Letter Re Binocular Recommendations


For our possible retreat security, you’ve written a lot about communications gear, intrusion detection devices (like Dakota Alerts), night vision gear, guns, and even observation post [construction]. But I haven’t seen your recommendations on binoculars. What model/brands [do you] recommend? Thanks, – Ray V.

JWR Replies: I generally recommend 7×50 binoculars for retreat security at fixed sites. For patrolling, I prefer 7 power binoculars with smaller objective lenses–perhaps 7×42 or even 7×35, for lighter weight.

If your retreat is out in open plains country, you might want more magnification and larger objective lenses. (Perhaps even a large 30×50 monocular spotting scope, for early intrusion detection.)

Basically any good brand with coated optics in rubber-armored housings will suffice. If I had to choose between buying just one pair of Zeiss or Steiner binoculars versus several pairs of Simmons or Bushnell binoculars, then I’d go for the latter. You never know when a pair of binocs–even the best–will fog up, get a cracked/scratched/chipped lens, or will get lost or stolen. So I recommend opting for quantity rather than the absolute top quality. You can literally buy four or five times as many pairs for the same money. Just like when buying pocket knives, this strategy should not be taken to extremes. (Don’t buy the “no name” junky Chinese binoculars!)

Regardless of the brand you buy, I recommend that you install Butler Creek flip-up lens caps (we also use them on our scoped rifles), and invest in a padded case, such as the Steiner BinoBag or Cabela’s Snug Rug.