10 Best binoculars under $250: a hands-on real-world test

We have looked everywhere from local stores to Amazon to search for the best binoculars for under $250. After searching through Amazon reviews, asking employees at sporting stores, and looking into what other hunters and shooters prefer, and spending a lot of time reviewing them, we have come up with a list of the top 10 best binoculars for under $250.

And not to stop there, but we spent the money to actually buy them and test them for ourselves and we found some really awesome options if you’re looking.

The Ranking of the Binoculars

  1. Leupold BX-2 Alpine ($250)
  2. Carson BAK4 ($150)
  3. Nikon Diamondback ($229)
  4. Nikon Crossfire ($150)
  5. Adorrgon ($40)
  6. Nikon Acculon 10-22×50 ($175)
  7. Nikon Acculon 10×50 ($150)
  8. Styrka S3 Series ($250)
  9. Bushnell ($105)
  10. Occer ($30)

Top Three That Stand Out

Here are the top three that stand out the most :

  • Best Inexpensive: Adorrgon
  • Best Value: Carson BAK4
  • Best Quality Leupold BX-2 Alpine

1. The Best Inexpensive: Adorrgon ($40)

The Adorrgon binoculars are actually from Amazon and are not that expensive.

For $40, you will get pretty decent binoculars.

If you are someone who does not hunt a lot or you are wanting binoculars to take when you go to Yellowstone with your family, these are a great option!

They are very lightweight, so they probably have plastic lenses, but not bad.

Of course, they do not compare to the more expensive ones, but for $40, they are a great value!

Unfortunately, the Adorrgon binoculars are not waterproof, so it is important to consider that before buying them.

2. The Best Value: Carson BAK4 ($150)

For the price for value, this is your best bet. This binocular is a dramatically better experience compared to the Adorrgon ones.

Coming in at $150, I would say the Carson BAK4 is the best value out of the ten binoculars listed here.

The quality is so good, that most people would not be able to tell a difference between this one and the more expensive ones on the list.

They are built really well, having great optics and great built quality. The focus ring, the zoom quality, the diopter, and the rubber feel make the built quality comparable to the $250 ones.

On top of everything, the Carson BAK4 is also waterproof!

The Carson BAK4 definitely competes with the $250 binoculars at a $150 price.

3. The Best Quality: Leupold BX-2 Alpine ($250)

At the top of the price point, the Leupold BX-2 Alpine binoculars are the best quality of the ten binoculars on this list.

The sharpness is exceptional and stands out from the others.

For example, you would be able to tell the difference between a tree branch and an antler with the sharpness of these binoculars.

Also, you will be able to see the contrast between each leaf with these binoculars. It is like seeing the leaves in HD.

Another great feature is that the Leupold BX-2 is waterproof.

These are on the more expensive side, but depending on where you are, what your price range is, how serious you are, and the use of the binoculars, the Leupold BX-2 Alpines may be the binoculars for you.

There is a small difference between the Leupold BX-2 and the Carson BAK4, so it just depends on what you are planning to use your binoculars for to decide between the two.

Since they are so inexpensive, they definitely stand out as something different from the rest of the binoculars.

PROSCONS
Adorrgon-Inexpensive
-Lightweight
-Amazon
-Not waterproof
-Does not compare to more expensive binoculars
-Not great for professionals
Carson BAK4-Best value
-Quality build
-Great price
-Waterproof
-Fits your face well
-A bit less sharpness than the Leupold
Leupold BX-2 Alpine-Sharpness/Clarity
-Best quality
-Waterproof
-More expensive

Other Binoculars Tested

The top three binoculars above are the ones that stood out to me the most. Here are the other binoculars that I tested that did not stand out as much as the others.

4. Styrka S3 Series ($250)

The Styrka S3 Series comes in at the same price as the Leupold BX-2 Alpines and it is just not as good as the Leupold.

The sharpness is a bit hazy compared to the Leupold.

They are waterproof though if that is what you are looking for.

5. Vortex Crossfire ($150)

I struggled to get the Vortex Crossfire to fit my face perfectly. If I moved at all, I would see black spots. I tried everything I could to adjust it, but I had to perfectly on axis for it to work.

There were some issues optically, but the Vortex Crossfire is still good.

They are waterproof, which is a great feature.

Since I had some issues with the Vortex Crossfire, they just could not compare to the quality of the others.

Cost wise, this binocular compares to the Carson BAK4, but the Carson BAK4 has better optics.

6. Vortex Diamondback ($229)

The Vortex Diamondback, which is the next step up from the Vortex Crossfire, has better optics and I would say it is closer in quality to the Leupold.

PROSCONS
Styrka S3 Series-Waterproof-Hazy vision
-Expensive
Vortex Crossfire-Waterproof
-Still good quality
-Good warranty
-Hard to fit your face
-Optical issues
Vortex Diamondback-Better optics than Crossfire
-Good warranty
-Waterproof
-n/a

Binoculars I Would Not Buy

In my testing and reviewing, here are some of the binoculars I would not buy.

  • Nikon Aculon 10×50
  • Nikon Aculon 10-22×50
  • Bushnell
  • Occer

7. Nikon Aculon 10×50 ($150)

I was excited about this one because I love Nikon, but I just do not like this one.

First, it is quite larger than the others. I would not want to take this one backpacking because it is so large.

It does not fit my face at all. I had to get it perfectly on axis to see and it was squishing my nose a bit.

Since it is the 10×50, it does have a bigger lens, which lets in more light, but there was no noticeable difference between the other binoculars that were 10x42s.

Also, it is not waterproof, so if you are looking for waterproof binoculars, this is not the one for you.

8. Nikon Aculon 10-22×50 ($175)

With the Nikon Aculon 10-22×50, you can zoom in. This is nice because you do get more magnification.

But, when you zoom all the way out, you see black cropping in from the edges, so you can see less.

If you are wanting a higher magnification binocular, just buy a fixed lens higher magnification binocular.

I have always wondered why are they all prime lenses and why binoculars do not have a reasonable zoom, but after I used the Nikon Aculon 10-22×50, I do not want a binocular that can zoom.

This Nikon is not waterproof also.

9. Bushnell ($105)

The first thing I noticed about these binoculars is the look of it. I really like the design of it.

Unfortunately, the optics are not great. They are off axis and it is so hard to get a clear view on these.

But, the Bushnell is waterproof if that is what you are looking for.

10. Occer ($30)

There are many reviews on Amazon for this binocular, but I just did not like this binocular compared to the others. I think there are better options out there for your money.

Overall, here are the pros and cons of the binoculars that I wouldn’t buy again.

PROSCONS
Nikon Aculon 10×50-Bigger lens-Larger
-Hard to fit my face
-Not waterproof
Nikon Aculon 10-22×50-Zoom ability-Hard to see when zoomed all the way out
-Not waterproof
Bushnell-Great design
-Waterproof
-Poor optics
Occer-Many Amazon reviews-Not as good as the others

With these options, you can probably find the right fit for you, whether that’s budget or high-end.

YouTube Review

We bought all these binoculars and tested them out so you would know which ones we feel are the best. If you want to see what we mean, watch our YouTube video of them.

We walk you through all of them, the ins and the outs. You can watch our review below.

We hope this post helps you find the best budget binoculars for you.

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One Comment

  1. Ricky Wilson says:

    would like to know whlch model of the carson binoculars you tested. all of there models have what they call bak4 technology. I do enjoy your reviews especiallyliked the review of 8 rangefinders. bought a leupold thanks many times over