I have a strong personal preference for monoculars over binoculars because my eyes don’t work together (as yours do) to give me “normal” 3D vision. One of the tubes in a pair of binoculars just doesn’t do me any good. So I look for a good monocular when I need to see far-away things close-up. This review of the best monocular under $100 (and other price ranges) will show you what I would pick if I had the funds available.
You might be surprised at what I won’t pick, even if I did have the money.
When trying to judge among the many options to find the best monocular under $100, I actually split that price range into two groups – the best monocular under $75 and the best monocular under $100 above that other group. Also, when I say “best monocular under $100” I will be including any models that are priced right at $100 too.
When grouping monocular models into their various price ranges, I’m using the prices you should expect to pay, which is usually not the MSRP. Most models costs you less than MSRP, but there are a few that are equal to it and even some that go for more than MSRP.
After I show you the best monocular under $100 and under $75, I’ll move up to the best monocular under $150 and then the best monocular under $250. I know that most people in the market for a monocular would probably search for “best monocular under $200” but I’ve found that the $150 and $250 cutoffs make more sense when it comes to the features you get in each of those groups.
I have not included monoculars with night vision (NV) capabilities because it’s hard to compare them with those that don’t have it. NV monoculars are really a class of their own.
While I have included monoculars with special features like a reticle, a compass, or a rail (for rifle mount) in my research, I won’t be recommending any of them here. All my recommendations will be for monoculars that serve a more general purpose, like bird watching, sporting events, or other recreational uses.
Finally, you’ll find that I have a hard time recommending a monocular with less power than 8x. For the uses I just mentioned, I don’t see the point in having an underpowered lens…even (or especially) if it costs hundreds of dollars.
Okay, now that the long introduction is out of the way, let’s take a look at the best monocular under $100 and (first, actually) under $75.
- 1 Best Monocular under $75 – Firefield Siege
- 2 Best Monocular under $100 – Hawke Endurance ED
- 3 Best Monocular under $150
- 4 Best Monocular under $250 – Opticron Explorer WA ED-R
- 5 Best Monocular under $500 – Opticron DBA VHD+
Best Monocular under $75 – Firefield Siege
If you’re not familiar with the Firefield brand, that’s okay. I wasn’t really aware of it either until I started researching monoculars. Firefield isn’t as well-known as what I call the “Big 3” – Leica, Swarovski, and Zeiss. For the money though (which is about $50), the Firefield Siege does stand out in a very crowded field. (If there’s a pun there, it wasn’t intended.)
Until I saw the Firefield Siege 10×50, I certainly didn’t expect a monocular at this price point to have so many desirable features. Just look at this list.
- Coated (type unspecified) BaK4 prism
- Fully multi-coated glass
- Nitrogen purged tube
- IP67 waterproofing
- Tripod adaptable
- Field of view (FOV) of 367 feet at 1000 yards
The Siege is competing against 26 other models in the under $75 range. (There are many more, but I had to stop adding to my list at some point.) There are others in this class that have a wider FOV and weigh less (than the Siege’s 15.2 ounces), but they fall short in other areas. The only other one equal to the Siege is its brother, the 10x50R that includes a reticle.
Since there are so many in this group, I’ll include a runner-up, the Vortex Solo 8×25, which you might find at up to 40% less than MSRP.
Since it’s smaller and less powerful than the Siege, it only weigh about 1/3 as much. For more details about the Solo 8×25 and others in the Solo line, see this review.
There are many other models for which you could pay less than $50, but if you’re at all serious about getting a quality monocular, you’ll have to move up in price, not down. So, next we’ll find the best monocular under $100.
Best Monocular under $100 – Hawke Endurance ED
Most monoculars with ED glass have an MSRP of at least $150. Somehow, Hawke manages to make it Endurance ED – both the 8×25 and 10×25 models – for less than $100. I’ll take the more powerful Endurance 10×25, thank-you-very-much.
If you have a chance to get ED glass in a monocular or binoculars, you really shouldn’t pass it up. Your target image will just be so much clearer and cleaner than any optical instrument without it.
The FOV is 288 feet, which is average for a 10×25 tube. At this price point and above, all decent monoculars have phase coated, BaK4 prisms and nitrogen purged tubes.
I’ll mention a runner-up here too – the Hawke Nature-Trek 8×42. While it doesn’t have the ED glass and costs a few dollars more, it does have an FOV of 388 feet, which is just about tops for a monocular with a 42 millimeter objective lens.
Best Monocular under $150
I almost hate to do it, but there’s another Hawke Endurance ED in this group, the 10×42, so I have to pick it.
Outwardly it looks nearly identical to the Nature-Trek, but again, this one has ED glass. Other than color, the Endurance also looks similar to the other model I’ll suggest here, the Opticron Oregon 4 PC Oasis 10×42.
The main differences between the Oregon 4 and the Endurance are that the Endurance has a tripod adapter (and the ED glass), whereas the Oregon 4 has a slightly better FOV (315 vs 304 feet) and dielectric coating on the prism. If those tradeoffs make the Oregon 4 seem better to you, that’s fine. I won’t argue.
Best Monocular under $250 – Opticron Explorer WA ED-R
There are just a few (seven) monoculars that fall between $150 and $250. Almost all of them have ED glass, so it’s getting tougher to pick the best one.
The Zeiss MiniQuick, a quirky little device, is in this group, but I won’t pick it because it’s a 5×10 model. If you want to know more about the Zeiss monoculars – none of which I’ll choose here – see this review.
The monocular I will pick in the under $250 range is the Opticron Explorer WA ED-R 10×42.
The only other 10x power monocular in this range is a Bushnell tactical device that almost doesn’t belong here at all. Two of the others are also Opticron Explorers, but they’re less powerful (8×32 and 8×42), so I’ll stick with the 10×42 model.
The FOV of 339 feet is second only to that Bushnell among 10×42 models I’ve seen – and then only by one foot. If you want a little better FOV than that, I’m going to suggest the Maven CM.1 (aka CM1).
The Maven has all the Explorer has, plus dielectric coating on the prism. If it were more powerful, I probably would have made this my #1 pick in the group.
Best Monocular under $500 – Opticron DBA VHD+
In the final price range where I’ll make a pick, I’ll give the nod to another Opticron model, the DBA VHD+ 8×42.
Opticron is a small British company with a sense of humor. For example, the “DBA” in the model name has no real meaning. (See my review of Opticron binoculars for a fuller explanation.) They do make some very nice optics though. I rate this DBA better than the Zeiss, Nikon, Vortex, and Minox models in this price range.
The DBA is the only one in this group that I know for certain has ED glass. It also has a phase and dielectric coated OP6 prism, nitrogen purged tube, and S-H coated lenses. OP6 is arguable better than BaK4 for prisms. I’m not sure what S-H stands for, but I think it’s at least as good, if not better, than the more common fully multi-coated lenses.
Finally, for completeness, I’ll just mention that I found 2 monoculars priced over $500 – the Leica Monovid 8×20 and the Vortex Recon RT 15×50. The Vortex is really a tactical instrument. I’m not sure why anyone would pay that much for an 8×20 monocular other than really, really liking the brand.
If you pinned me down and wouldn’t let me go until I picked the best of all of these, I’d choose the Hawke Endurance ED 10×42 as the best option for your money. And no, I don’t own one…yet.