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Best Binocular $500 or Less

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Old Friday 31st August 2018, 01:40   #1
jgraider
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Best Binocular $500 or Less

OK, let's say I have $500 burning a hole in my pocket, and want a new binocular. I want the best combo of optics, ergos, etc in an 8x42 or 10x42 package. Looking for experienced opinions please, and thanks in advance.
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Old Friday 31st August 2018, 02:24   #2
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I've copied and pasted my review of my latest purchase; Bushnell Engage 12x50. They also come in 8x42, 10x42 and 10x50.


Well, after using them in multiple conditions, both for day time birding and deer watching and at night for stargazing, I'm very pleased with these. They offer wonderful precision views, respectable FOV for their power and construction is rock solid. At first, I thought it was too good to be true to have ED glass and phase/dielectric at this price, but so far I'm duly impressed. They have none of the issues typically associated with cheaper roofs and give me a very crisp, flat, true color view of whatever I point them at. If I didn't know better I'd swear they were a much more expensive binocular. Would definitely recommend to anyone looking for an affordable but top notch roof. https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/201...d6c935b175.jpg

Little side note, I got mine for $300 after haggling, but I think you ought to be able to snag a pair for not a whole lot more. Most I saw were 350-400. Based on other models I tried out before purchasing, I'd throw these in the ring with Vortex Vipers, Zeiss Terra EDs and Nikon Monarchs. A few other features I didn't mention in my review that may be of interest are locking diopter ring, 3 stage locking eyecups (stiffer, cleaner action than most, reminiscent of Leica), hydrophobic lens coating and tripod mount (I don't often see them on roofs of this price range). They also pull a TON of light for being 12s. Comparable with my 10x50 Nikons. I can only imagine 8s or 10s. I counted the points on a buck at ~500 yards, and can clearly resolve the rings of Saturn and Jupiter's moons with these. I really can't say enough good about them. They're excellent binoculars for the price. I've played with much more expensive nocs that have nothing on these. Check em out.

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Old Friday 31st August 2018, 02:31   #3
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The Tract Toric 8x42 would be a consideration if you could stretch to $524.
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Old Friday 31st August 2018, 03:32   #4
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I recently looked for 8x32 under $400. I really liked the Meopta Meopro and Minnox BL. In your case of x42, there is the Meopro (8x42) and Minnox BV (8x44) lines. Both of those in x32 fit my otherwise hard-to-fit eyes well. I think I need a large eye relief (I do not wear glasses) to get full contact of the eyecup to my face. I've not tried them in x42 though.
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Old Friday 31st August 2018, 11:16   #5
dries1
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JR,

I would say after viewing the 8 and 10X42 and procuring the 10X42, is the Bushnell Forge, it is a new model from Bushnell for less than $500 Midway USA is selling them. I would go with Tract but their prices are elevating. I remember when one could get a prime glass for $500 - inflation.

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Old Friday 31st August 2018, 13:12   #6
Bataleon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dries1 View Post
JR,

I would say after viewing the 8 and 10X42 and procuring the 10X42, is the Bushnell Forge, it is a new model from Bushnell for less than $500 Midway USA is selling them. I would go with Tract but their prices are elevating. I remember when one could get a prime glass for $500 - inflation.

Andy W.
I see a lot of people talking up the Forge, but isn't the Engage essentially the same binocular with a little better glass? I can't seem to find much difference between them except the Engage has ED glass and dielectric coatings.

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Old Friday 31st August 2018, 14:22   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgraider View Post
OK, let's say I have $500 burning a hole in my pocket, and want a new binocular. I want the best combo of optics, ergos, etc in an 8x42 or 10x42 package. Looking for experienced opinions please, and thanks in advance.
It's hard to get it ALL for around $500 but I've found one CAN get a LOT.

Of the ones I've had I almost always come back to TWO and that's the Vanguard Endeavor ED II/IV and the Monarch 7. Optically, I never personally seen any binocular outclass the ED II/IV in their price range and even more. Over a couple of weeks last winter I had the ED IV with the Terra ED, Celestron Granite ED, and the Styrka S7 and compared pretty extensively. I had the EDG II 8X42 as well to keep things honest. Sum it up to say the ED IV was more than a step ahead of the others optically and I would pick it over the others any day of the week. So my first choice would be the Endeavor ED IV and we'll call it #1a.

As I said one can't get it ALL so if an expansive FOV is one's thing I can certainly make a case for the Monarch 7. I like this binocular too. It's not as nice optically as the Vanguards BUT in almost every other area it's as good or better. FOV, size, weight, nice focus. For general birding, this might even be the preferred binocular between the two. We'll call this one #1b.

Speaking a little out of turn because I know NOTHING about it PERSONALLY....I WILL say I am interested in the Meopta Meopro HD. Everything on paper shapes up to be a nice binocular. We know transmission is around 90% for the 8X42 with a nice flat spectrum. Price is now very competitive too. Meopta has a knack for offering a great value so I might be inclined to give this one a try.

So there you go! HTH!
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Old Friday 31st August 2018, 14:45   #8
dries1
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Forge

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bataleon View Post
I see a lot of people talking up the Forge, but isn't the Engage essentially the same binocular with a little better glass? I can't seem to find much difference between them except the Engage has ED glass and dielectric coatings.

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Bataleon,

I never saw the Engage but I have the legend M in 8X42, and to me I thought the Forge was an upgrade to the Legend M, which I think is discontinued? Not sure...
Now I have to check out the Engage, too many glass.

Andy W.
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Old Friday 31st August 2018, 15:29   #9
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I appreciate all of the replies. Anyone seen the Leupold BX-4 HD's?
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Old Friday 31st August 2018, 17:06   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dries1 View Post
Bataleon,

I never saw the Engage but I have the legend M in 8X42, and to me I thought the Forge was an upgrade to the Legend M, which I think is discontinued? Not sure...
Now I have to check out the Engage, too many glass.

Andy W.
From what I understand, the Engage is also a very new binocular. I haven't been able to find a ton of information on it either, but based on the company claimed specs and the price, it was a no brainer. As far as I can determine, it's a Forge with better glass. 🤷‍♂️

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Old Saturday 1st September 2018, 17:08   #11
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Love my Hawke Sapphire ED 8x42.

I cannot fault it in any way. The view is bright, wide and crystal clear to my eyes. The sharpness is clear out to about 85% from the centre. The edges as you would expect are less sharp but with the wide field of view this does not cause me any issues.
I just find the viewing experience from these binoculars "immersive".

Last edited by irishweather : Saturday 1st September 2018 at 17:19.
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Old Saturday 1st September 2018, 19:03   #12
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Bushnell Forge

Here is some info about the Forge 10X42 from the box.

Andy W.
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Old Saturday 1st September 2018, 20:04   #13
Bataleon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dries1 View Post
Here is some info about the Forge 10X42 from the box.

Andy W.
Edit: I lied. The Engage has all the exact same itemized features as stated on that box, they're just not all on one side haha. The front of the box has exo barrier, ED prime glass, dielectric prism coating and ultra wide band coating, while the back has lead free glass, p3c coating and fully multi-coated optics. I'm really at a loss to find the difference between the two product lines. There doesn't seem to be any other than cosmetic and configuration offerings. I just looked them both up on the Bushnell site again. The Forge offers 8x42, 10x30, 10x42 and 15x56 while the Engage offers 8x42, 10x42, 10x50 and 12x50. When comparing those of the same magnification and aperture, there's virtually no discernable difference in specs except fractional length and weight variances. The Engage is cheaper in the 8x42 and 10x42 offerings. Guess it's kind of a Chevy and GMC type thing lol

Last edited by Bataleon : Saturday 1st September 2018 at 20:23.
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Old Saturday 1st September 2018, 20:09   #14
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I compared the Bushnell Forge and Engage at the Bushnell website and the only differences I can see are the Forge has a twin bridge and the Engage is a single bridge so it is lighter which would be good for birding. The glass and optical train look identical. The Engage is almost $100.00 less expensive so it looks like it would be a better value unless you really need the twin bridge.

http://www.bushnell.com/Products/Bin...n=Forge&page=1
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Old Saturday 1st September 2018, 20:25   #15
Bataleon
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Yeah, that was about all I could determine is minor cosmetic differences. Seems like the Engage is a better value if we're talking strictly optical. I'm thrilled with mine.

BTW, the Engage has them too. Don't know why they aren't shown lol https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/201...1c643a1ce6.jpg

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Old Saturday 1st September 2018, 21:49   #16
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Bataleon,

How is the focus movement on the Engage 12X50s? I might try one as I am looking for another decent 12X50 for astro, I only have one other in that format and if it provides the views the Forge gives in a 10X42, it should be nice under the night sky.

Andy W.

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Old Saturday 1st September 2018, 22:01   #17
Bataleon
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Originally Posted by dries1 View Post
Bataleon,

How is the focus movement on the Engage 12X50s?

Andy W.
It's very smooth and easy to fine tune. It's not blocky and sticky like lower end nocs. I also really love the eyecups. They're FIRM and actually take a little pressure to adjust so they stay put. None of that pushing down BS like my prostaffs or action extremes. The construction and mechanics actually remind me a good bit of Trinovids, just not quite the optical quality. It's good but not THAT good lol

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Old Saturday 1st September 2018, 22:11   #18
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The Bushnell Engage were "Best Value" in the Field and Stream 2017 binocular review. Here they are for $336.36 @ Jet.com for the 12x50's. Here are the 8x42 Bushnell Engage for $315.44 from twotesticlestacticalCo.(I just love that name.)

https://jet.com/product/12X50-ENGAGE...hoCq7oQAvD_BwE
https://twotesticlestactical.co/prod...hoCc7cQAvD_BwE
https://www.fieldandstream.com/top-10-binoculars-2017

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Old Saturday 1st September 2018, 22:23   #19
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Thanks for the info Dennis, by the way what is jet.com

Andy W.
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Old Saturday 1st September 2018, 22:47   #20
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Jet.com is an online one-stop variety store. They offer you various discounts on their wares in exchange for different agreements such as waiving priority shipping or returns. I've never purchased binoculars from them, but gotten a few other oddball items. Never had a problem. You could also try ebay and see if there're any OBO listings.
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Old Sunday 2nd September 2018, 00:07   #21
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Bataleon,

Thanks for the info.

Andy W.
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Old Sunday 2nd September 2018, 01:37   #22
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Originally Posted by jgraider View Post
I appreciate all of the replies. Anyone seen the Leupold BX-4 HD's?
Just noticed you posted this so I did a little research. I haven't personally used any Leupolds recently, but overall specs don't look to be as good as the Bushnells yet the price tag is higher. Field of view is inferior across the board. Every power/aperture configuration is narrower than the corresponding Forge or Engage configuration. They have phase coated prisms, but that's pretty standard for roofs of this price range, so nothing special there. No mention of dielectric coatings. That would be a big consideration for me and is largely why I went for the Bushnells because this typically isn't something you see except in very high end roof prisms. Getting a dielectric diagonal for my telescope was a game changer. It reflects noticeably more light than without it. Having both phase AND dielectric coatings at this price point makes the Bushnells a no brainer IMHO. Most of the "features" on the Leupolds sound like brand trademarks rather than actual optical industry jargon so that would turn me off.

I remember Leupolds being synonymous with top notch when I was a kid. They seem to have faded into a somewhat obscure brand today. Not saying they make crappy binoculars by any means, on the contrary, they're solid offerings, but they just don't seem to be one of the more popular brands, so you gotta wonder if that's for a reason....as in not that special for the price.

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Last edited by Bataleon : Sunday 2nd September 2018 at 01:44.
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Old Sunday 2nd September 2018, 02:17   #23
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You might want to actually look through a pair of Leupolds They are quite nice , high quality glasses made in Japan. Iíve owned a pair and would rate them well above the Bushnells. Iíve compared them side by side and liked the brightness and sweet spot of the Leupolds better. Thatís just my opinion of course and everybodyís eyes are different so others might see them the exact opposite way. They are a nice bino in the $500 retail price range and you can often find them cheaper than that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bataleon View Post
Just noticed you posted this so I did a little research. I haven't personally used any Leupolds recently, but overall specs don't look to be as good as the Bushnells yet the price tag is higher. Field of view is inferior across the board. Every power/aperture configuration is narrower than the corresponding Forge or Engage configuration. They have phase coated prisms, but that's pretty standard for roofs of this price range, so nothing special there. No mention of dielectric coatings. That would be a big consideration for me and is largely why I went for the Bushnells because this typically isn't something you see except in very high end roof prisms. Getting a dielectric diagonal for my telescope was a game changer. It reflects noticeably more light than without it. Having both phase AND dielectric coatings at this price point makes the Bushnells a no brainer IMHO. Most of the "features" on the Leupolds sound like brand trademarks rather than actual optical industry jargon so that would turn me off.

I remember Leupolds being synonymous with top notch when I was a kid. They seem to have faded into a somewhat obscure brand today. Not saying they make crappy binoculars by any means, on the contrary, they're solid offerings, but they just don't seem to be one of the more popular brands, so you gotta wonder if that's for a reason....as in not that special for the price.

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Old Sunday 2nd September 2018, 12:48   #24
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Chuck - have you also used the EDII and if so, how does the ED IV compare? Typo once mentioned he thought the EDIV was a step backward, but this was before production.

For me, I'd recommend the old Viper HD (the model before the redesign as it appears the new model is subpar in comparison), the Meopro HD, or the BX-4 Pro Guide HD. I have not tried the Endeavor so I will not attest to it.

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Old Sunday 2nd September 2018, 18:37   #25
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I actually found a BNIB BX-4 10x42 locally from a guy for $320. They are very nice.
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