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Thread: Binocular & Rangefinder (for hunting) questions/opinions

  1. #1
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    Default Binocular & Rangefinder (for hunting) questions/opinions

    Since folks were so helpful in my questions about GPS- thought I'd try my luck again. Thanks in advance! I can go by the shops all day long, but I want to know experience of people actually using the equipment in the field.

    I'd like to look at binoculars & thought I'd had some chosen. But, the more I read- the more of a headache I get (regarding specs & what it MEANS). Budget is modest, I have a pair of compacts & want another set. I looked at Nikon Action Ex- now I thought I wanted the 7x50, as I read the large exit pupil is desireable. Am I barking up the wrong tree? Should the 10x50 work better? Or should I start from scratch?

    Ok- next- rangefinders. Looks like most forum users prefer the Leica. Fairly big price difference between the 1000 & 1600b. Is there a huge reason to have the ballistic info in there? It'd be sweet just to have it, but realistically- is it worth the extra $$? Also, if I'm not shooting critters anywhere in the way far off distance is there a reason to have a ranger that reaches out that far? I've never hunted sheep & not sure if I'll ever get to. Can someone break it down for me, in not so technical terms?

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    Member Redlander's Avatar
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    I'd try to find something in the 8x40, 10x40, 8x30, or 10x30 range. I think 7x50 are too low powered but heavy and 10x50s are going to be way too heavy. And get the best you can possible afford. I've got an old pair of 8x32 Winchester brand with BAK prisms and a pair of Swarovski 10x42 SLCs. My next dream pair with be Swarovski 10x32 ELs. Leica's are great also. I've got a Leupold R1000 without the TBR; I'll just have to do some adjusting mentally for steep angles. If you go too cheap, you'll spend more money and time working your way up to better, trust me.

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    As far as binos go I've always been particular to 10x42's. Good balance of weight/magnification/light gathering. I am able to look through mine for hours without getting a headache. A modest budget means different things to different people, I've got the Vortex Viper HD's and couldn't be happier with them (plus you can't go wrong with the warranty).

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    I googled the Nikon Action and they are around 150$ in price? For something that cheap you will likely sacrifice a large amount of quality. Something might break, they might leak and fog up or any number of issues. I had some 200ish $ Bushnell's for a while that I had received as a birthday present and thought they were great! After two years they broke and this fall I bought Leupold's Mojave 12x50 for 500$. Was torn between them and a similarly priced pair of Vortex. Whew -A night and day difference between the Bushnell's and the Leupold's. Maybe hold off on getting bino's just now and save up some more until just before your hunts. If you read through other optic threads nearly everyone says, spend as much as you can spare on optics. Good purchases from the get go save you a lot in the long run.

    Without getting into the techy details like prism type, and glass coatings, the larger the ratio between objective and magnification the more bright your view will be. E.g. a 7x50 is going to have more light transmittance than the same brand/model of bino with a 10x50. Despite gaining light gathering ability, you loose magnification which is why you have bino's in the first place. Finding a happy medium sometimes takes a trip or two to the shops or borrowing a buddy's binos and using them for a day to get a feel for them in your hands and with your eyes and for what works for you. There are some forum members in Sitka - they may have optics not on the shelves in that sporting goods store by the harbor. I'm not sure about the exit pupil stuff, I did a quick search and just by skimming I don't think you need to worry about it much - mostly concerns astronomers and stargazers who are concerned with background light/noise. The 7x50 would have a larger exit pupil (50/7=7.14) than 10x50 (50/10=5.0).

    As far as rangefinders go, I have an old Leupold RX-1 (6x23) that doesn't have ballistic compensation. It's an older budget model but works great-finding something similar can save you some big $ here that can be put towards good glass. Ranges our little blacktails out to about 500 yards as long as the battery isn't going dead. If you're not shooting long distance sniper type shots I don't think you need anything more fancy than that. Most people are not comfortable shooting at such long ranges anyway - if the rangefinder isn't picking it up then you are too far - keep stalking. If you are shooting at really extreme angles (straight down a mountain or something) then the fancy ballistic compensation may tell you you are only 200 yards away, when in reality your bullet is still traveling 400 or more yards. A lot of wind can catch a bullet in 400 yards, among other things.

    Happy Hunting!

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    Member cdubbin's Avatar
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    I used a Carson Raven 8x21 as a compact bino for years; very good quality for the price.
    " Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg

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    Member ramhunter's Avatar
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    You won't need a range finder over 800yds for hunting. I have the Leica 1600 yds, but I have a 50 BMG. My Leica 1600 will only range to 1200 yds, and that was one time on a house, other than that it only ranges about 1100 yds!...I'm going to send it back to Leica.
    "Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous" ~ Reinhold Messner

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    Quote Originally Posted by hoonahtic View Post
    I'm not sure about the exit pupil stuff, I did a quick search and just by skimming I don't think you need to worry about it much - mostly concerns astronomers and stargazers who are concerned with background light/noise. The 7x50 would have a larger exit pupil (50/7=7.14) than 10x50 (50/10=5.0).
    this can be important for hunting, in a since, the maxium pupil size for a normal human in 5.0 mm for exit pupil both the 7X50 and 10X50 are the same (even though one is larger then the other because both are bigger then your pupil they will act the same.

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    You think you have a headache from reading specs.. Buy bad glass and look through em for a while and you will certainly have a headache.. I prefer the 10x42 route. Seems to be a good balance of weight and power. The ten power excels in open country and is not overpowering in wooded settings. Less power just doesn't seem to compare.. I have been quite surprised of the quality of some of the modest priced glass like the nikons.. Seem pretty top notch quality for the coin..

    Range finder kind of depends on what you want out of em. I like the longer range ones so I can plan my stalk. I will distance the animal then landmarks around him so if things get dicy towards the end of the stalk I already know the distance and don't have to fumble around..

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    I got the 10x42 Vortex Viper HD's for Christmas and love them. The price is moderate and the full anything goes lifetime warranty can't be beat. I have the Leupold Boone and Crockett edition range finder with all the bells and whistles because I got a deal I couldn't pass up. Truthly I do not use the ballistic stuff and would still be using the Bushnell Yardage Pro 800 if I had not got the deal I did because it worked great and still does for under $250.

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    10x42 Buy the best you can; you won't regret it.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKducks View Post
    this can be important for hunting, in a since, the maxium pupil size for a normal human in 5.0 mm for exit pupil both the 7X50 and 10X50 are the same (even though one is larger then the other because both are bigger then your pupil they will act the same.
    Ah, okay thanks - didn't think about the size of the eye is the limiting factor.

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    Member Carlak2fl's Avatar
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    i too have the 10x42 but went Pentax. they were around 300 bucks and so far so good. did spend the extra on the Leica rangefinder, and find its ease of use to be its best feature... just point and shoot so to speak.

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    Member HuntNBgame's Avatar
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    10x42 are a good all round bino, I have the older Leica 1200 range finder, With optics buy the best you can afford, Now all the high end brands are making the combos bino with built in range finder if you really want to dream big.

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    Member oakman's Avatar
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    I agree with Ramhunter, you really don't need a long range rangefinder. I bought a Nikon rangefinder a few yeards ago. It's the 800 model. Works great. I've actually ranged over 1000 yards with it on reflective surfaces (shiny rocks). As for binoculars, it depends on how you're going to use them. If you plan on spending hours and hours at a time glassing, then get some good glass (Swarovski, zeiss, Leica). I'd look for something like an 8x40, 10x42, 10x50, etc. the bigger the objective lens is, the heavier it will be. I have Nikon 8x40s and 10x25s. The bigger set is nice when weight doesn't matter. I bring the smaller set on sheep trips. Anything that looks interesting I check with those and from there I can grab my spotter (Swarovski 65HD).

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    +1 for Leupold rangefinders. If your hunting big, steep mntns(sheep, goats, mulies, elk, etc), I would recommend the ballistic type. There can be a huge difference between vertical and horizontal distance. How many sheep videos have you watched where the hunter is shooting hard downhill and you hear the guide say, "You missed, right over his back". Horizontal vs. Vertical. Not a high dollar option on the rangefinder that can be worth a million when your staring through the scope at the shot of a lifetime.

    As far as glasses, 10x42 are my preference. I have Bushnell Legends. 10+ yrs in the field and I still luv'm. Been using Leupold Mojave's for last two years. Absolutely luv'm. After seeking advice on this forum, I just got some Swaro EL 10x32's. Always dreamed of owning a pair and wanted to cut some weight for backpack hunts. A DEFINITE difference and way worth the money!!! If you are able, save and then spend a couple months searching for a sale or look for a lightly used pair on Ebay or Craigslist. Lightly used EL 10x42's can be had for $1300 to $1500. SLC's for around a $1000. Alot of people buy them, never use them and sell for 30-40% off. Leica and Zeiss seem to go a little cheaper. It's a ton of money but you will be handing them off to your grandchildren.

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    A good product for a reasonable price, in my opinion, are the nikon monarch 8x42, should be available for around 250-270$

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    Member ramhunter's Avatar
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    I've had these Zeiss 10X40's since 1985 and if they could talk, they could tell you a hunting story or two!....grin. They have been dropped in a river, rolled down a glacier, fallen off the truck roof twice while driving down the road at 40 mph, backed over by a car, stepped on by a pack horse, lost in a mountain rock slide for six hours, and sent back to Zeiss for the all the outside rubber replaced, and they are by far the best hunting tool I have ever owned......period!
    "Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous" ~ Reinhold Messner

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    Member AK Wonderer's Avatar
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    Go with a less expensive or used rangefinder and dump as much money into a pair of binos that you can. Unless you're a true long range shooter there is no need for a range finder over 800 yards. The only nice thing about ranging long distances is that you know exactly how much distance you need to close to get with your comfortable shooting range. The money to upgrade to a ballistic compensating rangefinder is much better spent on upgrading your binos.

    You're currently looking at $150 binos and a $500 rangefinder. These price tags should really be reversed. You'll spend exponentially more time with the binos in your hand than you will using the rangefinder. You can get some good binos in the $300-$500 dollar range especially if you look around. Camera Land NY's demo list is a perfect place to start looking and they run great sales regularly. Brands like Zen-Ray and Promaster aren't big names but offer better glass than others in their price range. Vortex covers a wide variety of price ranges and is making great binos.

    Keep in mind that a quality pair of 8x40 or 8x42 binos will usually pull in just as much light as a cheap pair of 8x50. Not to mention they will be lighter and more reliable.

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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    I wouldn't trade my Swaro 7x42s for anything. The EXTREME light gathering abilities and the large field of view are tops in my opinion. And for the most part if I need any more magnification, I usually have my spotter right there with me.....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    I like my Leopold 1000 rangefinder, but agree with the above suggestion to look at a combo. It's one less thing to carry/lose. And you don't have to switch between the two when you spot something

    sent from my igloo

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