Skip to content

Top 10 Hunting Binoculars Under €500 in 2024

Hunters across the globe often tend to overlook the importance of hunting binoculars in their gear setup. While rifle scopes usually steal the spotlight when it comes to purchasing equipment—and consequently most of the budget with it—binoculars end up being an afterthought. 

This is quite unfortunate because, in reality, hunters use binoculars 99% of the time, while they only use rifle scopes for the critical 1% when taking the shot.

The majority of hunting revolves around assessing animals and choosing the right one to harvest, with the actual shot being just a small part of the process. This is especially true for European hunters, who might go on 10 to 15 hunts, or even more before even taking a single shot. 

I believe the reason for this favoring of rifle scopes over binoculars stems from the fact that hunters (and gun owners in general) are typically fascinated by their guns and they regard the optics as an integral part of them, and this fascination simply overshadows binoculars. They are not a part of the rifle, and so they are left in a less favorable position when budgeting for equipment. 

Those with extensive experience however—be it old hunters, professional hunters, or anyone who has been in the field for over a decade—recognize the importance of investing in quality binoculars over other gear.

This is something I would advise novice hunters as well. Spend as much as possible on a good pair of binoculars, and maybe compensate it a bit by bringing the rifle scope budget down a notch.

Even with a rifle scope that lacks all the bells and whistles you can still make an accurate and ethical shot. However, the reverse isn’t true—poor-quality binoculars make it difficult to properly assess an animal’s size, weight, and age, which are crucial factors in deciding which animal to harvest.

The following guide covers the top 10 hunting binoculars under €500. I based this list on more than 20 decades of experience as a hunter and seller of optics, and I stand behind every device listed on this page. If you think any of them doesn’t deserve a place on this list, please let me know!

How Much Should I Spend on Hunting Binoculars?

You are probably wondering why I chose €500 as the top price in this article. Here’s why…

As mentioned above, we realize that hunters are often trying to save any penny they can on binoculars to “splurge” a bit more on the main star of the hunting gear show — the riflescope. In my opinion, however, the binoculars deserve a bit more appreciation.

So what’s the middle ground? Well, I think that €500 is just about that sweet spot for how much you should spend on a good pair of hunting binoculars as a novice hunter. The prices actually start at around €150 to €200 and can go all the way up to €3,500. So, to be perfectly transparent, a budget of €500 is not exactly in the middle but more towards the lower end of the price range, but it still offers enough leeway to find a good pair that’s going to serve you well out in the field.

What Binocular Magnification is Best for Hunting?

Binoculars come in a wide range of magnifications. Some small opera binoculars start at just 3x magnification, while outdoor binoculars can go over 20x, with some even reaching 30x. You can also find budget binoculars with zoom functions, similar to those found on rifle scopes, allowing users to change magnification levels.

However, for hunting, such zoom binoculars are generally not practical. As a result, 99% of the hunting binoculars have fixed power. And since hunters typically use binoculars as handheld devices and don’t mount them on tripods, the magnification shouldn’t be too high.

This is why most hunting binoculars have a fixed power magnification between 7x and 12x, with 7x becoming increasingly rarer in recent years. Additionally, 12x magnification is too high for most people to be used without a tripod. Therefore, 8x and 10x magnification are considered the golden standards for hunting.

They both have different roles, though. Generally speaking, 8x binos are more versatile and can be used in low-light conditions or for observing distant objects in bright daylight. On the other hand, hunting binoculars with 10x magnification are typically associated with mountain hunting, especially in Europe, and are more attuned to daylight hunting.

A key rule of thumb is that quality trumps magnification. This means that high-quality 8x binoculars will always be a better choice than lower-quality 10x binoculars.

What Binocular Lens Diameter is Best for Hunting?

Binoculars come with a wide range of lens diameters. The smallest objective lenses, typically found in opera glasses and pocket binoculars, range from 15 to 25 mm. On the other end of the spectrum are the very heavy, fixed-mounted binoculars designed for observation decks. These can have objective lenses with a diameter of 150 mm or more.

The general rule of thumb is that larger lenses provide better low-light performance. However, this isn’t always true, as other factors like magnification and the quality of lens coatings also impact light transmission. 

For example, binoculars with a 42 mm objective lens and 8x magnification will offer a brighter image than those with 10x magnification and the same 42 mm lens.

Similarly, the quality of the optical design and lens coatings matter. High-quality 8×42 binoculars will almost always offer a brighter image compared to cheaper binoculars with the same magnification and objective lens diameter.

The best lens diameter for hunting binoculars is between 32 and 56 mm, depending on the use and your hunting style. Binoculars with a 32 mm objective lens are almost exclusively used for stalking in the mountains during the daytime or hunting in Africa. But when it comes to binoculars with 50 mm and 56 mm lenses, they are typically used for hunting at dusk or dawn. The “sweet spot” tends to be a 42 mm objective lens and the majority of hunting binoculars feature it.

8×42 vs 10×42 vs 10×50 vs 8×56 Hunting Binoculars

People often ask me which binoculars are better for hunting: 8×42, 10×42, 10×50, or 8×56. The simple answer is—it depends. It’s impossible to say one is definitively better than the others because they serve different purposes.

The 8×42 hunting binoculars are definitely the most popular. They are known as “all-rounders” and are an ideal choice for any beginner. Their balance of magnification and objective lens size offers good performance in most conditions. On top of that, they are also relatively lightweight and easy to handle.

10×42 binoculars are perhaps more suitable for experienced hunters who understand different use scenarios. They are typically used during daytime hunts because their low-light performance is not on par with 8x42s. However, they offer better resolution and detail recognition, which is particularly beneficial for hunting in the mountains and evaluating animals at a distance. Chamois hunting in the Alps is a prime example of where 10×42 binoculars excel.

Hunting binoculars with a 10×50 configuration are rare and are meant for a very specific niche of hunters, such as those hunting roe deer who want extra resolution without sacrificing too much low-light performance. If you compare 8×42 and 10×50 binoculars from the same manufacturer and series, the 10x50s will have slightly worse low-light performance but better resolution. However, it’s important to note that 10×50 binoculars are bulkier and heavier than their 42 mm counterparts.

Lastly, we have the 8×56 hunting binoculars. They are essentially a dying breed. In the past, they were the go-to tool for low-light hunters, especially those hunting in moonlight. They were extremely useful for hunting red deer and wild boars, which are most active during the last minutes of sunlight or at night. These binoculars offer the best light transmission rate among all configurations.

But why are they disappearing, then? It’s quite simple, really. With the advent of thermal optics on the civilian market, 8×56 binoculars have lost a lot of their appeal. For night hunting, especially for wild boar hunting, thermal optics are a much better choice since they don’t require any ambient light. Given their large size and weight, 8×56 binoculars are not very user-friendly and are likely to be completely replaced by thermal optics and night vision devices soon.

What To Look for in Good Hunting Binoculars

You need to consider a few factors before buying a new pair of hunting binoculars. These are:

Magnification Power

When it comes to the magnification power of hunting binoculars, I highly recommend sticking to 8x or 10x magnification. While other magnifications might seem appealing, all professional and experienced hunters invariably use either 8x or 10x magnification in their binoculars. This is because bigger is not necessarily better, and I assure you that you will thank me down the line once you start using them as well.

Objective Lens Size

The golden standard for objective lens size in hunting binoculars is 42 mm. Although some producers make hunting binoculars with 50 mm or even 56 mm objective lenses, 42 mm lens binoculars are the best all-rounders. While larger lenses do provide better low-light performance, they also add quite a lot of weight and bulk. For most hunting scenarios, a 42 mm lens strikes the perfect balance.

Prism Type

Binoculars use two main types of prisms: roof prisms and Porro prisms. 

You can recognize roof prism binoculars by their straight-line design where the eyepieces and objective lenses are on the same optical axis. 

Roof prisms are then further divided into Schmidt-Pechan prisms, which are compact and cheaper to produce, and Abbe-Koenig prisms, which offer better light transmission but are more expensive and less common. Fun fact: There are just about 5 manufacturers that produce Abbe-Koenig prism binoculars today.

Porro prisms, named after the Italian optician who designed them, are also quite rare in modern hunting scenarios, but they were widely used in the past. Today, they are mostly found in marine binoculars and some low-light models. For novice users, I recommend sticking with the more common Schmidt-Pechan prisms.

Optical Clarity

Optical clarity is just another name for the resolution or sharpness of the image. This can be further divided into central sharpness and edge sharpness. 

Unsurprisingly, more expensive binoculars offer better overall sharpness, but I am often surprised by the central sharpness of some of the cheaper models. They get softer towards the edge, but the quality of the central sharpness on some of them is well worth the tradeoff.

Another factor affecting optical clarity is color fidelity. High-quality binoculars should show true colors without any tinting. A good way to test the color fidelity of hunting binoculars is to take a piece of white paper and look at it through the binos. If you see any tint, the color fidelity is off.

Unfortunately, better optical clarity usually comes with a higher price tag. The more you spend, the better the optical performance you will typically get.

Light Transmission

Light transmission rate, often presented as a graph, shows how much light passes through the binoculars at different wavelengths. High-quality binoculars can achieve over 90% light transmission at most wavelengths. For anyone wondering how much is that – it’s insanely high.

It’s also worth noting that if you see a flat graph of light transmission rate, that means the binoculars have great color fidelity since light of all colors can come through the binoculars at the same rate.

Obviously, the more you spend the more light transmission you’ll get—at least in most cases. But you can do a naked test to see the light transmission rate for yourself. When shopping, take a pair of binoculars that you like, have a look through them, and then take a premium pair with the same configurations and do the same. If the light transmission rate of the binoculars you’re aiming to buy is good, there shouldn’t be too much of a difference in image brightness between the two pairs.

Finally, beware of single-number light transmission rates as these can be misleading. When you see manufacturers claim that their binoculars have a 90% light transmission rate or more, you never know if this is the integrated value at all wavelengths or if they are closing only the maximum value at one single wavelength. Usually, the numerical data of light transmission rate is grossly manipulated, especially by the entry-level binocular brands.

Field of View

Most hunters prefer hunting binoculars with a wider field of view (FOV). It is inversely related to magnification—the lower the magnification, the wider the FOV, at least in most cases.

I say “in most cases” because there are some levels to this. Optical design and quality can also play a role in the FOV game. For instance, high-quality binoculars can offer a wider FOV at the same magnification compared to lower-quality ones. And to make it even more layered, some entry-level hunting binoculars actually offer a very wide FOV as well, but that is then usually compensated by a very poor edge sharpness.

Some top-tier binoculars feature field-flattening technology, which makes the image at the binocular’s edges more “flat”, which gives an appearance of a more sharp image at the edge of FOV. This technology was pioneered by Swarovski with their Swarovision and is now used by several manufacturers, though it typically comes at a premium price. 

Focusing Mechanism

There are two main types of focusing mechanisms in binoculars: central focusing and individual eye focusing. 

The central focusing mechanism is the most common and is found in the vast majority of binoculars. It consists of a central focusing knob that adjusts both eyepieces simultaneously. To put it simply: the binoculars with a central focusing mechanism are what most people think of when they think of binoculars.

But as with most things considering binoculars, this one too is multi-layered.

You see… a central focusing mechanism can be fast or slow. The slow type of focusing mechanism is ideal for hunting binoculars because it allows for precise adjustments to get a clear view of stationary animals. 

In contrast, bird-watching binoculars typically have a faster focusing mechanism, which allows users to adjust focus while tracking fast-moving birds quickly. While hunting binoculars’ focusing knob can sometimes take three full rotations from one end to another, birdwatching binoculars might only require one and a half rotations.

Then we have the individual eye focusing mechanism… It involves separate focusing knobs for each eye, as the name tells us. This is rarely found in modern hunting binoculars but is commonly used in marine binoculars due to their superior waterproofing. Binoculars with Porro prism construction, which are becoming rare among hunting binoculars, often feature this type of focusing as well. Individual eye focusing is more complex and less convenient for most hunting situations but can offer very precise adjustments once set.

Build Quality and Durability

Binoculars are an investment, and good build quality and durability are crucial for their longevity. They should withstand extreme temperatures, rough handling, and the occasional drop. 

If you expose your binoculars to prolonged sunlight, it can raise the temperature of the key components, often causing mechanical malfunctions in low-quality models, such as damaged seals and drained lubricants. Not many know this, but this can actually affect the focusing mechanism.

Good build quality also ensures that binoculars continue to work properly if dropped. In such scenarios, low-quality binoculars often suffer a problem called a “double image”, where the optical axes of the two barrels become misaligned, causing the user to see two images. 

This is why choosing a reputable brand can be a good long-term investment. Reputable brands have a reputation to maintain, so they focus on building binoculars that last. Trust me—It might cost you a few extra bucks, but if you’re looking for binoculars that even your grandchildren will use, it’s well worth it. 

Binoculars Brand

There are many brands of binoculars on the market and I sincerely recommend choosing a brand that has been in business for at least ten years. This guarantees better customer service, reliable warranties, and ongoing support for your binoculars. You don’t want to be left in the dark if something goes wrong with your device in, let’s say, 10 years or so.

The List of Top 10 Hunting Binoculars Under €500

Now let’s take a look at the actual list of hunting binoculars under €500 I recommend. Keep in mind that I tested all of these on the field and can assure you that I’ve put in loads of work to determine their actual worth.

If you disagree with some of them being on this list, please let me know!

1) GPO Passion ED 8×42

The first on ther list is the evergreen GPO Passion ED 8x42. When the season starts, these binoculars usually start selling like cupcakes, and with a good reason. They offer a true bang for your money, and at less than €500, they are a steal.

Positives

  • Great Optical performance for the price
  • Magnesium housing
  • Extremely compact design
  • Great build quality
  • Lightweight
  • Wide FOV

Negatives

Surprisingly, there aren’t any issues I can name with these binoculars. They are genuinely a really good pair of hunting binos, and it’s really tough to beat them at this price point.

2) Alpen Optics Teton 8×42 ED

Coming from the UK, Alpen Optics Teton 8×42 ED hunting binoculars sneak into this list. Yes, I know… They are a bit over the €500 price tag, but I still feel like it’s close enough, especially if you can get your hands on a discount.

These binoculars have a really cool, modern design, and their optical performance is superb compared to the price. 

Positives 

  • Modern design
  •  Build quality
  •  Optical performance 

Negatives

  • The FOV could be a bit bigger
  • Size and weight could be smaller
  • Lens covers should be more advanced considering its overall modern design
  • The price is a bit over €500

3) Maven C1 8×42

Next on the list is the Maven C1 8×42. This could be somewhat of a shock for some, considering this brand is relatively unknown in the European market, but Maven is a reputable brand with years of experience. Even more importantly, the C1 8×42 binos are excellent, and all our tests and use cases confirmed that they deserve their spot on this list. They do have a few weaknesses, but in my opinion, their awesome design and build quality more than justify their place here.

Positives 

  • Great value
  • Build quality
  • Compact size
  • A well-designed and user-friendly focusing knob

Negatives

  •  A rather narrow FOV
  •  Lack of brand awareness in Europe

4) Vanguard Endeavor ED IV 8×42

Vanguard Endeavor ED IV 8×42 hunting binoculars are next in line. I love them for their open bridge design, which gives them a very modern look that is further reinforced by the colors.

Due to their construction, these binoculars feel very good in hands and are really comfortable. But it’s not just the looks—they perform great as well.

Positives 

  • Optical performance
  • Open Bridge construction
  • Modern design 

Negatives

  • They are a bit on the heavier side
  • Lens covers
  • The diopter compensation position

5) Zeiss Terra ED 8×42

Zeiss is the undisputed powerhouse in the world of hunting, and a list would be simply incomplete without at least one pair of Zeiss hunting binoculars. 

Zeiss Terra ED 8×42 binos are the perfect candidate. They are very light and compact, they are beautiful to look at due to their design, and if you’re looking to buy a famous brand at a bargain, you would be hard-pressed to find a better pair than this one.

Positives 

  • A premium brand at an affordable price tag
  • Compact size
  • Housing color options

Negatives

  • Surprisingly, the optical performance could be a tad better considering it’s Zeiss, especially the edge sharpness
  • Materials used

6) Steiner Observer 8×56

Another famous name on the list: Steiner. I could just say that it’s Steiner, and that it’s below €500, and that should be enough in most cases to justify its place on this list. But it wouldn’t be fair to you. So what makes this pair of hunting binoculars so great?

Well, apart from being a very famous name, these binoculars offer excellent low-light capabilities and an all-around solid optical performance. I also need to mention that they are covered by a 10-year warranty and that Steiner is known to offer service even for binoculars that are 40 or 50 years old.

 Positives

  • very robust built
  • Steiner warranty
  • Steiner service 
  • Objective lens covers
  • Low light capabilities

Negatives

  • Not the best FOV compared to some of the competitors
  • Size and weight

7) Athlon Midas G2 8×42 UHD

Another relatively unknown player in the European market is Athlon, but based on years of working with them, I can tell you that they shouldn’t be sidelined.

They have a very modern design and cost quite a bit less than the €500 tag. Their only real hindrance, in my opinion, is the materials used. They can feel a bit “cheap”.

Positives 

  • Field of view
  • Modern design
  • Compact dimensions

Negatives

  • Lack of brand awareness in European markets
  • Lens covers
  • Materials used

8) Kowa BD II XD 8×42

Kowa is a long-standing distinguished brand in the world of sports optics, especially among birdwatchers, and the BD II XD 8×42 binoculars are simply amazing.

They cost way less than €500, which is surprising considering what they deliver. They look nice, they feel nice, they are compact, they have a good FOV, and the build quality is on point as well.

Positives

  • Very famous name in the optical industry
  • Nice colors
  • Wide FOV
  • Good materials
  • Nice fit and finish
  • Attractive price point 
  • Compact design

Negatives

  • Lens covers
  • Kowa is way more famous among birdwatchers than it is among hunters

9) Delta Optical Chase 10×50 ED

If you are looking for a simpler design, combined with a wider lens, Delta Optical has the solution for you: Delta Optical Chase 10×50 ED.

Delta Optical is another famous brand on this list, and very deservingly so. Their products are great, and so is their customer service. Not to mention the prices… At €389, these binoculars are another steal.

Positives

  • Good build quality
  • Simple design
  • Great reputation for reliability
  • Low light performance
  • Great price

Negatives

  • Weight
  • Size

10) Delta Optical Titanium 8×56 ROH

Talking about the steals, here’s another one: the Delta Optical Titanium 8×56 ROH. Considering how popular these binoculars are among hunters, it’s truly amazing that they only cost €389. If your budget is really tight and you want to get the absolute best for the lowest price possible, then this is it. Great low light performance due to the 56 mm lens diameter and a surprisingly compact design.

Positives 

  • Low light performance
  • Size for this type of binoculars—all other 8×56 binoculars are usually much bigger
  • Open bridge design
  • Affordable price
  • Reliability

Negatives

  • Field of view
  • Materials sometimes look cheap
  • 1 kg of weight

Conclusion

There is a flood of options for hunting binoculars under €500, which is great news for the customers since every manufacturer tries to compete to take charge of this market. This price point seems to combine just about the right amount of quality and affordability. 

As you can see above, most binoculars in this range are 8×42, which is to be expected due to how well-balanced they are. However, I’ve also included 8×56, 10×42, and 10×50 binoculars for those with specific hunting needs.

Lastly, I’d like to reiterate that I built this list based on decades of experience and extensive testing of all the binoculars included. 

If you have any suggestions or think I’ve missed some models, please let me know! I love a good debate, and I work hard to provide truthful and unbiased information.

Summary
Top 10 Hunting Binoculars Under €500 in 2024
Article Name
Top 10 Hunting Binoculars Under €500 in 2024
Description
This is a list of top 10 hunting binoculars under €500. It will help anyone on the market for a new budget pair of binoculars.
Author
Publisher Name
Optics Trade
Publisher Logo

SHARE THIS POST

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

2 Comments
  • Raul says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
    The Zeiss Terra binoculars are, with all due respect, very bad binoculars. They do not deserve the Zeiss label and they do not deserve a recommendation. What here is pointed put as a pro, “premium brand at an affordable price”, actually is nothing but a curse. This will induce customers to purchase them without hesitation under the assumption that they will perform flawlessly. There are much better options out there definitely. Bear in mind that there are trustworthy and reliable reviewers such as Roger Vines (from scope views) or DLO (Dark Lord of Optics) that describe the Terra binoculars as “Terror” or “rubbish”. And I could not agree more. Just because a product is Zeiss, does not means that it is necessarily good.
  • Nazmi says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
    Hafke frontier
  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *