Best Binoculars in the $300-500 range?


Nov 17, 2005
I'm looking to add a new set of decent Binoculars to the arsenal. Going to retire my little 8x Compact Wind Rivers (leupold) I've had for 20 years. Of course it would be nice to get a pair of 10x40 swaro ELs or the like, but that's just not in the cards at this time. Been doing a little research and narrowed my choices down to these 3.

Nikon Monarch 5 10x42s. Bak-4 ED glass, made in China. Price about $300

Steiner Predator 10x42s. Bak-4 ED glass. Made in Germany. Price about $400

Zeiss Terra 10x42s. Schott ED glass. Made in China. Price about $400

What do you guys think? Not being able to look through any of them before purchasing, is making it that much harder...I'm leaning towards the Steiners personally, simply because they're made in Germany and not China.
Without a question, the Steiner glass will put a grin on your chin. My experience with the Terra glass (and the experience of others who owned these binos) leads me to reject them as suitable for any serious glassing. I've not handled the Nikon glass for some years. They were good in the past, but I'd wonder whether they will meet your criteria for extended glassing.
While not on your short list, I've been happy with set of Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD 10x42. Decent glass compact and lightweight. Street priced near $500.

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What's the criteria/specs to look for extending period of glassing? I'm not overly educated in the Binocular world and how things work with the exit pupil and eye relief. These binocs will get used in very open desert and mountain country, for extended periods of glassing canyons and desert sage flats.
I am not familiar with the glass in the lists, but I use a Vortex Viper HD 12x50mm and its a very nice glass for me. It has a lifetime warranty as well. I bought it two years ago for Christmas and it was on sale. It's priced in the 500 -600 range.
I should add that I have the swaro 1500 8x30 rangefinder that I've been using as a dual purpose binicular/rangefinder a d they work pretty decent really. They are pretty bright. I'm leaning more towards the monarch 7 8x42 The more research I'm doing. The exit pupil and light gathering capabilities of the 8x42 coupled with the ED glass of the Monarch seems to be a tough combo to beat for around $475.
There are a lot of good binos in that price range. Don't overlook the Vortex Viper HD, which can be frequently found under $500..
I have the Nikons you noted above (I think). They were at the upper end of my price range. so with points and a discount they came in where I could afford them. Took a long time to convince myself that that kind of expenditure was worth it. I looked at things for several years, literally. Still like them very much. Just a better more forgiving, easier to use pair than the Vortex diamond backs I was also looking at. CL
I looked at the Nikon 7, the Leupold and ended up buying the meopta meopro. If you look around they have deals from time to time on all of those.
I'd give Doug a call at camera land . tell him what you think you want and ask for suggestions . he might mention something you haven't thought of . I've called him a couple times , and he has made it worth my time $ to call him . he is a Steiner dealer too .
Electron":2626wtz5 said:
While not on your short list, I've been happy with set of Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD 10x42. Decent glass compact and lightweight. Street priced near $500.

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These are pretty decent binoculars. My daughter has the BX2 Alpine 10x40 and they are surprisingly good for the money.

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