Binoculars: Under $500


Updated in January, 2021

There is a ton of new-ish products here from Burris, Leupld, Kowa, Bushnell and others.  The numbers are sufficiently large that I am not convinced I can cover it without some sort of a pre-screening process.  Normally, I would do that at SHOT, but there is no SHOT this year.

If you can deal with the bulk, Swift still makes the 8.5×44 Audubon and that is still the best optics you will find under $500 for quite a few years now.

The best overall choice here for a general purpose roof prism bino, from what I have seen, is Meopta MeoPro 8×42 or 8×32 if you want to go a little smaller.

I do like the Steiner Peregrine 8×32 roof and Navigator 7×30 porro

You can also often find Vortex Viper HD dropping down into this price range.

These are all very competent general purpose design for comparatively not that much money.

I have been messing the Chase binoculars for Delta Optical for a bit now.  They have good optics and really excellent ergonomics.  They are definitely in the running.

 Posted by at 10:44 pm

  4 Responses to “Binoculars: Under $500”

  1. […] still on the hunt for a good set of binoculars. Ilya at Optics Thoughts pointed out the Hawke Frontier ED 8×43 a while back, and I’ve had them on my “buy list” ever since. But, until I […]

  2. Thanks for the great work you do. Any updates on new high performers in this range? Looking for binos for hunting in the mountain west. Leaning towards the Swift Audubons as they seem a bit cheaper than the Vortex offering.

    • I really need to re-visit binoculars. I have been so busy with riflescopes that I have not had a lot of time. From the little that I have seen, Swift Audubon porros might still be the ones to beat in terms of image quality. However, modern roof prism binoculars have gotten quite a bit better and are usually more compact and better sealed. If I were looking to use a binocular off a deck, Swift Audubon EDs would be at the top of my list, but it I were to choose a pair of binoculars for general purpose use, I would probably be going for either Meopta Meopro 8×42 or Steiner Peregrine 8×42. As is, the two binoculars I use the most are frist generation Vortex Viper 6×32 and Delta Chase 10×42. The binoculars that live in my truck are inexpensive Celestron Granite 7×32 that are also quite serviceable. Given that I am more of a gun guy than a birder, I am always on a lookout for binoculars with a reticle and/or LRF, but that is a separate story.

      • Just realized the $400-ish Audubon’s I found were not the ED variation, but the 820T. Looks like I will probably be getting the Meoptas, thanks!