Best Binoculars Not Made in China

Best Binoculars Not Made in China

After a lot of research, I concluded that it’s practically impossible to find a set of affordable binoculars that isn’t made in China. It seems that major manufacturer who makes binoculars under $500, including Nikon, Celestron, Athlon Optics, Leupold, Burris, Bushnell, Pentax, make them in China. Boo.

Unlike electronics, binoculars that are cared for properly will last forever. That’s why instead of buying a new pair of binoculars, you may be better off going to eBay and looking for an old pair of Bushnells (the best ones were made in the 1960s and 1970s in Japan).

Here are some of the best you can buy.


Best Binoculars Not Made in China

1. Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD Binoculars

Leupold is an American company started in 1907 is Portland by a German immigrant. They were a pioneer in making riflescopes for hunting. While they still employ over 700 people in their Beaverton, Oregon factory, the majority of their binoculars for consumers are made in China and Japan.

Their BX-5 Santiam HD is their top of the line model, and sells for about $800. These are manufactured in Japan.

Their BX-4 Pro Guide HD series is a bit more affordable at about $500 or less if you can find it on sale from a reputable reseller. Make sure you choose the BX-4 “Pro Guide” binoculars which are made in Japan and not the BX-4 “Range” binoculars which are evidently made in China.

Most of their lower-end lines are made in China, but there’s talk that some of them are starting to be made in the Philippines. Reach out to the seller to ask them to tell you what’s written on the box.

2. Canon 10×30 Image Stabilization III Binoculars

I grew up a photography geek, with my cherished Canon AE-1 SLR. So I developed a huge apprecation for Canon optics. These Image Stabilization binoculars look a little like you’re wearing a Canon camera on your face, but they’re popular, highly reviewed, affordable, and best of all, made in Japan.

They sell a higher end 12×36 model with a wider field of view as well.

The Image Stabilization technology comes directly from their experience with Canon EF lenses. If you’re like me and always have trouble focusing in on that one pretty bird, you’re going to love this one.

3. Vortex Optics Viper HD

Vortex Optics used to make everything in China, but it seems that in recent years they’ve been wisely moving things to the Philippines.

This particular model, the Viper HD, was named to the “best of” lists by both Wired and Outdoor Gear Lab for its clarity, crispness, and brightness.

4. Maven C2 Compact Binoculars

Maven has also started to do some of its manufacturing in the Philippines, and these Compact Binoculars are not only powerful, they’re incredibly affordable. They were named by Wired as its “best compact pick”, balancing the more narrow field of view with convenience in a smaller size and weight.

5. Steiner Navigator 7×50

Steiner is an iconic brand out of Germany, founded in 1947 by Karl Steiner in the aftermath of the war. They still makes binoculars out of their factory in Bayreuth, Germany. These days they’re part of the Beretta Group.

According to their Web site, all of their binoculars are still made in Germany, but that seems to have changed in the last year or two. According to this site, only premium products with a price tag of over 500 Euros (about $550 USD) are still made in Germany, while lower end products are outsourced, presumably to you-know-where.

This model, the Steiner Navigator 7×50, is listed as made in Germany on Amazon, but other retailers are listing it as made in China. If you have your heard set on a pair of Steiners, try buying them from Amazon and if they sent you a pair made in China, throw it back at their cost.

6. Leica Trinova HD

Leica’s Trinovid HD Binoculars are at the lower end of their binocular line, but at just under $1000 their quality is already far superior than most of the others we’ve seen so far. The Leica Noctivid HD is considered by many to be one of the best binoculars that money can buy, but with a price tag of $3000 it’s out of reach of most of us. The Trinovid line lets you experience some of those phenomenal optics at a much lower price. It’s made in Portugal.

7. Swarovski 8.5×42 EL Binoculars

We’re getting into the upper stratosphere price-wise, but if you really want the best of the best, these Swarovski EL binoculars are ranked at the top of many “Best of lists for their outstanding optics, brightness, and sharpness throughout their ultra-wide field of view. If you’ve got the money and want the best, here they are. And they’re made in Austria.


This was one of those categories where I was sure that I’d find nothing that wasn’t made in China. China has an endless supply of raw materials and cheap workers to keep pumping out cheap products, and most consumers won’t know the difference or won’t care. They’ll look at a pretty outer case, a low price tag, and pour their money into cheap China manufacturing.

On the other hand, I was glad to see that there are still some companies that take pride in their craftsmanship and their brand. As big companies like Nikon cheapen their brands by going all-in on China, expect other brands who have not bent the knee to China to step up. But the first step starts with you. If you can, invest just a little more in a mid-range binocular that’ll last you a lifetime, rather than a cheap set that you’ll throw out after two uses.

Do you know of other binoculars not made in China? Please share it in the comments!

1 Comment

  1. Very nice to see that you have found some NMIC models. I agree that if you have less to spend, it is better to buy a used product.

    I did find one very cheap made in Japan model:
    Bynolyt Traveller B 10×21

    Some other options (all more expensive than $500)
    MINOX HG APO 8, made in Germany
    MINOX X-HD 8×44, made in Germany
    Zeiss binoculars are made in Germany and Hungary
    Fujifilm HC 8×42 Hyper Clarity, made in Japan
    Canon 10×20 IS, made in Taiwan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *