Best Binoculars for Hunting Out West


The best binoculars for hunting out west have a higher magnification as well as a list of other qualifications to help you spot more elk, antelope, or mule deer.

Years ago I had the good fortune of going on my first elk hunt at the NRA Whittington Center in northern New Mexico. I’d been sent there by my then-employer Sporting Classics magazine to cover the Center’s 40th anniversary. The hunt was a bonus.

Thinking back to the preparation aspect of the trip, there was a lot of discussion about the rifle and the ammunition. Some of the senior editors who’d been on many successful western hunts even suggested boots and clothing layering systems. They also stressed the fact that I’d enjoy myself much more if I went into the hunt with strong lungs and legs. But I can’t for the life of me recall a single discussion on optics.

I guess it was already assumed that I had a scope on my rifle that was “good enough.” And since binoculars were never mentioned and I didn’t know any better, I headed west with the 8x I use to deer hunt in the thick eastern hardwoods. Needless to say, they didn’t perform well, mostly because the magnification was too low. Here is what I learned from that trip and several subsequent adventures about what makes up the best binoculars for hunting out west.

Best Binoculars for Hunting Out West

High magnification binoculars are a critical part of a successful hunt.

Best Binoculars for Hunting Out West

First and foremost, the best binoculars for hunting out west have long-range performance with a wide field of view that allows you to pick out well camouflaged animals in vast terrain must be built into the binocular. My guide at the Whittington Center had an extra 10x binocular that he allowed me to use during the hunt. And while 10x definitely works, I’d get my hands on the more optimal 12x binocular.

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Out on the plains, high magnification in your binocular can be the difference between putting a lot of time and energy into stalking a 65-inch pronghorn rather than a world-class 80 incher. You ought to be able to define the characteristics of the animal before making the decision to go after it. Only a binocular with high magnification will allow you to do that.

Great Low Light Performance

It was warm for October in northern New Mexico. The first three days we didn’t see many elk. The ones we did spot were at the edges of the dark timber at first light and last. This is why you need a binocular with great low-light performance. Whether you’re considering a 10x or 12x, go for a 50mm objective lens. The combination of superior light-transmitting glass and a larger objective lens will allow you to pick up more animals as they move between feeding and bedding areas at dawn to dusk.

Ruggedness & Weather Resistance

Ruggedness and weather resistance will always be high on the list of most important factors when it comes to the best binoculars for hunting out west. The western terrain is tough, so your equipment should be too. In the mountains, especially in the fall, the weather changes every hour. It’s not an unusual occurrence to watch a snow storm blow through a warm, sunny day at 8,000 feet. A binocular that’s both water and fogproof with argon gas and sealed with o-rings will provide you a tool that will function in all conditions.

A binocular built with a magnesium alloy body is about as durable as it gets. Wrapped in rubber armor and your glass is protected even if you slip and fall right on top of them. Oftentimes, the terrain is steep and footholds uncertain. Especially in the heat of the moment when you’re trying to get set up on a big bull or buck.

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Magnesium alloy is also super lightweight, which allows you to hold the binocular steady for longer periods of time. While we’d always suggest using a harness to evenly distribute the weight when you’re spending days in the woods, a lighter binocular won’t hurt your neck or traps in the event you’re having to move quickly over rough ground.

Tripod Adaptable

When you’re hunting out west, plan on spending a lot of time behind the binocular. There is the element of luck that puts you in range of an animal on the first morning. But most often, at least one or two days are devoted to scouting and glassing. Using a quality lightweight tripod along with a binocular tripod adapter will take stress off your body and allow you to glass for extended periods of time. And there is the “human tripod,” described by TRACT co-founder Jon Allen, where you sit as low as possible, move your hands to the ends of the objective barrels, and pull your elbows into your chest. A solid foundation and less shake will allow you to see more game more often.

Best Binoculars for Hunting Out West

Glassing with the TORIC 12.5×50 mounted on a tripod helps you cover a lot of ground efficiently.

Hunting in the west is usually quite the adventure. There are so many animals, birds, trees, and landscapes that make having the best binoculars for hunting out west worth your while. These things you’re able to see well will remain ingrained in your memory for years to come.

If you need help choosing the perfect binocular and accessories for your hunt out west, please contact us at:

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>