Whether you have trouble seeing out of one eye or simply want to cut down on weight, choosing the best monocular for hunting is a great solution. While most hunters will tell you to stick with binoculars – even if you can’t see out of one eye – there’s the minority who swears by hunting monoculars. For example, if you need to quickly glass from close range, a monocular gives you that luxury.
Additionally, in this guide, we provide models with rangefinding capabilities and reticles. With the addition of these features, you’ll find that in some circumstances, you can leave your rangefinder at home. All in all, monoculars do have their place in hunting. In our opinion, most hunters who trash monoculars are just so used to using binos that anything else feels too awkward.
In this guide, we put together a collection of our personal favorite monoculars for hunting deer, elk, and other quarry. You’ll find that there’s a variety of magnifications and lens sizes offered by our picks to suit every hunter’s needs.
Before we get started with the reviews, let’s quickly summarize a few key features we consider when choosing a hunting monocular.
How to Choose a Hunting Monocular
- The Glass – Clearly, you want the highest quality glass from a monocular since using one eye inherently strains your eye more than using both. Bright, clear optics with good eye relief put less strain on your eye for more comfortable glassing sessions.
- Magnification – 6X to 10X is a good range for monoculars. In our opinion, monoculars are most useful for bowhunting and deer hunting when you don’t need to glass long distances. If you plan to use a monocular big game hunting out west, expect it to be part of your optics arsenal rather than a primary tool.
- Rangefinding & Recticles – Monoculars with reticles and rangefinders are more useful. Some of the best monoculars for hunting are actually rangefinders.
- Brand Trustworthiness – We prefer brands with bulletproof reputations and reliable warranty services. Those are the only brands you’ll find below.
Now, it’s time to check out the glass.
Best Hunting Monocular Reviews
Under each review, you’ll discover all the most important information to consider along with helpful pros & cons. Once you have the chance to weigh what each monocular brings to the table, you’ll know for sure which model(s) takes care of your needs.
#1) Leica 8×20 Monovid Close-Focus Monocular
Meet the alpha monocular on the market, Leica’s Monovid. If you’re unfamiliar with Leica, it’s time to quickly get acquainted. Leica is a German company that’s been around for over a century with deep roots in photography and optics. Leica manufactures its premium range of optics in Germany, which means no cheap parts or poor manufacturing practices to worry about.
Now, let’s check out the Monovid. At just 112 grams and 3.85″, the Monovid is seriously light and compact. Next, it offers an impressive FOV for an 8X monocular of 361 ft/1093 yards. Moreover, you’ll find that the larger exit pupil and generous eye relief put less strain on your eye. Especially, when compared to a budget hunting monocular.
Outside of those specs, it’s important to consider the quality of the glass. Expect true ultra HD quality resolution from the Monovid due to its premium coatings. The roof prism features phase correction coating P40, while the lenses feature Leica’s High Durable Coating (HDC) and AquaDura coating. Lastly, the Monovid is watertight to a depth of 16.5 ft, and it slips right into your shirt pocket.
- Backed by Leica’s limited lifetime warranty
- Made in Germany
- Crystal-clear glass
- Submersible up to 16.5 ft
- Perfect for glassing forests to spot deer
- Wide FOV for a monocular
- Good low-light performance at dusk and dawn
- Does not include a neck strap or front lens cover
- Not within everyone’s budget
- No built-in rangefinding
#2) Vortex Recce Pro HD 8x32mm Monocular RP-100
Vortex Optics is another one of our favorite optics brands, and the company has carved out a niche for itself in the monocular space. With all the different models available, it’s hard to choose just one. However, we put our expertise to work and decided that the Recce Pro is the overall best Vortex monocular for hunting. First, you’ll find that this model features a helpful reticle.
The Recce Pro reticle utilizes MRAD-based subtension lines for ranging, windage, and holdover corrections. To get an idea of how the MRAD system works, Vortex provides a thorough guide to help you get the hang of it. After the reticle, the Vortex glass does not disappoint in this model. Vortex blended its XR Fully Multi-Coated lenses with HD elements for enhanced light transmission and surprisingly good image resolution.
One spec that we want to highlight is the extra-wide FOV of 400 feet/1000 yards. That’s one category where the Recce Pro actually excelled past the Monovid. Although, it is important to note that the overall image quality is not on par with Leica. Finally, one of the biggest reasons to choose Vortex is its ironclad VIP lifetime warranty that’s also transferrable.
- Built-in recticle for rangefinding
- Vortex lifetime warranty
- Great performance in low light
- Waterproof & fog-proof performance
- One of the widest FOVs offered by an 8X monocular (400 ft/1000 yards)
- Well-placed controls with smooth adjustments
- Rugged construction
- Heavier than the Monovid at 11 oz
- The ocular lens cap detaches fairly easily
- You’ll probably want to replace the included lanyard
#3) Sig Sauer KILO1800BDX 6x22mm Rangefinder Monocular
Now, this is a fun piece of equipment by one of our favorite rangefinder brands, Sig Sauer. Unlike the Vortex model above, this model by Sig sports a laser rangefinder. So, if you’re not a fan of learning to use a reticle, the laser on this Sig hybrid monocular is the way to go. Regarding the rangefinder’s speed, Sig incorporated its LightWave DSP and HyperScan technology that produces four range updates per second. In other words, there’s no lag to worry about here.
Next, a feature we really like about this model is the ability to hold the range button while scanning. By doing this, the KILO1800 gives you continuous readings while you scan. For this reason, you might want to choose this model over a comparable Vortex model.
Beyond rangefinding, the KILO1800 also shines in the optics department because of Sig’s SpectraCoat lens. This lens is well-known among hunters who own Sig rangefinders for delivering bright, clear images. Several final considerations are the 7.9 oz weight, 6X magnification, 4″ length, and a ranging capability of up to 1000 yards for deer. Lastly, it’s important to consider that the IPX-4 waterproofing rating is not true waterproof construction.
- Laser rangefinder rather than a reticle
- Covered by Sig’s Infinite Guarantee and 5-year limited electronic component warranty
- The best monocular for bow hunting in this guide
- Intuitive controls and customizable personal settings
- Quick & accurate readings
- The option to hold the button for continuous scanning vs click for a single range reading
- BDX Ballistic Data Xchange capable by pairing with a Sig BDX riflescope
- Not waterproof
- 6X is not powerful enough for long distances
- Made in China
#4) Bushnell Legend 10×42 Ultra HD Tactical Monocular
Introducing the first 10×42 hunting monocular in our guide, meet Bushnell’s LegendUltra HD Monocular. For hunters who prefer extra magnification, this is the first 10×42 to check out. As the name suggests, Bushnell went all-in on this model to deliver Ultra HD glass to the consumer. Having said that, don’t expect it to be Leica-quality, but do expect it to be some of the clearest glass for the money.
First, what truly impresses us about this monocular is the FOV of 340 ft/1000 yards. Considering this is a 10X monocular, that’s not bad at all. Plus, since one of the major complaints about monoculars is the narrower FOV when glassing, this is another major win for Bushnell. After FOV, we also like that Bushnell chose its premium ED Prime Glass for the Legend.
With the ED glass, you get better performance in low light and overall excellent resolution. Regarding specs, the Legend 10×42 weighs 13.2 oz – which makes it the heaviest model in our guide – and it measures 5.4″ long. Finally, Bushnell now offers a fully-transferrable lifetime warranty on its monoculars. However, it’s important to note that Bushnell counts a lifetime as 20 years for its binos and spotters.
- Our top 10×42 hunting monocular pick
- A good supplemental optic for hunting out West
- Features Bushnell’s premium ED Prime glass
- Extra-wide 340 ft/1000 yards FOV (remember this is 10X)
- IPX7 waterproof & fog-proof construction
- Recommended for deer hunting out to about 150 yards
- Good for bowhunting when you only have one hand free
- Heavier than other models
- Great warranty, but not quite as good as Vortex
- Doesn’t slip in and out a pocket as easily as other models
#5) Vortex Solo Monocular
Our top budget hunting monocular pick is made by none other than Vortex. Comparatively, the Solo series is a lot more affordable than our preceding picks at the time of this writing. Also, the good news is that this model is another excellent 10X option for hunting. When putting this model up against Bushnell’s Legend, it’s smaller and lighter since the objective lens diameter is 36mm compared to the 42mm lens on the Legend.
Also, the Solo is available in 10×25 if you want to go with a more compact model. Just be sure to consider the narrower FOV. As for the 10×36, it gives you a generous FOV of 325 ft at 1000 yards. Next, it weighs just 9.7 oz with a 4.9″ length. After those specs, it’s important to consider the glass.
Compared to Recce Pro HD, the Solo’s glass is not on the same level. Consequently, you miss out on the HD elements, however, you do get Vortex’s Fully Multi-Coated lenses. The key advantage of this Vortex coating is increased light transmission. While this is good news for low-light performance, there will be more disadvantages such as chromatic aberration. In other words, this monocular is best used for deer hunting and for small game rather than big game hunting.
- Easy to focus and sharp images
- Recommended for hunting from a treestand
- Lightweight & compact for quicker access than binos
- Same Vortex lifetime warranty
- Nice neoprene case included
- Various sizes are available from 8×25 up to 10×36
- Our top budget pick
- Low-light performance is decent but not as good as our picks that came before it
- The eye relief might feel awkward to you
- Can feel bulky to lefties
When selecting the best monocular for hunting, it’s even more important to consider your goals than when choosing hunting binos. Why? Because you have to match your expectations to the right monocular to avoid being let down. Unfortunately, there are a very limited number of alpha monoculars, with the clear leader being Leica’s Monovid.
Furthermore, it’s wise to consider hunting situations where a monocular is the better choice than binos. If you’re a bowhunter, then you may find it advantageous to only need one hand to glass while holding your bow. If you usually hunt deer in the woods from stands or on foot, a monocular can be more useful. The low magnification of most monoculars makes them better suited for hunting in the woods than in open fields.
Lastly, consider the convenience of owning a monocular rangefinder for hunting. These devices blend two optics into one to cut down on weight and increase your hunting efficiency. On top of that, a lot of good hunting rangefinders make for good monoculars. If you want to take that route, then check out Leica’s Rangemaster CRF series because the glass in that series is top-notch.
You might also like our collection of top-rated thermal monoculars for hunting at night.