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Long Guns

Binos–Tips For Getting the Best Glass

by Scott E. Mayer   |  May 31st, 2011 5

Your binocular must be easy to use, not just bright.

Many hunters judge optics by their size. Big mistake. You may be most effective with a small binocular. Note the singular: “Binocular” means two barrels, two sets of lenses. A pair of  binoculars is just that:: two binoculars. You can’t very well use a pair of binoculars unless you have four eyes.

Wayne used a Zeiss 8x32 to find this gemsbok. “More power is seldom necessary – or desirable!”

A binocular with objective (front) lenses bigger than 32mm is helpful at magnifications of 10x and higher. But for hunting, I prefer an 8×32. High power helps you resolve more detail, but it also gives you a reduced field of view, and it magnifies your shakes as much as it does a distant animal. If you’re glassing from a rest in calm conditions, steadiness comes easy. Not so if you’re winded from a climb and must glass with only hand support into a 20-mph breeze. High power also demands big front lenses to deliver the same exit pupil as a smaller binocular of modest magnification. An 8×32 has the same 4mm exit pupil as a 10×42. That is, light transmission is the same. In dim light, they’re equally bright.

My go-to hunting binocular is a Zeiss 8×32. I’m also fond of the superb Leica 8×32 Ultravid. The Swarovski 8×32 EL is in the same class, and that company just came out with a fine mid-priced 8×30. Besides their top-drawer optics, these binoculars are also easy to carry on a single strap, which I prefer to a harness. Binoculars that weigh much over 22 ounces can give a strap a knife’s edge after a long day on the mountain. Compact enough to tuck easily into a coat during a storm, an 8×32 is less likely than a big glass to interfere with other activities. And because it’s lightweight and compact, you’ll almost surely bring it to your eye more often.

The more time you spend in your binocular, the more you see!

  • Mel

    When in low light situations, I prefer my 7 x 50 bino's. They may be heavy but for a short walk into "my Tree" in the dark hours, deer are visible in the glass before they can be distinguished with the naked eye.

  • S. Suess

    In my experience the Zeiss 8×30 (32) and the 7×50 are superior to anything else on the market. The usage of the 8x or 7x depends on the situation of observants. For long hikes like hunting the 8x30or 32 is the ticket.

  • Tom

    I have a pair of Leupold Wind River 8X42 they were what I could afford at the time and a big improvement over the Tasco cheapies I was using around the farm to hunt with. When I went out west I wanted a better pair for obious reasons. While out there we were looking at some elk on a ranch at dusk and my hunting partner said "here look at them through mine" dah, it was like night and day, litterly, he had a pair of Swarovski EL's 8×32 to anyone that can afford these and they are expensive, and you have plenty of hunting years ahead of you go for it, you will never regert it.

  • Charles

    I have a 7-50 that I take to football games and watch every play. Sometimes on a passing play, I have to peep over the top to see what is happening.
    I deer hunt from elevated stands where I prefer my 10X42.Minox. I have a 10X25 Swarovki that I would carry in my pocket if I ever climb another mountain or ride another horse.

  • John Dawson

    Leupold 6X30 works great.

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