I will be talking about hunting binoculars, which are an essential piece in your hunting gear. It is a simple tool that helps you spot animals from a great distance. You cannot get far just by eyeballing your target standing a football field away.

Its simplicity is also a reason why it is so hard to find binoculars that stand out from the rest. A solid piece is a marvel of practical technology. Since you carry them with you all the time, they need to be rugged and portable. They also need to provide good magnification and a clear picture. Finally, they also need to be ergonomic, meaning they fit in your hands and face that is comfortable.

With this in mind, I have here seven binoculars that I think are the best pick among hundreds of others in the market.

1. Meopta MeoPro Air 10×42

Sleek and professional like the Macbook Air, the MeoPro Air’s exterior is purposely designed for fingers-over-barrel grip or one-hand operation. The focus wheel is precise and easy to manipulate even with the tip of your finger thanks to the texturing. On the aft of the focus on the center bridge is the diopter, which remains still after adjustment, although it has no locking mechanism.

The image quality and clarity are top-notch. Peering through the glass, it is nice and bright, vibrant, and no distortion to be found. The magnetic lens cover pops down when you deploy the binocular, but you can remove the caps if you don’t like the idea of them hanging in the air.

The eyecups allow for three different positions and they are very comfortable to use. On top of that, you get a beautiful nylon case for your convenience. The pricing isn’t that bad, either. In fact, this is the best value you can get in this lineup.

Meopta MeoPro Air 10x42

2. Lucid B-8

Lucid is a relatively new brand to enter the binocs market, so I did not have high hopes for them. The case that the B-8 comes with is hard-sided and cushioned with foam, not to mention a neoprene carry strap, which gives off a premium feel.

You might think that the B-8 would be as premium as the case it comes in. Well, it is not a disappointment, I can say that much. The image quality is decent, although there is some distortion on the edges and flaring when used in broad daylight. However, when it’s dark out, it performs surprisingly well thanks to the lens coatings.

The construction is solid. The B-8 features the latest twin-hinge open-bridge design. The two-position eyecups are great and there is also a thumb indent on the underside for a nice grip. It is almost too light, which causes some to question its aluminum-reinforced polymer armor. The controls are a bit mushy and imprecise, which does not give it a “premium” feel. Some people may appreciate the adapter on the front end of the B-8 for mounting a tripod.

For a newbie effort, Lucid did a pretty good job. It’s certainly not perfect. It’s far from it, but given its affordable price and performance, the B-8 is a good value.

Lucid B-8

3. SIGSauer ZULU 6

SIGSauer is known for its expertise in incorporating optics and electronics. One of their entries, the ZULU6, features image-stabilizing technology. This is similar to camera lenses as sit has a two-axis gimbal that moves the lenses in response to your micro-movements.

At 16-power, even little movements can make it difficult to keep an eye on your target. So, the motors in the ZULU6 help minimize shake and keeps the image surprisingly stable. Just don’t forget to have spare batteries and enable the stabilization.

Built on a polymer frame, the ZULU6 does not look like your average binocular. The durability is solid, but it feels flimsy. This is especially true when you look at the eyecups, which stick out awkwardly and look like they could snap right off if you’re not careful.

Overall, the ZULU6 is definitely your go-to if you cannot deploy your binocs on a tripod or any stable platform, but want that stable imaging on your hunts.


4. Vanguard VEO HD2 and ED 10×42

These two binoculars from Vanguard, the VEO HD2, and the ED, are quite similar, so I figured that it is best to group the two. The only difference here is the glass, price, and some aesthetic differences.

Both are very solid binoculars with carbon-composite bodies, so they are nice and light without sacrificing durability. The focus wheels on both models have right-barrel diopters, textured focus wheels, and you get a complimentary zippered neoprene case for your purchase.

The ED features a closed-bridge design, which was the cheaper of the two, but comes at the cost of performance. There is more color fringing, flaring, and grainy image. Not to mention, it feels lighter. It does not seem like a bad thing, but it lacks that heft that comes with a high-quality product.

The HD2 feels much more durable and has that heft I mentioned before. It also delivers better image quality. Another detail is in the diopter ring, which has a lock. The focus is also less spongy than the ED. The downside is, of course, the price.

Regardless, both models are excellent choices for those who are on a tight budget. They are serviceable and quite durable, so long as you don’t throw them out of the car.

Vanguard VEO HD2 and ED 10x42

5. Meopta Meostar B1 Plus 8×56

The Meostar has a different configuration compared to the regular American binocs you may be used to, namely the 8x magnification and the 56mm objective lenses, but that does not make it a bad pick.

The Meostar gives off a crystal-clear image with vivid colors. It performs exceptionally well in low-light conditions, which explains why European hunters love this little beast. The generous 56mm objective lenses give plenty of light and the magnification allows for a generous field of view.

The best part is that you can pick from various configurations. You can go for the standard 42mm objective lenses or greater magnification at 16x. Regardless, all Meosstars have a locking diopter control just on the back of the focus well, a solid closed-bridge design, and a grippy exterior.

Overall, the Meostar is a very solid option if you want to spot games at the first and last light. Plus, it’s not even that expensive.

Meopta Meostar B1 Plus 8x56

6. Hawke Frontier APO 8×42

The small stature of the Frontier is compensated by the performance of its glass. It is serviceable, but nothing exceptional. Peering through it, the image is bright and vivid, and the field of view is almost panoramic. It follows the standard configurations such as the open-barrel design, right-barrel diopter, two-position eyecups, and single-hinge. The exterior is nice and textured, but all the controls need some use to smooth things out. Regardless, they are precise.

Overall, the Hawke Frontier strikes the perfect balance between price and performance. It is rugged, durable, pleasing to hold and use, has solid glass, and is also quite affordable.

Hawke Frontier APO 8x42

7. Swarovski NL Pure 12×42

Last and definitely not least, we got the NL Pure. This is probably the best binocular money can buy at the moment. The general consensus is that this binocular is just outstanding. Here’s why.

Let’s look at the exterior first. The barrels are shaped that way for a reason. The hourglass helps reduce weight and allows them to fit snugly in your hands. Their shape is intentional. The NL Pure has a nice balance to it and they allow for one-hand operation.

The open barrels allow you to lock in and minimize shake. The focus wheel, albeit a bit on the larger side, turns smoothly and with precision. The five-position eyecups also produce satisfying and crisp clicks. On the aft of the focus wheel is the diopter and it is just as precise.

Swarovski cleverly designed the NL Pure to allow for a generous field of view and it also provides ample light in various conditions. The image is amazing thanks to their field-flattening lenses. The colors are nice and crisp and there is no distortion.

As you might expect, the downside is the price tag. It is not your average binocular. However, given its build quality and performance, it is definitely worth it if you accept nothing short of perfection.

Swarovski NL Pure 12x42

Leave a comment