Home ” How to choose a pair of hunting binoculars? Our complete guide
If you want to be successful in hunting, you need to use all of your senses to the fullest. Hearing, smell, touch, sometimes even taste – but above all sight. This is what will show you the signs of a good place to hide or spot the first prey that approaches so you can use your talkie Walkie to communicate by radio with your hunting partners. Sometimes your natural eyesight needs a helping hand.
It helps to be able to focus on details without having to move around and check them, observe areas of interest from an inconspicuous distance, or extend your visibility when the light begins to fade. How can you quickly and easily improve your vision? It’s very simple: Get yourself a good pair of binoculars to accompany your Laser rangefinder and any other outdoor equipment. Before starting, I suggest you watch a short introductory video:
After your bow or rifle, binoculars are one of the most important parts of your hunting arsenal. They open up a whole range of possibilities. Want to examine a sign on a trail without getting close enough to it?
Binoculars can allow you to focus on something a few feet away and see it as if you were sitting next to it. A slight flicker in the distance suddenly appears in close-up when you aim at the lens.
Not sure if it was a deer, or just a branch moving in the wind? Binoculars let you check it out. If you pick the right pair, you can even extend your hunting day, using their light-gathering ability to let you see clearly in lower light levels.
Of course, you need to have the right pair, and with binoculars, it’s easy to go dramatically wrong. There is a huge range available with models designed for all uses, from astronomy to hiking etc.
You should also consider the type of hunting you will be doing, as someone hunting in a closer location with a crossbow will have different needs than someone hunting with a recurve bow or long range rifle.
The more compact models will work well in a lighted football stadium but won’t help you much in the woods at dusk, while the large astronomy scopes will give amazing magnification and light gathering but are far too heavy to hold. standing without a tripod.
Fortunately, there are plenty of good models designed for hunting and other outdoor sports. These can be divided into compact and full-size models, and both have their advantages. Binoculars are described by two numbers – their magnification and the size of the lens (front), so a pair of 8×35 binoculars will have 7-power magnification and 35mm diameter lenses.
In general, anything with a lens smaller than 30mm can be called compact, and anything larger than that is full-size. Although there are a few older models whose weight and bulk make them 28mm lenses, there’s no reason to buy them for hunting and we won’t be reviewing them here.
Our guide to buying a pair of hunting binoculars
There are great binoculars in all three magnification categories, so the question is which type to choose? The answer to this question will really depend on what you plan to use it for and what features you need.
To make things a little easier, we’ve broken this down into two main questions you should ask yourself before buying a pair of hunting binoculars.
Pair of classic or compact binoculars?
Let’s start by determining if a compact model is the right choice for you. Compact binoculars have several disadvantages compared to full-size binoculars. They are often less efficient, simply because they are smaller. Optically they tend to have a narrower field of view and the smaller lenses mean they gather less light.
This reduces image brightness and makes them less useful on either side of sunrise and sunset. They also usually have a longer minimum focus distance, so you can’t get a magnified view of something five or six meters away.
At the same time, they have a major advantage: they are compact and light and slip easily into a pocket or satchel. If you’re looking to lighten your load, a pair of compact binoculars is ideal.
It all depends on the level of performance you are willing to sacrifice in exchange for portability. If you mostly hunt in broad daylight, this could be an interesting compromise. Compacts are great for checking out a distant object or confirming you have the right target.
What is the best magnification for a pair of binoculars?
The main difference between 8×42 and 10×42 binoculars is their magnification. Higher magnification power tells you how much the binoculars reduce the apparent distance by. If you’re looking at something from 400 yards away, then through a pair of 8x42s you’ll be able to see as much detail as if it were 50 yards away – the actual distance divided by eight.
Go to 10×42 and it will look like 40 meters. At first glance, higher magnification seems to be better, but it’s not that simple. This extra performance comes with several trade-offs, which can easily sway your decision.
Other features to consider
Brightness : The brightness of the image you see through your binoculars is mainly determined by what is called the exit pupil.
This is the diameter of the light beam coming out of the eyepiece, and you can find it by dividing the diameter of the lens by the magnification.
So 8×42 binoculars have an exit pupil of 5.25mm wide, 10×42 at 4.2mm, and a set of compact 10x25s are only 2.5mm.
A narrower exit pupil means that the image reaching your eyes falls on a smaller area of your retina, and the image appears darker.
If the objective lenses remain the same size, increasing magnification will make the image less bright.
Of course, unless you’re ready to upgrade to 4x or 5x magnification, that means big lenses and heavy binoculars, and 42mm is a good middle ground between magnification and light assembly.
Field of view : Higher power with the same lens size means a narrower field of view. There are other design factors that can affect it as well, but, all things being equal, it’s a rule you can’t escape.
At 8x magnification, the cone you can see in will typically be 20% larger than what you would get at 10x magnification, and this translates to an approximately 50% wider field of view.
High magnification is perfect for seeing what you’ve seen with the naked eye up close. It also increases tunnel vision – your awareness will be reduced to a narrower area.
Stability : Image shake is always a problem with magnified optics; Unless you mount your binoculars on a tripod – which isn’t always practical for hunting – every slight vibration of your hands will be amplified in the image.
The difference between 8x and 10x isn’t enough for this, but you’ll have a harder time studying an animal when it’s wriggling in front of your eyes.
So if you hunt a lot in low light transmission conditions, 8×42 is a big winner. The clearer image will allow you to start observing earlier in the morning and maintain a viewable image longer after dusk.
8x42s magnifications will give a brighter image than the naked eye in low light, whereas 10x42s magnification just can’t do that.
On the other hand, if you prefer to hunt in broad daylight, the 10×42 is the most popular and certainly has advantages. This is the time of day when most hunters, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts are found. So this is where the 10×42 magnification makes more sense.
The extra power reduces apparent distance by 20%, which can be the difference between seeing a vital detail and missing it.