The Los Angeles Handgun - Rifle - Air Pistol Silhouette Club

IHMSA News Feature Article
Published in The IHMSA News, the Official Publication of The International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association
Published monthly except November/December - January/February
IHMSA on the web at
The Best Binoculars Ever - Leupold Gold Ring 10 x 42
By Todd Spotti
     Ever 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 juicy bone.
     So 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.

     OK, 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.

Extra Low Dispersion Glass Yes Yes
Phase Coated BaK-4 Prisms Yes Yes
Scratch Protected Lenses Yes No
Interpupilary Lock Yes No
Coatings Index Matched Full Multi
Gas Fill Argon & Krypton Nitrogen
Armored Yes Yes
Textured Grips Yes No
Waterproof Yes Yes
Body Material Magnesium Carbon Fiber
Eyepiece Shades Yes Yes
Field of View 1000 yds 340’ 330’
Eye Relief 16 mm 16mm
Close Focus 7’ 6.6’
Warrantee No Bull Bull

     While 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 Zeiss product.

     First: 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 HD 10X42

     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 to scratch.

     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.
The Leupold 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.
     With Zeiss, 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.
     What really 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.
     The first 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.
     The 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.
   Put the 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.
     OK, let’s 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.
     However, 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. 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.

 Good luck and good shooting, Todd

Top of Page

Warning: All technical data mentioned, especially handloading, reflect the limited experience of individuals using specific tools, products, equipment and components under specific conditions and circumstances not necessarily reported in the article or on this web site and over which IHMSA, The Los Angeles Silhouette Club (LASC), this web site or the author has no control. The above has no control over the condition of your firearms or your methods, components, tools, techniques or circumstances and disclaims all and any responsibility for any person using any data mentioned. Always consult recognized reloading manuals.