8x as Primary Glassing Optic?

Which Optics Set Up for Western Hunting?


  • Total voters
    31

djnodak

FNG
Joined
Feb 27, 2023
Messages
2
Looking for some advice on dialing in my optics set up. All I've ever run are mid-tier 8x or 10x binoculars, handheld and off a tripod. I primarily hunt western North Dakota (runs the whole gamut of wide open flat prairie, heavy woods, and badlands) but have some Montana hunts planned in the future, for Elk and Pronghorn. Ive always felt a little "under gunned" with the 10x and know I want to pair them with something more powerful. I have a year and some change to save up some cash before venturing out to Montana, and want to spend my money efficiently while keeping the weight and size of the combination as strong considerations.

The two options Im considering are:

-Sell my current 10x binoculars (Leupold BX 4 w/ 42 mm obj) in favor of the following combination- Swarovski EL 8.5x42 and compact spotter

or

-Keep the Leupolds and pair them with a Swarovski 15x56, no spotter


Im leaning towards the first option, because I like the idea of having a spotter. My main question is if the 8.5 off a tripod will be enough to use as my primary glassing optic in open country and mountain basins? If I went this route, I would pair it with a low - mid grade compact spotter for confirmation/ evaluation (Looking at the Maven Cs1 15-45x65). My eyes won't let me look through a spotter for an extended period of time, so I'd be spotting game with the binos and swapping to the spotter when I want a closer look. I'm not interested in the EL 10x42, from my experience trying out multiple different 8x and 10x options over the last few years I am confident 8x on the chest is the way to go if it's paired with a spotter.


The other option I'm considering is keeping the Leupold's and pairing them with a Swarovski SLC 15x56 as my primary glassing optic, but no spotter. I don't consider myself a trophy hunter so Im not terribly concerned with scoring animals from two miles away, but I would like to be confident I'm going after a bull/ buck and not wasting energy chasing a big body doe. My concern with this set up is whether the 15x offers a significant enough increase in magnification over the 10x I'd ll already be carrying. Ive never looked through 15x so Im naive in this area and looking for insight. For what it's worth, I can spot deer 1-1.5 miles out with my 10s, but I can only tell they are warm bodies moving through the landscape and not much else as far as sex or size.


I'm primarily a rifle hunter with little to know interest in taking up archery if that makes any difference. The ideal option obviously would be to purchase all three 8.5x42, 15x56, and spotter, but that's just not in the budget for now.
 

Ben RT

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Apr 26, 2017
Messages
243
Location
Idaho
Depending on your budget, I think I'd get SLC HD 15x56s on a tripod and run with that and your Leupold for a while. I have SLC 8s and 15s, along with a Meostar S2 Spotter. I rarely use the spotter (usually only near the car).

The BX4 10x42 is actually pretty good glass (especially for the price). If you can keep them stable, they're a good chest bino. I absolutely love the added FOV and stability of 8s and can't see myself using 10s unless they're at least 75% on a tripod.

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pirogue

WKR
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
1,104
Unless you’re hunting sheep, I don’t think you need a spotter. I’ve had one and I sold it. You don’t need a spotter to decide if an elk is worth going after, and I’ve killed 3 pronghorn bucks without using a spotter. The majority of my time is in the West, but I hunt a month or two in the thickets of the South. My two pieces now are Swaro 12X42 NL Pure, and Swaro 8X30 NL Pure.
 
Joined
Jul 1, 2015
Messages
382
Location
Northern Utah
I hunted with just 15x for a few years and rarely felt like I needed anything else. They were annoyingly too much magnification in tight areas, but I just knew it was going to be a problem and got used to it. They were FANTASTIC at glassing 300-1700+ yards for spotting animals.

Eventually I wanted better video through a spotting scope so I sold the 15x and went to an 8x compact bino and Meopta S2 spotter. That’s a WICKED combo and I used it for years. The spotter is stunning and I pack it everywhere even though I complain about the weight.

In your scenario I’d keep the 10x and buy the 15x SLC HD and run them. Later I’d get a nice spotter, but I wouldn’t settle for a mid tier spotter if you already have 15x Swaros.
 
Joined
Mar 18, 2024
Messages
28
I've always had the mindset that you don't need 2 things that are so similar. If you kept the 10x Leupy's and bought the Swarovski 15x I personally don't think the magnification gain will be enough to justify the cost, and they are so close in magnification it seems like they will occupy almost the same use scenarios.

8x have better FOV than 10x so I'm my mind it gives me a wider FOV to spot something moving. Once something catches my eye I can switch to my spotter for verification.

Long story short, I'd get 2 optics that occupy different uses rather than 2 that are marginally different. Just my 2 cents.
 

Kurts86

WKR
Joined
Aug 15, 2020
Messages
430
I ran mid tier 10x and 15x56 SLC’s for a season until I could afford better 10’s. That meant I had the best glassing tool possible and something less to scan with freehand and while moving.

In retrospect I should have gotten good 8x/10x binoculars first because that’s the used every time tool. Great glass and lower power will always resolve better than more power and poor glass.

15x56 binoculars will very quickly prove to you that a spotter is mostly unnecessary in the field 98% of the time.
 
Joined
Apr 14, 2019
Messages
1,083
Location
Fort Myers , FL
Starting all over again and if hunting West I would go Swaro Pure 10x42 bino and a tripod to start.
Then decide later on a spotter or 15s.
 

Carrot Farmer

WKR
Classified Approved
Joined
Apr 19, 2020
Messages
912
Location
Central Oregon
Having started with Nikon 10x42…Vortex Razor 12x50 +Leupold Spotter and now Swaro 10x42 Range EL + STX 85, i would jump straight to premium 10x42. Unless im trying to field judge an animal(primarily mule deer, elk i dont) i usally dont pack my spotter


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Joined
Mar 26, 2018
Messages
339
Location
Eglin AFB, FL
I went with Swaro NL 8x32. Gives up nothing in exit pupil to the 10x42 but sheds weight (7.1 oz) and gives me an insane 455’ FOV (56’ more). The practical difference in magnification at 1000 with 10s vs 8s is like viewing an animal at 100 vs 125 with no magnification. If you’re not trophy hunting or trying to determine legality at extreme distances, compact spotter and 8s gets my vote. The 8x32s are like watching the countryside on a 4k iMax theatre.


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Fritz D

FNG
Joined
Dec 21, 2023
Messages
31
Location
Idaho
I went with Swaro NL 8x32. Gives up nothing in exit pupil to the 10x42 but sheds weight (7.1 oz) and gives me an insane 455’ FOV (56’ more). The practical difference in magnification at 1000 with 10s vs 8s is like viewing an animal at 100 vs 125 with no magnification. If you’re not trophy hunting or trying to determine legality at extreme distances, compact spotter and 8s gets my vote. The 8x32s are like watching the countryside on a 4k iMax theatre.


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I like the sounds of that 8x32 NL!
 
Joined
Mar 26, 2018
Messages
339
Location
Eglin AFB, FL
I like the sounds of that 8x32 NL!

They are amazing. I looked through every pair of 8x and 10x bins from Swaro, Zeiss, and Leica before choosing. With the fov being so wide, you can view a lot more before having to pan if you’re glassing the countryside. Unless some sort of voodoo comes out I can’t imagine anything replacing them.


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Reed104R

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Oct 13, 2022
Messages
197
For eastern hunting, I have found 8X to be the best all around magnification for me.
 

MTWop

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Dec 31, 2021
Messages
168
I vote neither. Buy a nice set of 8 or 10x binos. Then save up enough to buy another quality set of 15x binos and/or spotter. Cheap glass isn’t worth the weight or $$. I would take a good quality of low mag binos over a cheap 15x bino or spotter any day. 8x42 SLC are always on my chest and see the most use. I then add tripod/and Meopta 15’s vs swaro 80 mm spotter depending on the scenario
 

madtinker

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Jan 8, 2023
Messages
144
Wow, I had a similar question and this thread was super helpful. Thanks everyone for your input!
 

kthomas

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Sep 1, 2022
Messages
116
You can get a pair of alpha/alpha minus 10x and 15x for the price of one 15x swaro.

You can get a set of Kowa 10.5x44 Genesis for sub $1k from CameraLandNY (open box) and a used set of 15x Meopta Meostars or Zeiss Conquest HD's for $1k-1500.
 

Wacko

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Oct 6, 2019
Messages
193
I'll throw out MHO....

Go with your first choice. 8.5 EL's and a "compact" spotter. Those EL's are alpha glass and will get the most use. The 8.5's will not hold you back and will be more useful for your normal and "out west" adventures - especially off a tripod. The spotter will offer more X's which have never been bad to have on tap.

The 15's are nice to have for sure. However in using them side by side with a spotter...the spotter will give a better "confirmation" of what you are looking at due to the ability to get higher magnification. Sometimes the 15's just don't tell me anymore than my 8's or 10's did depending on terrain, lighting, and location of the animal. (Like if it is standing in tall brush or saplings - are those horns or not?) A "decent" spotter will tell the truth - and tell you it from farther out.

Just my 2 cents...
 
Joined
Dec 27, 2012
Messages
5,055
Location
Colorado
I got tired of lugging a spotter around, so I opted for the now discontinued Leica DuoVids that offer 8-12x in a pair of binos. They are a bit heavy, about the weight of most RF binos that I have picked up. However, the ability to have adjustable magnification is pretty legit. I use them on a monopod most of the time. I have used them for hunting everything from prairie dogs to Dall sheep.
 
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