Editor’s Pick: Best Value In Compact Binos

It’s safe to say you’d need multiple 18-wheelers to haul all the binoculars on display at the 2015 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas, but the sheer size of the event didn’t stop our editors from making their pick for the best value in compact binos.

At times it’s fun to consider what you’d buy if money was no object, but unless you win the lottery, it’s wiser to live within your means. With this idea in mind, we editors cruised the SHOT Show floor looking for the No. 1 value in compact binos, and one that impressed us immensely was the 8X30 Nikon Monarch 7.

Sidebar: The term “compact” is a matter of opinion when it comes to binos. Some people think compacts must fit in a shirt pocket, and while we wouldn’t disagree that these tiny binos are ultra compact, we’d also argue they’re next to worthless. Why? Spend any time at all with pocket binos featuring lens specifications such as 10X25 and you’ll quickly learn that not only are they difficult to handle (read: too small to grip comfortably), but they perform poorly in low light, especially if you’re trying to count points on a woodland buck 20 minutes after sunset.

The compact 8X30 Nikon Monarch 7 is the perfect size for most turkey and deer hunters. As the reference photo below shows, the 8X30 Nikon is small but not too small. And after a couple of months glassing various critters out the window at North American Hunter headquarters with the Monarch 7, during lighting conditions of all types, we can say with confidence you’ll be blown away with the bino’s brightness and clarity. The waterproof/fogproof 8X30 has a street price of only $367.95 (click here to buy it from Amazon; free shipping!), but the ED (Exta-low Dispersion) glass is so good you’d swear it cost twice or three times as much.

Other features we love include the adjustable rubber eye cups (they click solidly into position and don’t move after they’re set); the central focus knob is silky smooth (not too tight, not too loose); and the rubber-armor exterior provides a sticky grip.

Plain and simple, for the money, the 8X30 Nikon Monarch 7 is a steal.

P.S. Click below for a video of another great Nikon optic we discovered at the 2015 SHOT Show.