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Under the right conditions and with the right design, a monocular can be superior to a traditional set of binoculars as a scouting tool for hunting. Smaller, lighter, and generally easier to handle than something designed for two eyes, it can tell you where the game is without you having to line your eye up to a bulky weapon designed to bring down animals instead of track them. They’re also versatile, offering usefulness even when you’re not out hunting.
We took a look at a handful of monoculars intended for hunting and wrote reviews of them to give you an idea of what’s on the market. At the end of it, we put our findings into a buyer’s guide to help you make the best choice you can. We hope that you find this information useful and that it helps you make the best choice when purchasing a monocular to assist you in hunting.
|Vortex Optics Solo R/T 8×36|
|Bushnell Legend 10×42||1 lb||4.7/5|
|Wingspan Optics Outdoorsman 8X42|
(Best for the Money)
|Eyeskey 10-30×50||1 lb||4.3/5|
|Barska NVX100 3x||1 lb||4.1/5|
We are in love with the Vortex Optics Solo as a hunting monocular. As a complementary optics tool for hunting, it’s just about perfect.
If you’re using a monocular for hunting, it’s because you’re on the move and need something small and compact at your disposal. If you’re using this instead of a scope, you’re probably also in a confined environment, so you don’t want something that can zero in on game at the horizon.
The optics here are really good. They’ll allow you to peg down a bedded down deer with ease. It’s also got great eye relief if you shoot with glasses, prescription or safety. Additionally, it has a compact design for maximum portability. You get all of this at a really great value, too.
The one thing we don’t like is that Vortex provides it with a poor-quality carrying case and no lens protector. This makes it more prone to dust and getting knocked around. That’s really a shame, but it’s not bad enough to knock this out of our Top Pick slot.
As a hunting monocular, the Bushnell Legend has only one peer, the Vortex Optics Solo. In fact, under certain conditions it’s a better monocular than the other. We dropped it to the runner-up slot because one place where the two are definitely unequal is price. The Legend is just a little more expensive.
Bushnell incorporated all the latest and greatest technology in the optics, low-dispersion glass, and coated lenses. These mean a clear, precise picture. You’ll be counting the nose hairs on that deer you’ve been stalking.
We also really like the field of view, which comes in handy if your game moves around. This is a trade-off for the Optics Solo’s superior eye relief, which is better if you wear glasses of some kind.
We hesitate to say that you’re paying for more image than you need, but that’s about how it lays out. You’re using a monocular to track game while you’re on the move. The detail is great, but really where you need it is in the rifle scope. This one is more expensive than the Optics Solo, and it’s because you’re paying for more image than you probably really need.
The Wingspan Optics is a very serviceable monocular to use for hunting. It won’t wow you, but its cost is such that it earns our “Best for the Money” title.
Our top two models produce superior images based on superior optics. This one is a pretty basic monocular. You won’t want to use it for precision imaging. But to scope out a potential game trail, its 42mm objective lens at an 8x magnifying factor will do the job.
What we like about it is that it’s built to take a beating and is quick to adjust. That can be the difference between spotting pheasants hidden in the underbrush while you’re walking and pheasants flying away while you’re bringing binoculars to your eyes.
What we don’t like about it is its size. There are binoculars on the market that aren’t much bigger, which kind of renders moot the point of buying a monocular. For what it is, however, this one is a really good value.
The Eyeskey 10-30×50 isn’t really a monocular. It’s a scope. In fact, it’s pretty big for a scope. We’ll go through why we like this as an optical device but, in the end, remember that it’s not really suitable as a monocular.
First, we like the angled body. We tend to think that eventually this will become the norm because they’re just easier to use and more comfortable. We also like the optics. They’re designed for clarity, sharpness, and for low-light conditions. It’s also tightly sealed all the way around to keep the environment you use it in firmly out.
It’s also expensive. Really expensive. We’re not sure how much we can emphasize that. It’s also the biggest model we reviewed with the biggest lens. It’s also easily the heaviest. Considering its really high magnification and its heavy weight, you’ll want to use a tripod to keep it steady. This negates much of the point of using a monocular, which is to permit highly mobile use.
As a spotting scope with great optics, this is a good one. As mobile optics for helping you track game, it’s a no-go.
The Barska NVX100 is a dedicated night-vision monocular. If you’re out hunting pigs in the dead of night, this one will allow you to track them on the infrared portion of the light wave spectrum. We like it as a dedicated infrared monocular, but that’s really about it.
As a hunting monocular, it’s bulky and not very intuitive. It’s almost as wide as a pair of binoculars, without the added eyepiece to give you good depth perception. It’s also heavy on the latest gadget and gizmos, with USB ports and cables to connect to cameras. That might be good for hobbies like bird-watching or even getting pictures from a game trail, but when you go hunting keep it simple. Also, the images are kind of grainy.
We can understand that with the number of monoculars on the market that you’d want something more than just individual reviews. You want information on how to make the right choice. We have that information and have put it into this buyer’s guide. We hope you find it useful.
Your choice starts with where you’re going to use it. You’ll want to tailor your monocular for climate and ground cover. If you hunt javelina in the desert, you’ll want one that places a premium in steadiness and magnification while devoting less attention to water resistance. If you hunt whitetail deer in the Great Lakes region, you’ll want one designed for a humid environment.
One feature you’ll need to look at is how well it works in low-light conditions. There are a few different kinds of low-light operations, from thermal imaging to night vision. If you’re hunting an animal that moves around at night, like a wild hog, this can offer you an important advantage. Thermal imagers break out the heat signature of a specific object in the field of view, while night vision amplifies the light waves gathered from everything.
You’re buying a monocular so you can see things at a distance, of course. Obviously, optics are an important way of figuring out which one is right for you.
Optics are defined largely by the diameter of the lens and its magnification. It’s not really enough, however, to get the one with the strongest optics. The bigger the lens diameter, the bigger the monocular.
You might be in the market for a monocular to help you see things at a distance. You’re also in the market for a monocular because you need something more compact than a traditional set of binoculars. You’ll need to make a choice between size and the optics.
Here, again, you can consider operating conditions. If you’re hunting someplace where the distance you can see is limited by a lot of trees, you can get a more compact model. If you’re hunting game at long distances in open spaces, you might want to get something a little bigger.
All things being equal, don’t spend money unless you have to.
Here are some other the other types of monoculars we’ve reviewed:
Our pick for best monocular for hunting goes to the Vortex Optics Solo. It does what you need and does it at a great price. The Bushnell Legend has even better optics. Given the monocular’s purpose for hunting, however, we feel that its optics produce diminishing returns based on its price. Thus, we gave it our runner-up spot. The Wingspan Optics was the best value and is a very serviceable monocular, though a little large for easy mobility. We don’t like the Eyeskey 10-30×50 because it’s less a monocular and more of a traditional scope. Did we mention that it’s also really expensive? The Barska NVX100 is a good night-vision monocular; for hunting though, it’s too gadget-friendly and doesn’t produce very clear images.
We hope you found our reviews and buyer’s guide a useful first step in finding the right monocular for you. We wish you the best and—literally—happy hunting.
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Upland Optics Perception 10×42 HD Binoculars Review
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Endoscope vs Borescope: What’s the Difference?
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