One of the first things I learned about owning a gun is how to properly maintain it. I want my firearms to be there for me when I need them the most. That’s why I make sure to use a high quality gun oil or lube every time I clean my firearm.
With so many different brands of gun oils and lubes out on the market, it’s hard to know which one to buy. One piece of advice is to stick with the more well-known brands that have been around for a while.
I reviewed the five best gun oil and lubes, giving you the pros and cons of each so you can decide for yourself which gun oil or lube fits best with your firearm needs. Read on to find out more about what it takes to keep your gun in good working order for years to come.
Here I give some advice on good reasons to lubricate and protect your gun, what the difference between gun oil and grease is, and a few other handy tips.
Guns can be pretty tough, but they have their limits. For example, metal and wood parts need to be protected from friction, the elements, the weather and from the acidic effect of human skin oil and sweat. None of these factors will necessarily destroy a firearm at once, but over time, without proper lubrication, your firearm can rust, jam up, freeze, overheat, collect residue, and the metal parts can corrode.
Even when a gun is put away in storage for a few years or even decades, it can oxidize over time. A proper gun lube can keep your firearm in working condition, so it can be used whenever you need it most.
There are a lot of factors to keep in mind when deciding whether to choose gun oil or gun grease, also known as lube. The difference between gun oil and grease is in its viscosity, that is, how thick or thin the gun lubricant is.
When I plan to use my guns in an extremely hot or humid climate, such as a desert or jungle, I always go for the grease (lube). It can stand up to high heat and humidity without drying out or running. You don’t want your oil to leak because it can pick up other stuff like powder, dust, and sand.
Another reason I use gun lube is for heavy artillery such as machine guns and assault rifles. These pack a really hot punch, and I like to make sure that I have the right lubrication that can withstand really high heat before I take them to the range. See my review below for my favorite heat-resistant gun lube.
On the other hand, when I am in an extremely cold environment with sub-freezing temperatures and lots of snow, gun oil is what I use. It goes on more easily than thick oil because it is more fluid and won’t rub off as easily. It’s also pretty easy to reapply, especially if it comes in an aerosol can.
Tetra gun grease comes in a small tube with an applicator. It is a heavy-duty synthetic gun lubricant that works on a wide variety of firearms. It is a fluoropolymer white grease that works well on a wide range of temperatures.
Hoppes is one of the better known gun oils. The synthetic blend is a breakaway product from their original oil, and the synthetic blend was designed especially for modern firearms. It’s also an improvement from the original oil in that they took away the bad odor the original oil was known for. The synthetic blend is completely odorless, so it’s one less thing to deal with when you are cleaning your firearm. You can also use it on other sporting goods such as fishing reels. Made proudly in the USA.
This gun oil is a combination of synthetic oils and lox additives. It can help a gun withstand the effects of saltwater, humidity and moisture, making it really effective against corrosion of any kind. It can withstand high heat and has a long shelf life. It also actively repels dirt, grime, and powder from hard-to-reach places.
Lucas gun oil was made specifically for guns that have high heat such as machine guns and high caliber rifles, as it can withstand very high temperatures. It can also be used on fishing reels and household materials. It is completely odorless and resistant to moisture. Lucas gun oil is a great option for storage because it resists drying and evaporation.
Ballistol was developed by a German scientist for the German army as an all-in-one solution to clean, lubricate, protect and preserve firearms, their gun stocks, and leather gear. Its many uses have become legendary, almost mythical. They range anywhere from polishing brass, shining shoes to emergency disinfectant for wounds.
A couple of caveats with this product. It has a bad smell that lots of consumers complain about. Also, check to make sure you are ordering the right size of Ballistol. There is only a small difference in price between the really small, almost sample-size version and the regular size. A lot of people accidentally order the sample size and are really disappointed. Buyer beware.
Almost as soon as telescopes were invented, opticians of the time began experimenting with attaching two small telescopes side by side. This allowed three-dimensional viewing through two eyes, which is more natural than two-dimensional viewing with one eye closed while looking through a telescope.
The advantages quickly became obvious, because anyone’s visual power that used them had now greatly increased. In fact, for hunting, which was one of the staples to put meat on the table, game could be seen at ranges that were inconceivable before, and planning could now be done to intercept or creep up on the target without scaring it away. And in those early days of firearms, hunters needed all the help they could get.
However, those same attributes that made binoculars for hunting so valuable then, make them equally valuable today. And with today’s better lenses, optics and coatings, it makes them even more so.
That leads us to the best binoculars that you can get for hunting.
But the best ones will have superior optics, lens coatings that enhance your view, while giving you the perfect magnification with the best field of view.
There are certain categories that must be taken into consideration when choosing a pair of binoculars, what they mean and which characteristics are more or less important. In the following sections, we will get into those so that when all that information is tallied up, you will know what makes up the basics of binoculars for hunting, and you will be able to pick out the best binocs that suit both your preference and your budget.
The heart of every binocular is magnification, and without that, you may as well just be using your eyes. Granted, the more magnification you have, the closer or larger that everything will look, but, and this is a big but, too much magnification and you won’t be able to accurately see a thing.
At higher power magnification, say 20X, every little shake of your hands will make the image in the binoculars look as if an earthquake is happening. At 30X, the wobble will be so great that the image will nearly be unrecognizable because it will be shaking so much.
In every binocular, there are two measurements listed. For example, a 10 by 50 means 10 magnification power as seen through a 50mm objective, or outer lens. The objective lens is the big lens on the front where the light first enters the binoc, and the larger the objective lens size, the brighter the object will be. It is just that simple.
The problem is that the larger the objective lens gets, the more unwieldy and heavy the binocular will become. Sure, a 400mm or 500mm objective lens would be great for viewing and allow crystal clear images in almost any type of lighting, but they would be incredibly awkward to swing into action quickly enough while becoming tiring to hold up for any period of time.
Simply put, a greater magnification, a smaller objective lens, or both combined, give a lesser field of view.
Looking through your eyes, you get a 180 degree field of view. You are able to see the whole picture in front of you with no problem. But as soon as you begin to limit your field of view through binoculars, you’ll then need to start moving side to side in order to see everything. So, getting the largest field of view to see as much as possible without moving, is ideal.
The exit pupil is the size of the beam of light that enters each eye from the binocular lens. The brightness index is a theoretical measurement about how bright the image should be when exiting out the exit pupil. To find out the brightness, you square the exit pupil value.
Now, without getting too mathematical here, a smaller magnification with a larger objective lens will give your eye a brighter image to see, and conversely, higher magnification with a smaller objective lens gives your eye a darker image to see.
Now, standing on a hill and looking into a sunlit meadow with any binocular, is going to give your eye plenty of light to see just about anything, but on overcast days, getting near dusk or looking into shadows beneath brush or trees, you will need a good balance between the exit pupil lighting and relative brightness.
Porro prisms use two prisms mounted inches apart within the body of the binoculars, and bend the incoming light into a “Z” configuration to make the image upright when coming out of the eyepiece.
Roof prisms are mounted inline and use a “V” configuration within the prism to turn the image upright before exiting the eyepiece.
Roof prisms have always been considered more rugged than porro prisms, and because of their inline design, roof prisms have always been less bulky to handle.
In modern binoculars, there is virtually no difference in image and light quality due to manufacturing and coatings that are now applied, and as a whole, with roof prisms being a bit more complex to make, they are generally more expensive than porro prism binocs.
There are 3 focus types in binoculars. Individual focus, center focus and focus free or fixed focus. Each of them has their own specific uses. A zoom function is not an actual focus. It just increases the magnification, with the turn of a zoom knob, while also decreasing the brightness. A zoom works best on bright sunny days with little or no shadows.
Center focus binoculars are the most common and the easiest to manually focus. They can be brought up quickly to the eyes, and with one hand, the focus can be quickly obtained by turning the center ring.
The eye relief in binoculars is how far away from the eyepieces will your eyes have to be while still seeing a full field of view. In other words, longer eye relief means you don’t have to have your eyes pressed directly up to the eyepiece to see everything correctly.
This feature comes in particularly handy if you wear glasses because the lenses of your glasses will not allow your eyes to get as close as bare eyes would. With a greater eye relief, you’ll be able to still see the entire field of view even though your eyes are not as close as someone who doesn’t wear glasses.
It also works the same if you are wearing sunglasses and don’t want to remove them, or if you don’t want the skin around your eye to come into contact with the eyepiece.
The newest advances in binoculars come with the varied types of optical coatings. And there are several available, but not all of them will be included on any given type of binocular.
Image quality is dependent on two things, one of which is paramount and one of which is an enhancement.
Lens quality is the single most deciding factor on image quality. You can have the best functioning binoculars on the planet, but if the lenses are sub-standard, the images might be grainy, blurry, dark, wavy or all of them combined. Any binocular made with a plastic lens can be considered a toy, as only the finest made glass lenses are suitable for hunting binoculars.
The other important image quality factor are the lens coatings. Even if you have terrific lenses, a correct coating will make the image enhanced for sharper and crisper quality. This is one of the most modern aspects of binoculars today, and all of the best ones have some type of image enhancing coating that make modern binocs the best that have ever been available.
As a general rule of thumb, porro prism binoculars are more compact in size, even though they are wider and bulkier. Roof prism binocs are more streamlined but are usually longer.
The larger the objective lens, the greater the weight, while the smaller the lens, the less the binoculars will weigh. That seems logical, but it must be considered if you are either walking, hiking, on horseback or sighting from a vehicle. Lighter weight binoculars will be easier to manage.
If you are in a static position, like sitting or laying on the ground, you could get away with heavier binoculars and their potentially greater magnification and light gathering qualities.
The other thing to consider is your own frame and muscle size. Constantly hoisting up a pair of large binoculars will tire a smaller framed, or less muscled person, out faster than someone who is bigger and bulkier.
Rubber coating over the entire binocular shell provides both water repellent properties as well as damage resistance if they are dropped or banged around. However, it also adds weight, so that must be kept in mind.
If you are near swamp land, near a lake or a pond and in a static position, a rubber coating may be advisable to get. Also, if you are riding 4 wheelers, horses or packing in on mules, rubber coating may also be worth considering.
Rubber coating will not improve optical capability, but it might save your expensive binoculars if they are dropped or exposed to splashing water.
Taking everything into consideration, here are the best reviewed binoculars for hunting, and some of them are well within any budget.
#1 — Bushnell Falcon 133410 Binoculars with Case.
There is a reason that these are the best selling binoculars, because they are very inexpensive yet they have quality optics in a porro prism design. Are you going to be able to drag them through the muck of a swamp or strap them to the side of a horse? No, but for virtually any type of hunting, squirrel, deer, bear, whatever, you will get some incredibly good performance out of this pair of Bushnells.
The 7 x 35 design gives you a lot of light at a very manageable magnification, and the easy auto focus brings your subject into focus quickly and precisely. With a 420 foot field of view at 1000 yards, you’ll see a lot of landscape through the lens, and the 12mm eye relief is outstanding for a low cost model like this.
Even at this price range the lenses are coated to enhance your viewing, and with the Bushnell name behind it, you know you are getting a quality product that has the potential to last longer than you do. Plus, 7 by 35 are considered near the optimum for power and objective, and the chances are pretty good that if your Grandfather had a pair of Bushnell’s, they were also the standard 7 by 35 model like these.
#2 — USCamel 10 by 42 Military HD Binoculars Professional Hunting Compact Telescope
For someone looking for the absolute lightest weight in a pair of hunting binoculars, you have got to check out these USCamel’s. They are made of magnesium so that they only weigh a feather light 1.3 pounds, and if you don’t think that makes a difference, try raising any other binocular up to your eyes, and holding it there, several times in an hour. These binocs are light and right.
They are military spec, so you know they are rugged, and the 10 by 42 lens has a 15mm eye relief, which is plenty for anyone wearing glasses. The compact poro prism design looks almost like a roof prism inline, and they are just as easy to use in this compact and lightweight shape.
With a 303 foot field of view at 1000 yards, you’ll see plenty while looking down range, and the optics are fully coated and fog proofed, so that the image will always be crisp and clear, even when the weather isn’t.
You may find a better binocular at a higher price, but in this price range, USCamel rules!
#3– Vortex Optics Diamondback 10X42 Roof Prism Binocular
Multi-coated optics that are both waterproof and fogproof, these hunting binoculars are a cut above the rest. At 1.5 pounds they are lightweight yet are rugged enough to stand up to abuse that many others couldn’t.
The big 16mm eye relief makes them an ideal binocular for people with glasses, and the 345 foot field of view at 1000 yards, the largest in its class, gives you a lot of ground to see. It comes with fully multi coated optics and it is rubberized for a good grip.
Besides the superior optical quality you get with every one, they also come with an outstanding lifetime warranty against virtually anything, and Vortex will repair or replace them for free during the lifetime of the product. That gives these some serious mojo right there.
#4 — Hooway 7×50 Waterproof Floating Marine Binocular w/ Internal Rangefinder & Compass for Navigation, Boating, Water Sports, Hunting
If you are a committed duck, geese or other water fowl hunter, this is the binocular to have. The Hooway floats and is waterproof, so even if dropped overboard, you’ll be able to pick it right up and begin using it again. Plus, the huge 22mm eye relief is the best you’ll find.
This is a relatively heavy binocular at a little over 2 pounds, but for what you get, it can’t be beat. Of course the 7 by 50 means you’ll have a field of view of 380 feet at 1000 yards, which is one of the best in its class, while the shockproof rubber armor will protect it from just about anything.
Better still, it comes with a built-in range finder, so you’ll always know how far away the birds are, or maybe more importantly, how far away land is. They are a porro prism design, the toughest binocs here, and they will work just as good on land as they will over water.
Although Carson binoculars are considered the best of the best, don’t tell anyone at Vortex about that! They would go lens to lens with a Carson, and they might actually win!
#5 — If you want the best hunting binoculars, then this pair of Carson 3D Series High Definition Waterproof Binoculars with ED Glass can’t be beaten. This roof prism design is multi-coated with all of the goodies, and the ED glass is a low dispersion type that gives less chromatic aberration and image quality, both at the same time.
Virtually everything anyone could ever want in a hunting binocular is found in these Carson’s. From being waterproof, fog proof, and to having anti-glare and anti-abrasion coatings, these rubberized binocs are easy to grab and easy to hold on to.
They come in 2 magnifications, 8 power and 10 power, and they come with 3 objective lens sizes, from 32mm to 42mm and 50mm. You can get them with any combination of power to objective lens that suits your needs.
The 10 by 42 model, and the one that is representative of the line, has an excellent and long 16mm eye relief, they weigh 1.4 pounds and have a field of view of 314 feet at 1000 yards. All of those basic measurements are top of the line, and they are tripod mountable too.
These are not inexpensive binoculars, and won’t be right for anybody, particularly those on a budget. But if you take your hunting seriously, these are seriously the binoculars to have. They are excellent for deer and elk.
It would be foolish to set out in the great outdoors without a good set of binoculars. It doesn’t matter why you’re there—whether it’s to hike, to hunt, to connect with Mother Nature, as part of your job or simply because you’re pairing with someone else. Binoculars can be not only useful and entertaining—they can also be life-savers!
Binoculars, though, can take up lots of space in your backpack, can feel heavy and can cost a pretty penny—these are only some of the reasons some people, instead, go for a set of “compact” binoculars. Compact binoculars weigh less, take up less space, and, in some cases, can even be cheaper than regular binoculars.
It must be said that compact binoculars have set a reputation for quality and dependability that is as good (if not better) than that of bigger models and makes. As for what constitutes “compact,” it refers to makes and models ideally in the 8×20 to 10×25 capacity, with an objective angle of view of roughly 6.5 degrees and 5.0 degrees respectively.
Eye relief is defined as the distance (usually in mm) that a set of binoculars can be held in front of the eyes while still providing a full unobstructed field of view. Someone who wears glasses, for example, might find this pertinent. Eye relief of approximately 14mm or higher is preferred for those who wear eyeglasses.
The diameters of beams of light that leave eyepieces to hit your pupils are “exit pupils.” Brighter images correspond to larger exit pupils. Larger exit pupils are best for lower light viewing, such as dusk, dawn, while under a canopy of trees, or for night/star viewing.
Sizes of areas seen through binoculars are called “fields of view.” What you see inscribed on the binoculars are the “angular fields,” expressed in degrees. Linear fields are the areas observed about 1000 feet ahead of you. Larger fields of view refer to larger or wider viewing areas.
Field of view relates to magnification in the sense that lower power translates into wider fields of view and higher power into narrowing fields of view. Wider fields are preferred when either the viewer or the object to be observed by the viewer is moving.
Fog-proofing refers to injecting optical barrels with argon or nitrogen gases in order to prevent internal fogging brought about because of temperature extremes and high levels of humidity. This is sometimes called “nitrogen-purging,”—i.e. oxygen is “purged” from barrels, to be replaced with inert gases that don’t condense.
Binoculars can be labeled “waterproof” in spite of not being fog-proof—meaning that the device has been tightly “sealed” without having been purged and, thereafter, filled with an inert gas. On the other hand, if optical instruments are classified as fog-proof, then they must also be waterproof. In general, binoculars are both fog-proof and, therefore by definition, also waterproof.
Magnification or power refers to objects being viewed being enlarged. On average, binoculars feature magnifications of 7x or 8x and the rather popular 10x. Binoculars labeled “10x” means that they can magnify images ten times bigger than seen with the so-called “naked” eye.
Remember that magnification/power can affect both field of view and the brightness of any viewed image—for example, you get more brightness with lower power, as well as a more expansive field of view.
The numbers “Field 7 degrees,” “10×25” and “350 feet @ 800 yards” printed on binoculars refer to the following designations:
Binocular lens coatings can greatly affect the quality of observed views. Optical glass works in binoculars first by absorbing and then reflecting light; the transmission of that light, though, can be cut by as much as 50% because of poorly or improperly coated lenses. This means that about half the light available will fail to reach your eyes.
The optical parts of binoculars are coated to reduce glare and light loss; this is a well-balanced transmission of light and better clarity, brightness, contrast and sharpness. The best-suited binocular lenses are the fully multi-coated ones, thus allowing about a 95% transmission capacity.
The diameters of objective/front lenses help determine overall sizes of binoculars. In general, compact binoculars boast of 20 to 28mm diameters, “medium” ranges from 30 to 42mm, and full-size is anything 42mm or bigger.
Diameters of lenses help determine the light-catching abilities of these instruments. The larger a lens, the more light is allowed into the binoculars, thus allowing greater-detail viewing capacity. Large lenses become important when in low-light places—i.e., under a canopy of trees or as evening draws near. “Exit Pupil” refers to the internal brightness-catching capacity of binoculars.
There is a big difference between water- and weather-resistant and “waterproof.” A waterproof set of binoculars is a piece of equipment that has been purged of air and moisture only to then be filled with inert gases—then with O-rings tightly sealed.
In general, a waterproof set of binoculars is also fog-proof, suffering no internal condensation, if it were to get wet or briefly dropped in water.
The term “water and weather resistant,” though, is more of a marketing term than a scientific one; in general, it means the device is poorly protected against moisture. Some better-made, lower-end models, however, may boast of good quality water resistance affording good moisture protection.
Zoom binoculars will have changeable power/magnification that ranges from 7 to 20x. These types of binoculars can have problems, including poor resolution and optical quality, as well as magnifications that are too high for comfortable binoculars hand-holding. In general, zoom binoculars aren’t a good bet—neither are auto-focus or fixed-focus binoculars.
The Nikon Monarch offers a tough rubber encasement that makes the Monarch easy to hold (even with sweaty hands) and able to withstand harsh conditions; it also offers a wide field of view.
State-of-the-art lens coatings offer better super color results and high-contrast imaging—what’s more, LD lenses enhance colors and brightness. As if icing on the cake, phase-correcting roof prisms go on to preserve detail and clarity. Finally, housings filled with nitrogen make waterproof and fog-proof performance possible.
The Monarch also features a multi-coated lens system that is effectively anti-reflective and ideally qualifies for “All-Terrain Binoculars” (ATB) designation. In fact, high-reflection di-electric multi-layered prism coating is standard for this product.
Featuring a hand-friendly-design (important for the elderly, arthritic, and those who use binoculars often), the Monarch boasts of having easy-to-reach-and-use lens covers, comes at a low price, and enjoys tiny dimensions (5.7 by 5.1 by 1.6″) and is exceptionally lightweight (1.3 lbs.). Its superb brightness makes up for its lower magnification. Finally, the Monarch is great for reading small text and seeing the finest details on things relatively far away.
Some of the Monarch’s additional fine features include:
–The eyepiece covers are too loose, some people say
–Eyepiece covers fall off easily
The Leica Ultravid features, among other things, multi-coated lenses that utilize HDC technology for topnotch color display, clarity, and contrast. Its Phase P40 Correction can eliminate roof prism phase-shifting, thus giving high contrast, incredibly well-defined images and a nitrogen-filled housing that gives possible fog-proof and waterproof qualities.
Beyond this, the Ultravid uses special internal anti-fogging due to temperature changes technology; it also uses high-reflection coatings on prism surface and a state-of-the-art interior surface design that brings to a minimum stray light while at the same time zooming light throughput.
Super small (3.7 by 2.4 by 1.4″) and super light-weight (8 ounces), the Ultravid also features roof prism and phase-corrected coating HighLux-System HLS & P40 and spectacular angular fields of view of 6.4, fields of view @ 1000 yds. of 112 yds., and an exit pupil of 2.5 millimeters.
In fact, the Ultravid has consistently offered some of the most truly “compact” features available in any model or make. Things that clearly show this are an easy-to-wear-around-the-neck-or-carry-around-without feeling-burdened-in-any-way design and a great brightness, field of view, plane of focus, and focusing ability.
These binoculars are ideal for those that like to be prepared for unplanned bird-watching. They are also great for hikers and true camping folks who’re very picky about every ounce they carry. To top it all off, these binoculars may be used while wearing sunglasses but doing so may hamper viewing quality.
Some additional features that place these binoculars on top include:
–This model may not be ideally suited for people with big hands
–Has a diopter that isn’t easy to set
–Not the best model to use in the evenings
The Vortex Optics Viper is primarily protected by an excellent O-ring sealing system that keeps out dust, moisture and debris. Along the same lines, argon gas within this well-sealed-up casing provides the capacity for fog-proofing and waterproofing.
As for viewing quality, its air-to-glass surface XR multicoating enhances light transmission, and di-electric coatings on the prism offer clear, bright and color-accurate imaging. What’s more, extra-low, high-density dispersion glass provides great colors and resolution, which makes high-definition imaging possible. To top things off, the product comes with an Unconditional Lifetime Warranty that is hard to beat (if you can find it at all) in the industry.
Finally, the product comes with many necessary accessories, like a comfort neck strap, lens covers, padded deluxe carrying case, etc.
Some of the Vortex Optics Viper’s features include:
–Eyecup cover is hard to use initially
–Some competing models have a wider field of view
The Wingspan Optics is said to help take bird-watching to another level of fun; supposedly, this model was designed with bird-watchers in mind. This model excels in these areas: extra wide fields of view, close focusing, Phase Corrected Coating on prisms, and superb ED glass.
Additionally, these high-power ED glass binoculars are said to help viewers see images that are sharper and clearer than is possible with most other models (including more expensive ones). Their extra-low dispersion glass reduces and prevents chromatic aberration, one of the main reasons for color fringing. On top of that, Phase Correction Prism Coatings and multi-coated lenses are standard on these models.
The Wingspan’s 8x power is said to be ideal for capturing the most bright, clear and steady images while birdwatching. As expected, it is also fog-proof and waterproof. Not surprisingly, it’s lightweight but built like a heavy-duty tank—in other words, the weather by itself isn’t likely to be able to destroy it.
As if all these qualities already mentioned weren’t enough, the Wingspan comes with an amazing Lifetime Warranty, is great for capturing colorful sights, and comes with a light-weight nylon mesh protective case.
These are some of the best features of the Wingspan Optics:
–Some people find this model slightly heavy for their taste
–Not waterproof or fog-proof
–People not used to binoculars may find it hard to focus
Most Impressive Features
Because of the less-than-perfect way these binoculars handle edge distortion, brightness and resolution issues, they are better-suited for daytime than night-time use. They also provide sharp resolution and focus, as well as an enjoyable image, whether you are looking at a simple pine cone all the way to a magnificent-looking eagle.
In comparison to other models costing more, you are likely to spend less time adjusting things like diopter and focus settings, thus having more time to enjoy the “views.” Many users report that these binoculars are somehow able to put the user “there” where the object is, instead of merely looking at it from afar. Overall, most users report positive feedback on this product; to put it simply, they like it.
Some of the most impressive features of the Celestron Nature include: