The Gear List: Spot big savings on binoculars from Nikon and Bushnell on Amazon
Because glassing with your weapon’s optic isn’t always a good idea.
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Welcome to The Gear List, a semi-regular series where we spotlight the best discounts and deals on tactical gear, outdoor equipment, and everything in between.
Most military training glosses over the best binocular techniques, and that’s a shame. Knowing how to use binoculars makes a huge difference in the field, whether you’re deployed, on an exercise, or chasing game animals on your own time. Binoculars offer more than just magnification: they can be tailored to each of your eyes, burn through vegetation to observe the enemy without giving your position away, and they’re way better than an ACOG or RCO at observing the surrounding area without freaking out the locals.
The Nikon Aculon 8252 zoom binoculars landed the top spot in our list of the best binoculars for long distance and right now you can grab a pair for 18 percent off. A pair of compact, non-zoom Bushnell Prime binoculars will save you even more with a discount price that’s marked down 44 percent. If you want the biggest bang for your buck possible, grab a pair of budget-friendly Celestron SkyMasters and keep the $40 savings in your pocket for this week’s beer money.
Need more convincing? I thought not. Take a look at these excellent deals and pick up a new pair of binoculars today.
These prices were valid at press time, but prices can change and deals do expire.
Price: was $179.95, now $146.95
The Nikon Aculon 8252 impressed us during our research on the best binoculars for long distance primarily because they’re well-made and remarkably versatile. The 50-millimeter objective lens is large enough to work when the lighting isn’t great, but it’s not oversized and bulky. The rubberized exterior offers improved grip and a little bit of impact protection. The diopter lets you adjust the left and right eyepieces separately for each eye — that’s a feature some affordable binoculars cut in the name of cost savings. The big selling point here, though, is the telescopic magnification that zooms from 10- to 22-power. That’s a big asset in the field and keeps these Nikons at the top of our list.
The Porro prism (characterized by the offset front and rear lenses) generally provides better image clarity than the roof prisms found in straight tubes, but this older style is also heavier and slightly less durable. These binoculars are certainly worthy of taking into the field; they just aren’t the strongest or lightest. They’re great for anyone who prioritizes image clarity.
Price: was $179.95, now $99.99
Even though these Bushnell Prime binoculars started at the same price as the Nikons, they’ve been marked down much further to nearly half-off. One of the reasons these are more affordable right now, we suspect, is the lack of a zoom function. These binoculars are fixed at 10-power magnification, and they also have a slightly smaller objective lens. The 42-millimeter glass saves space but it doesn’t let in as much light as a larger one.
The upside of this design is a compact pair of binoculars that’s more portable and — thanks to the roof prism and straight-tube design — more durable. The aluminum body is coated in a rubber exterior and sealed to make these binoculars waterproof. All the oversized controls are easily reached while you’re using them so you can keep your eyes on the target. If you’re counting every ounce and tend to be hard on your gear, these look like the binoculars for you.
Price: was $129.95, now $89.00
These Celestron Skymasters made our list for three reasons. First, they’re available right now for 32 percent off, which is a hell of a start. Second, they’re more powerful than both our other picks with a fixed magnification of 25-power. Last but not least, the 70-millimeter objective lenses let in a ton of light and create a bright image even when lighting conditions aren’t doing you any favors.
These binoculars were pretty budget-friendly at a price of $129.95, so you should expect a few compromises. They’re noticeably larger than the other two options from Nikon and Bushnell, for starters, and I also doubt they’re as rugged as the competition. On the other hand, power and brightness are worth prioritizing, and there are definitely times when I’d reach for the these first. Those of you with price and low-light performance at the top of your priority list can buy these Skymaster binoculars with confidence.