The Best Binos for the Money — Vortex Viper HD 8x42mm & Impact 850 Rangefinder

When you’re planning a hunting trip there are few very important considerations — what gun are you going to take? What does the weather look like? How much will the tags cost? Equally as important as what firearm you’re going to take is what binos will you take? 

The driving force behind Vortex Optics is owners Dan and Margie Hamilton. They started a small outdoor retail store in 1986. As the business grew, the Hamiltons created Vortex Optics in 2002 and now is comprised of over 200 employees. Birdwatchers and hunters alike have rejoiced as they brought about new products this year. We tested their Sparc AR Red dot and Vortex Razor II HD earlier this year and were impressed. The Razor II HD tracked and beat out other scopes well above its weight-class in price and materials.

See the Vortex Sparc Review & Razor Review

The author used her Vortex Vipers 8x42mm to spot this buck on a DIY public land hunt in Illinois.

Having high hopes, two of our editors headed afield on different hunts with the rangefinder and their Viper 8x42mm binos.


  • Magnification: 8X
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 42mm
  • Eye Relief: 20mm
  • Height: 5.8 in.
  • Width: 5.3 in.
  • Interpupillary Distance: 58 – 75mm
  • MSRP: $640
  • Manufacturer: Vortex


Glass & Coatings

If you peruse Vortex’s website, you’ll notice that there are several offerings of their Viper binos. For this review, we choose the HD (High Dispersion) glass is also known as extra-low dispersion glass. This helps prevent chromatic aberration. These lens coatings coupled with, Vortex’s usage of Bak-4 Prisms, which stands for Bartileichkron (Barium Crown glass), gives end users a superb picture. The Bak-47 typically have a higher refractive lens than less BK-7 prisms. These prisms result in less peripheral light is lost through the non-total internal reflection, which is typically deemed as higher-quality. Additionally, the Vipers are roof prism design, which means they have more of a straight-barrel light path. This is valued to decrease overall size and make the set more compact. 


The Vortex Viper HD 8×42 are high-quality. From the moment of unboxing to the first initial glance through the glass, the field of view was crisp. The brightness and quality of picture were exceptional. The Vipers are well-balanced and the hard-rubber coating on the exterior helps aid in grip but also helps dampen sound if something was to knock on them. Additionally, weighing in at roughly 24.2 ounces, these aren’t light, but they are average for full-size binoculars. Another notable feature, the focusing wheel turns very smoothly and it takes a little less than two full rotations to go from the closest focusing distance of 5.1 feet to long ranges. This allows fine-tuning of the focus to whatever your desired distance.

How to Focus & Calibrate the Vortex Viper HD

It’s noteworthy that the diopter adjustment on the right eyepiece is lockable, which means after you calibrate the binos to your perfect setting and your buddy can’t as easily mess them up grabbing them off the counter to take a peek. Why is a diopter adjustment important? It allows the user to calibrate one of the barrels independently of the other to compensate for differences between the eyes. To properly calibrate the Vortex Viper binos, peer through the binos and cover the right barrel. Focus on an object and use the center focus ring to adjust the left barrel to your left eye. Now cover the left barrel and open your right eye, peering down the right barrel. Use the diopter ring to until it is clearly focused on the object. Open both eyes and look at the object. You should now have a crisp, clear image of the object through both barrels.

Photo Courtesy: Vortex Optics

Additional Features

They’re waterproof and fog proof and have been sealed by Argon gas purging with O rings that help keep moisture, dirt and debris out. I’ve worn them afield around my neck in rainy conditions and have been happy with their performance. The soft rubber of the eyecups are comfortable to use for hours and they remained fog-free. The even work well with shooting glasses. I had no issues spotting for others at the range with my safety shooting glasses on. The Vipers are also tripod-adaptable with a mount. They can be placed on a tripod or mounted on a window for hands-free glassing.

Lasting Impressions

If you’re looking for a set of binos to take afield, you’d be hard-pressed to beat this set. I’d put them up against Swarovski and Leica binos in the same. Not to mention they’re backed by Vortex’s  VIP Warranty. They promise to repair or replace any damage or defect over the life of the product for free — no matter the cause. Obviously, this excludes loss, theft and deliberate damage or cosmetic damage.

In case you’re still on the fence, the Vortex team understands fall and why it’s important to have the best glass possible for the job.

Vortex Impact 850

Sometimes, less is more, and that is the design behind the Vortex Impact. Built with the hunter in mind, the Impact is everything you need and nothing you don’t. Will it outperform the Vortex Fury or any other multi-thousand dollar rangefinder? No, it won’t. It also won’t give you the barometric pressure or fly the Mars rover. It handles the basic function of ranging, at reasonable hunting distances, at a price that won’t break the bank. In a very small package, which is nice to boot.


  • Magnification: 6X
  • Range Reflection: 10-850 yds.
  • Weight: 5.5 oz.
  • Length: 3.77 in.
  • Width: 2.95 in.
  • MSRP: $270
  • Manufacturer: Vortex

As features go, the Impact has the ones that matter. Equally important, it ranges in yards or meters, a must in modern rangefinders. It will give you a straight line of sight ( LOS) or angle compensating Horizontal Component Distance ( HCD). Its max range for a reflective target is 850 yards, though you will find it closer to 600 yards on mid-sized animals. Notably, this is still farther than most people need for hunting. The display is black LCD, which works well under field conditions. Something worth noting, the unit runs on a single CR2 battery, an option you can find at the corner Walgreens.

Clay took the Impact 850 on a wolf hunt in Idaho.

The Impact 850 has 6X magnification, which is very helpful glassing for game. It is obvious Vortex lens technology is used in the unit, clarity is excellent. You won’t think it is a 6X watching far ridgelines for movement. Clay used the Impact on a wolf hunt last month and loved it. The unit is small enough to fit in a pocket without being intrusive but punches well above its weight. It also has a scan mode, which works very well in mixed terrain.

For more information about Vortex products, click here.

To find where to purchase Vortex products, click here.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Campbell King November 27, 2017, 2:20 pm

    I got a pair of these at Cabela’s this year and am very satisfied..Checked against Swaro SLC and these were better for my eyes ,lot less too ,$480…I had 10×42 Meoptas which were very good but heavier for an old bastard like me so I got these 8×42..Adjustments are also smooth.

  • Harold Shaw November 27, 2017, 9:53 am

    I have Swarovski 8.5×42’s and Vortex 8×42 and 8×25’s. I use the Vortex as often as the Swarovski’s and love them. I recommend them to anyone who is getting bins for the first time. Also to people getting a second backup pair. They are a Much-Better-Than-The-Price value.

  • Jim88 November 27, 2017, 8:48 am

    For many years I considered buying a high-end pair of binoculars that were to cost more than the average guy might be willing to pay -myself included-. Eventually I compared several brands and many models of binos in this particular price range and decided to buy a pair of Cabela’s Instinct Euro-HD 8×32 (made for Cabela’s specification by Meopta) and they cost me $650. I compared them to the best of the Vortex lines, even their larger diameter objective lensed binos and found the Cabela’s was a brighter and cleaner optic that fit the bill for my purpose of overall use and light enough to carry while hunting. I also compared high end brands of Zeiss, Swarovski, & Leica who were very good but well above the price range for my wallet. I think that the $650 price range means your willing to pay for some genuine high quality and although the Vortex was decent, I found the Cabela’s Instinct HD was fantastic for the same money.

  • Luke November 27, 2017, 3:10 am

    That’ll be the day when I spend six hundred dollars on binoculars! . . . . or 270 on a range finder. Who has this kind of money? Sure as hell ain’t me.

  • therealtruth November 27, 2017, 2:26 am

    This is a Horrible review.These in no way compare to the Swarovski El Binos.Personelly I thought the image was just ok on these Binos.There are better Binos in the same price range.I get really tired of hearing about how great the Vortex warranty is.Lots of Companies have similar Warranties.Vortex is so over rated it is a joke.Luckily anyone who has looked looked through Quality Optics will not be Duped by an outrageous review like this.It is Obviously done By a Novice.

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