculars for a long time.

The experts suggest choosing a large eye relief. That especially applies if you put on glasses. People using them will find the image much clearer when away from the eyepiece. It’s also convenient if you wear sunglasses. Hunters who prefer hot days will appreciate this option.

Exit Pupil

The exit pupil is another feature for those who need advanced knowledge about binoculars. These devices are impressive. They don’t only zoom on a particular area or animal. The products also ensure that your image is bright and sharp. They do that by capturing more light than human eyes.

This measurement shows how effective the binoculars are in gathering light. An average human pupil has a 3mm diameter in standard lighting conditions. That means you require a device that will perform better. If you want to see a bright image, go for at least four or five millimeters for the exit pupil. It will ensure the picture is bright in low-light conditions. Most hunters do their business in relatively dark environments. That makes this option convenient.

It’s easy to determine the exit pupil of the desired binoculars. Here are the steps:

  1. Check the objective lens diameter on your device and write it down. You can use 30mm as an example.
  2. Note the magnification on your unit. The standard is up to 10x.
  3. Divide the two to calculate the exit pupil. In the example, it will be 3mm. That’s identical to the human eye capability.

What’s the Best Focus Type for Binoculars for Hunting?

This is another feature that affects how these devices perform. You’ll find three different types in the market:

  • Fixed focus. This is the simplest mechanism. Some newbies might find it useful since there are no adjustments. You only use them at a specific distance. The permanent focus isn’t always useful for hunters. What if the animal gets closer to you?
  • Center focus. These usually have diopter adjustments.  It’s the most frequent option in the market. Hunters also appreciate it because it offers separate settings for each lens. That’s convenient if the vision is unequal between your eyes. It’ll be easy to focus on each the way you want. Once you adjust everything, you can use the wheel for fine-tuning.
  • Individual focus. These allow you to use different settings for each eyepiece. They have some advantages. Hunters don’t appreciate them. That’s because they lose precious time adjusting the unit.

Prism Type

You’ll find this feature in prism binoculars. It involves using convex lenses on the actual eyepiece and the objective. The default working process delivers an inverted image to the viewer. The manufacturers implement an erecting prism. It ensures that it turns the picture, so you can see it upright.

The market offers two main prism categories:

  • Roof prisms. It’s a lightweight and compact option. Many beginners appreciate that since it makes transport easy. This construction is simple. It allows the lenses and the eyepiece’s optical axis to be in a straight line.
  • Porro prism. The name originates from Italian scientists. He constructed the first binoculars of this type. The design is demanding, but you’ll often find an improved field of view. The image quality is usually better. The downside is the additional weight and size.

Glass Quality

You can’t underestimate the importance of glass quality. The best binoculars for hunting usually have BAK-4 prisms. These vary in the refractive index. A reliable manufacturer of these components will ensure maximum performance in gathering light. That ensures optimal picture sharpness and brightness.

BAK-4 is short for barium crown glass. You can also go for BK-7 or borosilicate. It is a low-quality option found in affordable units. Although it’s budget-friendly, the image clarity is low. Binoculars are a long-term investment. That’s why you should choose the best possible performance.

You’ll find different glass types in the lens. Those include:

  • ED glass. It’s short for extra-low dispersion. The initial units with this component were expensive. Today, you can find ED across different price categories. Its main advantage is reducing chromatic aberration. That improves color correction and ensures optimal image brightness. You’ll also find this under the name HD glass.
  • FD glass. It’s short for fluoride. The product features extra-low dispersion but contains fluoride. That makes the performance in reducing chromatic aberration optimal. It’s a better option than standard glass.

Video Shooting Capabilities

This is an extra feature that improves the experience of using binoculars. It’s not necessary because most hunters don’t need shooting videos. However, it still sounds great to capture a video of an unusual animal if you come across it.

Some devices will have a camera integrated into the binoculars. It often offers night vision to ensure shooting in low-light conditions. The actual video quality varies. It might not be impressive, but the best units offer decent image clarity.

Do You Need Rangefinder Binoculars?

Many devices come with a rangefinder component. This part is useful and serves to improve the experience of using the unit. If you have it on your binoculars, you can see the distance to the desired target. If you are observing a deer, you can see how far it is from you.

A binocular with a rangefinder for hunting is convenient for beginners and advanced users. It helps to know the distance between you and the target. You can use that while tracking it down.

If the hunt turns out to be a success, you can use this information to brag to friends. You can say the exact distance at which you managed to track down the animal.

Explaining the Numbers on the Binoculars

Most binoculars will have an AxBB format: the “A” and “B” mark numbers. The former refers to the maximum magnification. If you see a 10x42 device, it can zoom the image up to ten times. That’s how closer the object will look than when viewing it with naked eyes. Some call this the product’s strength or power. The best description is magnification.

How Far Can You See with the Binoculars?

This is never a part of the product description. You might wonder about the distance at which you can observe objects. The answer is – as far as your eye is capable of seeing. The binoculars zoom in on the areas far away. They allow you to see better and not farther.

The second number in the item description affects the image. The “10x42” refers to the objective lens size of 42mm. It’s this component’s diameter and ensures the picture is bright.

What’s the Best Material for Binocular Housing?

It’s time to proceed to the housing specifics. The manufacturers use different materials for the base of their binoculars.

Here are the most common choices:

  • Aluminum. It’s the option that most manufacturers pick. The material is easy to acquire, and it has a budget-friendly price. It ensures the binoculars remain lightweight while being fairly durable. The substance is resistant to corrosion, which contributes to longevity. These devices often use an alloy of this element.
  • Magnesium. It’s another compound whose alloy goes into the binocular’s housing. It’s often you find an aluminum-magnesium combination. The former dominates, but only 5% of the latter improves durability. The material is light and surprisingly robust. You’ll often find it in premium units.
  • Polycarbonate. This material is a plastic polymer, and manufacturers use it in many applications. The material is cheap but stable and resistant to corrosion. The strength varies, but you’ll often find durable polycarbonate in binoculars.
  • Rubber. You’ll usually find this material as a protective layer. The housing could feature polycarbonate, but this compound on the outside. The idea is to provide protection against shocks and impacts. If you accidentally bump the binoculars into a tree, this substance keeps it safe from dents and scratches.

Using a case can extend the binoculars’ durability. If you aren’t using the product, put it in its box. That will reduce the odds of accidental damage. It extends the unit’s longevity and helps the unit to serve you well for years.

Waterproofing and Weather Resistance

You use binoculars in outdoor conditions. Those could be sunny, rainy, snowy, etc. The device should perform well despite the weather. You should choose binoculars with optimal resistance to environmental factors.

The experts recommend all binoculars have a waterproof rating. If there’s none, you can’t drop them in a pond. Their performance would. If heavy rain starts, you could damage the components and deem the device unusable.

Water-resistance is imperative for binoculars’ durability and longevity.  You’ll find different ratings on devices. The higher the score, the better protection offered.

The O-ring sealing offers housing protection against environmental factors. It ensures moisture and water can’t enter the base. Some units can even endure submerging to specific depths.

This sealing also guarantees fog resistance. That’s important to prevent the humidity from affecting the housing’s durability. The O-ring ensures that the inside remains dry.

You’ll find two types of inert gases in O-sealings:

  • Argon. This should be more durable protection than the alternative.
  • Nitrogen. Ambiental air replaces the inert gas slowly. The experts indicate it happens faster with this purge.

How Do I Choose the Right Hunting Binoculars?

What do you expect from the unit’s performance? Optical image clarity is the primary requirement for hunting binoculars. It doesn’t matter which area you are observing; you want to see its full potential. That’s why the picture should be bright and sharp.

Where and How You Hunt?

Your typical habitat will affect the binoculars you need. You could be in open spaces like sage flats. Perhaps you prefer coniferous timber and dense forests.  

The experts recommend a higher field of view for dense habitats. You won’t need impressive magnification because there won’t be long-distance observations. That’s why you should aim with a FOC that’s at least 340 feet/1,000 yards. The actual strength doesn’t have to be over 9x. That will ensure you find an animal to hunt swiftly.

As for locations with vast open space, go with an opposite combination. You’ll need binocular strength of at least 10x. The field of view can be under 340 feet per 1,000 yards. That’s because you want impressive performance at large distances. It’s important to notice the animal from far away. A narrow FOV is okay as long as you can zoom the desired area.

Are the Aesthetics Important?

Should you consider the binoculars’ appearance? The design doesn’t have anything to do with performance. Most devices feature dark tones or colors that aren’t easy to notice. That’s important for hunters not to reveal themselves to their prey. It might not be necessary if you use the product for bird watching.

The design doesn’t affect the performance. The binoculars should last for a while, so pick a unit that meets your preferences. That will contribute to the overall experience of using the product.

Final Thoughts

It’s worth investing time and effort in choosing the right binoculars. Hunters will find average magnification and field of view enough for most endeavors. The size and weight picked should fit your preference. 

Binoculars for hunting with high-quality construction materials ensure optimal durability. A single product will serve for many trips outdoors. Choosing the right unit ensures suitability for various weather conditions. That ensures maximum value for money, which makes the device a smart investment!