By Heather Madsen

If you’re new to hunting, or birding, or any other outdoor activity that utilizes optics, choosing your first pair of binoculars might be a little intimidating. This article will help explain some of the price and quality differences you’ll see when shopping for binoculars, and how you can use that knowledge to choose the best pair for you.

Vortex Diamondback HD Full Size Binoculars - 10x42Often, you will see two binoculars that have the same specs, but have very different price points. For example, Vortex sells both a Diamondback and a Viper model in their 10x42 rated selection. (For more information regarding binocular specs and terminology, click here).

These two binoculars are the exact same size, and have the exact same magnification power, but the Diamondback will be in the $200 range, while the Viper is in the $500 range. The difference is in the lens glass and coating. The Diamondback uses the industry standard lens glass and coating, which means they’re good, but not the absolute best. The Viper, however, uses an HD lens glass, and an XR premium coating. These treatments make the glass less reflective and let more light into the lens, which will give you a clearer and brighter picture, especially in low light conditions.

Vortex Viper HD Full Size Binoculars - 10x42The techniques used to create these flawless lenses require extremely close attention to detail and specific high-end machinery. It also takes more time to ensure that the end result fits in perfectly with the adjustment wheels and binocular frames. The cost of the tools and time required to make these binoculars is what raises the price.

It’s important to note that the more expensive binoculars won’t necessarily be twice as good as the lower cost pair--in fact, the increase in performance will be fractional. However, if you’re a frequent hunter, or someone who spends a lot of time in low-light conditions looking for tiny details, then the higher end binoculars, like the Vortex Vipers, might be the best choice for you.

If you have any questions or would like help picking out a pair of your own binoculars, feel free to visit us at your local Sportsman’s Warehouse, or online at