15 Fighters: Binocs & Monoculars

Not the gold-plated Uncle Sam models.

Rationally priced and reliable.

What power, what maker, why, how much, from where.

Have at it; series collection of links here.

55 responses to “15 Fighters: Binocs & Monoculars

  1. Pingback: 15 Fighters: Series Collection | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  2. I have found Redfield to be very good quality for the price, they are now owned by Leupold. There are several models, this is one I own, I didn’t necessarily buy it here but I’m providing a link as an example.

    • Ditto, Redfield 8×32, numerous years afield east of Mt Adams hunting, hiking, camping. Never quit

  3. Garage sale $5 to 20 models clear and not mildewed. Tasco, Bushnell, anything European, most Japanese, 7x to 10x 7×35 10×40 minimum for twilight brightness. 10×25 tiny models if a Dollar, but not desirable. Coated and waterproof is great, but gallon ziplock is rainresistant.
    Quantity and cheap glass combined with quantity cheap FRS/GMRS/CB, thermous bottles, warm practical multisized clothing, will keep my watchmen watching.
    Need budget to buy new, but I have been substituting years for budget.


  4. Why binoculars? What makes them worth the additional weight & cost? I have both binoculars and monoculars and I just don’t get it.

    • The better to bust an ambush or sniper with.

    • Well to me, one of the most obvious reasons you’d want to use a pair of binoculars, they afford you the ability to surveil at long distance the terrain in your AO for any potential threats. If used correctly by masking off the objective lens to prevent any glare. Along with the use of camouflage clothing, they can greatly reduce the risk of exposing your position to any threats that may be hunting for YOU.

  5. One idea is to find an old set of binoculars that are good “on one side”. You can get them for about nothing. I have a Steiner “monocular” like this – just disassemble the middle shaft and you have a monocular. You also have an open “tube” where the main focusing post was – run paracord through for your lanyard/strap.

  6. We have a pair of Nikon Monarch 5 8 x 42 that my wife uses to watch birds around the property but i also use it to keep an eye on the pond area and range on the lower property as well scanning the tree line. The 10 x 42 is in the same price range easily under $300.00. You get ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) Glass for a clearer view and they are water proof, fog proof and very durable.

    With the good luck I have had with Vortex optics, their great service and lifetime warranty I am considering adding either the 8 x 42 or 19 x 42 Vortex Diamondback binoculars which are in the same price range.

    They can be purchased through Amazon or many big box and local sporting and fire arms shops that carry Nikon and/or Vortex optics.

    • lastmanstanding

      I have pair of 10×42 Diamondback…paid $200. They are a good basic bino.

      Should have bought the Trijicon 8×42’s a Optics Planet last year. With discounts they would have been about $320. Less than half price.

      But I had my eye on another prize…and scored it.

    • SemperFi, 0321

      I can’t imagine why anyone would spend $200+ on US or Jap binos when these are available at these prices. Screaming deals on absolute quality glass and overall product.
      I’ve had a few friends show me their Brunton binos they got at the factory sale (Brunton HQ isn’t too far away in Riverton WY,) for a few hundred dollars and I feel so bad for them because they got taken to the cleaners, poor product using Chinese glass and they just didn’t know that buying local was a ripoff. Don’t be one of those people, study your product and see where the glass comes from. If you’re paying over $50 for Chinese or Filipino glass you’re getting taken. The box it came in is usually better quality than what’s inside.
      Spend a few more dollars and buy these, you’ll never regret it.

      • ghostsniper

        This place is turning more and more into a collection of braggarts with more money than brains. Anybody can google $200+ binoculars, so their info isn’t helpful or useful. I have a pair of S&W and another pair of Nikons and neither cost more than $50 and work fine. And I’m not broke all the time.

        • Especially with optics, that additional money is often buying durability and mechanical consistency. For my part, I believe we’re heading to a time and place that makes those characteristics essential. There won’t be a Walmart to run down to, to replace a cheap piece of shit with another. You call it bragging, I call it matching the tool to the task. Your task doesn’t match everyone elses, so a cheap option is sufficient.

          In addition, I work in manufacturing. Opportunities to support local, or more generally, US made goods that match my criteria, is worth the effort. I’ll be purchasing a tripod for my Leupold Mk 4 spotting scope from a company right here in Washington State. Best product for the task, and very competitively priced.


          • ghostsniper

            Well, I only addressed the costs of binoculars and stand by what I said based on decades of experience. I simply have no need for $300 binoculars.

            But if you want to take about rifle and spotting scopes my self built AR has a $300 Barska 1-6 and works excellent out to at least 300 yards. When my neighbor gets his 1000yd range finished I may find the limits of that Barska. But I’m good to 300 and that’s fine for me.

            Regarding the spotter scope. I have a 300x Barska that cost about $60 and I can see the moon right up close and personal with it so 300-1000 yd targets are well within it’s reach. And I sit it on a Canon camera full size tripod I bought when stationed in the army in germany in the 70’s. It still works fine and I can’t imagine that I paid more than about $25 for it back then.

            My neighbor is a volume dealer that gets 60% off on Leupolds but even at that price I don’t see the benefit to my use. I realize I’ll never again be a 19 year old ground pounder and see no need in pretending otherwise. Now git off my lawn!

  7. Hensoldt Spotter 45.
    Not cheap but….can I see a loooooong way. Crystal Clear.

    • SemperFi, 0321

      They also made the scopes and binos for the Bundeswehr. Top notch glass.

      For those that like cheap glass, you’ll never appreciate looking thru a pair of $3,000 Leica binos, the best glass I’ve ever seen, hands down. From there, all the rest of the German/Austrian glass fights for 2nd place.
      I worked on a 5,800 Sq ft log home yrs ago, the owner let me borrow his Leicas to look at the Continental Divide 20 miles away, those boulders looked like they were in the front yard they were so close and clear. Another outfitter friend of mine has the range finder model, mindboggling, both the price and the quality.

    • I agree, with quality optics you really do get what you pay for. I own a pair of Zeiss 10X40 binoculars, a Swarovski 80MM spotting scope with 20X60 zoom eyepiece, and an older 7 power Leica 1200 yard range finder.

      All of them have outstanding light gathering ability at low light, and after dark they are truly amazing compared to lower quality optics.

      The nice thing about my Leica range finder, it’s small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, and light enough (about 7 OZ) that you can always carry it with you. Plus the optic side of it will still work even after the battery dies.

  8. Shinmen Takezo

    Bought a pair of nice compact binos in Akihabara, Tokyo last October at a great price.

  9. Each time light passes through the surface of a lens, a little bit is lost (reflection/refraction). Lens coatings help to reduce this to produce a brighter image.

    The specs for some optics will say the lenses are “fully coated” (all the lenses have a least one coating). Some will say “multi-coated” (some lenses have multiple coatings). What you want to look for are specs that say FULLY MULTI COATED.

    When I was a kid, by far most binoculars were fixed 7 power. The reason for this is that 7-8 power is the highest magnification a human can hold steady.
    Any higher magnification is pretty much useless without a rest. Magnification magnifies everything, including your heartbeat and your Parkinson’s.

    • Au contraire.
      First of all, if you’re glassing, you probably oughtn’t be standing up like a target; you should be prone, or nearly so.
      There’s a handy rest for this; it’s called the earth, and it covers nearly 1/3 of the planet’s surface.
      With that, you can glass anything, just with your arms, up to about 20X.
      At that point, you’re talking spotting scopes, and tripods or field expedient backpacks come in handier. As about 100K military sniper pairs will tell you. (They generally consider Parkinson’s a disqualifier for that skillset, btw. YMMV.)

      The reason for 7-8X binos, historically, is a bit more arcane.
      Firstly, making precision optics was difficult, and making large-glass precision optics was expensive, and nearly unheard of prior to the Cold War, for all intents and purposes. And what there was was glommed by the military in every country capable of making them. So military and even prosumer-grade optics were <50mm, and general use was 4-8X.

      You also couldn't normally hit anything you could see with higher magnifications anyways (with anything short of naval artillery), so no one really cared, except for lookouts manning "Big Eyes" deck-mounted binoculars on surface combatant ships and coastal forts.

      (Which, then and now, weigh hundreds of pounds, and cost thousands of dollars, so you're not using them on a squad on foot patrol.)

      Secondly, the objective lens, in mm, divided by the magnification, is the approximate size of the image in mm exiting the eyepieces and entering your eye.

      Thus, a pair of 8x32s create a 4mm image.
      A pair of 7x50s create a 7+mm image.
      10X50s make a 5mm image.
      And so on.

      As the widest the human eye normally dilates (unless we're talking head injury, or controlled substance ingestion) is also about 7mm, that's the optimum brightness output the human eye can take advantage of.
      So an ordinary pair of 7x50s will be brighter, overall, than the 8x32s, or 10x50s. Only crap lenses and shit coatings, or the opposite, will change that.
      It's also why choices like 6X42 or 7X50 tends to be the sweet spot of manufacturing and human utility.

      You will notice this in two other ways:
      1) at early morning pre-dawn and evening twilight, when the sky is bright, but the earth is dark, and every bit of light in the image helps you see better.
      Better binos "see" earlier and later in the day. Really shitty ones will be almost dark when there's still plenty of daylight.
      2) As you get older, not only does your acuity get worse, but also your rods and cones die off with age, and your ability to see in lower light progressively goes to shit.

      So in general, the brightest, and best-quality optics will have the most all-around utility.
      And you glass from the most stable position you can achieve.

      But trading a few minutes of visibility at the edges of daylight may be trumped by being able to see better the other 10-16 hours, with a higher magnification.

      Nothing is best all the time, there are simply trade-offs and choices.

  10. I got one of these a few years back for a Father’s Day present, it’s proven very useful.

  11. Vortex Solo RT 8x comes with milrad reticle. Very clear, well made, lifetime warranty, and reasonably priced.

  12. SemperFi, 0321

    Steiners for me too. They’re the low priced German stuff, but high in quality.
    I have 2 of the compact, 8x and 10x, a 12x med size and then the big 10×50 military. The rubber armor was coming off the 10×50 after 30 yrs of hard use, sent them to Colorado last yr and they were back in a week, completely rebuilt with new rubber armor, lens rings, caps, replaced a big broken lens, NO CHARGE!
    My buddy has a lot of Zeiss, he looked at my compacts and said he’ll buy these next time for 1/3 the price.
    I got my 3 smaller ones from Sierra Trading Post on sale. German glass still beats any US or Jap stuff.

  13. I like the Steiner 8×30’s if I’m humping a load.
    Around the BOL, Steiner 12×56 or Steiner 10X50

  14. recommendations on where to buy Steiner military (w/reticle) please and thank you sirs

    • SemperFi, 0321

      Optics Planet has good prices, and try Amazon, ebay too.
      I’ve seen my 10×50 military anywhere from $600 to $999, shop wisely. There are sales to be found.

  15. Bushnell Custom Compacts 7×26 – small, light and very clear, Fits a jacket pocket or under the coat ready for use. Back in 60’s, NASA used them for the Apollo missions. Can be found for very little money

    • I have a pair of Bushnell compacts that arer10X? The package they come in only gave the magnification. I think they weigh 6 oz. They are very clear and are good in low light. Paid $20.00 on sale about 4 years ago at a sporting goods store in Maine. I use them for hunting primarily. They are equally as clear as the Nikon 7X35’s I bought 40 or so years ago and oh so much lighter.

  16. No specific recommendations; much good hardware already recommended. (I have an old set of Redfield 7×35’s from the old company, armored, that refuse to be subdued.) Vortex has good glass & support, Steiners as well are good stuff.

    I would risk offering the opinion that not everyone need be issued binos. Maybe a 1:4 ratio or so. But I will tell you the thing that sits comfortably in a pocket that gets reached for as often as a good paring knife, and that’s a little 6 or 8x monocular. For its purpose they can be had cheap. If I’m going to be on glass for awhile binos are great but for most uses at least consider a monocular (and whoever has a rangefinder has one already)

  17. 10x50mm is about the largest you should wear in the field. Bigger than 10x and you’ll get eye-strain and without a support (tripod) minor hand vibrations will make scanning through them painful. Lager than 10x requires a stand.

    7×35 is the minimum. 50mm has the optimum light-gathering capabilities. Less than 35mm and our light-gathering falls.

  18. NorthGunner

    If one’s able to afford a thermal monocular, one
    should definitely buy one and become comfortable
    in it’s usage (over 40% of ‘unpleasantries’ WILL be
    happening after dark).

    Here’s a review of some units to help decide:

    BEST Thermal Vision Monocular 2019 Review (Pocket-sized)

    Remember, if the ‘bad people’ will be running with thermal,
    shouldn’t you?

    NorthGunner – The Truth Is It’s OWN Defense!

  19. Alfred E. Neuman

    Reblogged this on FOR GOD AND COUNTRY.

  20. Another vote for Nikon Monarch 3 or 5, 8×42’s – best bang for the buck out there.


  21. You wanna buy champagne at champagne prices, go on ahead.
    Nothing wrong with that.

    You want decent quality at dirt-cheap prices,
    get the Bushnell Powerview 16×50 binos.
    About $50, new.
    Plenty bright enough except at extremes of pre-dawn and evening twilight, and twice the magnification you get with standard set-ups.

    I banged a pair of these around on the border for 5 years to pick out everything to the horizon for hours on end, and they still work fine. The only babying they got was being wrapped in a wool watch cap and stored in a MOLLE gas mask pouch on my chest, when I wasn’t wearing the beanie or using the binos.

    Recently got a second pair, just because.

    I’ve got nicer stuff, but it’s hard to justify taking $600 Steiners, etc., and risk beating the shit out of them, when the re-supply account is my own wallet.
    You can also lend the Bushnells out to others, or your kids, and not sweat it even if they get damaged or lost. It’d be a bummer, but not a catastrophe.

    For a mono, same idea:
    Mil-Tec 10X25.

    15 bucks & change, new.

    Have one sitting in basically a last-ditch home-brew survival vest.
    Have had them or something similar for field EDC going back to the Misguided Children years.
    Just make sure the diopter adjustment works, and has an adequate range, esp. if you aren’t now (or never were) 20/20. I’ve checked out name brands and found that they don’t adjust to either eye, ever, because they can’t be dialed very far either way. Which is just lazy dumbassery and cheap manufacturing.

  22. dmv gringo

  23. Those Steiner 8x30s are decent, but they are a bit small field of view for eye glass wearers. I used them for several years (the focus free works well in the brush) and are small and light, as well having a good amount of armor.

    Leupold Yosemite 8x30s aren’t bad at all and can be found for less than a C Note. You might look at those too.

    For a BOB, the monocular is probably a better option because of lack of space. Don’t cheap out too much though because that optic will be used to find routes through territory you need to scout out first.

    A lot of good suggestions.

  24. I still carry a set of 10X25 in an accessory pouch, but rarely pull them out, because with a variable 8 power scope on my carbine (Vortex), I really don’t need them save as a back up, or in case my scope doesn’t provide enough detail. https://www.amazon.com/Bushnell-Waterproof-Fogproof-Compact-Binocular/dp/B007JNWD38/ref=sr_1_9?keywords=camouflage+binoculars&qid=1560250936&s=gateway&sr=8-9

    The optics available today transmit so much light and clarity in detail that (at least from my perspective), they’re making binoculars obsolete, save for specialized high power requirement applications, such as a fixed OP or something along those lines.

    I also have a Vortex Solo 10X25 monocular in a ‘get home’ set up because my GHB is side arm oriented. https://www.amazon.com/Vortex-Optics-Solo-Monocular-8×25/dp/B002UQ71HC/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=tactical%2Bmonocular&qid=1560251111&s=gateway&sr=8-4&th=1

    My .02

  25. If it lacks a ranging capability, it is useless.

  26. Leica’s, I offer these up, knowing their not practical, at 2600.00 a pop. However the quality and features for my needs made it a serious contender. Mine are range finders aswell, for long gun duties.

    The clarity’s in the top 10% of all manufactured glass, the ranger finders good to 1400y. Very solid and proven to be outstanding at determining range to target stuff. When I sourced these, I was looking for equipment that did double duty.

    Their’s better glass out their, did a six month search for the right glass for me. For me, the leica’s came out on top.

    They are a big set of Bino’s, weighing more then average glass.

    We own other Nikon glass, which cost 300.00 five years ago. Their decent, not even close to the Leica.

    The ability to see deep into shadows in deep terrain is beneficial. To see at sunrise and after dark are just needed.

    I saved six months to purchase these, in my mind worth every penny.

    Also agree regarding good scope glass from above.

    Jong Meyer over on BBs sites makes a no shit honest point. Don’t knock the good kit, just because you don’t have it. His ten dollar helmet, if you have a ten dollar head is truth. It applies to all of our kit.

    I understand keeping the wives happy, by not busting the bank. Good glass will become very important if things go sideways. The ability to see without leaving an eltronic trail will become very important.

    My hunting scopes on my Browning rifles are Nikon four powers.


  27. Vortex Solo Monocular with the mil-rad reticle

  28. I recently started using (and switched to) the Sig Kilo3000 BDX. Really great binoculars and quite impressive integrated laser range finder in a very compact package. It’s quite handy to look at something and be able to push a button to get an accurate distance; that can be useful for all sorts of stuff.

  29. Got a used Steiner 7×50 armored binos I purchased as military surplus – think they were Israeli. Been carrying them for years for hunting and have them on a chest harness.

    Then there is the 10×50 Sotem Russian binos. Very clear optics. My German father-in-law bought them for his American son-in-law in Poland.

  30. My best glass are an M-15 and an M-3. Both WW2 in almost mint condition. My M-84 is OK but heavy. I have about 16? sets of working military glass (I’m a collector) ranging from a tiny set made for the US Field (horse) Arrty. about 1900. to sets from every nation in both world wars and my M-3’s used in Korea. The 7×50 M-15’s are great if you can stand them around your neck (HEAVY) . My 6×30 M-3’s and my 6X WW2 Japanese are the best for field work. The tiny glasses are 10X20 and fit in your palm. But being well over 110 I don’t do much with them for fear of breakage. BTW I have never spent more than 100$ on any glass to date. Although I got my eye on a mint condition set of USN lookout’s glasses for $125.00 that tempt me.

    • Hmmm, Ray you bring up a good point. Seems I’m always walking by used binos at yard sales, and second hand stores,,without a look.

      Perhaps it’s time to at least look, test the water.