come into a nice little sum of cash unexpectedly? Nothing huge mind you,
but an amount of money that most people would call - tidy. You know,
like a tax refund that was larger than you thought it’d be. Maybe you
finally clean out the garage and have a yard sale and do real well on
it. Even better, the little lady (bless her heart) lets you keep the
cash. Life is occasionally like that. Sometimes it throws you a nice
you’ve got this nice little chunk of cash, and now the pockets of your
jeans are starting to smolder. How about a quick drive up I-15 for a
weekend in Vegas? Bad idea. You’d probably end up blowing the whole
thing and way more besides. Well, how about a new Freedom Arms revolver. Mmmmmm It'd be nice, but the one you already have is a real shooter.
Let’s think about this. You want something that’s going to last.
Something that’s the best. Something that you’ve been kind of thinking
about for a long time, but really couldn’t ordinarily justify the
expense. It’s also got to be something that that would come in handy in
lots of situations. It finally comes to you - a first class set of
binoculars. Yeah, just the thing to have when you go deer hunting in the
Fall, or turkey hunting in the Spring and you can also throw them in
your bass boat in the summer time for casual observing. Besides, the
wife’s gotten interested in birding lately and even the kids are doing a
school project on birds. It’d also be kind of cool to have a set of
binocs to take to the local high school Bearcat football games, or the
NASCAR races over in Fontana so’s you could really see what’s going on
down in the pits. Having them at the drag races in Pomona would be kind
of neat as well. And yes, when tripod mounted, they can even be used to
spot handgun silhouettes.
binocs it is. Now which ones? Well I know I want the best quality and a
warrantee that’s iron clad with no weasel words. Well, the snooty
neighbor down the street who owns the local In and Out Burger joint is
always bragging about his new Zeiss Victory binocs10 x 42’s with
fluorite lenses. A quick check on the internet shows the best price is
around $1550. But wait, doesn’t Leupold make Gold Ring 10 x 42’s with
calcium fluorite HD lenses? Another check confirms that they do and the
best price seems to be about $1400 which is a lot better deal. Let’s
compare the specifications.
Phase Coated BaK-4 Prisms
Scratch Protected Lenses
Field of View 1000 yds
the Zeiss binocs don’t seem to have any significant advantage over the
Leupold's, the Leupold's do seem to have some distinct advantages over the
Coatings are extremely important to any optical product’s
performance. They often make or break how a product will perform.
Full multi coating is the gold standard, but Leupold’s Index Matched
system is pure platinum.
To simplify, each
lens in an optical system has a different function, and therefore is
made from a type of glass that is best suited for that one
particular job. Because the materials in the glass of the various
lenses are different, they have a different optical index rating and
so it really is not the best thing to do to put the same coatings on
all these different lenses which are doing different things. With
the Leupold system, the coatings are uniquely tailored to the
function of each lens. Result? Maximum light transmission.
Leupold Gold Ring
Second: Leupold uses a “Diamond Coat” on
its objective lenses. This is a very hard coating that protects the
lenses from scratches. This is important, as over time, minute scratches
can accumulate on the surface of ordinary objective lenses and diminish
the effectiveness of the anti reflective coatings and thus introduce
unregulated light into the optical system. These scratches are usually
the result of overly casual cleaning methods and normal wear and tear. A
hard coat is particularly important with calcium fluorite objective
lenses as they are softer than regular optical glass and are more likely
Third: The Leupold interpupaliry lock is a
handy convenience that personally appeals to me. As you know everyone’s
eyes are a different distance apart than everyone else’s. Consequently,
all binocs provide an adjustment so you can get both barrels into the
correct position in front of your eyes. With the Leupold’s, once you
adjust the binocs to the right width for your eyes, you can lock things
in place so you don’t have to re-adjust every time you take them out.
It’s amazing, but I’d estimate that 99% of the binocs on the market
don’t provide this simple convenience.
Fourth: When I say textured grips I’m
referring to the fact that the Leupold’s rubber armor have a nice subtle
nubby surface that is easy to hold on to, even when your hands are wet.
The Zeiss binocs have a smooth surface with wide spaced raised ribs that
run lengthwise down the barrels. I found the Leupold’s to be comfortable
and a good grip.
Fifth: Leupold uses a more expensive mix of
argon and krypton gas to keep them fog proof. The advantage is that the
molecules of these inert gases are much larger than nitrogen molecules,
and are therefore much less likely to leak out of the system over the
years even when its been abused by hard knocks and long wear.
Sixth: The warrantee. This is extremely
important. The willingness of a company to unreservedly stand
behind its products is imperative, because it reflects how a company
regards its customers.
warrantee is well known. If it’s broke, they’ll fix it no matter. Does a
company have a imperious “take it or leave it” attitude, or is it
genuinely interested in giving the customer the best product experience
possible? What happened, where it happened, how you got the product, or
who you got it from. Let me give you an example of how Leupold backs its
products. My good friend Roy Stafford had a house fire a couple of years
ago and a Leupold scope was severely damaged. When he checked with the
factory, they said to send it in and they’d either fix it or replace it.
No problem, no bull.
it’s a different story. First of all, to get a life time Zeiss warrantee, you
must buy only from a Zeiss North American authorized dealer and not
from an authorized Zeiss dealer from anywhere else. This is because Zeiss
warrantees differ from country to country. So if you buy a Zeiss product off
of the internet, make sure it’s from a authorized North American dealer
or you may end up with only a one year warrantee or who knows what. You then
have sixty days to officially register the warrantee or it’s not valid. If you
sell the product, the warrantee is transferable, but a procedure must be
followed to do so. Your personal data also has to be updated with Zeiss any
time something changes like your address, telephone area code etc. Now here’s
where it really gets sticky. Products that Zeiss determines have been subject
to “misuse” or “abuse” are specifically not covered. So if you accidentally
drop your binocs and they’re damaged, is that abuse? Is it misuse? Only Zeiss
knows. If they determine it is abuse/misuse, you will be charged for the
repairs and for the shipping back to you.
raised an eyebrow when I was reading through all the conditions and
disclaimers of the warrantee, was the fact that Zeiss rubber armor is
warranted for only one year! I guess Zeiss doesn’t think it’s very durable. As
far as I know, this is the only company in the industry that has a lessor
warrantee on its rubber armor. Anyway, the contrast between the Leupold
warrantee and the Zeiss warrantee is like day and night.
thing you notice about the Leupold’s when you take them out of their padded
ballistic nylon case is the weight. Indeed, they weigh in at a little over two
pounds. Considering that they are made of light weight cast magnesium, that
indicates that there’s a lot of glass inside which is an indication of
quality. When using the binocs, I found the weight effectively dampened body
vibration and made for a steadier image. However on a long stalking type hunt,
the weight would be a disadvantage. The second thing that you notice is the
color - brown. The shade is similar to that you see on some camo patterns.
Leupold says it blends in better than black but I can’t verify that.
objective lenses have very effective dust proof rubber covers that are
tethered to the scope body so they won’t get lost. The eyepieces also have a
rubber cap that can be attached to a carrying strap for the same purpose.
What’s particularly nice is the built in, snap out sun shades for the
eyepieces. Give a small turn to the left, and the spring loaded shades click
out in a very positive fashion. Give another little turn to the left, and they
snap out even farther. Having the ability to move the sunshades in and out is
very useful to both eye glass wearers and those who don’t use them.
So how do things look when using the Leupold's? Let me just say that thanks to
the calcium fluorite lenses and the fact that you’re getting the stereo image
that all binoculars provide, the view is absolutely spectacular. I’m going to
stick out my neck here, but in many cases, what you see in the Leupold's is
actually better than what you see with your own eyes. “How can that be?” you
might ask. Let’s review.
One -- Calcium fluorite glass is what’s known in
the trade as extra low dispersion (ED) glass. This material is the best that
technology can produce and that money can buy. Lenses made with this glass
have the best color fidelity that can be produced. It is also my opinion that
when color fidelity is optimized, practical resolution is also increased. To
illustrate, several years ago, I conducted an evaluation of two identical
premium spotting scopes made by the same company. However, one was equipped
with ED glass and one was not. The level of detail that could be discerned
with the ED lens was significantly higher.
Two -- The stereo image seen in the binoculars is
slightly exaggerated. This has the effect of making things “pop out” when
you’re looking at them.
Three -- You’ve got that 10X magnification
increasing the size of whatever you’re looking at.
color fidelity, increased resolution, pumped up stereo vision, and 10X
magnification, and you’ve got the equivalent of a 3D IMAX movie. It’s one heck
of a view.
talk about spotting silhouettes. I know there’s some folks who might be
concerned that these binocs are underpowered for this job. Not so. As you
know, when a bullet hits a steel silhouette it makes a splash mark. Those
splash marks are usually fairly large and also stand out distinctly against
the black painted silhouette steel even at 200 meters. Even if a splash mark
is small, the outstanding resolution of these binocs will pick it up with no
problem. For instance, when I was checking out a high voltage transmission
tower located 300 yards away, I could easily make out bolts and rivet heads
that were the same size or smaller than typical silhouette splash marks. These
binoculars also give you another advantage. Because of the enhanced 3D view,
spotting misses is much, much easier than it is with any spotting scope.
there is a small issue with using these binoculars on a tripod. Because the interpupliary lock is placed on the front of the binoc’s folding hinge in the
same place as where a standard tripod adapter socket would be located, a
different approach has to be taken. In this case what I call a “saddle or
cradle mount” would have to be used. As the name implies, this is a cradle
that is attached to a tripod with the standard screw fitting. The binocs sit
in the cradle and then are fastened in place with a couple of velcro straps.
eagleoptics.com sells them for only
$25. Look in the binocular accessories section.
The bottom line here is that these Leupold binoculars rank with the very best in
the world in quality and performance. Throw in the price advantage and the
unparalleled, no reservations warrantee, and they become the best on the planet.
You can pay more for others who say they’re the best, but you won’t get more.