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Contributors to this thread:
Finnman 10-Jul-24
IdyllwildArcher 10-Jul-24
Dale06 10-Jul-24
JohnMC 10-Jul-24
Corax_latrans 10-Jul-24
HDE 10-Jul-24
RonP 10-Jul-24
Coondog 10-Jul-24
smarba 10-Jul-24
Matt 10-Jul-24
Bou'bound 10-Jul-24
Beendare 10-Jul-24
From: Finnman
I never see much comparison or discussion of optics on this forum. I live in the Midwest but hunt Montana whenever I draw. Drew a LQ tag for elk in Wyoming and should get a returned tag in Montana also. We all know how important our optics are especially for western hunting. What is your binoc and spotting scope setup? I use a pair of Vortex Viper 10x50 binos. I'm satisfied with them as they get used pretty much every day. I have an older Nikon spotter but just ordered an Athlon G2 UHD. Hopefully it lives up to the good reviews. I surely would like to own big 3 glass but would rather spend the money on tags. I'm now looking at digiscope adapters. Ollin looks like the one I'll buy. What is everyone using and likes or dislikes?

There's been a lot of discussions about optics over the years. The summary is basically: Spend as much as you can.

From: Dale06
Agree, spend as much as you can, said differently, “You get what you pay for.” I don’t have or need a spotting scope. I have two binoculars, both 10x32. One is a Zeiss Trinovid, the other a Swarovski EL. I can’t really tell the difference in the clarity in them, but the Swarovskis get used far more cause they’re lighter. Many prefer 42 mmor larger objectives for wider view and lower light conditions. I have not once felt handicapped by my 32mm lense. And I’ve had and used the Swarovskis for all kinds of bowhunting about 20 years.

From: JohnMC
For elk hunting I'd spend the money on binos long before upgrading a spotter. Not that there is anything wrong with your Vipers. But if you use them everyday....

I have a pair of Pentax DCF Waterproofs, 8X42. 8X is as much as I can hold suitably steady without some pretty solid support.

I do wish I had shopped for them more seriously, but they got a great rating from F&S in the annual gear reviews when they came out…..

Honestly, they’re not as bright or as sharp out toward the edges as I would like or expect, but they were as good as I thought I could afford at the time.

So JMO, while reviews and recommendations are helpful, the two Absolutes are 1) Luxury is always “overpriced”, but Quality is never cheap and 2) you can only see as well as you can see.

So my recommendation is to either shop where you can take them outside in poor light and really pick apart some cover as if you were hunting it — similar cover, lighting, distance, etc. — and really pay attention to the edges of that FOV. If there’s not a local shop that’ll let you do that, buy online from a supplier with a great returns policy. If you find two pairs of binocs which are too close for YOUR eyes to tell apart by looking through them, then they’re too close to tell apart…. so you can look more at cost, weight, bulk and warranty… Personally, if I can see a difference, I’d curse my cheapskate self no end every time I wasn’t seeing as well as I recall seeing with the costlier pair….

And also, when buying online, BE AWARE that you can save a chunk by buying “gray market” optics; there are some really big operators who buy product intended for overseas markets and re-sell here in the US. The product is not known to be defective, but if you go that route and have a problem, Pentax or NikonUSA (or whoever) is probably going to tell you to piss up a rope. Because products not made for sale in the US do not have a US Warranty.

You want to be VERY clear on that before you submit your credit card information, because the retailers operating this way have very slim margins and they don’t much care for dealing with returns or refunds….

From: HDE
Spend as much as your budget will allow.

Been using a pair of 10x42 SigSauer's lately. Have a pair of 10x32 Swaro's that rarely get used anymore.

From: RonP

RonP's embedded Photo
RonP's embedded Photo
i have a hard time in low light and shadows. within the last year i tested a few different brands and settled on the 10x50 Vortex Razor HD. They beat out the Maven 10x50 by a smidge and they are lighter than many 10x42 models from other manufacturers. not much love from bowsiters for vortex but i have had their other binos as well as rifle scopes and have not had any issues.

the biggest disappointment in my testing were the nikon HG made in japan model.

a few months after i selected the vortex razor hd's i had a chance to briefly try tract binos. i was not able to compare them side by side with the vortex and maven but, i was impressed and would consider them.

8x32 leica's were my favorite all-around binos for a long time but my eyesight has gotten worse where they don't gather enough light.

i'd like to try the zeiss SFL binos.

From: Coondog
Sig Zulu 10 10x50. Switched from the Leupold BX-5 10x42 and I’m glad that I did. The glass is so much better in the Sig’s

From: smarba
In contrast to RonP (no pun intended, since we're talking about glass), I prefer the Maven B1.2 10x42 to the Vortex Razor HD 10x42 in low light. The Maven is SUPER close to my Swaro EL 10x42 at half the price as well...

From: Matt
I agree with the notion of "spend as much as you can afford", but first you have to know how to use your optics. If you don't understand how to glass well, expensive optics are not going to help you turn up many more animals.

From: Bou'bound
Swarovski 10x42 NL Pures. Don’t have or need a spotting scope.

From: Beendare
The best optics comparisons are on Rokslide or the Birding forums.

Rokside has a bunch of side by side comparisons with the Military's resolution chart- they do an excellent job of testing.

Sorry OP…but I was shocked at how bad those Vipers are. I bought a set for my son and literally sold them in the classifieds a month later. The low end Vortex is poor but their UHD Japanese lenses line is pretty darn good.

I am fortunate I can run anything I want and I have literally compared just about everything side-by-side on the mountain and in low light.

I run 8x EDG’s (Nikon), 10x NLs and the Vortex UHD 18x on a tripod…I never use my spotter anymore.

Edit; there is a lot of excellent mid tier glass out there if you shop around, like some of the Meopta or Maven models, and other optics with Japanese lenses.

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