Whether you’re into hunting, bird watching, or checking out the local wildlife, the right monocular gets you up close and personal. Check out the best monoculars right here.
There’s so much to see in the amazing world around us. Birds with incredible plumage, majestic mountains with their peaks wrapped in snow, winding rivers slowly cutting their way through the countryside – a monocular gives you an incredible view and offer an alternative to both bulky binoculars and fragile spotting scopes. They range in size from compact options to models that rival telescopes, but are convenient enough to be carried almost anywhere.
You’ll also find that the best monoculars work well for almost any activity, from bird watching to hunting to ensuring that you can see all the action at sporting events. Of course, there are many monocular models on the market today and it can be challenging to determine which is the right option for your needs. In this guide, we’ll review the top six monocular models, and even provide a guide to answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
- Gosky 12x55 High-Definition Monocular Telescope and Quick Smartphone Holder
- Authentic Roxant Grip Scope High-Definition, Wide-View Monocular
- Vortex Optics Solo Monocular 10x25
- Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Monocular
- Slopehill Monocular Telescope
- 16x52 Monocular Telescope
- Frequently Asked Questions When Buying Monoculars
Gosky 12x55 High-Definition Monocular Telescope and Quick Smartphone Holder
The Gosky 12×55 high-definition monocular telescope is one of our best contenders for several reasons. It delivers 12x magnification with a 55mm objective lens, which ensures you get a great view of whatever you’re watching. The lens is specially designed to deliver a crystal-clear view in almost all weather. Inside, you’ll find a BAK-4 prism, featuring a multi-coated, green objective lens coating, as well as a coated blue eyepiece that work to strengthen your view and deliver pristine color reproduction.
The unit is also nitrogen filled. Nitrogen is an inert gas, which helps prevent fogging, even in damp conditions. Plus, this is one of the lighter monoculars on the market, weighing in at just 15.85 ounces.
The housing is waterproof, which ensures that even if the monocular gets wet, you won’t have to worry about moisture inside. It’s also dust-proof and shock-proof. You’ll enjoy a comfortable grip on the housing thanks to the rugged rubber armor stripes. The padded hand strap ensures comfortable carrying, but the monocular can also be mounted on a monopod or tripod for longer usage sessions.
The adjustable eyecups can be twisted to adjust to any level of comfort needed, and also work with glasses or sunglasses. The included smartphone holder allows you to use the monocular like a telephoto camera lens, too.
- 12x55 magnification
- Tripod/monopod mounting
- Waterproof, dust-proof, and shock-proof
- Smartphone holder is included
- Some users have noted that the phone holder is fragile
- Some users have reported difficulty in focusing properly
- Some users have noted 50mm lenses provided instead of 55mm
Authentic Roxant Grip Scope High-Definition, Wide-View Monocular
The Roxant Grip Scope is a high-definition, wide-view monocular designed to fit comfortably in any hand. It’s one of the best compact monoculars on the market, but still manages to deliver excellent performance in a wide range of conditions. Plus, thanks to the BAK-4 prism and multicoated optics, it delivers excellent color reproduction.
The Roxant monocular offers 6×30 viewing, which is a smaller field of view than the Gosky model we just looked at. However, it’s best-suited for studying specific scenes – the ball play in your favorite sport, or the unique plumage of that beautiful bird down by the river. It does not provide panoramic views, though.
The body of this monocular is designed to be rugged and durable, yet comfortable to hold. Rubber grips ensure you always have a secure hold, and there is a simple attachment point for a wrist lanyard. This unit also comes with a retractable eyecup so you can use it with or without glasses. Also included with the purchase are a neck strap, cleaning cloth, and a carry pouch designed to be worn on the belt.
- Very lightweight
- High definition magnification
- Wider view than some competitors
- Comes with plenty of extras
- Some users prefer higher magnification
- Some users have noted difficulty focusing the monocular
Vortex Optics Solo Monocular 10x25
The third monocular to make it on our best of list is the Vortex Optics Solo Monocular. It delivers 10×25 magnification, which is better than the previous model on our list. Get up to 10x the magnification of the naked eye with one of the most compact monoculars on the market.
The Vortex monocular offers a unique field of view – 315 feet/1,000 yards | 6 degrees, with a close focus of just 16.4 feet, which means you can zoom in even on nearby objects to get a better look. The unit is designed with rugged rubber and metal construction, and is sealed with an O-ring after being purged of oxygen, ensuring a worry-free use life.
You’ll also find that the Vortex model offers multicoated lens coatings. Not only does that help ensure accurate color reproduction, but it also means that you can use it in low light conditions because the coatings amplify light transmission. Note that this is not designed for no-light conditions or even true-low light viewing, though.
The adjustable eyecup can be screwed in or out to suit users with glasses or without, and the included lanyard ensures you never need to worry that dropping the monocular will result in damage or loss.
- Multi-coated lenses for good light transmission
- 10x magnification
- Rugged, durable construction
- Excellent optical clarity
- Some users have difficulty focusing the unit
- Some users have reported the focus wheel is fragile
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Monocular
There are few names with the same history as Bushnell. The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Monocular is a fitting addition to that heritage, too. It delivers plenty of performance, a compact form factor, and, best of all, ease of use in just about any situation.
The Bushnell Legend offers 10x magnification with a 42mm objective compact roof prism monocular. It features a BAK-4 prism, multi-coated lenses for improved transmission and visibility in low light situations (not night vision), and features ED Prime Glass.
Note that this unit also uses RainGuard HD technology, which is designed to ensure moisture is repelled from the lenses, making it an all-weather option. The body is 100% water and dust-proof, and is filled with nitrogen to prevent moisture.
The eyecup twists in and out so that you can get the perfect viewing experience, with or without glasses. You’ll also find a Picatinny rail to make mounting it on other devices simple and easy. The carry clip also allows you to carry it with you easily.
- Image clarity is excellent out to 150 feet
- Includes a MIL reticle
- Includes Picatinny rail for mounting
- Usable as a gun scope/viewer
- Improved light gathering
- Some users report the magnification is less than stated
Slopehill Monocular Telescope
Delivering 12×50 magnification, the Slopehill Monocular Telescope is one of the more powerful monoculars to make our best of list. It is also unique in that it is one of only two models to claim to deliver night vision in low light situations. If you’re looking for a larger monocular that delivers excellent magnification, this could be the right one for you.
The Slopehill model offers 12x magnification with a 50mm objective lens. Multi-coated lenses ensure improved light amplification for low light viewing, even at dusk. The effective field of view with this model is 360 feet at 1,000 yards, which is one of the widest in the models we have reviewed.
The internal BAK-4 prism and advanced best lens design and construction helps ensure not just a crystal-clear view, but also an optimal usage experience. Light transmittance reaches as high as 99.5% and also functions well in low light level situations. Note that this unit does not provide illumination in complete darkness.
In addition to the outstanding optics, you’ll find that this monocular also comes with a tripod, a lens shield, and a smartphone holder that allows you to clip your phone right to the eyepiece. The adjustable eyecup makes using this comfortable with or without glasses. Also included with the monocular is a cleaning cloth, as well as a travel bag.
- Wide field of view
- 12x magnification
- Nonslip grip
- Low light use possible
- One hand focus
- Comes with smartphone holder and tripod
- Some customers have noted that the tripod is not strong enough to support both the monocular and their phone
- Some users have noted low build quality
16x52 Monocular Telescope
This 16×52 monocular telescope delivers some of the best magnification and a wide field of view. It is also specially designed for use with smartphones, but the one-handed zoom means that you can easily use it in the field even without a phone. It also offers low light operation, although it does not function in complete darkness.
This unit delivers 16x magnification and features a BAK-4 prism, as well as multi-coated lenses. The body is sealed and filled with inert nitrogen, ensuring that it is water-resistant, fog-proof, and dust-proof. The included smartphone mount also ensures that you can easily attach your phone to the back of the monocular. Note that this unit is not completely waterproof and the manufacturer does not recommend using it in the rain.
This monocular also comes with a cleaning cloth, a carry strap, and a convenient bag for storage. A tripod is also included, as is a phone clip and a user manual.
- 16x magnification
- Single-hand use
- Includes numerous accessories
- Low light functionality
- Not waterproof
- Some customers state the build quality is low
Frequently Asked Questions When Buying Monoculars
Monoculars offer convenient magnification and can be used with rifles or smartphones. However, if you have never purchased a monocular before, chances are good you have quite a few questions about which one is best, or what features you need. In this section, we will help you understand what makes the best monocular for your needs.
Is a 40x60 Monocular Good?
Yes, a monocular with 40x magnification would be considered good. With a 60mm objective lens, the model in question would be larger and more powerful than anything on our list. However, with that power comes increased size. This may not be the best monocular for those interested in something compact and lightweight.
What Does 12x50 Mean on a Monocular?
12×50 is an indication of a monocular’s magnification capabilities and the size of the objective lens – the large lens at the far end of the device. In this situation, the unit offers 12x magnification, which means objects are 12 times more magnified than with the naked eye. The 50 denotes an objective lens that measures 50mm, which factors into the field of view.
Which Is Better, Binocular, or Monocular Construction?
There is no clear winner here, as binoculars and monoculars are very different. For long-term use, binoculars are best because they are more comfortable and generally offer better magnification. However, they are also bulkier and more difficult to carry with you. Monoculars are more compact, can be used with just one hand, and weigh less. However, they usually have less magnification capabilities than binoculars.
Are All Monoculars Capable of Low Light Use?
No, not all monoculars offer low-light capabilities. In order to function in low-light situations, the best monocular needs multi-coated optics and the right design. Most of the units on our list offer low-light functionality, even night use.
Do Monoculars Work in the Dark?
While most of the monocular models to make our best of list offer low-light capabilities, none of them function in complete dark. For that, you would need true night vision technology.
What’s the Difference between a Monocular and a Spotting Scope?
While monoculars and spotting scopes are similar, they are not the same thing. Monoculars are smaller, lighter, and less powerful than spotting scopes. Most spotting scopes offer magnification of at least 20x, which is far more than any of the monoculars on our list can deliver. However, spotting scopes are also bulkier, heavier, and more expensive than monoculars.
By this point, you should have the information you need to make an informed purchase. The right monocular offers easy portability, a compact form factor, and powerful magnification that can bring even the most distant object nearer. Whether you’re a hiker, will be traveling to areas where you expect sweeping views, or simply want to get a better view of distant objects from your home, these monoculars will help you do it.