Binoculars 101

Binoculars 101

Binoculars 101

Zach Dunn

My Grandfather, Norman Dunn, served in the US Army infantry during the Second World War.  His outfit, the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division marched all the way from southern France to Germany in 1944-45. My Grandfather partook in that long walk.  After the German surrender in May of ’45, Grandpa, like many GIs collected more souvenirs than almost any other army ever has in the history of warfare.  Luger and Walther pistols, Luftwaffe daggers, German mess kits, Mauser K98s, all of these went home with GIs. 

Two items that made it home in my Grandfather duffel bag were two beautiful Carl Zeiss Wermacht field binoculars.  I still have them to this day.  As a kid, I used them for our WWII reenactments in our neighborhood, as a young man they accompanied me on many deer hunts, and today they sit safely stored in my dresser. 


Those WWII bring backs served me faithfully for years until replaced by better, and much more modern, optics.


Binocular Use Today


There are so many types of binoculars in use today; it would take all week to discuss them all. Let’s take a look at a basic introduction to these field glasses, binocular types and power.  Some binoculars are useful for a wide range of tasks and activities, while some were purpose built for certain tasks. 


The General Use Binocular:  This is the type you will see at sports stadiums, in the woods with hikers, and for watching what your neighbor is doing.  General use binoculars are typically much more compact than other optics and can fit, case and all, in a jacket pocket.  Most come with magnifications around 7x up to 10x.  That is plenty for the average everyday person. 


Hunting:  A general use set of binoculars can do well for the average deer hunter.  This is especially true for hunters east of the Mississippi River where there are large tracts of forest and it is rare to gaze at an animal over 1000 yards away.  However if you head out west into Big Sky Country, you are going to want a little bit more power.  This is a good place for a 12x or 16x set of glasses goes a long way.  You don’t want too much dower for offhand use, as the higher the power the shakier the picture will be at longer range.  For long distance spotting, it is best to use a more stable spotting scope.  


Bird Watching:  Yes, you can get away with the same scope as you use for hunting, but many birders want a few more options.  Because birding is a much more detail oriented hobby than hunting or hiking, most birders typically use a 10x or 12 x powers set of good quality glasses.  Many birders prefer a 50 millimeter objective to capture more light, and thus more detail.  Longer eye relief and a much closer focus are features many birders seek on a set of glasses used for birding. 


Boating and Marine:  If you need a set of binoculars for when you are on the water, keep in mind you don’t want too high of a magnification.  Most boaters and mariners use 7x up to 10x, any higher and it is too unstable.  This is an area you don’t want to scrimp in, make sure you purchase a high quality set with good waterproof construction, larger objective lens, and perhaps some rubber on it to protect the set against falls and abuse from being banged around on the water. A 42 or 50mm objective is best as capturing light on dark days is very important for a boater or mariner. 



Top Brands


Leupold: Long held is high regard by many American hunters, shooters, bird watchers, and other outdoor enthusiast. Leupold has a high dedication to quality that very few companies have in this day in age where everything is slapped together.  The US Military, local law enforcement, competition shooters, hunters and outdoorsmen, have all trusted Leupold scope and rifle optics, spotting scopes and binoculars for decades.  All Leupold products are built here in the USA and have been for five generations.


Nikon: Nikon has been producing binoculars, spotting scopes, and rifle scopes quite a long time.  Their optics have earned a solid and well deserved reputation amongst outdoor enthusiasts and are of very high quality. An advantage of many Nikon optics over their competitors is a very reasonable price, without sacrificing quality.


Bushnell: Bushnell binoculars are well made. What is more, they are affordable.  While not the same quality as a Leupold or set of Nikons, they will perform when you need them.  There are more options from Bushnell than almost any other company as well, and this gives potential customers a nice solid selection of optics. 



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About The Author

Zach Dunn

Zach Dunn is one of the owners of 1776TV and serves as Senior Editor. He is a passionate Constitutionalist. He enjoys the Outdoors, Firearms, and History. He is a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. Zach is married to Amy and they have a son and three daughters. He currently resides in the Mountains of North Carolina.

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