Last Updated on May 20, 2021
Tactical binoculars need to fill many shoes. They must be rugged and durable enough to withstand rigorous conditions, which means they probably need to be waterproof for all-weather reliability.
Built-in tools like a compass or rangefinder would be a help, and so would low-light operation that allows us to see in the early morning and late evening hours. Extra points go to the models that are compact enough for easy portability and lightweight enough to forget about while they hang around your neck.
We wanted to find the best tactical binoculars available so we set out to test as many as we could find. Along the way, we gathered quite a bit of useful information, which we’ve included in the following six reviews.
Three of these devices stood out as top performers and they’ve earned our recommendations, but the remaining products were promising as well.
|Best Overall||Steiner 6504 Tactical Binocular||
|Best Value||USCAMEL Marine Military Binoculars||
|Premium Choice||Steiner 210 Tactical Binocular||
|HUTACT Military Binoculars for Adults||
|Hooway 01-0750 Military Marine Binoculars||
The Steiner 6504 was our pick for the best all-around tactical binocular after testing out quite a few of them. It’s one of the smaller, more compact models we tested, making it much easier to carry in the field. It’s just 12.7 ounces, so you’ll hardly notice it when you’re wearing it or carrying it in your pocket. More than just compact, this binocular is very tough. It’s built rugged enough to provide reliable performance in all environments. That means it’s waterproof and fog-proof, so adverse weather conditions won’t be affecting them.
All the durability and portability in the world won’t count for much if you can’t see what you’re aiming at. Luckily, the Steiner 6504 binocular offers excellent optical clarity. We had clear and crisp images every time, at every distance. We enjoyed carrying this set of binoculars, and we were always impressed with the view whenever we pulled them out. They’re definitely on the more expensive side of the price spectrum, but we think the rugged durability, compact portability, and excellent optical clarity they provide warrants the higher price tag.
Out of all the tactical binoculars we tested, the USCAMEL UW004 Marine Military Binoculars were the most impressive combination of price and performance. Offering the best bang for your buck, we think they’re the best tactical binoculars for the money. At an affordable price, they offer an incredible feature set. IPX7 water-resistance means that water won’t hurt them and they’ll even float in water in case you should happen to accidentally drop them in. Even out of the water, military-grade durability will keep them safe in all conditions.
These binoculars offered a clear and crisp image with excellent color reproduction. Once the lights got dim, the battery-powered rangefinder and compass were illuminated and still perfectly usable. But all of these features came at the expense of a compact and nimble package, which the UW004 is not. At just over two pounds, it’s a pretty hefty set of binoculars, and you’re likely to notice that extra weight during extended forays in the field.
Rugged and rainproof, the Steiner 210 MM1050 Military-Marine Tactical Binocular is one of the toughest, most durable binoculars you’ll ever see. They have a rubber-armored coating that’s capable of withstanding up to 11 Gs of impact. If that’s not impressive enough, they’re also completely rainproof, as well as fog-resistant so that you can still get a clear image in any weather conditions. Steiner is so certain of the ruggedness and reliability of these binoculars that they protect them with a lifetime warranty.
The MM1050 tactical binoculars will save you tons of time on focusing. You’ll never need to focus them because they’re always in focus. From 20 yards to infinity, everything is completely in focus, all the time, so you won’t be fiddling with focus dials. Just put them up to your eyes and you’ll be able to clearly see anything in your line of sight. But the great optical quality and military-grade ruggedness make for a heavy tool, and these are no exception at a weight of two pounds. They’re also very expensive, but they offer a visual quality and robustness that would be difficult to beat at any price.
Waterproof and dust-proof, the HUTACT Military Binoculars for adults aim to offer tactical all-weather performance. To that end, they include a built-in compass and rangefinder so you’ve always got your bearings and can pinpoint your targets. The build quality of this binocular is excellent and they feel rugged and durable. However, HUTACT only covers them with a warranty for 30 days, which isn’t enough to instill any confidence in us about the longevity of this device.
We like that the eyepieces are individually focusing. If your eyes are not exactly the same, you’ll find this feature to be immensely helpful. It’s often reserved for more expensive, high-end binoculars, but the HUTACT pair is quite affordable. Despite being so inexpensive, they offer great optics with clear imaging and a wide field of view. Overall, we were very happy with the performance they offered for the price, but they’re simply outclassed by the three models that earned our top recommendations.
Perfect for wet environments, the Hooway Military Marine Binoculars offer a waterproof design and floatability for a durable, all-weather device at an affordable price. They’re coated in a non-slip rubber armor that not only gives you a better hold on them but also absorbs shock to protect them from spills and drops. They’re definitely on the heavier side of things though at slightly over two pounds.
At just 7X magnification, these binoculars don’t offer as much enlargement of your subject as we’d prefer. Most of the models we tested offered 10X magnification. But the Hooway binoculars still had great optics with a clear image and a wide field of view of 396 feet at 1,000 yards. Inside, a rangefinder and compass help you find your way and determine the size and distance of objects within your line of sight. For the price, we think they’re great, but they weren’t our favorite performers or the best value overall so they haven’t earned our recommendation.
Overweight and bulky with just 7X magnification, the Aomekie BM-7084 Marine Military Binoculars round out the bottom of our list. They’re still a solid product overall though, with notable features such as an IPX7 waterproof design that will float in water. But it’s not enough to overcome the heavy 2.2-pound weight problem or the weak magnification. We did like the silicone eyecups since they were comfortable to use. But they weren’t very durable since the silicone tore after only a few months.
We were disappointed with the lenses on the Aomekie BM-7084. The first issue we had was with them fogging up. It happened quickly and frequently and we couldn’t figure out a solution. Then, when the lights dimmed, the low-light performance was dismal. We could hardly see a thing, even while we still had low levels of light. They’re a pretty cheaply priced set of binoculars, to begin with, but even at this low price, we don’t think they’re a great value.
Now that you’ve read about the pros and cons of some of the top tactical binoculars available, you may be trying to figure out which traits are most important to you. Some features are cool on paper but not as useful in the real world. Other features just won’t pertain to your particular situation. Either way, it’s a good idea to take a moment and read through our short buyer’s guide to help you get a better understanding of what separates some of these models from each other.
The magnification level is just an expression of how much the binoculars enlarge your subject. Most of the binoculars we tested offered 10X magnification. This is about the level that we think is most optimal for a tactical binocular. However, some of the models we tested only offered magnification levels of 7X, which won’t let you see things quite as far off. You may not need the higher magnification, or you may even prefer the lower magnification. But it’s important to know what you’re getting when you pick a set of binoculars, so be sure to pay attention to the magnification level of whatever set you pick.
Tactical binoculars are going to be used outside for the majority of their life. For this reason, they must be able to withstand changing weather conditions. They’ll likely experience adverse weather such as rain and wind, or they may even end up serving duty in a body of water such as a lake or river. In any case, your binoculars must be built to withstand such situations. Most of them offer some degree of water-resistance and fog-resistance. The best ones are fog-proof and waterproof though.
Weather and water-resistance are one thing, but impact durability is something else entirely. If you drop your binoculars, you want to make sure that they’re going to hold up to it and not just fall apart. Some of the binoculars we tested were so rugged they could withstand up to 11 Gs of impact. That’s pretty intense. Whatever pair you choose should be armor-coated for improved durability so that you can be sure they’ll withstand the tough tactical life.
When slogging through the field, you don’t want to be weighed down by extra or bulky equipment. Some of the binoculars we tested were lightweight, compact, and streamlined. They were small enough to fit in your pocket and light enough not to be noticeable. But others were very heavy, bulky, and generally a nuisance to carry. During a long trek, they’ll start to feel even heavier and more cumbersome. We recommend picking the lightest, most compact set of tactical binoculars you can find that will fulfill all of your needs.
We’ve already discussed the rough conditions that your tactical binoculars will be regularly serving duty in. Durability is great, but when something does go wrong, nothing beats the protection of a warranty. Of course, not all warranties are created equally. Some of them offer short protection periods of just 30 days. But some of the best binoculars are covered by lifetime warranties that will guarantee them for many years of continued use. If you purchase a set of binoculars that are protected by a lifetime warranty, you’ll never have to worry about your binoculars letting you down.
After trying out quite a few of these tactical binoculars, we came to some conclusions about which ones were our favorites and which ones didn’t impress us in the least. After reading our reviews, you’ve probably come up with a few conclusions of your own, but we’re going to quickly summarize our top recommendations once more to ensure that they’re fresh in your mind. The Steiner 6504 Tactical Binoculars earned our top pick for best overall. They won us over with rugged reliability, all-weather durability, the lightweight and compact design, and top-notch optics.
For the best value, we preferred the USCAMEL UW004 Marine Military Binoculars. They offered military-grade durability, IPX7 water-resistance, and excellent low-light performance, all for an affordable price. And finally, our premium choice recommendation is the Steiner 210 MM1050 Tactical Binocular. It’s got a very wide field of view that’s always in focus. Plus, it can withstand up to 11 Gs of impact, it’s rainproof and fog-resistant for all-weather performance, and it’s even protected by a lifetime warranty.
Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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