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Long Range Scopes and Other Optics Nightforce Optics



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Unread 11-04-2007, 08:46 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: N Y.
Posts: 53


Hi guys,
The big brown truck and the nice man that brings goodies to the house stopped yesterday with a package from Cabela’s.
I was deprived from sleep for the five days that it took between order and delivery, but finally the Nikon Monarch ATB 8x40 binoculars are here, and I will sleep soundly tonight.

Although I have quite a few binoculars in my safe, I don’t have nearly as many of them as I do flashlights (most of you know me as the crazy guy that owns all those flashlights); but fear not, I am getting there.
So it occurred to me that I should make a post about binoculars for those that are bored of hearing about my lights.
I had owned quite a good amount of binoculars since I bought my first as a 15 year-old with an itch about optics. I even owned an expensive Zeiss when I was single and didn’t had a family to take care of.
And I am here to tell you that the quality, brightness, sharpness, and durability of the new binoculars now on the market; it is better than ever.
Not long ago, if we wanted all these features in a good binocular the choice was between spending a thousand in a Zeiss, Swarosvki, Leica or Minox or looking for good Porro prisms in the Nikon or Pentax lines.
But since a couple of years ago, the Japanese starting coating the roof prisms of their binoculars with Phase Coating, and the sharpness and definition of their roof prism binos had increased to the point to rival the European imports from the big four, and all at very modest cost.

Take, for example, the Nikon Monarch ATB (All terrain binocular) 8x42 I just received, or my Pentax DCF WP 8x42 that I bought last year.

All lenses are fully multicoated (that means all surfaces, not only the glass to air surfaces) prisms are phased-corrected and have mirror-coated lower prisms (not cheap aluminum). They have blackened tubes to avoid reflections and are waterproof and fog proof; they have a nice outer coating of rubber (silent) and very good ergonomics. I particularly like the twist eye cups for eye-glass wearers and the ample eye relief: no problem using it with my glasses and instant acquisition of the picture even with glasses on.

All that can be said for the Nikon Monarch can be said also of my Pentax DCF WP 8x42, except for the weight: the Nikon is lighter at 22 ounces but I don’t know how much my Pentax weighs until I get a new battery for my fish scale.

I like the approach of securing the objective caps to the body of the binocular that the Nikon uses as well. I had to get creative with the Pentax and cook up something home-made to hold the caps to the binocular body.
I did the usual checking for good prisms by holding the binos a few inches away and looking at the light spot in the ocular lens, nice and round without any hint of flattening, just like I was expecting. I checked collimation by holding it a few inches away and pointing them at the yellow line in the road, straight and sharp with not sign of being distorted.
To test the sharpness and resolution most people look from the inside to the outside thru an open window, and most binoculars will perform well under those conditions. I look for a dark corner in the room and try to read some labels or a newspaper print set for the occasion; that is what separates the mediocre from the good or great binoculars.

As the Nikon and the Pentax are so the same in quality I tried to spot any optical differences between them by perching one on top of the other and alternatively looking thru them. After several minutes of this I have to admit that they are both the same optical quality as far as my eyes can tell, without resorting to an optical laboratory.

I have looked thru many Swarovski and Zeiss lenses, (I hunt the stores) superb optical quality in those glasses. I can tell you for sure than the new Nikon and Pentax are almost the equal of those expensive brands; that I only paid just over $300 with shipping for such a superb glass as the Nikon still amazes me.

Kind regards,

pay the insurance, shoot again
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Unread 11-04-2007, 10:07 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: May 2007
Location: California
Posts: 458
Very nice, informative post with excellent pictures. Thank you for your trouble.

I bought a pair of 8X40 porro prism binocs marketed by Smith&Wesson (on sale) for about $100 two years ago. I guess they're Japenese, and I still can't believe how good they are. I actually prefer them to my Swarovskis.

How about an assessment of the current crop of medium priced riflescopes.
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Unread 11-04-2007, 11:34 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 139
Vortex is another brand used by birders. Affordable and susposed to be great binos and decent riflescopes.
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Unread 11-05-2007, 12:16 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Casper Wy
Posts: 1,386
Good review!

Had a chance to put a few binoculars through their paces this fall when we broke down in the back-country and watched a couple of other hunters take a shot from the road. It was twards evening and they where 935 yards away.
I've got a pair of 8X Lica Geovids that I thought the world of till I looked through a buddies 10X Nikon ATBs. With the Lica's I could not make out much detail and the Nikon realy where much sharper and brighter. The Lica's did however work better than the other two cheap competitors.
This experience taught me basicly what you said that the midrange glass these days is of very good quality, heck even my little Nikon Prostaff 8-25 will give the Lica a run for it money:confused:
The Geovids IMHO do range very well out to 1300 yards but are too heavy and the glass too poor for the $$ spent! I see a pair of Nikon or Pentax's in my future.
"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." -Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
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Unread 11-05-2007, 12:12 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: N Y.
Posts: 53
Thank you guys,

Two more that I have.


Hi guys,
This post will be of little help to those looking to buy a binocular in the 8 x 56 size, because what I have here is a little outdated, my Tasco 8x56 is about twenty seven years old and my Pentax DCF 8x56 about six.
Still let me talk a little about them so you can see what job the monster can do.

Great improvement has been made lately, especially in the phase correction of prisms that has sharpened the image considerably.
These big and heavy binoculars together with the 7x50 are called night glasses and they have a very specialized job of taking advantage of the last available light at dusk and before dawn to see game in their habitat, they are mostly used by European hunters with their liberal shooting hours and used mostly from machans or hotchsit where the bulk and weight are of no consequence.

In the eighties I was involved in doing some research in the habits of black bear, I have seated many times at bait stations armed only with these heavy binoculars, learning the feeding peculiarities and the pecking order of the American black bear.

Although I had lusted over getting a Zeiss 8x56 I had to conform myself with the Tasco 8x56 for many years until I found a brighter binocular in the Pentax DCF.
Brightness is a function of many things (including the objective diameter) the more prominent of them is quality of glass, the better factories use heavy and expensive Bak4 glass in the prisms and extra low dispersion glass for color correction and aspherical lenses that have multicoats of anti reflection coating as much as seven times; it looks like the Pentax binocular uses several of the new techniques to be brighter and sharper than the Tasco 8x56.

Although my Pentax DCF is not corrected for phase distortion at the prisms, it is extremely sharp and bright; the new binoculars in the line of Nikon, Pentax, and others are, being made even better by the addition of phase correction in the prisms.
In my Pentax the correction for eye relief for eye glass wearers is made on the old style fold down rubber eyecups, so you get only fully retracted or fully extended eye cups. I am very impressed with the new system in the Nikon line of helical retracted eye cups and in the Pentax line with the pull up or down eyecups that have come out in the last few years.

My six years old Pentax DCF 8x56 has the objective and ocular caps not attached in any way to the body of the binocular, I had to get creative and cook something home made with a ribbon and some Velcro to have those caps at all times together with the binoculars, new binoculars in the Pentax line will be better in this regard (at least they have a solid ocular lens cover) and I am impressed with the system of retaining the covers that Nikon is using now.

I pulled both binoculars from the safe a few days ago and compared the brightness and sharpness by putting them in the tripod perched in top of each other and taking alternate peeks throughout them at a ADT sign that is in my neighbor house, located at 50 yards from the tripod (by laser rangefinder) it reads in very small letter “protected by” ADT in big letters and again in small letters “security systems”.

Both binocular let me read the sign and the small letters, but the Pentax was sharper than the Tasco and the quality of glass on the Pentax resolved much better when the light was falling down.

At dusk when other binocular have quit, the big 8x56 continues to show you a clear picture. As I see its utility is for those that are willing to carry them in a back pack to use only after the daylight binoculars carried in the neck have quit showing detail.

I don’t think many of these big 8x56 are sold, many people from hunters to bird watchers prefer top carry the compacts 8x42 that are lighter and less bulky and can show birds or game quite well until just before dusk, still I am writing this so everybody is aware that they exist and that they perform a very special function.

Kind regards
pay the insurance, shoot again
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Unread 11-06-2007, 02:54 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 179
good reviews

Very nice reviews. One fairly simple way of testing optical items is a optical resolution chart/line pair res chart. You could probably find one online and then view at range to see it you can easily see a diff. If you looked at a chart you'd probably be able to see some slight differences between some of your optics epically out toward the edges.
I have been eyeballing those Nicon camo atb in 8x42 also;^).
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Unread 11-07-2007, 01:11 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: May 2003
Location: AK
Posts: 166

I own a 8x56 DCF also. They are superb. Have seen your post on many forums pix and all. Interesting. Not much out there on the 8x56 Pentax. Made only for 1 or 2 years. Armoring is very good, focus excellent, click adj on diopter, etc.

The best value I've seen for a 7 power quality binocular is the Fujinon 7x 50 MilSpec with independent diopter adjustment. Very comparable to Zeiss. Very durable, great armor.

Nothing more critical than being able to glass without eye fatigue, if you really use a binocular in the field. The Pentax is really superb in those deep shadows and has wider field of view than most other 56mm objective binoculars which seem to be 10 or 12x.

I used to highly value my Steiner Military Marine 8x30s, but they fogged on me routinely in rainy weather. Great performance if it wasn't wet, but...

The fujinons or 8x30 dialyts are what I normally pack in on a hunt these days.
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