5 Great Binoculars for 2014

5 Great Binoculars for 2014

We picked up five well-known binoculars for 2014 that you'll probably see at your local gun store this summer. And then we picked them apart. Editors found a lot of quality glass, mostly easy adjustments, hunter-friendly finishes and some room for improvement.

We're hoping our research helps you when you're looking for the right glass for your hunting. 

Zeiss Terra ED

Wow. Carl Zeiss binoculars for less than $400. We actually saw them online for $349 from academy.com. Zeiss saves money by having them assembled in the USA rather than Germany. Also, there are not the same coatings as their higher-end Conquests and Victorys, but they do have excellent Schott ED glass and MC coatings. And how do they perform? We loved them. They are slightly heavier than others in the class, and they don't have LotuTec external glass coatings like the buy-ups, but boy, do these Terras handle like high-end binos.

Magnification, Diopter Adjustments:

Terras have the same focus wheel as Conquests and Victory binos. They are brilliantly engineered to quickly change magnification with barely a turn of the wheel.

Fit and Finish:

Rubberized armor, sleek and slim design. We really like the objective lens caps, which stay attached to the strap studs but also stay out of the way.

Optical Resolution:

.02 inch at 10 yards, about 8 1/2 arc seconds. They picked up detail in extreme low-light conditions.

Specs: 8x42 | 5 1/2 in. tall | 25.4 oz.

Price $: 349

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD

These binos show that you can get good quality for a low price. The rubberized armoring is easy to grip, and BaK-4 (barium crown) prisms are a big step up from BaK-7 prisms, which you might see in cheaper binos. If we could change anything, we'd like to see less eye relief: you have to hold them a bit away from your face to get the correct sight picture.

Magnification, Diopter Adjustments:

Diopter ring locks. Although a bit stiff, the magnification wheel is big enough to easily find when concentrating on looking through the glass.

Fit and Finish:

We love the Realtree AP camo. They're perfect for deer hunting; just don't drop them, since they'll be hard to find.

Optical Resolution:

Fared well against even the best binos. We distinguished line spacing of .02 inch at 10 yards, meaning the binos resolved to about 8 1/2 arc seconds.

Specs: 8x36 | 4 7/8 in. tall | 20.7 oz.

Price $: 370

Minox APO-HG

So why spend another [imo-slideshow gallery=236],500 on a pair of binoculars when lower-price models offer so much? Good question. The answer lies in 21 layers of lens coatings and apochromatic lenses. Basically, if you are trying to pick out a brown mule deer just after sunrise in a dry Western landscape, you're going to wish you had binos like these. Discerning hunters with money to spend will like these binos because of the dearth of color aberrations and extremely high light transmission.

Magnification, Diopter Adjustments:

Wide wheel. Diopter ring locks.

Fit and Finish:

Soft, rubberized. But magnification wheel is metal, which gives a positive touch and easy adjustment.

Optical Resolution:

Similar to most other binos, but it's the low-light vision and lack of chromatic aberrations that were impressive.

Specs: 8x43 | 6 in. tall | 22.9 oz.

Price $: 1,899

Nikon Monarch 7

Of the binoculars we looked at, the Nikon Monarch 7 was the smallest; it's the only one in our test with a 30mm objective lens. In theory, that should decrease the Monarch's light gathering capacity, but in fact it had one of the brighter sight pictures! These compact binos feature o-ring-sealed nitrogen gas and multi-layer coatings on all prisms and lenses.

Magnification, Diopter Adjustments:

The focus adjustments on the Nikon were stiff enough that they'd stay in place in the field, but not so stiff you can't fine-tune them.

Fit and Finish:

Very comfortable, sturdy and easy-to-grip, Monarchs feel good in the hand and appear to be built to last.

Optical Resolution:

The Monarchs did well in our tests, .02 inch at 10 yards. Very bright sight picture.

Specs: 8x30 | 4.7 in. tall | 15.3 oz.

Price $: 299

Redfield Rebel

Redfield Rebels are the 'budget ' binocular in our test. Although the outside of the binoculars felt harder and slightly less comfortable than some of the more expensive models here, these are quite decent binoculars: good clarity, no blurring at the edge of the sight picture, a sturdy, waterproof, roof-prism construction and BaK-4 glass. For folks looking for a working field glass without breaking the bank, start here.

Magnification, Diopter Adjustments:

The focus knob was very easy to use; one of the better ones in our test!

Fit and Finish:

The rebels feel rugged. They may not come with leather seats, but it will be hard to break them.

Optical Resolution:

Resolved to about .023 inch at 10 yards, or about 12 arc seconds. That's a little less than the others.

Specs: 8x42 | 5.8 in tall | 25 oz.

Price $: 179

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