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Top 5 Best Binoculars for Western Hunting • (2024 Guide)

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Choosing the best binoculars for western hunting requires a different approach than you might be used to. First, be prepared to go high and scan larger areas during your glassing sessions. Glassing sessions out West can and will easily last for hours. Successful sessions require patience, confidence in your skills, and of course, food to hold you over while you plot your next move.

In this guide, I put together a collection of my favorite binos for western hunting along with top recommended models by veteran western hunters. Several of the factors that went into my decision-making process were:

  • Field of View
  • Magnification
  • Exit pupil size
  • Different western terrains
  • Tripod vs handheld glassing
  • Best quality for the money
  • Models to fit every budget

When glassing out West, it’s advisable to up the magnification. Because if you don’t, you’re more likely to miss those minute details that turn your hunt into a successful one. Additionally, more and more western hunters are using a tripod.

With a tripod, you never have to worry about wondering where you left off or eye fatigue. When it’s time for a break to get much-needed eye relief, you’re able to pick up right where you left off. Plus, gridding a large area to examine each zone before making your next move is an essential part of western hunting.

So, with those thoughts in your mind, let’s check out the best glass for hunting out west.

Best Binoculars for Western Hunting Reviewed

In each of the following reviews, I put together key features to consider along with the most important pros & cons to ponder before making your final call.

#1) Swarovski EL 12×50 Binoculars with FieldPro Package

Currently, the best Swaroski binoculars for hunting out West are the EL 12×50. Swarovksi is my favorite brand of hunting binoculars, and the EL 12×50 truly shines everywhere out West from Colorado to the Pacific Northwest. This set of binoculars is perfect for both tripod and handheld glassing, which cuts out the need to potentially carry two pairs of binos. The last thing you want to do is overload your pack or lug around more weight than you need to when covering a lot of land on foot.

As for the specs, the EL is one of the finest models manufactured by Swarovski. Expect crystal-clear images and the ability to catch even the tiniest details when glassing from high ground. If you’re used to using 8×42 or 10×42, you might be concerned about the FOV offered by the 12×50. Comparatively, you’re not sacrificing much FOV. It’s about 30 feet less than the 10×42 at 1000 yards.

Lastly, the exit pupil is another important spec to consider. The beauty of the exit pupil on the 12×50 is that it’s only a few hundredths of a millimeter smaller than the 10×42, meaning the 12×50 will perform just as well in low-light conditions. Whether you’re hunting bear, elk, or other big game, the 12×50 performs well when you’re closing in on your final destination and ready to take your shot at last light.

Pros

  • The best optical performance of the models in this guide for distinguishing detail
  • More magnification without sacrificing much FOV or exit pupil
  • Field flattener lenses for edge-to-edge image clarity
  • The most accurate color rendering
  • Perfect for glassing off of a tripod
  • Locking diopter
  • Compact for a 12×50 w/ comfortable grips

Cons

  • Heavier than the 10×42 by 5.4 oz
  • Not within everyone’s budget

#2) Leica 12×50 Ultravid HD-Plus Binoculars

My second premium pick is Leica’s 12×50 Ultravid HD-Plus model. Similar to the Swarovski model above, these deliver unmatched image resolution and performance in low-light conditions. Comparatively, Leica just about matches the Swarovksi EL with a linear FOV of 299 ft at 1000 yards and an exit pupil size of 4.17 mm. However, the Ultravid is slightly heavier at 36.7 oz compared to the 35 oz weight of Swaro’s EL.

Regarding specs, Leica is one of the very few brands with lens coatings that are comparable to Swaro. After all, Leica and Swaro are two of the most well-known brands in the world. Keep in mind, Swaro and Leica glass is not made in China. Swaro manufactures its optics in Austria, while the German-based Leica manufactures its bins in Portugal.

Unfortunately, the Noctivid is not yet available in 12×50, though, the Noctivid 10×42 is also an excellent choice for hunting out west or anywhere. Having said that, the Ultravid model is just as exceptional and available in more sizes than the Noctivid. The advantage of the Ultravid 12×50 is the added magnification and better performance on a tripod than the Noctivid 10×42.

Pros

  • Premium optics built for a lifetime of use
  • A wide range of sizes available, including 12×50 in the Ultravid
  • Top-notch performance in low-light conditions
  • Leica’s Aquadura Coating for optimal performance in all weather
  • FOV and exit pupil size matches Swaro’s EL 12×50

Cons

  • A bit heavier than the Swaro EL 12×50
  • No 12×50 available in the Noctivid model yet

#3) Vortex Razor UHD 12×50 Roof Prism Binoculars

My top mid-range binocular for western hunting is undoubtedly the Razor UHD 12×50. If you’re familiar with Swaro’s NL Pure, the Razor UHD sports a similar design for a significantly lower cost. Although make no mistake, the UHD is not cheap. It topped my list of best Vortex binoculars for hunting for good reason. The larger Abbe-Koenig prism in the UHD is what has officially lifted Vortex to compete with Swaro’s image quality.

Next, let’s go over the specs. First, the greatest shortcoming when comparing these 12x50s to the first two pairs is the narrower field of view. The linear FOV is 236 ft at 1000 yards, which is still good, but it actually should give you a better idea of how truly amazing my first two picks are. After FOV, the exit pupil size of 4.1 mm comes closer to matching Swaro and Leica in low light.

Additionally, if the narrower FOV is a problem for you, the Razor UHD is also available in 10×42, which is also a great bino for western hunting. Lastly, the 36.1 oz weight falls between Leica and Swaro. Plus, these come backed by Vortex’s top-notch lifetime warranty and are now made in Japan rather than China.

Pros

  • A more affordable alternative to Swaro and Leica
  • The clearest glass by Vortex yet, clearly superior to the Razor HD
  • Multiple sizes available
  • The excellent Vortex lifetime warranty
  • The UHD model is made in Japan rather than China like other Vortex models

Cons

  • Narrower FOV than my top two picks
  • Exit pupil size is slightly smaller as well

#4) Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD 12×50 Binoculars

For hunters on a tighter budget who are looking for the best binoculars for western hunting under 1000 bucks, this is the one. The BX-4 is just one step away from being the top Leupold binocular for hunting at a significantly lower cost. Leupold is another one of my favorite optics brands, and the company sells its BX line of binoculars ranging from BX-1 to BX-5 with BX-5 being the best.

The beauty of the BX-4 is that it’s the perfect balance of value vs price. Once you go beyond the BX-4 to the BX-3 and lower, there’s a big difference in quality. On the other hand, the difference in quality between the BX-5 and BX-4 isn’t as big, yet the BX-4 is a lot more affordable. The key highlight of the BX-4 is the Twilight Max HD Light Management System that makes it one of the best low-light performers on the market.

With the Twilight system, you get up to thirty minutes of extra glassing time at dawn and dusk, which is critical when hunting big game out West. Next, the BX-4 12×50 is lighter than my top 3 picks at 28.5 oz, and it beats the Vortex UHD in FOV at 263 feet at 1000 yards. Although, when comparing the overall image quality between the BX-4 and Razor UHD, the Razor is the clear winner.

Pros

  • Lighter than my top 3 picks
  • More affordable than my top 3 picks
  • A wider FOV than the Vortex UHD
  • An excellent performer at last light
  • Made in Japan unlike budget Leupold models made in China
  • Lifetime guarantee

Cons

  • Narrower FOV than Swaro and Leica
  • Overall image quality doesn’t match my top 3

#5) Vortex Crossfire 12×50 HD Binoculars

My final choice is my top budget binocular for western hunting. Compared to the first four picks, these are a heck of a lot more affordable and as low as I would personally go when choosing optics for western hunting. The fact that there are HD binos by a reputable brand in this price range is a feat in itself. However, it’s important to note that budget Vortex glass is made in China, not Japan like its premium models.

We’ve seen people complain when they find out that these are made in China instead of America. Unfortunately, some people don’t realize that glass of this quality would never be sold for this price if it was made in America. Yes, we all wish it was, but not all wallets are the same. So, with that little rant out of the way, let’s focus on the Crossfire.

The cool thing about the Crossfire 12×50 is that it actually has a larger FOV than the Razor UHD 12×50 at 273 feet/1000 yards. That’s even more than the BX-4 offers as well. Next, these are lightweight compared to my top three choices at 29.5 oz, making them the second lightest 12x50s in this guide. Finally, if you want a budget set of 8x42s or 10x42s for western hunting, look no further than those sizes offered by the Crossfire HD series.

Pros

  • Budget Vortex optics are some of the best you’ll find, and better than Leupold
  • The most affordable glass in this guide
  • Larger FOV than the Razor UHD and Leupold BX-4 12x50s
  • The fact that these are HD binos in this price range
  • Same lifetime Vortex warranty
  • Multiple sizes available
  • Lighter than Swaro and Leica 12x50s

Cons

  • Made in China rather than Japan
  • Missing some of the premium features and coatings found on the Razor UHD and HD models

Bottom Line

Did I deliver? Currently, these are the best binoculars for western hunting, and if anything changes anytime soon, I’ll be sure to update this guide accordingly. There are models here for every budget. My top 3 picks are all alpha bino quality that’s made to last you a lifetime. After that, Leupold’s BX-4 and Vortex’s Crossfire are great bargain models for first-time bino owners and hunters on a tighter budget.

Finally, be sure to consider the points I listed in the introduction if you’re new to hunting out West. Additionally, if you’re not fond of the idea of using 12x50s because they’re heavier with a narrower FOV, most of the models in this guide are also available in 10×42 and 8×42.

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