If you are reading this post, then you are probably looking for cheap yet decent hunting binoculars. Frankly, cheap things are never good (this is especially true for binoculars). However, it’s still possible to get an average quality binocular at a cheap price.
By the way, by cheap, I am referring to binoculars that are under $100. If you are looking for cheap binoculars that cost somewhere around $100~$300, then this is not the right place for you. Instead, check out the best binocular for hunting here (within the $100-$300 budget, it’s possible to get something good).
Why you shouldn’t consider cheap binocular?
Before moving on, it’s important to know the downsides of picking a cheap binocular before you regret after getting one. Of course, there are circumstances when you will want to consider these binoculars (which will be further discussed below)
Note: In order to learn the basics of a binocular, check out this ultimate binocular buying guide. There, you will learn the important criteria of a binocular that should be taken into consideration before making any purchase.
Low Optical Performance. Generally, cheap binoculars don’t use high quality lens and prisms such as ED lens and BAK-4 prisms. In addition, most air to glass surfaces are not being coated which results in lost of light. All these factors ultimately cause the image quality to tarnish.
Low Durability. If you’ve gone through the other post where I rated the top 8 binoculars I recommend, you would have notice that I didn’t stress much on the durability of the binocular (due to the fact that they are all physically strong). However, things are a little different here.
Most of these cheaper binoculars aren’t built to stand the test of time. Also, they might not be fogproof and waterproof. The worst case scenario is that you might not be able to use the binocular at all if water vapor condenses on the lens.
Require more maintenance. Maintaining these lower-end binoculars at tip-top condition can take more efforts as compared to those of higher durability. For example, it might be troublesome to reduce the formation of fog in a cheap binoculars whereas expensive binoculars are often fogproof. Check out these 4 tips to maintain and care for your binocular.
Basic Features. Obviously, they don’t come with great features that can enhance your hunting experience altogether. For example, the rangefinder binocular (whereby you can calculate the distance of your target) is definitely a must have feature for me. If you are interested to learn more about rangefinder binocular, check out this post.
Don’t come with binocular accessories. Normally, there are a few prominent accessories that you will find helpful to use. Sadly, you will have to purchase them yourself as there aren’t included in these lower range binoculars. One of the really important accessory to consider will be binocular harnesses. Cleaning kits are helpful too.
Not worth the money spent. Most of the times, it might be better off spending more on something that will last longer than buying low quality items that will never last, either because it’s not durable or you find that you want something better eventually (which often happens).
Which circumstances you should consider these cheaper ones?
While I will never recommend these binoculars to any passionate hunters, buying cheap binoculars can be a great choice if you are:-
New to Hunting. If you aren’t sure that you will be taking up hunting seriously as a hobby, then it might not be necessary to invest in high quality binoculars. It’s better to just get something cheap and until you find that you are serious with hunting, you might want to invest in something better.
In addition, you might not know how to effectively use a pair of binoculars to help you hunt down prey. Therefore, even if you are equipped with a pair of quality binoculars, I bet it’s not going to be any better than these cheap ones.
Buying for your kids. It’s been a culture for hunters to pass down the passion for outdoor sports to their children. If you are planning to get your kids a pair of binoculars, something cheap will be good enough for them to play around, at least when they are first starting out.
Top 5 Rated Cheap Hunting Binoculars below $100 Review
In order to help you make the most out of your budget, we came up with the best 5 hunting binoculars within the $100 budget range. Of course, they aren’t going to be really high quality ones, but they are definitely the best for the price.
Hunting Binocular under $100 comparison table
In order to ease the comparison between these top 5 binoculars, all the main criteria of each binocular are listed accordingly. However, before going through the table, it’s important that you know how to read the details.
You can do that by following the guidelines listed below:-
- Formula. This column shows the magnification power and the size of objective lens of a binocular. For example, 10×42 means that the magnification power is 10 and the size of objective lens is 42mm in diameter.
- FOV (Field Of Vision). This shows the wideness of vision of a particular binocular. For example, FOV of 340 means that the distance between two extreme visible ends is 340 feet at 1000 yards.
- ER (Eye Relief). This shows the optimum distance between your eyes and the lens for better experience. It’s measured in mm.
- Optical Performance. There are many factors that contribute towards the optical performance of a specific binocular. For example, ED lens and BAK-4 prisms will enhance the optical performance of a binocular. Being fully multicoated will reduce the lost of light to produce better image.
- Weight. The weight is measured in ounce.
- Price. Prices are in USD.
|Bushnell Trophy XLT||8x42||393||17||Very High||Yes||Yes||25||$$|
|Carson Mossy Oak||10x42||315||16||High||Yes||Yes||24||$$|
|Nikon 8256 Aculon||8x42||470||12||High||No||No||31||$$|
A really cool thing about Bushnell Power View is that it has a magnification power of 10x with an objective lens of 50mm in diameter. It’s really rare for binoculars below $100 to have such specification (especially large objective lens). Having such a large objective lens allow more light to pass through thus producing brighter and clearer image.
Having that said, it has a fairly average optical performance because of the quality of materials used in manufacturing them. It doesn’t use ED glass as it’s lens. Furthermore, BK-7 (instead of BAK-4) prisms are used and they aren’t being phase corrected. There are some air to glass surfaces that are multi coated (not fully multi coated). Not too bad if you aren’t too picky.
The FOV of Bushnell Power View is 341 feet at 1000 yards which is considerably quite high due to the fact that it has a magnification power of 10x. So, if you are looking for high magnification binocular with large FOV, then Bushnell Power View will be your best bet.
Eye relief is rather short at 10 mm. If you are wearing spectacles then it might be uncomfortable to use this binocular (although it depends on individual preference). Weight is rather light, only at 25 ounces.
One downside about this product is that it’s not waterproof and fogproof. While it’s always better to pick one that is both waterproof and fogproof so that water vapor wouldn’t condense on the inner side of the lens, it’s not a necessity for those who hunt in dry areas.
It comes with a limited lifetime warranty whereby the manufacturer will replace/repair the damaged binocular if the fault in on their side. I would say it’s not the best form of warranty out there.
Who is this for?
- looking for something decent within the $50 range
- spend most time hunting in dry climate areas
- satisfied with average optical performance
- more suitable for those not wearing spectacles
Bushnell Trophy XLT Bone Collector Edition Roof Prism Binoculars, 8x 42mm, Realtree Xtra Camo review
Very much different compared to the others reviewed in this post, Bushnell Trophy XLT has various features that are normally present only in quality, high-end binoculars. And the best part, it’s actually within the $100 budget range.
First of all, Bushnell Trophy XLT has the best optical performance among 5 different models reviewed in this post. It uses ED lens as well as BAK-4 prisms (both are high quality materials that are being used in most high-end binoculars) which greatly enhance the quality of image viewed through the binoculars.
Furthermore, all the glass to air surfaces are fully-multi-coated which greatly increase the contrast of colors for better optical performance. The only drawback, however, is that the prisms are not being phase corrected.
Another great feature of Bushnell Trophy XLT is that it’s waterproof and fogproof. It’s 100% nitrogen purged making sure that water vapor doesn’t condense on the inner side of your lens. These are great features rarely found in lower-range products.
Field of view is rather wide, 393 feet at 1000 yards, making it extremely fun especially if you enjoy looking around frequently. The weight is somewhere around 25 ounce. Also, the size is rather compact because it’s built using the roof prism technology.
Like Bushnell Power View, Bushnell Trophy XLT offers the same form of warranty, the limited lifetime warranty. Basically, you will get a replacement (or they will repair it for you) if the fault is on their side.
Note: If you have slightly more to spend, I highly recommend you to consider this binocular as it’s very well built for it’s price point.
Who is this for?
- Looking for high quality binocular that is cheap (below $100)
- Looking for above-average optical performance
- Requires the binocular to be waterproof and fogproof
- Enjoy wide FOV
In my opinion, Carson tends to create binoculars that are really beautiful. This is especially true for their unique Mossy Oak design that really caught my attention. Other than being well-designed, Carson Mossy Oak Caribou has various features to offer.
First of all, the optical performance is really good for binoculars below $100 (slightly lower as compared to Bushnell Trophy XLT but it’s still good). It uses ED lens as well as BAK-4 prisms which are high quality materials that are normally present only in high-end binoculars.
Some of the air to glass surface are multi coated (though fully multi coated is much better). Also, the prisms aren’t phase corrected which pulls down the optical performance.
Like Bushnell Trophy XLT, it’s fully waterproof and fogproof. The inner part of the binoculars are nitrogen-purged which prevents water vapor from condensing on the wall of the lens. To add on, the binocular is covered with rubberized armor for better gripping as well as absorbing shocks.
One major drawback is that the wideness of field of view considerably low, only 315 feet at 1000 yards. It’s not too bad, really. However, if you are looking for wider field of view, then perhaps you should consider Bushnell Power View (assuming you are looking for 10x magnification).
For one, Carson offers great warranty for every product (binoculars) it sells. Under the No-Fault, No-Hassle warranty, Carson will repair/replace your damaged binocular irrespective of who’s fault it is for just a small fee of $15. Also, if the fault is in the manufacturing side, it’s going to be completely free.
Who is this for?
- Looking for high quality binocular at a cheap price
- An alternative for Bushnell Trophy XLT
- Okay with a slightly narrower field of view
- Looking for a great warranty offer
If there is one unique feature that only Nikon 8256 Aculon has, it’s that the lens are being coated with eco-glass which promotes the beauty of nature. It will somewhat enhance greenery in the image viewed through this binocular. If you are a nature lover, than it’s no brainer to go for it.
In terms of optical performance, it’s very much like Carson Mossy Oak reviewed above. It utilizes ED lens as well as BAK-4 prisms as the core materials to build the inner portion of the binocular. Most air-to-glass surfaces are multi coated resulting in higher contrast in colors (also, nature scenery are much nicer to see).
The binocular is coated with rubber armor providing greater grips even during wet conditions. The drawback, however, is that it’s not fully waterproof and fogproof making it not suitable for those hunting in topical climates (or places where there is a drastic change in temperature resulting in water vapor to condense on the lens).
The field of view is really wide at 470 feet at 1000 yards, pretty amazing. I am sure many will be enticed by this feature as you can rarely find binoculars with such a large field of view even if you are looking higher end binoculars.
The weight is slightly heavier as compared to the rest. It’s somewhere around 31 ounce which should not be a problem in my opinion. However, if you are looking for something lighter, then this is not for you.
The binocular comes with a limited lifetime warranty whereby the manufacturer will refund/replace the binocular if the fault is on their side. Not a great warranty though.
Note: Frankly, if given a choice, I would pick Carson Mossy Oak over this because it’s cheaper as well as being waterproof and fogproof. Unless you enjoy the eco-glass coating, I would recommend you to go for Carson Mossy Oak.
Who is this for?
- Nature lover
- Looking for wide field of view (470 feet at 1000 yards)
For those that are looking for the cheapest binocular that you can ever find (while the quality isn’t too bad) then Bushnell Falcon will be the right fit for you. The price is only somewhere around the $20 range. Also note that the magnification power is 7x which might not be suitable for those looking for higher magnification power.
First of all, I can’t help but telling you that the optical performance is fairly poor. It uses low quality glass to build the lens and prisms. Of course, if you just need something minimal, then this binocular would do the job.
In addition, Bushnell Falcon is not made to be waterproof and fogproof (pretty obvious though as it’s pretty cheap). So, make sure that you are using it mostly in dry climate areas. Or else, fog might form on the inner side of the lens obstructing your vision.
One of it’s advantage is probably the wide field of vision, 420 feet at 1000 yards. Also, the weight is rather light, somewhere around 21 ounces (the lightest among the five reviewed here).
Warranty wise, there will be a limited lifetime warranty whereby the manufacturer will repair/replace the binocular if the fault in on their side.
As you can see, this binocular will not be the best choice if you ask me. Unless you are really tight with your budget, I suggest going for Bushnell Power View which is only $30 more than this.
Who is this for?
- Looking for the cheapest binocular in the market (which are still good for the price point)
If you are on a tight budget, I am sure one of the above will fit your needs. For example, Carson Mossy Oak will be a great choice if you are looking for something below $100. Bushnell Power View will be good if you are looking for something around the $50 range.
Are you looking for something better? If yes, check out our best hunting binoculars recommendation here. However, you should expect to spend at least $100 on something decent. If you are prepared to fork out around $300, it’s good enough to buy some of the great binoculars out there.
Which of the above offers the most value for it’s price? Let us know below.