Advice on large binoculars

RICMIC

Veteran member
Feb 21, 2012
1,324
472
Two Harbors, Minnesota
I would appreciate some input here about a binocular purchase. I have read through the posts for the last year or so, so I have a fair idea of what the general thought is. I have hunted WY and CO over a dozen times so far, and have four more trips in the works. I just can not get myself to the point to spend the $ for the European brands. I have a Nikon 16X48X60 that is fine for my DIY trips, and on guided hunts, the guide has the best spotter anyway. I am satisfied with my Leupold 10x40 Cascade, and sitting on the mountain comparing them with the guides Swaros, feel that they are close to 95%...though likely far less during poor light. I find that my eyes do poorly with any type spotter, and have a hard time locating anything, even when it is focused right on the critter. I am considering getting a Vortex Razer or Kiabab 15x50 or 20x56 binos. My price point allows for either; Any thoughts on which way to go?
I have been to three large outlets, and none had any other than the Vipers, so have been unable to make a side by side comparison. I am planning a CO mule deer hunt this year that will entail a lot of glassing from a fairly easily accessible area, and thought that the large binos on a tripod would serve me better than a better spotting scope. My wife is a bird watcher and she won't complain much if she can use it too.
 

mntnguide

Very Active Member
The 15x50 is going to give you a little better advantage in low light...but neither are really going to do well at first and last light. . they will gather less light than your human eye so you will be better off with you current binos during those time periods. I guess it will come down to if you are looking Long distances constantly, then you may want the 20 power...the 15 power could be better for a mix of long and shorter/picking apart trees etc..I think if you are able to find them to look at one or the other, that would help, but in reality I dont think you can go wrong with either. The 15 power to me is a little more versatile, but it also would be nice having that 20x to really get a closer look at a deer and what they are packin on their head. . Most importantly, no matter which you choose, a Good tripod and adapter is going to be a major ingredient into that combo. Cause those binos would not be fun without a good steady set-up.
 

Tim McCoy

Veteran member
Dec 15, 2014
1,855
3
Oregon
I use a pair of 15x56 Minox, and love them. Had Vortex made the 20x Kiababs, or Minox a 20x, when I bought these, I would have bought them instead. As Mntnguide shared, I do use them more for long range work, which is why a 20x would be nice, but they do work very well, with a proper tripod. I prefer them to my spotting scope, for mid-range work when weight is not an issue. I have no scientific proof, but my feeling is I can see more detail and find game better with two eyes, vs a spotting scope. My gut sense is my 15x allow me to find things similar to a 20-25x spotting scope and are easier on my eyes. I suspect a pair of 20x bino's would compete well with similar quality spotting scope in the 25-30x range, while being easier on the eyes.

Which ever power you choose, since your budget allows, get the better quality of the two is what I'd recommend.
 

luckynv

Active Member
Aug 3, 2014
274
1
Henderson, Nv
Hey Ric, I also have the same Nikon spotter as you. 2 years ago I went Elk hunting and met up with a guy that carried a Zeiss 20-60 X85 Spotter. Night and day difference he was also carrying a pair of 15 X 50 or so Zeiss binocs. He was seeing more detail through the binocs than I could through my Nikon spotter. He also had a pair of Swaro binocs almost the same size but he prefered the Zeiss. He did say that he had compared his Zeiss to comparable Vortex and they were really close. All that being said the Minox that Tim suggests is fantastic binocs and equal if not a little better than the Vortex and less expensive. On a sidenote I upgraded last year to a Leica angled 65 spotter and wont look back. Vortex has a fantastic warranty but is not quite what the European glass is. Good luck and God bless
 

RICMIC

Veteran member
Feb 21, 2012
1,324
472
Two Harbors, Minnesota
When I was younger and starting the western experience, I simply couldn't afford the euro glass. Now, at 63 I don't think I have enough trips left in me to justify them. Another problem with any spotter for me is that though I am fine wearing my glasses with binos, I have to remove them to use any spotter that I have tried. I travel with my family throughout the west often, and have an Alaska road trip in the works, so I would hope to get a lot of use out of the large binos. I have a decent mid height tripod, but would have to get a taller one to go with it.
I have been looking on line, and haven't found any great bargains yet. Cameraland has some "open box" models that are $150 less. The auction sites mostly have older stuff. Thanks everyone for the input.
 

WRO

New Member
Feb 27, 2016
21
0
40
When I was younger and starting the western experience, I simply couldn't afford the euro glass. Now, at 63 I don't think I have enough trips left in me to justify them. Another problem with any spotter for me is that though I am fine wearing my glasses with binos, I have to remove them to use any spotter that I have tried. I travel with my family throughout the west often, and have an Alaska road trip in the works, so I would hope to get a lot of use out of the large binos. I have a decent mid height tripod, but would have to get a taller one to go with it.
I have been looking on line, and haven't found any great bargains yet. Cameraland has some "open box" models that are $150 less. The auction sites mostly have older stuff. Thanks everyone for the input.
You only live once, if want to use the best gear possible to increase my chances for success..
 

mcseal2

Veteran member
Mar 1, 2011
1,127
104
midwest
I'd look for used Kaibabs or Swaros. From what I've seen I want a bigger objective with 15x. I have owned Minox 15x56 and Vortex Viper 15x50's, I'd pick the Minox over the Viper. I like Vortex optics but their binos seem to leave me wishing the eye cups screwed out one more click. I own several of their rifle scopes and like them. Just my opinion. I had the Vortex Viper 15x50's less than 24hrs, 3 of us took off in my vehicle glassing whitetail at dusk off a tripod and none were impressed so I returned them. I ended up saving more money and buying Swaro 15x56's I'm very happy with.

On the Viper 15x50's I read lots of reviews and messaged several people selling them back and forth, those selling seemed to agree with me on them.

I did a review recently on my optics set-up including the 15x Swaros and tripods that goes into more detail.
 
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RICMIC

Veteran member
Feb 21, 2012
1,324
472
Two Harbors, Minnesota
Thanks all for your input. I knew where this query would probably go. I know I should have bought the best years ago and then could have used them for the last dozen hunts. I haven't gone overboard on guns during that time, but do need to feed my snowmobiling passion. For the cost of one new sled, I could have made a trip to Germany, toured the Swaro plant, taken the CEO out to dinner, and then bought everything I need. Am trying the closest Gander MT. today to see if they have anything different then they had a year ago.
 

Slugz

Veteran member
Oct 12, 2014
3,103
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Woodland Park, Colorado
Thanks all for your input. I knew where this query would probably go. I know I should have bought the best years ago and then could have used them for the last dozen hunts. I haven't gone overboard on guns during that time, but do need to feed my snowmobiling passion. For the cost of one new sled, I could have made a trip to Germany, toured the Swaro plant, taken the CEO out to dinner, and then bought everything I need. Am trying the closest Gander MT. today to see if they have anything different then they had a year ago.
Was wondering...... whats everyones thoughts on the best place to go and try out some glass? Cabelas, Bass Pro, Gander Mountain, Sportsmans Warehouse? All the same? Just have to find the one that has what you want to look at?
 

Tim McCoy

Veteran member
Dec 15, 2014
1,855
3
Oregon
Thanks all for your input. I knew where this query would probably go. I know I should have bought the best years ago and then could have used them for the last dozen hunts. I haven't gone overboard on guns during that time, but do need to feed my snowmobiling passion. For the cost of one new sled, I could have made a trip to Germany, toured the Swaro plant, taken the CEO out to dinner, and then bought everything I need. Am trying the closest Gander MT. today to see if they have anything different then they had a year ago.
Ergo my selection of the the Minox demo model for under $700 from Cameralandny, as I recall.
 

RICMIC

Veteran member
Feb 21, 2012
1,324
472
Two Harbors, Minnesota
No luck on my trip to Gander Mt., also none at the two Cabela's I have checked. Everything else is too far away. I checked Cameralandny, and the 15x56 was out of stock and there were no demo models. bhphotovideo had the Minox 15x56 (NIB & free shipping) for $799.
 

Tim McCoy

Veteran member
Dec 15, 2014
1,855
3
Oregon
First world problems like this really mess with a guy... Fortunately, there is time, so something in your target price range will show up. Have you checked e-bay? They do offer a pretty nice guarantee if the product is not as described as I recall.
 

RICMIC

Veteran member
Feb 21, 2012
1,324
472
Two Harbors, Minnesota
First world problems like this really mess with a guy... Fortunately, there is time, so something in your target price range will show up. Have you checked e-bay? They do offer a pretty nice guarantee if the product is not as described as I recall.
Been looking. I did get a call from a forum member who's dad has a once used 15x56 Vortex Kiabab he wants to sell. We'll see what that works out.
 

Tim McCoy

Veteran member
Dec 15, 2014
1,855
3
Oregon
That may just be the ticket. They are right there with the Minox, depending on which review(er) you want to believe. I've not compared them.
 

Naturebob

Member
Feb 28, 2016
94
31
64
phoenix, az.
Ok, here is some advice from a true western hunter. In AZ. we hunt Coues deer which if You don't have good optics ,You genally find very few. 15 power optics on a tripod became very popular 25 years ago or so and continue to be more and more popular for all big game out west. Back East You dont need them. The first key is a tripod. Even Nikons on a tripod help. Buy the best You can afford. Swaros, Leicas ,Zeiss are the best. I had Doctors for 10 years and Minox for the last 12-13 years. You can get by with Minox for a great price if You cant afford 3k for the good ones. The only difference is early and late light conditions , and a little bit of sharpness. I find as many animals as all My buddies do with their swaros. Now to Spotting scopes. If You can't afford the top of the line don't waste your $. I have tried all the stuff Nikon Leupold ETC. in the $700-$900 range and they are junk. If You got good 15's Thats all You need if You don't have $3500 for the top swaro.hd. Thats the only one I would buy and can't afford it so I go with out. Generally a buddy has one on a hunt unless I am solo. Bottom line ,don't waste your $ on cheap stuff Iv'e done all the testing for You + you lose $ when You resell that cheap junk. Hope I help some folks here................BOB!
 
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TimberJunkie

Active Member
Feb 13, 2015
167
4
Central Point, OR
Don't let anybody fool you into spending too much on optics, some hunters want to justify their frivality by pressuring others into breaking the bank. I hunt with a $500 leupold gold ring spotter and a nice set of viper 12x50 binos. I spot way more deer than my buddies with Zeiss and swaro. My glass is not better, my eye is trained. I believe that buying up with optics is important, but being a good hunter and knowing what you're looking for is worth a lot more. I like good glass and a good warranty, I will definitely recommend a good tripod. Spending $200 on a good tripod is the best investment, better than the high end glass. I think boots are a better way to spend money....

Unfortunately, these forums, TV shows, etc. are slow turning hunting into a fashion show and peer pressure to have the best equipment is becoming the norm.

Last year, we were parked at a trailhead and an older gentleman parked and loaded up his gear, a hunting buddy of mine laughed at his old, broken down equipment, he was packed up for a 2 to 3 day hunt. He had some older Nikon binos around his neck, a red flannel shirt, wrangler jeans, and an old external pack frame pack. He was a very nice guy, and knew exactly what he was doing. We ran into him packing out a really big muley 2 days later on the trail. He said he gets one like that every other year....

The moral of the story is, go have fun, get what you want and can afford, put the rest of the money in the kids college fund and don't let the wealthy hunter sway you into a purchase you don't feel comfortable with. I too spend a lot on hunting, but I keep it in moderation, and it's my only big hobby, I gave up all the other expensive stuff so I could be a serious hunter.

I really hope you find something that works for you, and you get a lot of enjoyment out of.